View Full Version : NFBT-Home Theatre and Stereo Systems

04-29-2001, 02:55 PM
Okay, all of you video and audiophiles out there. I could use some input about selecting the right system for my home. Now, mind you, I'm an old school stereophonic freak from waaay back and have finally decided to get rid of my ancient system. (Carver amps, Klipsch studio loudspeakers etc.)
I'm ready to delve into the realm of DVD and 5-channel surround sound systems. I have a modest sized living room (approx 14' x14') and really don't need a lot of volume output. Any particular brands or types of systems that truly jump out beyond the others?

I realize it's a matter of just shopping around and listening to each system myself, but I do value the broad spectrum of experience that the members of this BB have. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

04-29-2001, 05:46 PM
I have a nice onkyo DD amp that I've been really pleased with. I think nearly any DD amp will do the trick for you but spend the money for the extra fiber connections. You need at least one if you want true 5.1 sound.

I have a similar sized living room and I've been pleased with my infinity mini's. Nearly everyone has a mini-speaker offering similar to the Bose accoustamass product.

Bob Dole
04-30-2001, 05:51 AM
Bob Dole's advice would be to go to a decent retail outlet with a quality listening room, try every combination you have the time/patience to try, and go with what sounds best to <b>you</b>.

That said, Sony has a nice system with mini rear speakers and two front towers, with the left one having the amp and DVD built-in. Pretty slick if you've already got a rack full of components.

(If you're inclined, send Bob Dole an email. Bob Dole would be interested to know what you're planning to do with the Klipsch's...)

Mark M
04-30-2001, 06:18 AM
I highly recommend Bose speakers. I have a set of 301 Series III bookshelf speakers that blow away most larger floor models. I did what Bob Dole suggested and compared them to Infinitys and several other models and they just sounded better. The sound is crisp, clean and solid. But it also depends on what you want it for ... for just home theater use or music as well. Inifnitys sound better with classical music.

As far as receivers go, I'm partial to Pioneer. I've had several and never had a problem. CD/DVD's I'd go with Sony, but I'd stay away from their amps (they have a tendency to get a bit staticy sometimes).

Just my 2.

~~Music freak.

Baby Lee
04-30-2001, 07:26 AM
Any advice I could give would depend strongly on your budget [easy to find out] and personal taste [hard to get a feel for over the I-Net].
For starters, there are any number of 'out of the box' 5.1 systems by the big guys [sony, kenwood, pioneer] that'll do the job pretty well.
One good, 'slightly above the crowd' set of speakers is the Energy 'Take-Five.' Paradigm also makes speakers that, at each price point in which they compete, have something to amaze you. [ie, its $200 speakers blow away most other $200 speakers, yet their $2500 pair compares favorably with $3000-5000 models. Paradigm is made in Canada.
On the electronics front, you need to decide if you want an integrated amp, or a pre-amp and seperate amplifiers. The difference these days being not so much quality, but flexibility. I have stayed in the Sony ES line for some time now, and have NO complaints.
Note also, two kinds of 7 channel [discrete and matrixed back channels] surround is already fairly common, and Pro Logic II, a refinement of the old matrixed Surround is getting introduced in many newer models. These are features, you shouldn't have to choose between one or the other.
On the DVD player, at this point progressive scan is almost a must. While not up to HDTV stanards, it'll make your DVD playern more palettable when HDTV does get here in force.
A couple of good resources
audioreview.com - has a pretty solid ratings section for any part of your HT, from boom boxes to plasma screen TVs. There has been hints of spamming the ratings on a few items by some contrarians, but the ratings are overall very useful.
hometheaterforum.com has a BB that discusses all things HT and welcomes 'newbie' questions. There, some posters do have 'pet brands' that they'll suggest to you [in particular, 'Outlaw' an I-Net Amp/Receiver retailer and 'SVS' perhaps the best Subwoofer >1000 ever] , but I sense that they do so out of a genuine passion for the brand.

04-30-2001, 07:32 AM
Having spent 8 years selling all levels of home electronics, and another 10+ being a enthusiast, I've seen and heard them all.
The simple answer is that there isn't one brand that's any better at a particular price point than the next.
My advice would be to go to your local audio/video specialty store. If you're used to listening to Carver and Klipsch(nice), you probably won't be happy with the preformance of the gear you'll find at Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. Especially the all-in-one systems(no offense Bob)
Plus, you're more likely to get a salesperson who knows that watts-per-channel isn't the most important spec.

There are 2 websites I would recommend you check out.

I find that my opinions on a/v gear tends to upset some people, so if you'd like to know what I REALLY think, send me a e-mail.

04-30-2001, 07:35 AM
Hey Johnny,
looks like you and I chew on the same dirt once in a while.

Bob Dole
04-30-2001, 07:41 AM

Bob Dole has an older (circa 1980) Sony amp that "goes staticy" about every 6 months. Taking the cover off and using compressed air to blow out the crap in the pots clears it up.

Baby Lee
04-30-2001, 07:44 AM
Shakes - speaking of spamming, did you ever see the review of the Lirpa Labs [hint Lirpa=April] Steam Powered Turntable over at audioreview? A few digs at the 'HT as another form of wine tasting' crowd, but very funny.


Bob Dole
04-30-2001, 07:50 AM
No offense taken, shakes. Only pointed out the Sony because it's affordable and doesn't take up much floor/rack space, which Bob Dole assumed was a concern in a 14x14 room.

(Note that Bob Dole was trying to get a foot in the door on the used Klipschs...) Too lazy to just drive 30 miles and talk some factory worker into selling me a set at cost...

Bob Dole would agree with Mark on the Infinity speakers--excellent, crisp highs. Good for classical and anything with a lot of high-hat cymbal. Bob Dole went to buy a set about 15 years ago and ended up picking Cerwin Vega on the blind listen, though... (Heard rumor, however, that they merged with someone and their newer stuff is a lower quality.)

04-30-2001, 08:11 AM

A ton of thanks for all of the info. I'll probably be spending the next couple of days hitting the reviews websites for prices and performance info. I figured this would be easier, but I've been out of the loop for so long, technology wise, that this will be no easy task.

It's looking like I'll stay with Klipsch for my speakers. They've been good to me for many years. Their subs and mains are getting consistently good reviews.

Thanks again,


Baby Lee
04-30-2001, 08:19 AM
At the Klipsch price point, I would urge you to just take a peek at the Paradigm line and the Dynaudio Audience line. Not to dissuade you from the Klipsch line at all, but since that is what you're used to, this purchasing period may be a good time to see what is out there. In fact, this may reinforce that the Klipsch sound is the sound for you.
Dynaudio and Paradigm are very different in character from the Klipschs [and each other], and would give you an overview of good examples of different types of 'sounds.' I wish I could think of a decent set of electrostatics in this price range, because that is another type of 'sound.' Maybe shakes has a suggestion.

04-30-2001, 08:26 AM

I tried talking the old lady into one of those Sony all-in-one systems for the bedroom. Pretty amazing what you can get for $600.
But my thoughts were that Postal is used to some pretty high end gear, and going from Carver/Klipsch to ANY box system, would be a step back IMO.
As for Infinity, I believe they were bought out by Harmen International, which makes Harmen Karden, JBL,Infinity, and a few others. They built there own design facility a few years back, and are well reguarded.
I'm personally not a big fan of sub/sats, as they usually lack mid bass. That being said, they sound incredible for the size and have 2 big advantages. A very big "Oooh" factor with friends and family, and "significant others like the small size.
The rage lately seems to be "power towers". Floor standing speakers with a powered subwoofer built-in.
Of the ones I listened to, Definitive Technology would rank up there in my book.

Great, all this talk is giving me get the upgrade bug.

04-30-2001, 09:20 AM
No matter what you choose, do yourself a favor and go to http://www.pricescan.com/ to check for prices. This site is good for just about all electronic type of items. I put my system together component by component, and this site saved me hundreds of dollars! Do your performance research however you wish, but DO NOT purchase until checking out the pricescan site!! I cannot recommend it enough!!

And for those of you who have bought electronic items lately, do yourself a favor and DON'T look them up on pricescan, you'll just get pi$$ed... :)

Baby Lee
04-30-2001, 09:36 AM
Another thing I would wholehearted urge you to audition is a high end subwoofer. This is the one portion of the HT where there are no [well, very very few] shortcuts. Sturdy and powerful is the way to go. DVDs are putting some loud and low information in the soundtracks. Low power, particle board, boom boxes miss most of that, or distort it badly.

Klipsch makes a good entry-level quality sub. Also try out the Velodynes and M&Ks. I would say try out an SVS [IMO, far and way the best <$1000, probably the best <$3000], but it is a small, fledgling company that only sells through the I-Net at present.

04-30-2001, 03:16 PM
JC, Shakes;

Have either of you listened to any of the Sunfire True Subwoofer series by Bob Carver? I absolutely Love the design, and the reviews I have seen have been excellent. Any thoughts?

I really like the small size of this box, and it looks really tight.

Baby Lee
04-30-2001, 03:30 PM
For its size, the True Sub is really amazing. It gets amazing excursion on the speakers and radiators and can really move some sound waves across the room. A couple of drawbacks, both related to improper setup. First, it can get boomy and tend towards 'one-note' if not properly placed. Second, it really needs something to weight it down, or it has been known to 'walk' across the floor.
Amazing as it is, I think you pay a premium for fitting all that power into such a small footprint. If space is at a premium, this is [IMO] the gold standard. If you can spare a little extra space, you can squeeze out a few more SPLs for a few less $$ with other designs, or DIY [doing it yourself].

BTW, with the internet as a resource, DIY is less intimidating then it sounds. Read some articles on design principles, find out where the good prices on raw drivers and used amps are, get some shareware volume calculators, and pull out the old power tools.

Then again you can go off the deep end.


04-30-2001, 03:30 PM
IMO, Sunfire makes excellent products. The True Subs are engineering marvals. To produce that much base from a 11 square inch enclosure is mind blowing, not to mention earth shaking. I LIKE earth shaking!

BTW Postal, Sunfire is designed and owned by Bob Carver. Yeah, THAT Carver.

People living along fault lines and in avalanche prone areas, should NOT be allowed to purchase these.

05-02-2001, 04:47 PM