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 Post subject: Home Cinema / Theater Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:19 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:10 am
Posts: 398
My girlfriend is looking for a new home cinema / theater system. Naturally a new TV cabinet has already been bought and the old one (a Sony all-in-one DVD receiver) is too deep and broken (DVD tray keeps opening). The cabinet was a bit too wide too, although she measured everything. :p So the PC case went from Antec P180 Mini to Fractal Design Core 1000.
My knowledge on home cinema / theater / hifi stuff is about 0.
She's got a new Philips TV, the PC already mentioned and a DSL TV STB. Available space is about 7dm x 13cm x 35cm, but the space (probably) has to be shared with the STB. She likes compact speakers but she doesn't really like the sub, ideally everything would be invisible (and wireless).
What's should I advice? Doesn't have to be that high-end and should at play DVDs. I was thinking 2.1 might be enough (less speakers), most stuff isn't 5.1 anyway.

What would you advice? Review sites? Brands to avoid? Actual models? There's unfortunately (damn woman!) no space for separate components, so an all-in-one seems unavoidable.


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 Post subject: Re: Home Cinema / Theater Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:59 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:12 am
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Location: ITALY
What's your (or her) budget, Olaf?

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 Post subject: Re: Home Cinema / Theater Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:00 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Posts: 514
Location: Ottawa
Unfortunately with all the limitations you have you are likely only going to get something "passable" sound wise. Small speakers with no sub are not going to be able to give you anything close to full range reproduction.

You can get OK integrated BluRay/DVD+Amplifiers but they usually have severe limitations on future expansion and external connectivity. You already have two external sound sources (PC + STB) that ideally should be hooked up to the soundsystem and not use the TV's speakers, but many all in ones don't have the connectivity for this. Also, most of the all in ones are 5.1 systems which you stated doesn't work for you. You could in theory just use the two front speakers, but it definitely would not sound right and the device might be expecting the other speakers to be present so you would outright lose some sounds. I have an LG all in one setup at my cottage and it works well for what it is, but even that has speakers that you would likely find much to big.

You can look at soundbars. They will be an improvement over your TV sound and are reasonably unobtrusive. You may again have issues with lack of connectivity and many come with a sub.

What I would suggest if you can get away with it is purchase a full AVR and a decent set of bookshelf style speakers. The AVR doesn't have to be high end, just have inputs for your HTPC and STB. Save some space by putting an optical drive in your HTPC instead of a separate BluRay/DVD. You can configure any proper AVR to know it only has two speakers so it will properly downmix multi-channel audio. Decent bookshelf speakers will give better sound than tiny satellites without a sub without taking up the space of full floorstanders.

Brands to avoid: Bose

What kind of outputs are you using on your HTPC and STB? HDMI, TosLink, analog etc?


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 Post subject: Re: Home Cinema / Theater Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:09 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
Posts: 2096
Location: Guatemala
If you she doesn't like big things, go with bose, i never recommend them unless the WAF factor, its small and for people that are not fanatics they are alright, on the overpriced side, but WAF factor is huge. They have soundbars for people not looking for 5.1 setup, that for the average user is fine, specially if you dont plan on playing 5.1 content. On 5.1 a not so expensive would be Acoustimass 6 speaker system, which has ultra tiny speakers and the sub isnt that big, but so will the sound.

Now if you can do separates, i would certainly consider even something like Energy Take 5.1 that its an inexpensive set that its pretty decent for what you pay, dont expect miracles, but hard to beat at that price range. If you go a little higher in budget, there are some pioneer speakers very good for the money, Pioneer SP-PK52FS Andrew Jones 5.0 Home Theater Speaker Package you can add the seperate sub later on, if the girlfriend allows.

You would need a separate receiver, most brands fit the bill, personally i prefer denon, but Pioneer and Yamaha have some very decent value receivers that are also very good for budget builds. For example Yamaha RX-V377 or Pioneer VSX-524-K.

Last advise, check high end HT forums, like
HTForums
AVSForum
Audioholics
You will probably get much better advise there from people thats their hobby or do it for a living.

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 Post subject: Re: Home Cinema / Theater Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:50 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:10 am
Posts: 398
Quote:
What's your (or her) budget, Olaf?

Don't know yet.

A sub is okay, 5.1 might be okay too, the current system is 5.1 as well.
Wouldn't ARC take care of returning the audio from the TV (PC & STB too) to the receiver?
What LG AIO do you have?

Quote:
What kind of outputs are you using on your HTPC and STB? HDMI, TosLink, analog etc?

We used HDMI for video and analog for audio from the PC, toslink might be available on the motherboard.

Abula wrote:
...

The Pioneer speakers look nice but there's no room on the floor.
Is 5.1 (still) recommended over 2.1? Personally I'd take quality over surround effects.

The height limit is about 135mm, most receivers appear to be higher, unfortunately.
I'll find the Sony model she currently has to provide a baseline.. I think a soundbar won't cut it.

I'll have a look at the forums you mentioned, thanks a lot.


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 Post subject: Re: Home Cinema / Theater Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:13 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Posts: 514
Location: Ottawa
Olaf van der Spek wrote:
A sub is okay, 5.1 might be okay too, the current system is 5.1 as well.
If a full 5.1 system is OK, then I would second the Energy Take 5.1 that Abula recommended paired with an AVR. It's not the best but very good sound for the money. For AVRs I've had good luck with Yamaha myself. If you can spend a little more, the RX-V477 has network control from your smartphone/web browser and audio streaming. It's a nice feature to have if it interests you. Being able to "fix" things on the receiver remotely is also high on the WAF.
Quote:
Wouldn't ARC take care of returning the audio from the TV (PC & STB too) to the receiver?
ARC is from the TV to the receiver, mostly for audio from over the air. Some TVs will use ARC for audio from other HDMI inputs, but many won't. Don't count on it. TVs are also spotty on supporting audio out over optical and analog for non over the air sources.
Quote:
What LG AIO do you have?
I don't remember the exact model and cannot check for a couple of months without some serious snow removal equipment. It is similar to the current LG BH6430P, just older. As I said it works, but its lack of inputs is quite limiting and we only have an HTPC, no STB there. I would only recommend it if your budget doesn't permit something better.
Quote:
We used HDMI for video and analog for audio from the PC, toslink might be available on the motherboard.
HDMI makes things simple if you have a modern AVR. Toslink works as well, but then you have separate video. Having to only switch one input is very high on the WAF.
Quote:
The height limit is about 135mm, most receivers appear to be higher, unfortunately.
If it's not out of your budget the Yamaha RX-S600 would fit the bill nicely. It is 111 mm high.


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 Post subject: Re: Home Cinema / Theater Advice
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:02 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:10 am
Posts: 398
Total budget is between 500 and 1000 euro. We live in the Netherlands.


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 Post subject: Re: Home Cinema / Theater Advice
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:45 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Posts: 514
Location: Ottawa
I don't know how applicable to you this is, but based on the Amazon UK prices the Energy Take 5.1 + Yamaha RX-S600 comes out to about 910 euro after conversion.


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