For the money, Best set up for HT and music

I have been reading for about a year; about all the different equipment you can buy to make the sound be the best it can be. I know it sounds extreme, but I want a good starter that I can build on.
He is my history (you can skip this if you like I'll put separator in front of my question)
I'm not super rich, but I do have a crazy love for music, unfortunately I'm young and haven't had enough time to build wealth to build on this hobby. Originally I was looking for the best surround sound (5.1, 7.1) for music and home theater. I came to the conclusion after a while that the Denon 2808ci would provide exactly what I wanted and give me room to grow in the future. I figured with this receiver I could pair it up with KEF 3007 5.1 speakers. I then found that, this might not be ideal. I have picked and matched other speakers and receivers, but at this point I've read so much I've become lost. So if anyone could help it would be much obliged.
In my (short story above if you didn't read) I originally picked the Denon 2808ci for my receiver and KEF 3007 5.1 speaker system. From what I've read though, a 2.1/3.1 might best fit my needs though for now; while optimizing my money.

What would be the best set up for 4500 or less for a nice sounding home theater and music combo. It seems seems 2 speakers, with a center and a sub would optimize the sound quality; but then others say the center won't be needed for the stage if you position the two speakers correctly.

Sorry for the epic writing, but your help would greatly be appreciated, if you need any other details I'll gladly post. By the way, the living room is 18x18; unfortunately wood floors, but I suppose I could get an area rug.

Thanks so much in advance for your help and again sorry for the epic read.
Having just gone through this exercise with a family member, here is my advice. Since you didn't mention anything about a screen, I will assume you have that under control.

1. I would buy a used HT receiver. So much more machine for the money. Don't worry about HDMI capability for the receiver in a starter system - go for current and wattage. Pick it up, if it weighs a lot, buy it. Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer and Yamaha all make decent HT receivers. Some Sonys sound OK too.

2. I would look for a source known for having decent redbook CD playback, get a used Denon 29XX model or higher DVD player, a used NAD or Cambridge Audio DVD player. Or, get a new Oppo DV 980H (a whopping $169 NEW). If you are getting a screen bigger than 40", you will want to get a HDMI capable player (like the Oppo) to appreciate full 1080p HD picture on up-converted DVDs. Stay away from Blueray players for now as the cost to sound quality ratio is currently way out of whack.

3. Get used speakers too if possible. I would go for full range front speakers, either high quality budget monitors with a sub or decent budget floor standers depending on your available space. One consideration, the monitor sub combo is more versatile for listening to stuff blow up in HT mode.

Get a used or new center speaker that is a decent sonic match for the two front speakers. I would not bother to go for 7.1 sound at this point, so try to find rear speakers that are a good match for the rest - but focus on getting the front pair right if music is your first love, and build the rest of your system around that. There are always a lot of B&W speakers available used online, so you could mix and match used and new models as available and within budget without going wrong. KEF makes good audio and HT speakers. Monitor Audio and Era Design are two other manufacturers that come to mind as well, and some people rave about Definitive Technology speakers for HT and Music, they sound OK but I don't like the way they look.

Finally, Aperion Audio makes a good sub for not too much maoney as well (

Good luck.
Thank you so much for your response, its funny you should mention Aperion because that was the other speakers I was looking at.

I do have a 46'' Samsung, its just the music/movie part I'm working on now.

It's just hard balancing both, you almost need two different systems it seems, one for music and one for action packed movies. I'm really big into bass.

Do you think an additional amplifier is needed on top of the receiver?

Thank you again so much for your help!
well what there WILL NOT BE is audio perfection on your first shot! You can pretty much count on that. You could, indeed start with a receiver, and a couple of the Kef's you intended, and a subwoofer, and see what kind of sound you can get. Then, if you like what you're hearing, you could add more speakers, then a separates amp in the future. You could even then add an outboard 2 channel pre/pro, er whatver, later if you want to upgrade even further. You can also look into inexpensive SACD/DVD players and such.
I would first figure out how to make 2.1 speaker setup sound good, by learning about seating and speaker placement! Then if you figure out how to make 2 speakers and a sub work, you might figure out what's happening with a center channel from your seating position(s).
good luck
High end's a journey
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Following Knownothings advice. Used Denon or Yamaha, Oppo and that will leave you at least $3700 for speakers and a sub. SVS and Definitive would fit your budget(great for HT, but not well liked for 2ch.)You could always add on a seperate amp and use the receivers pre-outs down the road....just my thought...
Boy for that money you could get used Processor from Rotel, Parasound, NAD, Anthem and the like and add a multi channel amp for a better sound a reciever wont match. Look into a Rotel RSP 1068 for example and an Emotiva 5-7 channel amp, go with the Oppo get an HSU Research sub and Def Tech and other speaker can be considered. I know HDMI is not a concern but do keep in mind to get a reciever or Processor that has 7.1 bypass inputs so you can in future decode the HD audio from Bluray players. A reciever makes sense for a one box solution but is most certain to not provide the audio for music that sperates can perform.
a used Rotel 1068 is under $1000 and a used 1066 is around $600.
Emotiva 7 channel amp 200 watts per is $1700 brand new.
Oppo players are $250
HSU Research subs are $300-$500 used
This leaves little for speakers but if you either consider some or any combination of ideas or save a bit more cash you will end up with a system that will almost certain keep you happy monger than a reciever can.
Onkyo and Denon do make some great units to consider if you are set on the receiver idea....I had a Onkyo TXNR901 140X7 reciever that was $1600 new in 2000, I have seen them as low as $100 but generally $300-500 and it works pretty darn good.
Yeah. Sorry I didn't look at your budget (my bad). For $4500, you could accumulate quite a bit of good toys.
I would be looking at separates with that budget. Actually, I'd be looking at a 2 channel pre, a good 2 channel amp, a budget receiver with Audyssey, a deal on a subwoofer, and some good interconnects, wires, and surge!
Look for high end speakers, that excel at dynamics and HT! Look for higher efficiency designs, preferably dual mid/woof designs, at the very least. I would go with full range towers if I were you - so you know what full range speakers sound like with no sub, stereo! Then, I'd still be using an EQ. But, you might never know what full rangers soud like, othewise.
For me, I'd go satalite speakers, and a sub - cause I know the flexibiliy, and I'll be using a sub, likely, anyway.
Still, you gotta experiement. you won't get on first go.
It's a hobby if you want results. For everyone else, it's throw money at it one time and pray!
What matters most to you?
If I could only have one system, (mine are separate), I would take the same 2 channel system I have, and just add a decoder/HT preamp, with a multichannel amp to drive the extra channels for HT. Any decent DVD player would do. I would not replace my music sources at all.

Most HT systems on a budget will be a compromise for music. If you have the bucks then anything goes.
Hey Y'all,

This would be the system I would put together with a budget of $4500.00.

Front speakers- Von Schweirert VR-2 full range floor standers
Not to big for your room but very capable speakers. I use them now as my rears but have used them up front and I liked them very much.

Efficiency- 90 dB in room
Frequency Response- 25 Hz to 25 kHz, -3dB

Subwoofer- Von Schweirert VRS-1
This has a small footprint and is very good for both music and H/T.
Price for both VR-2 and VRS-1- $1425.00 OBO currently on Audiogon.

Center channel- Von Schweirert LCR-15
They have the same drivers as the VR-2's thus a perfect match. Again, I use this speaker in my current system and love it.
This speaker is currently being auctioned on Audiogon. It can probably be had for around $300.

Rear channels- Von Schweirert VR-1. Again, the same drivers used in VR-2 and LCR-15 Thus, a perfect match.
Price- $600 OBO also being offered on Audiogon.

I'm going with Chadnliz on my next couple of pieces because I also subscribe to the notion that separates will give you better sound all around. So, I'm going with a pre/pro and multi channel amp.

Pre/Pro- Rotel RSP-1068. I've not had the chance to listen to this pre/pro personally but Rotel has a great reputation for good sound in both H/T and two channel music.
Price- $995.00 OBO On, yes you guessed it, Audiogon right now.

Amp- Rotel RMB-1095. 200 watts x 5 into 8 ohms. I think this should be enough to give you all the bing-bang-boom for your H/T plus the subtlety in your music playback.
Price- $1200.00 OBO on Audiogon.

If you pay the asking price for everything I've mentioned you will have spent $4420, not including shipping. I would try to haggle with the sellers; you may get one or two things cheaper. I hope all this helps......John
Jrwr7's got a great bundle of gear put together there. Von Schweikert speakers are very high quality, and Rotel makes decent sounding and well built electronics. For less than the twenty two hundred bucks, you could probably get a great used one piece receiver that I would guess is hard to distinguish in terms of 2 channel sound quality unless you were getting an $800 to $1.5K source to go with it. The Rotels would provide plenty of room to improve in this area.

So lets talk about the source for a minute - Jrwr7, what would you recommend as a disk spinner to go with this gear? Oppo? Toshiba? other? The Rotel - Von Schweikert combo would be getting close to or going way beyond exposing weaknesses in 2 channel sound reproduction from budget DVD players. Even the hearlded Oppo. Not sure whether Bluvision already has a source, or needs to get one. The screen name would indicate they are already in the Bluray camp, and may be looking for a dedicated CD player to round out the system. If they only need CD playback, a used NAD or Cambridge Audio stand alone redbook player would be a good choice for a few hundred bucks. A used Rega would be an even better source, but also blow the budget. Not a lot of head room in the Rotel-VS system described above, even if aggressive haggling is employed. But a lot of room to grow with cables and improved sources down the line. Great ideas.
Hey everyone,

I just wanted to thank everyone for the great feedback and actually responding to my post. I cant tell you how appreciative I am of all your responses.

This will be a learning experience and I am ready for the journey of finding to put out amazing music, your info should give me a good foundation for a start up.

To answer Sugarbrie; if I could only have one system, it would absolutely be for music. If you like I can keep you all posted on what I get. I'm definitely going to do more research before I jump in, but thank you again. I guess the general consensus is to go with 5.1, not 7.1 or 2.1

Thank you all very much again for all your help. Any continue responses would be much obliged.
For the time being I figured I would be transferring my music from my computer that has a great sound card and sound output. Eventually I like the Rega idea, the Planet or something. Just a little out of budget, but looks excellent!
Hey Y'all,

For the source, I would recommend either the Denon DVD-3910 for $500.00 OBO on Audiogon or the DVD-2910 for around $200. If you haggle about $300.00 off everything else in the system you can get the 3910 and still be around your budget. I own the John Tucker Exemplar 3910, which is one of the best multi source playback machines I've ever heard. But I understand that the stock 3910 is a very good performer for all formats. The 2910 is not as good as the 3910 but is a bit more affordable. You may also look into a Rotel source. I'm not sure though if you will get the all around performance from a Rotel DVD player as a redbook player that you will from the 3910.
Don't be afraid to go used on your equipment.

Last year's Denon AVR 2807 are selling used for around $325.00 That's over $700 off list from just one year ago. The only real difference between that and the 2808ci is that the 2808 has HDMI 1.3 which will decode the HD Blu-Ray audio. With the 2807 your player will have to do the decoding.

Denon 2900 universal players sell all day for around $100-$150.

This leaves lot's of money for other things such as a blu-ray player, maybe a display.

Heck, you could squeeze a dirtbike in there :)
I would go for a 38XX or 58XX Denon receiver if going for used all in one box. These will do much better with 2 channel than 28XX due to greater power/current.

Given that Bluvision has a 46" Samsung, I would guess they want something that upscales DVD to 1080p effectively. Old Denon DVD players wont do that. If using computer for music source, then I would go for Oppo 981HD - 1080p up-converting with Faroudja video processor for $229. Another option is a Toshiba HD DVD player which are available at fire sale prices and do a great job at up-converting as well.
If you do go used don't get an outdated surround proccessor. Make sure it does the latest surround formats and has room eq. The Denon you are looking at would definately fit the bill but with your budget I would go with a new 3808 and go used on the speakers.

As for the source, the Oppo's do a great job if you use the digital output and let the receiver do the digital to anolog conversion. As for bluray, the PS3 is the best deal out there performance and price wise at the moment.
I would think twice on Room EQ many units I suspect would be affordable do nothing more than can be done in 15 minutes and a knowledge of your speakers so its fluff that offers no real value after you set it up....and may come at a premium in price for percieved value.
Room treatments and speaker placement are always the best place to start but I would not completely discount room eq. Seems as if ALL the new receivers have it and many people are getting good results, especially taming bass peaks.
Which of these set up do you think is best? Or if you think one set of speakers would sound better with another, or one subwoofer is the best, or even better that I listed; What would you say?

Thank you all again for responding so quickly to my last post. What do you think of this for a set up:

Denon 2808ci, 2- Aperion 632LR book shelf, Aperion Intimus 5c Center Channel and a Cambridge P300HD subwoofer.


Denon 2808ci, 2- Von Schweikert VR-2, LCR 15 center, HSU VTF-3 MK3 subwoofer


Denon 2808ci, 2- B&W Nautilus 805, B&W LCR600 S3, DB604S3, Aperion S-10 subwoofer

For DVD, I was thinking Oppo 981HD, or do you think I should stick with a Denon player (29xx) considering the Denon receiver.

If you think there would be a better receiver please let me know. I would like hdmi for the fact that I have a nice 46'' TV. Or do you think its best to leave the receiver out of it and let the other equiptment handle the decoding?

Do you think with any of these set ups I need a pre amp? Finally if you have a better idea for a mix and match, or set up; please let me know. Everyone, thank you so much again for your fast feed back and excellent advice, it is truly appreciated.

Best amp Rotel? Any better, or what would be best price/performance?
1. The Aperion speakers are nice for what they are, but not even close to the same league as the Von Schweikert and B&W speakers you mention - so I would say go with the VS or BWs. Depends on your preference - my guess is that the VS will be smoother across frequency range, and BWs will be a bit more forward and revealing. You will need some clean power to run either one (see below).

2. HSU or Aperion Subs are fine. HSU is probably better. Cambridge Soundworks, not so sure. If you had any extra funds, this might be a good place to spring for a used REL sub, which would be more musical for 2 channel work than any of these picks.

3. A new Denon 2808ci receiver is not the greatest value when you can get a used 5803 online for the same price. These really don't wear out. I believe a 5803 has a Toroidal Power Transformer and assignable outputs so you could bi amp the Von Schweikert or B&W front speakers, which could yield big sonic benefits. Both of those speaker systems are good enough that you would appreciate the greater power and resolution provided by the higher quality audio circuits and power management of the 5803 compared to the 2808ci. Digital out from your computer should sound terrific through a beast like this.

4. For HT purposes the Oppo is fine. A new Denon 2930 is $850 and and an older 29XX wont up-convert video to 1080p, save your money here for the next generation Bluray players. I would run the HDMI out of the Oppo directly to your Samsung. I would run digital audio out (coax or optical) to a 5803 or similarly capable reciever/processor and let it handle the conversion chores in either multichannel or 2 channel modes. The DACs in the 5803 are better and set up in a more sophisticated arrangement compared to the Oppo's on-board stuff.

No Rotel needed in this setup - although the pair suggested earlier could be a legitimate alternative to a big Denon.
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Hey Y'all,

I don't know anything about Aperion speakers, so I cannot comment on them. The VS speakers are far and away better, price for performance, then the equivalent offering from B&W. I feel comfortable saying this since I've sipped from both compounds Kool Aid drum during my travels to where I am now.

I will again say a separate amp pre/pro combo will give you better H/T audio and 2 channel audio performance then most any receiver you will be able to afford. As for HDMI, there are switchers you can employ that are not that expensive or you can go straight from source, say the Denon DVD-3910, to your TV. The 3910 will give you better 2 channel performance then anything else mentioned and up-converts to 1080I. I was under the impression that the most important aspect of this system was 2 channel performance. I personally would not use a receiver, if I could help it, for two reasons. One, the reason I mentioned above, performance versus seperates. Two, you will eventually add a separate multi channel amp to the receiver and then a pre/pro will replace the receiver anyway. So save yourself the time and effort and jump in with both feet.........John
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SVS subs are great. My bro-in-law just got an SVS Ultra 13 and it dives very very deep. On the other hand, I don't think their monitors can keep up with the likes of Von Schweikert or B&W Nautilus speakers if those are real options here.

Yes, separates are good, probably a little better sounding in the end, but I really like the biggest Denons. For somebody just getting into this for the first time, they offer great sound and the simplicity of having everything in one (60+lb!) box. Look Ma! No interconnects!! The built in DACs are more than adequate, so you can get away with pretty much using the DVD as a transport, or another digital source like a computer and the receiver does the rest.

And, can you really get separates (even used) that will do as much, sound as good, and effectively drive the kind of speakers listed above the way one of these big old Denons will for only a little over $1K? The used cost of the better speakers and subs listed by Bluvision would only leave about $1500 total in the budget for the source, the processor/amp/receiver and all cables. Probably not enough for really decent used separates. But, perhaps I am beating a dead horse.
What are your speaker and listener placement constraints? Stuffing a $30,000 speaker in corner when it's not designed to live there will yield $30 speaker frequency response.

If it's just you sitting in the sweet spot of the middle of a couch, you don't need a center channel. If you and your significant other are at opposite ends of a long couch you might want one.

What are your output level requirements? Small drivers won't provide enough distortion (or damage) limited output to reach home theater reference levels as in a movie theater.
Hey Y'all,

Knownothing, check my first post, you will see that I set up a system, with separates that fit into the budget and will unquestionably give better sound then any receiver mentioned in this thread. My second post recommends a source that will give Bluvision all that he desires in sound quality and performance.

I just don't see the sense in buying a receiver when, eventually, it will be replaced by something that you can already afford to buy in the first place. But, then again, to each their own.

About twelve years ago I had a receiver based system. I bought it mainly because it was the best I could afford. It lasted me about two years. I've been working with separates ever since........John

Those are great speakers and probably pretty good Rotel electronics. But, there is no DVD player, sub or cables in the system you spec'd out.

Now many people might argue that if stereo is your first love, a sub is unnecessary. But my view is home theater is just not the same without the low frequency effects... A sub is a must for me, and a musical one can add to music listening experience too, especially if you like Hip Hop or Electronic Dance/Trance music.

Can't really watch movies without a source, so a DVD player is a definite must. Could get away with decent new $200+ rig, but that is still $200. I can't belive I am saying this cause I am usually a source first person, but Bluvision says they are going to mostly use their computer for music, video formats are in flux, and any of these electronics discussed have decent to very good built in DACs, so I would bottom fish for a new over achieving 1080P up-convertor.

Good cables cost some dough too, 5, 10, 15% of system costs typically.

I agree you can do better with separates, but not within this budget and still have the kind of full 5.1 system in discussion here with all parts assembled and ready to shake it up.

Not trying to be a fuddy duddy, but all this stuff adds up. I think a the big Denon has the chops to keep Bluvision happy for a while, but we can agree to disagree on that. I think we can both agree that no matter what, the 2808ci is not going to make Bluvision happy for long with the kind of speakers being floated now.

And speaking of speakers, I agree with BR that Revel speakers are great. There are several to choose from on Agon right now as well. Very different sound from B&Ws as I recall, much rounder but with great timbre. I am partial to the current Performa line and old M20's.
Hey Y'all,

Knownothing, or is it Readnothing? This is what I posted on 4/17, my last post;

"Knownothing, check my first post, you will see that I set up a system, with separates that fit into the budget and will unquestionably give better sound then any receiver mentioned in this thread. My second post recommends a source that will give Bluvision all that he desires in sound quality and performance."

Now if you read everything, you will notice that I did mention a sub, the VRS-1, on sale in a package with the VR-2 floor standers. I would never recommend any system, H/T or 2 channel, without a sub. I know for a fact that unless you are using speakers that go down to 20Hz flat response, you are not hearing everything that is embedded in the recording. So, since most speakers out there, especially the speakers in discussion here, do not go down to 20Hz flat, there will always be a need for a sub.

As for your point about cables, this is a start up system, thus Bluvision, as I did when I first started out putting my systems together back in the early-eighty's, can use entry level, i.e.; cheap, interconnects and speaker cables to begin with. Then, as money comes available, he can set out on the endless, and I do mean endless, search for interconnects, speaker cables and power cords that will take his system to the next level.

As for your insistence on a receiver, no receiver has the "chops" to match separates in performance. The only thing a receiver has on a moderately priced set of separates is more features. It's like having a Swiss Army knife, when you need it, it's really good to have but you don't really use it at home because you have the specialized items at home that the knife would give you when you are on the road. Added features on a receiver do not help its performance. They are nice to have sometimes, but generally not necessary.

As for the Revel speakers, I've owned several pairs including the M20's. I agree, they are good speakers. But again I don't think they match up, price for performance, with Von Schweikert. I also found the M20's to be forward and a bit shrill or tizzy on the high end of the frequency range. I've found metal tweeters will do that.

And finally, if you go over what I posted CAREFULLY, you will find that I made everything fit in the budget, give or take $200. As stated earlier in this post, that includes a sub and source. Of course some serious haggling will have to take place, but it can be done.

Bluevision, good luck in your search and have fun.

Oops, I did miss the sub, my mistake. I did not see a source included in that first list and budget, but then I have been known to be a careless reader before...

Cables are what they are: mysterious, expensive, more expensive, and going on up to ridiculous. But they make a difference, and the more pieces you are linking together, the more cables you have to buy and the more fooling around you need to do to optimize performance. If you are using anything but hardware store wires, the costs can accelerate very quickly - even buying used.

For $4500 Bluvision can get a great sounding system. Agree with Jwer7 and others here that buying used gear, whether it is centered on a receiver or separates, will increase the quality and overall enjoyment of the initial investment.

One last thing to consider, HT electronics are more of a commodity than 2 channel gear and changes come fairly quickly in terms of shifting formats and features. As a result, values for new and used HT equipment both tend to drop more quickly than for high quality 2 channel stuff. Something to keep in mind as you enter the market. Happy shopping, watching and listening.
There is so much you can really do. Just to put in my 2 cents, I just set up a system for just under $5000 that has great 2 channel sound and fantastic Home Theater Surround. Try the Z series speakers from BG. Z7 floorstand, Z5 center channel, Z1 bookshelfs for surrounds and a Z sub (best sub under a $1000). New, the speaker setup may cost you around $2500. I then put in a Integra 6.8 which I believe sonically beats a Dennon into the ground. New cost around $1000. Now picking up a decent DVD/cd player that can give you great sound on both ends. I used the pioneer elite blue ray player, but it would put you over budget with cables. The player has excellent sound both for movies and 2 channel. To keep on budget I like the Integra 6.7 dvd player. Around $500 new and you still have money to spend on some decent cables. All and all you might be able to find some of these components used, but even brand new you are with in your budget and I think would not be disappointed. At the very least, take a look at the BG Z series at Great speakers!!!

What model of pioneer blu ray are you using?
Since you're already getting tons of ideas thrown at you, here's another.

I'd echo some of what Knownothing and Zigonht and others have mentioned. Also, this is based on my own experience as someone who went down this path of wanting a good HT system and a very good 2-channel audio system. Use a receiver to power the center and rear channels. Use the pre-outs to a good used 2-channel amp to drive the main speakers.

Get a decent HT receiver (5.1 would be good) with a set of pre-outs. I'm using an Outlaw 1050. (Used receiver for less than $300.)

Very good set of full range used speakers. You can find a set of fantastic speakers on this site for $1500 or less. I use a set of Thiel 1.5's.

Used 2-channel amp. Some of the older ones are built like tanks, are inexpensive, and sound great. You can get a really nice older SS amp for under $500.

For the center and rear speakers, I'd get a decent center and some so-so rears. I don't get too terribly concerned on matching the rear effect speakers up to the other (except for volume balancing). With certain receivers, you can phantom the center channel by having the sound emminate from the two mains, but, I think having the center sounds better for HT. You can probably get a set of rears and a center for under $300.

So far were around $2600. With the rest of the budget you could get a powered sub (if needed), a source component, and some decent cables. On cable, I've found that moving up from the crap that ships with components is absolutely necessary, but, one does not need to move into the $100+ level for interconnects and speaker cables for good sound.

Have fun.

Anybody care to tell me, what model of piooner receiver to use?

Actually, I would co-sign on "Jrwr7's" proposed setup. If it were my money, that would be the setup I would buy.

If you can stretch your budget to maybe another $1,000.00 beyond your proposed budget, you can also throw in some cables and power protection as well.

As for a source, I would look at a used Denon DVD-2910. You should be able to get a used one for about $300.00 to about $400.00.

The additional $1,000.00 I was talking about should buy you the cables, power protection and the DVD Player I was talking about.

If you do that, then without question, for about $5,500.00, you're going to have a killer home theater setup.

Good Luck and Happy Shopping......

So... Bluvision, what did you end up with?