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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recognize this question might be better posed to the audio discussion but I would prefer the opinions of people here who may understand my need for "decent sound" that doesn't break the bank (I can't believe the price of some speakers being listed for re-sale exceeding $15,000!) So here are my questions and some basic info.


My basement is almost done being finished and its time to purchase my first home theater system. Due to costs, I have decided to buy either the Optoma HD20 or the Vivitek for under $1,000 (hopefully a comparison will be available this week?).


On Saturday, I went to Sony Outlet and purchased refurbished AV Receiver for $500 (STR-DA2400 ES) and refurbished Playstation 3 for $270.


I now need to purchase speakers (5.1) and a screen.


The basement has been finished without a dedicated room, i.e. half is play area for my 4 kids and the other is our theater area which will provide for a 100 inch screen or slightly larger. The basement has a slider but no other windows. So ambiant light will be an issue (mostly from modest light, i.e. we won't have the room pitch black most of the time).


I was hoping to spend less than $1,000 on speakers (5.1) and was hoping someone hear might give me some direction. The two rear speakers must be inwall ceiling speakers, and I believe the front and center will also be built into drywall (not sure about the sub).


I am also hoping for some direction on a 100 inch fixed screen that won't cost more than $500.


You guys are great (I have been following a lot of the dialague here which reminded me of the other enthusiast's discussion group I belong to at Miata.net).
 

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Any particular reason why you need in-ceiling and/or in-wall or on-wall speakers? Can you please post a few pics of said basement and room dimensions?


For your stated price requirements for all your speakers, built-ins won't give you much in the way of sound quality for the cash layout. You'd have to pump up your speaker budget to perhaps $2,000 or more... which I'd recommend anyway. Sometimes by building a speaker system a little at a time rather than all at once on a smaller budget you will end up with a far, far superior system that will be the envy of your neighbors and you'll be happier and less prone to wanting to upgrade quickly.


Depending on the HT room layout you may be able to go with bookshelves for the sides and/or rears (your receiver does do 7.1 surround) and wall or ceiling mount them so they are more optimally placed for a better surround sound spread.


As for ambient light, you probably should consider heavy, light blocking drapes for your sliding door. Otherwise, your front projection experience will be less than stellar IMHO.
 

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For a 100 inch or larger, high quality screen you won't want to upgrade immediately due to cheapo construction that won't be much more than your stated price range... I recommend www.carada.com


I've already read a few posts of people who wanted to upgrade from the HTDepot screens to Carada. You get what you paid for.
 

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I've read quite a few good things about these speakers, especially for a better-than-beginner movie soundtrack audio system for a "beer budget" price level. Hope you like satin black.
The LCR speakers are used for, obviously, left, center, and right. They are mirrored designs for identical sound reproduction from all speakers and the center speaker can be placed horizontally or vertically (vertical placement of the center speaker is usually for acoustically transparent front projection screens).

http://emotiva.com/shop/cart.php?m=product_list&c=9


If you can somehow swing 7.1 audio you should definitely do direct radiating speakers (rather than dipole or bipole) for the back speakers. If you do ERD-1's for the side surrounds, be sure to switch them to bipole radiating dispersion.


My first choice would definitely be ERT-8.3's for the fronts, an ERM-6.3 for the center, and ERM-6.2's for the surrounds. Doable if, again, you do a little bit at a time.


Get a sub later. Try HSU Research or SVS on-line for great bang vs. buck products.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Those are great starts.

Also, I will be paying for expert install for projector, etc.


Based upon suggestions above, I will buy a sub later since it won't be in wall. I am also thinking the center channel can be out of wall and placed upon an 18 inch stone shelf being built below the screen. Thus, looks like the center and sub(s) will have to wait.


Thus, I will purchase 4 in wall speakers now (2 front and 2 rear) with a budget of not more than $1,000.


Given these parameters, any further clarification on the prior suggestions?


I am going 5.1 because there are no walls on the side; basement is open w/ no dedicated room. Total finished space is 1,000 ft, with walls less than 8 ft. high. I have two smaller subs and a center I can use from an older Yamaha box set I bought a few years ago until I can afford a new one.


I will try to post a picture tomorrow.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassady /forum/post/17015813


Those are great starts.

Also, I will be paying for expert install for projector, etc.


Based upon suggestions above, I will buy a sub later since it won't be in wall. I am also thinking the center channel can be out of wall and placed upon an 18 inch stone shelf being built below the screen. Thus, looks like the center and sub(s) will have to wait.


Thus, I will purchase 4 in wall speakers now (2 front and 2 rear) with a budget of not more than $1,000.


Given these parameters, any further clarification on the prior suggestions?


I am going 5.1 because there are no walls on the side; basement is open w/ no dedicated room. Total finished space is 1,000 ft, with walls less than 8 ft. high. I have two smaller subs and a center I can use from an older Yamaha box set I bought a few years ago until I can afford a new one.


I will try to post a picture tomorrow.

Not trying to belabor a point, but I would most definitely not go with in-walls for at least the front three speakers unless you "up" your budget and go with something like Atlantic Technology (AV Science, the parent company of this forum site, sells AT speakers at a good price), Triad (they are spectacular), PSB, Paradigm, or some other name brand that's more robust like those I mentioned.


You'll be a lot happier with the results, believe me. I've done my share of home theaters... besides listening to them.


You could do floor standers for the left and right and put the center on your shelf below the screen.


If you have no side walls, I highly suggest ceiling mounting small bookshelves on the sides (toed down and placed 90 degrees to the main seating area listeners' ears) and wall mounting identical models on the back wall. You'll, again, get a much, much better surround envelopment (rather than sound coming from directly above you like with in-ceilings, which really only works for a "voice of God" effect like the upcoming Dolby PLIIz matrix surround processing, which sounds weird for most movie and multi-channel music mixes as they were designed for side and rear wall speakers), and you can go with true 7.1 surround.


These are examples of wall and ceiling mount brackets for bookshelf speakers (choose based on the weight of the speaker).

http://www.htmarket.com/home-theater...er-mounts.html

Seven Emotiva ERM-1 LCR bookshelf monitors are $973 + shipping. Not bad, not bad at all.

http://emotiva.com/shop/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=18



HSU Research VTF-3 MK3 subwoofer (which I own and am quite impressed with for music and movies-- it'll crack the foundation!!) -- $729 for flat black (includes shipping fee)

http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/vtf-3-mk3.html


Put those together and you'd have, IMHO, one hell of a 100% sonically matched (timbre matched), full 8 channel starter system.


Get some high quality, low cost Belden in-wall rated speaker cable, HDMI cable, and analog audio cables at http://www.bluejeanscable.com I am always very impressed with the quality for the money.
 

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I have no idea where you are located, but if you go to www.psbspeakers.com you can look for a dealer in your area.


The PSB Image line of speakers is a very, very good bang vs. buck line (highly rated) as well if you want to step up in sonic quality. The new version is coming out later this year, so their current stock will probably be going at a discount. They're not in-ceiling models, so you'd need stands or some sort of wall mount brackets (with their bookshelf line)... but if sound quality is of more importance than aesthetics, then you'll probably love these.


This is off of MSRP, so you'll have to figure street pricing at a dealer should be lower.


Their B25 bookshelves are $479 a pair. The matching C60 center channel is $449 each. Their S50 bipolar side surround (that could be ceiling mounted) is $799 a pair. The mid range tower speaker, the T45, is $400 each.


Another bang vs. buck brick-n-mortar brand to consider if you want to again step up in sound quality is the Paradigm Monitor series. www.paradigm.com I have their middle tier Studio speakers and really, really like them.


Speakers are the number one purchase in a home theater system, so choose carefully and choose wisely... not cheaply. As usual, you do get what you paid for.


As you can see, if you just increase your budget a little bit and consider different mounting options you can get a whole other level of sonic performance and build quality.
 

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Cassady:


I agree with all of the comments above regarding the importance of loudspeakers. In addition to the above, you might want to consider an internet order company. I am extremely pleased with my Axiom Audio Epic Grand Master 350 speakers. They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. You can try them at home and if you do not like them, simply return them for a full refund. Purchase the factory seconds (they are perfect sonically) and you save approximately 10% making them a good value. The other advantage is that they are always available so that you can start with the fronts and add matching surrounds later, if desired.


A less expensive alternative would be elemental designs. I have not heard these personally but the reviews seem very positive.


A final suggestion would be Energy. Their parent company was purchased by Klipsch and the Energy brand has been discontinued. If you look around, you can find these at greatly reduced prices.


My suggestion is about your screen. After a lot of research, I decided that a do it yourself screen was the way to go for me. I went with a 120" Wilsonart Designer White screen (lots of information in the diy section on this forum). The result was outstanding! The big advantage with this screen, since half your room is being used as a kids play room, is that it is durable (being laminate countertop material) and can be easily cleaned using normal household cleaners. In other words, it is less likely to be damaged or dirtied by the little ones. This is also a very economical alternative.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassady /forum/post/17015813


Those are great starts.

Also, I will be paying for expert install for projector, etc.


Based upon suggestions above, I will buy a sub later since it won't be in wall. I am also thinking the center channel can be out of wall and placed upon an 18 inch stone shelf being built below the screen. Thus, looks like the center and sub(s) will have to wait.


Thus, I will purchase 4 in wall speakers now (2 front and 2 rear) with a budget of not more than $1,000.


Given these parameters, any further clarification on the prior suggestions?


I am going 5.1 because there are no walls on the side; basement is open w/ no dedicated room. Total finished space is 1,000 ft, with walls less than 8 ft. high. I have two smaller subs and a center I can use from an older Yamaha box set I bought a few years ago until I can afford a new one.


I will try to post a picture tomorrow.

If your not going to build in your center then don't do your L/R either. Lots of compromise going on here. I mean, in-ceiling isn't so great either for the surround speakers you know.


You initial post made it sound like L/C/R and surrounds had to be where you stated?
 

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Not to beat a dead horse, but it seems like it needs beating.


Don't go with in-wall/in-ceiling speakers unless you live in a Doctor's office.

Don't go without a center channel speaker unless you never watch movies with dialog.

Buying speakers are like buying phonograph needles (for anyone who remembers those): any additional $$ spent on that component can dramatically affect audio quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Dead beaten horse here. I got it. No inwall speakers. What this means, of course, is that I will be using my Yamaha "in a box" 5.1 set up for a while until I can scratch up a couple grand for sound.


I just dropped $25k on the drywall, floors and paint so coming up the scratch for a theater is not at the top of my wife's list (she wants to put in the beverage bar).


But all of it is excellent advice, taken to heart.


And a special thanks to Hooters on the screen material as we were concerned about the kids marking up the screen. I will have to investigate that material further.


Anyone else have experience with it?
 

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Stanton,


Good speaker analogy with the phonograph needle!



Cassady,


You can still post photos and dimensions with what you have to work with. It'll definitely help in giving you some pointers.


The bar before the sound system?! Honey, a man has needs!!! LOL!!
I'd use the bar money on really good speakers and live with a card table and folding chairs for the time being, but that's just me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Dan,


Excellent point and I couldn't agree more.


But, it was not actually Bar v. Sound, but rather Bar v. Theater.


I convinced my better half to plumb the bar and build the theater thinking either would be about $4k given the new price point on projectors.


I was off a bit given the pricing on sound.


She wanted to do the bar and keep our 62 inch rear projector tv.


So, I may have to finish the beverage bar before spending thousands on sound.


I will definately post pictures tonight or tomorrow (hard to get on the computer at home w/ the kids on my back).
 

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Cassady,


Ah, the things people have to do to keep a happy household.



Here's one thing I would consider right now (since you're putting speakers on hold)... and it's only a suggestion... you can take it or leave it. Unless you threw away all your packaging material, I would send the Sony receiver back and get an Onkyo, Denon, Pioneer Elite, or Marantz. I'd think you have 30 days to return something to Sony Style.


Why? Here's the first thing: Sony is not known for their receivers (quality or sound wise). And secondly, I would get a receiver model that has 7.1 channel analog pre-amplifier outputs, which your particular Sony model, I believe, does not.


You get some good speakers and you will definitely want to upgrade your amplifier quality as well as the power, driver dampening factor, speaker resistance stability, and dynamic range handling capabilities, much lower distortion levels (a speaker killer) that a receiver just doesn't have (something has to give by cramming it all into one small box). BAM! The receiver just became a pre-amp/processor only. That's how I use my Onkyo 805 THX Ultra2 receiver, and the sound quality on my Paradigm Studio speakers was markedly improved.


I put a Blue Jeans Cable analog audio bundle (with Belden wire) between the receiver and amp.


Amps to consider with great bang vs. buck potential: Emotiva, Parasound, Outlaw Audio, and ATI.


You can then run a wide range of speakers (many quality speakers are 6 or 4 ohm rather than 8 ohm) very cleanly with much more slam and impact. Unless I'm driving huge speakers that are extremely power hungry in a very large room, I usually go with 200-250 watts per channel. That's a good power range that most speakers can handle. It's better to use an amp with a bigger power reserve (even if the speaker specs. only rates it at 150 or so watts handling) and run them at a reasonable level, than too wimpy an amp at too high a volume level and get a lot of damaging distortion and clipping.


Like good speakers, good power amplifiers will last you many, many years. You can always upgrade your receiver or real pre-amp/processor and keep your same amps and speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you Dan.


That is a lot to digest for a guy who just got his first ipod a year ago.


In highschool and college I was into music like most kids were into football.

But over the years, it has become less important.


Things may change once I see that 100 inch screen and pull out some music DVD's (err should I say Blue Rays).


I am, afterall, not yet middle aged.
 

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No problemo. Neither am I (though, I did have a record player as a kid, and I even remember 8 track cassettes!), but I still love audio quality. Whoa, wait a minute! Did I just date myself...?


Or Blu-rays...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman /forum/post/17015567


Any particular reason why you need in-ceiling and/or in-wall or on-wall speakers? Can you please post a few pics of said basement and room dimensions?


For your stated price requirements for all your speakers, built-ins won't give you much in the way of sound quality for the cash layout. You'd have to pump up your speaker budget to perhaps $2,000 or more... which I'd recommend anyway. Sometimes by building a speaker system a little at a time rather than all at once on a smaller budget you will end up with a far, far superior system that will be the envy of your neighbors and you'll be happier and less prone to wanting to upgrade quickly.


Depending on the HT room layout you may be able to go with bookshelves for the sides and/or rears (your receiver does do 7.1 surround) and wall or ceiling mount them so they are more optimally placed for a better surround sound spread.


As for ambient light, you probably should consider heavy, light blocking drapes for your sliding door. Otherwise, your front projection experience will be less than stellar IMHO.

NOTE: I attached wrong pictures. Correct pictures are attached in the message below.


Attached are five pics. The dimensions are as follows. At the screen area, the ceiling is 92" high but we are building a 20" inch stone wall below the screen, leaving 72" for the screen (area should accomodate a 106" screen which seems to require only 52" of height).


The distance from the screen to the steps (back "wall") is 220" (18' 4"), but the duct work or "channel" within the drywall for running the HDMI cable is approximately 14' from the screen with seating almost directly under the PJ (34 dB on the HD20 may be high?)


The height, due to the HVAC duct, is only 82" (6' 10").


I attempted to use the calclulator for the HD20 which suggested a mounting distance of 13" 10" for 106" screen which should be just about perfect for my set up.


But the sound; therein lies the problem. At this point, I am leaning towards just using my old 5.1 "in a box" system that cost less than $1k about 4 years ago and has never been used.


Thus, I am now looking for a good plan to budget for, after the plumbed bar area (visible in one of the pictures) is finished, which will hopefully be in the next 6 months. The last picture shows the slider and the second to last shows the HVAC (big problem for sound but does provide the access for wiring under the drywall; albeit the middle/side speakers are going to be difficult given the drywall and lack of a duct in that area).




 
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