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Home Theaters/Surround Sound -- a poll of sorts

by Evie / January 20, 2006 2:40 AM PST

I was quite astounded (and impressed) as I eavesdropped on the various discussions here about audio equipment. I'm curious if you care to share:

1. What's the largest TV in your home?
2. Do you have some sort of external sound system/surround sound? Details please Happy
3. If yes to #2, roughly how much did you spend on this?
4. Also if yes to #2, what are the rough dimensions of the room this is set up in?

For my part, we just purchased a 50'' DLP HDTV (Merry belated Christmas to us! ;)) We'll look into improving the audio at some later date!

Evie Happy

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PB,PB,PB:)
by Glenda / January 20, 2006 2:42 AM PST

I emailed you:) Am I too late???? Devil

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(NT) (NT) 19" and no extra sound
by duckman / January 20, 2006 3:15 AM PST
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Upgrading Home Theatre/Surround Sound
by MelH / January 20, 2006 3:23 AM PST

Hi Evie:

Coincidentally, I began my upgrade just yesterday, although in reverse order. I purchased an AV Receiver to replace an old relic I've had for 15 years. I got a Denon, linked here:

http://usa.denon.com/ProductDetails/554.asp

I barely have it hooked up to explore all it's features, but hearing 5.1 surround sound, even without a good set of speakers really shook the 14' x 20' room I'm set up in.

I will replace my antiquated speakers next, followed by a 50'' DLP HDTV, probably a Samsung. I saw one yesterday and was really impressed. I wish I could justify it right now, as it was on sale, but my four year old 36'' Panasonic Gaoo is not yet ready for the scrap heap. It is my only TV. Besides, next years models might bring some extra features/improved quality and network broadcasting will have a chance to expand their selection of HD offerings.

Also, with the advent of HD DVD, I will also delay upgrading my old DVD player for a bit, although they should be hitting the market this spring and summer.

I think you'll really 'need' to upgrade to a better sound source if you are going to watch a 50'' screen.

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Need is in the eye of the beholder ;-)
by Evie / January 20, 2006 4:30 AM PST

We probably DO need to upgrade. Our virgin viewing was Armageddon -- the visual experience was great, we would have liked better sound.

We have to upgrade the audio system in its entirety sometime. Before we got together my hubby had invested in a (then) SOTA system. Something has gone awry with it and at the very least we need to repair/replace the speakers. One has a huge perforation in it although neither of us knows how that happened, and no amount of playing with cables, etc. seems to fix a problem with the ''good'' speaker kicking out on the ''left'' side, so we think that's a problem in the receiver. Anyways, about a year ago the hubby got tired of being tuneless in the house, but we weren't up to replacing the whole shebang and we purchased a Sharp 360W ''boom box'' with a ''5 speaker system''. It has that college dorm room/first apartment look to it, but puts out surprisingly good sound IMO. I'm going to look into whether I can input the audio from the DVD player to that unit for now.

The new TV is quite a bit larger than our previous ''big TV'' which was a 27'' regular screen (a whopping investment at $150 at WalMart!). It would have been harder to justify, as you say, upgrading from a larger TV or one that already had widescreen viewing. That was the major reason for our decision because we never go to the theater and unlike VHS's, most of the DVD's we've purchased are widescreen. Our DVD player lets you resize for the regular screen but that distorts just enough that I never cared for that option (that and you cut out stuff on the periphery). Viewing WS movies on a 27'' screen gets really small! This TV is a bit large for our room, but one way or another we'll eventually have a bigger great room. So getting a larger TV but not large enough for the eventual great room seemed impractical. Plus now the hubby is locked into getting his much needed and put off eyeglasses Wink

Good luck in your upgrades! The Samsung was our second choice, but although they have come a long way, I still have a problem with that brand dating back to my first VCR -- a disasterous experience. I can't say what we got because I don't want to jinx it or hear horror stories ;). We've always had good luck with this brand so I'm hoping it continues!

Evie Happy

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Theater
by marinetbryant / January 20, 2006 4:05 AM PST

First I bought a mid-price Onkyo A/V receiver, about $450, then got mid-price Infinty 5.1 speaker system, about $350. Bought new sound card for pc that had digital opical output. Finally got a Samsung 42" plasma and hooked it all up. Once you figure out what button to press and when, it is awesome. I live in an apartment so this is all I need for now. I would like to mention I bought it all from Crutchfield who spent a lot of time telling me how do hook it all up. Customer support is great! Prices are a little higher but I'm a believer in you get what you pay for.

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They have a great web site.
by Dan McC / January 20, 2006 4:08 AM PST
In reply to: Theater

I love the fact that they have nearly full sized photos of the buisiness end of all the equipment. You really get a sense of what you're buying. And the support is great.

Dan

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Theater
by marinetbryant / January 20, 2006 4:06 AM PST

First I bought a mid-price Onkyo A/V receiver, about $450, then got mid-price Infinty 5.1 speaker system, about $350. Bought new sound card for pc that had digital opical output. Finally got a Samsung 42" plasma and hooked it all up. Once you figure out what button to press and when, it is awesome. I live in an apartment so this is all I need for now. I would like to mention I bought it all from Crutchfield who spent a lot of time telling me how do hook it all up. Customer support is great! Prices are a little higher but I'm a believer in you get what you pay for.

Tom

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(NT) (NT) Sorry, double click, double post
by marinetbryant / January 20, 2006 4:08 AM PST
In reply to: Theater
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There's a place called Tweeter ...
by Evie / January 20, 2006 4:53 AM PST
In reply to: Theater

... up here where we will probably go when the time comes. They are staffed with knowledgeable folks and carry a wide range of products. The hubby is by far the bigger audiophile of the two of us, so this one will be his call. If I can run the audio through our boombox I would probably be happy Wink

Evie Happy

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Can't rightly say...
by EdH / January 20, 2006 4:29 AM PST

My wife won a big TV, 52 inch I think, a DVD and surround sound system. My brother was here to help and we looked over the instructions and measured everything. We determined we would have to drill holes in the floor and walls to get the wires to go to the right places without showing and the speakers would still show of course. They recommend you place the speakers at ear level around the room. The way our living room is laid out would have been a nightmare. YMMV.

So we sold it, kept the TV and DVD.I don't have that great a need to hear tigers roaring behind me.

I think if you have a room that you can dedicate to the media center it might be practical. In a living room, not so much. Make sure it will work in the room.

I see that Bose has now come out with a two speaker system that they claim simulatess the surround sound well. I might be interested in that(especially if my wife can win one).

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Congrats to your wife!
by Evie / January 20, 2006 4:40 AM PST
In reply to: Can't rightly say...

I wish we won this TV! The positioning of the speakers would be an issue for us as well. We are not the two room -- family room and formal living room -- type, although our home has rooms for both. So our living room is casual but functional. I don't know if I want that room to look like a "media center" though. If we renovate to merge the current two rooms to one, that may be a time to build such a system into the walls somewhat to be less obtrusive. The TV stand has given us the opportunity to merge everything "media" in one place and it doesn't look too bad. But the lights were a bit distracting watching a movie in the dark, so I'm tossing ideas around in my head for ways to cover the contents during such times.
Evie Happy

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Lighting in the room
by grimgraphix / January 20, 2006 11:01 AM PST
In reply to: Congrats to your wife!

to help reduce eye strain and take some emphasis from the stereo lights try a dim light placed directly behind the TV or better yet some wall sconce lights to either side of the TV. Dimmers on these lights would allow you to tweak it out to the best effect.

grim

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I don't have an impressive TV at this point. However, I do
by Kiddpeat / January 20, 2006 4:35 AM PST

intend to begin shooting HDV in the next few years. I will need an HD display at that time (1080p; not 720p), but at the present I see few displays that operate at the 1080 level. I'm waiting for prices to come down.

The computer has a 5.1 Klipsch system since, along with video, I also want to work with audio. I have a Creative Audigy ZS 2 to drive the Klipsch system (the Klipsch's have a built in amp). I have been advised that I would be much better off with an M-Audio card, and a set of monitor speakers. That's because I want to work with the sound, and not just listen to it. Audio sources feeding the computer include a Nakamichi 410 preamp, a Nakamichi ST-7 AM/FM tuner, a Nackamichi RX-202 cassette deck, a JVC Sper VHS deck, and a Tapco 6306 mixer. All except the Tapco came from eBay. I also have Dual and Lenco turntables in the basement if I need to work with LPs or 78s. The computer also has additional video capabilities.

A home theater system undoubtedly needs much more power than I presently have. My computer room is a mere 9 feet square. I recently saw that M-Audio has introduced a 5.1 system that uses studio monitors. However, it is not a high power system, and was recommended for smaller rooms.

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Curious ...
by Evie / January 20, 2006 10:49 AM PST

... you previously mentioned you had 100GB of files to back up on the computer. Do you do all this video for hobby, work or a side business?

Evie Happy

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I'm trying to build a business, and am still in the phase of
by Kiddpeat / January 20, 2006 2:04 PM PST
In reply to: Curious ...

taking a lot of photos. In one week on the west coast last year, I took over 3 gigs of photos. I also have video work, and some audio. Video generates humongous files, but I try to keep those off of the main system drive.

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You're miles ahead of me and I used to consider myself
by Ziks511 / January 20, 2006 5:10 AM PST

well connected. Plans here are a 27 inch Sharp Aquos with the best quality sound system for around a thousand bucks. If we can afford a 29 or 32 inch Aquos we'll put any extra money there. I figure that the next step up in audible sound quality has to be almost double the thousand (approximately) we're planning on spending. This will have to be money saved and/or pilfered from renovation/soundproofing because we have noisy neighbours, and since I can no longer work, limited finances too. New front windows would be nice.

Do, please, post your discoveries and tell us how the new system works out. I am puce with envy.

Rob

Current system a 24" Toshiba with multi-system DVD (Malata) and multi-system VCR (Samsung) I can reccommend the Samsung 5000 as a good piece of kit, HiFi, will play pretty much anything you can buy anywhere, decent surround sound decoder, I like it. The Malata is fussy and 5 years old so will need replacement when finances allow, but it plays PAL DVDs just fine though something more mainstream and multisystem Sony Panasonic etc would probably be better in both video and sound quality but the differences might be less than I expect.

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I'm curious ...
by Evie / January 20, 2006 9:05 AM PST

... for that size TV, why the desire for the LCD? This is something I would ask anyone here that owns or desires a smaller LCD or plasma TV. To me, the cost seems to be too high to justify the picture quality differential vs. the cheaper (by a mile in most cases) CRT's. Hope you can find your way to affording all the items on the wish list.

In the end the only thing for me that really justified the cost of this TV was for better enjoying movies that we don't pay admission to a theater for.

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Better resolution, HDTV compatible, better contrast
by Ziks511 / January 22, 2006 3:39 PM PST
In reply to: I'm curious ...

and a desire for something that doesn't dominate the room when it's not in use. I'm actually thinking of mounting it on a swing arm so it can remain flat against though in front of one of the bookshelves, and swing out to be viewed or for access to the books. I'm a peculiar sort-of anti TV person who watches far too much, though most of it either news or documentaries. I also have far too many DVD's (and tapes) which I enjoy watching from time to time.

Whenever I have gone into a reasonably good hifi/video store the difference in picture quality between a good tube like Sony, or Toshiba and an LCD screen especially the Sharp Aquos of the same size has blown me away. Using the same medium broadcast, or DVD the LCD is the clear winner. Its also easier on the eyes as I understand it. That's certainly true for LCD computer monitors but I understand the big sets are also more comfortable for long viewing.

Them's my reasons, and thanks for asking.

Rob

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I had to go back almost to the bottom of page 2 ...
by Evie / January 24, 2006 4:45 AM PST

... once seeing you posting today remided me I hadn't replied!

I can see the obtrusiveness issue, as the bigger CRT's do kinda get bulky and heavy as well, but for me (personal preference mind you) the picture quality isn't that much better compared to the flat widescreen HDTV CRT's that usually cost about as little as one quarter the price for comparable screen size.

My eyes are partial to the plasma screens, but they just aren't worth it on my budget either. In the price range we purchased, comparable plasmas were 2X the price minimum. I suppose if all of our eyes were the same, nobody would ever buy the other brand that cost about $200 more than mine but SEEMED to me to have such inferior picture quality in a side-by-side comparison. And yet the salesman said it was a popular model. Luckily the hubby and I seem to have similar viewing preferences.

Good luck when the time comes! Let us know will you?

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Don't spend much time with the old TV
by Steven Haninger / January 20, 2006 5:22 AM PST

It's just an old 27'' Sony CRT and it's at least 10 years old if not older. My stereo is still 2 channel with a Rotel 100 w/ch stereo receiver connected to a pair of 30 year old JBL L65 Jubal speakers which have 12'' woofers. They still sound great to me. I've also wired the house with 4 more pairs of switchable speakers in various locations. It suits me fine. I've got Time Warner cable for Earthlink broadband only so no cable TV....just what the rabbit ears will pick up. My PC has a Creative Audigy2 ZS card running a Klipsch 2.1 speaker set that sounds very clean to me. I've various music collections ripped to external drives to suit the mood. Maybe when we get out from under college tuition payments after next year priorities will change but life is good enough right now.:)

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In these parts ...
by Evie / January 20, 2006 7:47 AM PST

... rabbit ears will pick up at most 3 fuzzy channels on a good day. So cable is a must. Once you pay for it, it seems a shame to waste the other features offered if you know what I mean. We really got the bigger TV mostly for movies. I'm not so sure I need, as Ed put it, tigers roaring behind me (to be honest, sometimes surround sound is a bit freaky to me), but better sound than the speakers on the TV is going to be a necessity. Watching TV on this big thing almost seems ridiculous to be honest, but I'm not about to have 2 TV's in the room! Our 27" still sitting in the other corner now looks so pathetically small, but it's never really seemed inadequate except when watching widescreen movies.

Evie Happy

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I think a good action movie where you can hear the bullet
by Kiddpeat / January 20, 2006 8:04 AM PST
In reply to: In these parts ...

go through your head, or the plane going through the living room is where surround sound shines! THAT, I would like to have!

Unfortunately, if or when I get it, I'm sure my wife will shout for me to TURN IT DOWN!

DevilSad

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Hubby won't have to worry about that ...
by Evie / January 20, 2006 9:46 AM PST

... sometimes I bug him for cranking the tunes, but mostly he does that in his vehicle when he's alone. I figure the investment in the good system for that was worth the money cuz I'm just not a loud music listener most of the time. Mostly if we're watching movies it's together and we've always been pretty compatible about the volume.

I've just emerged from behind the TV and got the DVD player sound hooked to the boombox. I'm now testing it out with different action DVD's. It is quite an improvement so I think the hubby will be happy for the time being.

Like EdH, I look around this room and wonder how/where to position the speakers where it wouldn't look ridiculous. Our family room is not formal, but we do try to keep it from looking like just a media room!

Evie Happy

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We already had surround speakers
by Josh K / January 20, 2006 6:39 AM PST

(Bose AM-15s) and recently bought a 60" Sony SXRD rear projection LCD HDTV and a Denon 3805 receiver. Total cost, roughly $5,200 plus installation of the speakers in our prewired media room.

The picture is amazing and coupled with digital surround sound, "24" is just incredible.

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I'm jealous :-)
by Evie / January 20, 2006 7:17 AM PST

... but that pricetag was a bit more than we wanted to invest at this time. We paid right around $2K for the TV. For a flicker of a moment, we entertained the idea of the 60" but it seemed a little TOO oversized for our current room, and also for the budget. The 50" is just a little larger than what one might consider ideal for the current room size/configuration. But should be sufficient for the larger room we someday envision. At least our room is long so one can comfortably sit at a decent distance. One thing I liked about this unit in side by side comparison to other similar and competing technologies was that the picture clarity is still pretty decent close up and when viewed on angle.

It's always stressful for me to plunk down $$ on rapidly changing technologies. In the end you have to finally make a choice and do it! For a while there, it seemed that a computer became obsolete mere months after you bought the latest and greatest! In some ways, at least for what I use my computer most for, that has finally leveled off. With the big screen TV's the prices have really come down. So for a while we were always waiting for them to come down more. I'm sure that Murphy's Law will dictate that my unit will sell for half the price next year! But if we all lived our lives waiting for everything to come down to the rockbottom price we wouldn't enjoy life much IMO. At least with the audio it seems that there are somewhat lesser major breakthroughs in the basic technology. I'm really not as keen on spending a lot for the audio, but there's something almost "insulting" to a nice TV like this to not have the full "home theater" experience.

It's funny, the old TV is still sitting on a TV cart in the other corner of the room. It wasn't THAT small, but it sure looks SOOOOOOOOOOOOO tiny now!

Thanks for the info. Happy

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Our goal was.....
by Josh K / January 20, 2006 9:15 AM PST
In reply to: I'm jealous :-)

.....to have a screen big enough to make it possible to never set foot in a movie theater again. The SXRD is the first 60" TV I've seen with a picture good enough to make me feel good about buying it. Beats plasma IMO. You may recall that I bought it from Wayne Hardy.

If we hadn't done as well as we did on the sale of our house, it wouldn't have happened.

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Ya done good!
by Evie / January 20, 2006 9:32 AM PST
In reply to: Our goal was.....

Had we been in your position we would have done the same thing. For now, this is a bit of a stretch to begin with. If/when we sell the house or remodel, we may consider upgrading -- that depends on how long we've had this one and how big we go for the TV room. Yours is a VERY nice TV. I did drool at it when we were looking around.

Enjoy!

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46in Toshiba rear projection wide screen............
by Tony Holmes / January 20, 2006 7:04 AM PST

1K watt Onkyo 6.1 HTIB cost me like $500 on sale,fantastic sound quality.

The room is about 14x20,Star Wars takes on a whole new meaning Happy

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We have a whole list ...
by Evie / January 20, 2006 7:36 AM PST

... of DVD's in the collection in the queue to watch on the new TV. It's the one thing we feel we've sorta been missing out on for certain types of movies by not being theater goers. Will have to upgrade the sound, but waiting for the bank account to fill up a bit again Wink Or perhaps it's time to give serious consideration to finding out exactly what's wrong with the system we have and if it's worth just repairing that. We'll get new speakers either way one of the existing ones is broken and they are quite a bit bulkier than I would care for.

I've been eyeing Sony's 400 DVD changer. We've also been eyeing the CD counterpart. The more you get, the more it seems you want stuff to go along with it Grin

Evie Happy

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I could never understand why Sony sells that...........
by Tony Holmes / January 20, 2006 8:29 AM PST

because I'm only gonna watch one at a time and it's no trouble to grab another and put it into a single disc unit.

I'd wonder if they're all individually spaced or if they sit on each other in which case they might scratch? I bet dust has a way of finding itself in there too.

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