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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Help Needed With Upgrade Plan

While I follow TV tech pretty closely, I have always neglected the sound part of my setup and not really put much time and care into my home theatre audio setup. Not having much experience in this area, I'm hoping those in the know can tell me if there are any fatal flaws in my plans here. Thanks in advance.

Years ago, I purchased a cheap clearance HTIB (Sony STR-K790) and have continued using that to this day - connected via optical. It doesn't even have a single HDMI port on it - in or out.

Now as I'm enjoying 4K UHD Blu-ray movies on my Panasonic DMP-UB900 and LG 65B7 OLED, I'm wishing I could enjoy the Dolby Atmos and DTS-X immersive sound experience.

I don't have a huge budget to play with. The wife has given her blessing on $1,200 (Canadian, not US) for Christmas this year. I've started looking at various soundbar solutions, but I do not have an ideal space for bouncing sounds off walls and ceiling. The rec room where everything is situated has lots of other stuff in it. Coat racks, piano, uneven ceiling, a curved wet bar, etc. My thought then, is that a proper 5.2.4 system will be far more effective in this sort of environment.

Getting such a system within my budget seems to be not very feasible, so my new plan is to play the long game and build the system up in steps.

Firstly, I feel like the place to start is with a new receiver with the ability to drive all of those speakers, decode the Atmos and DTS-X signals and connect to my gear via HDMI, including ARC. My plan is to get the receiver and connect it to my existing speakers and then for future birthdays and Christmases I can add on additional speakers for the height channels and then eventually upgrade the original speakers.

To that end, I've found a Black Friday deal on an Onkyo TX-NR787 receiver, which usually retails in Canada for $1,000 - $1,200 on sale for $700. This receiver seems to be generally well-reviewed for it's price range and has everything I will need to eventually have a serviceable 5.2.4 setup.

The only snag I can see with it is that I don't believe it will work with the subwoofer that I already have with the STR-K790, since it is passively powered, using the same speaker wire connection as the other speakers and it looks to me like the Onkyo TX-NR787 will require me to have a powered sub.

So my thought on the sub is to get a POLK HTS 12, which also seems to be well-reviewed for its price range and is also on a Black Friday sale for $450 (down from the normal $650 CDN).

I'm thinking this should keep me under the $1,200 budget and give me a working 5.1 setup with the ability to expand into Dolby Atmos and DTS-X in the next couple of years.

Am I missing anything crucial? Is this going to work? Am I going about it all wrong?
 

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Looks like you are on your way to Home Theater. The only thing you need to check is those HTIB speakers before using then with the new receiver. Make sure they are 8 ohm (or at least 6), research shows me the older Sony unit is an 8 ohm unit so they are probably OK. The partial upgrade is a good plan, that way you can save up to really invest in the front 3 speakers when it comes time to get them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Looks like you are on your way to Home Theater. The only thing you need to check is those HTIB speakers before using then with the new receiver. Make sure they are 8 ohm (or at least 6), research shows me the older Sony unit is an 8 ohm unit so they are probably OK. The partial upgrade is a good plan, that way you can save up to really invest in the front 3 speakers when it comes time to get them.
Thanks. I checked the speakers last night and they say they are 6 ohm.
 

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If you want bang for your buck, instead of installing a $1200 AVR, consider spending ~$500 on a reliable AVR, and remainder on 3 good speakers for front (left, center, right).

If the current subwoofer is only passive (must be driven by AVR), simply connect the left and right connections from the AVR to the sub's input terminals, set the low pass filter to roughly 80-100 Hz, and connect the left and right speakers to the subwoofer's output terminals. You can get a self-powered, active subwoofer later to connect to the AVR's SUB PRE-OUT connection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So, to update this tale, my annual bonus came in substantially larger than expected, so I had my wife's blessing to get some speakers as well. Took advantage of some sales to get a Polk S35 for centre channel, S60's for L/R and S20's for rear surround. I will use the old L/R & Rear L/R speakers from the old HTIB as height speakers for now. Some components are a week out in arriving... gonna be a long week...

Now, I just need to do some measuring and figure out what gauge of speaker wire to get... I've never purchased speaker wire before... yay, more research...
 

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If your distances are normal (< 20 meters), 14 gauge ought to do fine. Most do well just buying a long reel of the wire, then attaching Sewell or similar terminals themselves. Easy to do unless you have compelling reasons to never use cutting tools.

More advice available in the Speakers section of the forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks. The longest stretch of wire I measured will be 37', and the speakers they're attaching to are 8 ohm, so I went and bought 100' of 14 gauge wire.

The next challenge I'm coming across as I read more about proper audio setup is placement of speakers.
Placement of the Polk S20's in the rear, in particular is going to be somewhat challenging. Because of the room layout, there's no way to place them behind the seating position at ear-level. I will likely have to place them at around 5 feet high (one on top of the bar and one on top of the piano) and angle them downwards a bit. And they'll only be slightly behind the seating position, because any further back and they'd either need to be higher or would be blocked by the bar on the one side. Not ideal, but the room really isn't conducive to proper surround speaker placement. In my current, old setup all my speakers are less than a foot from the ceiling, which probably means they can stay where they are for the height channels, but have likely not been living up to their potential as a 5.1 system.
 
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