Best "Home Theater in Box"?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by IJ Reilly, Dec 10, 2006.

  1. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #1
    I've started looking at "home theater in a box" systems. I'm having a difficult time sorting out the good from the bad from the mediocre. The stores don't seem to have any of these systems set up on working displays, so it's virtually impossible to test and compare quality (which is how I'd normally decide). My basic criteria:

    • I don't want to spend a lot of money (under $500, preferably)
    • I don't want a built-in DVD player
    • I need small speakers for wall-mounting (not freestanding)
    • I'd prefer a 5.1 system
    • Power output is not a major issue

    Any thoughts on theater-in-a-box systems you've owned, used or heard? Thanks!
     
  2. 4JNA macrumors 68000

    4JNA

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    #2
    Logitech Z-5500 is what i use and would recommend. i'm using optical out of the dvd player which leaves me coax and analog inputs for other devices. easy to setup and control, good sound, and more power than most homes can use. new is high $300's, but can be found refurbished for less than $200. HERE is a decent place to buy from, but they seem to have zero stock right now.
     
  3. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #3
    I'll look that one up, thanks. In my research, I discovered what might be an ideal system, SLS Audio Q-Line. Good price, supposedly excellent sound. Unfortunately, nobody actually seems to sell it!
     
  4. stillwater macrumors regular

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    #4
    I know you're looking for a HTIB, but I think you should consider a component system. There are many advantages to seperate components, not the least of which is the ability to upgrade incrementally, building a better system over time.

    The main reason I don't think HTIB systems are a a good value is that their speakers are almost always the weakest link in the HT chain. There lots of good speaker packages out there that blow away the ones that come in most HTIB sets.

    You can get lots of good advice over at http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/ .
     
  5. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    #5
    You absolutely cannot beat the Onkyo HT-S790 at present. The receiver has a ton of options, its well built and the speakers are quite nice (plus its 7.1). Plus its only $499 ($450 on sale).

    I have it and it really does a nice job of delivering. I haven't heard it distort anything and it sounds brilliant delivering whatever you are playing through it, be it stereo music from an iPod or CD player or Dolby Digital EX from a DVD. It'll even turn stereo into 7.1 using Dolby Pro Logic IIx processing which actually does a nice job. The sub is nice and low but really kicks in when needed for movies and music.

    Just read the reviews at Crutchfield

    "I honestly don't think you can beat the quality sound and features of this HTIB without jumping into the $1200.00, or higher, price range." - reviewer Jim

    "I never expected such high power, clarity, and standard features from a HTIB. Kudos to Onkyo!" - reviewer Pete

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Well, I hope this helps. I really do recommend this HTIB and certainly think its the best out there bar none. You will not be disappointed.
     
  6. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #6
    I've looked at the 5.1 version of the Onkyo. It was already near the top of my list, if I can't track down an SLS Q-Line. I assume the five-speaker version of the Onkyo is similar to the 7.1 version, but I haven't found any reviews. I was so hot on the SLS because of the speakers, which are supposed to be excellent for the price. Well, they might as well cost a million dollars now, as impossible as they are to find.

    As for component vs. HTIB, I'm splitting the difference by avoiding a system with a built-in DVD player (which automatically eliminates about half of them).
     
  7. GnarleyMarley macrumors 6502

    GnarleyMarley

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    #7
    Yes, I agree with QuarterSwede, Go with a nice Onkyo HTIB system.:cool:
     
  8. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    #8
    I would go for the 7.1 version because the speakers are of higher quality. The 5.1's are smaller and cheaper.

    ps. the only thing I would recommend is buying a better gauge speaker wire. Something like 18 and under instead of the 22 gauge they include. Forget the monster cable and go for some plane old lamp cord. Thats right, its the same exact thing only a heck of a lot cheaper. If the gauge is low enough you will have a nice clean signal even though its not monster cable. Speaker gauge vs length of cord is what really matters. The longer the cable run the lower the gauge you need to maintain a clean signal.
     
  9. Jschultz macrumors 6502a

    Jschultz

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    #9
    I really like the HTS790 over the 590. Sounds much better IMHO, and you get a semi-real receiver.

    Plus I've sold like 5 790's in the last months compared to 1 590.
     
  10. pknz macrumors 68020

    pknz

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  11. Jschultz macrumors 6502a

    Jschultz

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    #11
  12. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #12
    I bought an Oknyo HT-660 a few years ago from Circuit City, after extensive research (and a very similar budget) and must concur ... for the money, you won't find a better HTIB.
     
  13. tominated macrumors 68000

    tominated

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    #13
    you can get some good sony systems. beautiful sound
    even though it was about $AU300
     
  14. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #14
    I was trying to avoid 7.1 if only because the installation would be significantly more complicated -- the side speakers would have to go in a very awkward location. Either way this is going to require a lot of time in the attic and in the crawlspace under the house -- so I don't want to do it again for a long time!

    Onkyo really uses different speakers in the 5.1 system? This is verified?
     
  15. crees! macrumors 68000

    crees!

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    #15
    And it's iPod-Ready. \m/
     
  16. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #16
    So leave out the 6th and 7th channel. :)

    Most DTS and Dolby Digital signals are only good for 5.1, anyway. You won't really start to see 7.1 until you upgrade to Blu-Ray or HD-DVD.
     
  17. crees! macrumors 68000

    crees!

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    #17
    BTW, the CircuitCity online price is $409 after instant and mail-in rebates.
     
  18. Jschultz macrumors 6502a

    Jschultz

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    #18
    Well, you're looking at cabinet bookshelf center and front speakers in the 790,while you get much thinner curved 'bookshelfs' in the 590. Like said, just don't use the 2 rear centers, that's all.
     
  19. mrmarkus1215 macrumors newbie

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    #19
    The Onkyo looks really nice, but would it be too powerful for a bedroom or dorm room? If so then I'm probably going to go for a cheaper alternative like the Samsung HT-Q45...consumer reports rated it a best buy (but they also loved the Onkyo, rated it best sound and features). And what does the "HDTV Capable" (on the circuit city site linked in the previous posts for the Onkyo) mean?
     
  20. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #20
    Doh! I guess I haven't thought this through yet... :eek:
     
  21. esaleris macrumors 6502

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    #21
    I'm one of those folks that would recommend that you skip the HTIB and go with component systems. It is pricier, and you might have to wait on the rear channels, but the end result might be worth it. A reasonable combination for you, might be:

    Onkyo TX-SR504 $ 225
    Polk M10 (pair) $ 80
    Polk PSW-10 - $150
    100' Speaker Cable - $20

    At Circuit City, that adds up to $ 475 (before tax) and would give you everything but the rear and center channels. More importantly, the sound quality should be a ton better. It's up to you though. I personally went down this route, but didn't stop with the Polk, and ended up spending more than I ever imagined I would - so beware, for my fate might befall you!
     
  22. margotspop macrumors regular

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    Jan 12, 2004
    #22
    Check this site out

    http://fluance.com/

    Everything I've ever read about their speakers and especially their HTIB is very positive. And they're surprisingly cheap.

    EDIT: I've just realized this aren't true HTIB since they only sell speakers and not receivers. But still worth having a look.
     
  23. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    #23
    This is true, but from what I've found, a few DVD's I have say they are only Dolby Digital 5.1 but my receiver picks them up as Dolby Digital EX (6.1).
     
  24. ready2switch macrumors 6502

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    Apr 7, 2006
    #24
    I've been looking at this system also and have a few noob questions about installation. Basically what I would like to do is have the wires run through the walls/attic with a 7.1 banana plug wall jack (ala this.) When hooking the wires into the receiver, is it just bare speaker wire on the receiving end? How about on the speaker end? I know I'll have to put banana plugs on the ends going to the wall, I was just curious about the other hook ups. Thanks
     
  25. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #25
    Wow.. NICE! Thanks for the recommendation!
     

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