• 12-19-2003, 08:53 AM
    WideEye
    Read all the Posts- now its time to buy
    I'm setting up my first modest HT (really just adding surround to a 32" TV and DVD setup) and I've spent several weeks reading all the great info here- now its time to start putting my own system together. I just have a few things I'm still confused about. First, my room is smallish, and oddly laid out, due to an overabundance of picture windows and doors- it about 18x9 (see bad attempt at ascii art, below). I don't want an out of the box system, but I'm not by any stretch a discerning audiophile, so "room to grow" is where I am aiming right now- getting good value for my money, with the ability to upgrade components in the future in the event my needs grow.

    With that in mind, I've started with the receiver (too many speaker choices- that is going to take me some time) and based upon the posts here, it looks like it will be the Denon 1803/4 or the Yamaha RX-V1400. Two questions on these- 1) Are they overkill, as it is a small room in a small house on a small plot, and waking the neighbors is not an option? 2) Will they “up-convert” (I think that is the right term) the RCA and S-Video to composite? This is important for me because the room is so odd, I will have to separate the components from the TV, and only want to run one cable (also it will help with the “wife factor”- switching the TV or receiver from Cable to DVD is Ok- having to switch both may get me in trouble on the usability front).
    Also, if you could answer a complete Noob question- should rear surrounds be mounted to fire “across” the seating area, or back at the TV? The Dolby site FAQ says across, where most audio sites seem to suggest aiming the speakers back at each other along the circumference of an imaginary circle.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can help! Now my bad attempt at ascii art:

    “|” and “---“ = Walls
    X= Bay window
    D= Sliding Glass Door
    c= sectional couch
    (The TV is in a very small cabinet that is no wider than the unit, and is angled ever so slightly towards the intersection of the couches.)

    |------------DDDDDDDDD|
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    .................................|
    .................................|
    .........................(-TV-)|
    |................................X
    |c...............................X
    |c...............................X
    |c...............................X
    |c...............................X
    |c...............................|
    |cccccccccccccccc.....|
    |---------------------------------|
  • 12-19-2003, 09:48 AM
    nick4433
    WideEye, your attempt at the diagram was a pretty good one and the legend certainly made it easy. Please provide us with a few more parameters to make proper suggestions but I will make an attempt none the less with the given information.
    Your choice of receivers tells me you can spend between $399-$750 on a receiver. However, the 1400 is a couple of steps above the 1803/4. You should consider the 2803 as more of a comparison to the 1400.
    I would first like to address your room setup. Your TV position is not going to let you enjoy much HT and you might have to move the TV to the center of the wall across from the sliding glass door wall. Move your sectionals to the sliding glass door wall and the wall where your TV now is. This way you can get more viewing of your TV and will provide you with proper speaker placement to watch movies in 6.1 and music at the same time. In fact a rectangular shaped room mirrors a theater and I wish I could arrange my HT setup that way.
    Back to receivers. The 1400 is a pretty good receiver with YPAO but the 2803 is no sluch either. YPAO aside, I'd take the 2803 over the 1400 for these reasons. The mids on the 2803 come across slighlty more fuller than the 1400 and it is a toss up in HT between the both. The 2803 also offers Denon's superb "Personal Memory Plus" which remembers channel settings, Tone Control, etc. for different inputs which is a great feature IMO. Yamahas have come a long way in the sound department from once being bright to now being neutral but I'd take the Denons for music over the Yammys.
    Depending on where your are, if you have a "Good Guys" store near you then you can get a deal of a lifetime on the almost flagship RX-V3300 for $599 plus tax. Now that receiver is in a whole nother class than the ones we are talking about.
    About your speaker mounting question, Dolby is only making a suggestion but every room is different and one should defintely experiment with speaker placement. If you follow my suggested setup for your room then you can follow the Dolby setup to a "T".
    Good luck!
  • 12-19-2003, 10:29 AM
    Swerd
    Denon 1803/4 or Yamaha RX-V1400
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WideEye
    1) Are they overkill, as it is a small room in a small house on a small plot, and waking the neighbors is not an option?

    They are both good choices, definitely not overkill. You won’t feel the need to go buy a better receiver soon.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WideEye
    2) Will they “up-convert” (I think that is the right term) the RCA and S-Video to composite? This is important for me because the room is so odd, I will have to separate the components from the TV, and only want to run one cable (also it will help with the “wife factor”- switching the TV or receiver from Cable to DVD is Ok- having to switch both may get me in trouble on the usability front).

    Denon says its 1804 model has the ability to convert between composite video and S-video only. It cannot convert either of those two to component video. See page 13 in the online manual for the Denon 1804 http://www.usa.denon.com/catalog/pdf..._884%20DFU.pdf
    It’s a very big pdf file, but it may be worth your time to have a look at it. One widespread complaint about Denon is that the poor Engrish translations in their manuals are very confusing. I have a nearly 4-year old Denon 2800, and while I can recommend that receiver, the manual gave me fits.

    Yamaha says
    "Up video conversion (composite to S-Video and component, S-Video to component) as well as down video conversion (S-video to composite) is automatically applied to incoming signals. This means that you simply use the best possible cable between the receiver and the TV, and then whatever the source is, you are assured of getting the highest possible quality."
    That seems like an improvement over the Denon.

    Yamaha has the YPAO (Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer) that is getting lots of attention and praise, and Yamaha's manual seems, after a quick glance, much better written than Denon's. Check for yourself http://www.yamaha.com/yec/products/R...R/RX-V1400.htm

    Considering those 3 features, I would think the Yamaha is the one to get. What are the prices like?

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WideEye
    Should rear surrounds be mounted to fire “across” the seating area, or back at the TV? The Dolby site FAQ says across, where most audio sites seem to suggest aiming the speakers back at each other along the circumference of an imaginary circle.

    The recommended way is for the left and right rear channel speakers to face eachother across the seating area. Many people don't or can't do this and they don't seem to suffer. If you are starting from scratch, you might as well try doing it the recommended way if your room allows it.

    Your room diagram is pretty good. Have you considered rearranging the furniture so the TV is centered on the wall opposite the sliding glass doors, and the shorter part of the sectional sofa has its back to those doors?

    |------------DDDDDDDDD|
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    .........................(-TV-)|
    |................................X
    |c...............................X
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  • 12-19-2003, 01:03 PM
    WideEye
    Thanks for the follow up-unfortunately, I am an East Coaster (NY) so GoodGuys stores are not an option. The ability to up-convert video may push me out of the Denon and into the Yamaha, anyway. As to price, I am mainly looking to avoid buying under powered mass-market junk, and to have something that if my interest in audio takes off, I will not regret buying if I upgrade to DVD- Audio, etc. That said, I would be happiest if I spent under $850 on the receiver. Basically, I am no audiophile, but I want a good, basic system that I will be happy with for a few years.

    I realize that the below would be a much better option from a HT point of view:

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    |.........cccccccccccc. |
    |..............................cX
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    |…...........................cX
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    |…......…(-TV-)............|
    |--------------------------------|


    but it will not work for all other reasons, including staring at windowless walls when the TV isn't on, and the fact that the room is narrow enough that it would be a very thin "walkway" between the sectional and the wall in order to get around the couch and into the room. I am either going to mount my fronts on the sides of the TV cabinet, or use stands, and while I will not get enough separation for it to be ideal, it hopefully will be good enough for my thus-far undeveloped ear.

    Interesting to hear that the way rears face is an environment- specific issue, and that there is no universal "right" way to position the speakers- that's what I get for thinking there are "answers" out there! I now realize experimentation (and a sound pressure monitor) will be the key- but generally speaking, regardless of the way they end up facing, should the rears be at ear level or closer to the ceiling? Thanks for the insights- if I survive this process, I may even be optimistic enough to approach speaker choices before the new year.
  • 12-19-2003, 01:30 PM
    Geoffcin
    While I agree that either receiver you've chosen is not overkill, I think your basing your choice on the wrong protocol. Your choice of receivers should be based on the audio features, not the video ability. I know you want to go with a "one wire" setup, but you will have degradation of the video signal if you use the receiver as a switch. The best, and ONLY best way is to have the component cables from your DVD connected directly into the TV. Use the multifunction remote to control everything, but do not use the receiver as a video switch.
  • 12-19-2003, 01:50 PM
    nick4433
    WideEye, Geoffcin made a good suggestion of buying a receiver based on it's audio capabilities. Video upconversion maybe overhyped IMO. If you are willing to spend $850 on a receiver then I would recommend you the HK 630. It is a very good receiver with all decoding formats and gives you the ability to have BM on analog inputs for DVD-A/SACD. I will take that receiver over the Yammys as they have a stronger amp section and I find the HKs better on music than the Yammys. However you must audition as many receivers as possible and judge it yourself.
  • 12-19-2003, 01:55 PM
    Swerd
    If you buy the Yamaha, you will not need a sound pressure level meter. It's built in with the YPAO.

    Mount rear speakers 2 to 3 feet above the ears of a seated listener.

    If you are interested in buying a receiver online, try Price Grabber or Price Scan to compare prices.
    http://www.pricegrabber.com/index.ph...e758058f37ddc3
    http://www.pricescan.com/

    Only buy from an online dealer that sells new products under factory warranty, and after you have read and understand their terms and return policies. I personally prefer to buy from a local dealer where I can go if I have a problem, but it is still useful when shopping to know what the online prices are.

    Shopping for speakers is the fun part. There is no substitute for listening in the shop. Bring CDs that you are familiar with and be prepared to spend a good chunk of time. Pick a price range that suits you and stick to it. Find a shop where you can listen without being disturbed by noise. That rules out places like Best Buy and Circuit City. They can be OK to buy from if the price is right, but they are usually too noisy for listening.
  • 12-19-2003, 02:40 PM
    markw
    Wideeye, you say you're from New York. Depending on where in that state, you might have access to 6th Avenue Stores. Along the lines of Best Buy, Circuit Cite et al. except (IMNSHO) several steps up in quality and products. Not as many products, but what they do offer tends to be better.

    And they run some killer sales in-store only. I picked up a Denon 2802 for $398 in April/May this year. Last years model, but for that price...

    If you have one within driving distance, keep an eye on the Sunday inserts on a regular basis. You'll be amazed at some of their loss leaders.

    P.S... Along with others, they sell both Yamaha and Denon.
  • 12-19-2003, 06:16 PM
    WideEye
    You all raise some very good points about the functions I am expecting out of an A/V unit, and how audio processing should be taking precedence over video switching. Of course, you’re right, but this issue is one that I have been struggling with for some time, and now it appears that I am coming full circle.

    When I made the decision to invest in HT, it was primarily for the purpose of getting surround sound into my den, with the ability to use it as a stereo as an added bonus. Thus, began my thinking, why do I need a pricey receiver? Better to start with a higher end DVD player that does 5.1 decoding, and run that to an amp, and out to the speakers. But, then I thought that if a receiver could do both the A and V switching, this is an “easier” solution, which would reap benefits for the less technically inclined wife and (young) kids, and therefore might be worth the price of buying a quality receiver.

    So now, here I am back where I started- you are all correct that it is a bit shortsighted to be buying a receiver for the video switching capabilities, especially when I will suffer signal degradation by running video through the receiver. But, if I then go back to direct connect on the video and still have a two step process to put the TV in DVD mode, why bother with the receiver and use only “half” its functionality, and why not just go with a quality DVD player that decodes Dolby (VHS isn’t an issue) and run that to a regular amp? Are even the “good” DVD players with Dolby decoding no comparison to a quality receiver? I figured that given that the number of quality receivers in this price range that you all have pointed out, and given that I am a neophyte who will not be able to descern the real differences until I have been listening for quite some time, I felt that any of the receivers mentioned here would be a solid choice for me. I sure that not having used one before, there are probably many benefits to a dedicated receiver that I am not aware of, though. Am I way off base to even consider the DVD Dolby decoder route?
  • 12-20-2003, 05:04 AM
    markw
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WideEye
    Am I way off base to even consider the DVD Dolby decoder route?

    You want to use a DVD player with decoders directly to an amplifier? I don't see that as realistic. I'm not really aware of any "integrated amplifier only" devices for 5 otr 6 channel uses. Perhaps they are out there, but they might be specialist items and wind up costing much more than a reciver.

    There ARE some multi-channel power amps but these won't allow you to do nice things like control vulume or anything else except turn 'em on and off.

    In this day and age, where all HT receivers have quite fine DACs in 'em it makes more sense to go for a DVD sans decoder and rely on the one in the receiver which, BTW, will do all those basic "amplifier" functions you need as well as provide other niceties such as a tuner for occasional use, speaker switching, etc...

    If push comes to shove, you can consider this as just an amplifier, as was your original intent, and ignore all other functions. It will serve just fine that way.

    Also, there's no law that says you cannot have a stand alone stereo system if that's what you really want.
  • 12-20-2003, 11:24 AM
    woodman
    WideEye:
    You've been given a bit of good advice here ... plus some very BAD advice as well.

    To begin with, Geoffcin's advice about not using the receiver to switch the video as well as the audio sources is totally wrong! Undoubtedly well-intentioned, but WRONG! If you were using a VERY large video display of 60-120" diagonal size, you might see a slight degradation in video performance from some - not all receivers. With a TV set of only 32" size, you will see NO degradation of the video whatsoever from virtually any receiver out there. But what's really important to YOU is the convenience of switching both audio and video with the push of a single button. That far outweighs any possible slightloss of video quality, anyway - to anyone that still has a grasp on their sanity, that is. The only reasonably priced receivers that perform an up-conversion on all video sources are the Yamaha 1400, and 2400, as far as I know.

    On the audio side, you have a very awkward room to deal with in terms of getting good surround sound. It will either involve some painstaking experimental efforts of speaker placement - plus the use of an SPL meter - to get you where you want to go. Or, if you get the Yammy 1400 it will do all of that work for you!

    If you're getting the idea that I'm highly recommending the Yamaha to you, you're quite correct. There are many receivers in the marketplace that perform well sound-wise, but IMO that's not the end-all of the matter. There are other equally important parameters to be considered - not the least of which is reliability and support from the company should there be any problems. In this regard, Yamaha stands at the very top of the pile. Denon and Marantz were good companies to consider - but that was before they were sold out to a group of investment bankers who apparently don't give a **** about the consumer! I recommend that you (and everyone else) avoid both of those brands today. They perform admirably, but if a problem shows up ... you're liable to find yourself in deep doo-doo!

    Lastly, there are NO integrated amplifiers on the market that will give you what you need, and if there were they would cost far more than a receiver. Why? Because of the economies of manufacturing products in the tens (or hundreds) of thousands as opposed to making a product run of only a hundred or so, that's why.

    Hope this helps you - you said you wanted to avoid any costly mistakes if at all possible. The best thing you can do for yourself at this point would be to buy the Yamaha RX-V1400 and go from there. It's YPAO feature will be a monumental help in getting GOOD surround sound in a difficult room, and anyone telling you that an XYZ receiver will SOUND better, simply doesn't know whatinthehell they're talking about!
  • 12-20-2003, 08:26 PM
    WideEye
    Thanks to everyone for the insights- I know the limitations of my room will mean that the sound will not be top notch, but coming from the built-in speakers of my television, I know it will so much of an improvement that I will be happy. Besides, I'll have a few years to build up to more a more refined ear, and that will give me a while to convince the wife we need to flip the couch! The "reasonable minds will differ" aspect of the suggestions here tells me that I am on the right track, and although I may not make the best decisions, I am at least making good solid decisions with the Yamaha, which is how I think I going to go. While we're on the subject of my den, does anyone have any suggestions for a good satillite or small bookshelf speaker system in the $1000 range to start me looking? I know sound is very subjective, and I plan to do alot of listening, but with the 300+ brands out there, a little push in the right direction from you who have been down the road would be great.
  • 12-20-2003, 09:08 PM
    TinHere
    1 Attachment(s)
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WideEye
    Thanks to everyone for the insights- I know the limitations of my room will mean that the sound will not be top notch, but coming from the built-in speakers of my television, I know it will so much of an improvement that I will be happy. Besides, I'll have a few years to build up to more a more refined ear, and that will give me a while to convince the wife we need to flip the couch! The "reasonable minds will differ" aspect of the suggestions here tells me that I am on the right track, and although I may not make the best decisions, I am at least making good solid decisions with the Yamaha, which is how I think I going to go. While we're on the subject of my den, does anyone have any suggestions for a good satillite or small bookshelf speaker system in the $1000 range to start me looking? I know sound is very subjective, and I plan to do alot of listening, but with the 300+ brands out there, a little push in the right direction from you who have been down the road would be great.

    Love my YPAO.

    Check out the ELT's at AV123.com.

    These have been getting a real good reception with new owners. ACI, a 25 year old online only company has added them to their offerings, after what they say on their site was a two year search for something that exceeded their standards at the price point.

    It has very good center channel [where most HT info is directed], and the bookshelves have been reported very good for music. The only questionable aspect of the system is the subwoofer, however keep in mind that many people spend more on subwoofers than the $899 cost of the whole system. It will surely compete with systems that cost more.

    Here's a link.

    http://www.av123.com/products_catego...akers&brand=13

    If you want a real steal [half off] check out the Rocket Package #8 in South American Rosewood and add a matching sub. I would have put this first but I just noticed they were still on sale. These can also be had in African Macassar Ebony [now less than half off] for the same $575. Mine should be here next week.

    http://www.av123.com/products_produc...s&product=17.1
  • 12-21-2003, 07:42 AM
    F1
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WideEye
    ..... While we're on the subject of my den, does anyone have any suggestions for a good satillite or small bookshelf speaker system in the $1000 range to start me looking? .....

    I think it's better to start with a pair of bookshelf speakers and a subwoofer. For the sub, consider $400 Hsu STF-2 or Adire. Either will be sufficient for your room. For the bookshelf speakers, consider offering from Dynaudio, JM Lab, B&W, Paradigm Studio for a start. For longer term investment, get the max you can afford for the front speakers and build a system from it. Later you can add the matching center and the less expensive bookshelf speakers from the same brand for surround. Good luck.
  • 01-06-2004, 12:45 PM
    WideEye
    Thanks again to everyone here for their help- I wanted to make sure it didn't look like I dropped of the face of the earth, as a minor family emergency let right into the holidays, and I 've had zero computer time since my last posts.

    Based on all your help, I am buying the yamaha 1400, and the good news for me is that although rearranging the room is still not an option, I have convinced the wife to ditch the 32" in the cabniet and go with 46" 16:9 freestanding model (leaning towards the Sony) against the "non-sliding" part of the sliding glass door. Putting it on a stand, and putting the fronts in the corner on wall mounts will hopefully givbe me a better setup than I would have had previously. I'll be sure to pass on my thoughts on the gear when I get it all installed. Thanks again to all.

    D= Sliding Glass Door
    S= Front Speakers
    c=couch
    X= Bay Window

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  • 01-06-2004, 05:21 PM
    woodman
    Wide:
    Congrats on your choice of the Yamaha 1400 - and of your decision to at least move the TV from it's present position to the end wall where you can get a better handle on the sound as it relates to the video.

    But please ... lean AWAY from the choice of a Sony for your new TV display. Their reliability has been on a steady decline for a number of years - and at the very same time, they've been reducing their warranty coverage.

    The brands I recommend (in approx. order) are:
    Toshiba
    Hitachi
    Mitsubishi
    Panasonic

    Whatever you do choose, by all means get extended warranty protection for it ... it's a no-brainer in my book.