What would you add/change to improve my home theater setup?

G

gzindc

Audiophyte
Hi everyone, newbie here! Welcome all advice and suggestions. I've got a home theater setup I'm fairly happy with, but curious if there's any one (or 2, 3) things I can or should do to improve the overall experience. Here's what I have with relevant notes per each, for my room layout -- it's 8.5 feet from the media cabinet to the couch:

• TV: 2009 Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ85U: I *know* this is outdated but truth be told, I feel the image is pretty solid and am admittedly a plasma fiend.

• Receiver: 2003 Sony STR-DE995: This too I admit is extremely outdated, but again truth be told, it still goes strong. I've had to frankenstein connect my components, but still managd to get HDMIs/opticals connected to everything (with some clever work-arounds). The sound is very, very nice, balanced and robust on all fronts. But of course I'm certain a new receiver could work wonders. (I'm a Sony devotee on components as well.)

• Center channel: Polk RM202: Never was too crazy about this but it gets the job done. Sound can be tinny and lacks range, plus it can flat out stink on certain vocals. But I imagine it's possible a newer receiver could generate better center channel sound.

• Front towers: Vandersteen Model 1B: These sound really nice. Just an elegant and solid sound, very nuanced bass and can get very loud.

• Rear ceiling surround: Bowers & Wilkins CCM682: By far the star of the system, sound absolutely exceptional.

What's missing? Obviously a subwoofer. But I'm not sure it would add much, for a couple reasons. First, the Vandersteens deliver on the bass. Second, I imagine a new receiver would enhance bass even more, so given my smaller room dimensions, does a subwoofer even make sense?

If I'm keen not to get a new TV, and had a budget of up to and around $750, what should I spend it on, and why? Appreciate all input, thank you!!
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic General
Speakers are almost always going to be the weak link, and in your case there are two areas I think you could improve upon.

First, your center channel is what you're most disappointed in, and it's tiny, so that's not surprising. I'm not that familiar with the Vandersteens and don't know what center would work best with them unfortunately. Maybe someone else could chime in there. Having said that, though, I'm sure most reputable brands would be a big step up over that tiny polk. Infinity Reference series has been getting a lot of love lately as a great budget line, especially when on sale. Monoprice Monolith speakers have measured, tested, and reviewed great as well.

Secondly, based on that review you shared I'd say you could do with a good sub to alleviate the burden from your Vandersteens. Here, though, we'd really need to know the volume of the space that is open to the subwoofer in order to make an appropriate recommendation, you mention "smaller room dimensions" but don't tell us what they are. Monolith has been getting good reviews here as well, and SVS and Hsu make a number of solid options as well.

I'm not sure where you're getting the notion that a new receiver will improve your center channel and bass reproduction, that is mostly going to be speaker dependent. Audyssey can help to an extent, but can't make up for a poorly designed center channel and not having a sub.
 
G

gzindc

Audiophyte
These are excellent suggestions, thank you @NINaudio! More room dimensions would help I suppose :) The room is basically 12' wide and 10' tall, and again about 8.5' to the couch. The other restriction I'm working with is the center channel speaker can only get 6.75" of clearance inside my media cabinet.

It makes total sense to swap for a new center channel, I'll take look at your suggestions.

Welcome any other input from anyone too!
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Spartan
Agreed with the center. That’s an easy one.

The vandersteens have a listed lower FR of 38hz. In no way possible would a sub not augment those. Especially for movies. You do have a small room, so you don’t need a giant one. I would get nice ported one, or at the very least a pair of really really capable sealed ones(that was hard to type lol).
Definitely add a sub.

https://www.svsound.com/products/pc-2000 in that little room this will be great.
Btw, I’m still rockin a plasma too...
 
CajunLB

CajunLB

Full Audioholic
I think a pair of RSL speed woofers would work nice in that space. They are not very big and if he’s in the US they are very well priced.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
Adding a good sub such as the SVS mentioned above would also relieve your AVR of power demands on its front L & R amplifiers, providing more available headroom for the other channels.
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic General
These are excellent suggestions, thank you @NINaudio! More room dimensions would help I suppose :) The room is basically 12' wide and 10' tall, and again about 8.5' to the couch.
How far is it behind that couch to the wall?

Is there any way to get that center channel out from that media cabinet? Having it enclosed in a cabinet usually causes all kinds of issues
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Spartan
There is nothing to change if you are happy with everything that you have.

The plasma is nice, but would bug me in the world of OLED and with larger panels readily available. I would have a hard time not being lured in by a 65" OLED model at the very least. Not sure what distance you are viewing from, but at 12' away, we have nothing but enjoyment in the switch from a 65" plasma to a 85" LCD. The size and daytime brightness are really big hits even if I do lose some black levels. I would go Sony 850 or better at the 85" size today.

Then that receiver, which doesn't support anything 4K is a big miss. But, you don't need something crazy to replace it with. Just a major brand with 4K support should do you nicely. Pop in a 4K source and call it a beautiful upgrade.

Oh - and add a sub.
 
-Jim-

-Jim-

Full Audioholic
My first take would be to get a Sub. Then a Center Channel as it's the most important speaker in a HT setup. Speaking from experience, I had a Sony STR-DE995 forever and I loved it. It was fabulous for it's time, but that was long ago.

What made me decide to move on was when I did an A/B comparison of the sound from a Blu-Ray concert connected via HDMI and playing the latest DTS HD MA codec via a Sony STR-DN1030 receiver and then listening to the same program via a digital connection (Coaxial or Optical), like you would on your STR-DE995, through the same setup. For me the difference in Audio Quality was significant. So if you can do the same & hear the difference; I'd consider moving on. My initial move up was to the Sony STR-DN1050 which we have in our Family room to this day. We recently stumbled across a great deal on a Sony STR-DN1080 demo unit which my brother (he's still a big Sony Fan) & I bought for the family Cabin. If you are stuck on Sony, that could be a viable option.

My current favorite (I've got multiple HT systems - one for each of 3 55 inch TVs in our house) are Denons. IMHO they are the best bang for the buck as you move up in their product range.

Good Luck with whatever you do. The idea is to enjoy it! I certainly do.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
What's missing? Obviously a subwoofer. But I'm not sure it would add much, for a couple reasons. First, the Vandersteens deliver on the bass. Second, I imagine a new receiver would enhance bass even more, so given my smaller room dimensions, does a subwoofer even make sense?
@Pogre's head explodes...

HeadExplode.gif
 

newsletter
  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
Top