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Building a Home Theater system

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Building a Home Theater system

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First of all, thank you in advance to anyone who can help me.  I need the help and it would be greatly appreciated.  You can even have my next born child for good advice here. ;)

I guess the 2 main things I'm looking for is a good A/V receiver and a great speaker system, either a 5.1 or 7.1.  And I will be buying an IPOD as well, but thats something I probly can do on my own, unless there is more to them than I realize.

I have a brand new Samsung 52" LCD. But my stereo amp is older, non HDMI etc and I definitely want to replace it.

The new A/V receiver would serve a PS3, DVR, and a 110 disc CD player.  (note: I will want a receiver with an IPOD dock also, since I will be undertaking a massive project to eventually convert a large portion of my music collection to IPOD.

I'm a Cerwin Vega fan but the speakers I currently have are a pair of Cerwin Vega M100's from 1990.  Theyre actually great speakers, but I'm wondering if maybe they arent ideal as far as putting together a good, new theater system.  I'm ok with replacing them, but I want speakers that arent just good for TV surround etc, but also great for music too.

The room is a den, just a typical bedroom size room, 13 x 14.  But even with that, I still am leaning more toward a 7.1 set.  Partially because I think the music listening would be better with a 7.1 set.

Thanks.

Larry

PS: I may need advice on IPODs too, but probly not.  I'm assuming the IPOD Classic (i think its called) is what I will want, along with the Apple software to convert portions of about a 2000 CD collection to it.

 

 

Verified Answer
  • There are quite a few nice options in your price range. Including a few package deals that were put together by Crutchfield. I'm a big fan of Yamaha receivers (I own one), and I have heard and like the Polk, Definitive and Mirage speakers. I'm sure the other packages are nice as well. Onkyo has a fine reputation as does Klipsch and Energy. I just haven't had the chance to hear them myself so I can't make any personal qualitative judgements.

    If I were building a system for myself based on your requirements here is what I would do:

    Yamaha RX-V465 Receiver - Great sounding 5.1 receiver with solid power and auto-calibration. (I'd stick with 5.1 for a room the size of yours).

    Yamaha YDS-11SL i-Pod dock

    Polk Audio RTi A1Speakers; CSi3 Center Channel; FXi A4 Surrounds - Tonally matched for the most effective surround sound experience.

    Polk Audio DSW Pro 400 Powered Subwoofer - with a $299 discount you get for purchasing the Polk speakers.

    That puts you right at the top of your budget, but it will make for a great sounding system.

     

         RESIma

  • I like the Yamaha amps, and I'm considering the 565 instead of the 465, mainly because of Upconversion. But is this important? It seems that it would be, for viewing things like regular dvds etc. 

    That is a very nice feature, I have it on my receiver. The 565 will bump up the cost a bit.

    However, the 565 is less watts per channel, at 90, compared to 105 with the 465. 

    I wouldn't concern myself too much with the small difference in power.

    BUT, the 565 is 7.1, so that probly makes up for it, assuming I used all 7 channels.  I know you said the 5.1 is sufficient for the size room I mentioned, but one other thing I'm considering, and tell me what you think...

    With the 565, still get the 5 spkrs you're mentioning. But keep the Cerwin Vega's at the front.

    Not a good idea. In this case I am pretty sure more would not be better. A good part of the reason I recommended the Polk's is because the speakers are designed to match each other tonally. This provides an excellent surround experience in which the speakers and electronics 'disappear'. A great home theater is one in which you forget about the technology and sink into the experience. Well matched components and drivers are the key.

    For a few bucks more you could consider the Yamaha RX-665, which would allow you the option of using your Cerwin-Vega speakers in a second zone, still powered by the receiver but capable of playing a different source. This is a pretty nice feature, and would put your CV's to good use.

    I'm just wondering about the overall balance of sound since I would be combining the 400 watt floor-standing Cerwin Vegas (i think theyre 400) with 5 other spkrs that are designed for a considerably lower wattage (125 to 130 ish).  Would that create a problem?  And possibly the impedance of the Cerwin Vegas, I dont know if theyre 8 ohms like the others are or if it matters in case they arent.  

    Again, I just wouldn't do this. It would be like pouring a nice glass of Bordeaux  and adding in a splash of Guinness. Both the Bordeaux and the Guinness taste great, but not together.

    Thanks.

    You're quite welcome.

     

     

     

     

         RESIma

  • Pretty sure a 120 GB iPod will hold around 12000 songs at 320 kbps (highest quality) setting from uploaded AAD CD's. So, your entire CD collection might not fit on an iPod unless you choose about half the songs on each CD. You would probably be happy with 256 kbps, which will be higher quality than most of your CD's, most likely.  Your entire collection will fit on the iTunes player, however, which syncs with your iPod. You can change it up each time you sync, seperate it into different playlists, etc.

    Hope this helps.

     

     

    GLH Geeked

  • Steel

    In reference to the "Zone 2" capability of the Yamaha RX-665, does this just mean it has 2 sets of front speakers, (like amps that have A & B) ?

    Not exactly. It means that there is a pair of amplified channels and a pair of preouts that can be operated independently of the main output of the system. When used to feed signal to a second zone (one or more rooms apart from the primary listening area) a different source can be selected in that zone and the volume can be controlled independantly via a second remote control, provided a repeater or RF control is used.

    A two-part question, and probably a rookie question:

    1.  I like being able to occasionally listen to the stereo, CD player, etc, while watching TV sometimes. Currently, with my older (soon to be replaced) stereo amp, I have my DVR & PS3 hooked straight to the TV via hdmi, and I run the audio output back to the stereo.  This way, for now I can at least listen to what I'm watching on TV through my stereo, BUT, like I said, I like to also be able to listen to the stereo or CD player, while watching TV.   But with the new Yamaha A/V receiver that I might buy, I'm imagining everything hooked straight to it, and that its only going to play what I have it selceted to. If I have it selected to TV, would I still be able to play the CD player?

    Probably not, unless you make the connections trough the TV as you do now.

    2. Is their a disadvantage to running all of the video components straight to the Samsung's 4 HDMI inputs, and then running a digital audio out, back to the stereo?  The obvious difference would be in using the TV's input select rather than the A/V receiver's.  The other thing I can think of is that I would have to have a blu-Ray DVD player WITH video upconversion since I wouldnt be using the Yamaha to upconvert the signal.

    Yes, there are disadvantages. You would not be able to process any digital audio signal such as Dolby TrueHD that requires an HDMI connection. You would also lose the on screen display from the receiver, which will make control more difficult (no feedback) and setup changes practically impossible. You would need to feed at least one input on the TV from the receiver to do initial setup, and keep it connected or reconnect it to make setup changes.

    Also, I noticed that the Polk Audio CSi3 (center speaker) is discontinued.  It was $130.  The CSi4 seems to be almost identical to the CSi3's specs, so I could get that, but it's quite a bit more at $280.   

    I'm not sure what improvements were made in the CSi A4, but I'm sure it will be a good match to the other Polk's in that series.

    Thanks.

    You're welcome.

     

     

         RESIma

  • Steel

    "You would not be able to process any digital audio signal such as Dolby TrueHD that requires an HDMI connection."

    Ok.  I figured since I have a digital (optical) audio output on the TV that I could still get surround sound when it is processed at the A/V receiver.

    If I did connect it this way, are you saying I could still get regular surround sound, just not  not "Dolby TrueHD"  ?

    That is correct. All of the "standard" five channel surround modes would work fine (and sound great, that is what I use in my theater).

         RESIma

  • I use the Polk's in bipole mode on the rear wall of my study. They are less than two feet behind me and thay do a fine job. The thing I like most about the Polk dipole/bipole design is their flexibility and ability to provide great results in just about any application. I have older models and the newer ones you are looking at are even better.

         RESIma

All Replies
  • What is your budget?

         RESIma

  • About 100 bucks, but I'll go as high as 150.

     

    Just kidding, I think probly about 1250-1500 is where I should put my limit. I really dont want to spend that much, but that would probly be about my limit.

  • There are quite a few nice options in your price range. Including a few package deals that were put together by Crutchfield. I'm a big fan of Yamaha receivers (I own one), and I have heard and like the Polk, Definitive and Mirage speakers. I'm sure the other packages are nice as well. Onkyo has a fine reputation as does Klipsch and Energy. I just haven't had the chance to hear them myself so I can't make any personal qualitative judgements.

    If I were building a system for myself based on your requirements here is what I would do:

    Yamaha RX-V465 Receiver - Great sounding 5.1 receiver with solid power and auto-calibration. (I'd stick with 5.1 for a room the size of yours).

    Yamaha YDS-11SL i-Pod dock

    Polk Audio RTi A1Speakers; CSi3 Center Channel; FXi A4 Surrounds - Tonally matched for the most effective surround sound experience.

    Polk Audio DSW Pro 400 Powered Subwoofer - with a $299 discount you get for purchasing the Polk speakers.

    That puts you right at the top of your budget, but it will make for a great sounding system.

     

         RESIma

  • Thanks Alex, I took a look at what you're recommending and it looks like a pretty solid nucleus, maybe with a minor change here or there. 

    A few things that I'm wondering...

    I like the Yamaha amps, and I'm considering the 565 instead of the 465, mainly because of Upconversion. But is this important? It seems that it would be, for viewing things like regular dvds etc. 

    However, the 565 is less watts per channel, at 90, compared to 105 with the 465. 

    BUT, the 565 is 7.1, so that probly makes up for it, assuming I used all 7 channels.  I know you said the 5.1 is sufficient for the size room I mentioned, but one other thing I'm considering, and tell me what you think...

    With the 565, still get the 5 spkrs you're mentioning. But keep the Cerwin Vega's at the front.

     I'm just wondering about the overall balance of sound since I would be combining the 400 watt floor-standing Cerwin Vegas (i think theyre 400) with 5 other spkrs that are designed for a considerably lower wattage (125 to 130 ish).  Would that create a problem?  And possibly the impedance of the Cerwin Vegas, I dont know if theyre 8 ohms like the others are or if it matters in case they arent.  

     

    Thanks.

     

     

  • I like the Yamaha amps, and I'm considering the 565 instead of the 465, mainly because of Upconversion. But is this important? It seems that it would be, for viewing things like regular dvds etc. 

    That is a very nice feature, I have it on my receiver. The 565 will bump up the cost a bit.

    However, the 565 is less watts per channel, at 90, compared to 105 with the 465. 

    I wouldn't concern myself too much with the small difference in power.

    BUT, the 565 is 7.1, so that probly makes up for it, assuming I used all 7 channels.  I know you said the 5.1 is sufficient for the size room I mentioned, but one other thing I'm considering, and tell me what you think...

    With the 565, still get the 5 spkrs you're mentioning. But keep the Cerwin Vega's at the front.

    Not a good idea. In this case I am pretty sure more would not be better. A good part of the reason I recommended the Polk's is because the speakers are designed to match each other tonally. This provides an excellent surround experience in which the speakers and electronics 'disappear'. A great home theater is one in which you forget about the technology and sink into the experience. Well matched components and drivers are the key.

    For a few bucks more you could consider the Yamaha RX-665, which would allow you the option of using your Cerwin-Vega speakers in a second zone, still powered by the receiver but capable of playing a different source. This is a pretty nice feature, and would put your CV's to good use.

    I'm just wondering about the overall balance of sound since I would be combining the 400 watt floor-standing Cerwin Vegas (i think theyre 400) with 5 other spkrs that are designed for a considerably lower wattage (125 to 130 ish).  Would that create a problem?  And possibly the impedance of the Cerwin Vegas, I dont know if theyre 8 ohms like the others are or if it matters in case they arent.  

    Again, I just wouldn't do this. It would be like pouring a nice glass of Bordeaux  and adding in a splash of Guinness. Both the Bordeaux and the Guinness taste great, but not together.

    Thanks.

    You're quite welcome.

     

     

     

     

         RESIma

  • Thanks, I kinda thought the CVs and Polks might clash, but I wasnt sure. 

    Its still hard for me to look at these smaller speakers and imagine them sounding as satisfactory as the big Cerwin Vegas, lol.  But the truth is, i dont listen to music super loud anymore (maybe 20 yrs ago), and I have a feeling the spkrs you are recommending will be great, and definitely a higher clarity.

    The RX 665, which you said would allow me to play the CVs in a different zone....Does that mean a different room?  I'm probly just going to put them in the garage and use my current amp for that.

    Next thing I need to do is learn about IPODS.  Its really amazing, the idea of sometihng so small being able to hold so much music. And the ease of being able to basically take this large collection anywhere with you, the car, in the house, etc.   Ive heard the classic can hold approx. 38k songs.  WOW)

      

  • Pretty sure a 120 GB iPod will hold around 12000 songs at 320 kbps (highest quality) setting from uploaded AAD CD's. So, your entire CD collection might not fit on an iPod unless you choose about half the songs on each CD. You would probably be happy with 256 kbps, which will be higher quality than most of your CD's, most likely.  Your entire collection will fit on the iTunes player, however, which syncs with your iPod. You can change it up each time you sync, seperate it into different playlists, etc.

    Hope this helps.

     

     

    GLH Geeked

  • Alex, thanks, I have a couple more questions for you or anyone else that may read this and have some info.

    In reference to the "Zone 2" capability of the Yamaha RX-665, does this just mean it has 2 sets of front speakers, (like amps that have A & B) ?

     

    A two-part question, and probably a rookie question:

    1.  I like being able to occasionally listen to the stereo, CD player, etc, while watching TV sometimes. Currently, with my older (soon to be replaced) stereo amp, I have my DVR & PS3 hooked straight to the TV via hdmi, and I run the audio output back to the stereo.  This way, for now I can at least listen to what I'm watching on TV through my stereo, BUT, like I said, I like to also be able to listen to the stereo or CD player, while watching TV.   But with the new Yamaha A/V receiver that I might buy, I'm imagining everything hooked straight to it, and that its only going to play what I have it selceted to. If I have it selected to TV, would I still be able to play the CD player?

    2. Is their a disadvantage to running all of the video components straight to the Samsung's 4 HDMI inputs, and then running a digital audio out, back to the stereo?  The obvious difference would be in using the TV's input select rather than the A/V receiver's.  The other thing I can think of is that I would have to have a blu-Ray DVD player WITH video upconversion since I wouldnt be using the Yamaha to upconvert the signal.

    Also, I noticed that the Polk Audio CSi3 (center speaker) is discontinued.  It was $130.  The CSi4 seems to be almost identical to the CSi3's specs, so I could get that, but it's quite a bit more at $280.   

    Thanks.

     

     

  • Steel

    In reference to the "Zone 2" capability of the Yamaha RX-665, does this just mean it has 2 sets of front speakers, (like amps that have A & B) ?

    Not exactly. It means that there is a pair of amplified channels and a pair of preouts that can be operated independently of the main output of the system. When used to feed signal to a second zone (one or more rooms apart from the primary listening area) a different source can be selected in that zone and the volume can be controlled independantly via a second remote control, provided a repeater or RF control is used.

    A two-part question, and probably a rookie question:

    1.  I like being able to occasionally listen to the stereo, CD player, etc, while watching TV sometimes. Currently, with my older (soon to be replaced) stereo amp, I have my DVR & PS3 hooked straight to the TV via hdmi, and I run the audio output back to the stereo.  This way, for now I can at least listen to what I'm watching on TV through my stereo, BUT, like I said, I like to also be able to listen to the stereo or CD player, while watching TV.   But with the new Yamaha A/V receiver that I might buy, I'm imagining everything hooked straight to it, and that its only going to play what I have it selceted to. If I have it selected to TV, would I still be able to play the CD player?

    Probably not, unless you make the connections trough the TV as you do now.

    2. Is their a disadvantage to running all of the video components straight to the Samsung's 4 HDMI inputs, and then running a digital audio out, back to the stereo?  The obvious difference would be in using the TV's input select rather than the A/V receiver's.  The other thing I can think of is that I would have to have a blu-Ray DVD player WITH video upconversion since I wouldnt be using the Yamaha to upconvert the signal.

    Yes, there are disadvantages. You would not be able to process any digital audio signal such as Dolby TrueHD that requires an HDMI connection. You would also lose the on screen display from the receiver, which will make control more difficult (no feedback) and setup changes practically impossible. You would need to feed at least one input on the TV from the receiver to do initial setup, and keep it connected or reconnect it to make setup changes.

    Also, I noticed that the Polk Audio CSi3 (center speaker) is discontinued.  It was $130.  The CSi4 seems to be almost identical to the CSi3's specs, so I could get that, but it's quite a bit more at $280.   

    I'm not sure what improvements were made in the CSi A4, but I'm sure it will be a good match to the other Polk's in that series.

    Thanks.

    You're welcome.

     

     

         RESIma

  • "You would not be able to process any digital audio signal such as Dolby TrueHD that requires an HDMI connection."

    Ok.  I figured since I have a digital (optical) audio output on the TV that I could still get surround sound when it is processed at the A/V receiver.

    If I did connect it this way, are you saying I could still get regular surround sound, just not  not "Dolby TrueHD"  ?

  • Alex,

    After looking at the suggested speaker placement of the Polk Audio bipole/dipole surround speakers that you suggested, I thought maybe I should be a little more specific about where I'll need to put the surround speakers in my room and see if you still feel like they are the best ones for me or if a typical surround speaker (not the bipole/dipole) would be better.

    Mine will have to go in the rear corners. Its pretty much my only option. I could turn them and angle them any way needed, but that is where there actual position will be.

    Its a good sized bedroom with a 12x13 listening area, and a doorway entrance is on the same side as the closet so its not in the way or part of the 12x13 area.  My viewing/listening area is going to be the back wall, centered of course, with the surround speakers in the back corners, located to my left/right sides and maybe a foot or 2 behind me, since my head wont be all the way back against the wall. 

    That seems to coincide with what the video and article here at Crutchfield recommends, but it also noted a slightly different placement for the bipole/dipole type speakers.  It has 2 suggested placements, the bipole placement being further behind the viewing area, which is impossible for me, and the dipole placement being to the sides of the viewer (right where the corners of my room are) but in the diagram, it is a bigger room and even though the speakers are at the viewers sides, they utilize the back of the room as well to project the sound. (which I would not have since they would be in the back corners).

    Do you still think these are ideal or is there something else you would recommend maybe?

  • Steel

    "You would not be able to process any digital audio signal such as Dolby TrueHD that requires an HDMI connection."

    Ok.  I figured since I have a digital (optical) audio output on the TV that I could still get surround sound when it is processed at the A/V receiver.

    If I did connect it this way, are you saying I could still get regular surround sound, just not  not "Dolby TrueHD"  ?

    That is correct. All of the "standard" five channel surround modes would work fine (and sound great, that is what I use in my theater).

         RESIma

  • I use the Polk's in bipole mode on the rear wall of my study. They are less than two feet behind me and thay do a fine job. The thing I like most about the Polk dipole/bipole design is their flexibility and ability to provide great results in just about any application. I have older models and the newer ones you are looking at are even better.

         RESIma

  • Ok, thanks. You've been a great help, even in other threads that i just read but didnt post in.

    I may have some questions for you later about ipods as I am definitely interested in converting a portion of my collection to it, and I'm definitely interested in quality and learning more about lossless formats, like FLAC, etc.  I noticed that you mentioned owning a Cowan 02 (for in the car I think) which I'm not familiar with but i'm assuming its similar to an ipod. I might just try and study up on the Ipod related threads a little more before I start asking questions.  There is definitely a lot of information here at Crutchfield.

  • I'm not up on the iPod, but depending on quality there is a lot you can store.  I use a 2GB flash drive and a 8GB Creative Zen Mozaic and I have about 40 full albums on the flash drive and about 1100 songs (some of which are classics where one album side was a "song" - RUSH) on the Zen with about 3GB still available - it only has favorites on it, but that's b/c I mostly use it in Random Play, so that's all I want.

    I rip my music at -vbr5 which is about 145 kbs Variable Bit Rate, but I don't hear any improvement with higher bit rates, so that is fine for me (and typically I have the original media so if I wanted to rip it to FLAC later I definitely could).

    Hope This Helps!!!

    2002 Ford Focus JVC KD-A815 Sony CDX-GT410u Sony XT-100HD HD Tuner Stock speakers, no amp, no subs