Small Home Theatre Setup - 2 Quotes with Different Recommendations - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello,
I am in the process of pulling together a small home entertainment setup. I currently have a DVD player and a 21" CRT and feel it's about time to buy some grown up toys.

To start off, I don't need the clearest sound, sharpest picture or largest TV. All would be nice, but I'm looking to do this on some sort of budget. I've discussed my setup with two different home theatre companies. The first is a small company that did all of the wiring in my new townhome (All Frequencies, Inc). The second is on a recommendation from a coworker (ListenUp). Both have been very helpful, but have given different advice on components so I thought I would come here to seek some advice.

The room where all of this is being setup is fairly small. It's about 15' x 25' with 10' high ceilings. The shorter of the two distances has the couch on one end and the TV on the other. The current viewing distance is about 11'. Both plans call for two flush celing mounts above the couch for the surround sound and two wall mounts (possibly inset) on the TV wall. We're also moving all components into the closet behind the TV wall to keep everything nice and clean.

I'm looking to buy a receiver, two front channel speakers, two surround speakers and an LCD TV. Both companies have recommended a center channel speaker and a sub woofer. I just went in for a listen and the center channel didn't make that much difference, but will surely go with the sub woofer. My main uses are for music (Ipod and Computer) and movies (DVD player and computer).

In addition, I plan to have them install a speaker on the upstairs deck (already wired) which is 2 floors from the main entertainment center. Along with this, there will be a volume control just inside the patio door for the outoor speaker.

I bring all of this up so 1. I can make sure they're not selling me a Mercedes when I want a Yugo and 2. To make sure I get the best components for the price I'm willing to pay.

LCD TV
The TV has not been discussed much with either of the companies. I've done some research and think that a 32"-37" would be fine. I don't want it to overwhelm the room but everyone I know says they wish they would have picked up a larger TV. I just want to be able to clearly read subtitles if necessary. That's a TV big enough for me. My current 21" isn't cutting it. I'm looking for a good deal but also want something that won't be outdated in five years. I don't plan to get an HD cable box or buy any new HD DVDs anytime soon. I also don't do any gaming. Mostly just watch regular cable TV, movies from DVD and movies from my new laptop. That said, also looking for the best way to connect the laptop to the receiver to the TV. I currently use an S-video cable directly to the TV.

All Frequencies suggestion:
Receiver - Yamaha RX-V661 - $459
Speakers - CRS6 One SpeakerCraft in Ceiling Speakers $747. This is for two surround sound ceiling mount and two front channel ceiling mount plus a center channel speaker.

Patio Speaker - SpeakerCraft O.E. DT5.1 Outdoor 2ch Stereo Speaker 5.25" - $258
Volume Control - SpeakerCraft VST60 - $60

ListenUp suggestions:
Recevier - Denon AV-1907 - $550
Speakers - 2 ceiling mount surround speakers (B&W CCM636) - $175 each
No quote yet on the two front speakers but most likely B&W

Patio speaker - SpeakerCraft WS950 - $275 (normally $425 but this is a floor demo)

Just got off the phone with ListenUp. The guy seems nice enough, but every time I ask if there is a cheaper model, he always seems to find one. I'm not looking for the cheapest of cheep, but they know I'm looking for lower end stuff. I don't have the formal quote from them yet, but wanted to get your thoughts on components and price.

Apologies for the lengthy post, but wanted to be as complete as possible to get the best feedback.

Thanks for any suggestions around TV, receiver, speakers, etc.
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post #2 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 08:43 AM
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You're going to get yelled at here for suggesting in-ceiling speakers. It's just how we roll. Otherwise sounds pretty decent.

For a TV check out the $600ish range of 32" LCD HDTVs. I would suggest 1080p, but they're really expensive, and for the price they are, they'll be cheaper in the future, so why not get the cheapest 720p/1080i ones right now since they're so cheap?

Recievers sound good, go with whichever one suits your needs more as far as inputs and such. You can use D-Sub or DVI to connect your computer to the LCD TV depending on the TVs inputs, therefore getting an HD signal instead of the crappy s-video.

For speakers if you're on a space and $$ budget check out bookshelves, there are some really nice ones that can be had for your price range. Check out av123, hsuresearch, and klipsch.
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post #3 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 08:44 AM
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The first company designed a poor HT system for you. The CRS speakers are a flush mount ceiling speaker. Using these as your front channels is a very bad idea, as the listening position is probably 10 feet away from where the speaker is actually pointing. If you really want to go with in-ceiling front speakers you have to go with Aimable speakers (such as the speaker craft AIM series). It will cost more money but make the whole thing worth it in the end.

To be perfectly honest with you if I went to a store that designed a system with those as front speakers I would question their understanding of the equipment they sell and how to put together a proper system. That would really make it hard for me to go with that outfit. As a system designer if a customer wants in-ceiling speakers for their fronts that is fine, but you need to recommend the correct speakers to the customer for that application. The CRS series speakers don't fit the bill for that. I would say look else where

I love this stuff!
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post #4 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 08:48 AM
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What Tim said ^

Rears will sound better if they're on the side walls facing each other at 4'-5' off the ground.

John
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post #5 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 09:18 AM
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Agreed, the first company doesn't seem to know what they're doing. The prices look pretty reasonable to me, for both companies. Any reason why you want an LCD over a Plasma? Plasmas generally have a better image and are quite a bit cheaper when comparing similar sizes, but won't work for rooms with a lot of windows. Do you care about having the speakers invisible? If not, consider two stand-mount bookshelves for your surrounds on either side of the couch - you certainly have the width to do this, and it will sound a lot better than two in-ceilings. B&W speakers are a pretty safe choice. You can usually find a better value for your preferences, but it does take some time to find the right ones. Since you don't really notice a difference with a center speaker, go with two surrounds and two mains. Buy the subwoofer online from SVS or HSU - you'll get a MUCH better bang for your buck, and they aren't difficult to add into a system so ListenUp shouldn't have a problem with it. Don't let them sell you on the overpriced "audiophile" subwoofers.
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post #6 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the feedback. I have been digging around the forums for more info as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefwreak View Post

You're going to get yelled at here for suggesting in-ceiling speakers. It's just how we roll.

Good to know. Thanks for taking it easy on me this round. My original thought was to have all 4 speakers ceiling mounted. All Frequencies did suggest the AIM speakers. I'm pretty sure they came to this when I said I didn't want any wall mounted. I'm having second thoughts after listening to some showrooms and plan to go with the front speakers on the opposite wall but still considering ceiling mounted surround speakers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reefwreak View Post

...32" LCD HDTVs. I would suggest 1080p, but they're really expensive, and for the price they are...

So for my setup, you think 32" will be good enough? I would prefer to go with a TV this size over a 40" but want to make sure 32" is "acceptable" for the 11' viewing distance (fortunate to have good eyesight). Also, in the 32" world, I've heard some good brands for mid-range TVs are Sharp, Samsung and Sony. Any thoughts on specific TV? For some reason I have a feeling to go to the 1080p, but not sure why.

Quote:
Originally Posted by timfrommass View Post

The first company designed a poor HT system for you.

Yes, it would seem so. They were the first company I spoke to so my requirements were a bit off. I asked them for all ceiling mount. They did recommend directional speakers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alimentall View Post

Rears will sound better if they're on the side walls facing each other at 4'-5' off the ground.

I would do this but my room configuration is a bit odd. I have an empty corner on the right side of the couch where I could mount a speaker on the wall no problem. The left side of my couch has a sliding glass door directly next to it (and another directly behind it), so no way to put a stand without getting in the way of the sliding door. The other wall is about 6 ft to the left of the couch. I guess I could have them put the speaker on that wall?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindahl View Post

Any reason why you want an LCD over a Plasma? Plasmas generally have a better image and are quite a bit cheaper when comparing similar sizes, but won't work for rooms with a lot of windows.

I really would consider plasma if I found a good set for the same price as an LCD. I do have two sliding glass doors that take up the entire wall opposite the TV (the couch is in front of one of them). There is probably more than average light in the room. The other thing one of the guys brought up was the fact that plasma screens can hum in elevation. I live in Denver and he said they start to hum around 6000' (I'm at 5280').

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindahl View Post

Do you care about having the speakers invisible?

I guess I don't really care that the speakers are invisible, but I would like to keep the profile low. I'm considering the flat panel type wall mount speakers for the front. I saw these at ListenUp. They are about 5"x10" and only come off the wall about 2". Still pretty low profile and no need to cut a huge hole in the drywall.

Thanks again for any thoughts!
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post #7 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I recently asked for a modified quote from All Frequencies. They just got back to me.

Quote:
Hey Scott,

I made modifications as requested. Unfortunately ALL your speakers are wired in the ceiling. You would have drywall repairs right off the get go if you do surface speakers on the wall and will increase your costs. The next step down is the Speakercraft CRS6 ZERO @ $100.00 less per pair. The quoted toys are a step above entry (very moderate), nowhere close to high end.
I have attached the proposed quote. I requested they remove the charge for a rack (to go in the closet) and to add a lower end sub. The price for the sub seems high to me.

So, with the taboo of ceiling mount speakers, is this worth it or should I take on the additional costs of brining wire to the walls?

Feels like I'll never get comfortable with the information I currently have in order to make a decision.

Thanks again!

 

Est_1607_from_All_Frequenci.pdf 137.7216796875k . file
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post #8 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 12:30 PM
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I recently put a 46" 1080p LCD in a room that's about 13'x15' or so. The TV is NOT too big.

I suggest a bigger 720p TV rather than a smaller 1080p TV.

Jeff

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post #9 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 12:33 PM
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I'm at a pretty high elevation too (5000+) and have a plasma - no hums at all. The plasmas are a lot cheaper, too - not sure what you're looking at, but I think you're missing something here. However, with the sliding glass doors behind you, sounds like an LCD is the way to go.

Again, I'll recommend an HSU or SVS subwoofer. The Velodynes are pretty good (their price is good), but the former will blow it away, for about the same price.

You mentioned you'd want to use some on-wall speakers that are 5"x10"x2". You can't cheat physics, here, those will sound horrible. There's no way any sort of driver can breath with a depth of only 2". Don't give them any requirements on the front speakers and see what they suggest... keep an open mind here.

Also, I might suggest checking out another installer in your area. Denver Audio Designs (denveraudiodesigns.com) in Centennial are a great group of people. The owners have been in the business for a long time and really know how to make the customer king. They carry the Monitor Audio Radius line which is a great low profile speaker solution. They have a pretty nice demo room and have no problem letting you demo any of their models in there.
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post #10 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 12:35 PM
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Post room pics

Seeking a speaker recomendation? Compare for yourself or be swayed by others who hear differantly, or by marketing, or just save time and get the cheapest , nicest looking, or smallest.
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post #11 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crux19 View Post

So for my setup, you think 32" will be good enough? I would prefer to go with a TV this size over a 40" but want to make sure 32" is "acceptable" for the 11' viewing distance (fortunate to have good eyesight). Also, in the 32" world, I've heard some good brands for mid-range TVs are Sharp, Samsung and Sony. Any thoughts on specific TV? For some reason I have a feeling to go to the 1080p, but not sure why.

If this is your main tv, I'd go a minimum of 36/37". I bought my inlaws a 32" tv to replace their very old 27" one. The new tv appears a lot smaller than it really is (since it has a small border around the panel compared to the old tv) and the height of the actual viewing area is shorter than the 4:3 27". I have a 40", and it sure looks small sometimes (until I compare it to my previous 20") when viewing from 11'. It's one of those things that you might get away with, but you may be asking yourself later why you didn't go for the next size up.

On the 720/1080 topic, I'm of the opinion that 1080 is better, even if you can't theoretically see the difference at your viewing distance. My reasoning is that the 1080 panels are typically newer, having more developed technology, thus they seem to have better scalers and reduced mpeg noise. Comparing a 720 to 1080 samsung panels a generation apart, there is a huge difference, imo.
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post #12 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I have attached my awesome drawing. Thanks!

 

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post #13 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timfrommass View Post

The first company designed a poor HT system for you. The CRS speakers are a flush mount ceiling speaker. Using these as your front channels is a very bad idea, as the listening position is probably 10 feet away from where the speaker is actually pointing. If you really want to go with in-ceiling front speakers you have to go with Aimable speakers (such as the speaker craft AIM series). It will cost more money but make the whole thing worth it in the end.

OK let me start by saying I agree with TimFromMass. His baseball team my "Suck", but his advise does not. LOL

I have the CRS8 Three's as my rear surround sounds. They do an very good job, but I wouldn't recommend them for HT mains. They are very nice for music, and I recommend them for whole house audio.

AIM8 series is the way to go. I recommend the AIM8 Three's or higher.

By being able to pivot the driver, and tweeter, and proper calibration, you are able to create the illusion that sound is coming from the screen. This can't be done with the CRS's, or any other tweeter pivoting only speaker.
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post #14 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 04:20 PM
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How about a higher quality stereo setup in the living room instead of ceiling mounted rears? Instead of 4 not so great speakers just get two better ones. You can always add some rears later if you decide that you miss them.
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post #15 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
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[quote]How about a higher quality stereo setup in the living room instead of ceiling mounted rears? Instead of 4 not so great speakers just get two better ones. You can always add some rears later if you decide that you miss them.{/Quote]

Great point. After all of this research, I'm beginning to think that I want to focus first on a receiver that will fit my needs (suggestions?) and also set up the volume control and outdoor speaker. After that, pick up a good LCD and that should cover the basics. After that, I can research surround sound. I have some small crappy JVC speakers right now that should suffice, but would need a receiver to be able to push sound to the patio speaker.

Thanks again!
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post #16 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 05:44 PM
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I'm new here, but I'm in the process of upgrading, and after a TON of research, I'd suggest considering buying used equipment. You can get some great deals on mid- to upper-end equipment that will end up running about the same for brand new, lower end stuff. A great option for getting a bigger bang for your audio buck.

For what it's worth, I have a Sharp Aquos 37" LCD in my family room, which is also equipped with a pair of south-facing doorwalls. I hate closing drapes (I live on the water and like the view), so the LCD/plasma question was a no-brainer for me. Not to mention the LCDs are supposed to burn longer, and on the Aquos, you're apparently able to change the bulb (only LCD model this is possible on, apparently, and this would ostensibly make the TV like new......we'll see).

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post #17 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 08:51 PM
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11' viewing distance? 50" screen, at least.
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post #18 of 18 Old 04-24-2007, 09:58 PM
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That company seems to quote very reasonably for their products and their labor. However, I would be INSISTING that you get aimable ceiling speakers if you were my customer. Direct firing ceiling speakers simply don't work front speaker applications.

I love this stuff!
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