Sound system help!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Roukan, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. Roukan macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2008
    Well I know absolutely nothing about surround sound systems, so any advice/comments on the systems below would be appreciated.

    What Im looking for:
    Something that will play music through my notebook, ipod, television (I have a standard non-hidef tv), and perhaps a gaming console (for racing) fairly loud with clarity.

    I've found these three systems, however Im not sure what to look for in determining which would be better.

    Or if you know of a better system feel free to post it.
  2. mgridgaway macrumors 6502


    Feb 25, 2006
    I recommend looking into the Philips home theater in a box series. I bought the hts3544 back in November, and it seems like they're selling a new version now (HTS3565D/37, at walmart if you're wondering, though I bought mine at target for what it's worth).

    For the price - $200 - the sound is quite impressive and does everything I need it to and more (divx support and ipod dock are two nice features I didn't even realize until I opened it up). The only downside was the lack of optical input-- coaxial and 2 RCA inputs were available in my model, but I actually prefer the RCA anyway. Also, I've heard complaints about the proprietary speaker wires, but I've had no problems.

    At any rate, if you're looking for something on the cheap I definitely recommend it.
  3. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008
    My advice: Avoid home theater in a box systems. Once you get one, you will catch the home theater/good audio bug, and immediately want to trash the HTIB, becuase they just sound awful. The speakers are too small and poorly built to sound good, and the subwoofer is frequently crosssed over FAR too high in order to deal with the tiny, wife-friendly mains. This causes bits of things like male vocals and some sound effects to be noticeably coming from the sub. (The sub is not supposed to be noticeable. Ideally, it sounds as though your regular speakers are playing by themselves and have physics-defyingly good bass). These systems often lack amp power as well, leading to distorted sound and poor dynamics.

    This all is a tradition blose...err...Bose has set for the industry, unfortunately.

    Honestly, you're better off with good 2 channel sound than awful 5.1 sound. Get a good receiver and a pair decent bookshelf speakers ($400-$500 or so), and add the sub, surrounds, and center* as you go. Even if you get less than stellar speakers, they will easily beat the speakers in HTIBs, since they were designed to perform as best they can for a low price, rather than simply be as small as possible the way HTIB speakers are.

    *preferably in that order
  4. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Skip the home theatre stuff if you want to listen to music through it. Buy a good quality amp and some stereo speakers and go that route, home theatre systems maybe good for films but they are rubbish for music in comparison to a good quality amp.

    Personally I'm prepared to sacrifice film audio quality to get the absolute best music experience I can afford.
  5. mgridgaway macrumors 6502


    Feb 25, 2006
    I still stand by my original statement, but I also agree with his. The iPod dock on mine is nice but music sounds much better coming out my Logitech Z4 2.1 speakers attached to my iMac. Still, as far as TV/movie/gaming is concerned, it was the best $200 I've ever spent on an audio system. I mean, obviously it won't be as good as a much more expensive set up, but I'm willing to sacrifice nominal performance gains (for me anyway, I stick by the tried-and-true method of "if it sounds good, it's good," and I'm quite picky) and a lack of customization for hardware that's crazy stupid cheap and still sounds great (1000W maximum output, by the way).

    Besides, the money I save can go toward other gadgets I don't really need :)
  6. Roukan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2008
    Ill take a look at the Phillips one you suggested buddyguyman, and for the build it yourself system I was considering that, but I still dont know how it works, so here are a few more questions:

    Could any of you recommend good speakers and a receiver?

    Can you add to a 2 speaker channel to eventually get 5.1?

    Would I need an amp?

    Im looking at spending around 300-460$ and would prefer to atleast get two speakers and (im guessing) a receiver.
  7. haze macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2007
    I was wondering how Audio Engines would do in a 5.1 home theater setup. A5s for front, A2s for rear/center, and would you even need a sub right away? Maybe not, just a thought.
  8. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008

    Onkyo, Yamaha, Harman/Kardon, and Pioneer all have some good choices for $200-$300. Denon and Marantz make some good AVRs too, but their stuff is limited/crappy in the lowest price tiers

    Yes, you can. 5.1 receivers allow you to disable the speakers you aren't using.

    No, you do not need an amp. It's built into the receiver.

    Good speakers are kinda subjective, but here is a thread I recommend reading through for more help in your situation:
  9. mac.for.all macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2008
    optical vs RCA output from Mini

    I have a mini that I want to use in a stereo set up, in 2 speaker mode. We built the Usher 701 speakers from Parts Express. Next is either 1. an optical out to a receiver, or 2. RCA out to an amp/preamp set up. I tried to hook up the mini to a new tube amp last spring but the signal on the RCA out was ridiculously low --- power knob had to be nearly at 80% to power good speakers. Tube amps don't have optical-in at a price range I can afford.

    For the best audiophile type sound, what do you guys recommend ?

    Thanks in advance.


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