My idea of middle of the road (moderate) for processing, power, source and speakers to be $3000 to $6000. Is the price range that your friend is looking at spending?
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This is a complete system at best buy $2400. Yamaha/Sony/Klipsch Synergy III 1,630W 5.1-Ch. Premium DVD Cinema System. they have simular systems for $1400 and $1800 this is the best bang for the buck systems. I perfer a Harmond Kardon receiver much better mate with Klipsch but b.b. doesn't sell H.K. Circut City does. Go on line to best buy look up Cinema System Yamah Klipsch and take your pick
Keep it simple or she won't use it! I would get a receiver and DVD of the same brand for starters so she can use 1 remote. I'm not into the theater in a box deals.
Don't worry about 6.1 or 7.1, find a simple to use 5.1. THX doesn't matter but, make sure it has DPL II (dolby pro-logic 2).
MY BIGGEST GRIPE WITH MOST of the lower priced receivers is the impedances they can drive-BE CAREFUL. Many will say 4 or 6 ohms but if you read carefully, that is only into 2 speakers. Make sure they can handle the impedance into all 5 speakers. I was ready to kill someone at yamaha when I hit this problem. That's another good point for klipsch since they are easy to drive.
My final advice-spend a good buck on the sub. Newbies love to hear/feel the bass. A good sub will also alleviate a lot of the power needs for the main 5 since most of the power used is for bass. A nice 250 klipsch will make up for only having a 60 watt hk receiver by setting the crossover for small speakers and sending all bass (usually below 80hz) to the sub.
What area is she in? You may get some great suggestions for local stores. The big box places usually don't have Denon, Marantz, Sony ES or similar which will all crush similar priced HK or JVC from Circuit City. Just look for yourself-a little denon may have less features and power but will be better built and easier to use.
All of the above recommendations are great, the best you can do limiting yourself to big box stores. I would recommend you try Crutchfield.com. Their prices are as good or better, their sales people really know what they're doing (versus seasonal high school kids), and their customer service is great if there is any need to return or for assistance with set up etc. They have some mid-fi stuff but are generally aimed at the mass consumer.
If your friend is ready to buy an all out home theater system for around $1,500.00 to $2,000.00, and if this is for a female, then I would go along with "Elevick" on the fact that the Receiver and the DVD Player must be from the same brand, so that the Receiver's remote control can control both, the Receiver itself and the DVD Player when she wants to look at a movie, otherwise, she can still use the remotes that independently came with the components when she wants to look at a movie without surround sound, or if she wants to listen to music when she doesn't want to look at a movie. I have always been against "HTiB" systems in the past, and I don't feel compelled to recommend one now. But the system(s) I'm about to recommend below probably would be one that I would PROBABLY put together for a friend or relative who isn't as knowledgable about audio and home theater gear as I am, and those would be systems I would not buy for myself. But nonetheless, these systems are affordable and decent. But definitely, I wouldn't buy neither of these systems for myself. So then, without further ado......... here we go.........
If I am shopping at Best Buy, then this is what I would buy:
(01). Speaker System -- Klipsch Quintet III + Klipsch SUB-10 -- $500.00 (Klipsch Quintet III) + $408.00 (Klipsch SUB-10) = $908.00
(02). Audio/Video Receiver -- Yamaha HTR-5830SL -- $200.00
(03). DVD Player -- Yamaha DVS-5750 -- $153.00
For a total of $1,261.00, and with the difference left over, your friend can opt for some inexpensive, but decent interconnects and speaker cables that can smooth out the potentially bright high-end this system may deliver, but can keep the midrange intact for the "all too important" dialog.
And if I am shopping at Circuit City, then this I what I would buy:
(01). Speaker System -- Polk RM6750BK (Complete Speaker System......... Includes Subwoofer........ Nothing extra to buy) -- $500.00 (provides decent sound for the money)
(02). Audio/Video Receiver -- Sony STR-DE698 -- $300.00
(03). DVD Player -- Sony DVP-NS50PS -- $80.00
For a total of $880.00, and with the HUGE difference left over, opt for some cables that will make the system sound respectable, and then maybe your friend can throw in some stands and some DVD's for good measure.
Good Luck and Happy Shopping (to you and your friend)
P.S.: Also...... Happy Holidays