I have an audio receiver for the basement, but it is finished so no great way to run rear speaker wires... What is my best option for my home theater-3.1, wireless rears, etc.? It doesn't need to be perfect, but I want decent sound for about $250.
People in hell want ice water, but they aren't going to get it either. $500 might be a minimum target price for a very basic 3.1 system that sounds halfway decent, but $250 sure isn't.
I would advise you to get a pair of Polk Monitor 40 speakers, which Amazon has for about $160 per pair, and then save up for a Polk PSW505 subwoofer for around $250. The Monitor 40s are fairly good speakers that have some bass.
Than you can save up for a CS20 center speaker and you will have a decent basic 3.1 system for around $600.
Another possibility is the Jamo S426HCS3 system, which will give you 5 fairly decent speakers for around $250 or so, and then add the PSW505 later. That Jamo setup is exceptionally good for such a low price, and the speakers have a bit of bass. That is probably your best bet.
None of that fits my definition of decent sound, but you would need $2000 or so to go there. It's a modest start, anyway.
With a budget that small, it still makes more sense to get a pair of decent speakers like the Polk Monitor 40 and let it go at that.
You will get far better sound from them than from some el cheapo 5.1 system with main speakers that have drivers of about 3 inches or less and sound quality like the clock radio in a Motel 6. You may think that is "decent" sound quality, but most people do not.
There is NO real SUBWOOFER for less than $250 (many people would say $400). To put out any usable sub-bass takes at least a 12-inch driver and around 300 watts of RMS (not peak) power. The tiny little things that they CALL subwoofers in those cheap little systems are NOT NOT NOT! They are useless; they are a complete joke. You can eat a can of chili with beans and get better bass.
Just to provide some perspective, these suggestions are not for reference loudness or audiophile fidelity. These are Toyota Corollas, not BMWs or Aston Martins. What you are asking for is more like "I just want a simple car, new, for like $5,000." In response, people would suggest raising the budget, buying used, or expect to make due with some ex-Soviet model that makes 42 HP.
I know this will scare some but I ordered up the monoprice 5.1 surround sound for $80. It got good reviews, and for only $80 you cant really lose... I will let everyone know how they sound, not expecting much, but then again I dont need much for the basement.
My father cannot really run side surrounds or rears either so this is what we did. He had Klipsch towers and I set up his Pioneer vsx-821 to run fulltime with the simulated surround mode, and there were plenty for me to tweak. With his horns and the MCACC processing the simulated surround was awesome and I give credit to the horns for the increased wow factor. The throw and the simulated surround processing works just fine, imo. Works for his setup and room.
sorry for the delay on the update... I did get the monoprice 5.1 surround speakers and they sound great for only $80! I know this is offensive to some, but they are probably the best surround sound speakers for that cheap...
Honestly... skip the $250 for a 3.1 idea... for that amount of money, you're not going to find anything decent, but for $250 you can get a decent soundbar. That should fit your set up much, much better.
"Suddenly the thought struck me, my floor is someone elses ceiling" - Nils Ferlin