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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I have decided that I am going to get a 5.1 system for my family room (~14x30, tv on left side, 14x14). I have been reading through the forum and I don't really know where to start. This is really new to me. I have about a $3000 budget for the receiver and speakers.


For the receiver I was recommended the Denon AVR 1910. It seems good and will probably get that.


The speakers is where it gets hard for me. A friend recommended in-wall speakers. However, after reading the forum, I am not hearing a lot of people talk about them. I know there isn't a "best" but I looking for guidance so I don't make a mistake. I am also hearing a lot of different brands. Im not sure where to start.


Right now I have a Sony LCD and a Tivo HD. I'll mostly be watching TV/Movies. My wife will be listening to music (with an ipod hookup to the receiver).


Please help! (and thanks!)
 

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Hello and welcome. I personally don't like in wall because I like to change things around and upgrade in wall limits you a bit. In wall though is hidden. It might be easier to decide what you don't want first. If you don't have room or don't like towers then you should look at bookself or satelite system. How about decor? Don't like black well that leads to certain speakers or if you want speakers that are like fine crafted furniture.


Also try to go out and listen to speakers at all the stores. At first you should just try to notice the difference in sound between them (bring your own CDs,or DVDs if you can) don't buy the first one you like but come back here and can ask for options on ones that sound like that.


Vanns has some great deals right now online so take a look there. With all the options out there I is easier sometimes to decide what you don't want then what you do.
 

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I don't know that in-walls sound that much worse than regular speakers as I haven't really listened to any, but I am sure they wouldn't sound any better, and wiring them would be a pain. Also, you have to punch holes in your wall, and what if you don't like how they sound after installing them?


Like Calgary said, it's nice to be able to move the speakers around a bit, to try to find where they sound best.


Some advice I always give is don't skimp on the subwoofers! They are the key to a impressive home theater. A rule of thumb I would keep for home theater budgets is 1/3 for receiver, 1/3 for speakers, and 1/3 for subwoofers. It's not a hard rule though, it depends on what movies you like to watch. If you like action movies or science fiction movies, I think it's good rule.


I would also encourage you to look at the internet direct companies, especially for subwoofers. Nothing you can buy at retail stores will compete with internet direct subwoofer companies. Look at speaker and subwoofer packages to really make your money go far. Some companies that do that are Elemental Designs, HSU research, and SVS. They aren't the only ones though, ask around for more recommendations.


One more thing is, if you do enjoy a lot of material with low frequency content, you should look at getting two subs instead of just one. With a large room like yours, a single sub may leave a lot of space unaffected. Read about bass nulls to find out more about that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the information. Do you have any "internet direct companies" you would recommend? Also, following your rule of thumb, the Denon AVR 1910 many not be enough if my budget is 3000?


I am doing some work in my family room so the wiring for the in-wall speakers will not be a big deal. I guess I need to talk to my wife a little more to see what I am allowed to get
 

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I think the Denon would be fine, depending on what speakers you get. To be honest I don't know much about that AVR. Some speakers need a lot of power to sound good, but I think 90watts per channel ought to be fine for most. You can get some really good deals on receivers at www.accessories4less.com , but I don't believe they carry Denon.


As for in wall speakers, remember what a pain it is if you want to fix them, or replace them, or move them, or do anything with them after they are in place. With that being said, Triad is one highly regarded brand for in walls.


For regular speakers, some very highly regarded internet direct companies are Ascend Acoustics , Emotiva , Aperion , AV123, Axiom Audio , and Outlaw Audio , aside from the already mentioned HSU Research , SVS , and Elemental Designs . A couple good companies dedicated for subwoofers are Epik and Rythmik . These are just some of the major ones I can think of right off the top of my head. There are others though, ask around for more recommendations.


Like I said before, in my opinion you get the best value when you order a subwoofer/speaker package from a ID company that does both well. In your case, I would throw in another sub as well for two subwoofers and work out a discounted price on the entire package with the company. You can end up with a massive home theater speaker setup for a little over 2K going that way, and it will rival systems that go for multiple times that amount, for sheer performance at least. Just keep doing research and keep asking questions and you will have something to make all your friends envious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys! I am starting to feel a little less overwhelmed. I'll consume this information and start looking around more (and then come back with more questions!).


I know the direction the speakers points is important, I assume in-wall speakers are less flexible and just point forward?
 

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I have Polk in-walls (TCi series) and a matching center (CSi5), and the tweeters of the in-walls do swivel so you can point them where you'd like. I placed them exactly where I wanted them initially, and the placement is ideal as long as I don't want to rearrange the furniture.


When set as small, paired with a subwoofer, and adjusted with room correction software (Yamaha's YPAO in my case), they deliver what I think is extremely good performance. The obvious benefit of in-walls is that they do not take up any room in the room. Having children who like to play active Wii games and maintaining an 8 foot distance to my 50" plasma leaves little room for proper speaker placement in the room, so the in-walls work well.


I'm not saying that in-walls are for everyone or that they're your best option. There are not a lot of people who discuss them on forums, and I just wanted to let you know that they can offer very good sound without taking up any space in the room when set up correctly.
 

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The thing about in-walls, is a stud cavity makes for an extremely poor speaker enclosure. The way to get to ultra high quality sound from in walls is to go with IW's that are in their own braced MDF enclosures (not those flimsy plastic thingies on the back of some IW's). And that means spending some serious $$$ with brands like TRIAD, RBH, Sonance and higher end speakercraft to name a few. Doing IW sound well is not cheap by any means. And then you have the limited flexibility of placement as well. For a multi-purpose room where things can get changed or moved around often, they just really aren't that great of an idea IMHO.


Good advice on the subwoofer(s). Subwoofers are often the last thing thought about when in fact, behind the center channel, are probably the most important for an over all great HT/Movie experience. Multiple subs will give you a much more even in-room response.
 

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FWIW INWalls do make for a stealthy install, but as others have pointed out, there's little flexibility if you're not satisfied with the soundstage and imaging. Quad makes an interesting point, and i always suggest a built in MDF enclosure instead of the wall cavity but even that's a compromise. Stud walls are generally only 4" deep and the problem becomes the backwave of the speaker really impacting the driver. Like anything else, it's a compromise.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ /forum/post/16966629


I would also encourage you to look at the internet direct companies, especially for subwoofers. Nothing you can buy at retail stores will compete with internet direct subwoofer companies. Look at speaker and subwoofer packages to really make your money go far. Some companies that do that are Elemental Designs, HSU research, and SVS. They aren't the only ones though, ask around for more recommendations.


One more thing is, if you do enjoy a lot of material with low frequency content, you should look at getting two subs instead of just one. With a large room like yours, a single sub may leave a lot of space unaffected. Read about bass nulls to find out more about that.

How do you compare Internet direct speakers? I wouldn't order a speakers without hearing them first, and even with an in-home 30-day trial, it would be hard to compare with showroom speakers. There is probably less variation with subs, but still, I'd want to compare and hear before buying. I would be willing to buy a showroom speaker that I've listened and done A/B comparisons with for cheaper from the Internet.


Is one sub good enough for a large room (14' x 31.5')? I rarely watch DVDs - mostly HDTV, and some music.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ /forum/post/16966629


A rule of thumb I would keep for home theater budgets is 1/3 for receiver, 1/3 for speakers, and 1/3 for subwoofers. It's not a hard rule though, it depends on what movies you like to watch. If you like action movies or science fiction movies, I think it's good rule.

The big impact in music is in speakers. The big impact in HT is in the sub (for action movies anyway) and also in speakers. Spend as little as you can on the receiver (e.g. a refurb harmon kardon avr-254 for $250), $750 on a sub (something from eD, SVS or Hsu) and $2000 on speakers.
 

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I can understand your preference to hear speakers before buying. 30-day trials and/or local auditions from owners (ask on the manufacturer's forum) are some ways to hear ID speakers. But it's definitely worth exploring what is available locally, too. Go listen to some and see what you think. Express your preferences on here and you will get more recommendations for speakers that fit your tastes, physical requirements, and budget. You might decide that you like a speaker you found locally, or that it may be worth a 30-day trial of an ID offering.


I would not apply the same must-hear-before-buying strategy to the subs. With speakers there is a wider range of preferences. With subs, I would just order an ID one that has a good reputation and fits your needs (relative to your room size). I think individual preferences are much less of an important factor with subs.


-Max
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BankZ /forum/post/16967855


Thanks for the information. Do you have any "internet direct companies" you would recommend? Also, following your rule of thumb, the Denon AVR 1910 many not be enough if my budget is 3000?


I am doing some work in my family room so the wiring for the in-wall speakers will not be a big deal. I guess I need to talk to my wife a little more to see what I am allowed to get

His rule of thumb is a little off so you can ignore it



For a $3000 budget, I would spend $2500 on speakers and $500 on a very good 1 or 2 year old AVR that still allows you to enjoy all the latest HD features.


I wouldn't go with any AVR that does not have pre outs though, the 1910 does not have pre-outs. You leave yourself no room for upgrading the power if needed.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray /forum/post/16978445


His rule of thumb is a little off so you can ignore it



For a $3000 budget, I would spend $2500 on speakers and $500 on a very good 1 or 2 year old AVR that still allows you to enjoy all the latest HD features.


I wouldn't go with any AVR that does not have pre outs though, the 1910 does not have pre-outs. You leave yourself no room for upgrading the power if needed.

^ Not bad advice...I would shop for the speakers first, concentrating on the front three, even if they take up all of your speaker budget. You can get the surrounds later. Where are you going to put the gear, in a cabinet with the center channel sitting on top, or is the center going to be stand mounted.

BTW, you could go ahead and pre-wire for the surrounds now.
 

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Quote:
How do you compare Internet direct speakers? I wouldn't order a speakers without hearing them first, and even with an in-home 30-day trial, it would be hard to compare with showroom speakers. There is probably less variation with subs, but still, I'd want to compare and hear before buying. I would be willing to buy a showroom speaker that I've listened and done A/B comparisons with for cheaper from the Internet.


Is one sub good enough for a large room (14' x 31.5')? I rarely watch DVDs - mostly HDTV, and some music.

If you are that particular about speakers, the only way you can know for sure is to do an in-home audition with different speakers. I'm not that picky about sound, after a certain point. Personally, I just look at specs and read reviews, and if it looks good, I'll buy it. I haven't had any problems with this method of speaker buying so far. Maybe I could have better speakers than the ones I am using, but to find them I would have to audition every single speaker available to me, and there are hundreds. I just don't have the time or inclination to do that.


As for your question about subs, it depends on the subwoofer and your taste in bass. If you like massive bass like me, than a single sub won't cut it. If you just watch ordinary TV, like sports events, news, and such, you don't need all that. But if you like watching movies and want to feel the bass whenever there's an explosion or earthquake, you will want two subs. Two subs also help even out the frequency response throughout the room, and eliminate bass nulls or dead spots, which are common in a large room with a single sub. There are a lot of advantages of using two subs over one, do a google search for more information about that.


To address points made by others, as for my rule of thumb, that is only for certain tastes, such as action movies, or anything with lots of low frequency content. If you don't find yourself watching that sort of stuff, than a lot less should be spent on subwoofers, of course. However, one thing I see a lot of is short-changing on the receiver. Cheap receivers can be very problematic, and there are a lot of horror stories around here that were probably the result of cost-cutting measures in the amplifier section of the AVR. I would want a reliable receiver with a warranty, and I am willing to sacrifice a few watts per channel to get that.


Also, I wouldn't worry about the Denon not having pre-outs. If he was going to upgrade the amplifier, he would probably end up getting a pre-amp as well, and replace his receiver completely- at least if he ended up becoming that serious about home theater.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ /forum/post/16978805


Also, I wouldn't worry about the Denon not having pre-outs. If he was going to upgrade the amplifier, he would probably end up getting a pre-amp as well, and replace his receiver completely- at least if he ended up becoming that serious about home theater.

Why waste $$$ on a pre amps if the AVRs in general have more bells and whistles for Home Theater?


Are you also saying that serious home theaters do not have AVRs used as pre/pros?


The problem with most people is that leave little room for incremental moves, upgades etc. The differences in the processors wrt to movie playback from $500 to $10K isnt meaningful at all.


The real problem with most setups is that people just do not look at the numbers and basic science. With Home Theater design its all about dynamics, head room, speaker layout and acoustical treatments. 2-ch madness with DACs, Tube fantasies, etc need not apply



In the end true home theater needs dynamics so the speakers need to hit higher peaks then normal and the amps need to provide UNCLIPPED true power.


If this is about HT then he should do it right from the start or he will be kicking himself a month or a year from now and he will say "I should have listened to that Penngray member"
 

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Would not short change on the AVR at all. Need adequate inputs, HD codec decoding, decent DACs, and decent amplification. Preouts for future upgrades recommended. I see the AVR as the heart of the system. Just another opinion.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpco /forum/post/16979397


Would not short change on the AVR at all. Need adequate inputs, HD codec decoding, decent DACs, and decent amplification. Preouts for future upgrades recommended. I see the AVR as the heart of the system. Just another opinion.

Speakers are the heart of any system, thats not really an opinion since its 90% of the SQ



Who is short changing the AVR? Im just explaining that 2 year old heavily discounted AVRs will do everything anyone needs in their rooms.


AVRs that are 2 years old do HD just fine, just send them the PCM signal, the PS3 sends HD over PCM.


AVRs that are 2 years old have the same quality DACs as new ones OF COURSE we are not talking about DACs here since Home Theater doesn't care much about DACs.


If Amplification are unknown but in General ZERO AVRs provide adequate amplification if dynamics and high SPL is a must.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpco /forum/post/16979397


Would not short change on the AVR at all. Need adequate inputs, HD codec decoding, decent DACs, and decent amplification. Preouts for future upgrades recommended. I see the AVR as the heart of the system. Just another opinion.

So, how much of the $3000.00 should he spend on the AVR vs the speakers?
 

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I'm not sure of his priorities, but there are limitations to less expensive AVRs that affect the whole experience IMO. There are also very good speakers available at lower prices according to reviews and what I read here, so I'm not sure how anyone could say how much of the $3000 he should spend on any part of his system. It's all about balancing priorities and finding value.


I would be sure to get an AVR with adequate power, the ability to process audio and video over HDMI, and the ability to apply room correction and bass management while decoding HD codecs. 7.1 preouts as well.


I've been reading all of the advice on here for years, and when I went from a Pioneer VSX-D812 to a Yamaha RX-V1800, the sound improvement was far greater than any of the standard posts here would have led me to believe it would be.


It has not been my experience that speakers are 90% of the sound (as if one could actually find a percentage on that). Source, power, DACs, speaker placement, and the room itself are far more than 10% of the experience.
 
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