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Old 12-02-2012, 11:47 AM   #1
The Crimson King The Crimson King is offline
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Hi, sorry if the following questions have been asked 100 times, I'm totally new to HD audio.

I've never heard a TrueHD setup, and I was wondering how good the difference is. I use the regular speakers that came with my TV (42" LED Dynex, also use a PS3). I know that's like total sacrilege for people around here. I was wondering if you could explain to me (as simply as possible) what I'm missing in not having HD audio. Is it that big of a difference? And what's the difference; are we talking mostly loudness and bass power, or is more about surround ambient sounds? I think I'd be more into the surround sound type of experience, loud bass hurts my ears and I don't need the TV to sound much louder (just a little for older movie I've noticed).

I'm also on a very limited budget - I'm not looking for a tweaked out setup. I just want to know if it's worth it to just get a slightly higher quality set of speakers. My hopeful goal would be to spend only $75-$200 at the most to upgrade my audio setup. My question(s) is, is it worth it to upgrade to such a slight increase, or is it only possible to get higher quality HD audio from a system $300 plus? Is one of those cheap soundbars a real upgrade in sound from my cheap TV speakers, or is it a waste of money? I don't think I have a great "ear" for audio quality, so would one of the cheap surround systems be good enough for what I'm looking for (solid, not high end HD sound)?

Or to have any semi-decent HD sound, do I need a receiver as well? Non-technically, what exactly do they even really do for you?

Would you say a $200 or so 500w 5.1 channel surround sound speaker system from Best Buy could be a "mid-range" quality HD audio setup, or is it still bottom of the barrel? Would it be at least a decent upgrade over my TV speakers, and would I be able to pick up a decent amount more sound range when watching BluRays?

Thanks for any help for a newbie.
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Old 12-02-2012, 02:57 PM   #2
Steve Steve is offline
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It's difficult to explain how much it would be an improvement. It's something you pretty much need to experience for yourself. The upgrade of lossless audio is much like the upgrade of blu-ray video compared to old cable TV or DVD. It's not necessarily about sheer volume or overpowering bass (although a good system can certainly deliver both), but as you said it has a lot to do with the subtle surround and ambiance. The purpose of surround sound in the first place is to attempt to put you (the viewer) as much as possible into the action, so it's more like you're experiencing it rather than just watching it. Clarity is also a big factor in a quality sound system. Face it, your TV is meant to deliver a beautiful picture. The sound is almost an afterthought. The flat TVs we have today just don't have the internal volume for proper speakers. Movies or TV shows where you might have trouble understanding the dialogue with your TV speakers often become crystal clear with a proper sound system.

In all seriousness you will have a hard time making much of an upgrade with your posted budget. My advice would be for you to try to purchase an AV receiver and front two speakers first and then add the rest of the speakers and subwoofer as you go and are able to spend more. Next add the center, then the subwoofer and then the surrounds. Keep all of your speakers from the same manufacturer and also from within the same series. This will ensure they all sound the same. The only exception is the subwoofer. It doesn't need to match. Many will argue that the surrounds don't need to match either. Personally I disagree with that, but that's just my opinion. The most important speakers in your setup are the front three (front left, center, front right) as they are the ones producing the vast majority of sound from anything you watch. I recommend staying away from most of the box systems because they often use proprietary connections, etc which make them all but impossible to upgrade. The only exception I would make to this rule are the systems from Onkyo. Their box systems are built around a real AV receiver. The speakers aren't the greatest in the world, but because of using a real receiver you can upgrade any part of their systems any time you want to.

You asked what an AV receiver does for you. Simply put, it's the "brain" of your entire HT system. What you do with an AV receiver is run all of your components to the receiver (blu-ray player, DVD player, game systems, sat/cable boxes, etc) and then run a single HDMI cable from your receiver to your TV. This cable passes the video through to the TV, but the AV receiver processes all the audio and directs the proper sound to the proper speakers. Many AV receivers also process and upscale video as necessary and some do a better job of this than your TV. The AV receiver also has an amplifier built into it which provides all the power for your speakers. Don't be fooled by the wattage ratings of the box systems you mentioned, as they are often over-inflated and very misleading.

Start looking at places like Abe's of Maine, Accessories 4 Less, and OneCall.com for good deals on AV receivers. I wouldn't be afraid of factory refurbished models that come with a factory warranty either. They're often a good way to save some money when working on a tight budget. Polk Audio has an official Ebay store where you can often score good deals on speakers. For cables and such, don't fall for the hype Best Buy employees will push on you that you need to buy the expensive cables they carry from Monster, etc. The cables from Monoprice.com or Blue Jeans Cables are just as good for only a fraction of the price.

This is a lot to take in and can be overwhelming to start with. My advice is to take it slow, do your research, and spend time reading the sticky threads here (many of which were started by Big Daddy). They're full of good information.
Steve

Last edited by Steve; 12-02-2012 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 12-02-2012, 07:11 PM   #3
pentatonic pentatonic is offline
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damn fine answer Steve
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentatonic View Post
damn fine answer Steve
I agree! ! !

Hey Steve, I also like to have my surrounds timbre match.


To the OP

When I first came to this site, I had an 65Ē DLP, PS3 and an $98 refurbed HTiB 5.1 system, which did not have HD audio, and I thought I was fine.

Myself reading so many thread, I wondered if t was worth it or was all of these people just spending far too much money just to be spending it.

Someone suggest that I try a receiver that has HD audio, and if I didnít like it, I could return it. When I heard the difference with HD over the HTiB, I was hooked. Yes, I returned the receiver I bought, and ended up buying a higher end one.

Before, a person would say, this is an expensive hobby, but now I believe the term is it can be expensive, which is doesnít have to be to have a great sounding system.

Also, not everyone catches the audio hobby bug, because I have friends that come over and love my setup, but they donít get it, which is confusing to me, to like it, but donít understand it.

Is it worth it, that only depends on how much you like it. I love it, so it's worth it to me.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:16 AM   #5
The Crimson King The Crimson King is offline
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Thanks for the recommendations and comments. Looks like it'll take me some time to get a setup going, then. Interesting that an AV receiver can upscale your video as well. Looks like I'll definitely have to get one of them (I was hoping to skip it cause they all seem pretty expensive). Doing it piece by piece sounds like a pretty good and doable idea, though, thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:35 AM   #6
welcometothepartypal welcometothepartypal is offline
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First, I would ask Steve anything just to read his eloquent answer.
But to the OP, I actually bought a 5.1 insignia surround sound system from Best Buy on sale for about $250 bucks, down from $500. I figured great, the Best Buy employee said it had an HDMI connection, so I figured "alright this is all I need for now".

So I get home and spend an hour plugging and unplugging the HDMI cord into and out of my T.V. and my new receiver. No sound. So I call Insignia and they told me that the HDMI options on the receiver were for "out put", and I need to buy an Optical cord.

Anyway, to this day I still don't understand how to use the HDMI "output", and you should do your research before you listen to a Best Buy employee.

But the Optical cable worked out fine. I have 2 little kiddies so I can't really go crazy with the sound, but the system sounds pretty good.

Just make sure what you buy is truly what you want. Even with my low end "decent" surround soundsystem, I really enjoy my Blu's much more.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:00 AM   #7
Steve Steve is offline
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Thanks for all the support guys.

Welcometothepartypal, can you give us a link to the system you bought? I'd be curious to look at its specs and maybe we can help you figure out that HDMI connection.
Steve

Last edited by Steve; 12-03-2012 at 02:00 AM.
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:26 AM   #8
BIslander BIslander is offline
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Going from TV speakers to 5.1 will be a tremendous improvement. Discrete 5.1 envelops you in sound and allows you to hear the track the way the audio designer intended.

This does not have to be expensive. You can get a simple HTIB (home theater in a box) and hear sound that will be a major upgrade from what you have now. Sure, you can spend a lot more and get even better sound. And, if you decide to go that route, then buying a quality piece or two at a time is the way to go.

But, again, upgrading to an inexpensive 5.1 system will be a big step up from your TV speakers.
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Old 12-03-2012, 03:13 AM   #9
darkpoet25 darkpoet25 is offline
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This is one option to consider as well. I believe this is cheaper in store(the store I work for has this for $268.99 I think, not sure though but I can check if you would like), and going this route will allow for upgrading the speakers later on if you desire. The speakers are small enough for any GAF or WAF if that is a factor.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Pioneer-Co...ystem/21081401
This another option for about $50 less and is an Onkyo. I think either of these will help you get better sound than what you are currently getting from your TV.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Onkyo-AVX-...e477760-lLink4
You can always get a pair of HDMI cables from monoprice.com, using one from your PS3 to the reciever and another from the reciever to your TV, allowing for surround sound with Dolby True HD and DTS-HD MA audio tracks. Just a word of warning, this hobby can get addictive. So don't say I didn't warn you .
Cliff

Last edited by darkpoet25; 12-03-2012 at 03:19 AM.
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Old 12-03-2012, 04:28 AM   #10
pentatonic pentatonic is offline
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Some HTiB are decent, but I believe that the receivers they come with are too limited. Personally I would get a nicer receiver from Accessories4less (think $300-350) and then jump on one of those Newegg awesome sales for Polks, you can get 2 tower mains and a center for very cheap, then when you have a bit of more $ you go for one of their sales on a sub for $200 or so, and like that. Or you can at a minimum go for a little 5.0 or 5.1 kit like Energy Take 5 for sometimes in the $150 range, they can always be used later on in another room.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:31 PM   #11
darkpoet25 darkpoet25 is offline
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This would be a really good starter speaker package.
http://www.accessories4less.com/make...Package/1.html
Cliff
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