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post #1 of 14 Old 09-14-2012, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
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I've been a frugal audiophile since about 6th grade, about 30 years ago. My audiophilia went into dormancy after my divorce and is now reawakening, only to be joined by a budding case of videophilia. But these reawakening and budding loves will always be tempered by my frugality.

As such, my system consists of components purchased as cheaply as possible. But they were at the time of purchase respectable performers. They seem to be doing their jobs quite well for me thus far, but I do every now and again keep an eye out for inexpensive upgrades. That being said, let's run down the list of my current system and its configuration. I'll even throw in a bit of background to show how the system evolved into what it is today.

Sony STR-DG800 -- left to me by the deceased fiancee of one of my sisters. It's not a perfect home theater solution, but you can't beat the price. I'm working on how exactly to optimize it for audio and video performance. I'm currently using rabbit ears for FM reception and its included loop antenna for AM reception. These antennae will both be replaced someday, probably as soon as I can find superior solutions for $20 or less each. And the new antennae have to be easily hidden in the living room.

Sony Bravia KDL-46S5100 -- purchased from a Sony outlet for $750 a few years ago. They included a free Blu-ray player (I think it was a BDP-S330) and 0% financing for three years. Too good a deal to pass up, considering my previous TV was a Toshiba 25" CRT TV with a digital tuner. I have the TV connected to the receiver via Toslink.

Sony BDP-S570 -- my girlfriend actually purchased this from Amazon for some reasonable price, like $110 or so. I have this connected to my TV via HDMI and to the receiver via Toslink. Currently I'm trying to figure out if I can run DSD Multi via Toslink directly to the receiver, but it appears I can't. It sounds great in surround while watching Blu-ray or DVD movies, though. Unfortunately, it can't output Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu Plus in surround.

Sony PS3 -- this is a refurbished second generation console that can play PS2 games via emulation, purchased for $200 from my best friend's brother, who happens to work for Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA). I have it connected to the TV via HDMI and the receiver via Toslink. I can't get it to play DSD Multi via Toslink. But it does output Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus in surround so long as the source is encoded that way, which is why I brought the PS3 out of the basement and moved the Roku 2 XS down there for the kids.

Pioneer DV-588A-S -- I purchased this for something like $130 before Blu-ray was on the market. Right now I have this player connected to the TV via S-Video (I don't have a long enough component cable) and analog audio. I have it connected to the receiver via Multi Channel (analog). At the time of purchase I wanted a player that could play every kind of disc on the market, including SACD and DVD Audio discs. I didn't have a DVD burner (just a DVD ROM) in my computer at the time, so I also liked being able to recode DVDs to Divx on CDs. I don't plan to use this player much, since it has largely been superseded by the S570 for movies and CDs. But the DV-588A-S is the only way I can figure out to get DSD Multi working, even if it is merely in analog.

D-Link DSM-320 -- quite a few years ago I purchased this component using money received for Christmas. I think I had to pitch in less than $40 of my own money. I have it connected to the TV via component video and analog audio (my one set of long enough cables) and to the receiver via coaxial digital. I have found that despite its age, this component works better for streaming audio than the PS3 or the S570. I say this because I can listen to a song while searching for other files, while neither of the other components can do that. Eventually I'll get into making playlists and this will become less of an issue, but I still prefer this component for audio. Video, on the other hand, is sort of limited. I have quite a few movies I have converted using Nero Recode. They work really well on this player. But the PS3, S570, and my Samsung Galaxy S III all can play regular mp4 files so I find myself gravitating toward that simpler format when shrinking movies. Now that I have a functioning surround sound set-up, I'm going to shrink movies less often and just put them on discs so I can still enjoy surround sound.

Yamaha NS-SP1800BL -- I just purchased these from Amazon for $120. They are adequate, at best. Actually, their bang-for-the-buck seems quite good. And they're better than nothing. But one day in the next two years I will be making sure I get some really nice speakers that are quite a bit better sounding.

I also have available in the basement a Panasonic DMP-BD65 purchased from Amazon a couple of years ago for roughly $110. I sold the S330 for $75, so the BD65 didn't cost me very much. I wanted a Blu-ray player that offered better picture quality than the S330 and this fit the bill. But now that I'm living with my girlfriend and she has the S570, the Panasonic is in the basement for the kids, along with the Roku.

I'm looking for another home theater receiver for the basement, or a really nice one for the living room so that the STR-DG800 can go down there instead. I'm thinking I'll see when the Sony Outlet has another 0% financing offer...

Feel free to share your opinion. I can handle constructive criticism, just please don't flame me. :-)

Later -- Adam
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post #2 of 14 Old 09-14-2012, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liteon163 View Post

Feel free to share your opinion. I can handle constructive criticism, just please don't flame me. :-)
Later -- Adam

Congrats to your current system and of course no flame intended, but hey, this thread is all about pictures. Post pictures and pictures and pictures, please ,...or it didn't happen!! smile.gif
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Cheers, Feri


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post #3 of 14 Old 09-14-2012, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Noob mistake... Too excited to participate to pay enough attention.

I'll follow up in the next few days.

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post #4 of 14 Old 09-14-2012, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I've peeked around at people's set-ups now. My system is not photogenic. And it's also nothing special. I may not bother with photos. :-(

Let me go wallow in my inferiority complex now... :-\

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post #5 of 14 Old 09-14-2012, 09:52 PM
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All different levels of systems are represented here, I bet it looks better than you think. It's all relative, my system/room is crap compared to some I've seen here too (I ran across a member today that has a screen that is actually 16x9 - feet that is!! eek.gif). Besides, if and when you upgrade you can add to the thread no matter how far down the road it is.


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post #6 of 14 Old 09-15-2012, 11:21 AM
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carp is right, post pics. This is not "who's got the best" thread, it's about enjoying what you have and making the best of it.

So go ahead, pics pics pics:)

cheers


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post #7 of 14 Old 09-15-2012, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liteon163 View Post

I've peeked around at people's set-ups now. My system is not photogenic. And it's also nothing special. I may not bother with photos. :-(
Let me go wallow in my inferiority complex now... :-\
Sent from my Blue 32 Verizon SGSIII using Tapatalk 2

As many have said already post your pics and updates!! Definitely good group of people on this forum with great insight.

I am working on a post of my offerings soon to let people see my progression and I am like you the look is not the best but its going to get there.
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post #8 of 14 Old 09-18-2012, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
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OK, here we go...

This is my system, such as it is:

e8e9ydeb.jpg

I have the front and rear speakers in a rectangle. The front speakers are about 12' from the center seat. The surround speakers are about 6' from the center seat. The center speaker and TV are about 10'.

My girlfriend likes the 5.1 system as it is currently configured (including the exposed speaker wires, go figure). I was trying to convince her to let me move a pair of Sony SS-MB215 speakers up from the basement to use as the front pair. I also wanted to move a pair of Sony SS-MB300H speakers up for the surround pair. (Both pairs of speakers were left to me by the deceased fiancee of one of my sisters)

My girlfriend disagreed vehemently, despite the Sony speakers sounding a lot better and providing a much more natural sound stage. I begrudgingly agreed with her assertion that the speaker setup was ugly. But on the plus side, I was given a green light to do whatever I wanted for sound in the basement. :-)

e2uryde5.jpg

(I apologize if this photo isn't rotated correctly. I am posting from my phone and don't know how to rotate without losing my active Tapatalk window)

It seems I have left enough ventilation room for the receiver. It gets warm, not hot, and its temperature plateaus rather than spiking and shutting down.

I have an auxiliary input stuck into one of the shelf peg holes when not in use. I figure the wood insulator will keep it from humming. The wireless media streamer doesn't need too much ventilation. Actually, it's not exactly wireless right now: I have it wired into a wireless router, while my PC is connected to a wireless bridge in the basement. But because I have two wireless bridges running, some of my other wireless gadgets (like my chumby) get confused and disconnect from the network. I will eventually reconfigure one of my wireless bridges into a wired bridge and string some Cat6 down a cold air return, though the basement rafters, and to the router used by my Roku 2 XS and Blu-ray players.

The Blu-ray player and SACD player both seem to operate fine in their current arrangement. I just have to make sure they aren't both on at the same time since I can hear a bit more static when listening or watching. Some of this,I'm sure, is due to the receiver not having the greatest isolation of sources. Some of it is also probably due to interference caused by proximity. Lesson learned.

My Blu-ray movies, PS3 games and accessories, a pair of circumaural headphones (from Monoprice), and cable modem are hidden behind the entertainment center door on the right.

u2uzaquz.jpg

Putting the PS3 behind the TV like that allows it superior ventilation while keeping it largely out of sight while watching or playing anything. And keeping my wireless router back there keeps it hidden from view, but still offers a central access point for the entire household (and even out onto the back patio).

All in all, a modest system that isn't much to look at. But it's plenty to view, if you catch my drift.

I'm just glad I got the green light for the basement. Now I'm looking for a decent receiver that has an Audio Return Channel so that I can pull surround off of the Roku's HDMI output. Once I have a receiver like that in the basement I'm going to want one in the living room. I don't listen to a lot of SACDs (I don't own any anymore, but I do sign them out of the library), but I want to be able to use a digital output to do so. Toslink and coaxial digital aren't encrypted, so those can't be used by any of my players.

Now that I have the room, I really want to get back into playing around with my systems. :-)

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post #9 of 14 Old 09-18-2012, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I did make a trip today to the nearest Sony Outlet. I checked out all of their various receivers, both new and refurbished units (not interested in b-stock). They had new STR DH-520's for $250 (high), refurb 520's for $200 (not bad), new STR-DG720's for $250 (not bad), refurb STR-DH820's for $250 (pretty good), and new STR-DH830's for $400 (high).

I asked for a refurbished STR-DH820 and was told the last one was the one on the shelf. I had them make sure all of the same parts were included as a new one, which took them over ten minutes to find in the storeroom. But they did find the manual, AM and FM antennae, remote, and even the calibration mic(!). I put the purchase on my Sony card for the 6 month free financing (which I don't need, but it's nice to have). I signed, took it, and drove off. I looked at the receipt once I got home and found that the salesman had taken off an additional $25!

I ended up paying less than $238 for the receiver. I think that's a really good deal.

Now my basement system will be the Sony STR-DH520, the Panasonic DMP-BD65, the Roku 2 XS, a 32" Dynex LCD TV, and two pairs of stereo speakers (one pair of Sony SS-MB215 and one pair of SS-MB300H). Now I just need to get from Monoprice some banana plugs, a 3.5 mm male to two RCA male adapter cable (for an auxiliary input), and two more HDMI cables (always nice to have a few extras on hand).

I'll have the basement system up and running soon after receiving my monoprice order. Sure, it will look like an old 1980's system with big black boxes for speakers... But at least it'll work. :-)
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post #10 of 14 Old 09-19-2012, 06:01 AM
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I recently ran speaker wires behind my walls and am very happy with the looks now that I am done, I highly recommend doing it.

I took off bassboard with a small pry bar, then drilled a hole behind it. Next I drilled a hole in the wall behind the speakers and ran a fish tape line like this http://www.lowes.com/pd_7529-12704-31-012_0__?productId=1100117&cm_mmc=PLA_Tools-_-ElectricalTools-_-gps-_-IDEAL%2025%20Ft.%20Fish%20Tape%20&adtype=pla&cagpspn=pla to run the wire through the wall. I nailed the baseboard back in place and that's it.


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post #11 of 14 Old 09-19-2012, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
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That's a good idea, but I rent a townhouse. I don't think that would fly with the landlady.

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post #12 of 14 Old 09-20-2012, 09:35 AM
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Oh, I see. Yeah, I can see that not going over well.


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post #13 of 14 Old 10-13-2012, 09:15 AM
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I'm glad you posted pictures because after looking around I too was beginning to wonder if maybe I should just go and hide. eek.gif Being a frugal person as well I had fallen into the trap of only replacing when it's broken, which when one is living on a fixed income is not necessarily a bad thing. I figure if the system works and you're mostly happy with it, then who cares how it looks otherwise?

Your GF likes the speaker wires on the wall? LOL. You could get a couple of potted plants, tall ferns perhaps and set them right under the mains. Go with a jungle theme! biggrin.gif
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Originally Posted by liteon163 View Post

I've peeked around at people's set-ups now. My system is not photogenic. And it's also nothing special. I may not bother with photos. :-(
Let me go wallow in my inferiority complex now... :-\
Sent from my Blue 32 Verizon SGSIII using Tapatalk 2
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post #14 of 14 Old 03-19-2014, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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I've made a few changes to my system. I've sold my PS3 to my sister and have not replaced it, nor will I. I just didn't use it for much other than Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and Netflix.

I've added a Sony BDP-S3100 and moved the BDP-S570 to the basement. The newer player performs almost identically to the PS3 in terms of its video services, yet uses much less power, which is why I'm comfortable without the game console.

I also sent my Pioneer disk player to my ex-wife's house for the kids to use on the basement TV there. I sort of miss the ability to play SACDs in the living room, but I don't own any anymore. But I do occasionally sign them out from the local public library system. I just listen to them in the basement.

I've added an external QAM TV tuner box (Homewurx HW-150PVR) because my old Sony TV doesn't output Dolby Digital from its optical digital output. I chose this route because it was cheaper than buying a new TV. And the tuner box also happens to have the ability to record to an attached USB drive.

And just yesterday I upgraded my front speakers from the ones ones included in my Yamaha speaker set to a pair of Fluance SV10S speakers. I did this because I'm tired of always having to listen to music in the basement because the speakers are better down there. The Yamaha speakers are adequate for movies, especially considering their initial cost, but not up to the task of anything approaching critical listening.

So far the changes seem to be an improvement, with the exception of the loss of SACD functionality. I should poke around on the S570 to see how it deals with Netflix profiles to see if I could bring it back to the living room.

Later

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