Home Theater for 10K

A friend came to me and asked what the best home theater setup she could get for $10,000.00. I gave it a lot of thought and decided that I was not the best one to offer suggestions, but that you, the audiogon sellers and buyers, could help. Her last "friend" told her to buy Bose.......

She wants 5.1 or 7.1, something not "black" and with rack/stands. She will also use this as her main stereo setup along with playing dvd's. She is not into vinyl, and not into "name" systems.

She already has a Sony 42" plasma, but nothing else......speakers, amps, processors, cables, etc...etc.

Suggestions anyone???????
First, some questions and thoughts.

1) If she doesn't mind buying used, she could get a 20K system for the 10K she wants to spend.

2) She should take her room size into consideration before deciding on which speakers to buy... Small speakers in a huge room will may not be appropriate. On the other hand, very large speakers are not appropriate for a small room.

3) If she buys 7 speakers instead of 5, the amount to spend for each speaker will be lower given the same budget. Remember that an extra set of speakers will give you better sound effects but 5 higher quality speakers, you will most probably get better overall sound. 5 higher quality speakers will sound better than 7 cheaper speakers. I would stick with 5 speakers.

4) Today, the 7.1 seems to be the way to go but already today, the 10.1 and 10.2 channels are being considered... She should not try to keep up with the market. Remember, spending 5K on 10 speakers will buy you much cheaper speakers compared to spending 5K on 5 speakers.

4) Is her TV progressive scan? If not, is it really worth to spend money on a progressive scan DVD. She may be better off buying a lower quality DVD player and buy a good quality CD player.

5) She should not spend more than 10%-12% of the total purchase in cabling. I would not go crazy on power cables and rear speaker cables. She should try finding a set of interconnects and loudspeaker cables she likes. Once decided of models, she should look on audiogon for a used set... Buying used speaker cables is a good way to save and since there is no electronics involved, it is pretty safe buying used cables (compared to used amps, preamps, CD players) as long as she knows what brand and model she wants beforehand.

6) As far as electronics are involved, it will be much more expensive buying separate preamp, amp and processor than buying a integrated receiver (remember, if you spend 6K-7K on electronics, there is little room for good speakers). On the other hand, buying a single unit makes it hard to upgrade. You have to change the whole unit...

7) Don't spend too much money on the rear speakers (and side speakers if you go this route) since they only give background sound effects. Your 3 front speakers are much more important... Also, try using the same speaker line for your main and center speakers. If you buy different speakers for the center and main, you may end up with deceiving results.

Enough talking, here's the setup I suggest. This is the setup I used to own before I got a 2 way system... It has a retail price of fewer than 10K...

Harman Kardon AVR-8000 Receiver (Retail:$2,800)
Toshiba SD-9200 DVD Player (Retail:$1,500)
Paradigm Studio 100v2 Main Speakers (Retail: $2,400)
Paradigm Studio CC Center Channel (Retail: $550)
Paradigm Studio 60v2 rear speakers (Retail: $1,200) (she can go with Studio 20 instead)
Paradigm Servo-15 Subwoofer (Retail: $1,500)
Cardas Spreaker cable and interconnects (I use crosslink but you can get better ones)

Note: She can get the HK for $1,550 at Agon, the SD-9200 for around $600... If she buys the whole system used, she can probably get this system for 5K...

One more thing, it is possible to get a better used system used for around 10K but if she wants to buy new, I doubt she can find a better package for this price range...

By the way, the Toshiba SD-9200 is a decent player for 2 channel music.

Important: This is just my opinion. Before buying, I went through several system auditions and felt that this package offered the most for my money. I bought the complete system new.

One more thing, try not to overwhelm her with too much information. Giving her too much info may make her shopping a nightmare.

Good luck and keep us posted


I consider myself a home theater novice, but if I had $10,000 to spend on home theater equipment, I would use at least half of that money to purchase a DLP front projector or used CRT projector AND a high quality screen (I am learning alot about home theater by searching the archives at http://www.avsforum.com).

Your home theater would be "driven" by the large and often film-like picture that these projectors can provide and then be complemented by a moderately priced home theater audio system (e.g. DVD player, AV reciever, satellite / subwoofer speaker system) that probably won't shake the room but can cleanly and UNOBTRUSIVELY reproduce the soundtrack of the movie you are watching.

My preliminary research suggests that there are alot of high quality DLP projectors and used CRT projectors available at street prices from $2000 - $5000 (I personally have found that the reviews and educational articles by Evan Powell at http://www.projectorcentral.com to be very educational and informative).

And that still leaves over $5000 for the audio components. If her system will be dedicated primarily to home theater and not asked to reproduce very high quality 2 channel audio, she should be able to put together a very satisfying system (even new) for that amount of money.

Finally, if your friend is relatively new to audio, I would suggest that she audition a lot of COMPLETE audio systems (I would recommend the same for projector / screen combinations) with source material that she truly enjoys. This will help her define exactly what her audio and video preferences are. Purchasing a complete audio system new from a dealer that she trusts, is informative, and provides fair package deal pricing may actually may actually provide her with more long term "value" because she hopefully won't be quickly drawn into the upgrade cycle that many audiophiles (myself included) found ourselves in when putting together high quality, used components that didnt' synergize well together or really didn't reflect our personal preferences.

Hope this helps!
First, (and I don't mean this in a bad way), women generally enjoy the most elegant (read: easy to use) setup when it comes to electronics. For this reason I'd recommend the Linn Classik DVD, which is a DVD player, processor, preamp, and amp all in one box. Its performance level is EXTREMELY high for such a small box, and it outputs enough power for any HT. These retail for $3000. Only downside: no progressive scan output yet.

For speakers, I'd go with Krix or Totem. Both are beautiful speakers, and Totems new Dreamcatcher surrounds are fantastic with the Linn.

Totem Forest up front, Dreamcatcher Center and Surrounds, and and Adire Audio Rava SE subwoofer (500 bucks through diycable.com...one of the best sub buys on the planet). All this with the Linn would still fall short of the 10K mark, and you could use the rest for decent cables. Cheers!


A very stylish, lightweight (less than 5 lbs.), and compact (footprint is less than an 8 x 11 sheet of paper) DLP projector is the Piano HE-3100 which now retails for approximately $2700. It has no high definition TV inputs and it doesn't accept progressive input but does have a very high quality progressive converter within it (I think it is equivalent to the DVDO plus?) so it might complement the Linn Classic DVD player very well.

Used with a high quality screen in the recommended range of 5 - 6 ft. wide (i.e. up to an 82 inch diagonal 16:9 screen), it can provide a truly cinematic experience in a moderately sized room (if the projector is placed on a tabletop 9.5 ft from the screen, it will fill the 82 inch diagonal 16:9 screen and you shouldn't see any LCD-like screen door effect if you sit 12 ft. from the screen).

If you have a Piano dealer near you, they have apparently been authorized by their headquarters to sell their demo units at $1900 (please note that they contain lamps which must be replaced at 1000 hrs. and which retail for $259).

Their website is http://www.plushometheater.com.
Thanks for the responces so far. I have forwarded them to my friend and she is now trying to digest. She asked me about B&O in a stereo setup with a dvd added. Any info on this. I have zero experience with B&O other than they are expensive setups...william
B&O: Great design but for the price, you can find better sounding...

On the other hand, if aestetics and ease of use is your priority, B&O is a good solution.

I would buy B&O to put in an office or as a bedroom system. Never auditionned B&O for HT...

I think B & O sounds really bad. I dont know if any one else agrees with me.
maybe i'm wrong
Speakers are SOOOOO subjective! However, i have another friend who is considering a $10,000 budget for a HT (but his budget includes video). Without the video piece, I would recommend going to separates (instead of the receiver I'm going to recommend for my friend), and I would consider higher end speakers from these same manufacturers.

I'm pasting my e-mail on speaker recommendations below:

"I've been thinking about your home theater in your new house, and I wanted to send you a few links to explore with Peggy. We'll get to things like receivers, amplifiers, and cables later. For now, I've gone through the VAST array of speaker companies out there and come up with a few that are highly recommended. You would do very well with ANY of these.

http://www.rocketloudspeakers.com/ This speaker brand is internet-only and is manufactured in China. The higher end models use the Vifa XT tweeter, which is a very expensive component not usually found in modest priced speakers. My nOrh 6.9 mains have the same tweeter, and it is excellent. This line has more traditional or elegant looks.

http://www.axiomaudio.com/ Axiom speakers have an excellent reputation for quality sound. They have a traditional "box" design with appeals to most people. I listened to a pair of M3Ti's and compared them directly to my wood nOrh 4.0 speakers. They were a tad brighter than the nOrh's (which sounded a little more refined), and I found the nOrh's to have a wider dispersion in the sound (so you could get the same experience anywhere on the front couch). Still, for the price, I was extremely impressed with the M3Ti's. They performed well beyond expectations for their price.

http://www.norh.com These are the speakers I ultimately bought. Made in Thailand, with free shipping to the US. These are hand-made. The looks are VERY unusual and not for everyone. My wife thinks they look more like artwork than speakers, she loves the non-traditional look, and the shape and material of the cabinets has a significant impact (for the positive) on the sound. No cabinet resonance to fuzz up loud music or movies, lower distortion, cleaner sound, VERY wide dispersion of sound. nOrh makes these in wood, ceramic, synthetic marble, and real marble. It's tough to find a company that will make you SOLID MARBLE speaker cabinets. If you check the News section of their website, you'll see that they have just introduced a low-power integrated tube amp for $399 (?). Combine this with a CD Player and a pair of nOrh's marble 3.0 speakers, and you'd have an outstanding and romantic bedroom system (VERY high quality) for not too much dough. I personally own the SM 6.9 (green) for main speakers, a pair of wood 4.0's, a black marble 4.0 center channel, and a 4.1 prism for rear center. We should plan an evening for dinner, music, and movies at my place so you can listen to and see the nOrh speakers. If you don't like them, it's OK because there are a number of very good choices out there (mentioned on this page).

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/AscendWeb/FrameSet.htm I have not heard the Ascend Accoustics package, but their CBM-170 speaker is extremely well-regarded and has had very good comparative reviews. These are more traditional, bookshelf-type speakers, and you can get them bundled with the HSU VTF-2 subwoofer. The HSU has very good reputation, but in your 20x40 room, you're going to need more than a single VTF-2. HSU has other products you might consider.

http://www.svsubwoofers.com I own two of their 20-39's. For movies and music, the SV Subwoofer is one of the best deals on the planet. For your room, you'll need a pair of 20-39 CS+ subwoofers and a suitable amp to drive them (probably the Samson S1000). If you don't like the look of the SVS, there are other products available that perform as well. These will give you outstanding performance for the buck (you will blow away $4000-5000 subwoofers with a pair of 20-39 CS+).

http://www.hsuresearch.com The HSU VTF-3 subwoofer is probably what you'd need to order if you went with this company. Very impressive performance for the price. You might need 2 of them for your space (give your room dimensions to HSU, and they can advise).

Well, it's Friday, I'm tired, and I'm headin' home. There are numerous other choices available for speaker / subwoofer combinations, so if you don't see anything you like here, I can get you some more options. ANY of these would make you very happy for $$ spent. By the way, on a $10,000 budget, I think you should be planning about $1500-2000 on speakers, another $1500 for subwoofers and amplification. The rest of the budget you'll need for video, cables, a nice AV receiver, a progressive scan DVD player, etc. Of course, how much you finally spend is up to you. If you want to spend more, you can get better stuff (with these companies), but if you're not careful in what you buy, you can spend $20K and be frustrated with your results."

That's it! Enjoy the hunt. Shopping is all part of the fun. :-)

John G

You said that your female friend has a Sony 42" Plasma, right (damn........ lucky her...... I sure wish I could have me a plasma television......... but unlike her, I cannot afford it)??? So with her having the plasma television already, I don't have to factor a "telly" into the system equation this time around. And that alone puts us well ahead of the game. And you since you say she's not into vinyl either, we can skip the vinyl rig as well (man......... she don't know what she's missing, does she). So with that said then, here's what I would suggest:

Speaker System: Snell Acoustics K.5 MkII Speaker System (Includes Fronts, Center, Surrounds, and a Subwoofer) for just $4,000.00

Electronics: For a S/S Processor and a Multi-Channel Power Amplifier, she could check out the Rotel RSP-1066 Controller ($1,500.00) and the matching Rotel RMB-1075 ($1,000.00). And if looks does indeed matter to her, she doesn't have to get these in the standard black finish that they come in. She can add some elegance to this duo and opt for the pair in the new silver finish for the same price she would pay for if she was getting them in black. They look far more attractive in silver. For an Audio/Video Receiver, she could opt for the Denon AVR-4802 for $2,500.00. This is a conservative looking piece no matter which color comes in. I believe it comes in both black (but it's a "conservative looking" black) and gold as well. Again, she may find that this receiver looks attractive to her in gold as well (though, this might be an extra cost added on to the price of the standard receiver. I would advise her to check with either Denon, or an authorized Denon dealer before she finally makes her decision). Or just like "Luc" has said earlier, she can also look at the Harman/Kardon AVR-8000 for about $2,800.00. And I know from personal experience that Harman/Kardon makes a hell of a receiver (as in I own a two year old AVR-210). But compared to the AVR-8000, my AVR-210 looks like a dwarf by comparison. But then again, whose complaining???? I am pretty content with what I have at this time.

DVD Player: For a DVD Player that is going to get the most out of that "sexy" looking plasma that she owns, may I make a pitch for Arcam's DV-88P ($2,100.00)?? Not only this is a top drawer DVD Player, but it is also a formidable CD Player as well. For the price, I say it will challenge ultra expensive players like the Camelot Roundtable and the Pioneer DV-AX10 at about a fraction of their prices. And it comes dressed in an attractive looking silver faceplate as well. Less expensive (but just as worthy) alternatives such as the Sony DVP-S9000ES (which she can get now at either a closeout price or a used price for about $700.00), and the Toshiba SD-9200 ($1,500.00 list brand new, or she should be able to get a used one for about $600.00) are also available, and are worth looking into as well . Or, if she can wait about another month or two, Sony's new ES DVD Player (the DVP-NS999ES...... and it will be priced at about $1,200.00) will also be available, and may very well be worth her checking it out as well.

Cables: In order to offset the potential bright tonal balance that is going to be exhibited by either the speaker system or the electronics I have chosen for her system, as well as getting something that doesn't look like what amounts to be a bunch of expensive garden hoses running across her behind her equipment cabinet and her speakers, may I recommend Cardas cables. To my ears, Cardas cables tend to exhibit a warm and inviting tonal balance when they are used in the correct system (and suspect that THAT system may be hers). If she's willing to put up with a little bulk as well, I like the MIT cables as well (though, they may not be as warm sounding as the cables from Cardas are, but they do deliver an open, insightful, and very involving sound).

Power Conditioning: Finally, for the best picture and cleanest sound possible (without spending a whole lot of money), as well as protecting her expensive investment, I also suggest her look into getting a Monster Cable HTS2500 ($300.00) as well.


If the component approach is not to her liking, then there is always Bang and Olufsen (something that I wouldn't condone, but for her sake, I will make an option for her as well). They do make some respectable sounding gear for the money that she's going to be spending. But if it were my money, then I would probably get the system that I have listed above. I think that for the $10K that she's going to spend, she can do a lot better than a Bang and Olufsen system. But hey, it's her money. So, she's entitled to buy whatever pleases her.

Well that's it for now.

In closing, I would like to wish her the best of luck, and hope she can come up with a system that she's going to be happy with and will be enjoying for a long time to come.

So on that note then, I just want to wish her the best of luck, and would like for her to "enjoy the hunt" like "John G" has said. After all, shopping for the system and then going through the journey of putting it together is the fun part of the audio shopping experience. That can only be topped by enjoying the finished product once she finished shopping for the components that she wants.

Good Luck and Have Fun!!!!!!!!!

To John G:

I know that post that you have posted just before I have written my post last night was meant for someone else, but I just want to thank you anyway for posting those speaker manufacturers in your post in the process. After checking out all of those websites, I may have found what could be my next speaker system. The one I may have taken a particular interest in is the Rocket Science by Onix Model RS-250. This model has the tweeter model that is the same as the one that is featured in your nOrh speaker systems. Because I also pay particular attention to the appearance of a loudspeaker as well as its ultimate sound quality, I was taken by the real woods that they have used to construct their speaker cabinets. I am also intrigued by the performance/price ratio of their speaker systems. Combine them with a subwoofer like an SVS Subwoofer model 20-39 CS+ model, I could have me a killer speaker/sub system without shelling out a lot of dough. I don't think I'll be upgrading my existing speakers no time soon. But you did give me something to become intrigued on and to think about though.

Thanks and Regards!!!!!!!!!

I didn't read all the posts, but here's what I'm asembling right now:
Spendor SP3/1P and SC3 up front ($1200 used); Boston Acoustics VMX surrounds (they're one of the few that sound NATURAL with boundary reinforcement, unlike the PSB or JM Labs); Boston PV1000 sub (Both "B" stock at 50% off).
NAD 751 receiver ($500 B stock).
Lots of Canare 8 Quad speaker wire ($0.41 ft, and thus a giant-killer, at Markertek).
Prexisting ProScan 31" TV ($900; will upgrade eventually).
Total cost about $3500 ($5000 new?).
Will let you know how it sounds when finished.
I'm already enjoying the Spendors is 2 ch FM immensely.
Considering they're 1/10 the price of my ref system Parsifal Encores I'm MIGHTY pleased....
No one has really said much about subwoofers. For the price of this system, some additional bass may be required to enhance the "effects" in the low frequencies. Assuming appearance is important to your friend, she may want to consider something small and inobtrusive, that won't break the bank, like the Velodyne SPL 1200 or the HGS 10. Also if she needs a rack, the Lovan Classic I is being offered by Audio Advisor for a great price of $199.00. Good luck and happy shopping.