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    Surround Sound Opinions...

    Hey everyone, seeing how we have quite a few technologically savvy cyclone fanatics here with good advice on TVs, gaming systems, and hdmi cables... does anybody have good advice for surround sound. I'm planning on pooling my best buy gift certificates from the holidays and getting surround sound.

    I don't think any of the rest of my hardware will limit my selection...

    Anyway... Surround Sound is one of the few entertainment system things I don't know much about and was wondering if anybody knows what to look for... has any suggestions on brands or whatever...

    Thanks for your help!



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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    I have a 5.1 channel Sony system that is about 5 years old now and has performed wonderfully. It was relatively inexpensive. My DVD player and VCR are Sony products as well. The remote that came with it works in place of the other remotes as a universal but that is only because I have all sony products. I believe the amp puts out 200 watts and the sub is a 50 watt powered sub. The speakers are the small cube variety and mount easily as they are very light. My only complaint with the system is that it doesn't have enough audio video connections so that I can use it as my main switch. Instead, I have to do some with the TV and some with the amp. This is probably common on lower end systems. I'm trying to connect in a VCR, DVD players, PS2, and cable box. Ideally, a person wants the amp to switch everything (audio and video). It keeps things wired the cleanest and makes remote use the simplest.

    I'm sure systems have progressed far beyond what I have in 5 years. I'm just throwing out my two cents.

    Edit: I also want to add that while the system sounds great with movies (digital 5.1), playing music on the system sounds bad. I have a separate Denon amp and Sony CD player connected to some Bose Floor speakers in another room of our house that we player music on and it sounds light-years better than the Sony home theatre system.


    Last edited by CyinCo; 12-31-2007 at 10:44 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    Build your own system. Find the speakers YOU like the best, I suggest the lower models of B&W or NHT. Very good speakers, and pretty reasonable price. Also good brands, Alpha, PSB.

    I put 4 NHT IW-3's in my new room and a Three C Center, with a sunfire subwoofer. They are all hooked up to a denon receiver, and I could not be happier. I highly recommend an external powered subwoofer, it will really add life to movies, and will allow you to get smaller speakers for the rest of your setup.


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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    It really depends on what kind of thing you're looking for. The main things are 1) how much you are willing to spend and 2) what kind of sound you are looking for. If you are only able to spend under $300 or $400, you will have to get one of those packages with smaller speakers that usually combine the receiver with a DVD player. Those are fine, but have some downside to them. If you can spend more, you can get a nicer system that has the receiver separate, and you will get higher quality sound. Also, if you like good bass and good lower range, you will want to go with JBL or Bose. If you like good mid range, you can go with Polk or Yamaha. If you like good upper range, I know Infinity is good. Onkyo is somewhere inbetween mids and highs I believe. If you want more info, you can let me know, but I did research on them for awhile, then went with a nice Polk Audio system. I haven't been disappointed, but I had to pay more for it.



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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    This is one of the great "it depends" questions. it depends on how much you want to spend, how big your room is, what kind of materials you have, what kind of mounting options you have etc. etc. etc.

    You can spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on speakers, all the way down to 100 bucks.

    Budget is a big thing to consider in all of this, really.



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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    I had B&W speakers before I got married They were awesome! But, like jumbo said, it depends on so many things: budget, mounting options and/or the room decor (the major reason my wife made me get rid of my B&Ws is because they didn't 'go' with the room).



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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    I agree with brianhos.

    Put together a system piece by piece. I just built up my system over time and it's nothing crazy but it sounds excellent.

    I went with a Denon receiver, I've had the same NHT's for the last 10 years, some Paradigm's for surround, and a Yamaha sub.

    If you buy some good speakers they'll last for 20 years or more.

    If I was in the market for new gear and wanted to stay reasonably priced:

    Speakers=Paradigm or Axiom-There are tons of other good speakers besides these.

    Subwoofer=Element Designs (built right here in Iowa but nationally known)

    Receiver-Denon or Marantz

    Wire=Monoprice



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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    Great suggestions by dmclone.

    I'd also suggest Onkyo for a receiver. Everything I've heard about them is great.

    AVS Forum is pretty much the definitive place on the internet for home theater discussion and suggestions, and a great place to start looking.



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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    Are other people using their amps as a switch for both audio and video or do you use the TV as the video switch and the amp as the audio switch??


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  10. #10
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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    Quote Originally Posted by CyinCo View Post
    Edit: I also want to add that while the system sounds great with movies (digital 5.1), playing music on the system sounds bad. I have a separate Denon amp and Sony CD player connected to some Bose Floor speakers in another room of our house that we player music on and it sounds light-years better than the Sony home theatre system.
    I have a Sony amp that is also about 5 years old and a mix of other components. I have all the components hooked to the amp with optical cable, and I have the Sony amp set to "AUTO FORMAT DECODE". If I'm playing a CD with 2.0 sound, the amp dectects the 2.0 input and only pushes the sound through the front speakers, and it sounds great. I do agree that the Pro Logic modes that try to convert 2.0 sound into 5.1 sound aren't really worth a hoot, at least on my receiver.

    I also agree with those who suggest building your own system. Back in 1983, I bought a pair of Realistic high-end (back then their stuff was pretty good) tower speakers, and they are still going strong today (I'm now using them as rear channel speakers).

    I use my amp to switch the sound, and my TV to switch the video. I bought a Harmony remote to coordinate everything.

    I've found DVD concerts to be hit and miss as far as 5.1 sound. Some seem to put nothing but light audience chatter on the surround channels, which seems like a waste. For Christmas, I got myself the Roy Orbison remastered "Black and White Night" on DVD, which has an outstanding 5.1 sound track. Our PBS station shows that alot during pledge drives, but they only broadcast 2.0 sound...


    Last edited by jbhtexas; 12-31-2007 at 11:44 AM.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    Quote Originally Posted by jbhtexas View Post
    I have a Sony amp that is also about 5 years old and a mix of other components. I have all the components hooked to the amp with optical cable, and I have the Sony amp set to "AUTO FORMAT DECODE". If I'm playing a CD with 2.0 sound, the amp dectects the 2.0 input and only pushes the sound through the front speakers, and it sounds great. I do agree that the Pro Logic modes that try to convert 2.0 sound into 5.1 sound aren't really worth a hoot, at least on my receiver.

    I also agree with those who suggest building your own system. Back in 1983, I bought a pair of Realistic high-end (back then their stuff was pretty good) tower speakers, and they are still going strong today (I'm now using them as rear channel speakers).

    I use my amp to switch the sound, and my TV to switch the video. I bought a Harmony remote to coordinate everything.

    I've found DVD concerts to be hit and miss as far as 5.1 sound. Some seem to put nothing but light audience chatter on the surround channels, which seems like a waste. For Christmas, I got myself the Roy Orbison remastered "Black and White Night" on DVD, which has an outstanding 5.1 sound track. Our PBS station shows that alot during pledge drives, but the only broadcast 2.0 sound...
    Sonunds like we might have same amp. I like the auto-detect as well.


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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    I run everything through my Denon receiver so that it can do all the switching. I have two HDMI going into the Denon and then one HDMI out to the projector/tv.

    I think the HDMI connections is probably the most important aspect of the receiver now-a-days. Most the decent receivers have plenty of other connections and have a ton of different surround options.



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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    BTW-If anyone needs a receiver w/o HDMI connections and wants something cheap..

    I have a Harman Kardon AVR 130 sitting in my closet. I paid around $400 and I'd sell it for $100. I bought the Denon because I needed HDMI connections. I keep thinking I'm going to use it somewhere else in the house but probably won't.

    Harman Kardon AVR 130 Review — Audioholics Home Theater Reviews and News



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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    I bought the Harmon Kardon AVR 146 Reciever. It has 2 HDMI inputs and a bunch of different outputs. I have dish network, PS3 and a WII all running through it and it sounds great. Yamaha Speakers throughout. When I play Call of Duty 4 I'll crank it up and it sounds real. The wife hates it because explosions rock the house.

    Positives about the HK are it looks great, sounds great, and it automatically detects what is the best available sound and swiches to that format. For example it will switch from Dolby II to Dolby Digital when available.

    Only thing I dont like about it right now is that it will not work with my dish remote so i have 2 remotes sitting on the table and i have to grab the reciever remote if i want to adjust volume.



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    Re: Surround Sound Opinions...

    I'm thinking something on a cheaper scale... something to upgrade from the speakers built into the TV (42" LG LCD 5 months old)... works well with an xbox360 with the HDDVD attachment... a small room setup... don't really care about the "decor" of the room. I'll really just be using it for movies and xbox games... not listening to music on it.

    So whatever I do... do I NEED to have a receiver... or can I just plug some dolby capable speakers directly into the TV and turn on Dolby 5.1 on the xbox setup menu? This is probably a stupid question... but I know absolutely nothing about audio systems.



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