You have to start by telling us what you're looking for. How much do you want to spend? $500? $5000? I'm guessing closer to the former than the latter. Next, what do you want your system to be able to play--CDs, DVDs, LPs, radio, etc. You can do better than home theater in a box, but you need to think about what you want first.
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Read a lot of the threads here. Starting out new and finding this site is a big advantage. Use other's experience here instead of wasting money on your own.
On the home page, on the right hand side, choose discussion forums. At that point, you can search for whatever you want. I think for a starter system, you may want to choose newer components instead of early 90's components. The early 90's gear may be hard to find and won't be able to keep up with the newer gear (especially in terms of digital gear).
With a little research on this site and others you can build a system that outperforms a home theater in a box and spend the same amount of money. If you buy used, you'll be even farther ahead.
These things depriciate quickly.
Used is usually better if you are budget concious.
Early 90's gear may work to an extent. You may be able to find a matching center to your speakers-I doubt it.
One thing that I find very important is to have your front 3 speakers and amps the same.
You may end up using your speakers for the rears or finding a matching center.
It is less likely that you will find a 3/4 channel amp that will match your stereo amp (if you have a receiver, sell it). A nice stereo amp may sell for enough to buy some HT gear.
My last bit of advice: Don't skimp on the sub or center channel. They handle the bulk of the work.
Take a look at Outlaw Audio for components http://www.outlawaudio.com/...Parts Express has subwoofer kits that "ANYONE" can build http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?&DID=7&Partnumber=300-760
Speakers?....go out and listen to a few if you can...buy 5 of what you like. If you can't go listen for some reason, research here and at other forums (Audiocircle forum comes to mind for budget gear) for good speakers...lots of info because everyone is at some time or another looking for them.
Digital?...Another search will turn up tons of suggestions in the budget range...I'd spend around $500 here if music is more important than movies.
Pabelson gives some good advice. First, you/we need to know the intended purpose of the system. Are you going to listen to music only, or is it going to be a Home Theater system? What formats does it need to play, ie CD, DVD, radio, TV, LP, etc.?
We also need to know your budget. Decide your budget and stick to it. If you have some components from an old system that you may want to use, list them here so people can help you determine if they are useful in the new system.
You have a huge choice concerning the number of speakers you plan to use. Personally, if you have a limited budget, I would suggest that you forget about trying to set up a multi-channel HT system. It is much easier to set up a good sounding inexpensive 2-channel system vs. a 5.1 (or more) channel system.
Provide a few more details and you will likely get some valuable advice.
For the responces I'm thankful. I only have an Onkyo TX 902 tuning amp that I may consider using if possible. My emphasis is mainly listening to music(although my wife and daughter rents/buys on the minimum 15 DVD's monthly so I may have to consider more). $500 seems to be a more realistic budget right now. I know DVD players are capable of playing CD's but the aforementioned Onkyo is not A/V so I may be limited there. I will do more research here and maybe other sites others mentioned here. Thanks all will be listening for more advice.
If the Onkyo is still working, there is no reason why you can't still use it. You can simply buy a DVD player and connect it via L&R RCA analog outputs to any of the available inputs on the Onkyo (like CD). You would need to go into the menu of the DVD player and set it up for "stereo" or "PCM" output. This will force the DVD to output all sound through the L&R stereo outputs of the DVD player. So, for CDs it would play as a normal CD player. For DVDs, it would down-mix the 5.1 channel outputs to a 2-channel output.
So, if you plan to use the Onkyo, you would only need to buy a DVD/CD player and 2 speakers for now.
If you plan to stick to your $500 budget, I would suggest looking for a pair of floorstanding speakers in the $400 range and then buying a $100 (or less) DVD player. I've read plenty of reviews from folks that were very happy with the audio from a sub-$100 DVD player. I'm not one of those folks, but I'm the obsessive type!
For floorstanders, I know you can get the Athena 2.2 for $400 from www.audioadvisor.com and they come with a 30 day return policy. I would also suggest asking for $400 speaker recommendations in a new post. List the equipment you plan to use, i.e. Onkyo TX-902 and an inexpensive DVD player. You might get some great suggestions.....