Hard to beat the Mirage OMD line for HT at thier price point now.
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Interesting task because the budget gets you right to the edge of some satisfying solutions:
Assuming that you want a large, flat screen TV (55" or +), I would think that app. $1k is spoken for (last I looked).
For $400, both Denon and Onkyo offer reasonably powerful AVRs with Audyssey - which I believe is virtually mandatory for both seamless subwoofer integration and for smooth bass in a smallish room. I haven't auditioned the relevant models, but I do use an Onkyo Pre-Pro in my main system and an Integra AVR in my HT system - both with happy results. (My Onkyo pre-pro has Audyssey XT32 which is fabulous and recommended without reservation, but thus-equipped AVRs start out at +/- $1500. The Integra is an older unit and the Audyssey performance is still very good - tho you won't confuse it for XT32.)
Add the entry level SVS subwoofer (they start at $650), and there goes your $2K.
The center channel is the lowest priority to me, so I wouldn't make a recommendation - other than to suggest that you don't use much budget capacity on whatever you buy.
Obviously, anything you save on the TV brings you back towards the preferred expenditure levels.
I think you're right, Marty. The TV is likely to be in the range of 1k. I'm thinking 46-52" and internet equipped (Netflx, NBA Pass); any suggestions on the model?
So a grand for everything else: 400 for the receiver, 600 for center and sub. I'll folow your advice and keep the center cheap, maybe a modest Warfdale. Any suggestions on the sub?
Sorry to pepper you with questions; I've not thought about this before.
I did a ton of subwoofer research over the last few years and concluded that Rythmik and SVS appeared to be top flight performers with reasonable price tags.
Some of the following is based on my years with the Rythmiks, others based on published test results and my experience on how that correlates to performance. So......a grain of salt might be appropriate
The sealed Rythmiks are really notable for their low group delay and the resultant bass character (some folks might say "fast", I prefer "tight" bass). The relative trade-off vs the ported SVS is that clean SPL capability on the 12" Ryhtmik starts to fade at +\- 35hz. The SVS can go deeper while staying clean and loud, but it can't get to the tight highly damped bass quality of the Rythmik.
I use my subs in a 2.2 ch music only system, so Rythmik was an easy choice for me. In an HT system like the one you propose, I'd certainly think hard about SVS
PS both units allow some control of damping (Rythmik electronically, SVS has plugs for the ports) so there's bit of flexibility either way.
I recently built the exact same size man cave in the third stall of my garage. I started with a Marantz receiver, HSU sub, generic center ch and a Samsung 40" tv. I soon realized that the sub is way too big for the room. I would recommend going with a 8 or 10 inch sub max. I decided to try something different and ended up with Atlantic Technology seperates. I really only wanted the amp but the processor came with it. With the change in amp thare wasn't a huge difference in sound but a whole lot more horsepower even though the wattage ratings are the same. I was fooling around with my setup one day and decided to try the processor, I mean I already had it but didn't expect much from a processor that sell for under 200$ used. Boy, was I surprised. The soundstage increased dramatically, the imaging was better and all of a sudden I could actually hear much more from the recordings and tv than I had heard before and the best part was the Porcessor AND amp were purchased for 600$, the best audio investmant Ive ever made. Since then I have made more changes but only because after hearing an inexpensive set of sepperates I realized how much I was missing. One of the major improvements I did to the room was to add carpeting and acoustic curtains to the walls. I now have an ugly room that is acousticall very dead and sounds great in 2 channel. The best part, it cost less than the 2K your budget allows. If you have any questions about my project in comparison to yours e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org