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  1. #1
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    Question Need Advice: Building A System Piece-by-Piece On A Budget.

    I am ready to build a good HT system. I planned to buy a Bose system, but after finding this forum I donít think I will go that route. Like most people I have a budget, but I figured I would try to put together a system piece by piece over the course of several months so I can keep the one time expense down. Currently, I am just using my TV speakers so anything will be an improvement, but I know if I just buy a cheap little surround sound package from Best Buy I will soon want better quality.

    Hereís the challenge. Iíd like to start by spending around $1000, then $200 - $300 each of the next several months until the project is complete. I can skip a month and combine two months for a $400 - $600 component if I need to, but I want to enjoy the system sooner rather than later so I donít want to save for several years to buy a $10,000 speaker. Also, my budget is a little flexible Ė I donít want to pass up a much better component if I only have to spend a few dollars over my budget to take a significant step up, nor do I want to spend extra money on something that will not make much difference just because I have the money in my budget.

    My Questions:
    1. What should I buy first?
    2. In what order should I buy things?
    3. Which brands/models will work best given my criteria?
    4. What features are most important?

    Current video components:
    Sony KP-46WT500 Rear Projection Widescreen TV
    Sony DVP NS700P Ė Progressive Scan DVD Player
    Sony SLV-N88 Ė VCR
    Hughes Direct TV/TIVO Receiver w/ Dual Tuner
    X-Box

    Additional considerations:

    Room is about 20í long x 11í wide with a peaked ceiling that reaches about 14ft. at the highest point. The Entertainment Center is (and has to be) positioned along the side wall as opposed to being at one end of the longest part of the room.

    The room is pre-wired with pretty good audio cable, but it is wired for speaker placement about 7 Ĺ ft high.

    Due to room configurations and furniture placement, bookshelf speakers are almost essential, though the center channel speaker can be bigger.

    Usage is probably 75% TV/DVD/etc. & 25% music, but would probably be 60/40 TV to Music if I had better audio equipment.

    Music preference is 45% Hard Rock (KISS, AC/DC, etc.), 45% Hip Hop/Rap & 10% Jazz. With most music, my philosophy is louder is better. I like to feel the music as well as hear it. With Hip Hop/Rap lots of bass is essential.

    I plan to add a HDTV receiver one of these days and also figure I will eventually end up connecting my HT to my computer network so I can tap into audio & video files on my computers.

    I hope I havenít overwhelmed everyone with too much information. I would appreciate any advice you all can provide.

  2. #2
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    Not hard at all

    First off, you will have to decide what you will want to do on the speaker front in the near future. Floorstanders? Bookshelf? Sub/sat? If you want to do the floorstander or bookshelf route, the rest is pretty easy once you figure out the speakers you like. You can get the receiver and a pair of bookshelf speakers. Your next purchase will be another pair of bookshelf speakers for surrounds, or, place the original speakers in the surround position and get floorstanders in the front. Followed by center channel, followed by sub. The sub and center are even interchangable in order of purchase, but I would personally do the center first.

    Receiver? How serious do you want to start? For a really good system, you can get a $500 receiver. If you want to go a step further, the Yamaha RXV1400 at $800 list is on my HOT list. That will do a million things that you will love, including room optimization and component video upconversion. Find a pair of $300-400 bookshelves and you can easily get out for $1000-1100. Get the other speakers out of the line, critical for everything but the sub.
    Space

    The preceding comments have not been subjected to double blind testing, and so must just be taken as casual observations and not given the weight of actual scientific data to be used to prove a case in a court of law or scientific journal. The comments represent my humble opinion which will range in the readers perspective to vary from Gospel to heresy. So let it be.

  3. #3
    F1
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    The previous suggestion is a good one, but I would go slightly different route. First get a $500 receiver from Yamaha, Marantz, Harman Kardon, Denon, or Onkyo. You won't go wrong with either one. Get a closeout deal if possible. Next get a $500 pair of bookshelf speakers. Consider offering from Paradigm or B&W for start. Problem with your wiring is the speaker placement is too high. It's better to have front speakers at the ear level. Next is the subwoofer which give you the impact for movie and music. Save for two months and get $400 Hsu Research STF-2 www.hsuresearch.com. Next is $200-300 pair of speaker from the same brand as your front speakers. The last one is the center channel. Get the center from the same brand and series as your fronts and no less. You expect around $300 for this. Enjoy!!

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    First off, congrats on wising up on Bose before you committed your hard earned money to it. The first purchase should basically be the receiver and the main L/R speakers. The simplest thing to get first would be the receiver, since for the time being you can use it as a video swtching controller. That Yamaha unit that Space recommends is probably the one to beat right now by virtue of its room acoustic calibration function. Unlike a lot of the new features that get added to receivers from year to year, this one really has the potential to make a significant difference in the sound quality of your system.

    Speakers are really the make or break part of your system, and as such will (and should) take the most time to decide. Performance differences between receivers, DVD players, and other components are much smaller than between speaker models. Splurge on the speakers and go with what you're happiest with. You don't have to buy them all at once, so budget what you can afford right now on the assumption that you will only buy two speakers to start with. All the other components can be added on gradually.

    With the type of music that you listen to, you should probably start with brands like Klipsch, Paradigm, JBL, Polk, Energy, PSB, or Infinity. Each of these brands has a wide range of models available and a slightly different sound. If you decide you want something more laid back, then B&W, KEF, or Mission are also popular options with a wide range of models and price points. Just take your time and use demo discs that you are familiar with. Remember to borrow the speakers you're most interested in and do your final comparisons at home, since your room acoustics might differ significantly from what you hear in your dealer's demo room.

  5. #5
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by F1
    The previous suggestion is a good one, but I would go slightly different route. First get a $500 receiver from Yamaha, Marantz, Harman Kardon, Denon, or Onkyo. You won't go wrong with either one. Get a closeout deal if possible. Next get a $500 pair of bookshelf speakers. Consider offering from Paradigm or B&W for start. Problem with your wiring is the speaker placement is too high. It's better to have front speakers at the ear level. Next is the subwoofer which give you the impact for movie and music. Save for two months and get $400 Hsu Research STF-2 www.hsuresearch.com. Next is $200-300 pair of speaker from the same brand as your front speakers. The last one is the center channel. Get the center from the same brand and series as your fronts and no less. You expect around $300 for this. Enjoy!!
    Sorry F1 I have to disagree with the statement (speaker to High) Higher placement allows for wider sweet spot. For his room it may not matter (only 11' wide) but I'm sure he won't be sitting in the middle everytime.
    If a sat setup is the route he's going placement is KEY. I would suggest that the front and rear are the same level so the sound will be uniform from all directions. My logic comes from the spec's of HT speakers being about 2-4' above ear level, not at ear level. Average person sits at 3' from floor level (ear level) then speakers should be 2-4' higher.

    As for the purchase route IMHO I would go with getting the front three speakers first then match the surrounds the sub can be last. The first good feel of surround sound is the panning of sound from across the three front speaker then adding the rears to enhance the fronts. The sub being last add's the final punch. From the room size given a good pair of fronts and rears can keep him happy for a while. A decent sub will shake the room. In closing, his speaker level of 7' is good, but for such a narrow room I would give a slight tilt about 15 degrees down.
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  6. #6
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    like said before...good job not going with Bose. Your 1st purchase sould be a receiver there were lots of good options provided. Second go with your 2 mains( you can set your receiver to phantom) then I would opt for a sub (a must if you choose sats, and I would say a god choice if you go with bookshelf) as for your rears you don't have to buy the same brand and series as your fronts they are there for ambiance not main sound. Your centre should be the same brand and series as you 2 mains, (timbre matching) but does not have to be some peeps on here do not. I preferred to have my main 3 the same again for timbre.

  7. #7
    F1
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    [QUOTE=recoveryone]Sorry F1 I have to disagree with the statement (speaker to High) Higher placement allows for wider sweet spot. For his room it may not matter (only 11' wide) but I'm sure he won't be sitting in the middle everytime.
    If a sat setup is the route he's going placement is KEY. I would suggest that the front and rear are the same level so the sound will be uniform from all directions. My logic comes from the spec's of HT speakers being about 2-4' above ear level, not at ear level. Average person sits at 3' from floor level (ear level) then speakers should be 2-4' higher.
    ......
    QUOTE]

    I'ts alright to disagree, my wife doesn't agree with me eveytime... While it may be true that higher speaker placement allows wider sweet spot but front speakers need to be directional. I was assuming that his TV is also placed at eye/ear level so placing the speaker at ear (or TV) level is the better one. Imagine if an action is panned from left to right then the sound must follow from left to right, not from high left to high right, right? Meanwhile the higher speaker placement for surround is correct to avoid directional sound and creating more 'diffused' sound, which many people prefer. Anyway let him play around with the speaker placement and decide which one works better.
    Boss is coming, bye..

  8. #8
    Oldest join date recoveryone's Avatar
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    I know the feeling, I've been married for 19 years. I have my fronts mounted 7' high and the center sits on top of the TV (which is about 5' high) and its sounds great. Good panning, and that why I said angle down fronts about 15 degrees. just MHO
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  9. #9
    Forum Regular psonic's Avatar
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    how about this?

    http://ww2.onecall.com/PID_19610.htm


    you'll get decent sound now and can upgrade when you get $$, piece by piece

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by thelder
    I am ready to build a good HT system. I planned to buy a Bose system, but after finding this forum I donít think I will go that route. Like most people I have a budget, but I figured I would try to put together a system piece by piece over the course of several months so I can keep the one time expense down. Currently, I am just using my TV speakers so anything will be an improvement, but I know if I just buy a cheap little surround sound package from Best Buy I will soon want better quality.
    You are wise beyond your years here.

    Hereís the challenge. Iíd like to start by spending around $1000, then $200 - $300 each of the next several months until the project is complete. I can skip a month and combine two months for a $400 - $600 component if I need to, but I want to enjoy the system sooner rather than later so I donít want to save for several years to buy a $10,000 speaker.
    You will need to save. Patience can truly be your friend here.

    Also, my budget is a little flexible Ė I donít want to pass up a much better component if I only have to spend a few dollars over my budget to take a significant step up, nor do I want to spend extra money on something that will not make much difference just because I have the money in my budget.
    Good news there.

    My Questions:
    1. What should I buy first?
    2. In what order should I buy things?
    3. Which brands/models will work best given my criteria?
    4. What features are most important?[/quote]

    Different points of view here. For example, you may want to go with a HTB initially and immediately upgrade the subwoofer to something from HSU, SVS, Adire Audio, etc.

    Current video components:
    Sony KP-46WT500 Rear Projection Widescreen TV
    Sony DVP NS700P Ė Progressive Scan DVD Player
    Sony SLV-N88 Ė VCR
    Hughes Direct TV/TIVO Receiver w/ Dual Tuner
    X-Box
    Multiple things to be connected to the receiver. No problem!

    Additional considerations:

    Room is about 20í long x 11í wide with a peaked ceiling that reaches about 14ft. at the highest point.
    Do you have any openings, and, if so, to where? As it stands now you are looking at around 2700 cubic feet excluding the openings into other rooms. How loud do you want the sub to be? If we are talking reference levels then you need to count on dual subs or spending close to $1K on one. You are probably looking at something such as the SVS PB2-ISD or HSU VTF-3. If you already have something other than your primary receiver to power it with look at either the VMPS Larger Subwoofer or SVS CS-Ultra.

    [quote]Due to room configurations and furniture placement, bookshelf speakers are almost essential, though the center channel speaker can be bigger.

    Usage is probably 75% TV/DVD/etc. & 25% music, but would probably be 60/40 TV to Music if I had better audio equipment.

    Music preference is 45% Hard Rock (KISS, AC/DC, etc.), 45% Hip Hop/Rap & 10% Jazz. With most music, my philosophy is louder is better. I like to feel the music as well as hear it. With Hip Hop/Rap lots of bass is essential./quote]

    This tells me you need to look at more effecient speakers, such as ones from Klipsch or Paradigm. Not the ones they sell at Best Buy, but those from a reputable higher end audio shop. Just try to remember this: Boomy bass never equals good bass.

    For a receiver, look at something such as the Denon AVR-3802. 6ave.com has it for $698.06.

  11. #11
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    Thank you to everyone who has offered suggestions. With the advice I have received so far here, and some additional research I think I am starting to get an idea of how I should proceed.

    First, as to room size/openings. I underestimated the size a little bit, but I've actually measured now. The room is 24 ft. long x 14.5 ft. wide. There are multiple openings. As I mentioned, the ceilings are vaulted. The wall on one side only goes up to normal ceiling height. Above about 8 ft. the wall is open to other rooms - effectively making the room twice as big above the 8 ft. level. In addition, there is a hallway along the other wall. Will the openings make a huge difference?

    I am seriously considering the Yamaha RXV 2400 as the first piece of the system. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in it's price range that offers more potential. Any disagreement?

    I also found a deal on a Boston Acoustics System 9000 satellite/sub package that seems like it may be a good starting point. It is a former demo model at the local Hi Fi Buys. Regularly priced at $1000, marked down to $649. Assuming I can get a guarantee of initial performance and a regualr warranty, is this a good deal? Is this going to be a good system to start with? Should I be too worried about buying a former store demo system? Does anyone have experience with this system?

    I'm thinking that I might start with the Yamaha RXV 2400 & the System 9000. Then I would add some floor standing front channel speakers some time later. I would then turn the front pair of System 9000 speakers into the back or side surround portion of a 7.1 system. I'd also plan to upgrade the sub at some point to really shake the house. (Can I use 2 subs of differing wattage/quality/brand in the same system without problems?) Hopefully I would be happy at that point, but if not, I could always replace the rest of the System 9000 speakers with floor speakers. Does this sound like a logical path of progression?

    Finally, I am worried about speaker placement. As mentioned, the room is wired for speakers at ceiling height. The center channel would be right on top of the TV, but the rest would be at ceiling height. Would the YPAO on the Yamaha RXV 2400 compensate for the high placement to give me a realistic sound? Would it compensate for the openings in the room? The primary viewing/listening position will be on a sofa across from the TV. The back of the sofa is (and has to be) against the back wall. The satellites would be almost even with the listening position, but high up on the wall. What kinds of problems will this create, and can I compensate for it somehow?

    Thanks again for all of the advice.

  12. #12
    F1
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    First, the room. Bigger room or many openings requires bigger subwoofer. For your room, as long as you don't play extremely loud you should be able to get enough bass from $450 Hsu VTF-2 (in case you need more bass output compared to STF-2). I firmly believe that this little VTF-2 still can rattle quite a few things in your house.

    Second, the receiver. If you are leaning toward Yamaha, I suggest to get 1400 and save the $ difference for speaker.

    Third, Boston deal etc. It may be a good deal, but I'm afraid it's not a good start bacause you'll be stuck with it. Later if you want to upgrade you'll then lost $650. Not a good idea. The better start is to get a good pair of bookshelf speakers for fronts first. In case you want to upgrade, you can use them for surround. Forget about building 7.1 channel in your room. You don't have the place for speaker anyway. YPAO will help you to get good basic setup to optimise surround performance and you still can further tweak it if needed. Tilting down the front speakers at ceiling high as previously suggested may/should help creating lower sound image. As for surround speakers try to place them at various angle to achieve the best performance. My suggestion is place them facing to each other.

    The last suggestion is be patient in building HT system. It's better to delay in 3-4 months to get everything rather than to get everything now and scrap them later. Good Luck!!

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