Please help me choose inexpensive audio for my home theater.
October 13, 2011 8:53 PM   Subscribe

Hi I have a Panasonic VT30 65" plasma and I'm excited about the release of a video game next week. I'd like to celebrate by cashing in some amazon gift cards and adding better sound. Challenges: *My bedroom is small, so this stuff has to be low profile. *I only want to spend a few hundred dollars. Let's say $300-800. I'll upgrade some future day. I think a standalone receiver is not a sensible option but I'll consider it. Maybe a soundbar with sub is the way to go? If a soundbar really can simulate surround, that's great. If I have to go multispeakers they will have to be low profile. Thanks for reading. People probably ask this all the time but my search results were pretty poor!
posted by DesmondDoomsday to Technology (8 answers total)
Had a similar problem a few years back - apartment's too small for a dedicated receiver, proper speakers etc.

I tried a compact Sony system with tiny surround speakers and one big sub/low midrange "box" type thing. It was fine, certainly within your pricerange, but I had to place the "box" quite a ways off to the side from the TV. Since midrange came through that box, all the audio sounded slightly shifted towards one side. I returned that.

I ended up with a $1300 Denon 2.1 system that I've been very happy with. Performs light receiver duties, sounds excellent, good form factor (a modest-sized main unit, two bookshelf speakers and a big sub). If you're looking for solid surround effects, though, it'll fall short.

TL;DR: there are good-sounding 2.1 systems around capable of modest receiver duties, but if you want good surround with your space constraints, consider headphones.

I think I saw an ad for a nice-looking Onkyo HTIB that might meet your needs, too. I'd google some actual models for you, but am on an iPod.
posted by TangoCharlie at 9:31 PM on October 13, 2011

What is your typical volume level? What game system are you using?

Do you have any home theater shops nearby where you can get a demo? That way you'll get an impression of what setups will work for you better.

I am not personally a fan of soundbars or small satellite speakers with < 8" subs since in most setups I've heard the midrange tends to bleed through the smaller size sub, but this Onkyo is probably what I'd do if you can work it into your space. If you can make a 65" plasma fit your small room, possibly some DIY ingenuity is needed. :P
posted by Giggilituffin at 5:35 AM on October 14, 2011

A decent set up components for 2.1 will sound way better than a soundbar. I know from ownership experience of two brands of soundbars.
posted by cp7 at 5:44 AM on October 14, 2011

posted by No Shmoobles at 8:33 AM on October 14, 2011

Surround Sound *HEADPHONES*

Tritton AX Pro Dolby Digital Precision Gaming Headset
posted by de void at 9:37 AM on October 14, 2011

I would happy to go with headphones but my wife wouldn't appreciate being ignored. ;)
posted by DesmondDoomsday at 1:04 PM on October 14, 2011

Hi giggilituffin I'm just assuming a home theater shop is going to be above what I want to spend right now and besides I have amazon gift cards so i'd prefer to go that route! Volume is nice, no real restrictions on that, but importantly, I want it to sound good at low volume, too. I tend to mostly listen at moderate volumes.
posted by DesmondDoomsday at 1:06 PM on October 14, 2011

Well, somehow I decided to splurge. I've got an SVS cylinder sub, 5 Axiom speakers, and an Onkyo nr-tx809. So much for frugality. :p
posted by DesmondDoomsday at 12:38 PM on November 13, 2011

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