Recommendations for $20k home theater budget? - AVS Forum
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm finally ready to replace my embarrassingly ancient barely-theater (Kenwood KC-X1/KM-X1, Sony rear-projection set, and Boston Acoustics 555/575/595 THX speaker system). The newer system in my bedroom is far superior, but now it's time to put together a respectable theater for the living room, and I'm interested in advice on how to spend about $20k on a display, receiver (or separates), and a speaker system. This budget won't include HD sources or a remote, etc., I'll cover those separately.

About the only component I'm 99% sure on is going for the Pioneer Pro Elite 151FD 60" Kuro, since apparently nothing was announced at CES that exceeded it in terms of Picture Quality, which is my #1 priority.

But I'm open to advice on a receiver/separates and family of loudspeakers.

The Kuro will take approximately $5k from the budget, leaving me with about $15k for receiver (or separates) and speakers.

The system will be used primarily (~80%) for movie watching (Blu-ray, HD Cable, DVD, and networked streams), video games (all current gen platforms), and secondarily (~20%) for music (MP3s only, sorry, not audiophile grade.)

Some general criteria:

I rent an apartment/loft, so I don't want to mount anything to walls. I'll make floorspace available for stands. That also means I don't have complete control of lighting in the environment, necessitating a regular display instead of a projector. I do plan on having the display ISF-calibrated once it's broken in. Being a single-room loft the floorspace is completely open (but obviously not containable acoustically), and the space available for the theater area is approximately 17' x 11'.

For a receiver or separates, I'll expect all the latest bells & whistles. I like the idea of THX certification, but it's certainly not a requirement.

I'll have a lot of sources, and will need several HDMI inputs. Estimated sources are: Comcast HD Cable box (HDMI), Xbox 360 (HDMI), PS3 (HDMI), Wii (Component), potentially a dedicated Blu-ray player (considering Sony's new jukebox) (HDMI), and would like the ability to add more sources in the future, such as a network-video streaming device (HDMI). No dedicated CD player, but I'll be streaming audio via Airport Express AirTunes. iPod integration not terribly important.

I'm open to either an integrated receiver, or separates. I have a Denon 3808CI in the bedroom, which I'm pleased with, but open to any brand. Would probably prefer brands in a different class than what Best Buy sells.

For speakers, since I'm a huge movie fan and want to be immersed in great surround, I'm leaning towards a 7.1 system instead of 5.1. Have always thought about getting B&Ws, but they are probably beyond my budget. Short of adding a Buttshaker system (which I'm not opposed to), I'd really like to feel the bass in movies. Haven't had any neighbor complaints with current system, so I don't mind pushing my luck.

I live in San Francisco and so have access to a couple of high-end stores in the city, but I think boutique shops like that tend to push the brands they have relationships with, rather than keeping recommendations wide open (hence my posting here). I also don't really like the arrogant if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it attitudes of the high-end shops I've visited here, so I don't mind keeping my shopping mostly internet-based.

I understand that the best way to make a decision on equipment is to have an in-person audition. However, if my local specialty stores don't carry brands strongly recommended here, I'm willing to purchase unheard/unseen if necessary.

I do have a requirement for new equipment, not used.

Thanks so much for any advice!

-Robert

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Old 01-14-2010, 03:10 AM
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That's quite and order!

Go to those stores first, and then search here for what user feedback is from this community.

20K for an RENTAL appartment system! Trying not be cynical here...

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Old 01-14-2010, 05:48 AM
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he lives in san fran so he makes 6 figures and cant' afford a house in the city like most others there!

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Old 01-14-2010, 06:04 AM
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For this much budget, it seems like you could get a projector that is bright enough to make up for the ambient light issues. Additionally, you could use some of the budget for window treatments that could be ported to whatever your next place is going to be.

This will probably be below your expectation level, but I just got a Pioneer VSX-1019 receiver and love it. It has plenty of inputs, upconverts to 1080p (except for component, it passes through 1080i), and is a 7.1 receiver. You could go with one of the Elite models, that seem more in line with your budget level, and I think you would be happy.

I would hesitate to poopoo the projector idea just because you think light is going to cause an issue. When will the system get most of it's use?

The above is merely one person's opinion and is probably worth as much as you paid for it.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elmalloc View Post

he lives in san fran so he makes 6 figures and cant' afford a house in the city like most others there!

I get it. I almost went fo a 20k two channel in my Apartment when I lived in Boston.

Now, strictly internet, the products that Emotiva apparently make are first rate. www.emotiva.com You can get from speakers to electronics.. only going to SVS for subwoofers.

Specifically

There Tower speaker ERT 8.3

Center Channel

3 X XPA-1 AMP

Surround x 4

2 x XPA-2

All Controlled by UMC-1

OPPO BD83 Bluray / SACD / DVD - A


Then investing in some acoustic treatment from RPG or other credible acoustic treatment company.

Seats from Berkline

Logitech Remote or iPhone/iPod Touch

Stands from Salamander Design

Power Conditioners from PS Audio

Cables from Emotiva

Go to audioadvisior.com to see other highquality internet based retailers


BREAK_

http://www.audiovideologic.com/ Sells just about every peice you need. B&W Loudspeakers and Velodyne Subwoofers to Rotel Processors to PS Audio Conditioners.

thoughts?

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Old 01-15-2010, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys for the feedback. Bill, I particularly appreciate your specific recommendations -- definitely gives me some products to look into.

And to others, yes, I do have $20k for a home theater, but do not have $1.5 million for a home in San Francisco

I'll look into acoustical treatments as well.

Cheers,
R

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Old 01-15-2010, 09:07 PM
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am I the only one that would get a top-notch TV, great speakers, separate amplifier and then keep the existing Denon until next year when receivers with HDMI 1.4 is commonplace and then spend the remainder of the budget.....

I know there is always something else around the corner, but HDMI 1.5 is fairly far off and HDMI 1.4 is here.......
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhdiab View Post

am I the only one that would get a top-notch TV, great speakers, separate amplifier and then keep the existing Denon until next year when receivers with HDMI 1.4 is commonplace and then spend the remainder of the budget.....

I know there is always something else around the corner, but HDMI 1.5 is fairly far off and HDMI 1.4 is here.......

HDMI 1.4???

it's like saying, "Why don't you get a 3D TV!!??"

I think this advice is nonsense. Blu-Ray movies work well over current standards for video and they all use HDMI. It doesn't matter what version HDMI 1.x .

Post references and links to what your internet reading has led you to believe that rsinclair has to sit around and wait for vapor-ware..

*I will also add that newstands all have Jan issues of stereo/electronics mags and some have 2010 buyers guides.

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Old 01-15-2010, 09:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, I've been considering moving the Denon 3808 from the bedroom and using it for the new living room setup. It was named as the receiver-of-choice on Audioholics "$25k Home Theater System" assembly (and it's also named as Editor's Choice in a few publications I've read), so it may be suitable to use, and I can get something simpler for the bedroom (the 3808 is currently driving a modest Atlantic Technology System 920 setup). I can either save some money that way, or keep the original budget and put it towards getting an even nicer set of speakers.

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Old 01-15-2010, 11:45 PM
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Hi Robert ...

- As an apartment dweller myself who just completed redoing my main theatre/2 channel/living room ... I hopefully can offer some things to think about.

1) How many people do you want to seat comfortably? ... why I bring this up is that if most of the viewing is done alone ... you might try seeing what the experience is like in stereo first ... if it is not satisfactory, you can always add the other channels. The centre channel is really most important for when there are people who are not the in 'sweet spot'.

2) You mention a preference for 7.1 over 5.1 ... personally, I have a 5.1 system in a larger room (15' x 20') ... I think that most movies are still only mixed in 5.1 ... and simply having the room for 2 more speakers might be a challenge in your case due to space issues ... I simply don't think 7.1 is worth the effort.

3) I have a projector in the main room and a 50" Kuro in the bedroom ... so I can relate to your desire for the Kuro ... however, I think you should still give some thought to a projector ... of course, it will only work if you can control the ambient light properly ... you may be surprised what your landlord will let you do if you ask nicely.

4) Many Blu-Ray players are able to decode the latest formats and send them via HDMI or analog outputs ... why this matters is that you do not need the latest and greatest receiver/processor to be able to hear the latest audio codecs (Dolby True HD, DTS MA) ... the player can do the work and as long as the receiver/processor can handle MPCM (multi channel PCM) either via HDMI or analog inputs ... you are good to go. This allows you to look at higher end stuff which might not have all the latest processing.

5) Regarding actual speaker selection ... there are quite a few good choices out there ... while I realize you are not into audio in a big way ... I believe that if a speaker sounds good with music ... it will work for movies ... I don't think the reverse is true. I would try to make the front 3 channels as identical as possible ... if not the same model, then at least from the same manufacturer. One manufacturer you might consider is Totem Acoustic (made in Canada) ... great value for the $ IMHO ... I have a pair of Model 1's in my bedroom system and am extremely pleased with them.

I hope this helps.
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Old 01-16-2010, 06:31 AM
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Old 01-16-2010, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oOOBillO0o View Post

HDMI 1.4???

it's like saying, "Why don't you get a 3D TV!!??"

I think this advice is nonsense. Blu-Ray movies work well over current standards for video and they all use HDMI. It doesn't matter what version HDMI 1.x .

Post references and links to what your internet reading has led you to believe that rsinclair has to sit around and wait for vapor-ware..

*I will also add that newstands all have Jan issues of stereo/electronics mags and some have 2010 buyers guides.

Are you actually asking for links to HDMI 1.4 coming out........? Guessing not. Not sure what vapor-ware is there related to HDMI 1.4 - yes full 3D support that may or may not make it (if you want reading go look at 3D movies revenue in 3D theaters vs 2D version)..... Furthermore HDMI 1.4 will support ethernet which will probably have some neat functions related to streaming material and tying it into TV's etc

I am not saying wait a few years. Most receivers among next year models will support HDMI 1.4 and the Denon is a good receiver

The fact that you don't think 3D will make is great for you - hold on to your existing equipment. There were plenty of people like you that said that HD would never make it, there were plenty of people like you who said HD-DVD would win out. Sure go ahead and waste your money, but don't use it to advice other people.

The current trend is towards 3D and HDMI 1.4 - make it or not if someone asks for advice on a $20K budget I will tell them to wait just a little bit with the receiver and get everything else now.

It is not a 3D ready display so that would be one reason not to care about HDMI 1.4
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Old 01-17-2010, 10:42 AM
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Robert, curious if you are at all concerned with the aesthetics of the speakers? I realize that some people may think this is a silly question but if your speaker system is going to be out in the open then it may be a consideration.

If the appearance of the speakers is of little relevance then you may want to look into some JTR speakers, Mark Seaton etc. (you may want to take a quick read of RMk!'s build in the section of the forum, great info there).

If you are a little more concerned with apperance of speakers you could also check out Paradigm Studio 100's or Focal Electra 1027 or 867 series.
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Old 01-17-2010, 10:51 AM
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I'll second the Emotiva gear, best bang for the buck out there. I have the towers 8.3, center 6.3 and surrounds ERDs along with the XPA-2 and XPA-3 amps and USP-1 preamp. And I would wait for the UMC-1 to become available, it is shipping in limited numbers right now until the boat gets into port. I will be replacing my Denon 4308ci with it when it arrives.

And the Oppo BDP-83, cannot say enough good things about that baby.
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Old 01-17-2010, 05:02 PM
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For $20k I would get...

Custom finish to match room decor:
Salk HT2-TL $4195
Salk HTC $1599
Salk Surround 1 $895
SVS PB13 Ultra $1599

Pioneer Kuro $5000
Pioneer SC-27 $2200

Total $15,488

This leaves $4k or so leftover for a second sub, additional amplification, cables, room treatments or other components. Personally I would probably go with some external amplification for at least the front channels. Emotiva amps are certainly a good bargain. Audio by Van Alstine makes some nice amps (Insight 240/3) that work well with the Salks.

If the space isn't big enough for the HT2-TL's, you can always go with the Salk SongTowers ($1995). These are not as big and expensive, but will also have the same beautiful custom finish. Doing this will save some cash and space to be used for other items(a projector and screen maybe?).

For room treatments, Gik offers acoustic panels that you can have your own photos put on...a little bit more artistic than just plain panels.

That is what I would do with $20k. Good luck in your search and please show us the finished result when you decide!
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:42 AM
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Just one note in regards to HDMI 1.4 receivers. Per the post linked below Denon is coming out with theirs this spring. Didn't follow the link through so not sure if that is top of the line (would assume it is). If you like your Denon and still want to upgrade this might be a very good choice to be "future-proof" and get the same great sound. I personally have the SC-07 (basically the same as the SC-27 listed above and I do love that sound)

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...2#post17936932
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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@dmcleod:

I'm looking to see 2-6 people comfortably.
I may start off with 5.1 and go to 7.1 later, and/or when I move the system to a bigger room someday.

@taoggniklat:

*I looked into the Pioneer SC-27, it's impressive! I like the idea of matching a Pioneer receiver with my Kuro, but unfortunately the SC-27 is apparently only sold through Magnolia/Best Buy in California, and every single store in the STATE is sold out with "no inbound deliveries scheduled", meaning I would have to purchase one over the internet sight unseen/unheard... so I'm a little uncomfortable doing that.

@everyone:

I've got a Pioneer Kuro 600M on the way, and I'm currently visiting some high end shops in SF for package recommendations on processors/amps/speakers as well so I can hear them in person.

Thanks!

-R

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