3.1 Home Theater Setup?

Discussion in 'Audio/Video & Home Theater' started by dmw16, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    I am thinking about getting a few home theater components for my living room.

    Right now I live in an apartment and I can't punch holes in the wall to run wires and I don't want exposed wires. I also don't want wireless rear speakers. And the room isn't really well laid out from an audio standpoint.

    I also don't want to cheap out and get some HTIB only to replace everything when I have a house or condo that I can actually run wires in.

    So I was thinking of getting a good center channel and 2 good floor standing speakers as well as a nice sub and good receiver. If I did that I figure I'd have a 3.1 setup that would be a good base to build a 5.1 or 7.1 setup in the future. I mostly watch TV and play xbox360 so surround sound isn't critical. I'd rather have good audio from 3 speakers than junk from 5 or 7.

    My question are:
    1) Do receivers like a Pioneer VSX-917V-K have settings for a setup like this?
    2) Will I still get good sound for my applications with a 3.1 setup?

    Thanks.
     
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  3. vi edit

    vi edit Elite Member <br> Super Moderator
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    All you are doing is not connecting the rears. Any surround receiver will be able to acommpany this request.

    For movies you'll miss out on ambient and dedicated surround tracks (gun fire, music, rain drops, whatever).

    For games you'll be missing some potential directional sounds (voices to follow, music, gunfire, cars behind you, ect).

    Neither will kill your experience, it just won't be as immersive as the game/movie intended.
     
  4. YOyoYOhowsDAjello

    YOyoYOhowsDAjello Moderator<br>A/V & Home Theater<br>Elite member

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    Yeah I think this is very good idea for your current situation.

    The answers to both your questions is indeed "yes" :)
     
  5. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    In 5.1 mode with no rears, are there sounds that I simply WILL NOT hear? Can I "tell" the receiver that I only have 3 speakers so it adjusts what tracks and channels go where?
     
  6. PurdueRy

    PurdueRy Lifer

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    Yes you can tell your receiver which speakers are connected. The receiver will take the surround channel information and put it into the R/L channel.
     
  7. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    Here is what I was planning on buying

    Pioneer VSX-971V-K LINK
    JBL Sub 10 LINK
    JBL Voice LINK
    JBL Stage LINK

    Not necessarily from Best Buy, but it's an easy website to browse. If anyone has a decent finance thing running I may go that way, or I might just pay cash, gotta talk to the boss :)

    As for a sub choice, another $100 gets me the 350W sub, not sure it's worth it though.

    I went for JBL because I've used their speakers before and liked them. Open to suggestions though.
     
  8. Operandi

    Operandi Diamond Member

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    I don't think there is much of a point in going with a 3.1 setup, I would just go with a 2.1 and put the price of the center in a better set of mains.

    For $200 I would also scrap low-end floor standing speakers and go with some mid-level bookshelfs, especially since you be using a sub.
     
  9. PurdueRy

    PurdueRy Lifer

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    I Agree with the bookshelf suggestion. Less money spent on wood = more on driver+crossover.

    I am not sure I echo the 2.1 suggestion though. I would rather have a center. However, it does depend on the max you are willing to spend on each item. Can you give us a budget?
     
  10. Operandi

    Operandi Diamond Member

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    I guess a center wouldn't hurt anything. But I would only say its worth it if the listening area is big enough, ie the mains will be far apart enough to justify another speaker to be placed between them.

    And if it makes sense for the budget. Those JBLs are pretty low-end, If thats representative of the budget I think investing the money in two speakers is better idea than trying to stretch it across three.
     
  11. PurdueRy

    PurdueRy Lifer

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    He picked out quite the receiver. I think he could easily save $70 or more on that and invest that into the center and mains to up them a bit. His sub budget also appears fairly decent so perhaps money isn't too much of an issue.
     
  12. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    Hey guys, thanks for the tips so far.

    My budget is about $1200-$1500.

    I didn't realize the speakers I had picked were low end. I chose that receiver because it got good reviews and seemed to offer a lot of expandability down the road.

    I also figured a good sub was worth the investment because crappy subs sound really bad.

    As for the speakers, I guess I missed on that stuff, oh well :) Please suggest what you would get given my budget.

    I am pretty set on that receiver. $70 isn't going to make or break the whole thing.

    Should i try to match brands? That is, use the same brand sub as I do mains, as I do center?

    Thanks.
     
  13. YOyoYOhowsDAjello

    YOyoYOhowsDAjello Moderator<br>A/V & Home Theater<br>Elite member

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    I have a lot of info on speaker choices in my sticky thread.

    You're going to want to get your 3 speakers from not only the same brand, but also the same product line from that company so the sound will really match.

    The sub can be whatever you want. It's quite common to actually just get a really well reviewed and solid sub without hearing it vs. the time taken to audition speakers.

    With your budget you'd have enough room in the sub department going with something from Elemental Designs, Epik Subwoofers, SVS, HSU, etc.
    I have links in the sticky thread.
     
  14. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    I will probably just go to Best Buy and listen. I may or may not buy from there. Are there reliable online vendors that people like?

    I have read thru the sticky and I guess I was a little lost due to so much info. But now that I have a better idea what I am looking for I will go back again.

    I hate to ask, but could someone give me a little hand holding here :)

    Given my budget, which bookshelfs would be a good choice? That would allow me to pick a center channel too since I'd just match them.

    Thanks.
     
  15. YOyoYOhowsDAjello

    YOyoYOhowsDAjello Moderator<br>A/V & Home Theater<br>Elite member

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    I'm pretty pro-internet-direct since I've had so many good experiences going that route so I'm going to be biased towards that side of things.

    I'd be very willing to hand hold as well as a number of other people I'm sure, but with something as subjective as audio it's hard to just tell someone what to get. When budgets are extremely low, often times there are a few products that really stand out as the best products to get in most situations. In your $1200-$1500 range for 3.1, you have a LOT of options so we can make some suggestions but there's no telling if those are really the best products for you.

    In this price range for internet direct options I've owned AV123's X-series as well as Axiom's lineup.
    I personally liked the X-series better than the very different sound of the Axioms, but personal preference could have gone either way.

    AV123 recently changed (and by most accounts improved) the X-series with new tweeters and crossovers which I have not heard yet but have resulted in better performance from what I understand.

    http://av123.com/index.php?opt...tegory_id=21&Itemid=37
    I know you mentioned floorstanders originally, but with AV123, you can try out a pair of bookshelf speakers and try them out for 30 days and if you don't like them, you can return them at no cost (they pay shipping both ways).
    Aperion Audio is another company that does 2-way free shipping if you decide you don't like them.
    You may want to consider ordering 2-3 pairs of bookshelf speakers to compare in your home to decide which ones you want to build your system around after trying them out for the trial periods.

    If you find some retail ones that you like, there are quite a few online retailers that are trusted. Vanns, Crutchfield, B&H, J&R,...
     
  16. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    I like the idea of free return policy since I can't try them out before I buy.

    I may go locally with a JBL sub since I can try them out and they are hard and heavy to ship. Is the JBL sub pretty good?

    I only said floor standing cuz I figured they were better, but I guess I was wrong :) Is going up to the AV123 mid-tower not worth the extra $100 for the pair? The room is pretty small I guess. 10x15 or so.

    Thanks for the hand holding, if anyone wants to offer more, fire away :)

    Oh, so that receiver is a good call? Buy.com has it for $288.
     
  17. YOyoYOhowsDAjello

    YOyoYOhowsDAjello Moderator<br>A/V & Home Theater<br>Elite member

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    I personally think that buying a sub without hearing it isn't a bad idea if you know you're getting a good one. Your room and even placement within your room is going to have a huge impact on what a sub sounds like, so auditioning a sub isn't going to be as helpful as auditioning speakers imo.

    I think subwoofers is one area where internet direct offers some really excellent bang for the buck. Sorry if I sound like a broken record here, but I think the vast majority of people that end up getting a sub from one of these internet direct companies ends up being very happy with it vs. comparably priced retail options.

    That receiver looks like it has just about everything you'd want except audio over HDMI. Based on those sources you mentioned though that's not a big deal.
     
  18. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    Any sub suggestions?

    Also, should I invest in a dvd player (use my 360 right now) and/or a PS3?

     
  19. YOyoYOhowsDAjello

    YOyoYOhowsDAjello Moderator<br>A/V & Home Theater<br>Elite member

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    Oh and I think I missed the extra $100 tower question...

    The shipping is also going to be more expensive so that's something else to consider.

    If you weren't getting a sub there would be more reason to consider the floorstanders. The SLS tower from AV123 is basically just an LS in a tower (same drivers) so you're basically just paying to have it in tower form. You would have to figure out some kind of stand idea to get the X-LS option to really be that much less expensive, but I'd rather see you divert $100+ into another area of the system than to just get the floorstanders. I don't think it would be a bad way to go though if floorstanders appeal to you.

    If the 360 is working alright for you now, I wouldn't spend any more on another DVD player.

    Would you be getting Blu-Ray discs if you got a PS3?

    As for the subwoofer....

    The entry level PB10 from SVS is $429 + shipping
    http://www.svsound.com/products-sub-box-10nsd.cfm
    Elemental Designs has several options you could consider and shipping is included in their prices
    http://www.edesignaudio.com/index.php?cPath=2_41
    HSU has a few as well http://www.hsuresearch.com/subwoofers.html



    Epik
    http://www.epiksubwoofers.com/Products.html
    and
    AV123's MFW-15
    http://av123.com/index.php?pag...m_virtuemart&Itemid=37
    would probably end up taking too much of your budget.
     
  20. PurdueRy

    PurdueRy Lifer

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    I realize you said that you are pretty well set on that receiver but I feel that I should point out two things.

    1. Receivers are much more expensive to buy in store than online. Save some cash and buy online.

    2. That receiver can't accept audio of HDMI. The HDMI ports are simply passthrough. It will not decode any of the HD audio formats.
     
  21. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    So if i get floor standers, i pay more shipping, but don't have to buy stands.

    If I get bookshelfs, I have to buy stands. So it might be the same difference.

    If I get a PS3, I would use it for BluRay.

    I guess I also need to figure cables into my budget. I have some already, but will need to buy more. I will avoid going to best buy and getting monster cables tho.

    What about those fancy power strips? Any value in those things (I am guessing not)?
     
  22. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    Hmm, interesting. Perhaps more research is in order. If I understand right, you are saying that I can't turn HDMI into surround sound audio?

    I am going to buy the receiver online. Buy.com has a good deal and they are reliable. But I will shop around some more. Are there other Pioneer receivers that will decode HD audio?
     
  23. PurdueRy

    PurdueRy Lifer

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    A quality bookshelf speaker often costs much less than a floorstanding model. There also isn't much point to floorstanding speakers when you plan on using a sub.

    If you are going to get Blu-ray you are going to want to change your receiver as I mentioned before.

    Good. Check out bluejeanscable.com or monoprice.com

    Fancy power strips...depends what you are talking about specifically. If you are talking about ones that feature power filtering...probably not worth it unless you have very poor power in your area. A good surge protector is always worth having just to prevent equipment damage from lightning.
     
  24. PurdueRy

    PurdueRy Lifer

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    What I am saying is this. If you have a device connected via HDMI you will get no sound out of that receiver. You will need to also connect it via optical or digital coax to get sound. This prevents you from getting the HD audio formats that are only available over HDMI.

    I would be careful with buy.com. If you check out their reseller rating its pretty abysmal. I have ordered from them and don't mind if its something that doesn't have much chance of being returned. I would be careful with such a complex device as if you have troubles...I wouldn't want to be stuck with buy.com

    Check out www.onecall.com or www.vanns.com. Yes Pioneer does have models that can decode HD audio. They are obviously more expensive though.
     
  25. dmw16

    dmw16 Diamond Member

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    Which Pioneer units support HDMI audio? I didn't realize that wasn't a standard feature, but it is certainly something I'd want.
     
  26. PurdueRy

    PurdueRy Lifer

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    http://www.butterflyphoto.com/...c=83&zmap=YAMHTR6160BL

    One possible recommendation in your budget.

    EDIT: Obviously this is yamaha...Pioneer is much more expensive because you have to go up to the elite units. There is also a bit of a difficulty here. The receiver can decode HD audio or your player can send it 7.1 PCM if it can't. They point is that your receiver first of all has to accept audio over HDMI which the Pioneer you selected does not.

    EDIT2: I believe this is the cheapest Pioneer receiver that accepts audio over HDMI
    http://www.pioneerelectronics....vers/ci.VSX-91TXH.Kuro

    EDIT3: Another often recommended model that can process HD audio signals is the Onkyo 605.