Surround sound, without breaking the bank?
January 2, 2006 10:06 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for a decent surround sound + DVD setup between $250-350?

The following features would be useful:

• comes with decent speaker set (three speakers okay, if I can reuse current two bookshelf speakers)
• has line-in to plug in computer audio
• DVD player plays PAL and NTSC

I realize I might be asking a lot. Suggestions which go slightly over the budget are welcome, or recommendations about better options.
posted by Rothko to Shopping (5 answers total)
The best option is to buy components that will fit in a slowly expanding system and scrounge together everything else until you can build it up properly.

The reason this is best: it is almost as inexpensive as the cheapest home theatre in a box systems, you will learn a lot about what makes a good audio system, you will end up with something impressive in the long term.

I will come back and add some depth to this suggestion later, if it is interesting to you. For now, I'm basically suggesting spending your budget on a reciever, hooking any speakers you can find to it, and getting a TV-out for your existing computer with DVD drive (otherwise you will have to buy a DVD player too)...
posted by Chuckles at 7:34 AM on January 3, 2006

Best answer: It may take you some time to find the right deal, but if you keep checking sites like and, you can occasionally find Onkyo's HTS-670 or HTS-770 for as little as $350, and sometimes with a free DVD player.

Honestly, either of these systems (I have the 670) is worth $350 without the DVD player. They sound spectacular, have more inputs and outputs than you can shake a stick at, and look attractive, too.

current prices on froogle are actually pretty good as is, but they don't come with a DVD player I don't think.
posted by twiggy at 7:46 AM on January 3, 2006

Sorry, I somehow skipped over "DVD player plays PAL and NTSC"

I could be wrong on this one, but I don't think any "stock" DVD players play both PAL and NTSC. Furthermore, even if any could after you modify them, your TV would still have to be able to display both PAL and NTSC -- can it?

I'd skip waiting for the free DVD player deal and just buy the system, and buy a DVD player separately.

All the system is, by the way, is a receiver and a bunch of speakers. Add a DVD player and your home theater is mostly complete, since they play CDs and such these days. All I could really conceive of adding is a turntable or tape deck if you have that stuff lying around.
posted by twiggy at 8:01 AM on January 3, 2006

twiggy: I could be wrong on this one, but I don't think any "stock" DVD players play both PAL and NTSC.

There are players out there that will automagically convert PAL to NTSC for playback. My JVC XV-S200BK player will play PAL VCDs and SVCDs, but not DVDs. has an extensive database of DVD players and their supported features.

Up here in Canada I've seen many 'home theatre' DVD players with integrated DVD player and including 5.1 speakers for under $300 CAD. Most of them have line-ins, and some of the ones around $400 have wireless rear left/right speakers too. The only thing preventing me from buying one is that none of them have surround inputs, so I can't get surround sound from my GameCube or XBox.

My advice is find what's available in your area in your price range, then check to see if anyone's reported the player as PAL compatible
posted by chuma at 9:23 AM on January 3, 2006

Best answer: I could be wrong on this one, but I don't think any "stock" DVD players play both PAL and NTSC.

The ever-lovin' Philips 642 will (after pushing some buttons in the remote) play any region and do PAL/NTSC conversion. It plays everything.

I vote with Chuckles, except that adding a cheap dvd player (like the Philips) doesn't add much cost.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:04 AM on January 3, 2006

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