Need help buying a home theater sound system - 200-300 dollar range


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Colin.B

So I don't know crap about home audio. Let me just get that out of the way. All I know is I want surround sound, I want it loud, and I want it to be clear as I can get it for the budget I have in mind which is about 200-300 dollars. I mean, I know the basics - I know that DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD sound nice and I know you can get wireless set ups. But outside of that I don't know much. I have a Sony PS3 hooked up through HDMI which is my primary movie watching unit, an X-BOX 360 connected through component cables and a 42" Vizio T.V hooked up to the cable box via HDMI. The t.v isn't all that high end but it works for what I need and has 2 HDMI ports. (I don't even know if the info I gave you is relevant.)

Anyways, I'm looking for a good surround sound set up in that price range that will hopefully offer up HDMI input and output and have most importnatly, good sound quality for blu ray watching and gaming. I understand now after some research it'll be nigh impossible to get something with Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD

I'm not sure if a home theater sound system is the way to go or if I should get a standalone receiver and speakers. I've always been under the impression that a system would be the cheaper route but I'm not sure how accurate that is.

I really do appreciate any help you're able to give. Thank you in advance.

Edited by DigitalManifestations
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ahhell

For the kind of features that you want, you would want a standalone receiver/speakers. Realistically you wont even get a decent amp for 2-300 let alone speakers.

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Colin.B

Well I am flexible in features. If to someone who isn't an audiophile there isn't much difference between Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD then I could live without those.

I was looking at one Dirty Lawrence went with and it seems pretty good, the HT-SS360 by Sony: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Sony+-+BRAVIA+...p;cp=1&lp=1 so something similar but maybe cheaper. I don't know, I might even be able to get that one...But that should help give a better idea of what I'm looking for.

Edit: After doing some searching around - Yeah finding DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD in a system for less than 300 is going to be damn hard.

Edited by DigitalManifestations
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Colin.B

Any thoughts?

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+Audioboxer

What's your budget at now?

Larry bought a system recently and managed to get it like $100+ cheaper on Amazon over BB. Just a thought.

With the PS3 it would be good if you get something that accepts PCM over HDMI, that way you can still get HD audio. I think such setups might just be out of reach of your budget, maybe if you still had a higher level at $300, you could get something around that.

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Colin.B
What's your budget at now?

Larry bought a system recently and managed to get it like $100+ cheaper on Amazon over BB. Just a thought.

With the PS3 it would be good if you get something that accepts PCM over HDMI, that way you can still get HD audio. I think such setups might just be out of reach of your budget, maybe if you still had a higher level at $300, you could get something around that.

I'm looking at somewhere around 219 to *maybe* 299.

I found a few on newegg:

Panasonic SC-PT670

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16882103412 $249.99

SONY DAV-HDX285

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16882105359 $229.99

LG LHT854

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16882005034 $219.99

I also came across this deal but I'm not sure what it would sound like compared to a 5.1 setup:

YAMAHA DVX-700 Premium 2.1

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16882115232 $279 - Regular 999

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+Audioboxer

^

All of those come with the integrated DVD players and what not, not really what you want. Ideally you just want a receiver on it's own, you'll have better bang for buck audio wise that way. The kits that come with DVD players are usually cheaper/don't have as much focus on higher end audio options.

This would be a good choice. Updated model of what I currently have, and it'll do HD audio from the PS3.

More details on the official site here.

edit: I think it's out of stock till the beginning of December, but definitely worth waiting on unless you can find it priced similarly elsewhere. In fact, bingo, Amazon do it even cheaper at $230.

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Colin.B

Thanks Audio!

So I've narrowed it down to three:

http://www.sony.co.uk/product/hcs-cinema-s...d-kit/ht--ss360 - The Sony SS360

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16882105359 - The HDX285

And....

Onkyo HT-S3200 - http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S3200-5-1-C...4248&sr=1-1

I've heard good things about all three but looking up reviews online has the Onkyo edging out the others. My only concern is I guess you can't use the HDMI cable for audio and you need to use an optical cable while using your HDMI cable for video? I don't know if that makes sense.

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jimbo11883

You'll probably get better sound out of the optical cable, but don't take my word for it. Also, I've had 2 Onkyo receivers in the past and they were always excellent, but, I don't know about their combo systems...

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+Audioboxer
You'll probably get better sound out of the optical cable, but don't take my word for it. Also, I've had 2 Onkyo receivers in the past and they were always excellent, but, I don't know about their combo systems...

:blink:

DigitalManifestations as I said to you over PM that Onkyo setup you're looking at won't do audio over HDMI, just video, therefore if you care about having everything streamlined with one cable and the ability to get HD audio from your PS3, the Sony system at $230 is a good buy and you have some cash left over for whatever you want.

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Colin.B

Man this is harder than I thought. I've heard so many conflicting things about these systems lol. That's why I keep coming back. I had one guy tell me...Well I'll just copy and paste it.

(Concerning optical instead of HDMI)

"That's true for about 80% of sound systems.

It's the same with mine, but it's not an issue seeing as Optical cables are much cleaner than HDMI anyway..

And yeah, you will get full dolby and DTS through the optical cable.

Sony system:

Speakers do the highs, high-mids

Subwoofer does lows, low mids

This isn't the way it's supposed to be. This will sound like s***, especially if you get a bigger, lower subwoofer.

Mids are people talking, .50 cal guns, creepy music..etc.

Onkyo:

Speakers do highs, high-mids, mids

Subwoofer does lows, low-low-mids

That IS the way it's supposed to be. Everything about this system SCREAMS quality. It will sound much, much better."

The same person also told me the Sony HDX285 is better than the SS360 but honestly, I don't know if I necessarily believe that as no reasons were given.

Please forgive me for being so damn helpless with this btw. I just don't want to make the wrong decision here. Basically I've heard now that HDMI will give better sound quality but the negative about the Sony systems is they lack some of that punch coming from the sub. I live in a townhome apartment though so it isn't like I'll be cranking the thing up.

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+Audioboxer

That guys talking out his arse therefore I wouldn't trust anything he says.

There's no difference between optical and HDMI other than HDMI has the bandwidth to do HD audio and it allows for better cable management as everything goes through one cable.

DTS through optical and HDMI will sound identical.

The SS360 is better than the HDX285 as it's a dedicated receiver, the HDX285 is also a DVD player combo. The SS360 can do audio/video over HDMI and also accept PCM, which means you can get HD audio from your PS3.

As for loudness and everything else I have the model before the SS360, it's "1000 watt", all you need to know is at full volume, it'll kill anything in the room and cause your neighbours to think there's an earthquake. It's loud.

Because you have a PS3 it's my recommendation for you for feature support, plus at $230 it's a steal, it sells for over ?300 here.

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Colin.B

Alright, it looks like it's the SS360. Thank you for all the help you guys have been. I'd be even more lost without it and thank you for your patience Audio ;).

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Joel
Subwoofer does lows, low-low-mids

That IS the way it's supposed to be. Everything about this system SCREAMS quality. It will sound much, much better."

Your sub's crossover should NOT really be set for anything more than 100Hz (80Hz is ideal). Mids start at 300Hz, or about an octave and a half above your sub. If you're buying a system that has mids in the sub, you may find your directionality completely screwed.

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  • 1 month later...
Master Shake

I'm also looking for something like this and I think I am going to get a Sony SS360. I saw on a site that they had a model with the L/R and surround speakers on nice looking stands but I can't find them anywhere in the US. I found them in Canada and they were like $700!!! I think $250 (it's not $230 on amazon anymore) is great for this system but jeez a few hundred more for built in stands is crazy.

Please let me know how this system works for you so I know whether to get it or not.

Also, there are some extra settings on the PS3 like a whiteness setting and some other setting for higher quality that only certain tv's support. Does the ss360 support everything that 1080p/bluray can do and does it have an on screen display?

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Waylander

i would get a onkyo htx-22hd if i wanted a one box system, onboard decoders, hdmi audio (infact all the features of hdmi 1.3) upgradable to 5.1, the fact that sony are advertising the ss360 using a pmpo rating tells me to stay away (i guess people who dont know any better love there make-believe 1000w sound system though)

as for your second question no the ss360 doesnt support all the features of bluray, audiobitstreaming, lipsync, deepcolor dont seem to be supported from the product page, it does support x.v color and 24p though. the onkyo unit i mentioned supports all of that plus a wider range of formats can be decoded by the unit itself (sony cant even decode DDEX/DTS-ES)

Edited by Waylander
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Joni_78

I'd save another 300 and buy a decent receiver and front speakers. You'll be dissapointed with those kits later.

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reck

I got the onkyo htx-22hd for christmas really good piece of kit would highly recommend it.

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Waylander
I'd save another 300 and buy a decent receiver and front speakers. You'll be dissapointed with those kits later.

i agree but the onkyo one looks a lot beter than some of the other all in ones and going for separates ends up costing atleast twice as much (cost me ?800-900 for a onkyo 577, q acoustics 1010i speakers/sub, cables, stands)

i would guess the difference in price is worth it on blurays such as akira 24/192khz and baraka 24/96khz, all in one systems probably come with speakers to poor to take advantage of higher resolution audio tracks

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Axel

I got this system for around ?300 about a year ago and I can't complain at all. The receiver is slimline and has 3 HDMI inputs and a couple optical inputs too.

Overall fantastic value for money and the sound quality is great. It does TruHD to boot.

http://www.sony.co.uk/product/hcs-cinema-s...d-kit/ht-sf1300

31QklXdrhBL._SL500_AA280_.jpg

Edit: Some Specs

5.1 channel surround sound system with 1000W total power output

BRAVIA Sync for simple, integrated control with other compatible products

Sony DIGITAL MEDIA PORT - connect to and release digital music stored on your WALKMAN? or other mp3 players, mobile phones, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices

Portable Audio Enhancer function boosts quality of compressed music such as mp3's

DCAC - one-push automatic sound set-up for flexible speaker placement and optimum sound quality

Stylish design integrates seamlessly with a BRAVIA TV and Sony disc players

Space saving slim centre speaker design

Multi Channel Linear PCM for true High Definition sound from Blu-ray disc players

x.v. Colour and 24p True Cinema technology adjusts picture settings to makes movies look as authentic as the original

3 HDMI™ inputs (1 out) with pass through of High Definition 1080p

A/V Sync for perfect sound and image synchronisation with flat panel TVs

32-bit S-Master digital amplifier delivers crystal clear CD quality sound for playback faithful to the original source

Digital Cinema Sound for a true "at the movies" experience

60 station preset FM / AM tuner (RDS)

Edited by Axel
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Master Shake
I got this system for around ?300 about a year ago and I can't complain at all. The receiver is slimline and has 3 HDMI inputs and a couple optical inputs too.

Overall fantastic value for money and the sound quality is great. It does TruHD to boot.

http://www.sony.co.uk/product/hcs-cinema-s...d-kit/ht-sf1300

31QklXdrhBL._SL500_AA280_.jpg

Edit: Some Specs

I can't find that anywhere in the US.

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Colin.B
i would get a onkyo htx-22hd if i wanted a one box system, onboard decoders, hdmi audio (infact all the features of hdmi 1.3) upgradable to 5.1, the fact that sony are advertising the ss360 using a pmpo rating tells me to stay away (i guess people who dont know any better love there make-believe 1000w sound system though)

as for your second question no the ss360 doesnt support all the features of bluray, audiobitstreaming, lipsync, deepcolor dont seem to be supported from the product page, it does support x.v color and 24p though. the onkyo unit i mentioned supports all of that plus a wider range of formats can be decoded by the unit itself (sony cant even decode DDEX/DTS-ES)

I did not know that and ended up getting the SS360. For someone who isn't an audiophile do you think I'd even notice a difference? I have to say I'm thoroughly impressed with the SS360. I may be one of those people who don't know any better and love their make believe 1000w system :p. Honestly though, it ended up being the cheapest one between the two and it was a Christmas present. I'm really happy with it and I'm no audiophile. When I own a home and can afford my own sound system you bet I'll get one with all the bells and whistles though lol.

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