How do I start?

I'm a newbie in this arena, but would like to get started. Probably like most people, I'm on a tight budget. I decided I'm going to just start by buying piece by piece. I've got a cheap 27" TV and a cheap DVD player already. My plan is to buy something each year for my system. My question to you experts is what should I buy first? I don't necessarily mean brands (but if you want to recommend some that's fine too) rather should I start with getting a receiver, speakers, etc.? I'm thinking about $1000-$1500 is my starting budget. Thanks in advance for any help,

Keep it simple: a multichannel receiver and a full set of speakers. For this round at least, buy your cables and interconnects from Radio Shack. Some A-goners will pooh-pooh this suggestion, but in your price range Sound & Vision is a better source of product info than the higher-end rags. They've done some good roundups of components in the past, so find a local library that gets it and you'll get some good advice.
Hey Nrchy,

Congratulations on having such a mature and insightful son. He must know the frustration of having a single terrific component that cannot be enjoyed because of the limitations of the rest of the system. I'm not sure how your 10 year old figured out that for sah's first system he has to comprimise and that bringing his entire system to the best level that he can afford as a first step will bring him the most enjoyment now. Then when the upgrades occur sah can concentrate on the one-at-a-time approach.


Speakers first is the rule for everyone. Match them to your room and musical tastes then get an amp that will drive them, fine tune the sound with wire.

If I were starting out building my home theater from scratch today, then this is what I would do:

(01). I would buy my speaker package first. And that means I would buy my speaker package this year. Concentrating solely on the speakers allow me the opportunity to invest in quality instead of just sticking to a price point. Investing in quality now will do nothing but pay off BIG dividends next year when I am finally ready to buy a receiver.


(02). I would buy my receiver next year. Again, doing the "one component at a time" approach allows me the opportunity to invest in quality. So, instead of getting a $500.00 receiver next year, then why not go ahead and get one the costs about $1,000.00. That way, you will end up with a receiver that's going to get the optimum performance out of the speakers that you're going to select this year. That would be what I would do.

But now, if I wanted to do everything all at one time, then this what I would start out with:

Speaker Package: Polk Audio -- About $500.00.
Audio/Video Receiver: Harman/Kardon AVR-225 -- About $500.00.
Television/Monitor: Panasonic CT-27SX12 -- About $600.00.
DVD Player: Toshiba SD-2800 -- About $130.00.

As you can see, you can put together a whole home theater system for less than $2,000.00 (something that I thought was impossible even over a year ago), and then when the upgrade bug finally hits you, you can always upgrade a piece at a time later on when your budget allows.

Regards and Good Luck.........

If you stick with a 2 channel system (my recommendation) you may be able to afford seperates up front( there are some nice value pieces advertised right here on Audiogon). Perhaps an intergrated amp as a compromise. You seem to be planning a long term upgrade approach. Thats fine, but having pieces is not having a system. Unless you see the most fantastic bargain you might as well hold onto your money till you can afford the system you want. More often than not the pieces that are useless by themselves will be depreciating with out use. A reciever may have the most bang for the buck, but it will certainly make it more difficult to pursue an upgrade path. At the sake of being redundant. IMHO, as you already have sources, think room, speakers, power, control and wires in that order. Good luck!