Home theater audio advice?
March 29, 2011 8:53 PM   Subscribe

Are there any flaws in my home theater audio plans? I own the LG 50PK550 TV which I love, but the internal speakers are predictably terrible. I'm starting from scratch with audio as I currently have no components. I was considering just a two speaker solution, but I've decided after spending the day browsing AVS that I'm likely going for a full 7.1 system. Price to performance ratio is extremely important to me though, I want something I'll be happy with and that will last, but I'm not willing to spend $100s more for minor gains. I don't have a strict budget but the cheaper the better (for a good product).

Aside from the TV I have my PC via HDMI, as well as a fat PS3, and an XBOX 360. The speakers I'm currently considering are the Jamo S 413 HCS 5.1 set (4 satellites, a center, and a subwoofer) and a pair of Jamo C401s. The Jamos are really well reviewed and I can pick up all of that for around $230.

I've read a lot of the audio Ask Metafilter threads and everyone points towards Onkyo receivers. The Onkyo that fits my needs appears to be the TXSR508 7.1 receiver. Overall people seem to be happy with it, but I'm slightly concerned by some of the online comments regarding HDMI issues, PS3 issues, and general reliability. This receiver would set me back $240.

Am I completely off base that these are good bets? Is there another receiver in the same price range I should be looking at? Any glaring errors I'm making that the more audio-savvy out there would regret? Thanks!
posted by haveanicesummer to Technology (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Jamo makes some great speakers, and yes Onkyo is the engine of choice for value-conscious new sound-enthusiasts. Those look like decent mains, as a start. That said, sub-sat systems will always sacrifice fidelity for size, just how important is the actual footprint of the surround speakers? Remember that as much as 80% - 90% of the audio information in a movie will be contained in the center channel. Therefore tonally matching the Left and Right mains to the center is critical for believability. Your proposed system ignores this. Better to get matching Fronts, and then sacrifice in the Surrounds, if hitting a budget is critical. Since we know that its not, I'd recommend that instead you pick a LCR main set-up, then add a single pair of surrounds, and run it at 5.1. I'd be quite surprised if you have a viewing set-up that can take advantage of the (very limited) 7.1 release capabilities, as this is really pretty rare,
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:24 PM on March 29, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, you make some great points. I really am not wedded to 7.1 at all, and only even started in with it because of the price. The 5.1 package "satellites" I'm looking at are actually 5.8" W x 9.3" H x 7.7" D which is almost as large as the c401s which are 5.7" W x 9.3" H x 8.3" D, I just can't find as much info on them online to vouch for the quality if I were using them as mains. Jamo refers to them as Bookshelves not satellites when sold individually. I don't need a small profile at all (though overall I would probably prefer to avoid any giant floorstanding speakers). Perhaps I should just go with the package (which should all be tonally matched as you suggested), switch to a 5.1 receiver and save the extra money for future upgrades.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:54 PM on March 29, 2011

Response by poster: Any thoughts on the Onkyo NR509 vs the Denon AVR-591?
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:33 PM on March 29, 2011

Best answer: Perhaps I should just go with the package (which should all be tonally matched as you suggested), switch to a 5.1 receiver and save the extra money for future upgrades.

Makes perfect sense to me. Gets you going, and allows to to save up for some hi-fi speakers for serious listening down the road, should you feel the need.

Onkyo and Denon are directly comparable high-current products. Onkyo used to make a lot of the Denon chips and other parts, not sure if this is still true. I haven't paid attention to consumer gear for about 5 years, since I went into the commercial side, so am not really qualified to answer about performance differences between those two. Either likely would be an excellent choice. You could also consider blowing off the USB and RJ45 inputs and getting one the 508 you started with here for $202.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:01 PM on March 30, 2011

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