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Henry's Dad
04-28-2013, 21:56
We recently moved into a new place. The previous owner had the living room professionally wired for surround sound (wiring inside the walls).

So we have these vacancies with dangling wires where speakers used to hang on the wall. I'm not a tech junkie (don't watch much tv beyong the news), but I figure we may as well take advantage of the pre-wired set-up and get surround sound speakers.

So, lacking all knowledge of these systems, how is this done? My sense is I need a receiver which will take input from my tv and feed out to the speakers, yes?

Any recommendations on brands/systems? Number of speakers? In general, what do I need to know before I buy?

Thanks.

gjk5
04-28-2013, 22:50
We recently moved into a new place. The previous owner had the living room professionally wired for surround sound (wiring inside the walls).

So we have these vacancies with dangling wires where speakers used to hang on the wall. I'm not a tech junkie (don't watch much tv beyong the news), but I figure we may as well take advantage of the pre-wired set-up and get surround sound speakers.

So, lacking all knowledge of these systems, how is this done? My sense is I need a receiver which will take input from my tv and feed out to the speakers, yes?

Any recommendations on brands/systems? Number of speakers? In general, what do I need to know before I buy?

Thanks.

how many pre-wired holes and how much do you want to spend?

Rabid Rabbit
04-29-2013, 05:47
We had the same situation when we moved into our house. We weren't sure what we wanted so we went cheap and bought a $250 system at sams which worked out great of us. The DVD/receiver lasted 8 years and died the same time we discovered we ran out of inputs. After 10 minutes of using the TV speakers we decided to buy a new receiver. We upgraded the receiver to a $350 pioneer, kept the old speakers and will never go without a sound system again. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get much better sound for TV or DVD.

Viper16
04-29-2013, 06:45
We really need to know a budget before selecting amp/speakers.

I personally have two Denon receivers, and consider them one of the best for the average surround sound consumer. I also have Klipsch speakers, although I wanted Polk, but I got a outstanding deal on them.

Receivers nowadays handle the audio and the video signals. If you want those days where you do not want the surround on and just run the audio through the speakers, then you need a AMP that is capable of transmitting AV through the HDMI when in standby.

Roger1079
04-29-2013, 06:51
Mine consists of a set of 5 Infinity speakers and a 6.5" sub. Cant remember the series as they are about 10 years old but they still work great. If memory serves me right, they were about $400. The receiver is fairly new from Pioneer and was around $200. The sounds is great and these were all "budget" models.

jilverthor
04-29-2013, 07:30
The number of speaker drops and the amount of money will have a big role in the final selection, but I will recommend a brand: Onkyo. The sell both complete systems (i.e. receiver and speaker sets) or receivers alone and are a popular value brand. While I haven't bought a new one since about 2002, I have kept up with their stuff since I plan to upgrade our receiver soon. Other good brands for a receiver would be Harman Kardon or Denon. With any of those choices, some of the features will leave you thinking you should have done this years ago. One note is that most of the systems these days want an internet connection so they can connect to Pandora (or similar sites) and to play music that is stored on your computers.

GlocknSpiehl
04-29-2013, 16:42
Thing to remember is to put the $$ into the speakers, not so much the amp/receiver. Get the best speakers you can afford.

One caveat, don't make the mistake of listening to the Bang & Olufsen speakers 1st as you will cry when you listen to anything lesser...

Viper16
04-29-2013, 16:47
Thing to remember is to put the $$ into the speakers, not so much the amp/receiver. Get the best speakers you can afford.

One caveat, don't make the mistake of listening to the Bang & Olufsen speakers 1st as you will cry when you listen to anything lesser...

Another thing, once you get the speakers, they require some hours to break in...after that they will really shine. My Klipsch sounded a lot better and I notice I didn't have to have the sound up as loud.

nikerret
04-29-2013, 17:26
What is the room size?

Is it a closed room or open to other rooms/hallways?

What kind of floor is it on, type of walls?

Do you have any interest in movies, if so, what kind are you likely to watch and at what volume?

What is the layout of the furniture in the room?

Are you looking for automatic room correction or are you interested in tuning everything yourself?

Are you going to use the system to listen to music? If so, what do you typically listen to?

How important is using one remote (or an iPad), for all functions?

What is your max budget?


I have had a surround system (of some level) since I bought my first display, in high school.

Now, I have an Onkyo 608 receiver connected to JBL! Studio Series fronts and center with JBL! HLS series surrounds and rear surrounds. For LFE, I have an Outlaw EX and an Outlaw Plus. Media player is a Samsung 3D BD and a PS3 to a Samsung 7000D series plasma display. My system kicks ass and is far superior to most theaters. Last year, I went on a home theater tour and found mine sounded as good, or better, than many of the $10K systems.

The weak parts of my system are my small display and my limiting receiver. However, I'm on a lower budget.

Everything is connected to the AVR (receiver) and is simple enough to operate my 50+ year old mother and technically challenged girlfriend both were able to learn to operate it with two sit-down sessions.

.264 magnum
04-29-2013, 17:31
Thing to remember is to put the $$ into the speakers, not so much the amp/receiver. Get the best speakers you can afford.

One caveat, don't make the mistake of listening to the Bang & Olufsen speakers 1st as you will cry when you listen to anything lesser...

I can almost guarantee you I'm more into audio and than you. I think it's more or less the opposite. Although in-wall speakers compromise everything. I'd budget 70% electronics and wires - 30% speakers.

F14Scott
04-29-2013, 18:13
I've had very good luck, over the years, with Yamaha and especially Onkyo. My latest two AV receivers were Onkyo, and the older one, now eight years old, sounds and performs flawlessly (although it is an interesting mental exercise running audio cables independent from the HDMIs, which it doesn't have). The new one is a full-up computer that does everything you could ever want for under $400.

Amazon.com: Onkyo TX-NR616 7.2-Channel THX Select2 Plus Certified Network A/V Receiver(Black): Electronics@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41fGO-CXGjL.@@AMEPARAM@@41fGO-CXGjL

For speakers on the "user" end of the price spectrum, I like Cerwin Vega and Polk: plenty of punch and crisp highs.

Someday, I'll have a pair of Klipschorn corner horns. Listened to a pair once and felt like I was floating in space between them. Sober.

rednoved
04-29-2013, 18:36
I've enjoyed my current setup.

Sony Receiver STR-DN1030 - MSRP $499.99
Klipsch Quintet Speakers - MSRP $549.99
Klipsch Subwoofer SW-450 - MSRP $469.99

sputnik767
04-29-2013, 18:38
As far as receivers go, any one from a reputable brand is fine. Just to name a few, Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha. I personally run an Onkyo one.

If you want a decent package, look into one of those home theater in a box deals. You'll get a decent receiver with 5 OK speakers and probably a passive subwoofer. It will sound much better than your regular TV at the very least. Should cost less than $400 for the whole thing. But if you're going to want to upgrade (and you probably will), just buy what you want separately. I started out with an Onkyo home theater in a box, and the only thing I have left from the original package is the receiver. Running 2 Polk towers with a Polk center, as well as 2 Polk bookshelf speakers for the rears and an 8" Polk powered sub. I upgraded everything over the span of about a year, waiting for decent deals on the speakers.

Otherwise, any mid-range or better speaker from a reputable company is fine. Just don't get Bose.

sputnik767
04-29-2013, 18:41
Thing to remember is to put the $$ into the speakers, not so much the amp/receiver. Get the best speakers you can afford.

One caveat, don't make the mistake of listening to the Bang & Olufsen speakers 1st as you will cry when you listen to anything lesser...

While quality speakers are very important, a quality signal powering those speakers is even more important. I would not compromise the receiver for better speakers.

boomhower
04-29-2013, 18:48
I'm a huge fan of Denon receivers. Regardless of brand, I highly recommend getting a receiver with Audyssey MultEQ XT. Also don't skimp on the subwoofer. It makes a massive difference. You get the real feel of explosions and also takes the load off your main speakers. Spending the money on a decent sub is money well spent.

Gregg702
04-29-2013, 19:13
I have Bowers and Wilkins speakers and a Denon receiver. Everything cost about $2000 with installation. It can be much cheaper if you get less expensive speakers. You may also want to get a subwoofer, though those tend to be stand alone, not installed in the wall. On another note, it was very cheap of the previous owners to take the speakers. When I moved from my last place, I not only left the old speakers, but I left a couple extras I had in the closet.

Fanner50
04-29-2013, 19:15
Several have recommended Onkyo. My Onkyo just crapped out after only four years. Do a Google search on Onkyo and you will find that their quality has gone down the tubes in the last several years. I just last week replaced my Onkyo with a Yamaha. To say that I am pissed at Onkyo would be an understatement. If you are into Apple products a receiver that has built in Apple Air Play or a front USB input would be very useful. I used to be a Onkyo fanboy all the way, but I will never buy another one of their products again.

Red Stick
04-29-2013, 20:00
You should consider a 5.1 system at minimum. If your already wired for more speakers and the additional speakers work with your budget go for it.

HTIBs "home theater in a box" sound pretty good these days for not much money. Edit... they sound better than the TV speakers.

Unless your on a really tight budget I'd look at a good receiver and a nice set of speakers.

I've been very happy with my Pioneer Elite receiver and Definitive Technology speakers.

Henry's Dad
04-29-2013, 20:06
Wow, thanks for all the feedback. But now my head hurts. :supergrin:

The guy at Best Buy today was high on Yamaha receivers and Klipsch speaker systems.

I'll weigh that along with all the other feedback you all provided.

Many thanks!

JimmyRayBob
04-29-2013, 20:33
If you don't want to spend a fortune on speakers, the Energy take 5.1 are a great deal.

Amazon.com: Energy 5.1 Take Classic Home Theater System (Set of Six, Black): Electronics@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41XvXkQp00L.@@AMEPARAM@@41XvXkQp00L

jilverthor
04-29-2013, 20:42
The guy at Best Buy today was high on Yamaha receivers and Klipsch speaker systems.

I'll weigh that along with all the other feedback you all provided.

Many thanks!

Hearing you say that you are weighing that combination makes it easier to provide some advice.

First, if you are willing and able to spend that amount of money do not get something other than a dedicated receiver and speakers. It can still be a home theater in a box if you would like but one that includes the above components (rather than an integrated dvd/blu-ray player and receiver) and a powered sub-woofer.

Second, figure out a budget. You can spend tens of thousands of dollars or around five hundred and still have a system that will serve you well if you are coming from using tv speakers.

Third, figure out what are important features to you. Previously mentioned was air play if you are an apple person, other options are more obvious. Do you need something other than HDMI to connect to the tv? How many inputs are required? Do you want to be able to play audio and or video in a second location? How about a third? How many speakers does it need to support?

Fourth, get quality cabling from a place like monoprice.com do not buy the expensive monster cables that a place like Best Buy will try to sell you.

Finally, I will expand the list of receivers from the three brands I listed before to include some higher and lower on the price/quality spectrum. These are Yamaha, Sony (some models), Denon, Marantz, Onkyo (or Integra, the higher end brand from the same folks), Harman Kardon, Pioneer, and Polk Audio. There are several other smaller respectable brands but by sticking with one of these for a receiver you should expect to be reasonably happy.

One last caveat, listen to the device if you can. My taste in sound and comfort with the looks/menus of a device are entirely different than another persons.

scwine
04-29-2013, 20:50
Like others posted, put most of your money into the speakers( a good subwoofer can make the biggest difference.). I like the Orb Audio (http://www.orbaudio.com/) brand. I also like the Onkyo A/V receiver compared to the Yamaha I used to have.

sputnik767
04-29-2013, 20:58
Fourth, get quality cabling from a place like monoprice.com do not buy the expensive monster cables that a place like Best Buy will try to sell you.



Quoted for truth. If you are buying HDMI cables, you should not be paying more than about $7 to $10 for a 6 foot HDMI 1.3 or 1.4 cable. Any more than that and you are grossly overpaying. Monoprice, Newegg, Amazon (even the Amazon-brand cables) are great places to get cables. Physical stores are terrible places for cables, and they will push that Monster cable scam. I can't even count how many cables I've used over the years from the above-mentioned retailers, and I have never had a single problem. I prefer Amazon simply because I have Amazon Prime, so I get free 2-day shipping.

If you buy the home theater in a box, the speakers will come with very thin but color-coded wires. Separate speakers generally do not come with wires. In either case, spend the $10 for a 50 or 100 ft roll of 16-ga speaker wire from Lowe's and use that. Your speaker terminals will be the screw-down type and possibly also take banana plugs. Whatever method you choose is up to you.

Splanchnic
04-29-2013, 21:32
This whole topic could be very confusing. It's kind of like asking "what kind of gun should I buy?"

There are basically two common types of surround sound systems. A 5.1 and 7.1. A 5.1 system has five speakers and one sub woofer. There are two front speakers which are the traditional stereo speakers and a center channel speaker which is used mostly for movie dialogue the remaining two speakers are the rear surround sound speakers. This is probably what the room is already wired for. A 7.1 system has the two stereo speakers in the front, one center channel, two side speakers, and two rear speakers. The number after the decimal point refers to how many subwoofers there are. I do not think a 7.1 system is necessary for a solid home surround sound system.

There are two basic questions-

1)How much money do you want to spend?

2) How good is your ear?

If you are new to this, I would not invest a huge amount of money. You will quickly realize the law of diminishing returns.

A great system that can be found anywhere would be a decent Dennon AV receiver and some Klipsch speakers.

There are some other good suggestions on here as well (Orb, Energy, etc). I would start basic and upgrade if you want to.

CBennett
04-30-2013, 06:51
Wow, thanks for all the feedback. But now my head hurts. :supergrin:

The guy at Best Buy today was high on Yamaha receivers and Klipsch speaker systems.

I'll weigh that along with all the other feedback you all provided.

Many thanks!

Of course he was thats what they carry :) > Honestly though Klipsch for HT are NOT bad..Klipsch with their horn tweeters are what I describe as very "forward" speakers the horns make them treble intense...Which isnt a bad thing for HT which often tends towards more "action" and the dialogue is normally a bit better also. Not the best(again just MY opinion) for listening to music as they(again to me) can get a bit "shrill" with certain types of music....I would not have a problem running a set of nicer Klipsch for HT...Id think hard on them for mostly music though, Id skip Klipsch for the Sub altogether and look at something like SvS or HSU.

My OLD setup was Polk S4's hooked to a Carver AV receiver

My Current setup is a Onkyo Reciever from Accessories4less and Mirage speakers(omni series) with a Atlantic Technologies Subwoofer

Now that I got the new HT system in last month id like to move to a smaller Sub/Sat type system, maybe a Orb Audio or Galleleo or Norh or some such im not sure.

When I was in College I worked for a AV store(not a big box store a REAL AV store lol that did custom installs and sold McIntosh and Thiel speakers etc,etc..) hooking up and demoing systems.


This is where i get much of my stuff now:

http://www.accessories4less.com/

I really like this for a lower priced but good receiver
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/MARNR1402/MARANTZ-NR1402-Slimline-5.1ch-AV-Receiver-w/HDMI-3D-ready/1.html

Its only 5.1 but thats all I run and all I ever will run . And its not one of those super high wattage receivers..but mine does all I want it to in my smaller living room.

strack350
04-30-2013, 07:03
My wife an I run pardigm referance speakers with a monitor SUB. I use a Yamaha reciever/amp to power everything and it sounds GOOD.....

I'm sure you can spend alot more than we did "$2,500" and have a super nice setup, but for the price the paradigms are hard to beat. Go to an audio forum and lurk around to see what the better brands are, or the better "bargain" brands that are available out there.

Good luck:cool:

Viper16
04-30-2013, 07:24
My wife an I run pardigm referance speakers with a monitor SUB. :

I concur, Paradigm Reference speakers are amazing sounding. I know there has been talk about spend more on speakers and buy a cheap amp. I think that is bad advice. I would not buy a 7.1 amp for less than $400.00. The lower cost brands skimp out on upscaling quality, dedicated channel amps, pure watt power, and features that you will be glad you had.

strack350
04-30-2013, 08:19
they do sound great, however if your looking for a more budget system that still sounds good, look into the cinema series paradigm offers.

The shop I use sells these also, and they are OK

2@low8
04-30-2013, 08:27
I have had Klipsh speakers for a number of years. Powered by a Sony ES receiver. The Polk sub is powered by a Pioneer Elite amp. I still have an old Nakamichi cassette which performs flawlessly.

Now, 264 MAG, if I could afford it - Wilson Audio, Transparent Audio cabling, Levinson or McIntosh pre and power amps, and the mac-daddy Wilson Audio "Thors Hammer" subwoofer. Price tag without video - about $150G. Might add a Micro-Seiki turntable for the old vinyl.

sharpshooter
04-30-2013, 08:33
First, figure out your budget. If it's less than $750-ish then get a Home Theater In A Box. Otherwise you can spend as much as you desire on a fat system. It's pretty easy to spend $2500+ on a system, if you want. There are plenty of audio snobs (even here) who will tell you all kinds of stuff you have to do and drop big names/brands/prices.

I started out 10 years ago with a highly rated $350 HT in a Box. Worked great. The receiver went out last year so I bought the $350 Sony receiver at Costco on sale. Upgraded the wiring too. Then I upgraded the subwoofer. Next on my list will be a set of matched speakers and I'll probably spend $400-500. Total will be a little over $1k and that's about all I care to spend on it.

moeman
04-30-2013, 08:54
I can almost guarantee you I'm more into audio and than you. I think it's more or less the opposite. Although in-wall speakers compromise everything. I'd budget 70% electronics and wires - 30% speakers.

Why do you give advice that is contrary to virtually every expert?

I used to design/build speakers and have been in audio clubs where we got to hear the best and hang with people like Sigfried Linkwitz.

To OP : With w 5.1 system there are six speakers. If you like music more than movies the left and right channels are the most important. These speakers should be good enough to sound good on their own. Listen to one of your favorite tunes in stereo to cut to the chase.

if you like movies then the center channel is the most important. Speakers have voices so best not to mix brands if you are a newbie. The dialog on a movie is mostly from the center channel.

Entry level speakers that get universal acclaim are Energy Take 5 speakers only $400. The blow away "no highs, no lows, must be Bose".
Steeping up from there Definitve Technology's 600 system is solid; $800. I saw on other posts brands PSB And Paradigm-- agree that they are good.

The challenge besides $ is size. Small size sells due to SAF (spouse approval factor) but small size comes at a cost of sound-- most use full range drives and have the subwoofer doing too much to make up the lack of any true bass from the small drivers.

Agree with all the love in other posts for Onkyo great value in many price points.

nikerret
04-30-2013, 14:36
What is the room size?

Is it a closed room or open to other rooms/hallways?

What kind of floor is it on, type of walls?

Do you have any interest in movies, if so, what kind are you likely to watch and at what volume?

What is the layout of the furniture in the room?

Are you looking for automatic room correction or are you interested in tuning everything yourself?

Are you going to use the system to listen to music? If so, what do you typically listen to?

How important is using one remote (or an iPad), for all functions?

What is your max budget?


I have had a surround system (of some level) since I bought my first display, in high school.

Now, I have an Onkyo 608 receiver connected to JBL! Studio Series fronts and center with JBL! HLS series surrounds and rear surrounds. For LFE, I have an Outlaw EX and an Outlaw Plus. Media player is a Samsung 3D BD and a PS3 to a Samsung 7000D series plasma display. My system kicks ass and is far superior to most theaters. Last year, I went on a home theater tour and found mine sounded as good, or better, than many of the $10K systems.

The weak parts of my system are my small display and my limiting receiver. However, I'm on a lower budget.

Everything is connected to the AVR (receiver) and is simple enough to operate my 50+ year old mother and technically challenged girlfriend both were able to learn to operate it with two sit-down sessions.

Answer one, answer them all, or just keep getting shots in the dark.

I will repeat that buying good speakers is very important. They will likely outlast every other part of your system. However, go listen to as many different brands and models you can in various rooms. They often have a signature that will effect how you hear the sounds. Some people find certain brands/models harsh, too warm, too bright...

.264 magnum
04-30-2013, 16:44
Why do you give advice that is contrary to virtually every expert?

I used to design/build speakers and have been in audio clubs where we got to hear the best and hang with people like Sigfried Linkwitz.

To OP : With w 5.1 system there are six speakers. If you like music more than movies the left and right channels are the most important. These speakers should be good enough to sound good on their own. Listen to one of your favorite tunes in stereo to cut to the chase.

if you like movies then the center channel is the most important. Speakers have voices so best not to mix brands if you are a newbie. The dialog on a movie is mostly from the center channel.

Entry level speakers that get universal acclaim are Energy Take 5 speakers only $400. The blow away "no highs, no lows, must be Bose".
Steeping up from there Definitve Technology's 600 system is solid; $800. I saw on other posts brands PSB And Paradigm-- agree that they are good.

The challenge besides $ is size. Small size sells due to SAF (spouse approval factor) but small size comes at a cost of sound-- most use full range drives and have the subwoofer doing too much to make up the lack of any true bass from the small drivers.

Agree with all the love in other posts for Onkyo great value in many price points.

Who are all of these experts?

PEC-Memphis
04-30-2013, 17:20
Of course you could go with a dedicated AV processor with separate amplifiers.

Pretty hard to beat those Crown Class D amplifiers.

And I'm partial to JBL speakers.

I'm a bit different, much of my home system doubles as a PA as well.

moeman
04-30-2013, 23:12
Who are all of these experts?

Well when you read about a Linkwitz Reiely crossover topography hen you'll know who Linkwitz is...from my post above. Vance Dicason who designed many Atlantic Technolgy speakers are a couple experts that come to mind that schooled me.

It's simple, speakers don't need generational upgrading as much as electronic. Like buying high end camera lenses, the electronics side (camera body) has far more evolution over the years.

Quick google search will confirm this.

N4LP
04-30-2013, 23:21
Answer one, answer them all, or just keep getting shots in the dark.

I will repeat that buying good speakers is very important. They will likely outlast every other part of your system. However, go listen to as many different brands and models you can in various rooms. They often have a signature that will effect how you hear the sounds. Some people find certain brands/models harsh, too warm, too bright...

My speakers have last through 5 receivers, and from VCRs to Blu-ray. They're still going strong, and they still sound great... unfortunately the company that makes them ceased to exist in 2010. I guess they built them so well their customers rarely had to replace them.

Lowjiber
05-01-2013, 05:39
I really like the Yamaha receivers.

You asked about "input from the TV". Actually you'll want to run everything into the receiver and then send the HDMI directly to you TV. That way you can switch from Blue Ray, Cable TV, Apple TV, Wii, etc. with the video going to the TV and the sound coming from your speakers.

jilverthor
05-01-2013, 10:16
I really like the Yamaha receivers.

You asked about "input from the TV". Actually you'll want to run everything into the receiver and then send the HDMI directly to you TV. That way you can switch from Blue Ray, Cable TV, Apple TV, Wii, etc. with the video going to the TV and the sound coming from your speakers.

Somehow I missed the part int he OP asking about getting input from the tv. I believe what he is talking about is audio from broadcast tv that currently routes directly to the tv. if so, there are three options.

1) Use a digital tv tuner box to provide an input to the receiver that is then connected to the tv via HDMI (or other cabling if your tv doesn't have that interface).

2) if your tv has an HDMI output, that could be connected to the receiver which would then connect to the input on the tv. This works better than option 3 because you don't need to switch sources on the tv ever, only on the receiver. ETA: the more I think about this, the less certain I am that it will work. My guess is it would just have the video currently on the screen rather than the antenna input and thus be useless in your situation.

3) Use cabling to connect the audio from the tv to the receiver. This would likely be using RCA cables (the white and red connectors) and requires switching sources on both the tv and the receiver if you want to go from say watching a DVD to watching broadcast tv.