Hi, I'm a bit of a novice here. I'm looking to build a budget 3/3.1 system for my parents. I don't really want to spend more than $500 including blu-ray player, receiver, and speakers (not even sure if this is possible). The room is 12x16. The video source is a 40" LCD which has terrible speakers (for some DVD's I've had to max out the TV's volume and I still could barely understand the voices on the soundtrack). The setup will mainly be used for blu-ray, dvd, and regular tv.
My last personal setup was an HTPC with z-5300 5.1 speakers that I purchased many years ago for only $50 after rebates. I was thinking of simply going with a 3 speaker setup (instead of 3.1) because regardless of how low I put the bass, subwoofers tend to be really audible in the floors above or below the entertainment room. I've previously owned an old 100-150w Optimus sub (radio shack brand) and of course the z-5300 sub. So unless the majority are really against the idea of omitting the sub, I might spend the money on better front/center speakers.
I don't really know anything about the various receivers other than the fact that some may be able to decode dolby digital, dts, etc. while others may not (?). I'm not sure how the 3/3.1 setup affects things as I've only owned 5.1 in the past.
3) Speaker wire
Yeah I'm a novice. The last time I ran "real" speaker wire was when I was 12 years old
I have no idea what gauge wire to use - I just remember I did a really terrible job cutting and twisting the wire... it probably really affected the audio. Do any of these speakers have simple plug-in jobs?
4) Blu-ray player
I know this isn't the proper forum, but if you can also recommend a good (but cheap) blu-ray player that would make great. I don't really know much about blu-ray. I can't imagine there's much difference quality-wise between different models other than additional features. After all, the content is on the discs and they don't have to "upscale" to fake a higher resolution...
5) Setup questions
Finally, I've been out of the scene for a while. My z-5300 htpc setup simply used a DVI connection directly from the computer to a projector. I've never used HDMI, but from what I understand it's simply DVI + audio. I don't really understand how this works. If I have a blu-ray player, do I have to run two HDMI cables from the blu-ray player (one to the TV, second to the receiver)? Or do I run one HDMI connection from the blu-ray player to the audio receiver and the second from the audio receiver to the TV? I've never used the video input/output jacks on an audio receiver - it never really made sense to me...
What's the point of HDMI if 90% of the time audio and video are fed to different hardware?
Thanks.. Sorry for the dumb questions.