home theater in a box?

I need to get a gift for a family member who is not an audio enthusiast but wants a home theater starter. Smallish room and I want an idiot proof set up for about 1,000$. I have looked at the sony, polk, boston acoustics and others, but I am so far removed from this midfi arena I am very hopeful someone in audiogon nation has some experience here. thanks.
If you live near a Best Buy, check out the Yamaha system.
It retails for around your price range, the receiver is much better than most one box systems and the DVD player has the DCDi circutry from Faroudia. Good Luck!....................Vader


The very modest home theater system that I currently enjoy very much is an Outlaw 1050 A/V receiver (MSRP $499 + $35 UPS Ground shipping direct from outlawaudio.com) and the Acoustic Research HC-6 satellite / subwoofer system (MSRP $800, but I've seen "street prices" at this website as low as $379 - $400 + shipping charges recently).

I have my speakers mounted on Standesign BB-75 (adjustable) stands, but feel that they would actually work just as well, if not better, resting on generic MDF shelfs with or without small amounts of Blu-Tak or poster putty to stabilize them.

I have tried Acoustic Zen and Luminous Audio interconnects as well as Rhino cables and get the impression that any competently designed and built, fairly neutral sounding interconnects will do just fine here. Outlaw sells some twisted pair, single crystal copper (ala Harmonic Technology and Acoustic Zen!) cables that look very promising and only cost about $50 for 1 or 2 meter pair! Acoustic Research also makes some modestly priced interconnects that appear to represent good value and probably sound very good in this modest system.

I am currently using Kimber 4TC and 4VS speaker cable and again feel that these are overkill for such a modest system. Acoustic Research makes some 18G solid core copper wire in a superthin configuration that I think retails for $1 / ft., but probably sells for $0.50 - $0.60 / ft at varous internet sources.

The overall presentation of this system, for HOME THEATER, is clean, clear, and the soundscape is really impressively continous and coherent as sounds pass from one speaker to another. Overall, the system is slightly subtractive, but I think it's compromises are well chosen, especially with so many "hot" soundtracks on DVD.

This system won't play tremendously loud and the bass doesn't go extremely deep, but the overall sound really contributes to drawing you into the the movie and increasing your enjoyment.

I am very happy with this modest system and would commit any other funds to a high quality DLP projector and screen (the Piano Plus HE-3200 and HE-3100 look very promising, indeed; their website is plushometheater.com) before I consider investing any more money in the audio aspect of my home theater.

Hope this help!

P. S. - If you read the various reviews of these 2 components, you will find that they excel as a 5.1 channel home theater system, but don't work nearly as well as a 2 channel audio system (the crossover between the satellite and subwoofer becomes way too obvious).
I would probably also go to Best Buy or Circuit City in your case. I think Mshan has gone overboard (ie, not idiot proof). Your friends sound like they just want to watch movies, and would not appreciate a Videophile setup. Onkyo makes nice stuff at a good price. Boston Accoustic speakers are fine. Get them some fatter gauge speaker wire (12 awg) than the typical thin (16 awg cable). Also, get something better than the plastic $5 interconnect and video cables.

Denon makes really good HT stuff and they have a brand new theater in a box setup for under $800.


is a good link that "regular folks" not "nuts like us" offer reviews on this kind of stuff. You may get some good insight there. They also compare prices for you.

Good luck
Go with Vader007's rec. The farudja chip is the chit.
Check out the Aego5, both with and without their processor.

WhatHiFi gave it 5 stars last month, calling it the best one-box small system out there. Same speakers that Michael Fremer raved about in Stereophile (Mar. 2001) as a stereo channel system, but expanded into 5 sats and sub.

Tiny Satellites about the size of a coffee cup take very little room; and a nice, smallish, very musical sub. Similar to Bose in size, but sounds alot better and handles more power. Colors are black or white.

You can buy just the speaker system for $799, or get it with their processor for $1198. The processor package is small and offers DD, and DTS, plus some input switching (but no video switching). It's good for someone using it mainly for DVD use.

If you want more flexibility, and have a tuner included, you might shop for a receiver, that would also include a tuner, and then buy the speaker package.

We are a dealer of the Aego.
Aego...I believe made by acoustic energy...regardless i heard it on a fluke while looking for other stuff-for the $$ it was impressive.

Good Luck,


I also like Vader007's idea. Go to your local Best Buy and check out one of the Yamaha systems that they carry. You should be able to get an A/V Receiver, a DVD Player, and a Speaker Package for around $1,000.00 or so. All you need to do after that is add a TV.

Good Luck.

I too wanted the Aego 5, i hear a lot of good things about it. The only problem is that Acoustic Energy Loudspeakers are hard to find. If i were you, i would get the system and the processor. Good Luck!!!