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Seeking Advice for Basic Family Room Set-Up

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi, I realize this could probably go into one of several AVS forums, but this seems to be among the most active. Hopefully a few of you can help me out.

My family room is approximately 12' wide by 20' long, with the TV facing the wall that's 20' away. The couch floats in roughly the middle of the room, about 8' from the TV. The TV sits in a built-in entertainment center with bookcases on either side and cabinets w/ doors below. Access above the ceiling is limited, but probably not impossible (would require some professional help).


The family room is our TV room and our house is small, with two young children--we don't watch TV or listen to music at very loud volumes. I have a 47" LG Smart TV w/ Nero integration, smart Blu-Ray player and Apple TV.

I currently rely on the TV's built-in speakers--adequate for volume, but not for quality. For music, I have a very old Pioneer component system with bookshelf speakers--I'm getting rid of this. I have a hard-wired ethernet connection to my router across the house, which I use for streaming media to the TV.

Here are my goals:
1. Stream music to the family room via a new audio source, which would also be the default audio for the TV.
2. Ideally, use the TV as my input switcher--not sure if I'll gravitate toward Apple TV, LG's built-in Nero app, or a WD My Book personal cloud external drive as the interface.
3. Make this as effortless as possible--ideally, my audio source would always be on for the TV and if I want to listen to music, I just hit the TV's "input" button and take it from there. Bluetooth would be nice, but not essential, since I don't keep much music on my iPhone or iPad.
4. Spend less than $500.

Here are my questions:
1. Do you agree my best bets are a soundbar or a pair of bookshelf speakers (which I already have room for)?
2. If I go the bookshelf speaker route, do I even need a receiver or sub? Can the speakers connect directly to optical audio-out?
3. Which direction would you suggest I take, and do you have specific recommendations?
post #2 of 8
Well, unless the LG has speaker line outputs you will need an AVR to connect the speakers. So for only $500 you'll have to go with your bookshelf speakers and buy an AVR. I don't think $500 would cover the cost of an AVR and a soundbar.
And I would suspect your bookshelf speakers would have better quality than fit in your hand speakers from HTiB system.
post #3 of 8
Here is my thinking. You need a receiver. Look for a 5.1 one, let's set an approximately $300 budget. Harmon/Kardon 1650, Denon 1713 are but a couple of options.
Eventually you will probably want the full 5.1 surround (5 sats and a sub) but even 2 bookshelf speakers will be better sound than your TV. I'm going to suggest 2 quality/popular options that are about $200/pair. Cambridge Audio S30 or NHT Absolute Zero.

In the future, you will have the option to add a sub and another 3 matching speakers
post #4 of 8
+1 on the Denon 1713, has plenty of good features at a reasonable price point. I would suggest going with a couple bookshelf speakers for the time being, and then add on from there.

Given the space you have, I would look at a front-ported bookshelf speaker. This lets you place it close to a wall or on a shelf without hindering the bass response. The first thing that comes to mind is the Infinity P163. It is a fantastic bookshelf speaker and would be a huge improvement over TV speakers. This puts you at $500, and later on you could add a center/sub/surrounds if you feel the need.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies! I have a few follow-up questions.

1) Is it correct to assume that when using a receiver, you have to use its remote to control the volume? An AVR can't learn commands from my Comcast and/or LG remote, can it?

2) Once you hook up your TV to an AVR, is it much simpler to always listen to TV through the AVR? I'm trying to wrap my head around how it would work with disabling the sound on my TV speakers some of the time, but not all of the time. Seems clunky, and unless you leave the AVR on 24/7, one more thing to turn on for routine TV viewing.

3) Would the lack of a center-channel front speaker mean no discernable difference in dialogue clarity compared to what I already have? Or would two bookshelves still be a big improvement in making out dialogue compared to a soundbar or TV speakers?
post #6 of 8
Most AVRs have switched AC outlets. You can plug the screen into one of those. Then when you turn on the AVR via its remote, the screen will turn on as well. All audio will be controlled via the AVR remote.
As to if you will get better dialogue with a center depends on how good your main L/R speakers produce dialogue.
If I listen to a tv show only using stereo output, there is no difference in dialogue compared to using 5.1, in which the center speaker is active.
post #7 of 8
Most modern AVR's these days do not have a switched outlet.
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post #8 of 8
Quote:
1) Is it correct to assume that when using a receiver, you have to use its remote to control the volume? An AVR can't learn commands from my Comcast and/or LG remote, can it?
AVR remotes can often be programmed to handle at least the basic functionality of other components. The owner's manual for the AVR you're considering should tell you which other components its remote can be programmed to work with.
Quote:
2) Once you hook up your TV to an AVR, is it much simpler to always listen to TV through the AVR? I'm trying to wrap my head around how it would work with disabling the sound on my TV speakers some of the time, but not all of the time. Seems clunky, and unless you leave the AVR on 24/7, one more thing to turn on for routine TV viewing.
If your TV's audio output is not affected by the "Mute" button, you could simply mute the TV speakers when you want your AVR + speakers to handle audio; and un-mute it when you want the TV to handle audio. The TV's owner's manual should tell you whether or not the "Mute" button affects audio output.
Quote:
3) Would the lack of a center-channel front speaker mean no discernable difference in dialogue clarity compared to what I already have? Or would two bookshelves still be a big improvement in making out dialogue compared to a soundbar or TV speakers?
I suspect that having larger and better-quality bookshelf speakers will provide better overall sound that the TV's speakers, which should result in better "phantom center" audio. Additionally, you can toe-in or otherwise adjust the orientation of those bookshelf speakers to tweak the front soundstage audio - something you can't do with fixed TV speakers.
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