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Anything better for ~$300 for my situation than an Onkyo HT-S7400?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi folks,

I have a very limited situation:
  • Just the wife and I on a couch 10' from an HDTV. If somebody else visits, they just won't get optimal surround. wink.gif
  • Don't need internet radio (we're just there for the TV)
  • Don't need to control it from out of state via smartphone (lol)
  • Don't want wireless speakers (pay more for technology that has more problems??)
  • Don't need 7.1 ... 5.1 is more than enough, without the hassle of placing yet another pair of speakers
  • We do not need wall-rattling power; don't want to play it that loud.
  • Realistically, we probably only watch 1 or 2 Blu-Ray movies a month where surround sound will really make a difference
  • When we bought our $800 TV, it was a huge leap for us (we've had a 28" tube TV since 1996), so it was a shock to find that the speakers really suck and in fact we have to spend hundreds more to get surround. I suppose I should've realized it, but still... it's almost like we got ripped off and forced to pay hundreds more.

So, I'm looking for a wired 5.1 system that can handle 3D passthrough... but didn't want or expect to have to pay hundreds more. I already have a Blu-Ray. I don't want to spend much nor spend inordinate time picking pieces, so I think a Box solution is best.

I really like the idea of Audyssey; in addition to room balancing, it probably implies a level of system functionality. And this, where a company's more expensive lines probably "funded" their Audyssey implementation before it was in their cheaper models.

Power-saving features are a real plus; I hate invisible energy vampires, which home theater audio is practically by definition. (They typically use 80 - 90W even when completely silent or using headphones.) Auto Standby is a must, and anything better is a plus.

A couple of weeks ago, I started a thread asking if the Denon DHT-591BA was good for me, but it turns out that Accessories4Less is now sold out of them. So now I am looking at the Onkyo HT-S7400 ($300 refurbished at A4L).

The 7400 touts iPod and Internet radio features, which I do not need, so it's actually a bad thing - I'm paying for stuff I don't need. But I figure the actual (hardware) cost of it is small, and most any new system will have it (it's probably hard to unavoid now, except in rock-bottom systems).

But the 7400 appears to be discontinued, and A4L has a similar, current HT-S6500 but which sells for $420... I can't see any real difference here, so why would I want to pay more?

I can pay more than $300, but it would have to REALLY be worth it for our very limited situation.

Thanks if you can help! I think you guys are great, here!!

post #2 of 5
Our first foray into a HTS was the Yamaha YHT-395, for a lot of the same reasons you post. The newer system is the YHT-397 and I think the only difference is the automated audio calibration system (which I'm not sure how useful that really is for smaller HTSs). I just manually calibrated mine (which does take some time) and it sound just fine. You could probably find the 395 for about $250 and the 397 for a bit over $300. Speakers are always going to be the weak point on any HTiB system but you can always upgrade them later as your budget and/or listening environment changes. You will always find features on receivers that you won't use (like all of the preset audio enhancers that I never use) so you'll just have to live with that.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi Otto, cool name cool.gif

Your Yamaha sounds interesting...

I want the audio calibration not only because I don't trust my ears (and don't want to do it manually... I've already spent days unexpectedly having to research HT systems, like I don't have anything else to do), but also because it probably means some modicum of functionality. Sort of like, if a handyman is bonded, it probably says something about them, vs an unbonded one... if they have incorporated a system which understands and can work with feedback from itself, it seems to me like insurance that they have at least given it a functionality review (vs a thrown-together bare bones that "ought to work"), if not actually having fleshed out the audio hardware better.

Said another way, it's a bit of redundancy intended to ensure good audio. Especially for low-end systems, redundancy can be good.

I could not find either your 395 or 397 at Accessories4Less. Unfortunately that alone means I probably can't go for it, since the refurbished equipment gets such lovely discounts.

Also, in reviewing the specs, I saw that the 397 has an energy ECO mode which initially got me excited...

... but it's kind of hard to tell...
  • Page 62 of the HTR-3065 manual (the AVR for the 397) says it needs a minimum of 2 hours before Auto-Standby "If you do not operate the unit". To me, this is very distinct from e.g. Denon's Auto-Standby which, IIRC, kicks in after 30 minutes of no input. So *IF* I am understanding this correctly, the Yamaha is only sensing whether its own controls have been operated (right?), whereas the Denon senses whether anything is actually using it. So the Yamaha is much more clunky (you could easily watch cable more than two hours), IF I'm understanding correctly.
  • But it also has a setting called Standby Sync (p. 60) where it will go standby if the TV is turned off. If this works as advertised, this would in fact be perfect (better than Denon's Auto Standby).
  • The touted ECO "tech" (p. 62) seems utterly ridiculous and pretty much fraudulent - IF I'm understanding it right. It only seems to limit how loud it can get (which in fact only actually serves to be an annoyance to somebody that wants it that loud - what could it otherwise possibly be doing?), AND it dims the front panel more. (Yay! 0.2 Watts saved!) But then it proudly proclaims "about 20% power reduction". Am I missing something, or is this claim absurd? Even if you use headphones, your amp will still be using the same nominal 80W (or whatever) for basic functioning as when low or quiet, right? How in heaven's name does a useless volume governor or dimming LEDs save 20% of that? The loudness governor is the same as saying "You save energy regardless of ECO setting if you keep it down (duh). And if you want it loud, turn off ECO."

Thanks for letting me vent there; I guess I really care about saving power biggrin.gif

The Yamaha could be interesting... more comments on it or other systems welcomed!
post #4 of 5
The receiver for the 395 HTiB system is the RX-V371 and the receiver for the 397 HTiB is the RX-V373 so you could purchase them alone and then add whatever speaker set meets your needs. I use mine all of the time and just turn it on when I need to. I think it stays in some sort of Standby mode but you can't tell because there's nothing lit on the front panel. I too watch my energy usage but have not noticed any increase in energy use with the Yamaha system on our monthly bills (which are consistently low). I use a Harmony remote so I can turn on just what I want to and then turn it all off with a single click of a button. I don't use or need HDMI pass-thru because all audio is played thru the receiver, the tv speakers are always off. We probably use the receiver 7-8 hours a day for tv, movies, etc and it never gets very warm at all, and has not had any performance issues. You can pm me if you want to talk specifics are ask here.
post #5 of 5
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