Quality system on a low < $1000 budget - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-01-2010, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Just recently reached a point of satisfaction with my budget-level system. I have been piecing it together over last two years. I had some lower-quality gear acting as placeholders until recently, which I won't bother to describe. I have an 18' by 24" living room with 8' ceiling, and I can shake the walls as loud as I want to. Most solid bass I ever heard in many years working with modest audio gear. Most important to me, I got this all on a VERY limited budget. I shopped around, took advantage of specials and clearance priced close-outs. Only the center channel speaker was bought used.

I pay $35/month for Dish Network 120 package, which includes 32 music channels.


Element 37" HDLCD tv
SONY STR-DH800 receiver configured for 5.1
Infinity SL-20 bookshelf speakers (front)
Infinity CC1 center speaker
Dual LU43 3-way speakers (back)
2 Sanus speaker stands for rear
SONY SA-W2500 subwoofer
Microsoft Zune 30 w/dock & remote
generic (!) "Harmontek" dvd player
Dish Network Vip211k Satellite tuner
generic "Trutech" dvd recorder (seldom used)
JVC KT-HDP1 HD Radio tuner

I also have a GPX boombox for karaoke disks that can be hooked up via optical or coax. FM radio and OTA tv comes from a vintage VHF/UHF antenna on the roof. Dish Net installed a Model 1000.4 oval last year. I have the TV out line from the sat box running to another room, with Terk remote extenders. So sat tv can be sent to the second room with a 19" LCD.

I have found that if a DVD player has the features I want, audio & video quality is the same between brands. Cheaper brands tend to wear out quicker, but are easily replaced at low prices.
The front speakers are 16 years old, so I tend to leave their cost out of the total price. I never heard anything better in this price range, and with a subwoofer they are better than ever. Front pair are sitting on wall-mounted shelves. I should post photos sometime.

The Zune with remote gives me a 3500 song jukebox always available. I do notice better sound quality playing cd's vs mp3's, but the difference is subtle enough for me to live with. And some of my favorite music I also have on DVD's remixed in Dolby 5.1, even better, but to me a subtle improvement.

I watch HD tv only for local channels and Dish freebies. I like HDTV but am in no hurry to make the jump to Blue-ray.

Friends don't let friends use composite video.
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-01-2010, 01:22 PM
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Pictures or its a lie
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-01-2010, 11:43 PM
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Yes, please post pictures.

I have never really heard much of Element ever until I seen a LCD at walmart the other day and I do it from time to time... just glance at the screens without looking at the brand if I can help it to check image quality. Element stood out and I looked down and noticed the odd name but great price. Not too sure on their longevity but they produce a pretty sharp image for the price, that's for sure!
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-02-2010, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's some pictures. Not that much to look at, I'm having trouble getting a good exposure with images on the screen. Since the Zune and HD radio tuner are small, I try different places for them. The center speaker is closer to listening ear-level, so I cut back a few db's on the center sound level. The receiver has auto-calibration for levels, but I have been tweaking it some more.

Edit July 5: added stock image of the rear speakers

I got the Element tv at a Office Depot that was closing. It was the best deal on a 37" I had seen at the time. I was looking at 32" screens and I'm glad I spent a bit extra, since now even 37" is considered a "small" screen! Element is sold at Sears, Kmart, and Office Depot stores and I'm told it's made in the same factory as Sylvania sets and some other brands. I'm satisfied with it. The guy who installed my satellite dish said it looked better to him than some big name lcd's he had seen.
The tv has only one HDMI port - maybe one reason for the price. So I wanted a receiver with as many HDMI in ports as possible. The STR-DH800 has four, which should be enough for a while.
LL
LL
LL
LL

Friends don't let friends use composite video.
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-02-2010, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I have replaced the Trutech DVD recorder with a Toshiba D-R400, which I got for $10 at a resale shop. This is a good example of how to get equipment on a low budget. (Although I do not recommend buying any laser product used unless it's a giveaway price.) Both recording and playback quality is much better on the Toshiba, which has HDMI upscaling. Watching a well-mastered DVD thru 720p upscaling is only a small step below true HD as far as my eyes can see.

The Toshiba was missing the remote, which has very important keys on it. I got some help from experts here at avsforum to get my universal remotes setup for it. I still don't record much, but have been playing around with it more now. If I record from a HD source program, the Toshiba recorded DVD looks just as good as commercial DVD's.

Friends don't let friends use composite video.
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post #6 of 6 Old 08-02-2010, 11:55 PM
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Nice for the price for sure! And wow! Awesome Robot!
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