Bang for your Buck HT

I want to put together a system for the family room. 18x24 8'. Need simple for wife and kids 8 & 11. Need to punish for the next few years. want a musical system for all kinds of loud new music and loud music. Not a big bass freek no big subs. have to have book shelf that are mounted from ceiling or top walls. Want to purchase used dvd, heard good things about pioneer elite , any recomendations on model number.I have an older amfi amfitheater. need a ac3 processor for the dvd is that right. would I be better off buying a used pioneer elite reciver that was a 1700 unit for 700.00. Speakers I think I will like are the JBL S38's for front center and what about some cheap surround rear's. I like to rock when mom and kids are gone also. Need the dvd to cplay cdr's
Any help appreciated
I'd go with something like Paradigm Atoms in the front, the matching center and their small theater satellites in the rear. Subwoofer of your choice. I think this can probably be had for less than $1,000 new. The Atoms have terrific sound at their price point.
Don't assume good HT also means good music! If you love music than build the systme for music and go from there. I discovered no matter what you do to an mid fi HT system (DAC, cables, tweeks, etc...) it will never improve if audiophile-quality music is your goal. Go music first and save yourself a lot of heart aches. This is my biggest "If I knew than what I know now" Dept lessons about hi fi. Good luck.
For buying brand new stuff, the Onkyo HT Receivers represent good value for the money. Best bang for your buck speakers for HT are the B&W 302 or 303. You can wall mount them also. Only $200 to $250 per pair. Add the matching B&W CC-3 center $180.00 For a sub, the Hsu VTF-2 for $500 is very nice. For $900 the REL Q100E. The Onkyo DVD players are also well built for the money. The 525 or 535 are under $400 and have Burr Brown decoder. Very solid.
For $400 a pair the B&W DM601-S2 are also great for HT and can be mounted. Probably can go louder than the 300 series. There is a matching center also.

The Acurus Amfitheater was a considered a "cutting edge" A/V Receiver a few years back, and I think it would serve as a good receiver for your home theater system today. I think that Acurus also produced an "AC-3" decoder a few years ago. I don't know if that decoder is still in production or not. I would click onto the "manufacturer's links" here at Audiogon and try to find Acurus from that. From there, I would go onto their site and try to locate thier AC-3 decoder then. If it turns out that their AC-3 decoder is no longer in production, then I am sure you can get a used one somewhere (either here at Audiogon, or at another website like "Audio Shopper" or "Ebay" (after all, that's how I put half of my audio system together last year. And I bought both of my VCR's off that site too. Man, I love myself some "Ebay", don't I)). Try doing those things first. You just might strike gold when you do. You never know until you try, right?? However, on the other hand, if you prefer to junk your Acurus Amfitheater A/V Receiver (which is something I wouldn't do) and you prefer to buy a brand new A/V Receiver, then I would look at the Onkyo TX-DS686 for around $800.00, or for a few dollars more (okay, let's try about $200.00 more), then there is the Yamaha 1000 (forgot the letter prefix leading up to the model number..... but I'm sure the others here on this board know which model I am talking about), or just like you said, I would look at a 2 year old Pioneer Elite model (that is, the one that was a $2,000.00 model two years ago) too, if I was going to go the used route. I think that's about it as far as receivers are concerned. But the first option I would explore first would be for you to hang on to your Acurus Amfitheater and hunt for an "AC-3" decoder that is reasonably priced.

Now, as for DVD Players?? How much do you want to spend?? Around $400.00?? Over $400.00?? Under $1,000.00?? What do you want the player to do?? Do you want to play music as well as movies?? Do you want progressive scan, etc.???? Some players under suggestion here include the new Toshiba SD-4700 (progressive scan...... for UNDER $400.00!!!!), the Onkyo DV-S535 is also another good choice (great picture, great sound, great feature set, well built chassis, but NO progressive scan..... for around $400.00 to $450.00), the Sony DVP-S7700 (around $500.00, from Crutchfield..... a little long in the tooth as far as technology is concerned...... no progressive scan, but still a solid player nonetheless), and for a little more money (say, $600.00 to $700.00), the Pioneer Elite DV-37 (progressive scan just like the Toshiba SD-4700, but with a more extensive feature set and a better transport and chassis....... sexy looks...... makes a good CD Player too).

And then for speakers, I would go with B&W DM602 MkII for around $600.00 a pair. The matching center channel should be available for around $350.00 to $450.00. And then I would go with a pair of B&W DM601's as surrounds, for just $400.00 for the pair. For subs, I like Sugarbrie's suggestion about the HSU subs. They make some REALLY nice subs for a reasonable price. $500.00 for a passive sub, $700.00 (I believe) for an amplified one. Otherwise, try the REL Q100E for $900.00. Also, there are subs from the likes of PSB, Paradigm and Energy for you to consider. They are reasonably priced as well.

And lastly, let's not forget the cables. For your system, I will suggest Monster Cable. I would also look into getting cable from the likes of Cardas and Kimber Kable.

There, this should help you out and keep you busy for a while.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide to eventually go with.

Kelton: On the speaker issue there are so many differant tastes out there, and all of us have no idea on your budget. On the DVD- either Sony dvp s7700, or Pioneer elite dv-37 depending on your price point. On the receiver- forget Pioneer elite I used to own there top of the line, I sold it and bought Denon 5700 which blew it away in every category. Another real good brand of receivers are Marantz both receivers got good reviews also. An 18 x 24 room is pretty good size so you will need a receiver with some power to push. Look on Audiogon for what you want there is plenty to choose from and make it fun, that's what it's all about. Good Luck and remember-have fun.
I have a pair of B&W 601 D2 and the matching CC6 Center sitting my closet. 2 months old, used for 1 week as I upgraded to Nautilus 805. 50% of list price. email me at if interested. The serial numbers have not been registered yet at B&W, manuals included and perfect condition all, no scratches. They are sitting in plastic in my closet waiting for me to put up to auction.
If you don't want progressive scan, the pioneer elite dvd-05 has been a steal here on AG. I have one - very noticable upgrade from everything else and don't pay a fortune for the 09's Tank-like construction. I've owned a bunch of Dolby Dig. receivers. The B&K 202 were going (a couple months ago when new model released) 1/3 OF new. I thought the best Bargain I owned was a Nakamichi AV-8 (the 10 is also a bargain)- kicked denon's butt and it drove B&W 601 S2 series to perfection (my speaker recommendation too, but consider Paradigm). I love Tice connects, especially the digital for bang for buck. You will have to have sub given the bookshelfs, The B&W ASW 500 was under $500 new and very musical. One of the best bangs for buck is power conditioner, which shocked the hell out of me. Monster acceptable but there are much better bargains, but I again I like Tice. Bon Chance.
I have the HSU VTF-2 sub. Fantastic! I don't know if you can find another powered sub of this caliber for anywhere near the price ($500 + tax and/or S/H). Again, speakers a personal preference, but I reiterate the previous comment; "Go for audio sound first". B&W 602 are outstanding, a friend who is a professional jazz muscician just picked up a pair after looking at several models. Paired with the matching center and 601s for the rear you would have a killer set up.
The only advise with regards to a DVD player is if you do not have a the ability to utilize a progressive signal, don't spend the money to get a progressive DVD player. I have the Sony 7700, no progressive but fantastic picture and it is built like a brick!
Best of luck in you search. Most importantly, enjoy the search as much as you will the final product. Putting a system together is almost more fun than using it!