Home Stereo systems: What's good these days?

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Member Since: Dec 04, 2007

So, my brother is wanting to build (or rebuild) a home stereo system so he can start really listening to music again. His dream is to have a database with all his songs, and have it so he can access that database wirelessly, and listen to the music over the stereo systems.

Now....as far as speakers go, I've heard some Paradigm speakers in the past, and I was quite pleased with their sound, so I recommended them as safe brand to go with.

I have no idea what's what with stereo receivers these days. He posted a link to a $700 Marantz receiver. I've heard of the brand, but can't remember if they were decent or not.

I'll have some budget info posted when I get it from him. So, anyway, what are good brands to consider these days as far as stereo receivers, and speakers that are good quality, but won't necessarily completely destroy the bank?

I think we're looking for good quality, not necessarily all that audiophile snake-oil crap hehe.

Some links he sent me were to that Marantz receiver, an M-CR603.

Some Cue Acoustics PS-1 speaker system, which I haven't heard of. cue.com/ps1-preview.html

Sonos Play:3 wireless hi-fi player www.sonos.com/shop/products/play3

And a Samsung HW-D7000 A/V Receiver with a built-in blu-ray player. www.samsung.com/us/video/home-theater/HW-D7000/ZA

The samsung is probably a fairly safe consideration I think. But no idea bout those two speaker systems, or the Marantz.

Also, Klipsch used to make some good budget-level bookshelf speakers. They still considered decent, or have they fallen a bit in the last decade?

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Since: Apr 03, 2002

Dec 13, 2011 05:39 pm

Ya know, I have put together a half dozen home theaters over the last few years for myself and friends, and I have found that even some of the most meager home systems these days are pretty darn good...for typical consumer use. I have one RCA and one Sony system in my house and actually the best is brought out in both by the speaker placement and furniture placement.

The big difference in price these days seems to be in features...how many HDMI inputs there are, if 7.1/2 whether satellites 6 and 7 are powered or if you need an external amp...which is lame, but it's actually common. A few bucks more will get you 7 POWERED satellites. Another higher dollar feature is an iPod dock or interface of some sort.

The weak spot in speakers, in my opinion, is often in the subwoofer moreso than the satellites. The cheaper ones will rattle quicker.

One thing overlooked is with X.1 systems...one sub is lowering the affect of the sub, get two, it betters the sound a lot...they compliemnt each other when placed properly. My livingroom theater sounded OK, I had one little subwoofer with 2 four inch subs in it, when we built a big wall unit and fireplace surround, I disassembled the sub, and took the two speakers and mounted under the fireplace hearth facing in opposite 45 degree angles from the sweet spot...made a huge difference in bass response.

Of course, you are using the word "stereo", and I realize that, but since a "stereo" really doesn't exist any more, they are all surround systems with subwoofers...so I gauged my opinion accordingly.

Since: Dec 04, 2007

Dec 13, 2011 09:52 pm

Yeah, totally agree on furniture placement. I had a coworker once who gave me his room setup and shape, and he was going to get his roommate to help move things around, and I made suggestions on where to place the TV, couch, speakers. etc. to try to make the most of the room. He said it was very much improved after they were done.

But yeah, I'm curious as to what some of the decent mid-level brands are. As for the speaker system; if he can afford it I'll probably recommend one of the Paradigm setups. I really liked the sound of those monitor 5's when I heard them a few years back, and while they're good on their own, they do fit in as satellite speakers in a larger setup.


Edit: Also, I agree on the receiver components. I think I'm pretty fond of Phillips these days on DVD players and the like. They probably make a decent receiver as well.

Edit Edit:
So this is what I'm recommending to him. Getting the paradigms, and either going with floorstanding as fronts or bookshelves all around, and 1 or 2 subs, depending on the setup. A 5.1 setup should run less than $2000 for the speakers (depending on if he goes with the larger or smaller floorstanding speakers) A 7.1 setup might run into the $3000 range depending.

Then I told him to look at reviews on bestbuy for the receiver. A decent 5.1 receiver should run maybe $300-ish, and a 7.1 receiver around $450 to $500-ish.

So I figure the total cost should be maybe around $2500 for a 5.1 setup and a round $4000 tops for the 7.1 setup. Er, ballpark figure depending on what speakers, etc. The speakers will be the most expensive part.

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Dec 13, 2011 11:26 pm

the 7 satellite setup is really only of benefit in long, narrow rooms that need some side fill, otherwise, it's kind of a waste.

Since: Feb 07, 2005

Dec 14, 2011 02:09 am

Hmmmm. I went with a LG Blu-ray player. It allows you to wirelessly stream from any other device on your network. EG: laptop, PC, other drives etc. Plug in a CD and you can rip it to the hard drive. As for the rest of the equipment. Klipsch or Paradigm for the speakers, Yamaha, Marantz, Denon for the recevier and probably Klipsch for the sub... another good make to look out for is Boston Acoustics.

For my system I actually chose to lose all of my stuff for a Samsung soundbar and wireless sub in my living room. I use my 5.1 setup in the studio now. It made for such a sleeker look in the living room and sounds not bad (altough my true 5.1 sounds better).


Since: Apr 03, 2002

Dec 16, 2011 04:30 pm

In my basement I have a TV that does that same thing, BH, my Panasonic Viera has apps for Facebook, Netflix, etc, and support DLNA (I think that's it) so I can stream movies from my playon.tv app running on the office computer...I won't get rid of the surround though...I have wired for 7.2, but it will likely only be 5.2 until I can justify spending more money...current state of the economy has me concerned in that regard.

That said, I have heard those single sound bars are pretty decent...I just love full surround though, that all encompassing sound gets to me WAY more than the picture...it creates more emersion for me personally...maybe that is just me.

What I have found interesting is how small some of the new surround systems are, compared to the big ol' system of the days when Dolby Pro Logic first came out...now it's a little single component (or can be) with a DVD, receiver, amp, full speaker distribution...and they sound decent...crazy!

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