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Need Help: Top to Bottom Upgrade of All Living Room A/V Equip

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'll be in the home im in for a little while and I need to update most of my living room setup and I'll be making decisions this weekend. I could use some advice...

Room:
8' from TV to sofa
Room is 13' x 16' rectangle, not an open floorplan, mostly enclosed
Thick, solid cement walls
Relatively little light

Current A/V setup:
Main TV: 1x 32 LCD
Extra TVs: 4x 19 crap LCDs usually for sports; extends to 7x additional TVs on NFL Sundays
Directv Receivers: 1x HDTV DVR, 1x HD, 3x Analog
Audio: Bad Sony audio system w/DVD with rear wireless plus an A/V switch to get more audio channels to cover each TV

What I want to transform the setup to ASAP- I need help with my future setup, my current thinking is as follows:
Main TV: Samsung 51E8000 plasma
I think it's as big as I should go.

Extra TVs: No change
Might upgrade them someday, but not a priority

Directv: Convert all analogs to HD, the rest stays the same

Audio: Add AVR- Marantz SR7005 or Denon AVR3312CI
I use the AVR to run the audio of any TV at anytime. So the AVR needs enough audio inputs (8 would be ideal) and the remote control needs to allow me to instantly access whichever TV I want the volume on

Audio 2: Add Boston Acoustics SoundWareXS5.1B 5.1 Speaker System
I need a compact system and am open to other ideas here. I don't need wireless.

Other additions: Xbox, phone connectivity for music (considering new Iphone or the Lumia 900 WP Phone), laptop connectivity (considering a new Dell XPS 13)

I picked out all of these things without much intimate knowledge. Im a newbie and could use advice on the new purchases. Any input/opinions on any of the items is appreciated!
post #2 of 10
I'd go with the 59" diagonal if you want that Samsung model based on your viewing distance and 1080p resolution. Just remember, plasmas can be susceptible to burn-in in a matter of minutes if you have static images on the screen, like a sports ticker. Might want to look at the 8000 Series LED-lit TV's as well.

For a basic 3D Blu-ray player, the Panasonic 210 isn't too shabby.

You could try the Onkyo 709 receiver. It has 7 HDMI inputs and is almost half the price of the Denon. Use the money saved to get better speakers and a good sub (the most important purchase). They usually have a better laid out remote control than Denon, though you might consider a universal remote from Logitech or some other company.

If you switch your DirecTV analog boxes to HD, they'll all have HDMI ports anyway. Also, if you need more HDMI inputs than that, you could get a cheap Monoprice HDMI switcher for one of the HDMI inputs. To get 8 or more HDMI inputs built-in to a receiver or pre-amp, you'll be spending some extra dough on a pretty fancy unit.

For a no-fuss, no-muss solution, you could look at a satellite/sub package from HSU Research. Their Hybrid 5.1 channel and 7.1 channel packages have good sounding, basic bookshelf monitors that are well built that can play loud and clean, and they include a kick-butt, highly regarded VTF-15h subwoofer. The price is quite nice too. It would blow the doors off that Boston Acoustics system.

I'm not a fan of tiny micro-speakers and small subs (remind me too much of Bose). You really are fighting the laws of physics with those very small drivers and your home theater audio experience will tend to be anemic at best.

There are other retail store speakers to consider like Paradigm, PSB, Focal, Dali, Totem, etc. However, that HSU VTF-15h is still a great sub for the money.

Go with Monoprice high-speed HDMI cables and 12 gauge speaker cable. Great bang for the buck on the internet.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much for the reply. All of this can be overwhelming!

please see follow-ups below...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

I'd go with the 59" diagonal if you want that Samsung model based on your viewing distance and 1080p resolution. Just remember, plasmas can be susceptible to burn-in in a matter of minutes if you have static images on the screen, like a sports ticker. Might want to look at the 8000 Series LED-lit TV's as well.

My research seemed to indicate that's not the case much anymore. I hope Im right as I sprang for the Samsung today!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

You could try the Onkyo 709 receiver. It has 7 HDMI inputs and is almost half the price of the Denon. Use the money saved to get better speakers and a good sub (the most important purchase). They usually have a better laid out remote control than Denon, though you might consider a universal remote from Logitech or some other company.

Thanks, I'll check out the features. Streaming matters to me too and it seems this one fits the bill on that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

If you switch your DirecTV analog boxes to HD, they'll all have HDMI ports anyway. Also, if you need more HDMI inputs than that, you could get a cheap Monoprice HDMI switcher for one of the HDMI inputs. To get 8 or more HDMI inputs built-in to a receiver or pre-amp, you'll be spending some extra dough on a pretty fancy unit.


Would I be using those HDMI's though? I only want to switch the audio; the main TV screen always stays on the same source when wathcing TV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

For a no-fuss, no-muss solution, you could look at a satellite/sub package from HSU Research.

I didnt know about HSU. The product seem to be available direct thorugh their website and through no other channels?
post #4 of 10
The audio and video are sent through the same HDMI digital connector on those HD DirecTV boxes, as well as Blu-ray players, and other digital sources. You don't run separate video and audio cables with the newer electronics these days.

Now, if you wanted to send the video of each DirecTV box to separate, secondary digital TV's (and keep the video in HD) you'd need some sort of HDMI multiplier for each satellite box... one HDMI cable to the receiver for audio and video (and subsequently to the main Samsung plasma) and one to the separate digital display.

I don't think the new DirecTV boxes have dual HDMI outputs, but I could be wrong. Multiple TV's and encrypted digital high definition signals can be a royal pain in the arse to set up properly and gets a bit pricey to do it right.

HSU Research is internet direct (I have one of their subwoofers and love it) and has been in business for many years with mostly positive opinions.

http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/hybrid15pkg.html

Another well reviewed internet direct site is Aperion Audio. They do free shipping both ways for their 30-day in home trial. Their subs are not as good as HSU's, however.

http://www.aperionaudio.com/home.aspx

Did you end up with the larger 59" Samsung?
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

Now, if you wanted to send the video of each DirecTV box to separate, secondary digital TV's (and keep the video in HD) you'd need some sort of HDMI multiplier for each satellite box... one HDMI cable to the receiver for audio and video (and subsequently to the main Samsung plasma) and one to the separate digital display.

Thanks again for the response. Understanding this issue is the key to my setup.

The only TV signal that ever runs through the main plasma is 1 Directv HD DVR. The only video switching is to Bluray, games, etc. and other ancillaries.

The 4-7 other television feeds are the issueand they sit on their own video direct from the DTV receiver. The video lines never touch the AVR right now. BUT I do need to feed the audio through it. So I end up using inputs like "CD" or whatever for those extra audio feeds. My crappy current AVR doesnt have enough inputs so I bought an equally crappy switcher to handle the extra feeds.

The POTENTIAL problem I see is that there arent many audio-only inputs these days on AVRs (even the good ones). If I assign Directv recevier #4, for example, to the "DVD" input then when I switch to it to get the audio of whatever game it is on my main plasma will go blank, correct? This is b/c the DVD input is a video feed and my DTV#4 is not hooked up there for video; it has its own television for that.

Is the only way to avoid this finding a AVR with enough audio-only inputs???
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drivingrain View Post

The only TV signal that ever runs through the main plasma is 1 Directv HD DVR. The only video switching is to Bluray, games, etc. and other ancillaries.

The 4-7 other television feeds are the issueand they sit on their own video direct from the DTV receiver. The video lines never touch the AVR right now. BUT I do need to feed the audio through it. So I end up using inputs like "CD" or whatever for those extra audio feeds. My crappy current AVR doesnt have enough inputs so I bought an equally crappy switcher to handle the extra feeds.

Is the only way to avoid this finding a AVR with enough audio-only inputs???

I'd suggest running audio from each of the "extra" DirecTV boxes to an external switch, like this Monoprice one for $20:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

Which is IR-controllable. So you use one audio-only input (assuming the AVR keeps the video source from changing), but with IR control, you can use a macro-capable remote to make it easy to use...

Jeff
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

I'd suggest running audio from each of the "extra" DirecTV boxes to an external switch, like this Monoprice one for $20:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

Which is IR-controllable. So you use one audio-only input (assuming the AVR keeps the video source from changing), but with IR control, you can use a macro-capable remote to make it easy to use...

Jeff

I use a similar 3-way switch now and it requires a two step process to get to the ancillary TVs; as Im sure you agree, speed matters when watching sports.

So I've ordered a new receiver and will likely bypass the video aspects of the AVR entirely. Each video source will go directly to its respective monitor. The main TV will have a few video ins and I'll switch the TV input to get to them.

All of the audio sources will head to the AVR for switching there. I'm going to give the Marantz 5006 a whirl with a 7.1 Definitive set including the 5x 600 theater set plus two Definitive Studio Monitor 45 bookshelfs for left/right fronts. Size mattered for the speakers due to tight space limits and hopefully these speakers can work out the Marantz sufficiently.

All of it is anchored with the PNS51E8000 Samsung Plasma. I went with the smaller screen because of size limits of my room. Im pleased with the picture and the gadgets it has were what I was looking for other than the inexplicable lack of Amazon Prime Instant Video. I picked up plenty of 12 gauge speaker wire and a Monoprice HDMI. The Tv is already here, the rest should be here tomorrow in time for Syracuse/Wisconsin. : )
post #8 of 10
Just a couple of random comments from the above responses:

Hsu is a quality product, and they are good at returns. The sad reality these days is that it is nearly impossible to preview speakers. Best Buy is a joke with their 30' ceilings, and most buying is done online anyway. I would give the Hsu's a chance. BTW, I am not biased here, as I am a Klipsch fan myself. It all depends on the budget.

I am wondering about your audio connections. I would at least use the optical (TOSLINK) connections instead of the analog. The reason is that the best you will get from the analog connectors is simulated surround from matrix encoded stereo. The TOSLINK will give you true digital 5.1. It is very nice for sports.

The one place where I would reconsider routing HDMI through the receiver is if you do add that BluRay player. The best audio is only available through the HDMI port.

Actually, I would consider routing everything that goes to the big plasma through the receiver. That would actually simplify switching and would get you the best quality audio and video into your primary TV. Stay with the toslink/analog for the other TVs.

Finally, I usually recommend a balanced approach. The receivers you mention are mid to upper priced units. You really need better speakers to see any advantage here, so the recommendation to look into either a lower range receiver, like the Denon 1912 or the Onkyo 6XX series, or increase your speaker budget for better tower speakers with a good sub.
post #9 of 10
+1 on the HSU package (especially their Hybrid 15) over the Def. Tech. package. The HSU's have somewhat larger bookshelves and that can help put out a bigger wall of sound, but the subwoofer will decimate the one in the Def. Tech. package. I can almost guarantee it. Being horn loaded speakers (even if they have soft dome tweeters), they're also a bit easier for a receiver to drive.

+1 on only using HDMI for your Blu-ray player for the best possible audio (be sure to turn off secondary audio output in the setup menu and any dynamic range compression settings!!), video, and 3D Blu-ray disc support. You can use optical for DirecTV audio on the secondary boxes since it still is only Dolby Digital lossy sound for HD broadcasts.

However, if you have one of DirecTV's satellite boxes that is compatible with side-by-side 3D to be output from their 3D channels, you will have to use a high-speed HDMI cable from the box to the receiver and then to the Samsung. Use that particular box as the main DirecTV unit. Why have a 3D TV if you aren't going to use whatever 3D content is out there?
post #10 of 10
+1 for the Hsus as well. I have a VTF 3.3 and HB-1s for my LR and they are fantastic. My father has their Enthusiast 2 pkg but with my sub in a 40x20x20 room and it has no problem filling it with great sound.
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