Audio Systems/Home Audio System


Hello. My husband and I will be upgrading our TV to a stinkin' huge one, and we want to get an awesome surround-sound system at the same time. I'm quite the researcher and can usually find my own answers to just about anything, but I'm definitely feeling overwhelmed at this one (there are just so many elements to research). We are pretty sure we want a 7.1 setup, and we obviously want a powerful AV receiver and great speakers. Our budget is definitely under $1,000 for everything. We've been looking at Onkyo quite a bit, like the HT-S5600 Receiver/Speaker package.

I just really need some advice from someone who knows what he's talking about. Websites point me to the most popular stuff, but those things still have their share of bad reviews. My husband is of course looking for power; he wants the opportunity to really blast it every now and then (not that often--we have little kids), so he has his mind set on 1,000 watts. I'm looking mainly for clarity with the speakers, and I want a great subwoofer for those movie explosions. This will be in our living room, which is about 22 feet long and 14 feet wide.

Like I said, I just really need a place to start. Thanks a lot for any help you can give me.

Sorry, but I do not make equipment recommendations due to so many subjective factors involved.  I do recommend, tho, to visit some of the online reviews of items you are thinking about.  Some of the reviews are very objective.  I also recommend you visit a shop or two that carry brands you are thinking about; audition if they have a sound room. At least speak with some of the sales staff and get their opinion.

Unfortunately, sound quality is very subjective.  You may be totally happy with one brand of speaker system and another not at all.   your neighbor may have a system that they really like but it doesn't sound good to you - and so on.

I also recommend you stay with well known brand names.  Onkyo is terrific stuff.  I am biased having been previously an executive with Denon I classify it a very good brand as well.

A subwoofer is always a struggle.  They are sensitive to room placement and room acoustics as well as floor/wall structural elements.  But, a really good subwoofer adds a sensational quality to a sound system.  

7 channels is okey if you are going to be using lots of program sources encoded with DTS vs Dolby Digital.  For Dolby Digital a 5.1 system is optimum.  However, the more speakers you have in the room the greater sound and energy you'll get - generally speaking.

Loudspeaker sensitivity is the key to knowing how much power you will need.  A 3db power difference represents a 2 to 1 change in power level.  A speaker with a sensitivity of 88db will need twice the power compared to a speaker with 91db sensitivity to get the same loudness in the room.

So, keep on studying til you are ready for the big decision.  Buy from a shop that will let you  bring it back or swap it if you don't like it after having in your home for a few days.  With the level of system you are talking the investment deserves some careful analysis and decision making.

Hope this has been helpful.  

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Audio Design Engineer; systems, loudspeakers, cd/dvd players, etc. I am knowledgeable in all high end audio equipment and installations. MAKE SURE YOU GIVE A MAKE AND MODEL NUMBER AND CAR IF IT IS AN AUTO QUESTION. Note: I am getting some who ask good questions that take a lot of time to research but then the questioner fails to read the answer. Please don't ask questions unless you are seriously looking for an answer. If you find an answer to your question otherwise then let me know with your reply. Thank you.


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