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nacthenud

Consumer Technology Need help with home theater upgrade plan

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While I follow TV tech pretty closely, I have always neglected the sound part of my setup and not really put much time and care into my home theatre audio setup. Not having much experience in this area, I'm hoping those in the know can tell me if there are any fatal flaws in my plans here.  Thanks in advance.

 

Years ago, I purchased a cheap clearance HTIB (Sony STR-K790) and have continued using that to this day - connected via optical.  It doesn't even have a single HDMI port on it - in or out.

 

Now as I'm enjoying 4K UHD Blu-ray movies on my Panasonic DMP-UB900 and LG 65B7 OLED, I'm wishing I could enjoy the Dolby Atmos and DTS-X immersive sound experience.

 

I don't have a huge budget to play with.  The wife has given her blessing on $1,200 (Canadian, not US) for Christmas this year.  I've started looking at various soundbar solutions, but I do not have an ideal space for bouncing sounds off walls and ceiling.  The rec room where everything is situated has lots of other stuff in it.  Coat racks, piano, uneven ceiling a curved wet bar, etc.  My thought then, is that a proper 5.2.4 system will be far more effective in this sort of environment.

 

Getting such a system within my budget seems to be not very feasible, so my new plan is to play the long game and build the system up in steps.  

 

Firstly, I feel like the place to start is with a new receiver with the ability to drive all of those speakers, decode the Atmos and DTS-X signals and connect to my gear via HDMI, including ARC.  My plan is to get the receiver and connect it to my existing speakers and then for future birthdays and Christmases I can add on additional speakers for the height channels and then eventually upgrade the original speakers.

 

To that end, I've found a Black Friday deal on an Onkyo TX-NR787 receiver, which usually retails in Canada for $1,000 - $1,200 on sale for $700.  This receiver seems to be generally well-reviewed for it's price range and has everything I will need to eventually have a serviceable 5.2.4 setup.

The only snag I can see with it is that I don't believe it will work with the subwoofer that I already have with the STR-K790, since it is passively powered, using the same speaker wire connection as the other speakers and it looks to me like the Onkyo TX-NR787 will require me to have a powered sub.

 

So my thought on the sub is to get a POLK HTS 12, which also seems to be well-reviewed for its price range and is also on a Black Friday sale for $450 (down from the normal $650 CDN).

 

I'm thinking this should keep me under the $1,200 budget and give me a working 5.1 setup with the ability to expand into Dolby Atmos and DTS-X in the next couple of years.

 

Am I missing anything crucial?  Is this going to work?  Am I going about it all wrong?

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Without looking too far into those specific products:

 

Onkyo is generally good stuff. I imagine that specific receiver will be excellent, but I do wonder if it might be too much. I recently bought a Denon AVRS930H for $300 US and I find that it's plenty of receiver for my needs. I don't have an Atmos setup yet, but it supports one. It'll handle 4K HDR input switching and ARC and has sufficient power for my needs. I have no doubt the Onkyo will do everything you need, but I'd consider spending a bit less and put more of it towards speakers.

 

I've also always had good experiences with Polk, so I think that's probably a good choice of sub.

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5 minutes ago, TwinIon said:

Without looking too far into those specific products:

 

Onkyo is generally good stuff. I imagine that specific receiver will be excellent, but I do wonder if it might be too much. I recently bought a Denon AVRS930H for $300 US and I find that it's plenty of receiver for my needs. I don't have an Atmos setup yet, but it supports one. It'll handle 4K HDR input switching and ARC and has sufficient power for my needs. I have no doubt the Onkyo will do everything you need, but I'd consider spending a bit less and put more of it towards speakers.

 

I've also always had good experiences with Polk, so I think that's probably a good choice of sub.

Agreed, go with a cheaper receiver and get a full set up. 

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30 minutes ago, TwinIon said:

Without looking too far into those specific products:

 

Onkyo is generally good stuff. I imagine that specific receiver will be excellent, but I do wonder if it might be too much. I recently bought a Denon AVRS930H for $300 US and I find that it's plenty of receiver for my needs. I don't have an Atmos setup yet, but it supports one. It'll handle 4K HDR input switching and ARC and has sufficient power for my needs. I have no doubt the Onkyo will do everything you need, but I'd consider spending a bit less and put more of it towards speakers.

 

I've also always had good experiences with Polk, so I think that's probably a good choice of sub.

 

I appreciate those comments.  I did look at some cheaper receivers.  The problem with that Denon receiver is that it only does 7.2, while the Onkyo I'm looking at is 9.2. As a result, the Denon could never do the 5.2.4 setup I'm shooting to eventually have.  It would top out at 5.2.2, which I understand can't create the same pinpoint 3D sound placement that a 5.2.4 can achieve.  

 

Also, the cheapest I've seen that one in Canada is $515 on sale from the normal $800, so it's only $185 cheaper than the Onkyo, which doesn't buy me a lot of speaker.

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Wait for hdmi 2.1 receivers which will be releasing in a few months. Otherwise, when you eventually get an HDMI 2.1 TV, you’ll need to plug directly into your TV to use things like adaptive refresh rate.

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14 hours ago, Spork3245 said:

Wait for hdmi 2.1 receivers which will be releasing in a few months. Otherwise, when you eventually get an HDMI 2.1 TV, you’ll need to plug directly into your TV to use things like adaptive refresh rate.

 

That's a good thought and it gives me pause.  However, I would generally plug consoles directly into my TV anyway to avoid any added input lag.  I would then pass the audio through to the receiver via ARC.  

 

Waiting to get a 9.2 receiver with HDMI 2.1 sounds like it would be a big step up in cost.

 

I don't expect to be replacing my TV for another 7-10 years.

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22 hours ago, nacthenud said:

 

I appreciate those comments.  I did look at some cheaper receivers.  The problem with that Denon receiver is that it only does 7.2, while the Onkyo I'm looking at is 9.2. As a result, the Denon could never do the 5.2.4 setup I'm shooting to eventually have.  It would top out at 5.2.2, which I understand can't create the same pinpoint 3D sound placement that a 5.2.4 can achieve.  

 

Also, the cheapest I've seen that one in Canada is $515 on sale from the normal $800, so it's only $185 cheaper than the Onkyo, which doesn't buy me a lot of speaker.

Sounds like you've got it pretty well worked out. 

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16 minutes ago, TwinIon said:

Sounds like you've got it pretty well worked out. 

 

My biggest concern is that there's some obvious error with my plan I'm just not aware of.  Like, for instance, I'm going to get the new receiver and they won't work with the old HTIB speakers because of something I should know and don't.

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1 minute ago, nacthenud said:

My biggest concern is that there's some obvious error with my plan I'm just not aware of.  Like, for instance, I'm going to get the new receiver and they won't work with the old HTIB speakers because of something I should know and don't.

Other than the sub, which you're already aware of, those speakers will work just fine.

 

Something small that you also might want to throw into your cart if you haven't already are some banana plugs. They ensure a good connection and make the process much easier to deal with. You'll be very thankful you got some whenever you have to get back to your receiver for whatever reason.

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50 minutes ago, nacthenud said:

 

My biggest concern is that there's some obvious error with my plan I'm just not aware of.  Like, for instance, I'm going to get the new receiver and they won't work with the old HTIB speakers because of something I should know and don't.

I did some Google fu and from what I can see your old speakers are 8ohms and your new receiver is also 8ohms so impedance wise you should be ok. Your new receiver is also rated at 100 watts per channel which is the same or pretty close to your old one. Your new receiver likely has a higher peak output , just experiment slowly with volume and you should be fine. I would recommend your next purchase after this to be a matching set of speakers, don’t mix and match.

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1 hour ago, TwinIon said:

Other than the sub, which you're already aware of, those speakers will work just fine.

 

Something small that you also might want to throw into your cart if you haven't already are some banana plugs. They ensure a good connection and make the process much easier to deal with. You'll be very thankful you got some whenever you have to get back to your receiver for whatever reason.

 

Thanks, I just ordered those on your suggestion (though they're $15 Canadian from Amazon.ca - lame).

 

57 minutes ago, SimpleG said:

I did some Google fu and from what I can see your old speakers are 8ohms and your new receiver is also 8ohms so impedance wise you should be ok. Your new receiver is also rated at 100 watts per channel which is the same or pretty close to your old one. Your new receiver likely has a higher peak output , just experiment slowly with volume and you should be fine. I would recommend your next purchase after this to be a matching set of speakers, don’t mix and match.

 

I looked under one of the speakers and it said 6ohms, but the receiver seemed to indicate it could work with lower ohm speakers (it says 100W per channel to 8ohm speakers and 220W per channel to 6ohm speakers).  The owners manual also makes note of a setting to turn on if you're using a speaker with 4 ohms.  From the Manual online:

  • Set the impedance (Ω) of the connected speakers.
  • "4ohms": When any of the connected speakers have 4 Ω or more to less than 6 Ω impedance
  • "6ohms": When the connected speakers all have 6 Ω or more impedance

 

 

My plan was to add ceiling speakers next year and then upgrade the center channel speaker after that, then the L & R speakers and finally the rear surround speakers.  You're suggesting maybe this isn't a good way to go though if the speakers aren't designed to be used together?

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If you don’t need the banana plugs right away. Should use the Canadian monoprice site called PrimeCables I purchased my banana plugs from them and were fast, easy and cheap. Might be worth checking out and maybe cancel your amazon order. 

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And for speakers, when you get there, my recommendation is to start with the Center channel, then front floor speakers, then rear. 

 

Also, frequently check woot.com, as they have amazing deals on really good speakers often. 

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1 hour ago, nacthenud said:

My plan was to add ceiling speakers next year and then upgrade the center channel speaker after that, then the L & R speakers and finally the rear surround speakers.  You're suggesting maybe this isn't a good way to go though if the speakers aren't designed to be used together?

Its not that they arnt designed to be used together it can cause tonal issues. 

Example

1 brand of speakers for the front L/R and a different brand for the center.

Now if a motorcycle zooms from left to center to right the center speaker MAY sound off because of the tone difference. If it does you will never not notice.

 

My suggestion if your gonna piece it together is to match the L/C/R the rears can be different as long as they match each other and same for ceiling mounts.You likely wont notice with the rear and ceilings since it used less and people focus heavy on the front sound.

 

I also wouldn't suggest piecing it together over time if its gonna be longer then a year to do it. 

 

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16 hours ago, silentbob said:

Looks like you can get some good deals at BestBuy.ca/in store on Black Friday. A Klipsh 12” sub regular $800 for half off. Pair of Polk Floor standing speakers for $250. 

 

I would love to pick up some additional speakers, but the budget is already spent with the receiver and sub.  New speakers will have to wait until next year.

 

EDIT: I did some poking around online on that Klipsh sub and the Polk I've ordered seems to be better reviewed for both sound and reliability.  I appreciate the suggestion though.

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The best sub out there for the price is the monoprice monolith 10”. It’s $500 and competes with $1200 subs.

 

Also, if you go with Polk, you want the newest generation from them. The previous series were terrible, even for the price (minus the FXi which was their previous top-end for surround speakers). Check Polk’s official eBay page as they sell returned/open-box/refurbished speakers for dirt cheap (90-day return policy too, and I think a 1-year warranty). For floor standing and center speakers you’d want Polk’s S series, which is what I went with (S30 center, S50s for floor), and they sound great (better than the more expensive Klipsch that they compete with, which I demo’d at BB prior to making the decision).

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2 hours ago, Spork3245 said:

The best sub out there for the price is the monoprice monolith 10”. It’s $500 and competes with $1200 subs.

 

Also, if you go with Polk, you want the newest generation from them. The previous series were terrible, even for the price (minus the FXi which was their previous top-end for surround speakers). Check Polk’s official eBay page as they sell returned/open-box/refurbished speakers for dirt cheap (90-day return policy too, and I think a 1-year warranty). For floor standing and center speakers you’d want Polk’s S series, which is what I went with (S30 center, S50s for floor), and they sound great (better than the more expensive Klipsch that they compete with, which I demo’d at BB prior to making the decision).

 

Thanks for the info.  I will definitely keep the Polk notes in mind next year when I'm evaluating speakers to fill out/replace the existing ones.

 

The Monoprice Monolith 10" sub looks good, but it is over $900 in Canada which is more than twice what I'm paying for the Polk.

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So, to update this tale, my annual bonus came in substantially larger than expected, so I had my wife's blessing to get some speakers as well.  Took advantage of some sales to get a Polk S35 for centre channel, S60's for L/R and S20's for rear surround.  I will use the old L/R & Rear L/R speakers from the old HTIB as height speakers for now.  Some components are a week out in arriving... gonna be a long week...

 

Now, I just need to do some measuring and figure out what gauge of speaker wire to get... I've never purchased speaker wire before... yay, more research...

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20 minutes ago, nacthenud said:

So, to update this tale, my annual bonus came in substantially larger than expected, so I had my wife's blessing to get some speakers as well.  Took advantage of some sales to get a Polk S35 for centre channel, S60's for L/R and S20's for rear surround.  I will use the old L/R & Rear L/R speakers from the old HTIB as height speakers for now.  Some components are a week out in arriving... gonna be a long week...

 

Now, I just need to do some measuring and figure out what gauge of speaker wire to get... I've never purchased speaker wire before... yay, more research...

8 ohms under 75ft your fine using 16 up it if your 4-6 ohms speakers

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