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View Full Version : Home Theater A/V Receiver Suggestions (Repost from Community Discussion)




Apocrathia
Apr 25, 2010, 10:34 AM
So, I'm moving into a new apartment in the next few weeks. Won't have roommates anymore, so I'm about to do a small home theater setup. (My TV always stayed in my bedroom since I didn't really trust my roommates)
I have a Mac mini which I keep hooked up over VGA + 1/8" Stereo (For Plex/Hulu/Netflix), PS3 (HDMI), 360 (HDMI), and I don't have cable (I rarely watch TV), but i'd like to have room for it in the future if I actually decide to get it, so probably another HDMI or component input.
I'm probably going to have to run the VGA directly to the TV and past the receiver, unless I can figure out a better way. So a receiver without VGA would be alright.
Those are my requirements, a couple of HDMI ins and 1 HDMI out. Not that much of a problem. I want to find a receiver/amplifier that doesn't suck now. I'm pretty clueless here. I've been heavily debating a Sony HTCT100 since I'm moving into an apartment and don't really need anything major, but if I could find something with wireless rear speakers, then I'd go for it.
I don't need a Blu-Ray Player (Have a PS3), and I don't need one that upscales DVDs (Mac mini). I just want to find something that takes a couple of inputs, and gives me an output that sounds awesome. Honestly, I'd be willing just to get an optical receiver and run everything through my TV, optical out into an amplifier.
Give me some suggestions, post your home theater setup, whatever. I need some input.

Edit:
I'm also looking for some sort of a media console to keep all of my av equipment in. Any suggestions there would be awesome.



dbwie
Apr 25, 2010, 11:35 AM
How much do you want to spend? You can get a decent A/V receiver that supports 5.1 surround sound and has plenty of digital audio inputs for under $300. I wouldn't worry too much about HDMI in/out on the receiver (unless you want a receiver that does up-conversion or don't have enough HDMI inputs on your TV). I run all of my video directly into my HDTV (the newer ones have abundant video inputs), and all of my audio directly into my A/V receiver. I split up the audio and video because my receiver doesn't pass 5.1 from the TV back to the receiver if I set it up to run both audio and video through the TV.

I control it all with a Harmony 550 remote.

If you want to spend more than $300, there are plenty of great receivers out there. I don't have a specific receiver recommendation for you, as my JVC receiver was discontinued a few years back. :)

Apocrathia
Apr 25, 2010, 02:53 PM
I want to stay under $300, because I really don't need a ton of features. I just need something to process audio.
My only problem with running all my video directly to my TV is that I want to run the wires through the wall (Yes, I mentioned I'd be in an apartment, and yes, I've already gotten in approved, before anyone asks). So running multiple wires through the wall for the first installation seems fine, but what do I do if I want to add another device, and run another wire? I'm guessing I'd have to take off the wall plate and fish it out?
I mentioned the Sony soundbar because I really like the design of just having a 3.1 system. I really don't need surround sound, but then again, I've never had it before. It just seems like most of what I watch is just in stereo and not 5.1 or anything, so it seems pointless if I start watching Hulu and only the front speakers work anyways. Plus my living room design is really open. I'll include a floorplan just as a reference. The TV will be on the left wall of the living room on the floor plan.
The only type of home theater setups I've done are where everything runs through an AV receiver, not just an audio receiver.
If I were to do some sort of an optical receiver, what about my 360? It doesn't have optical out, I just use HDMI from it. Or my Mac mini, I use the 1/8" port which doubles as an optical. I'm not sure what to think about having to leave the receiver on all the time as well.
Like I said, I have never done a receiver setup before, so I'm just looking for as many suggestions as possible.

Terry78
Apr 25, 2010, 03:51 PM
I recommend using the mini-display port or the DVI output on the Mac Mini as long as you have a newer TV with a DVI or HDMI input. Your video display will be much improved compared to VGA!

Same thing applies if you run your video from the Mac Mini to your new A/V receiver -- use the mini-display port or DVI output from the Mac Mini into one of the video inputs on the A/V receiver.

Yamaha makes very decent A/V receivers in your price range if you buy one on-sale at Best Buy or online (e.g., Amazon). Monoprice.com has inexpensive cables including those that have a mini-display port output on one end (for the mini) and a HDMI on the other end for the TV.

I'm using a Mac Mini with a mini-display port to HDMI cable into my TV. And also an inexpensive USB tuner and an indoor antenna so I can get over the air HD television. It looks great, and so does Internet video such as Hulu and Boxee!

Edit: Also, the Sanus glass and wood audio-video (form-factor is low and wide) stands look great, are easy to move equipment around in, and are inexpensive compared to most stands.

Apocrathia
Apr 25, 2010, 09:09 PM
I recommend using the mini-display port or the DVI output on the Mac Mini as long as you have a newer TV with a DVI or HDMI input. Your video display will be much improved compared to VGA!

I already have a dvi to hdmi adapter, but the problem with that is that there are just too many hdmi configuration options and I can't get a completely neutral image. It's simpler for me to just use DVI -> VGA than it was to mess with HDMI configuration and all of that crap.

Thanks for showing me the Sanus consoles, but those are way out of my price range. They're ≥ $800 for the style I want (low and long).

Bye Bye Baby
Apr 26, 2010, 02:42 AM
I would look at the Onkyo. I like the 607. They have just released the 608 so you could probably find some good deals on the older model.

BTW run your HDMI equipment through the AV receiver and not directly to the TV. It is not just for video upscaling as some claim. It is also for audio decoding, if you are using the latest audio coding as well as being able to control all your components with one remote and having the receiver turn on all of the necessary components at the right settings. As well as a lot of other things that are too many to mention.

A good receiver is essential in a serious home theatre.

Apocrathia
Apr 26, 2010, 09:09 AM
My initial plan was to run everything into my TV, the have the TV return optical to a receiver. In all honesty, complexity of the setup doesn't matter to me, as I have a Harmony One that I use to control everything with. Like, I said though. I just don't like the idea of having to leave my receiver on whenever the TV is on. Sometimes I'd rather just use the TV's speakers.
A user in the Community Discussion suggested Harmon Kardon for receivers, and that they have an eBay outlet where you can get refurbs for dirt cheap. So I'll probably go that route. I already have the SoundSticks II on my desk and I love those.
I would like to do a surround system, but I'm worried about running wires. Can anyone give me any suggestions on cleanly running wires? Floorboards, under carpet. I need to find something other than just stapling the wire in the corner like i always have in the past.
I'm building a Monoprice order, so I just want to make sure I get everything I need for now.

notjustjay
Apr 26, 2010, 09:10 AM
(referring to julies12) Hmm, newbie poster, 1 post, joined today, to send you a link to buy something... think it could be spam?


Anyway, just wanted to say that I bought a Denon AVR-590 recently and am really enjoying it. One of its features is upconversion from other signals (analog inputs) to HDMI, so that I only need to run one cable to my TV (a projector, actually).

I think these models are on their way out in favour of new 2010 models so look for clearance sales.

I did a lot of shopping around and was looking at the Pioneer VSX-819, Onkyo 607, and the Yamaha 565 which were comparably spec'd. The Pioneer had a neat iPod integration feature built-in. I think all of these models are being superseded so check for even cooler features for this year.

AVSforum.com, if you haven't already been there, is a great resource for A/V equipment discussion.

cwaddell2002
Apr 26, 2010, 09:27 AM
Try the Denon 1610. It should do everything you need and more. Great deals can be found at electronicsexpo.com I am not a denon or electronics expo employee, just a very satisifed customer with this receiver. For more info on it, head over to the avsforum.com

Good Luck

srexy
Apr 26, 2010, 09:29 AM
So, I'm moving into a new apartment in the next few weeks. Won't have roommates anymore, so I'm about to do a small home theater setup. (My TV always stayed in my bedroom since I didn't really trust my roommates)
I have a Mac mini which I keep hooked up over VGA + 1/8" Stereo (For Plex/Hulu/Netflix), PS3 (HDMI), 360 (HDMI), and I don't have cable (I rarely watch TV), but i'd like to have room for it in the future if I actually decide to get it, so probably another HDMI or component input.
I'm probably going to have to run the VGA directly to the TV and past the receiver, unless I can figure out a better way. So a receiver without VGA would be alright.
Those are my requirements, a couple of HDMI ins and 1 HDMI out. Not that much of a problem. I want to find a receiver/amplifier that doesn't suck now. I'm pretty clueless here. I've been heavily debating a Sony HTCT100 since I'm moving into an apartment and don't really need anything major, but if I could find something with wireless rear speakers, then I'd go for it.
I don't need a Blu-Ray Player (Have a PS3), and I don't need one that upscales DVDs (Mac mini). I just want to find something that takes a couple of inputs, and gives me an output that sounds awesome. Honestly, I'd be willing just to get an optical receiver and run everything through my TV, optical out into an amplifier.
Give me some suggestions, post your home theater setup, whatever. I need some input.

Edit:
I'm also looking for some sort of a media console to keep all of my av equipment in. Any suggestions there would be awesome.

With the size of your room and (I'm assuming) the fact that it's a rental - the Sony HTC-100 will keep things nice and simple. The reviews for it are solid and the fact that you won't have to worry about running wires will save on patching when you have to move eventually.

As far as the overscan/underscan issues you've been experiencing with DVI output; unless you're using your TV as a Monitor - I'd strongly suggest you check out Plex which, when running, can compensate for any of the overscan issues and is a killer app anyway.

tangje
Apr 26, 2010, 09:49 AM
I would definitely go the soundbar route. You might want to look at Sony's HT-CT500 which has more power and better center channel volume (an issue with dialogue on the HT-CT100). Also, Sony is releasing a new 150 and 350 line of soundbars in the next two months. I'm pretty sure the 500 is being discountinued, probably the 100 as well.

Anyway, a unit like this has enough inputs (HDMI) for your needs. I still don't quite understand why you would choose to go VGA over DVI/HDMI on the mini.

Finally, when you run your cables in the wall run a few pull cords for any future additions. My suggestion is to run them behind the baseboards. There should be room between the floor and drywall to tuck the cables in. Alternatively, you could explore a rail system. Not as discrete but neater than stapling to the baseboard.

carlgo
Apr 26, 2010, 10:17 AM
I would look at the Onkyo. I like the 607. They have just released the 608 so you could probably find some good deals on the older model.

BTW run your HDMI equipment through the AV receiver and not directly to the TV. It is not just for video upscaling as some claim. It is also for audio decoding, if you are using the latest audio coding as well as being able to control all your components with one remote and having the receiver turn on all of the necessary components at the right settings. As well as a lot of other things that are too many to mention.

A good receiver is essential in a serious home theatre.

Good advice. 5.1 is enough, HDMI is strongly suggested and run through the receiver, a universal remote is so nice...

A receiver with the set-up microphone system really helps a lot!

Onkyo is a good, solid choice. Good quality to price ratio. My Sony died and I was surprised at how much better the Onkyo was. Wasn't expecting much of a difference. Part of it probably was the microphone set-up.

Apocrathia
Apr 26, 2010, 11:52 AM
With the size of your room and (I'm assuming) the fact that it's a rental - the Sony HTC-100 will keep things nice and simple. The reviews for it are solid and the fact that you won't have to worry about running wires will save on patching when you have to move eventually.

As far as the overscan/underscan issues you've been experiencing with DVI output; unless you're using your TV as a Monitor - I'd strongly suggest you check out Plex which, when running, can compensate for any of the overscan issues and is a killer app anyway.

I already use Plex religiously, no need to preach to the choir.

I'm using Mini-DVI -> VGA just because it seemed to be the easiest route. I honestly didn't see a huge quality difference with HDMI. I have a Mini-DVI -> DVI then DVI -> HDMI adapter that I tried using (Since displayport is kinda glitchy). I just did not like how it stretched everything, or mucked with the color. VGA comes across completely neutral, and it just works for what I need. I do have a slight interference problem because of the analog signal.
My TV is a Sony KDL-46XBR4, if that helps at all. It really seemed like using HDMI was a pain in the ass compared to VGA. If I'm doing something wrong here, let me know, I'll order the extra cables from Monoprice next week when I place my order.

Also, if I go with a true surround system. Can I run it in quadraphonic when a 5.1 signal isn't available. That's the main thing that pisses me off about surround sound systems, is when you pay all this money for surround speakers, and then the rears only work occasionally then the signal is appropriate. That's why running it all the time seems useless, because if the rear speakers don't work, then there's just no point. Maybe it's just me ranting.

cwaddell2002
Apr 26, 2010, 02:07 PM
I already use Plex religiously, no need to preach to the choir.

Also, if I go with a true surround system. Can I run it in quadraphonic when a 5.1 signal isn't available. That's the main thing that pisses me off about surround sound systems, is when you pay all this money for surround speakers, and then the rears only work occasionally then the signal is appropriate. That's why running it all the time seems useless, because if the rear speakers don't work, then there's just no point. Maybe it's just me ranting.

It depends on the receiver. Most offer additional surround modes to enhance 2 channel sources, NEO6 Music or Dolby PLII Music Come to mind...although those use the center channel, so it isn't really quadraphonic sound (and who still has a working 8 track player with quadraphonic sound?)

I will say that I listen to music in stereo (without the surrounds) more than I do with them. I have the surround speakers for content that was intended to surround me. For music, it doesn't make sense for me to let the receiver remix what a recording engineer did a good job with the first time. But it also doesn't bother me that I don't use the surround speakers as much as I do my mains. The surrounds are there when I need them, and do their job quite well.

Generally speaking if you look at the cost of a full home theater setup (and I am not talking about Home Theater in a Box - as they are generally a waste in terms of sound quality) The cost of the surround speakers is pretty minimal compared to mains, subs, center channel, cables, receiver, display...

If you aren't ready to buy surround speakers and run wire for them, why not try a 3.1 setup. Get L, center, and R speakers and a sub. A good receiver, like the denon 1610, or the onkyo mentioned above, will determine which speakers you have and calibrate them appropriately with the included microphone. Any surround content will be mixed into the front speakers.

9 times out of 10 this setup will sound far superior to a sound bar...

I spend a lot of time here lurking on the MR forums, but really, to learn about HT setups, go to avsforum.com They have a number of extremely knowledgeable folk there that can offer some specific equipment recommendations. The Mac HTPC section also has a wealth of info on getting mac screen resolutions to play well with TVs.

Good Luck

KevinC867
Apr 27, 2010, 05:12 PM
My initial plan was to run everything into my TV, the have the TV return optical to a receiver...

Be aware that most TV's with an optical out only provide PCM stereo on that output. So, even if the TV receives a discrete 5.1 Dolby Digital input from HDMI, the best you will get from a receiver connected to the TV via optical is Dolby Pro-Logic simulated surround. That's a very big compromise for a home theater sound system.