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Old 09-28-2011, 04:41 PM   #1
ebow86
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Default Best home theater system under $200

I am looking for what they call a "home theater in a box" type system. Specifically a 5.1 surround sound system. I don't have the budget the buy an expensive receiver with speakers and subwoofer, so the home theater in a box type setup is the only route for me.

My expectations are completely realistic, I know that with this type of budget you can't expect much. $200 may not buy the best surround sound system, but it will certainly sound better than my TV speakers, which are terrible.

Main priority is sound quality over sheer output and wattage, I don't care about the DVD/blu-ray aspect of the system, I just want to know what surround sound system is considered the best under $200.

Has to...
Be a well known brand
support Dolby 5.1 digital
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Old 09-28-2011, 06:10 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by ebow86 View Post
I am looking for what they call a "home theater in a box" type system. Specifically a 5.1 surround sound system. I don't have the budget the buy an expensive receiver with speakers and subwoofer, so the home theater in a box type setup is the only route for me.

My expectations are completely realistic, I know that with this type of budget you can't expect much. $200 may not buy the best surround sound system, but it will certainly sound better than my TV speakers, which are terrible.

Main priority is sound quality over sheer output and wattage, I don't care about the DVD/blu-ray aspect of the system, I just want to know what surround sound system is considered the best under $200.

Has to...
Be a well known brand
support Dolby 5.1 digital
Man you can't do a whole much for $200 with a home theater system. Here is a Samsung unit that fits the bill though http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Samsung+...&skuId=2052149

I have no idea how it works though. You might be better asking this question over at AVS in the HTIB subforum.

Honestly, I think you would be better with a soundbar. Vizio makes some great units that are between $100-$200 that will be worlds better than your tiny TV speakers. Also, a $200 soundbar will give you much better sound quality than any $200 HTIB system will.
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Old 09-28-2011, 08:53 PM   #3
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You don't have enough money for 5.1. I'd recommend sticking with 2 channel or a sound bar if your TV speakers are that bad.
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Old 09-28-2011, 09:15 PM   #4
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check ebay/craigslist used.
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Old 09-28-2011, 10:57 PM   #5
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You don't have enough money for 5.1. I'd recommend sticking with 2 channel or a sound bar if your TV speakers are that bad.
This.

My parents were using speakers on their TV for both TV and Blu-rays. It was sad so I gave them a cheap receiver and 2 cheap floorstanders I had been using in my bedroom. Sound is now 1000x better.

You have two options:
Super crappy 5.1 or not so crappy 2.0. If it were me I'd go 2.0 and never look back.

If you absolutely want 5.1 spend your entire budget on the speakers and then scrape together $20-50 and buy a used 5.1 receiver on craigslist or that online auction place that ends in Bay. Look for brands like Yamaha, Pioneer, Onkyo, and Denon. If you need help deciding whether its a good deal or not just ask us. If in doubt and without an answer from us, while not 100% always true, receivers with Binding Posts for speaker wire in the back are generally "up-market" aka higher end than those with Clips within the same brand.
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Old 09-29-2011, 04:03 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the suggestions guys. I would like to note a few things.

I am not an "audiophile" so many of the shortcomings that some of you would hear from a budget system most likely would go unnoticed by my ears.

Secondly, I have no experience with these soundbars, though they do look promising. I seen a Panasonic in the price range that looks to be the best in the class.

Could someone give me an idea of what to expect from one of these soundbars? I know that one can't reproduce the sound that a 5.1 system makes, but it would be nice to know where to put my expectations.
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Old 09-29-2011, 07:08 AM   #7
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What's your goal? Do you absolutely positively need to have sound firing in rear channels? Are you just looking to get louder, fuller, volume and sound quality over what the TV speakers provide?

Surround sound is overrated, especially in cheap setups. If you buy something cheap now for $200 all you are going to do is throw it away in a year and spend another $400 on something better when you realize how much better things could be if you had just saved up more.

Buy a $50 DD receiver off of craigslist.
Brand doesn't matter...yamaha, onkyo, pioneer, whatever. Just get something in decent shape and made in the last 10 years.

Then head to Newegg and grab a couple of the Monitor 60's.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882290207

That's closer to $300, but then you can save another $100 up at some point and drop in a center. And then another $150 after that and add a subwoofer.

That's a system you can build from and not feel like you want to immediately replace it with something better.
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Old 09-29-2011, 07:30 AM   #8
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Ok, do this quick:

Go here: http://6ave.com/shop/product.aspx?sk...AN&pubid=k3736 and buy that set.

Use the info here when buying it to save a few bucks: http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/270008 Ignore the stats for the set listed here, they are incorrect. Stats at 6th Ave are correct.

That leaves you with $28ish to buy a receiver off craigslist to stay at $200. Do youself a favor and stretch the budget another $20-30. Odds are you'll have better luck getting on for $50-60 than $28. Will probably blow away any HTiB you could get for the same price.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:11 AM   #9
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I bought this system when I did my projector setup:

Onkyo HT-S5300
http://bit.ly/mVCX65

That's an ebay auction for a refurbished system for $279 + $40 shipping. 7.1, powered subwoofer and the reciever does DTS-MA and TrueHD. I have it set up in a PLIIz configuration with two front highs. 4 HDMI in, an iPod/iPhone dock, several component and composite in.

It sounds great. Been using it a little over a year and still love it. It's $100 more than your budget but I think if you're not a serious Audiophile, then it's well worth the $$$.

Amazon has the replacement for this one, the HT-S5400, for $370 and I assume free shipping. It includes a microphone to help itself automatically calibrate but loses the iPod dock I think.
http://********/qBDQaZ
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Surround sound is overrated, especially in cheap setups.
Well in cheap setups I would agree with you but in higher end ones, not so much. There is nothing like making the windows shake in my living room when I fire up Tron and my Epik Legend turns on... My guests can't believe how much sound my system will pump out.

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Old 09-29-2011, 09:07 AM   #11
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Well in cheap setups I would agree with you but in higher end ones, not so much. There is nothing like making the windows shake in my living room when I fire up Tron and my Epik Legend turns on... My guests can't believe how much sound my system will pump out.

But that's not technically surround sound. That's just high quality LFE/Midbass. I'm talking about rear channels.

I'd gladly take a quality 2.1 setup over a cheap 5.1 any day.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:31 AM   #12
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But that's not technically surround sound. That's just high quality LFE/Midbass. I'm talking about rear channels.

I'd gladly take a quality 2.1 setup over a cheap 5.1 any day.
Ahh, I see what you are saying now...

Yeah, rear channels are for "effect" for lack of a better word. But I still couldn't live without em.

You are definitely right about a quality 2.1 setup over a crappy 5.1. I'd take that any day of the week!
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:27 AM   #13
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I've moved from a Hi-Fi surround system to an even better 2.0 system, and don't regret it one bit.
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Old 09-29-2011, 04:23 PM   #14
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http://www.ebay.com/itm/Logitech-Z-6...item19c91c9c19
Logitech Z680's

Will smoke ANY htib without any problems at all.
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Old 09-29-2011, 05:15 PM   #15
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All right guys. The system is only going to be in a small bedroom, and the more I think about it, I'm thinking of going the soundbar route. Yes, I don't need loud rumbling sound, just something better and higher quality than my TV speakers.

I see Vizio has a soundbar for around $150. Sorry to sound iggronant guys, but how exactly would I connect this so that a PS3 or xbox 360 would be using the soundbar? I'm thinking that running a fiber optic cable from the soundbar to the digital optical port in my tv, would that work?
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Old 09-29-2011, 05:28 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebow86 View Post
I see Vizio has a soundbar for around $150. Sorry to sound iggronant guys, but how exactly would I connect this so that a PS3 or xbox 360 would be using the soundbar? I'm thinking that running a fiber optic cable from the soundbar to the digital optical port in my tv, would that work?
Which Vizio sound bar are you looking at? (Model number?)

The VSB205 uses analog input, the Red and White cable.

The VSB200 does appear to have optical input, however on some TVs the optical on plays sound from the built in TV tuner. If yours does output sound from all sources then yes you would just plug that into the sound bar. If not you may still need a basic receiver. Also its only $98 on amazon. Here is the link to the manual(PDF format): http://vizio.com/documents/downloads...ser_Manual.pdf

Edit: The sound bar will NOT decode Dolby Digital and DTS signals, you will need a receiver for that or you will need to set your devices to Output Stereo or PCM. It basically only accepts stereo inputs or a PCM 2.1 signal via the optical input.
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Old 09-29-2011, 05:54 PM   #17
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Yes, this is the vizio soundbar I was referring to http://www.vizio.com/home-theater-1/vsb200.html

I won't argue regarding the technical aspects, but if it can't decode Dolby Digital and DTS signals, then with a fiber optic cable what kind of sound will I be getting?

Also, my TV is a Toshiba Regza 46 inch model number 46rv530u http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16889253125
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Old 09-29-2011, 07:11 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebow86 View Post
Yes, this is the vizio soundbar I was referring to http://www.vizio.com/home-theater-1/vsb200.html

I won't argue regarding the technical aspects, but if it can't decode Dolby Digital and DTS signals, then with a fiber optic cable what kind of sound will I be getting?

Also, my TV is a Toshiba Regza 46 inch model number 46rv530u http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16889253125
You will just be getting 2-channel audio no matter how you hook it up, either with the Toslink or the RCA composite connectors. I'd use the Toslink as ANYTHING is better than RCA analog. At least with PCM you are getting a digital stream.

They do have soundbars that will decode DD/DTS, but honestly, what's the point if you don't have all the speakers?

You will get improved sound with this unit compared to your TV.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:12 PM   #19
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You will just be getting 2-channel audio no matter how you hook it up, either with the Toslink or the RCA composite connectors. I'd use the Toslink as ANYTHING is better than RCA analog. At least with PCM you are getting a digital stream.

They do have soundbars that will decode DD/DTS, but honestly, what's the point if you don't have all the speakers?

You will get improved sound with this unit compared to your TV.
What soundbar would you recommend for a $200 budget? What I mean is the Vizio is considerebly less than $200, so what, for $200, is better than the vizio? FWIW I don't want to have to purchase any seperate recievers and equipment, I just want to be able to pull it from the box and use it, nothing addition required other than maybe a cable.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:54 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebow86 View Post
What soundbar would you recommend for a $200 budget? What I mean is the Vizio is considerebly less than $200, so what, for $200, is better than the vizio? FWIW I don't want to have to purchase any seperate recievers and equipment, I just want to be able to pull it from the box and use it, nothing addition required other than maybe a cable.
You can do that with the Vizio, just understand that it will be Stereo with a "virtual" center channel, thats how most budget sound bars are designed.

I believe this ( http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-YAS-101.../dp/B005IVUWHW ) will decode the DD/DTS and is probably the cheapest bar that will do it. It was just released so there are no reviews out yet but its worth a shot. Do note that it is $50 more than your budget and only has Digital inputs one coaxial and two optical. It also has one Subwoofer Out port so later on down the line you can add a subwoofer. The built in "subwoofer" is more of a mid-bass at best.
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Old 09-30-2011, 07:14 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebow86 View Post
What soundbar would you recommend for a $200 budget? What I mean is the Vizio is considerebly less than $200, so what, for $200, is better than the vizio? FWIW I don't want to have to purchase any seperate recievers and equipment, I just want to be able to pull it from the box and use it, nothing addition required other than maybe a cable.
I think for $200 that Vizio bar will be fine for your needs. Its dead simple to hookup and use.

Vizio also makes this. It will decode full DD/DTS 5.1. The rear speakers attach to the sub and the sub is wireless. But not only is that out of your budget but it is also what I would describe as the bare minimum for surround. For $400 I could put something together better than that...

I think you will be happy with the VSB200. If you are just interested in getting better sound out of your TV this will do that.
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:23 PM   #22
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I want to thank everyone for their help here, it truly is appreciated. I may very well go with the Vizio soundbar, but I may wait until my budget allows for something significantly better, I don't know yet. I'll post back later as to what route I took and what my results were. Thanks again
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:44 PM   #23
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Man you can't do a whole much for $200 with a home theater system. Here is a Samsung unit that fits the bill though http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Samsung+...&skuId=2052149
i have that one. its worth the money, sounds pretty good for the price.
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:00 PM   #24
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Refurb Onkyo -- the only HTIBs that offer a real receiver (though the super-cheap ones don't have a line-level sub out, I don't think it'll matter for this guy). A far far better suggestion than some crap unexpandable soundbar.

LOL at the Logitech suggestion
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Old 10-01-2011, 07:35 AM   #25
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Refurb Onkyo -- the only HTIBs that offer a real receiver (though the super-cheap ones don't have a line-level sub out, I don't think it'll matter for this guy). A far far better suggestion than some crap unexpandable soundbar.

LOL at the Logitech suggestion
None of the HTIB in your link meet the OPs budget. Further, the OP doesn't (or at least didn't at the time) seem to care about a multi part system:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ebow86
FWIW I don't want to have to purchase any seperate recievers and equipment, I just want to be able to pull it from the box and use it, nothing addition required other than maybe a cable.
and

Quote:
Originally Posted by ebow86
Yes, I don't need loud rumbling sound, just something better and higher quality than my TV speakers.
This leads to the conclusion that a soundbar would be a very good investment for him. If you just want better sound than the crappy speakers in a TV and don't want/care about surround sound, a sound bar is the only step one needs to take to achieve that. Also keep in the mind the budget was drastically low. I have a hard time recommending anything 5.1 setup for $200.

Now the OP has decided, after hearing our advice, that it would be worthwhile to save up some more money in order to purchase something "significantly better". I applaud him for that. I'm always excited when someone decides to make the move into the home theater market by something I may have said to him.

If he still wants to go the HTIB way there are a couple options that should make him happy and that will best any box store HTIB system:
Denon

or

Onkyo
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