Home Theater Recommendations for 2Q04

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David Koh was asking me about Home Theater equipment and what he should buy. Great questions. Things as usual are in transition particularly on the video side, but here’s a good equipment set to things about:
* Home Theater SPOT. YOu should register for this site and pay the $25. Best thing is that it give you discounts for bettercables and it has some great recommendations.
* “The Perfect Vision”:http://theperfectvision.com/. Subscribe to this in print form. They have some really good reviews.
* “Secrets of Home Theater”:http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/main.html. Very accurate reviews. Most of the stuff is pretty high end, but they are smart here. I agree with their “Best-of”:http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_10_4/secrets-best-of-2003-awards-12-2003.html awards bTW.
In terms of actual equipment to buy, I would allocate about 50% of the budget for the actual video display, about 30% for the speakers and then 20% for the electronics. The video first, but the sound is amazingly important. For a great price-value, here are some recommendations:
* “Outlaw Audio”:http://outlawaudio.com. They have some great equipment at decent prices. They are internet direct. I have both their low-end receiver and now the preamp/amplifier combination. Or to save a little, get the Onkyo TX-SR800. A good intermediate AVR. The other good one is the equivalent Denon 2803 I think is the latest.
* “DVD Shootout”:http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/cgi-bin/shootout.cgi?function=search&articles=all. Secrets has the best review of the various artifacts that can happen with players. The main thing is to get one that doesn’t have bugs in its video. DVD players are in an interesting state. Right now the el cheapo $200 player from Panasonic X30 or the Denon 1600 (is the same player as the X30 as long as you set it to Auto 1) is one of the best around. Go figure. USe the money you save to put into the speakers 😉 If you need audiophile je ne sais quoi, then the Denon DVD-5900 gets great reviews.
* PVR. Comcast is coming out with a High definition STB that also records. So they are being super aggressive in this area. I haven’t tried it myself, but definitely something to look at.
* “Axiom Audio”:http://axiomaudio.com. There are many great speakers. Frankly, I would splurge more on the speakers than anything else once you have a decent display. I have the M22tis and am getting another set. Great to work with as well.
* “SVS Subwoofers”:http://www.hometheaterspot.com/html/reviews/techreview.php?rev=25. If you have the space, these big circular things are absolutely amazing. These subwoofers add the most IMHO to the experience. The other ones that are good are the various Velodyne models, but SVS is internet only and easy to buy. The PC Plus 20-39 for instance is 39″ high and produces bass down to 20 Hz and has a built in 500 watt amplifier.
* “Bettercables.com”:http://bettercables.com. The cables at Outlaw are really good, but they don’t have everything. The remainder, you can get from bettercables using the hometheaterspot.com discount.
* “Intrigue Harmony SST659”:http://www.remotecentral.com/sst659/index.html. Remote Control. Although you won’t want to invest in one, believe me not having a dozen different remotes really makes a difference. The high end one to get is the Philips Pronto Pro with a cool color screen. Otherwise, the the intrigue harmony is a nice design.
* BenQ PE8700 or whatever hometheaterspot.com is recommending right now. Now the big question right now is the right diaplay to get. There is lots of decision points. The main issue is that the flat panels are coming on strong, but the old CRTs are still pretty amazing. Personally, right now if I had the space, I’d get a projecter because its easier to explain to your wife how to replace one of those than a 400 pound monster rear projection TV.
More later, but that’s the quick review for now.

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