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Home Theater Equipment for $500

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The price in the Subject line is ballpark, but I can't go much higher. Here's the deal: My Sony surround-sound receiver, purchased in the early 1990s (!), is faltering. Speaker connections are going, as is the video connection. I may to be able to fix these with new speaker wire and a new video connector. Wouldn't that be nice and inexpensive? But I'm guessing that there's something wrong with the receiver itself, and that soon, I'll have to upgrade.

I don't have a lot of money to spend, or, to be more specific, don't want to spend a lot on a new receiver. But looking at the Sunday circulars in the newspaper, I discover that certain home-theater packages that include a receiver, speakers, and in some cases, even a DVD player (Blu-ray!), can be had for under $1,000. I'd like wireless rear speakers.

Does anyone have a recommendation on a decent receiver/speaker combo for a basement home theater that's really just a TV room? We have a 32-inch HDTV, recently inherited from my brother. It is NOT a flat-panel and sits in an entertainment center.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

i'd start by exploring your craigslist options. I pieced my system together that way and for a total of $300 obtained a system worth at least twice that amount.

I don't usually dig the home theater in a box systems, but if you go that route, you'll save a bundle buying refurbished online. tigerdirect is one good resource.

Edited by Holy Moly!

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Posted · Report post

Tigerdirect? Never heard of it. Thanks. I'll check it out.

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Posted · Report post

My good fortune was Circuit City going out of business when I wanted a new receiver and a Bluray. I got the TV from BHPhotovideo.com, they may have good prices to.

I think the craigslist suggestion is right on--maybe you have some folks nearby that are itching to get the newest, newest, and you can pick yourself up a nice Onkyo receiver for 1/3 the list.

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Posted · Report post

For example, this one is what I have (or very similar).

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Posted · Report post

Dude. Don't do that to me! I'm not quite ready to make a purchase. Have to negotiate with the wife, maybe buy those speaker wires first to confirm that the problem isn't just in the wires.

But thanks for demonstrating the kind of deals available on Craig's List. My wife lists things there regularly, and buys things off the list every once in a while.

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Posted · Report post

I would explore any and all alternatives to Craigslist's, given its well-known associations with human trafficking. And there are alternatives.

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Posted · Report post

Why ya gotta do me like dat, d.?

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Posted · Report post

Craiglist and human trafficking? Sounds like something I would want to learn more about AFTER I upgraded to a new receiver. /black humor.

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Posted · Report post

As long as you aren't in a hurry, scour Best Buy for open box/returned items from time to time. I got this receiver for $150. Then I went to Cambridge Soundworks website and picked up some decent main and surround speakers on clearance. And then I found a clearance Polk subwoofer somewhere, but I can't remember where. J&R maybe?. All told I came in just under $500. But my rear speakers are NOT wireless. That sounds sweet!

Hooked it up to my Mac Mini which I use as our TV receiver with an Elgato EyeTV set-up. Use an iLink digital cable from the computer to receiver to get surround sound.

I still can't bring myself to buy a BluRay player. I don't have a huge TV (26") so I figure most of the benefit would be lost to me. HD movies from iTunes is plenty.

But I will say if you have the choice to listen to Dobly or DTS, DTS audio has sounded better every time I've tried it.

Joe

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Posted · Report post

I hate to say it, joe, but I can see a big, big difference with Blu-Ray on my 27" flat panel (digital).

You are probably right. My typical viewing distance is about 8-10' and my TV is native 720p. I just can't imagine 1080i or p being that discernible with those parameters. But I could be wrong. I can't tell the difference between 720 and 1080 with TV signals. But maybe movies are different. And maybe it is the computer interface.

And maybe it is my cheap ass self regarding what I am willing to spend on a TV. I still can't bring myself to spend more than $250 on a TV. It's a TV for goodness sake! Although HD has made me a fan again. I was about to dump the TV altogether. I have dropped cable.

I wouldn't use an iMac for a TV. Not that it wouldn't be convenient. But I've noticed computer monitors, as sharp as they are from a typical desk working distance, start to wash out slightly at 8'. Still not too bad and work great in a pinch and no doubt which model you have makes a difference.

The biggest problem I had when I used a computer monitor LCD for my display, however, was viewing angle. When I sit on the floor to watch TV (and I do that a lot), there can be a severe adverse affect. I also noticed it with some cheaper LCD TVs, so I had to view the prospective new TV from all possible angles to make sure that didn't happen. Vertical viewing angle variations seem to have a lower tolerance.

Joe

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Posted · Report post

I'm probably the only person interested here, but being a low budget, DIY builder/modifier (I built my own tube guitar amp and I recently got the schematics for a McIntosh amp), deal scrounging, tech geek, I wanna know. What did you end up doing?

Joe

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Posted · Report post

Nothing yet. Replaced a speaker cord, which fixed one problem, but am having problems with a video connector, too. I just shake it a little until the problem goes away.

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I just shake it a little until the problem goes away.

There's a life lesson in there somewhere.

Joe

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