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Home Theater Buffs - Virtual Surround Opinions Needed

Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian
edited Apr 2011 in The Pub
Here is the situation. I've decided my 5.1 Home Theater and Big Screen system has to go, it needs to be simplified, so by the power of Craigslist I have someone looking at my old Receiver, Polk RM's sub and Giant Toshiba CRT based HDTV. I've sold some other items and when its all said and done I'll have a home theater budget of about $1100. I realize we can blow that on a TV, but I've budgeted about $650 on a TV and stand, I know what I want there (Sears is closing out a 46" Plasma and I know where to get a really nice Z-Line stand priced well) So, that leaves me with about $500 for a front speaker system of some kind. I just don't want 5.1 anymore, its not appropriate for my room.

So, to ask the question, is there a decent virtual surround solution for under $500? Does anyone have a system they are really pleased with? I'm familiar with several of the available options from Yamaha, Polk, and even some of the HTIB systems from Samsung and Panasonic, but finding a way to demo them all is not going to be practical, so I'm looking for some real detailed opinions from people that either own similar systems, or maybe someone who is a home theater expert and has had time to dabble in this (I used to, but have been out of it for a couple years). Anyone at Icrontic using a virtual surround solution for their main system?

Thanks,

Comments

  • adarryladarryl No Man Stands So Tall As When He Stoops To Help a Child. Icrontian
    edited Apr 2011
    Cliff,

    I shopped for over a year comparing systems from modular ($$$!) to HTIB to soundbars. One of the best sources for help I found along the way was a UK forum: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/

    After comparing and pricing, I chose the Denon DHT-591BA Home Theater System for just under $600 and couldn't be happier because of the Audessey and Dynamic Volume features. I know you said you want to down-size and watch your budget so recognizing you will give up sound by moving away from a 5.1 system, your best bet is probably a sound-bar and sub combo. I found two I liked and both are well reviewed:

    Sony HT-CT150 w/ Wired Sub

    VIZIO Sound Bar w/ Wireless Subwoofer, VSB210WS

    Both of these can be had at Walmart for around $275.
  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian
    edited Apr 2011
    adarryl wrote:
    Cliff,

    I shopped for over a year comparing systems from modular ($$$!) to HTIB to soundbars. One of the best sources for help I found along the way was a UK forum: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/

    After comparing and pricing, I chose the Denon DHT-591BA Home Theater System for just under $600 and couldn't be happier because of the Audessey and Dynamic Volume features. I know you said you want to down-size and watch your budget so recognizing you will give up sound by moving away from a 5.1 system, your best bet is probably a sound-bar and sub combo. I found two I liked and both are well reviewed:

    Sony HT-CT150 w/ Wired Sub

    VIZIO Sound Bar w/ Wireless Subwoofer, VSB210WS

    Both of these can be had at Walmart for around $275.

    Thanks for the feedback,

    One of the difficult things is finding a truly decent way to audition the sources. Best Buy stores have some of these, but my local stores don't do a great job of adjusting the source material to really give you an idea of how it performs.

    I'm leaning towards the Polk IHT 6000 from what I have heard so far. The Vizio, though priced right, sounds like absolute mud to me. The Sony HT-CT150 is a nice kit considering its price though.

    I'm still trying to decide. I'm also considering just getting a good Stereo Reciever that does Dolby Virtual Speaker. Anyone have any experience with Dolby Virtual speaker processing? Anyone like it? Does it sound really artificial?
  • MAGICMAGIC Doot Doot Furniture City, Michigan Icrontian
    edited Apr 2011
    Sound bars in general sound pretty bad in my opinion, especially in that price range. Just put together a nice 3.1 system. That is doable in the 500 dollar range and you will get a much better experience.
  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian
    edited Apr 2011
    Magic,

    What are you using as a receiver? Do you need to use some kind of Dolby Virtual mode to simulate the rears?
  • BasilBasil Nubcaek England Icrontian
    edited Apr 2011
    MAGIC wrote:
    Sound bars in general sound pretty bad
    That's pretty much my experience of them.

    When I got my first setup I went 2.0 with nice KEF floorstanders as, IMO, the sound was/is better than any 2.1 system in the same price range.

    AFAIK my AVR does some sort of virtual surround but I never noticed any great difference with it. YMMV ofc.
  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian
    I picked up a Polk IHT 6000 surroundbar. It's funny, I did not miss surround sound as much as I missed great sound. Optical PCM 2.0 passthrough with a great speaker sub combo is effective at conveying a theaterlike experience in most living rooms. I think 90% of the experience comes from having a decent sub. That little 7" sub knocks my socks off, I can't believe how tight and musical it is. Completely inert, no rattle or port noise. If anyone else is in the market for a simplified solution to improve the sound from their flat pannel HDTV I can't recomend the Polk IHT 6000 enough.
  • MAGICMAGIC Doot Doot Furniture City, Michigan Icrontian
    I would love a Harmon Kardon SB-16.
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