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Home Theater on a Budget Suggestions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I've been considering getting a 5.1 surround sound system for my apartment for a while. I'm going to be moving soon so I'm not sure of the exact details of the room, but I can't imagine it will be anything crazy.

I'd prefer not to spend too much (i know, the more you spend the better the system) but I consider myself a value buyer, get the best bang for my buck. I'd prefer to spend less than $500 for the whole thing (I know plan 1 goes above a bit but hopefully I'll find a sale). Here are my two plans:

Plan 1:

Onkyo TX-NR414 ($230)
Energy 5.1 Take Classic ($400, just saw for $300) or the Monoprice ones when they come back in stock for $300

Total: ~$550

Plan 2:

Yamaha YHT-397 HTIB ($250) OR
Onkyo HT-S3500 HTIB ($300)


I'm not a huge audio snob and this would mainly be for movies/tv from my HTPC. I'm willing to pay the extra ~$250 if I'm REALLY going to notice a difference. If not, could I get either HTIB and then later use the receiver with the Energy/Monoprice speakers?

I'm open to additional suggestions as well!

Thanks!!
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa Usaki View Post

It doesn't sound like you can afford much. Get a 2nd job at your local gas station and then come back onto the forum and then we can help you.

Elitist much?

To answer the OP's question, I have had very good experiences with Onkyo. The first thing to look at is balance of where you're spending. If you're pairing a $200 HTIB with a $4000 TV, that's just stupid. If you're pairing a $200 HTIB with a $700 TV, then you're going to really benefit from the HTIB over TV speakers, although no system for $300 is going to get you to the level that the Onkyo S9400THX will get you, which is what I have, and absolutely love. My parents have a 5.1 Onkyo HTIB that was about $300, and it make a HUGE difference between the quality of TV sound, and what it should sound like. They have one for $360 on Amazon that looks pretty good. I like Onkyo, as they use standard speaker connections, so you can add your own wire (highly recommended, the crap they give you is just that), and you could add other speakers later. The one weird thing they do on the lower end setups is having a passive subwoofer, so you won't get the same "punch" as you will out of something like the S9400THX, which has a powered sub. For TV, I'd say the lower end ones perform somewhat similarly to the higher end ones, the bigger differences will be movies, but I would also say that the difference between TV sound and a $360 HTIB is MASSIVE, while the difference between that and the S9400THX is definitely noticeable, but not as massive. As a side note, the weird thing about TV sound, is that depending on the programming type, the center channel is often driving the experience more so than even the L/R channels. Without surround sound, movies sound terrible, as you're missing that center channel, while TV downmixes better.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you BiggAW for the very helpful post.

Right now I have a 32 inch TV I bought for about $500. I'll probably upgrade at some point (once I find a good deal, probably Black Friday) to a bigger TV, but probably somewhere in the $1000 ballpark (have to justify it to the wife :-)). And no worries, I quickly noticed that getting better speaker wire is a must.

I noticed that the Onkyo had a passive sub and was concerned about that. Would that affect me being able to upgrade the speakers in the future? I was leaning more towards the Yamaha because of the powered sub...but if it's not a problem then I could lean back the other way.
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by gewbert View Post

Hi,

I've been considering getting a 5.1 surround sound system for my apartment for a while. I'm going to be moving soon so I'm not sure of the exact details of the room, but I can't imagine it will be anything crazy.

I'd prefer not to spend too much (i know, the more you spend the better the system) but I consider myself a value buyer, get the best bang for my buck. I'd prefer to spend less than $500 for the whole thing (I know plan 1 goes above a bit but hopefully I'll find a sale). Here are my two plans:

Plan 1:

Onkyo TX-NR414 ($230)
Energy 5.1 Take Classic ($400, just saw for $300) or the Monoprice ones when they come back in stock for $300

Total: ~$550

Plan 2:

Yamaha YHT-397 HTIB ($250) OR
Onkyo HT-S3500 HTIB ($300)


I'm not a huge audio snob and this would mainly be for movies/tv from my HTPC. I'm willing to pay the extra ~$250 if I'm REALLY going to notice a difference. If not, could I get either HTIB and then later use the receiver with the Energy/Monoprice speakers?

I'm open to additional suggestions as well!

Thanks!!

Polk's RM6750 speaker system is about $200 on Amazon and you can pair that with the TX-NR414. Shipping may put you over your $500 limit though.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'll look into the Polks. Look nice! It would actually be under my budget with Amazon Prime.

Anybody have these monoprice speakers? Looks like the model number is 8247.

http://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-5-1-Channel-Satellite-Speakers-Subwoofer/dp/B007YLQUWK/ref=zg_bs_3025451_26
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by gewbert View Post

I'll look into the Polks. Look nice! It would actually be under my budget with Amazon Prime.

Anybody have these monoprice speakers? Looks like the model number is 8247.

http://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-5-1-Channel-Satellite-Speakers-Subwoofer/dp/B007YLQUWK/ref=zg_bs_3025451_26

Looks like a good set for the price - all the reviews were positive...
Space saving and powered subwoofer would be perfect for your needs.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Ok i think I'll go with the Monoprice speakers and the Onyko NR-414. Thanks for the help all!
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by gewbert View Post

Thank you BiggAW for the very helpful post.

Right now I have a 32 inch TV I bought for about $500. I'll probably upgrade at some point (once I find a good deal, probably Black Friday) to a bigger TV, but probably somewhere in the $1000 ballpark (have to justify it to the wife :-)). And no worries, I quickly noticed that getting better speaker wire is a must.

I noticed that the Onkyo had a passive sub and was concerned about that. Would that affect me being able to upgrade the speakers in the future? I was leaning more towards the Yamaha because of the powered sub...but if it's not a problem then I could lean back the other way.

This one has a powered sub:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882120201

The others ones will limit you unpowered subs, as they don't have sub pre-outs. However, at the point that you're paying $300 for an HTIB, consider it basically as a paired set, just with the ability to use normal speaker wire. The AVR in a set like that isn't going to be good enough for adding your own speakers. The thing is, in order to peice a set together on your own, you're probably going to end up in the $1000 range, in which case you're looking at a totally different product. I got the S9400THX because while it's not an amazing HT setup, it's the equivalent of a $1k+ HTIB for ~$700, and provides a great value with minimal research and configuration.

I'm a little leery of Monoprice stuff speakers and switches and stuff like that. They just seem super cheap. Onkyo is a better known brand... What you also need to look at is speaker size. At the <$400 price point with Onkyo, you're getting much bigger speakers than that $100 Monoprice setup, which is going to give you much more full sound. I wouldn't recommend dipping below something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S3400-Channel-Home-Theater/dp/B004O0TRDI

since that will give you decent sized speakers, making it a decent match for a $1k TV. My parents have a very similar system with a $1700 Sony TV, but they watch TV almost exclusively, not movies. With that Monoprice system, you're spending a little over $300, and getting a lot less than getting the whole HITB with Onkyo, even if you lose the powered sub.

Once you go significantly above $1k on the TV, you should be looking up to something like the S9400THX, otherwise you'll be rather out of balance for sound vs. picture, at least if you watch movies.

You should also consider the size of the room. Bigger houses need more expensive audio gear to fill the room up with sound. smile.gif
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by gewbert View Post

Ok i think I'll go with the Monoprice speakers and the Onyko NR-414. Thanks for the help all!

For the price that's a great small room/apt set-up....cool.gif
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