HT advice


Let's say I'm budgeting 4K for a home theater system. What speakers & receivers would give me the best bang for the buck, or am I just kidding myself at this budget level?

I have a small, cozy listening room with a 27 inch Sony Vega TV and a Sony SACD/DVD unit. My speakers and receiver are obviously outdated and not HT ready.

Musically speaking, I'm into prog. rock, acoustic/electric guitar soloists, (Bensusan, Hedges, Juber, Keaggy, Shawn Lane, Eric Johnson, etc.) some fusion, little or no jazz or classical.

So far, I've only auditioned Vienna Acoustics Bach, Haydn, and Waltz speakers at a local Tweeter,(no, the salesman didn't try to sell me a pair of shoes :) I really like what I heard and the rosewood look is stunning.

Theatrically speaking, Sci Fi, horror, concert, and anything with good acting and cimematography.(what a concept)

I thought this would be a good forum to ask for advice and recommendations.

You can get a good deal on multi channel amp and pre pro processor at outlaw audio. 5-channel amp, two hundred watts per channel $1299. preamp processor $899. They have a deal going on right now at their web site - Processor+7 channel amp $2500. I hear they make good gear for the money. That would leave enough $$$ for 5 speakers. If your room is small you would not need real big speakers.
I would recommend used components where possible. And I would recommend a 2-channel music/HT system as your sound quality is likely to be much better since you would be buying less equipment but the quality would be potentially far better.

With that said, I'd recommend the following:

o Odyssey Stratos very highly rated amp new from at $1000.
o Odyssey Tempest pre new from at $1000.
o Sony DVP s9000es DVD/SACD/CD player used for about $600.
o Bag End Infra-sub 18inch subwoofer used for about $800.
o Aerial Acoustic Model 5 or similar speaker used for about $1000.

That puts you at $4400 and you don't have any cables yet which would be about $1000 or so used. But temporarily, you could get by spending about $300 on used cables. In the right room, this would be an excellent sounding budget system for music and HT. And you can always expand or trade later. I also believe that with a system such as this, you may not even consider multi-channel as a good 2-channel system will more than suffice when watching a good movie or concert.

I think I can handle this one better than most here from an experience stand point. And I myself have been in a similar place as you, with the similar kinds of music demands and tastes! I like music that is VERY DYNAMIC AND DEMANDING(even at lower levels), as well as the almighty HT dynamically demanding medium.
Now, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE USING A RECEIVER, and you are in a small environment that will likely have some difficult BASS MODE CHALLENGES, might I consider some EASY TO DRIVE,BASS LIMITED monitors that are fast and dynamic, and let a WELL POSSITIONED subwoofer handle the bass for ALL SITUATIONS!?! and HT! You could also use some floor stands possitioned out in to the room a bit, but I would still STRONGLY RECOMMEND cutting em off as "small" on your receiver, and letting a more adept POWERED SUB handle the bass. Receivers especially are going to be too weak to properly handle dynamics and bass for anything that demands HIGH CURRENT(i.e, Rock,HT,and similiarly dynamically demanding). The active sub is going to help you out tremendously. And while you could get excellent dynamic results using speakers with POWERED WOOFERS built in, which help a receiver out tremendously dynamically, you'll still have to either run em as "small" on your receiver (too boomy otherwise because of small room bass mode problems), or EQ the crud out of the bass drivers(which is do-able,but trickier).
A simple and effective sollution for your Rock and HT needs for high end great sound(I assume you want that) in that space-challenged apartment, would be to use the dynamite, dynamic, fast, coherent, musical and "small room flexible" Dunlavy SCIav monitor!(used $400 ea). There are serveral Audio/HT mag reviewers that have used these over the years, because they're excellent, and fit into smaller spaces well!Robert Deutsch and Steve Stone From SGHT mage are two of them.
The Dunlavy's play down to only about 70hz effectively, and do best closer to the walls than most. They're easy to drive and 91db sensitive, wich will also help your receivers amps greatly.
YOu can match 3 fronts of these up with 2 more of these in the rear/sides, or add a very simalar sounding M&K tripole for the rears in stead. You'll need a very good sounding receiver to match the analytical and Matter-of-fact sounding Dunlavy's, so don't skimp there(infact, separates would be best if you could.
Never the less, something like a good used B&K AVR305/7 receiver would do well sonically as a match. Even better, would be the separates route, using even a modest Parasound 855a($350 used) amp and something like an Acurus ACT 3 or Classe SSP25($600-$1100used) Add a very fast, musical, tight, ultra dynamic and authoritative M&K MX series sub to the mix, and you'd have a DYNAMITE, FAST, HIGHLY DYNAMIC, MUSICAL,CLEAR, AND ACCURATE sounding HT/music system for your small space! The Amps would match the speaker perfectly, and the preamps are as clean as a whistle!
Broken down, it would look like this:

3ea)Dunlavy SCIav's---$1200 used approx.
2ea)M&K SS150 tripoles---$600 used approx.
1ea)M&K MX150 THX subwoofer---$600-700 used approx
1ea)Parasound HCA855a/HCA1205a--$350-700 used
1ea)Acurus ACT 3 or Classe SSP25 pre/pro's---$600-$1100 used
Or substitute amp and pre for B&K AVR305/7--$1000-1200

The above system choices are going to be unbeatable mostly for you! You could substitute floor standers for the likes of PSB Stratus Silver I's and C5/6 center and PSB Mini Rears(Former Stereophile Silver Award winning "dream system"), but it's a harder system to drive with more placment challenges. The powered Def TEch's are also trickier for you, and are not quite as refined, but dynamic and easy to drive! Either way, you're still going to have to consider speaker wires and interconnects of quality, so you might factor those in as well. And if you wanted to REALLY GET INTO tweeking out your sound sometime, get a parametric EQ for your sub!
Anyway, have fun...that's my recommendation

First off, I have a question concerning your TV and your DVD/SACD Player. Being that you live in a "space" challenged environment, I would like to know is are you satisfied with your 27" Sony Wega TV?? Or do you intend to upgrade to a bigger set sometime in the near or "not-too-distant" future??? And if you choose to upgrade to a bigger set, then are you going to upgrade to a "high-end" progressive scan DVD Player as well???? Those are the two things I am unclear on at the moment. Because, just in case you are, then I am going to do a system for you below, right along with upgradable modifiers which are going to factor in a bigger TV and a better DVD Player just for you to consider later on, if you should choose to go down that road.

But anyway, for a home theater system that you should be happy with now, and in the long run, then I am going to recommend the following combination below.

Going along with "Sogood51", being that your room is small, you are not going to need big speakers, nor are you going to need a lot of power. But nonetheless, I am going to design a "separates" based home theater system that is going to be small in scale only, but big enough to give you a lot of ooomph and performance for the space that you have to work with.

Assuming that you are going to keep your current TV and DVD Player right now, then this is the system I would go with.

And that is as follows:

Speaker System: Aerial Acoustics Model 5 (x4) + Aerial Acoustics Model CC3B + REL Acoustics Strata II or III -- $1,000.00 + $800.00 + $900.00 = $2,700.00 (all used)

Power Amplifier: Outlaw Model 7100 (100 Watts x 7) -- $900.00

Pre/Pro: Outlaw Model 950 -- $900.00

With the system that I have just listed above, you are sitting at $4,500.00 already, and you still haven't gotten any cables or any power protection yet. For cables, I would go with entry-level Cardas (or their "step-up" cable..... but nothing higher at this point..... at least until either your budget has recovered, or if you have upgraded to better equipment at that point) or MITerminator 2 and their video cables as well. And for power protection, I would go with something like a Monter Cable HTS2500.

And later on, if you want to upgrade your TV and your DVD Player, then I would do the following:

Television/Monitor: Mitsubishi WT-42311 (42" Widescreen RP-HDTV) or Panasonic PT-47WX52 (47" Widescreen RP-HDTV)...... and both of these sets are designed for small rooms. Prices are $2,200.00 and $2,300.00 respectively.

DVD Player: Sony DVP-S9000ES Progressive Scan DVD/SACD/CD Player -- $650.00 (used) or Sony DVP-NS999ES Progressive Scan DVD/SACD/CD Player -- $1,200.00 (new)

Those would be my suggestions right now.

Good Luck and Have Fun........