Is Today's Home Theater Gear Too Inexpensive?

E

Endaar

Audiophyte
The comments about "past mismanagement" of covid are frankly out of place and off-putting in an article that has nothing to do with the pandemic. There are a million sites where I can read political option if I wanted to do so.


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B

Big-Q

Audiophyte
You can get an amazing looking TV for very reasonable prices. The cutting-edge models are always expensive. I made the jump to the HDR model in 2015 or 2016 (I can’t remember but it was when I got Xfinity). I paid around $1800 for a Samsung 65” curved model. It still looks amazing and I have no need for any newer or larger models.



It is paired to a Marantz SR7013 (now two years old) in a 5.1 system. It has tons of features I will never use including going to 7.1.2 or 7.2.2. I went with the SR7013 because I wanted a beefier amp section. 2-channel listening is my main gig. To be honest, my Luxman R-115 sounds better out of the box (might sound better now as well). The Marantz needed the Audyssey run before it sounded as good.



Both have good build quality but the Luxman is still going strong after 34 years. Granted, it is a stereo receiver not an A/V receiver. I am pretty sure the Marantz will not live that long.



Today’s kit has tons of features at the expense of the amp section. With the improvement of Class-D, I think we will get to have both power and features together at reasonable prices with great sound.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
I'm pretty happy with the picture on my TCL 75" tv. It's pretty far from cutting edge new tech, but I only paid $650 for it, and it's UHD with HDR. It's a nice little bump from the cheapie 65" Insignia it replaced.
 
H

Hetfield

Audioholic Field Marshall
I'm pretty happy with the picture on my TCL 75" tv. It's pretty far from cutting edge new tech, but I only paid $650 for it, and it's UHD with HDR. It's a nice little bump from the cheapie 65" Insignia it replaced.
Oh you have a TCL TV too? I have the 75R635 myself. I was hesitant about TCL till my father in law got a 5 series a few years ago and it looked really good and considering the price it looked excellent.
The 635 is just beautiful. I'm quite surprised at what it can do for the money. Mini-Led is very impressive.

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J

jeffca

Audioholic Intern
Heck yeah! Trinnov all the way! Altitude 32!! DataSat is another great processor company. I've looked into those as well. I think if you want a real home theater, like legit HT, you're going to have to spend some money. Like well over $75k. A lot of people on here just have makeshift entertainment rooms, not real HT's. I'm putting together a build for my next custom built house and I'm looking to spend around $150k on my HT alone. I might have to invite Gene up to see how amazing it is!
I get where you're coming from.

Currently, my system is built around the mentioned XMC-1, 4 Rythmik servo subs and 5 KEF LS50's. It can play louder than my ears can take as well as cause the concrete slab in my basement to vibrate. Can the audio quality be improved upon? Sure, but not by much. Most people would be thoroughly pleased with this system.

Not to slag off the Trinnov stuff, because it's pretty awesome, but the DataSat RS20i has every feature I need. The big thing being that you can set up channels for multi-way, active speakers. Being able to use the pre/pro as an active loudspeaker processor is a feature I'm going to need eventually. I'm not under the impression that Trinnov offers that.

Then add in that you can run Dirac Live for each set of drivers in the active setup and, baby, that's perfection.

I do think that, even with my perfect theater, I could do it for much less than $150K. Of course, my theater is rather small (1 chair) so my mileage varies from yours.

Don't know about you, but that you can get the best amps in the world (Benchmark & Purifi) for $3K or less, to me, is awesome. When the next pandemic wipes out most of the world's population, I'll have the best sounding HT bunker in the world!
 
Teetertotter?

Teetertotter?

Audioholic
I'm about ready to buy a replacement new model TCL TV and a newer model Denon AVR after 5 years. What do you think about that?
 
S

sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
Inexpensive means the product has a long life. That's the rub. A product can be built for long life yet what's the point when technology for a better home theater experience precludes components to a relatively short period for state of the art performance. And since there's not much of a point to building products to last, products can be built for a shorter life span, which saves the consumer some money initially but makes the overall cost for uninterrupted home theater pleasure greater. Where's it all going? I'll tell ya, iPhones which will deliver movies in surround sound via Blu-ray to TV and active speakers. Then no more need for Players, Pre-Pros, or AVRs at all.
 
U

utopianemo

Junior Audioholic
Ironically, the article directly above this is for a $4,000 AV processor.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
Ironically, the article directly above this is for a $4,000 AV processor.
Presumably, you refer to the HTP-1... where the competition to that AVP is pretty much anywhere from $6K-$15K or more! :) And but for one or two of them, you get bonus Bugs!!! :)
 
J

JengaHit

Junior Audioholic
Agree that there is more value in AV equipment today, especially with displays. I can remember buying my first "big-screen" TV circa 2006, a 43" Hitachi RPTV from Circuit City, for $1500. It had sub-par light output and even worse off-axis image quality than today's LCDs. And I remember my old boss spending $15K on a 55" Fujitsu plasma in 2006, bought from a high-end "specialty" dealer. So it's amazing that today you can buy a 65" LCD TV at Costco for ~$650-700, with performance superior to my old Hitachi.

But I disagree with Colliano's implicit premise that the "enthusiast" market is the province of high-end dealers. In my experience high-end dealers mostly have been snobs that look down on you once it becomes apparent you aren't going to spend mortgage-level money, or you question buying audiophile snake oil like $3K power cables, interconnects, or speaker cables. It's the worst possible environment for cultivating new and young AV customers. It's not that I'm opposed to niche AV markets for wealthy people (more power to you, if you can afford it), but the enthusiast market doesn't have to be targeted only at people making six- or seven-figure incomes. This has been the case for decades. My entry into this hobby in the 1990s was a pair of NHT 2.5i's for $1300/pr. They were fantastic speakers that would still give a lot of tower speakers a run for their money today. If anything, online direct-to-consumer brands like Aperion, Hsu, SVS, RSL, Ascend, Monoprice, and Power Sound have upset the economic value-performance cart for the better. They can be the gateway for future enthusiasts. While I agree with Colliano that there's great value now, we shouldn't reflexively equate enthusiast customers with the esoteric high end.
 
Kvn_Walker

Kvn_Walker

Audioholic General
Agree completely that televisions have gotten much better and cheaper - a blessing for the consumer. Multi channel audio on the other hand has become increasingly complex and has now reached the point where I don't see the value in it unless you're building a dedicated home theater room. I'd rather spend my money on much higher quality stereo playback (with a sub) and forgo all the surround and overhead channel.
That's where I am right now... the trick is finding the right 2 speakers for the living room. I actually had that (Von Schweikert VR4) and sold them like a damn fool. I may never be able to get another pair.

Of the speakers I've bought and used thus far, the two with the best effect have had different design than the standard box.

VR-4's with the minimum baffle and rear-firing tweeter

Cambridge Towers with bipole midrange and tweeter.

For just 2-channel I'm seeing the value of bipolar design to add extra depth to tv/movie presentation. High(er) efficiency for dynamics is important too. But getting voice reproduction right is critical. The VR-4 was the best I've had so far. Trying to find that quality within a budget isn't easy, but I kinda enjoy chasing after vintage high-end speakers.
 
J

JengaHit

Junior Audioholic
Of the speakers I've bought and used thus far, the two with the best effect have had different design than the standard box.

VR-4's with the minimum baffle and rear-firing tweeter

Cambridge Towers with bipole midrange and tweeter.

For just 2-channel I'm seeing the value of bipolar design to add extra depth to tv/movie presentation. High(er) efficiency for dynamics is important too. But getting voice reproduction right is critical.
That's been my priority too, as I haven't been wanting to put up with the complexity of surround and rear speakers. I've gone down the bipolar/"omnipolar" path with mixed success: two speakers from Canada's now-defunct Audio Products International...

Energy APS 5+2 bipolars
Mirage OMD-15 "omnipolars"

The trick has been to combine spacious soundstage ambiance with sharp imaging, plus a stable off-axis stereo image/phantom center. The Energy's had the soundstaging with slightly diffused imaging, but not the stable off-axis stereo image. The Mirages had better-still expansive soundstaging and much improved imaging (a friend said their imaging reminded him of his PSB Stratus Golds). Better yet, the Mirages had that "listen-anywhere" (well, almost) rock-solid stereo image that was stable from way off-axis--a super-wide sweet spot. So multiple listeners could enjoy great stereo imaging that didn't collapse as you move closer to L or R speaker. But they still didn't have that crisp dialogue intelligibility.

Enter the Hsu CCB-8s when my Mirages fried from a power spike. They use a different method, time-intensity trading, to achieve that spacious soundstaging combined with stable off-axis stereo imaging/super-wide sweet spot. And their dialogue intelligibility is so sharp I don't have to turn up the volume anymore so I really don't need a center. Are they perfect? No. Their top end could be a little more refined (though they're not at all bright), and I'd like more bottom-end (but their bass is pretty impressive for bookshelves). But they're a third of the cost of my old Mirages. Talk about value. I'm happy for now, but maybe in the long run I'll still be searching for my holy grail. Maybe the Ohm Walsh Tall?
 
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panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Spartan
Cost an Complexity are the double edged blade that hurts this hobby. IMO, the simple solutions (fitting into the first category I mentioned above) are cr@ppy solutions like HTIBs with Kleenex box-sized Mains and poorly designed Subs, or non-linear Speakers that look really cool with Copper Cones, and sound exciting but don't necessarily stand up to scrutiny. Hell, somebody just started a thread asking about that brand and whether he needed to get the XO Modification marketed by a certain Texas Speaker Designer to make those speakers work right... and this guy is in Peru!
Ooh. Which thread?
 
K

Kevi9590

Audiophyte
I dont think that audio equipment is too expensive, just that realistically affordable midrange options are often viewed simply as subpar versions of the high end products rather than the realistic home option, if that makes sense.

Lets face it, the high end equipment is for enthusiasts deep down the rabbit hole with deep pockets. So when a newcomer looks up information on more afforable equipment, and theyre bombarded with the notion that AVRs under 1000 are junk and weak, that separates rule, well its just a different value proposition. The first time I heard about separates a few months ago, I was hella excited. Then I looked up an emotiva and when i saw the price i almost pooped my pants. I closed that tab with the quickness and became apathetic to the topic for a while.

But the issue isnt that separates are too expensive, its that we dont push the value of an aventage 1080 or denon 2700 to the general community. A newbie will see 20 videos on why a less powerful AVR sucks before they see one video giving it praise. And when we do give it praise, its always in videos about “budget category” which has a connotation and immediately puts people off. We call 1000 dollar AVRs budget and low end. New people are put off by the idea that theyre gonna invest 1000 bucks on something considered “budget”. Its not very welcoming to new folk.

I also hesitantly think that the audio community should embrace soundbars a little more. Not as a substitute for quality, but rather a gateway to better sound. New soundbar owners feel like theyve unlocked good audio when they set it up, and when they come online and get poop on, well who wants to stick around or take anything after that in good faith.

i will say subwoofers are in my experience significant outliers to this habit. I see TONS of recommendations for SVS PB1000/PB2000. No one buys a pair of those and feels like they “settled” for a subpar budget line.
 
cerwinmad

cerwinmad

Full Audioholic
Oh you have a TCL TV too? I have the 75R635 myself. I was hesitant about TCL till my father in law got a 5 series a few years ago and it looked really good and considering the price it looked excellent.
The 635 is just beautiful. I'm quite surprised at what it can do for the money. Mini-Led is very impressive.

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Tcl actually rates very highly on https://www.rtings.com/tv they are excellent value and definitely quality. None of the comparable brands I researched at the price I got my tcl P715 came close to the picture quality. Tv prices are lower and lower for features that were flagship a few years ago. In regards to audio, I believe it is the same, even out here in NewZealand, where we pay a decent premium for av gear. An SVS PB16 ultra is $5100 usd here ($6999 nzd) for example. Although in saying that our minimum wage for an adult will be $20 p/h as of April 1st.
 
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S

Sadie42

Audioholic Intern
This stuff is all relative and subjective.

Things I like are "expensive".

I just bought some ATC SCM20psl mkii, and it took me three months to save for them. I think $3500 is a lot of money. I think they're worth it, someone else will likely think I'm an idiot for spending that much on them.

The first time I bought a "quality" HT receiver, I sold it a month later and went back to 2-channel. I come from an era where good amps weighed 50 lbs. and the lights in the house would flicker when you turned it to 11. I realized fairly quickly that I was never going to be able to do HT in a way that would satisfy me.

Equivalent quality to what I used to use is pretty expensive these days.

I will agree that a lot of expensive stuff is just supported by marketing BS, but the legitimately good stuff is still out there, and if you want it, it's going to cost you.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Spartan
I'm very much a "get what you pay for" kind of guy.

I've bought expensive things that are terrible, and I've purchased cheap stuff that's fantastic. For me, it's all about whether or not it performs well. If it does, and I'm good with the price I paid, then I feel that's a good product. If I don't feel I got what I paid for, then I don't think it's a good product for the price. It could be a great product, but the price isn't correct for the performance.

I think things like A/V are prone to this more so than a lot of other things simply because they can increase price for more features. Features we may not specifically want, but have to go up in price range to get some other feature that "should" come in the cheaper version.

My example: I bought an Onkyo 809 for my theater in 2012 or so. Still works great, but I had to send it in to get the HDMI board replaced since they had major issues with that generation. This is a receiver with an $1100 MSRP I paid $460 so I'm happy with the price. I'd have been PISSED had I paid retail for it.

That Onkyo replaced a Pioneer 512K that I feel is actually a better product. It did 7.1 channel processing on a ~$150 receiver. The Onkyo did the same, but also had video processing (don't want that) and a load of other things I don't care about. The pioneer didn't have any of that at all so it switched sources 10x faster and locked onto the audio signal that much faster too.

Now, the room correction difference is huge. Audyssey on my Onkyo did in fact make my room "sound better" just with a receiver swap and quick configuration. The amp section is also much more robust than the pioneer, but the pioneer is still an EXCELLENT product because of all the features I required at it's price point. Nobody else came close at the time.
 

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