I have been skimming through the thread all day, but either due to a lack of effort or background knowledge I still have some pretty basic questions.
First I'll set up my situation. I'm currently living in a fraternity house. For now I'll be living in what is to me a very large room, probably 30x24, but next semester I could be in a significantly smaller one. In either case there are lofts, so I'm imagining that the room is set up horrifically for acoustics. I'm looking for a 5.1 system, with budget of $600 or so. The system will get a lot of use for movies, music and gaming from a xbox360, as well as PC. The PC I will be playing music/movies with is old and has only a headphone jack for audio and VGA output.
So for the questions I have:
I've heard that some sort of software on the reciever (like Audessey) to balance the sound quality for variable rooms is key for me. I've also seen that a lot of people highly regard the Onkyo TX-SR 504, does the 504 have any sort of function to do this?
Also, I noticed that the 504 doesn't have HDMI, which I'm assuming means switching audio and video channels seperately. I'm lazy so thats a requirement for me, albiet a lenient one, do universal remotes exist that could do this automatically? (I'd really like a one device control system)
Finally, does a lack of optical/HMDI audio make any difference in sound quality? If it does I would be willing to buy a new sound card for my PC, or should I regardless? (Assuming no because I think I've read something to that effect and people wouldn't praise it so much if it were)
Would any of those concerns be real issues for me? If so is there another inexpensive reciever that would fit my needs?
My next issue is with a sub, given the size of the room is there a cheap sub that would be adiquate? I really dont need anything amazing, but I'd like to have decent sound quality for at least the 3 couches around the tv, ideally my bed too.
Where are some good places to look for speakers/recievers? I found that a lot of the links from early in the thread don't lead to anything anymore, I've looked around ebay and amazon and either can't find the items or they are significantly higher priced.
I was looking at getting the Polk R50's, R150's and CS1, is this still a good system? I had also looked at the Klipsch 5.0 Packages, can anyone recommend any other speakers/packages?
I realize that the budget thing may be an issue, and if thats true I would definitely be willing to go with a 2.1 for a year, maybe bum some extra rear speakers from people or get some real cheap from craigslist. I want to move towards a system I can be happy with for at least a few years, but I don't mind taking a year or so to get there as long as the interum is better than my TV speakers.
Would a HTIB be a decent way to go for me? They seem to fit all my requirements but maybe sound quality and upgradability, but if it would only be a little worse quality with a lot more convenience/less money I would be fine with that. Upgrading isn't so much an issue now either, I figure it would be ok for the 3-4 more years until I can afford some more legitimate devices to start really getting into it anyway.
I'll appreciate the help, thank you for everyone before me for their related questions and answers, and thank you to anyone who can help me out with any of my questions.