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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, I've lurked on and off for the past 6 months or so, but never had anything to add since my HT setup is pretty weak. (my tv doesn't even have s-video inputs!).


Anyway, I got home last night, turned on my receiver and tv, and realized that sound was only coming out of the front-right channel, and that it sounded terrible (very low volume, even when the receiver volume is maxed, and it sounded echoey). I played around with it a bit, and found that nothing seemed to come out of the center channel or the front left channel, and that all the speakers had the low volume, crappy sound when plugged into the front-right. (in case it matters, I have a JBL ESC200 receiver that I bought over three years ago...). When plugging the speaker wire into the center channel or the front-left channel, it usually sparks at me too, which I don't recall it doing before. I didn't get any sparking from the front-right channel though. Seeing as I don't play with the speakers much, is sparking normal? Or is that further proof of the receiver being broken? :(


I just moved this system into my new home Saturday. It worked fine until yesterday (Tuesday). One thing that came to mind is that when I moved to the new place, I didn't plug the rear-surround speakers in (no way to get the wires to the back of the room yet). I didn't think that would be a problem though. Can you damage a receiver by not filling all of the inputs?


On to the new receiver question. My wife doesn't seem to mind listening to the internal TV speakers, but they're driving me nuts so I need a new one. Unfortunately, having just moved into a new place I don't exactly have a lot of money. I do, however, have a Sony credit card that gives me 1% back towards Sony stuff, and I've amassed around $200-$300 on the card. So I was thinking about getting a Sony receiver, but wanted some opinions. Crutchfield has the Sony STR-DE485 for $199 and the STR-DE685 for $299. Are these receivers worth it? I was planning on using my Sony points to get a digital camera, but I might be willing to go with these if they're any good. Thoughts?


I'd appreciate comments on my old broken receiver (did I break it? Did it just wear out? Is there something I can do to fix it cheap?). I'd also like opinions on whether I should get a low-end Sony one, or if I should get an even cheaper low-end one or what. Thanks!

CW
 

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It does not hurt to leave speakers disconnected. It actually helps the rest since more power is available for them.


You should not get sparks. If you're seeing them at the ends of the cables at the receiver, that suggests that there are loose wires shorting together at the speakers. Check to make sure there are no loose strands of wires anywhere. Make sure each cable end is tightly twisted and there are no loose strands broken off around the speaker and receiver connectors. (I'm assuming you've just trimmed back the insulation and are using bare wire ends and not special connectors on the cables themselves.)


I can't comment on the relative quality of the Sony receivers you mention. I'm sure others will, though. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, I decided to go out and buy the Sony STR-DE485 receiver (instead of the STR-DE685). Unfortunately, they both take only powered subwoofers, and the subwoofer with my JBL ESC200 was non-powered. :( Lucky for me, I went to Circuitcity.com, and when I added teh DE485 to my cart, it said I could get a $150 rebate if I bought the Jensen JHT805 speaker set. Since the speaker set (1 shielded center, 2 unshielded fronts and 2 unshielded rears, plus a powered sub) was only $180, I got them for $30 after rebate which I thought was worth it even if I only use the sub.


I'm guessing that this setup will be better than my current on and should tide me over for the next year or two until I can get the stuff I really want. :)


If anyone's interested in either the DE485 or the Jansen speakers, let me know and I'll give you my opinion on them. Just keep in mind that I don't have much to compare them to :)

CW
 

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CW,


It sounds like you got a really good deal! Please don't hesitate to post a review of your new system when you've had a chance to listen to it. There are lots of people reading the forum who would be interested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, I havn't had a lot of time to listen to my new setup, but overall my impression is VERY favorable. Keep in mind I was going from the JBL ESC200 to the Sony STR-DE485 with Jensen JHT805 speakers, so the hardware seems to be much better than my old stuff.


I watched Top Gun and Bring it On so far.


In Top Gun, I was very impressed with the bass. I had decent bass before, but the powered subwoofer definately has more kick than my old passive one. When Tom Cruise does the fly-by of the tower, the room shook which was very cool.


Unfortunately, I didn't have things setup correctly, and ended up watching the movie only in Dolby ProLogic (stupid me connected only the R/W/Y jacks, ignoring the digital coax thing; I'm new to this whole process, and it shows). I really had the idea that things were better than before when I watched my cat look around trying to figure out what the sound was. He's never done that before :)


Next, I watched Bring it On (gotta love Kirstin Dunst :) ). I ifgured out that I had things connected wrong when I tried to watch the DTS presentation, and there was no sound. I then looked at the back of my DVD player and receiver, and realized I had to connect the other ports. I ended up taking my RCA cable and using that; maybe one of these days I'll go out and buy the right cable for the subwoofer and digital output, but until then, this works for me.


The movie doesn't have many special sound effects, but has a lot of music in it. Again, things sounded great! The music engulfed the room and actually felt more "engulfing" than Top Gun did. I'm not sure if that'st he DTS, or because I actually had 6 channels this time or if it was just psychological, but it sounded even better than Top Gun. I'm tempted to pop in Top Gun again and see what happens, but we'll see. :)


Overall, I'm VERY impressed with this setup. For $400 retail ($200 for speakres, $200 for receiver), I think it's well worth the money. Now add the fact that I got them on sale for $360, and in addition got a rebate for $150 and the whole upgrade cost me only $210, you can't go wrong!


Now keep in mind that the one downside to the Sony STR-DE485 is that it does NOT have any S-Video jacks in it. That's fine in my setup since my TV is crappy and doesn't have S-Video, but it's something to remember if you're looking. The SE-685 is supposed to have S-Video and is $100 more, so you might want to go that route if you have it. I didn't because the $150 rebate was only with the DE485, and I needed the powered subwoofer. Didn't realize that the speakers would be that much better though.


Hope this was helpful. I'm no pro at reviewing this stuff (heck, I'm still learning how to USE it, so I'm sure I can get it to sound even better), but overall I give it two thumbs up. Hope this helps someone!

CW
 
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