the sub will do I suspect. it really is a vital aspect of HT however, so your preffs there will determine if it is or not later on.
Well, here's the deal as I know it on the 5.1 to 7.1 schemes. It's partly marketing, and partly the sound field being generated via the newer video and audio formats..
Marketing says, hmmm sell more gear... mo speakers, more players, more DVDs, more cables.
Tech says, Hmm But its better! Youll get a more cohesive sound field than 5.1 by adding 2 more speakers, and increasing fidelity via the newer audio formats that are being palced onto HD/BR DISCS. Like DD X, True, DTS HD, etc
. and weve fixed the need for a multitude of cabling! Not to mention but a few items.
Just like the initial Dolby Pro Logic format enhanced or enlarged the sound field by emulating virtual rear speakers, it was morphed into differing versions later on which seem to perform better, PL III, and now PL X. Same thing with these other 'newer' audio formats. They offer greater fidelity ie., better sound and better images and a more immersive experience.
using older 5.1 procs will require you to use added cabling at least... and have your player do all the decoding duties for these BR discs. On SD discs it will be no prob.
The key IMHO for HT is the AV processor. Certainly you can do work arounds on older procs by using the decoding powers of the players analog outs, provided it has analog outputs, and does the decoding as well. Therefore an older proc is a viable method, but will require the need for added cabling for recreation of the sound fields and formats your new Blue Ray player can provide you and which the older procs dont support the decoding abilities.
Also many of the previous 5.1 AV procs won't pass the HD video signals above 480P or I, but do check on that part for yourself. It would seem to me that whatever was being output from your player via which ever cabling option in use would then be passed along.
Higher Video resolutions will need at least component video cables. HDMI seems an easier and cost effective solution.
One of the aspects of this recent move to HDMI was to do a few things
create a solution for cabling issues making HT a simpler item altogether, improve video resolution and protect copyrights.
If component cabling via your BR player doesnt allow for HD VIDEO output, although it should, you'll have to run the video out right to the display instead... This too can present an issue IF the player doesn't provide for lip sync of the image to the audio. Sometimes this isn't much of an issue but it can be with lengthy cable runs, this is just another reason for getting a newer AV processor rather than older 5.1 types.
One important bit about HDMI is this... the upsampling of lesser video signals to high def ones.
I can appreciate your desire to ease into an HT system. The issue you have made for yourself here is the HD video gear you just got. Thats the easy part, getting the HD video info off the disc is only half the battle. Its the audio part that runs into more money and more decisions. BTW
. Hollywood knew that part too.
HDMI in conjunction with some upsampling players and/ore processors or receivers, allows you the ability to upsample SD video to higher res formats, like 720P 1080i, and 1080P, off of SD (480p) DVDs. Using Component video cabling will NOT allow this to occur.
All of this makes for a compelling argument for a new AV receiver with HDMI 1.3 utility, IF current budgetary constraints are in place.
With one on hand you could then take your time on the upgrade path.
and add speakers and/or amps, then upgrade your sub, THEN maybe go off for a shiny new separate AV proc when you feel more comfortable as all else will then be in place. IMHO
Take my own HT deally for example. It is very modest, yet still a pretty pricey investment and centered around an AV reciever, ranter than separates in order to save money.
I built my own 120 screen, $200.
I bought a second hand DLP 720P projector that used to retail for $3500 a year ago, for $550.
Paid to have both physically installed. $275.
Bought 3 HDMI cables, $125 ($65 for a 26ft.).
Bought a .3 HDMI receiver with 7.1 at 130 wpc. $800.
Added a new 2ch SS amp. $1150.
bought new 1.5 Meter Audio Art Cables to connect the AV rec to the 2 ch amp, $125.
Bought 170ft. of new Canare 4s11 speaker wire to connect the center and rear speakers. $150. terminations for the cabling. $40.
Bought brand new Sound Anchor stands for the rear speakers, $250. Still need one for the center speaker.
Bought a used Velodyne DD 15 sub, $1850.00.
Bought a new Oppo SD DVD player, $400.
I then needed more shelving so I bought a Wally World wooden rack, $125.
I had to run all the cabling for the PJ & Spkrs on the ceiling, (center ch. and rears) via Wirehider conduit
Previous lighting had to be moved and or eliminated, so new lighting was needed, $1400 installed.
Lutron remote dimmer, $70.
HT needs Center and rear speakers? Well I chose to go with the same brand so as to match better the audio transitions in the sound fields/formats, so 3 more silverline units which mate to my existing Silverlines were bought. 2 SR 15 preowned, $750. one new center stage middle ch front $1000.
Then when the video got fired up the projector threw off so much light from that large screen the walls had to be painted and the ceiling too as they were creams and whites. $550.
The carpeting? Same thing, add $1000.
Area rugs too BTW
Gotta have some acoustical treatments, doing it all DIY, so far just in materials about $350.
This is also with me using my existing mains and their cabling, total, $6.5K.
Needed to close off the room and make it a more dedicated area by adding doors to the openings, so add another $1800.
Thats my easing into it, budgetary and very modest HT 720P 5.1ch system that ran me only $21,600
I am going to add another 3 ch amp and likely another sub for the rears, and I still need more draperies to cover the big screen. Probably thatll be another $500
Going to 7.1 Ill need to add one more pair of speakers. $???
My worst move in all this?
Not thinking ahead. Extensively.
When I bought new furniture last Xmas I bought it to match the creams beiges, and whites of the old color scheme. It works still, but could be bettered, though no time soon as theres $2500 in just 2 chairs a recliner and love, and they aint a year old yet. lol