Looking to build a 3.0/3.1 (or maybe 2.0/2.1) home theatre system

Dec 10, 2005
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Hi all -

In the next few months, I'm looking to replace a cheap Vizio soundbar (an SB2920-D6) I've been using for the last 6 years and get a more proper setup. However, there is so much out there, that it's hard to know where to start looking and what I would need. Some details below about must-haves, budget, current living situation, and anticipated uses:

  • Budget: $600-$1000
  • Receiver needs a phono input + ~3+ HDMI
    • I don't mind refurbished - I saw one or two on Denon's site that looked like they could fit the bill
  • I live in an apartment, so I think I'd hold on the subwoofer for now (but a potential upgrade in the future)
  • Use is 60% television/movies (via streaming from an attached HTPC), 20% for music via record player (or bluetooth), and 20% Switch games
  • For speakers, I was thinking 3.0; we don't have a good space for a more complete system, and I've seen it said online that the center channel that you get from 2.0 --> 3.0 really helps with dialog (but I am open to stereo only)
    • No preference for tower vs bookshelf speakers; if I went with the latter, I'd just get speaker stands to position them adjacent to my media center
Thanks!
 
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sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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I would just go stereo. Two better speakers is more enjoyable than three average. Phono is going to be tricky if you want it as part of receiver at that budget. How much room do you have for the center? You have to go to a 5.1 receiver at least if you want three channels.

Also, how big is the space?
 
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herm0016

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Feb 26, 2005
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I have been running the tc-750 phono preamp on my 1972 B&O turn table for 10 years and am still very happy with it. it's probably better than the integrated one in any mass market gear. So I would not make that a pillar of the choice for a receiver.
 
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Dec 10, 2005
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I would just go stereo. Two better speakers is more enjoyable than three average. Phono is going to be tricky if you want it as part of receiver at that budget. How much room do you have for the center?

Also, how big is the space?
I have a shelf under my TV that's about 28"(w)x15"(d) that currently houses my soundbar. Viewing distance is about 7'; and the living room where the tv/stereo sits is about 13'x18' (TV + speakers face the 13' space).

I saw some Denon receivers (5.1 or 5.2) that were maybe $350 for factory-refurbished that had phono inputs. I guess worst-case scenario, we can keep using our dedicated preamp for the record player and use a standard input if we wanted something cheaper without the phono input.

I'm also open to a stereo setup to start if you think that's a better idea of funds. I was only thinking 3.0 because of the potential for improved clarity of dialog in media.
 
Dec 10, 2005
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I have been running the tc-750 phono preamp on my 1972 B&O turn table for 10 years and am still very happy with it. it's probably better than the integrated one in any mass market gear. So I would not make that a pillar of the choice for a receiver.
That's good to know. We have a simple preamp from Pyle that my wife got alongside the turntable she picked up from Craigslist many years ago that's been decent enough (granted, we have it hooked up to a cheap soundbar, so we probably wouldn't notice much of a difference with something better at the preamp).
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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I have a shelf under my TV that's about 28"(w)x15"(d) that currently houses my soundbar. Viewing distance is about 7'; and the living room where the tv/stereo sits is about 13'x18' (TV + speakers face the 13' space).

I saw some Denon receivers (5.1 or 5.2) that were maybe $350 for factory-refurbished that had phono inputs. I guess worst-case scenario, we can keep using our dedicated preamp for the record player and use a standard input if we wanted something cheaper without the phono input.
Then you can get one of those Denons or use existing preamp. you could go with the Monoprice Monolith speakers


 
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biostud

Lifer
Feb 27, 2003
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Stereo, op wanted front three.
I think OP should really reconsider and go for a good 2.0 or 2.1, just keep the speakers close to the TV. That is what I did with my setup (~$2500) before it transitioned to our upstairs living room. Good speakers > numbers of speakers.

Could also go for used equipment to get better bang for the bucks.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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I think OP should really reconsider and go for a good 2.0 or 2.1, just keep the speakers close to the TV. That is what I did with my setup (~$2500) before it transitioned to our upstairs living room. Good speakers > numbers of speakers.

Could also go for used equipment to get better bang for the bucks.

I think he should go with stereo as well for that small a space. But then most of his activities are movies, so a centre channel does make sense.
 
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I'd also be open to considering a stereo system (2.0 or 2.1). I'm sure most things would be an upgrade over my cheap sound bar, and a receiver would obviously leave the door open to add a center channel if I wanted one later.

There seem to be some decent floor speakers available such that I could hit more of the middle of my budget (and put money into speakers instead of stands), and potentially get a little bit better bass compared to bookshelf speakers. Given the apartment living, not sure I want to go with the sub at first.
 

biostud

Lifer
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You could also consider active speakers with a phono preamp. But if you want to use it for movies a sub is a really good idea, even if you don't play at earthquake sound level. But sure if you know it is going to annoy your neighbors, it is not worth it.

 
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Dec 10, 2005
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You could also consider active speakers with a phono preamp.

That's certainly a consideration. However, I think I've been heavily leaning towards receiver + passive speakers because I'd gain more HDMI inputs and the audio routing from multiple sources is easier. My 42" lcd tv is over 10 years old and only has 2 HDMI inputs. I think it could also provide some future flexibility, like if I started with a stereo system, I could more easily expand to a 2.1/3.0/3.1/5.1 setup if living situations changed.
 
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sdifox

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That's certainly a consideration. However, I think I've been heavily leaning towards receiver + passive speakers because I'd gain more HDMI inputs and the audio routing from multiple sources is easier. My 42" lcd tv is over 10 years old and only has 2 HDMI inputs. I think it could also provide some future flexibility, like if I started with a stereo system, I could more easily expand to a 2.1/3.0/3.1/5.1 setup if living situations changed.
My center channel was a grand in 1999 :colbert:
 
Dec 10, 2005
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My center channel was a grand in 1999 :colbert:
Ooof

That's partly why I'm soliciting ideas. So much info out there and too much choice. It helps to have the feedback to narrow down what to look at.

From here and other reading, it definitely seems like picking up some decent floor speakers and going with a 2.0 system may be the best way to start. Even a 2.0 system will be far better than my sound bar which has only 2 drivers in it.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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Ooof

That's partly why I'm soliciting ideas. So much info out there and too much choice. It helps to have the feedback to narrow down what to look at.

From here and other reading, it definitely seems like picking up some decent floor speakers and going with a 2.0 system may be the best way to start. Even a 2.0 system will be far better than my sound bar which has only 2 drivers in it.
my HT has been in boxes since I moved in Nov 2011 :( Here is the pile. the box below the newegg box is the centre channel. It's 38lbs.

IMG_20190114_174723.jpg
 
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biostud

Lifer
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I've managed to have the same amp, fo >20 years because I moved from 5.1 to a 2.1 setup. I've had some large floor speakers and now some small but high quality bookshelf speakers. And I would advice going for smaller and better quality.

My setup is in my sig.
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
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Cool that makes it easy. As 60% of your use is tv & movies, you want to build towards a 5.1 setup. Getting that refurb Denon is a good start, and will hard to beat for the money. As your room is small, I'd take a look at book shelf speakers. My speakers of choice in your price range would be
Klipsch. They sound good, and are easy to drive. What speakers have you listened to?
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
88,185
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Cool that makes it easy. As 60% of your use is tv & movies, you want to build towards a 5.1 setup. Getting that refurb Denon is a good start, and will hard to beat for the money. As your room is small, I'd take a look at book shelf speakers. My speakers of choice in your price range would be
Klipsch. They sound good, and are easy to drive. What speakers have you listened to?

Klipsch have pretty harsh high frequency. I can't stand them. But op might like them.
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
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Klipsch have pretty harsh high frequency. I can't stand them. But op might like them.
That's why I asked what speakers he listened to. I don't think they sound harsh, but I have a friend that does.
 
Dec 10, 2005
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That's why I asked what speakers he listened to. I don't think they sound harsh, but I have a friend that does.
Long ago, I've used Klipsch Promedia speakers with my computer and thought those were fine, but haven't listened to anything in particular in any recent memory. I need to find some place local to get a feel for sounds. If it's any help, for personal use with music and videos on my computer, I use a pair of Sennheiser HD599 headphones.

Would bookshelf speakers really be worth it over floor speakers, after accounting for the cost of also buying stands?

Edit: and on the bookshelf vs floor models, would the floor speakers be a better choice to use sans subwoofer, since they allegedly cover bass better?
 
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Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
17,237
560
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Long ago, I've used Klipsch Promedia speakers with my computer and thought those were fine, but haven't listened to anything in particular in any recent memory. I need to find some place local to get a feel for sounds. If it's any help, for personal use with music and videos on my computer, I use a pair of Sennheiser HD599 headphones.

Would bookshelf speakers really be worth it over floor speakers, after accounting for the cost of also buying stands?
I haven't bought speaker stands since the 90's. Got them from Radio Shack for $20, and gave them along with my NHT 5.1 setup to my brother when I moved in with my now wife. You might be on to something though. Klipsch has floor speakers too.

 

biostud

Lifer
Feb 27, 2003
16,205
1,563
126
Long ago, I've used Klipsch Promedia speakers with my computer and thought those were fine, but haven't listened to anything in particular in any recent memory. I need to find some place local to get a feel for sounds. If it's any help, for personal use with music and videos on my computer, I use a pair of Sennheiser HD599 headphones.

Would bookshelf speakers really be worth it over floor speakers, after accounting for the cost of also buying stands?

Edit: and on the bookshelf vs floor models, would the floor speakers be a better choice to use sans subwoofer, since they allegedly cover bass better?
Buy some that can be close to the wall and a couple of cheap shelves.
 
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