What to look for

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I'm limited in knowledge of home theater equipment and hoping someone can
help me. Basically, I want to install a 5.1, maybe a 7.1 surround sound
system in my basement along with my TV. Though, I know I can pretty much buy
a Yamaha, Denon, Onkyo, etc. and have a decent system (or maybe not) but
what I'd really like to know is....what do I look for in a good system for a
moderate price? Nothing extravagant but nothing cheap. If you were to
basically tell someone to go shopping for a receiver with a list of what to
look for, what would they be?

Thank you for any help I can receive.

Re: What to look for
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When I was spending my own money I liked Harmon Kardon Dolby
recievers. (During a home remodel the cat pissed through the vents on
top, unbeknownst to me until later.) Despite a good clean sound all
the way up to 'way too loud', they are not indestructible.   ;])

Right now I have an RCA unit I bought off the shelf (its in storage)
and am using an old Sony just to get by with.

Each of these brands have pluses and minus; mostly in the user
interface portion actually. Somebody else will have another take on it
but unless you have a particular need (two kinds of hardware that
_must_ work without fail), then you are going to find way too many
choices to choose from.

See if you can spend some time in the high end showrooms and try the
things out with power running through them and see if the ergonomic
part of the equation sits right with you.

One last thing; some setups power the sub channels from the central
unit but I find sending the signal to self powered sub, while a bit to
initially setup the right balance, is a better set up down the road.


Re: What to look for

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I guess you need to decide what you want a receiver to do.  Do you
want the receiver to do video up-converting?   If you want save money,
let your video gear do any up conversion.  
Another thing to look for is video/audio switching.  Most brands
(including some of the ones you mention) have lower end models that
will only switch video via HDMI and require another connection for
audio.  If you want to limit cables this may be important to you.  

The number of digital-audio-in connections and or HDMI-in might also
be important if you want to run all of your video to the amp or want
to run only the audio (from your video components) through it.  

Do you want only 5.1 or 7.1...or more.  If your speaker set-up limits
you to 6 or 8  speakers, then you don't need more capability unless
you can expand later.  I also agree that a powered sub-woofer is worth
the effort but can add quite a bit to speaker costs.  

Some brands of equipment have their own system for remote
communications between their own components.  This may be important to
some people as a matter of convenience.  With today's remotes there
are usually pretty easy work arounds to run just about any equipment
with one remote.

There are a probably a lot more things to consider.  Use the web to
search for components you are interested in.  Reviews are helpful but
I think more to learn what certain equipment is capable of more than
brand quality.  People who have problems will always complain but
those who don't, rarely feel the need to say so.

Mike O.

Re: What to look for
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Nowadays, I'd suggest a receiver with good room correction,
such as the Denons with Audyssey MultEQX .  HDMI in/outputs
should be standard by now too.

After that the main decision is what speakers to buy.
They'll make the biggest difference.  

Poe's Law: Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humorous
intent, it is impossible to create a parody of a religious Fundamentalist that
SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing.

Re: What to look for
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There's a lot of discussion these days of "future-proof" receivers.
It's worth considering. The various faqs and discussions available
here are a good place to start:

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