Advice for Entry Level Surround Sound Setup - AVS Forum

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General Home Theater & Media/Game Rooms

Countrylunatic's Avatar Countrylunatic
05:55 PM Liked: 10
post #1 of 8
01-29-2013 | Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2011
Basically, I'm looking for a cheap/affordable surround sound setup and just would like some direction. My budget is 500 dollars so it doesn't leave for much room and hope to get what I need through sales. I already have narrowed down to wanting to you a Yamaha receiver.

Either of the following works for me, the more expensive version does have some features that appeal to me such as the app bit.

At worst that would leave me with a 200 $ room. My main concern is on the speakers. I am not familiar with much in the way of what brand or model I should get. A 5.1 set would be nice such as this from polk

But I'm not sure if maybe I should go with a couple good bookshelf speakers or floor standing speakers and a sub or something along those lines and add to it down the line. ( I would prefer wireless speakers for the back speakers so I don't have to run anything ).

Is there anything I should know or do?
UGAd13's Avatar UGAd13
07:22 AM Liked: 68
post #2 of 8
01-30-2013 | Posts: 583
Joined: Apr 2010
$500 is on the very low end but you can build a decent sounding system – it’ll just take some work… You’ll also have to temper your expectations of the performance of the system, but that will also be relevant to what you’re coming from or have heard (TV speakers, HTiB, etc.).

You may want to scour craigslist/ebay for used equip or look at that carries refurb’d AVRs that you can get for a good price.

You can get a small satellite speaker system like you linked to but the sound will be very weak. If you want a 5.1 take a look at the Def Tech ProCinema 60. I picked it up recently and am pleased with the performance; although the ‘sub’ is lacking for the large family room it’s in. I plan to upgrade that sooner or later…

You’re probably better off starting with either a good 2.0 (left/right only) or a 2.1 (left/right/sub); however, a good .1 system will be hard to come by with your budget. Add the center/sub/rears later on. Take a look at the Andrew Jones Pioneers or the Infinity Primus lines – both get great reviews for the price.

If you don’t have cables don’t waste your money here… buy what you need from
Countrylunatic's Avatar Countrylunatic
08:56 AM Liked: 10
post #3 of 8
01-30-2013 | Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2011
Thanks for the reply. Looking at those Pioneers and they do look really nice. In my price range as well. I had a feeling that would probably be my best bet would just piece everything together until the whole setup is done ( and build from there over time ). I will probably go with the route of starting out with a 2.0 or 2.1 one system and then adding the rear and center channels later. The room isn't very large and currently anything would be an upgrade over the flat sound coming from the TV's speakers. Thanks for recommending monoprice, I've actually used it before to get tools/supplies for a physical network in my house since I'm not a fan of wireless.

Anyhow, is there anything else I may need to know? Is there a way to add rear speakers later that are wireless or to turn them wireless ( a receiver maybe ) I can be on the lazy side and not have to run wire to the back of the room if I don't have to.

I'm always open to suggestions, I try to do everything right the first time. Unfortunetly I do have a budget constraint, but over time I plan to build on it. Got to start somewhere smile.gif. Also I take it from the advice Pioneer is a good speaker brand as well? First time I've seen them mention everywhere else (googling) Denon, Onkyo, Boston Accoustics ect.. .
davboy's Avatar davboy
09:16 AM Liked: 13
post #4 of 8
01-30-2013 | Posts: 166
Joined: Sep 2008
Country, glad you found AVS Forums, it's a terrific place to get the type of advice you are looking for.

I've recently had the opportunity to set up a "budget" system for an apartment I have. My heavy investment is in my main system at my primary home, but I work in multiple locations, and didn't want to miss out on the video/audio I'm used to while away, but also didn't want to break the bank. It was also nice to consider starting out with the latest technology and not deal with any legacy equiment or formats.

I think you are starting in the right place with considering speakers first. More than any other component they will make or break your system. Most of the suggestions you will get on this forum will be for quality products, so it really comes down to more marginal differences, and people's personal preferences for different types of sound signatures, which is often developed by what they are accustomed to. Another challenge is that the environments in which you can test most speakers, or at least affordable speakers in big box stores is not ideal

As I researched my budget system, I routinely kept coming across the outstanding reviews for the Andrew Jones designed Pioneers, as you have pointed out. As I reseached these further, not only was I impressed with the consistently excellent reviews, I was also impressed with Andrew Jones himself, and how widely available several interviews with him were specific to these speakers. At the very minimum, it is clear a lot of design and engineering consideration went into these very affordable speakers, a point that is difficult to validate with many other speakers within the same ballpark.

Eventually I pulled the trigger on the two Floor standing models, a center channel, and two pairs of bookshelves, one for the surrounds and one for my bedroom system, and could not be happier. I did not get the Sub based on some very mediocre reviews of that particular piece. For the price, these speakers are simply excellent, and provide an outstanding, affordable core upon which to build.

If you are looking to shave cost somewhere, I think the AVR is the place to do it. Identify the features that are most important to you (#HDMI inputs/AirPlay/Power Handling/Brand Reputation) and narrow down your choices. Used AVR's of only one generation past are readily available at deep discounts, and functionally are very similar to current models. If Airplay is important to you, it can always be added with an Apple TV, which is more functional anyway. I would look at the prior generations of Onkyo in particular as exceptional values. On a side note, one feature that I find useful but is often overlooked is HDMI pass through. Depending on how you use your system, it could be a critical feature in an AVR, and most of the Onkyos have had it. AV gear is very much like automobiles, in that they depreciate rapidly while still perfectly serviceable.

UGA is also right on point regarding Monoprice. I have not purchased cables anywhere else in years.

Good luck on your research, you are definately in the right spot.
Countrylunatic's Avatar Countrylunatic
08:33 AM Liked: 10
post #5 of 8
02-01-2013 | Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2011
Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate the help here. It seems to be a really nice community. I went ahead and purchased the cheaper of the two receivers I posted. The network ability of the receiver is just redundant in reality so it wasn't really needed.

Anyhow, currently I went with the two Pioneers for my RL speakers and a polk sub that looks nice ( ). Start off with a 2.1 and I will add a center channel and the rear speakers at a later date. Figure I am better off starting with quality speakers and adding to it instead of having to replace speakers I may not be happy with.
davboy's Avatar davboy
08:40 AM Liked: 13
post #6 of 8
02-01-2013 | Posts: 166
Joined: Sep 2008
Hope you like them when you get them! Good luck!
darthwhit's Avatar darthwhit
09:39 PM Liked: 12
post #7 of 8
02-07-2013 | Posts: 76
Joined: Feb 2004
For a first decent system I always recommend going with used equipment. For the most part speaker technology hasn't changed much and you get get amazing deals on some slightly older stuff. Another option is DIY. You can build your own speakers based on someone else's plans or you can order a kit and assemble it and paint it for much cheaper than a store bought solution if you are willing. One other huge thing I would recommend is don't waste money on a center channel unless you are willing to spend some good money on it. In many ways the center channel is the most important speaker since all of the dialog is send through it. If you have a decent set of mains though and have a good enough distance or separation between the two you can get better results with a phantom surround than a physical one. A phantom surround is when the you don't use a center speaker and the signal is sent to your mains. Your AVR will do this automatically if it knows you have no center. Any time your mains play the same signal, IE the center channel signal, your ears will hear it from both mains and it sounds as if it is coming from a space directly in between your mains. Hence the term Phantom Center.

Here is what I am looking at for a set of inexpensive DIY mains but you will want a sub with these eventually.

Good Luck!

hornhomes's Avatar hornhomes
01:37 AM Liked: 10
post #8 of 8
02-08-2013 | Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2013
i will do it,Here is what I am looking at for a set of inexpensive DIY mains but you will want a sub with these eventually. thank you 10.gif
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