Originally Posted by Rogco /forum/post/18109769
Thanks... I could see this getting expensive quickly!
You are getting the picture!
My ultimate suggestion is a little different than what you might be thinking, but it is worth a little consideration.
I agree with m_vanmeter; for under $1000 you will have difficulty putting together any kind of decent 5.1 system.
Look at it this way, what should you budget for a decent system?:
Front Speakers like Monitor Audio Bronze BR2 plus center channel $650
Subwoofer that is not total junk $500 to $750
Surround processor $400 to $500 (min.)
Rear Speakers (buy a good brand, used) $200
Speaker wire and interconnects $150
HSU and Orb and some other decent manufacturers sell small upgradable 5.1 speaker systems that are not junk for around $1100. Then you need a surround processor and some speaker wire and interconnects...
In my opinion, a person must spend nearly $2000 to get a tolerable 5.1 system, maybe a little less. You might luck out for around $1200 or so if you find some good used stuff.
You have a couple of options, already stated elsewhere :
Start with the hand-me-down processor/receiver and two or three speakers and build from there.
Buy some good stuff, used (audiogon and videogon are good sources)
Save up some money and buy something good (while perhaps considering suggestion below).
Buy a crappy 5.1 home theatre in a box system for $500. It is junk, but it outputs "sound" and does put a person in the middle of the action.
This may not be what you're looking for, or so you think, but another option, and one I use in my living room with my 50" Panasonic Plasma (home theatre is in basement):
Consider the Boston Acoustics TeeVee Model Two soundbar with wireless subwoofer. (I have no affiliation with Boston, I just own this product and it is great as far as it goes. I also have been into high end audio for 30 years; I don't know everything but I do know good (and awful) sound when I hear it.)
What the TeeVee Model Two does really well:
100 times better and more accurate and musical than your television speakers. When you watch some guy playing the bass on television, you can also actually hear bass notes to go with the visual.
For music, the strings sound like strings and the drums sound (pretty much) like drums and you can tell the difference in timbre between a Stratocaster and a Les Paul. Music sounds like music whether it is orchestral, rock and roll, jazz, or a movie soundtrack.
For movies, I would rate this product as good. Not great ($2000 required) or superior ($5000 required) but pretty darn good. This is a simple two-channel soundbar with small subwoofer. At $349 or whatever, it doesn't try to be all things to all people, it just outputs everything from the signal it receives and does it pretty well. For $1200 you can get a better? soundbar with surround (that probably will not really be as musically accurate or satisfying) and for $2000 to $2500 you can put together a decent separates surround system. For $349 you cannot touch what this product will do for you.
What it doesn't do:
It will not produce chest thumping bass with movies or music. (However, it will do just fine for party music, without sacrificing quality it plays loud. Not real loud, not double extra loud, but loud. And sounds good doing it.)
It will not create a surround field, or a pseudo surround field.
This may not be what you (think you) want, but for quality and musicality I'll put this two channel soundbar with small sub up against any 5.1 system you can buy for under $800 and say it will sound twice as good.
Good luck, if you must have rear (surround) speakers or are ready to embark on putting together a 5.1 system a little at a time, go for it. If you (or any other readers here) are considering buying a junky 5.1 system or some small speakers that will not really serve you well over time, consider instead this little system that sounds really good while not trying to be something it isn't (or can't be, for what it costs). When you do start on a "real" system, relegate this unit to your second flat panel television. Because once you've heard this pretty darn cheap solution to (almost worthless) television speakers, you'll never go back.