Please Help with Components for Sound System!

crazybusytooJanuary 31, 2013

Hi Everyone!

Can you please help me create a sound system? Well, I guess I need a TV and DVD player too.

I moved into a house a few years ago that has a bundle of wires that I hide with a bookshelf that holds my old-fashioned 17" inch television. I do not have a DVD player, and I'd like to get one along with a new television. I have enough room on the bookcase for a television that is 38" wide.

Since the house is wired for sound, I wonder what kind of television I should get. If I get a Smart TV will that help me set up the sound system? Or are Smart TV's too complicated to use?

This is what I have:
11 electrical wires in a bundle coming out of the wall
2 speakers in the living room
2 on the porch
2 in the dining room
2 in each of the 2 bedrooms.
All these rooms have a knob volume control except the living room.

Someone suggested that the living room speakers are supposed to connect to the TV. But obviously, not the ancient TV that I have now.

The only music I have is in my itunes account. Is there a way to control the sound system with my iphone?

The project seemed so daunting to me when I first moved in, but I hope technology has advanced enough that I might be capable of doing this myself.

What components will I need, and how hard is this to do?

I'd sure appreciate any help or insight anyone might have!!

Thank you so much!!

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Like many other things, a lot depends on your budget.

Are the wires coming out of the wall near the baseboard or higher up? If the former, perhaps the previous owner had a wall mounted TV. If the latter (and from the picture) it looks like this is more likely, they are probably wires for the speakers. I would guess that the previous owner had a multi-room audio system. Your first decision is whether you care about having music from a central location in each room that has the existing speakers. If you don't, then just forget about them and put the wires back in the wall and patch it up. If you do want music in different rooms, you may still want to forget about the wires because there are better ways to do it these days using a Sonos system or Apple AirPlay. If you want to re-use the speakers, you're looking at investing in a whole house audio distribution system from Niles, Control4, etc.

Concerning the TV, with an available width of 38", you should be able to get a 40" screen in there like this one: Whether this is big enough will depend on your viewing distance.
If you get a Smart TV, it will stream programming from the Internet via Netflix or other subscription services. If you care about this, it might be the right choice. If not, I'd pass on it. Some Smart TVs required a wired connection. You might prefer one that is wireless since it is one less wire to run (assuming you have wireless Internet at home and that you get a good signal where your TV is). How easy a Smart TV is to use is a question that only you can answer and you should take a look at their interfaces at a store like Best Buy or better yet Magnolia (part of Best Buy and higher end but you'd be going there because of their better knowledge).

For a DVD player (might as well go Blu-ray as I'm not even sure that you can get DVD players anymore), unless you have very specific needs they all work about the same. Some have smart features (duplicating what is in the TV if it is a Smart TV). If you care about those, the same thing that I said about Smart TVs applies to BD/DVD players about the ease of use and networking. You may want to stick with the same brand of TV and DVD player since some of them have nice interoperability features (Panasonics have something called Vieralink which essentially means that you can control the DVD player with the TV's remote).

The sound on most TVs is awful. Not a surprise: how can you get good sound out of something so flat? For this reason, you may want to consider a soundbar. Some of these will also enable you to play back music from your phone through them.

If you already have an iPhone and your music is in iTunes, you might want to look at devices that integrate into that environment. If you want to listen to music (or watch videos from your iPhone) through your TV, consider an Apple TV. This is a small inexpensive device that plugs into your TV and it will play your iTunes library through your TV. You can also send it videos from your iPhone. If you want music in other rooms, you can look at AirPlay compatible speakers. There are many kinds available at various price points and of various quality - see here But they all do the same thing: you connect your iPhone to them wirelessly and your music will come out of the speakers.

So my shopping list for you would be:
* 40" TV
* BD/DVD player
* Soundbar with wireless sub
* Apple TV
* Logitech Harmony remote to make it all work from one remote

This post was edited by GromitInWA on Tue, Feb 5, 13 at 0:53

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:33AM
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I would get a home theater receiver and use the existing wiring and speakers that you have. You can also get an iPod dock to hook up to it. Run the TV sound out to the receiver, and from there to the speakers.

For this to work with out overloading your receiver, the volume controls in the various rooms need to be impedance-compensating. Unscrew one of them and see what it looks like inside.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Thank you both so much for sharing your considerable knowledge with me!
I can't tell you how much I appreciate your input! And your patience. Hopefully I'll jump this learning curve quickly!

I understand most of the things on the shopping list, but what is a BD/DVD?

I looked at the Airplay speakers, and they are really cool. And they look simple enough to use. Is the soundbar kind of like one of those speakers?

toxcursadr, the ipod dock is a great idea too. I would not have thought of that. Is "home theater receiver" what I should be googling?

I tried to get the volume control knob off. It spins half-way round, so I don't want to turn it past it's natural stopping point. Should I just try to pull it straight off?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:22PM
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BD=bluray. Most players now play bluray and DVD hence bd/DVD.
Sound bars are not the same as AirPlay speakers although some soundbars may also support airplay.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 5:12AM
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The knob probably comes straight off, but look on the side of the knob for a set screw. If none, it pulls. If it has one, it has to be loosened first.

BUT to get a look inside that thing you'll need to take off the surrounding plate held on by the two screws L and R of the knob.

Most mass market receivers nowadays are set up for surround sound, so home theater or surround receiver will work as search terms.

You might go over to, they sell a lot of car and home gear and have articles to orient you to the equipment.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 5:47PM
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Do not buy a Logitech Harmony. They are selling the business unit and it is a dead end.

Do buy a Sonos if you are willing to afford it. You need one unit per zone, but it will automatically link to Pandora (and others) and your iTunes and you can easily control one or all zones from the iPhone/iPad. Nothing can touch it right now.

The only complaints I have ever heard are from non-owners.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sonos

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 7:31AM
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