first time home theater

The place to sound off on all things related to audio, from sound cards to speakers.

Moderator: Captain Ned

first time home theater

Postposted on Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:03 pm

Hello,
I am finally making a little bit of money and would like to put together a decent sound system / home theater (my idea of decent may be lower than yours :-?

I am planning on buying some speakers and a receiver but am a bit confused on how the channels work. I will be doing a lot of music listening and movies / tv / games will be second priority. If I buy a set of speakers in 5.1 or 7.1 how are they going to sound when I pipe my stereo music into it? Basically (I think) I don't want all the music trying to be forced out of the center channel instead of having nice stereo seperation. Are receivers smart enough to take the stereo input and not try and force it through the center? I'd like it to play in 2.1 or 4.1 I would think. I guess I really just don't know what I'm doing.
emvath79
Gerbil
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:47 pm

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:15 pm

I find home-theatre-in-a-box (HTIB) solutions pretty good for what I do. I moved away from an old Cambridge Audio amp and separates (the UK separates company, not the Creative-owned Cambridge Soundworks) and I've been reasonably satisfied with the quality given the price and RMS wattage involved. Mine is a 5.1 Samsung setup I found on sale, but I think the current equivalent is in the $400 region so it's not crazy audiophile pricing.

Even basic HTIB receivers like the one my sister owns have multiple options for surround. Commonly they have stereo (just Front L+R speakers used) as well as various Dolby Pro-logic options. I actually prefer to listen to music in surround mode - my Samsung unit has an Audio option that gets as close as possible to a flat response curve with no silly 3D effects. It seems to use all 5.1 speakers, split into left and right channels for the front and rear satellites, then the Centre used with a mix of both channels (because it has more, and superior silk-dome tweeters).

At the very least, you can just run a 5.1 or a 7.1 in 2.1 mode for music if you want to. I've yet to come across any setup that won't do this, and I've often seen at least some kind of custom option where you can set your own front/rear/center bass/treble balance too.
<insert large, flashing, epileptic-fit-inducing signature (based on the latest internet-meme) here>
Chrispy_
Gerbil Jedi
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 1966
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:49 pm

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:13 pm

HTIB systems tend to split the main mains, surrounds, and center into five speakers of similarly small size and low quality and then rely on a "subwoofer" for everything from the midbass down to just about the point where a "real" subwoofer would pick up. They can be adequate for a first-timer, but if music is your primary thing, you may want to pick up a 5.1 receiver and a decent pair of bookshelf speakers to start, then gradually build a home theater system.

Where are you located and what is your budget?
He who laughs last, laughs first next time.
ludi
Gerbil Elder
 
Posts: 5458
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 10:47 pm
Location: Sunny Colorado front range

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:38 pm

emvath79 wrote:Hello,
I am finally making a little bit of money and would like to put together a decent sound system / home theater (my idea of decent may be lower than yours :-?

I am planning on buying some speakers and a receiver but am a bit confused on how the channels work. I will be doing a lot of music listening and movies / tv / games will be second priority. If I buy a set of speakers in 5.1 or 7.1 how are they going to sound when I pipe my stereo music into it? Basically (I think) I don't want all the music trying to be forced out of the center channel instead of having nice stereo seperation. Are receivers smart enough to take the stereo input and not try and force it through the center? I'd like it to play in 2.1 or 4.1 I would think. I guess I really just don't know what I'm doing.


Hi there! Many modern receivers have various virtual surround sound modes, such as "DTS NEO:6" or "Dolby Pro Logic II", which can use the 2-channel stereo sources and "spread" them across all your 5.1 or 7.1 channels. You can control the various aspects of these modes, such as put more emphasis on center channel or on surround channels, etc. You can also just set the playback of your stereo source to just two front speakers and subwoofer (2.1) without using any other speakers or any virtual surround sound modes.
Anyway, you should visit the more dedicated audio and home theater forums, you'll get any questions like these answered faster and in more details:
http://www.avsforum.com/f/88/audio
You should also visit the manufacturer's website (for example http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-vi ... ist=within), select a particular receiver based on your acceptable price range and then download its digital manual and see which features it has and how exactly they can work.
My subscription allows you people to exist on this site and makes me a better human being than you'll ever be
JohnC
Gerbil Jedi
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 1889
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:08 pm
Location: NY/NJ/FL

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:37 pm

Thank you for the reply everyone! Sounds like as long as I get a decent receiver I should be able to set it up to go to whatever combination of speaker I want. Yes, I am planning on getting a receiver, a decent sub, and 2 bookshelfs (or maybe some towers) and running a 2.1 for a while. I'm not even convinced I want to go to 5.1 or 7.1 at this point. I still need to save some money for a new gaming pc after all! Thanks again
emvath79
Gerbil
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:47 pm

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:17 pm

A pair of good Bookshelfs and a sub for the lower end is way better then a couple of floorstanders. I would say you would have to put a decently enough chunk of Money into floorstanders to equal bookselfs + sub. Floorstanders + sub works, but then you loose the main part of many floorstanders, they have better low end then Bookshelfs. Also, having then separate makes for much easier placement in the room.
Aphasia
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3468
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: Solna/Sweden

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Thu Oct 10, 2013 6:01 pm

Personally, I wouldn't even get the sub until later. Take the money you would apportion into the sub purchase and put it into the-highest-end pair of bookshelf speakers you can afford right now. A really well-constructed set of bookshelf speakers can sound quite incredible provided the room isn't excessively large. Something like the Klipsch RB-51s would be about right. Or pretty much anything similar, provided the low-frequency rolloff is below 60Hz.
He who laughs last, laughs first next time.
ludi
Gerbil Elder
 
Posts: 5458
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 10:47 pm
Location: Sunny Colorado front range

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:31 am

It all depends on how picky you are and at which budget. My comp system right now is actually a 5.0 since the sub-amp died for some reason, but even with a pair of decent Bookshelfs like my Bowers and Wilkins 685 and some wall support, the lowest end is still missing, of course, the normal low end is great, but when doing certain weapons and tanking in battlefield, the real low end grumble is not there as it is with a sub. For Music, it works just great until you get to either some funky jazz, or the Electronic genres that sometimes go all the way to the bottom, sadly enough, I like both of those. But then, my dual 12" subs in the living room takes care of that.
Aphasia
Grand Gerbil Poohbah
 
Posts: 3468
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2002 7:00 pm
Location: Solna/Sweden

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Fri Oct 11, 2013 10:45 am

Okay, thanks for the input. My feeling on choosing the audio equipment (and I really haven't done my due diligence and researched anything yet) is that I'm not looking for audiophile grade. I'm not obsessed with eliminating the 2% variance between $500 bookshelves and $2000 bookshelves. What I want is something fun. I want it to sound good to me at a low volume, but be able to crank it up and have a blast when the wife is out for a bit.
emvath79
Gerbil
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:47 pm

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:19 pm

emvath79 wrote:Okay, thanks for the input. My feeling on choosing the audio equipment (and I really haven't done my due diligence and researched anything yet) is that I'm not looking for audiophile grade. I'm not obsessed with eliminating the 2% variance between $500 bookshelves and $2000 bookshelves. What I want is something fun. I want it to sound good to me at a low volume, but be able to crank it up and have a blast when the wife is out for a bit.

Yeah, that's what they all say, but this is how it starts :wink:

If you're in the US, you could actually get a pretty good start, for quite cheap, by picking up a pair of Infinity Entra One speakers off eBay (or possibly Craigslist, if you're in a big enough city). Search "Infinity Entra" and you should get a good spread of options. There's usually enough Entra gear floating around at any given time that you could build it into a matched home theater system in the future.
He who laughs last, laughs first next time.
ludi
Gerbil Elder
 
Posts: 5458
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 10:47 pm
Location: Sunny Colorado front range

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:46 pm

What did you end up buying?
Milo Burke
Gerbil Team Leader
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 221
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:49 am

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:31 pm

Milo Burke wrote:What did you end up buying?


Nothing yet, I usually get some money from my aunt for Christmas (which is getting a bit awkward since I'm in my mid thirties now) so I'm going to wait for those after Christmas sales hopefully.
emvath79
Gerbil
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:47 pm

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:13 pm

Yesterday, I recommended some speakers for someone else in the same situation on this forum. As much as I like speakers in the $1,000-2,000/pr range, you can get some perfectly decent speakers for $50/pr if you know what to look for and find them on sale. And my other post tells what to look for, all speakers I have first hand experience with.

Maybe I like audio a little bit too much for this computer hardware forum. :oops:
Milo Burke
Gerbil Team Leader
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 221
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:49 am

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:36 pm

My $500 M-Audio BX8's are pretty lavish for the typical compressed audio out from my PC and people who hear them love the sound quality. The same people are also infinitely more impressed by my $300 Samsung Home Theatre system even though it has (to my ears) a muddy passive sub and dull midrange.

I think you're right in that 95% of the population isn't audiophile enough to care about anything more than a mid-range HT-in-a-box. Even at $200 you're already into the realm of 5.1 Dolby surround with at least the centre (and possibly the front satellites) having a tweeter in addition to the midrange drivers. What the passive subs lack in detail and accuracy they make up for in depth and volume. This makes the gamers very happy, it makes the movie-addicts very happy, hell - it even does a decent job on pop music. Moving away from surround setups, you can buy a decent pair of bookshelf speakers in the UK for under £100 (~$150) from the usual suspects like Mission, Mordaunt, Tannoy, Cambridge etc. Spend the same amount on a receiver and you're set for a low-budget, high-fidelity solution that will put anything all-in-one to shame.
<insert large, flashing, epileptic-fit-inducing signature (based on the latest internet-meme) here>
Chrispy_
Gerbil Jedi
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 1966
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:49 pm

Re: first time home theater

Postposted on Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:44 pm

If on a budget, I'm a big fan of finding good bookshelf speakers on sale, combined with a two channel integrated amp or receiver. We're talking $50/pr if the sales are good, $80/pr if they're not. And it still sounds better than most people with less than $1,000 into their stereo. :o

I've never found a soundbar, computer speaker system, or home-theater-in-a-box that I liked. But that doesn't mean audio needs to be expensive.
Milo Burke
Gerbil Team Leader
Gold subscriber
 
 
Posts: 221
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:49 am


Return to Echo Vale

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests