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Budget Home Theater Speakers Recommendations

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hello fellow Overclockers. I've visited quite a bit, but never signed up until now, as I would appreciate it if someone could help me out on this, as I'm a n00b at home theater stuff.

Here's my situation. I have a Samsung PN64D7000 Plasma 3DTV. I've only been using the TV speakers and with all the viewing of the 1080p (sometimes 3D) movies that look incredible, but sound kinda sucky. I knew i needed to make the plunge at some point, now I'm ready.

My setup is as follows.. I have a BrightHouse cable box that connects to one of my HDMI ports for watching cable TV. I have an XBOX 360 that connects to an HDMI port on my TV. I don't use the XBOX 360 that much and don't consider it an important part of my setup, so if it represents an issue in some way or effects what I'll need to get, I'm willing to possibly sacrifice something in regards to the XBOX 360.

For watching movies.. At the moment, I just have everything turned into digital media files (MKV, etc.) and plug them via flash drive into USB port on TV to watch movies. This may change in the future with an HTPC, but I don't know when or if I will make that plunge.

I'm looking for a 5.1 speaker setup, wired is fine. Area not too small, but not that big, don't need crazy sound, doesn't need to boom really hard, just a relatively basic setup that at least sounds good. I'm not that picky. I've seen ones like the Monoprice 8247, which sounds like maybe it would be good enough. I don't know about how I would have to hook it up and how it would correspond with my setup. Price range, I would like to stay under $200 or at least close to it, or even lower if it's possible. I feel it's reasonable for what I want. Nothing too fancy.

Other notes from reading other threads worth mentioning. I don't like bass that much, so a decent amount of it should suffice. DIY stuff is okay with me.

EDIT: One other thing.. The rear speakers would need to stand tall, 3-4 feet I suppose. Whether that be floor standing speakers or just a stand to put them on, either way.

Thanks for reading and helping. :-)
Edited by Iceman248 - 12/10/12 at 9:11am
post #2 of 24
This will sound rude, though I don't mean it to be. I'm sorry, but... $200 for 5 speakers, a powered sub, 2 stands, a processor, and 5 channel amp? ...

A really low budget 5.1ch system is usually between $300 and $500. You're not looking for budget, you're looking for the cheapest clearance deal you can find. Otherwise, you should look for a used system that someone is selling. If you want new, I'd suggest keeping your eyes peeled for really good clearance sales from bulk stores like CostCo.

Keep in mind that the example you gave of "Monoprice 8247" is just a set of speakers. If you purchased a set of speakers such as that you would still need to purchase a receiver or processor and amp. You're looking at $200 to $350 for an entry level 5.1ch receiver.
post #3 of 24
The $200 price point does make it tricky. You will find some Home Theaters in a Box that can come close to that price...but they are not going to provide real surround sound for the stuff your watching.

The closest I can think of might be the Pioneer HTP-071 (roughly $279 - $299) which will come with a 5-channel receiver with 4 HDMI inputs and a 5.1 speaker setup. The speakers are not great quality...but certainly are better than many that you will find in regular Home Theater in a Box systems. The receiver is one of Pioneers most entry level receivers...but, for under $300...you have a real theater system that can be upgraded in the future.

Onkyo has similar setups as well (HT-S3500) that usually can be found in the $250 - $299 range. Again - it's certainly entry-level....but it's a real theater system with receiver and 5.1 speakers.
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post #4 of 24
Your budget... might be too low. You could go with this 5.0 speaker setup on Slickdeals that puts you at $130 then from there it's a toss up. You could craigslist the receiver but you still wouldn't have enough for a sub.
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post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. They forced me to do more research and learn more about how these systems work, as I didn't have much of a grasp.

I realize now that $200 is quite low. I did not know that a receiver was needed. That being said, with some talking over with the family, we've raised our budget enough to allow for some of these entry level systems.

I checked out both the 2 speaker systems from Pioneer and Onkyo. They seem nice. The Onkyo seems more popular and available, and thus cheaper.

Couple questions in regard to them. They have passive subwoofers. That sounds like it would be fine for me, but I'm wondering.. do the receivers have a built in amplifier dedicated to the bass channel? Seems like they would. From what a gather, they would have to for it to work properly.

Another thing. Hopefully only for not too much longer will I need a separate audio return cable because my TV does not support ARC. Is this a big deal at all? I just need an extra cable to shoot the audio from the TV when it originates there?

Thanks.
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceman248 View Post

Couple questions in regard to them. They have passive subwoofers. That sounds like it would be fine for me, but I'm wondering.. do the receivers have a built in amplifier dedicated to the bass channel? Seems like they would. From what a gather, they would have to for it to work properly.
Another thing. Hopefully only for not too much longer will I need a separate audio return cable because my TV does not support ARC. Is this a big deal at all? I just need an extra cable to shoot the audio from the TV when it originates there?
Thanks.

I would assume they have the proper amplification and drivers for subwoofers as well. The receiver will have to have a channel dedicated to the bass...otherwise I don't think it could hold Dolby certifications (just guessing there). Also - It would be a 6 channel receiver rather than a 5.1 at that point.
The only thing that I would double check prior to purchasing (and unfortunately - I don't know the answer myself and didn't really think of it til just now) is what type of input the receiver has for the subwoofer. Assuming it's a normal Line-In plug and not some proprietary connection...you can always upgrade to an active subwoofer in the future. Thats the most important thing. You don't want to have to junk the whole set-up if you upgrade in the future or a component fails...

As to the Audio Return Channel....If your TV doesn't support it ..then you probably have a Digital Optical or Digital Coax out. You just hook that to the input on the receiver. If your TV does not have a digital out (which my 7 year old LCD didn't)...you can always use the non-digital method of regular RCA type connectors to the receiver.
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post #7 of 24
Optical out is your best bet for TV audio signal if it has it: that will be able to transmit the Dolby-encoded signal that often comes on HD TV programs to your surround receiver.

For the various entry-level 5.1ch speaker sets floating around, I'd probably go for the Energy one at this point (http://www.amazon.com/Energy-Classic-Theater-System-Black/dp/B001202C44/ref=lp_3025451_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355347120&sr=1-1). Polk Audio has always made good sets as well, but for the price, I'm not sure you can beat this Energy set.

For receivers, usually the way you want to figure out a receiver is write down the different things that you want to have (such as wireless, pandora, TrueHD decoding, etc) and then find the budget models for the different companies that support those features. Then you do some review looking and pricing. It may be that the best budget model from Onkyo that has the features you want has poor reviews due to some nasty bugs or what not, but the Denon and Yamaha are fine and evenly priced. Remember that whether or not a receiver is THX-certified doesn't really mean squat because sometimes a company just chooses to save money by not certifying.

Generally good budget receiver brands tend to be Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo, Marantz, and Harman Kardon. Sometimes Pioneer and Sony make good models too, but usually require a bit more scrutiny.

I haven't done any serious budget receiver research for awhile, but (http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-RX-V473-5-1-Channel-Network-Receiver/dp/B007JF85VU/ref=sr_1_3?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1355348187&sr=1-3) caught my eye while skimming.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Okay, so the receiver I looked at with the Onkyo system has a "just like the other speakers" plug in port, so it seems upgradable.

As for the Energy set and receiver. Comparing price wise, $250 vs $650 or even possibly as low as $500 with similar budget models from lineup, that's a lot more and perhaps I don't quite understand, but it seems like not a whole lot.

I'm just having a hard time understanding how these systems appear to start at $600+ or so. That's a lot more than I would've ever thought and from some people I've talked to that don't understand home theater, it would blow their mind. That is likely more than we as a family could stomach for surround sound that's not high end at all.

If anyone could point out how the budget systems that start at $600ish are that much better than the $250 Onkyo, I'm all ears (or eyes). I don't want something crappy if it'll cost $250, but I just see the value in some of these systems. Thanks for all the help. Much appreciated.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceman248 View Post

If anyone could point out how the budget systems that start at $600ish are that much better than the $250 Onkyo, I'm all ears (or eyes). I don't want something crappy if it'll cost $250, but I just see the value in some of these systems. Thanks for all the help. Much appreciated.

A lot of it is still over my head as well....however...take a look at individual components and you can see how it easily starts adding up.

Receivers: Even the most budget friendly receivers start out at $149...on sale. They easily start climbing up from there based on features, channels, network ability, multi-room, etc. I would say you are going to find an average of about $250 - $300 for most.
Sub-Woofers:
Just do a quick search on Newegg (just for example) of individual Powered Subwoofers. There are a couple near the $100 range...but again, they quickly start going up from there. It's very common to be spending $200 on an entry level subwoofer.
Speakers:
Price out individual sets of Front and Rears and a Center. Again - your looking at easily $100 - $200 per pair of fronts and per pair of rears and for a center.

Basically - piecing together a perfect system (even at the entry level)...can quickly climb to the $600 - $1000 range.

Now - that being said. Does it make the Onkyo and Pioneers set-up a piece of garbage? NO. But it does put into perspective that you are essentially buying a receiver for about $100 - $150...and then a 5.1 speaker package for between $100 - $150. How do they get it to you for that price? Well - for starters....the Passive subwoofer. Onkyo saves $100+ by putting a passive subwoofer instead of an active one. It doesn't mean that the passive won't be enough for you. But - in the future, you will most likely need to upgrade that to an active if you want to improve quality. The other 5 speakers are going to be very entry level as well. Again - it doesn't mean they won't perform well. It just means they are cheap and limited in there performance. They probably work perfectly for most people...but if you transition into an audiophile in the future and demand cleaner/stronger/better, etc sound...you will be upgrading those as well.

The other systems your seeing in the $500 + range probably are better. For starters...they probably have a powered sub. They might have a more advanced receiver. The speakers are probably of better quality, etc. ***BUT*** in the price range you initially were looking, you will find that the Onkyo is probably one of the most recommended systems and people tend to think they got their money's worth out of it. The key to this set-up is that it is a Starting place. You got everything you need at a budget near your goal. As time goes on and you learn about more features, etc., you may upgrade certain parts...but you can do that at your convenience when the funds are available to do so.
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post #10 of 24
Unfortunately sound systems cost money... lots of money, I would say I have a budget surround sound system and this is what it comprises of:

speakers

http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Review/313921,style-speaker-packages.aspx/3

Amp/reciever

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882117412

I would suggest you go to an audio shop near you and listen to the sound quality difference between a $250 setup and a $600 setup and then maybe a $3000 dollar setup, if your ears cannot tell the difference then I wish I had your ears and get the cheaper option, but I would bet you will notice the difference.
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