A good surround sound system that won't break the bank?

tabbaldwinFebruary 9, 2007

We're finishing our basement to include a TV room with big screen TV and have already run the wires for surround sound. We're not audiophiles, so we don't need a high-end system, yet everytime I tell some salesman that, he ends up saying I can get a "decent" one for around $1500. That just sounds so outrageous to me. Can anyone point me to something I'd be happy with for much less (at least under $1000)? The speakers will be mounted on the wall versus in the wall.

Thank you!

Tracey

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g8rgrad98

Polk Audio or NHT are about the best speakers you'll find when it comes to bang for the buck. You can do a 7:1 system with either of those for around your budget. The one thing to spend on is the subwoofer, go for a mid range Velodyne. If you need a new receiver, Denon, Onkyo, and Yamaha have decent stuff for the price. Marantz is great if you want to spend more $. Honestly, I'd suggest bumping the budget to $1500, even if it takes a bit longer. The products you get will last longer and sound better. The system we just installed cost around $1300 for just the speakers (and I paid cost). If you really want to save the $ now and can't swing a full setup (two towers, 1 true center, 4 surrounds and 1 sub), go for one of the Polk mini theatre systems for around $600. They'll do "ok" for a while. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 3:22PM
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tabbaldwin

Hi again: Thanks for this info as well. Bummer....this basement is getting EXPENSIVE! :-)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 4:23PM
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KTKelly

As mentioned above, your budget won't get you there at all.

Good quality....

Newcastle R-771 AV Receiver $600.00
Newcastle V-768 DVD Player $400.00
Energy C-50 $130.00
Energy C-R100B Pair $300.00
Energy C-50 Pair $300.00
Energy S-8.3 $350.00

Then there's the required interconnects, universal remote control and programming for the same.

You REALLY need to allot something closer to the 3k to 4k range to do this right.

I wouldn't waste good money doing it "on the cheap" to only want to do it over after determining that it's not really all that good when done the first time.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 8:27PM
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steve_o

Look at it this way -- you're spending a good hunk of change on the TV itself -- what's a little more considering it will provide fine sound for years? Don't think about those $600 home-theaters-in-a-box that you see in the Sunday Circuit City circular -- they're better than nothing, but won't satisfy in the long run. You won't regret spending the money, even if you're not "audiophiles".

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 11:21PM
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dadoes

Neighbor added a small (10 seat) home theater room to his house, spent over $40K ... but of course that includes construction of the room. His Denon AV receiver was $1200 itself.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 12:13PM
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markmizzou

Cambridge Soundworks makes some fine equipment. You can save even more by buying their reconditioned (same warranty as their new). I have bought the recon. stuff and even some used on Ebay and could not be happier -- Good luck and enjoy -- my boss (wife) was skeptical about the "surround" system, but now she is the first to pipe up and say "what is wrong with the sound" when I forget to set the switches right on our "Yamaha" receiver. All good "stuff"!! Remember whatever system you get -- get a "powered" (you plug it in to the wall AC 115volts) subwoofer!!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 11:46PM
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tabbaldwin

Thanks for the added info as I get a little further along....

More questions. Front center speaker: I read that it should be right about even with the front of the TV screen, centered of course. So, where does it actually "go"??? I'm having built-in cabinets (base only) installed across the entire wall, and TV will sit on the "counter top" (desk-top height instead of kitchen cabinet height). The cabinets will have a drawer above the doors. Was thinking I could take the drawer out and maybe fit in a front speaker, but now I'm seeing how small the drawer opening actually is. Please help me picture where I'll be placing this center speaker before I finalize my cabinet order. Also planning on having the center 2 cabinets doors to be glass for the electronics (and holes drilled for wires, etc. within the cabinets). Anything else I should be thinking of when it comes to this arrangement?

And, I'm hoping I didn't screw up......but back when we were originally wiring for this--3 yrs ago, I found a diagram that showed the rear speakers in a room such as ours to be placed on the back wall, so-far in from the side walls and so-far apart from each other. I can't find that diagram anymore, and now I'm reading to put them on the side walls themselves. Uh oh. Am I okay? We were hoping to mount the speakers to the walls (and placed jacks accordingly).

Thanks for all your advice and help!
Tracey

    Bookmark   February 23, 2007 at 2:25PM
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Granite_Man

Energy Encore is more than most people will ever need or want.....and the price is very good. Just over or under $1,000 is about right.

Here is a link that might be useful: Energy Encore Speaker System

    Bookmark   February 23, 2007 at 10:53PM
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jejvtr

Rears should be right around ear level - so sit in couch/chair and to either side at ear level - If I recall ends up around level of tv 30" +/-

If you are still in remodeling phase - have you done anything for acoustics/insulation? It seems this is the last thing people think about - then after spending $$$$ the inability to really get the benefit

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 9:32AM
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gsenthil

Yamaha Reciever 200-350
Yamaha NS-777 Floorstanding Speakers 350/pair
Yamaha Center Channel 100
Surrounds 100/pair from Ebay (Klipsch Quintet)

Total Cost 650-900

With a floorstanding speaker you wont need subwoofers

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 9:06PM
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KTKelly

Rears should be right around ear level (jejvtr)? Now that's probably the worst advice in this thread.

Mixing speaker brands (gsenthil)? Again, some very bad advice.

No need for a sub with floorstanding speakers (gsenthil)? Sorry, that too is not really correct.

TraceyB,

Your rear wall speaker location isn't ideal, but that will probably suffice. Yes, the sidwalls, with the speakers at approximately 6' from floor (w/8' ceilings) would have been the better placement.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 12:19AM
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jejvtr

Wow Ktkelly - the expert on home theatre! Welcome.... You offer such great advice and in such a polished tone, it makes me want to hang on your every word, follow all your threads and responses - let me guess you are in your 20's and you really do "know it all" don't you?

That said - back to Tracey B -
I found a few links from places I trust and value their opinions & judgements on things
Like - Crutchfield Advisor -
- I was incorrect re: rear speakers - (flog me), the 30: +/- was re: TV placement
Rears should be above seated ear level -
Bipolar/Dipole surrounds usually perform best when placed on the side walls directly across or slightly behind the seated listening position and at approximately 18-28" above the seated ear level position. ** far cry form 6'**

Here's that link
http://www.crutchfieldadvisor.com/learningcenter/home/inwall_placement.html

Btw while on crutchfield do a search for Newcastle R-771 AV Receiver $600.00 or just Newcastle - I didn't find either

I posted an excellent site below - seems to be quite a pro site so it can be confusing and very "techy"

here's a speaker placement link too
http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/search.php?searchid=987905

Many factors come into play with deciding what is "best"
Good luck

Here is a link that might be useful: Audioholics

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 1:47PM
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steve_o

ktkelly installs these things for a living. No talking through hats here.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 8:54AM
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gsenthil

The front mains and center are the same series from Yamaha. As for a subwoofer, I havent felt the need after 5 years of use. 4 of my friends have a similar setup.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 8:00PM
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KTKelly

jejvtr,

FWIW:

The arrangement I suggested for the surrounds is directly from DOLBY LABS specs. Now if they who invented Dolby Surround don't know where the speakers should go, then I suppose no one does.

Crutchfield? Now there's a true professional outfit. Sort of like Best Buy/Circuit City for the internet.

Gauranteee they know ALL there is to know (sarcasm if you don't recognize it) about AV systems.

"You offer such great advice and in such a polished tone, it makes me want to hang on your every word, follow all your threads and responses - let me guess you are in your 20's and you really do "know it all" don't you? (sic)"

I'm sorry I don't come across with a "polished tone" as you would like. But it REALLY bothers me when someone NOT in this profession gives such glaringly incorrect advice. I have a difficult time being politically correct when dealing with ignorance. My bad that. But I can't see sugar coating it. Out of ignorance you gave bad advice. And, to me, giving bad advice is stupidity. I equate that ging of bad advice with giving road directions when you really don't know the way. Not a smart thing to do.

And FYI I actually do not claim to "know it all". And, unless I started in this industry before I was born, I am not some 20 year old (30 or 40 either for that matter).

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 11:54PM
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tabbaldwin

Thanks for the additional responses..... But, it's all been purchased (setup to be next week). The receiver is Onkyo (sp?); the speakers Definitive. I'm sooooo glad that my procrastination kept me from making the purchase a couple of weeks ago (because they only had one Sony 70" in stock); anyway, the store is having a sale, and the TV was priced $1000 less, plus about 35% off speakers when I went in last last week. Still a chunk of change.....and then I go to buy a HDMI cable and got another sticker shock :-) I'm just closing my eyes and handing out money at this point......

If anyone is still reading this thread.....what about surge protectors? Surely something less expensive than a Monster HTS 1600 (about $300) will do the job? Yes, I want to protect the new expensive toys, but goodness.....

Just ordered digital cable too.......can't wait!!! And here it is springtime with yard work to be done.....how will we ever get ourselves away from the basement and its new toys?!?

Thanks!
Tracey

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 10:56PM
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steve_o

what about surge protectors? Surely something less expensive than a Monster HTS 1600 (about $300)

I think Mr. Kelly has the last word on this, but, for my money, yes. The keys to look for are:

- a UL 1449 rating on the surge protector itself. Speaking personally, if a protector doesn't have this UL rating stamped on it, I consider the protector manufacturer's claims of protection optimistic at best. UL 1449 is a standardized way of determining how (and, to some extent, how well) a protector works.
- a "clamping voltage" number that is lower. Again, without UL 1449, I consider whatever number is quoted as puffery.
- the amount of energy it can handle, in joules. Compared within a range of models by one manufacturer, higher numbers are better here.
- making sure the clamping applies to all three wires.
- for your purposes, a protector that also handles coax (cable) and telephone (if your system is connected that way) is good, too.
- make sure you have enough outlets, especially if any of the items you're connecting have "wall wart" transformers that take up more than a regular plug's worth of space.

Such a surge protector is going to cost you more than $29.95, but I have to think there are systems out there that can do the job for less than Monster's gold-plated price.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:32AM
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tabbaldwin

Thanks for the info....I'll definitely check around and this is what I'll look for....

Tracey

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 10:33AM
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