Moving into the world of Home Theatre - choice and getting the components

Welcome to the world of HT and I had some points to add before you commit and end up regretting your move:

For new members considering a whole HT system, and are moving up from a home theatre in a box  (HITB) or are going to dive right in, this is general suggestion based on my own buying experience.

I shoot straight and come straight to the point, so you may or may not like my style of writing.

- Most new home owners live in the the modern pigeon holes we call homes.
You have a relatively confined space, that DOES NOT suit those huge floorstander speakers.
 The only way you can do this is to add a lot of room treatment, and from my experience, most people don't budget for this. In fact if  you have completed renovations that's hard, but if you have not begun, do give this some consideration.

Many new home owners don't look like the sort to spend another 1-2k on room treatment alone. But this is an important thing to discuss with your contractor, and you can read more on this from my previous posts.

Many new homes are devoid of any soft materials, that means the room is going to sound bright, very bright. When you buy those fancy speakers, you will wonder what happened to the sound. Some materials like carpets, thick curtains will help, or pay an expert to have a look.

Now to the main recommendations

Get your priorities right!

Sort out the main items first:
- speakers (esp centre + fronts) and the sub
- amps
- subwoofer

Getting 2nd hand amps do make sense if you don't mind. If the price is reasonable and the seller reputable, that's fine. Eg, I told someone to get my old 2809 instead of a new amp, since he was not interested in 3D. This amp has better amps, parts and is made in Japan. Those newer 21 or even 33 series amps have many new features but the power section is poorer.

ASK YOURSELF: what matters most?

Then stop vacillating and get something! Will a Denon be better than a Pioneer or Onkyo?
IMO, each has their pro and cons. You just read up what speakers users partner with each amp to get an idea of the sonic signature they impart. This back and forth will not get you better sound.

The principles are very simple:

- find out how much money you can spend and spend to the point of pain, so you don't feel the need to upgrade one month later when buyer's remorse sets in when you buy something with less than what you want.
- see what features really matter: eg does 3D or network functions really matter?
- I will put MY MONEY on:
  • auto-EQ eg Audyssey, MACC etc. Just read up on what are the characteristics of each. Eg Pioneer doesn't really calibrate the sub.
  • good amp section - power is more than specs, read up first on REAL POWER all channels driven
  • however in most tiny homes, what the basic AV amps provide will suffice, especially if you have a sub to take care of the lower frequencies.
  • Higher power gets you better dynamics, soundstaging and less chances of distortion, especially if you play at ear-bursting levels
  • pre-outs for adding amps. BUT - if you don't think you ever will add something, then forget this.
  • video chip

Leave money for good or at least decent cables and speaker stands.

Buy cables from LHS in SLT or order online from to save some money.

So in summary:

Then buy speakers which go well with the amp.
You can reverse the order too, and get the speakers first.

Add the sub, centre and cables accordingly.

- You need to AUDITION
- based on specs alone, those too lazy to audition would not have got the sound they wanted even if it's just $200 difference, it can be worth it
- I have already posted this before but PLAN YOUR BUDGET WELL and spend to the point of pain, otherwise you will end up returning the receiver / speaker etc immediately
- vendors are not just cruel businessmen - work with them. Most are reasonable if you are
- as my army instructor once said: "Do It Once, Do It Good"

All the best!


  1. Like the new look to your blog! Alas, my ears aren't as finicky, was content with a simple cheap set of 5.1 speakers :)

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