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Home theater crap gurus?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by CyberSniper, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    So... I've been living in my house almost six years now. I never bothered to put in any of my old home theater stuff because I knew that no yooper would pay for a nice home theater setup (amplifier in the basement, 7.1 inwall wiring before 5.1 was even popular, et cetera).

    Over the years I've gotten rid of everything I had for a home theater setup... even the wire and wallplates. I'm kind of obsolete on the subject now also.

    So, now it's time to buy all new stuff as I'm probably going to be in this house for at least 3 more years if I don't take a job elsewhere.

    Now that I'm an old fart, I don't even care if it's loud anymore. I'd rather have something that sounds decent that I can still talk over than something that feels like you're in the movie.

    The room is 13x15 with the TV and couch on the long axis. The room has a window on one adjacent wall to the TV and a large doorway on the other adjacent wall. Above the TV is another window. The "window treatments" are miniblinds. The room is carpeted.

    I think the room is too short to make full use of four surround speakers so I'll probably be stuck with 5.1. What do you guys think?

    I basically only need a single video input... from a DVD player. It'd be nice to have another one to hook a PC up to... DVI and Component would be nice but S-Video would be sufficient. I need to have one audio input on top of that from a PC for playing mp3s. It'd be nice to have DVI and Component out but as long as it's got a good S-Video port that'd be sufficient. 75 watts per channel would probably be more than sufficient... heck, 50 would probably be fine. A truly adjustable 8 band or more equalizer would be nice, I tend to purposely eliminate anything over 17KHz. I've been watching Harman/Kardon audio/video receivers on eBay. Anyone got a suggestion? I've also been watching JVC but have never owned any of their stuff.

    Next is speakers. Just about any speaker out there will probably be good enough as long as it's crisp. Even those $200 "home theater in a box" Sony setups sound pretty good and those are cheap speakers. I will probably buy a JBL powered subwoofer or two, probably an E250 and maybe another one if just one doesn't have enough punch as I've always had good luck with their powered subwoofers. Or maybe an Infinity.

    Anyone run any particular wallplates? I've always used Leviton ones in the past but I'm open to suggestions. I'm probably going to wire everything with 14gauge stranded since I'm not going to be running much power.

    I'm all :ears:
     
  2. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    right now I run an Onkyo 6.1 HTIB. I really like it. It does DTS-ES and DD EX. Plays PLENTY loud. This years version is the HT-S780. I have the 760. At any rate, it works for me. I had blingin' audiophile stuff previously, and honestly, now that I'm getting old I found that junk to be a waste of money. I sold it all off and pocketed the ca$h. Around x-mas time you can get hella deals on Onkyo HTIBs. I got mine for three hundred something, shipped to my house.

    [​IMG]

    j
     
  3. Leper

    Leper 1/2 ton status

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    IMO, it all depends on budget. FWIW I always buy "last years" models for stereo equipment. Really good stuff that has lost it's technology edge and the big price tag. Cheap and easy are the all-in-one packages that you described.
    I still use 5.1.
    I dont use any plates except for the ones with the big hole in them. My rears are flush mounted. The fewer connections, the better. IMO if you have to use a plate, they aren't much different under the 40.00 price tag.
    Sub placement is as important as wattage. I have used a 50.00 powered sub(35 watts) that sounded great because I took the time to figure out the placement. I helped a guy setup a $20K system in his house. Took me 4-5 hours. He moved and didn't bother to reset any settings and it was loud, but sounded like a$$.
     
  4. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Well, I only expect speakers to sound good for about 4 years. After that, they've usually deteriorated significantly. However, I expect the receiver to last until it is outdated.

    That Onkyo HT-S780 appears to be going on eBay for $400 shipped for a refurb. That seems kind of pricey for a refurb or is it just me? Are they really that nice? That's about what a H/K AVR635 goes for IIRC (no speakers of course).

    When I get home I'll have to look at that 780 to see what features it is. Does yours have an adjustable equalizer and on screen display?

    I hate to spend a lot of money on anything besides the receiver (limited to about $400 shipped for the receiver) because the speakers never last anyway. If it was a nice room and was temperature and humidity controlled I'd be willing to pay a lot for speakers also.

    In the olden days I used to put two 12" subwoofers in the basement firing upwards. That way you more "felt" the bass rather than got a headache when someone with a deep voice was talking or a car driving down the road scene on the movie. Usually I put them behind you a small amount and then as far off to the sides as possible. However, my living room is small so I was going to put two subwoofers in opposite corners of the room.

    When I get home I'll post the other receivers I was looking at. That Onkyo system is pretty enticing though.
     
  5. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

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    Your best deal will be the "Home Theater in a box" set up. I really like brands like Onkyo, Denon, JBL, Harmon Kardon, Yamaha, ...ect. Heck, Look on Ebay. You can find new stuff never opened.
     
  6. chevyfumes

    chevyfumes Court jester

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    I've got an Onkyo just like that one but I run a Bose speaker system like these... [​IMG]
     
  7. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    They've got refurbished HT-S780 on shoponkyo.com for $349 plus shipping. Does that sound reasonable?

    EDIT: Make that $339 shipped. I don't know if I can pass that up. haha.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2006
  8. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    sounds like a heck of a deal to me. Nothing wrong with factory refurb stuff... they know what they are doing. How long is the warranty?

    j
     
  9. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    The warranty is the normal 1 year. After reading around I guess it's hit and miss whether you get new cables and whether you get "nicked and marred" speakers and receivers. I, myself, don't care unless they suffer from batting cage syndrome.

    It's cheaper to buy from them than it is to buy off eBay.

    I couldn't find whether they're wallstand mountable. ie: those ballmount things. I usually just set speakers on a shelf about 2/3 up the wall but I'd rather be able to better direct them.
     
  10. Leper

    Leper 1/2 ton status

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    Werd.
     
  11. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Alright, the Onkyo setup arrived Thursday. The JBL Cinemavision 400wrms 12" sub showed up Friday.

    The Onkyo 150wrms 10" sub definitely doesn't have enough snot for my livingroom (roughly 13x15). The JBL pisses off the neighbors. :D It hits like a freight train. I'm running both subs right now in opposite corners of the room.

    I wish the receiver had two LFE outputs.

    I wish the receiver converted between S-Video and component video. I don't even know why they offer composite, it sucks ass.

    I'm not sure why they even included cables, the supplied surrounds are 18 gauge.

    Right now I'm using S-video and digital audio for the DVD player.

    After playing around a little bit and doing some measurements with my tape measure and trusty protractor... I chose my surround speaker locations pretty much "by the book" according to THX and Dolby. The surround rears are mounted 18" off the corners of the room and 22" from the ceiling (room has 8' ceilings). The surround fronts are mounted 32" off the corners of the room and 22" from the ceiling.

    I balanced out the speakers and tweaked the distance. I have the crossover set at 100Hz because the supplied Onkyo speakers don't go down low very well.

    I left the center speaker on top of my 45" Mitsubishi projection TV.

    The two front speakers I have sitting on my custom speaker stands I built today. They're built out of Dana 60 rotors, 14SF shafts, and a piece of 8x10x1/4 plate. Yes, they weigh what a small woman weighs. haha. The front speakers don't have the quality I anticipated but they're still plenty good. If they were 6" cones they'd probably be a lot better because then you could have a little lower frequency coming out of them and would probably have better coils to get a crisper sound.

    The surrounds have exceeded my expectations (usually speakers in a box have cheap surrounds). The included subwoofer is a downfiring 10" one that has plenty of snot for a room with a concrete floor or smaller (say 10x12). My living room has some serious things to overcome as far as low frequencies go.

    The quality of the speaker boxes are very high, I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely not thousand dollar speakers but they're rigid and assembled very well.

    I found Hellboy to be a good movie to test your speakers with and make adjustments. It's the only movie I have that uses all 7 (6) channels.



    Hopefully tomorrow I'll get my shelves built and can start working on permanent wiring. The 16 and 18 gauge wires running all over have got to go before I trip myself. I've got some 14 gauge I'm running for everything.


    My thousand pound speaker stands (now you guys know what to do with those 14SF shafts you've got lying around):
    [​IMG]

    JBL Cinemavision CVSUB50... it caused me to spill my first drink EVER (6 years) in my living room because it vibrated the coffee table too long... and that's at half volume and -3dB:
    [​IMG]
     
  12. surpip

    surpip 1 ton status

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    very nice speaker stands
     
  13. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    a) if your TV has an S-video input on it, there really is no need to convert from S-vid to component when they can just leave that feature out and make you buy another S-video cable. ;) Its not like picture quality would be improved by the coversion so its not that big of a loss.

    b) Hey now, some of us need composite... not all of my classic video game systems had S-video on them. If my receiver didn't have the inputs/outputs... where would I put my NES? Turbografx16+CD+ACP? Come on now! :grin:

    for poor people who can't afford anything but what comes in the box. I already had some giant cable for my AR speakers... so I just used it (barely fit in the speakers connector!).

    Thats what I thought of the Onkyo stuff. Before that I had Marantz amps and Acoustic Research speakers. Frankly, other than listening to music on high volume (which I do about twice a year these days) I don't miss my old bling bling audiophile stuff. Glad I sold it and pocketed the coin. :)

    Good work on the speaker stands btw... freakin' cool. :thumb:

    j
     
  14. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

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    I have the JBL Pro cinema pak. [​IMG] Although I did step up to JBL's 250watt 12" subwoofer.
     
  15. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    My TV is from 1991 and it has S-video on it. S-video is great for under 6' runs but Component is where it's at for anything greater than that. Each conductor is insulated/shielded instead of on S-video where they are shielded but not from each other. I really need to replace it with a HDTV unit with DVI in. DVI is the shiznit. :wink1:

    My DVD player has Component so I wanted to use Component between the DVD player and the receiver. The TV only has composite and s-video.

    Composite sucks ass. Even my antique TV has horrible picture with Composite.

    I'm going to have about 15' of cable between the receiver and TV so I was going to use S-video to Component splitters and run high-end cable. Maybe I'll try out my 12' S-video cable I have lying around (expensive jobber do). I already have the S-video to component splitters lying around.


    Yeah, usually I run 12 gauge for everything but the connectors look like they'd choke on anything more than 14 gauge. The speakers definitely don't need the power-handling ability of 12 gauge but the quality of sound with 12 gauge high strand count cable is far superior to anything else I've ever used. But, as I get older, I notice I can't hear things like I used to so who gives a rip, right?



    Yeah, I don't listen to it real loud either. At around 50 on the richter scale I go deaf with this system. My neighbors don't like it either. If I lived out in the sticks I'd crank on 'er periodically though, especially the subs. It's pretty awesome to vibrate the neighbor's windows. hehe.

    The problem with being an audiophile is that in order to be on the audiophile-worthy side of things you need to spend about $5k/year. If I ever have more than $1.5k tied up in my home theater setup I'm going to shoot myself in the face.
     
  16. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Per Greg's suggestion I tried moving the subs around the room and pointing them different directions. For someone who is used to having the subs in the basement pointing at the floor... it takes some getting used to feeling the music on your skin. I kind of settled how they are in the pictures.

    I'm really trying to keep the subs away from the right half of the room. I have neighbors on that side of the house that are pretty close.

    Looking back, I think I might've put the surrounds too high. But, during my testing, that's where they sounded best. When they were lower they seemed to overpower the fronts or whatever. While the volume of sound came out of the surrounds was a smidgeon less they'd take the focus and you didn't really "hear" the fronts because you were concentrating on the surrounds.


    It's nice to hear a movie the way it's meant to be heard. At the same time, the room never really got used much before but now it might get more use and it's time for real furniture. I hope the new sound system doesn't make me lazier than I already am. Usually the room gets used for eating and watching a select view TV shows like Lost.

    I think I might've started a vicious cycle of buying new furniture, carpet, and a 50" HDTV. :crazy:


    [​IMG]

    The rear surrounds are 18" on center off the side wall. The front surrounds are 32" on center off the rear wall. The bottom of the speakers are about 5'10" off the floor.
    [​IMG]

    This guy is about 5' off the right wall with its port firing to the left wall. It fires down with a relatively decent 10" cone. You can feel it a lot better than you can hear it.
    [​IMG]

    Pointing this little guy in different directions makes a heck of a difference. 15° can make a world of a difference. So much for subs being non-directional. If you crank on it too much it'll make your eyeballs hurt.
    [​IMG]

    The goal is to put corner shelves in the front of the room. The receiver will be on top at about chin level with the DVD player above it. Underneath all of that will be DVD storage. I went from about 10 DVDs last summer to ~65 in my collection now. Not having homework to do has opened up a lot of evening free time.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    I think a lot of times video quality difference that people perceive has much more to do with the device outputting or receiving the signal than the type of cable used. On my old Turbografx16 CD player, composite is all it has... that said, the picture is CRYSTAL clear. Its better than the S-video was on my old Pioneer LaserActive LD player. I think some companies do what they can to cut costs... sometimes one or more types of output or input take it in the shorts as a result. I have one 4m S-video cable, and never had a problem with it. If it has a worse picture than the various 1-2m S-video cables I have, my eyeballs are unable to detect it. Personally, unless I was using cheapo cable, I wouldn't worry about runs under 25'. I know the audiphiles **** their drawers over it, but if my eyeballs can't tell the difference, what exactly is the point in spending more $.

    Well, on the plus side your DVD player is probably very close to your receiver... don't have to worry about signal loss/interference as much with that short of a run. :thumb:

    In my experience there are two kinds of audiophiles...

    1) the guy who is willing to spend big money to get great sound.

    2) the guy who is willing to spend even bigger money to achieve a microscopic upgrade in audio quality that isn't even detectable by the human ear, no matter how much they swear up/down that it is.

    I remember on one of the audiophile web sites they did a real life test where they demonstrated this. They had supposed audiophiles listen to a amp/speaker system that was identical... all they did was swap high end (we're talking $50+/ft) speaker cable out and put a ends-chopped-off-and-stripped peice of extension cord in its place. More than half the people chose the chopped off extension cord as being superior....

    j
     
  18. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

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    I have my subwoofer in the corner and like it. The only time I find it "boomy" is when there are alot of explotions in the movie and I have it turned up. But aren't explotions in the movies suposta be boomy ??
     
  19. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Well, my TV has three inputs. Two are composite and one is S-video. You can tell bigtime the difference between composite and S-video. I was originally running composite with the current setup because I was short a S-video cable. It clears up the noise in the picture a lot. I probably wouldn't notice with a smaller TV.

    After spending way too much money going to school to be an electrical engineer, I understand signal quality pretty well as that's where I focused a lot of my study (that and power). A good cable will have very nice shielding, have a thick vinyl cover, and have a conductor that doesn't vary in size by much. A highly stranded wire will always pass a signal better. A twisted one will also. One with both mesh and wrap will avoid interference best. Keeping the conductors in a multiconductor cable the same distance apart and twisting them keeps capacitance at bay. You can't cheap out on the terminators either. Crimp-on anything is not an option.

    But half the **** people buy for their stereo systems is unrealistic. For most of us, regular two conductor THNN unshielded 14 gauge will work just fine. In fact, solid wire will work just fine. Shielded 14 gauge with high strand count would be ideal as you don't have to worry about wire placement as much. Anything more than what 14 gauge can handle you should probably consider sending a digital signal to the speaker and put an amp there.

    I'm 100% a believer in a receiver makes all the difference in any audio system. I think how clean of power the receiver gets and heat impacts sound quality more than cables (as long as you're getting decent ones).



    But anyway, got any suggestions for new front speakers?
     
  20. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    OK, the receiver **** out Saturday. Doesn't stay on when you hit the power button. The Standby light then blinks for eternity. It'll make the lights dim when you turn it on. It barely made it to the 2.5 month mark. Saying it pisses me off would be an understatement.

    I'm none too impressed with the customer service thus far. Been on hold for thirty minutes, not even any crappy music to listen too. With my luck it'll cost more to fix/ship than I paid for it.

    Beginning to look like I should've bought a Harman/Kardon.
     

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