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I'm planning on buying hubbie a surround sound system for Christmas but I have no idea what I'm doing. We have a 50in. HDTV plasma. We're getting another for our rec room that's being renovated over the next few months. We have a Wii and we'll be giving DS a PS3 for Christmas. We aren't big gamers but DS enjoys playing them. We don't own a blue ray, just DVD but I believe BluRay can be played on the PS3. The PS3 will be on the tv in the rec room as will the Wii. Hubbie may decide to place the sound system upstairs in our family room (cathedral ceiling) or downstairs in the rec room.

We have a receiver. Its about 4 years old. Its a Panasonic SA-HE75. Based on a google search, I believe this is a 5.1. It doesn't have HDMI ports.

I'm really hoping someone can help me plan a great system for hubbie that doesn't break the bank. Looking for quality but not over $700 for the whole system if possible.

How many speakers should I have?
What kind of speakers should I get (ie: I've heard of subs ... should I get those for ex.)
What brand names are preferable (ie: good brand not really high price)
Do I need to buy a new receiver or is the one we have ok?
What else do I need to know/buy?

I saw this set in BB. Its a Sony speaker system (SAVS350H) with receiver (STRDN1010). Its 7.1. REgular price 1499.99 but on sale now for 999.99. If we need to get a new receiver, is this set any good?





Thanks so much!
 

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Without HDMI, your current receiver won't be able to accept lossless digital audio (Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA). However, since it can still accept "lossy" digital audio (Dolby Digital, DTS) from a DVD or Blu-ray player or from a gaming console through an optical or coaxial (RCA) digital audio connection, it's definitely usable. For video, you can hook up an HDMI-equipped player or console directly to the TV, so HDMI on the receiver isn't "required" here either.

With a newer receiver, however, you can run one HDMI cable from each player or console to the receiver for video+audio, and then a single HDMI cable out to the TV. If that convenience (and the ability to play lossless audio) matters, then a new receiver should be on the shopping list.

$700 is a bit tight for speakers plus a new receiver, unless you go for an HTiB (home theatre in a box) type of system. In my opinion, you might want to stretch the budget a bit.

If you keep an eye out for sales on the Onkyo HT-S9300THX (available at ComputersCanada and NCIX), I would consider going with it as a good "all in one" solution. I helped set up and calibrate a colleague's HT-S9200 last year and I found it to be a surprisingly good performer for an HT package. The 9300 is supposed to be at least as good as the 9200.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
eljay -Thanks for the insight. I'm willing to go higher than $700 if I need to to get a quality system. I was thinking $700 if I just needed speakers. Any idea if the Onkyo system is available locally in Ottawa? I'm hesitant to buy something online because I'd like hubbie to be able to return it if he'd like something different. (We're also looking to buy another 50in plasma this fall and I'm thinking I may get a better deal if I get that, speakers, PS3, etc all at the same time and at the same place... I could be wrong though..)

Almadacr - The link isn't showing. Can you give me an explanation of what you found?

Thanks!
 

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Basically is a 5.1 system with Precision Acoustics speakers and with the Pioneer VSX 820K they are on sale at BB 1149.99 check the BB site for " Precision Acoustics HD Series 5.1 Speaker Package with Pioneer 5.1 Channel 3D Receiver " Sorry about the link !!!!
 

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You'll have to decide if you want a 5.1 or a 7.1 system. As eljay said, best to get a newer/higher end A/V Receiver that has 4 HDMI inputs and supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA. You should be able to find one in your price range. I paid less than $900 for my Yamaha RX-V1800 (7.1) two years ago and I'm really happy with the sound quality and functions.

A set of 5.1 or 7.1 speakers will come with a (1) subwoofer. You might also check craigslist or kijiji in your area for some deals. I got mine for a really good price from a dealer who just wanted to unload his last two. You can search for Yamaha, Sony (or brand of choice) Receiver.
 

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eljay -Thanks for the insight. I'm willing to go higher than $700 if I need to to get a quality system. I was thinking $700 if I just needed speakers. Any idea if the Onkyo system is available locally in Ottawa? I'm hesitant to buy something online because I'd like hubbie to be able to return it if he'd like something different.
I'm not sure if it's available in Ottawa - you'd have to check with a store that carries Onkyo products (such as Bleeker) and find out if they stock that model or if they can order one in.

As for speakers only, there are usually some good deals to be had around Christmas or during Boxing Week, but that's too late for your purposes. And, personally, I'm a big fan of shopping carefully for used speakers, but that won't really work for you, either...unless you present him with a hand-made gift certificate to CanuckAudioMart.com. :D
 

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$700 is a bit tight for speakers plus a new receiver, unless you go for an HTiB (home theatre in a box) type of system. In my opinion, you might want to stretch the budget a bit.

If you keep an eye out for sales on the Onkyo HT-S9300THX (available at ComputersCanada and NCIX), I would consider going with it as a good "all in one" solution. I helped set up and calibrate a colleague's HT-S9200 last year and I found it to be a surprisingly good performer for an HT package. The 9300 is supposed to be at least as good as the 9200.
I agree with Eljay, 700$ is definitely tight for speakers. As far as I am concerned, if you want decent sound you must stay away from HTIB package unless the HTIB is actually made of separates (receiver, speakers etc) as it provides better quality and potential for upgrades in future years. Onkyo receivers are well regarded by many, I am not sure about their speakers (who truly make them for Onkyo) but what Eljay proposes is decent and upgradable.

Basically is a 5.1 system with Precision Acoustics speakers and with the Pioneer VSX 820K they are on sale at BB 1149.99 check the BB site for " Precision Acoustics HD Series 5.1 Speaker Package with Pioneer 5.1 Channel 3D Receiver " Sorry about the link !!!!
PA is actually a Canadian company (owned by JAM audio) and therefore readily available in Canada. Pioneer receivers are also well regarded and IMHO, of much better quality then Onkyo. Personally, I tend to favor Yamaha which like Onkyo are quality budget receivers however, audio choices are very subjective.


casperjj, check out the following FAQ on AVR/HTiB features. Make sure you get what you want/need.
Very sound advice from 57 as usual especially that you have mentioned you really are at a starting point into your audio journey. Because of this, I would strongly suggest that you concentrate on speakers at this point and possibly start a thread dedicated to develop your knowledge on speakers. Keep in mind that your present receiver is still usable and allow you to focus on spending money and time searching for the speakers that best suit your needs / requirements.

You should elaborate on the specific speakers you are dreaming of, towers, bookshelves, satellites? Have you considered a sound bar? Is there any WAF to be considered? Are you looking for massive power? Are you focussing on SQ (Sound Quality)? Are you expecting real HT audio experience or would you prefer some trade off which would allow for less clutter and better looks? What in your opinion is the % for each aspect of your audio system (music %, HT %, gaming %)? All of this accounts in your personal selection.

Speaker brands are also subjective (Energy, Paradigm, Polk, Precision just to mention a few). You have to get out there and audition different brands using your favorite and well known CD and DVD. At this point, you should focus on learning from the site, the various pros and cons of each brands, do your home work and AUDITION brands that are appealing to you after your learning from this site.

Once you have this task down path and have bought your speakers, you can use them with your present AVR and see if it meets your present needs. While deciding on this, you should go through all the FAQ on AVR and look at peoples input on the various brands and models. You should also start a discussion on your personal requirements for a receiver.

Seems like the PS3 would be a good target for you due to the combo gaming / movie option. There again a search on this site for members opinions on the PS3, that I know of the PS3 have changed with the years and some may be better than others.

If you ever decide to go with used, I would say the for sale on this forum would be safer than venturing in the unknown if you have never experienced used audio purchase. Here is my plug, There are more fortunate people (like Eljay ;) ) which can afford to change their gear as some of us would discard an old tooth brush and would offer their slightly used gear at kind of decent pricing, right Eljay ;)

As 57 points out in his FAQs, many have rushed in their purchase and simply have regrets, "If only I knew!". Well, the good news is you are in the right place so take your time, learn and select what is best for you NOW so will not have regrets and save money since you will not have to upgrade so fast.

BTW, casperjj welcome to DHC :D

Cheers!
TK
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow. Thank you all so much. Ok, I have a lot of research to do. Since the receiver is ok for now, I'm going to focus on speakers as suggested. Hubbies bday is in March so if a new receiver is necessary, I'll get one for him then. For now, speakers.

The only question that was easy to answer was wrt percentages of use. Aside from our 8yr old playing video games, this is really for watching tv and some movies. And since it will likely be downstairs in the rec room which doubles as our gym, some music when working out. So, probably 10% music, 10% gaming, 80% television/movies. If he chooses to put it upstairs, its closer to 10% gaming and 90% television and movies. We already have a cheap set of yamaha speakers (really cheap) so I want something that's going to give nice quality sound even if we're not using it much.

Off to research the board ... and thanks for the nice welcome! You guys are great.
 
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