I probably differ from many, but I cannot bear the time, expense, and space of setting up a home theater system. I did a basic one, and while it’s fun, the friends I know with good soundbars (really good) with perhaps one sub are good enough for my needs. The sound is clear and accurate, there is spatialization, and there is minimal disruption to the room; this conserves space for a listening system. I’m planning on selling all my home theater stuff and economizing the space.
One further consideration for me -- for movies and TV, the story and dialogue are the main thing. I do not need to have a movie experience in my home. For really high technology movie experiences -- think, Dune -- I’m content to leave my house and actually go to a movie theater.
I am primarily a two channel audio guy. But my partner is into movies.
We have what is probably the best sound bar (Sennheiser) in the bedroom with her 65” tv (she is disabled and more or less lives in there) and in our living room a 77” tv and a high end surround system… which we built incrementally over ten years… so we have had less expensive surround stuff.
There is a huge difference between a surround system with discrete speakers and a sound bar. The sound is instantly more involving. We go into the living room and watch movies together on the weekend.
In the end the quality of the sound is not quite as important as a music only system, because you are a bit distracted by the video… but quality really matters.
You can see my system under my ID. We have stand mounted speakers. With an open concept you will have to decide if you want to put some speakers in the wall / ceiling or just do basic 5.2.
I would stick with brands like NAD and Rotel as they are built to sound good not just have lots of functions. But in choosing every aspect all the principles of choosing audio apply. Separates are better, a big multichannel amp is much better… two subs better than one. Better speakers are better speakers.
When the depth charges go off in U-571 the whole house shakes. But even a modest system will sound enormously better than a sound bar.
I guess one way to look at it is our Sennheiser sound bar currently cost about $2.5K a $2.5K surround system would sound much… much better..
Oh hell yes. However I won't bother going past 5.1 setup in my smaller setup 55" monitor.
I agree, a lot of streamed content sounds better when I switch the AVR to 2 channel.
Blu-Ray/DVD programming separates center channel info, that is just missing if you don't have center channel speakers.
rear, just loud enough that you are unaware until you turn them off. Black Hawk Down, they are key in many scenes.
Sub, I keep it low, but it kicks in for Jurassic Park.
Most people (people not nerding out here on an audio forum) can enjoy a good home theater and most people spend more time watching TV and movies than anything else. Streaming a movie, or playing from a BluRay disc doesn't really matter, a decent system makes both enjoyable, and many people will never know the source unless you show them a disc or bore them with talk about streaming, and they still will tell you they sound the same. Focus more on the basics, like a good center channel as that is where most of the sound will come from for video. Get decent mains, and that is where the other important sound will come from for music and video both. Definitely pre-wire the room as much as possible if the walls are open, and keep in mind that most minor imperfections in sound stage from surround speaker placement can be adjusted from the surround processor. Get a decent processor/head unit that also allows you to play 2-channel stereo in some type of "pure direct" mode. Keep in mind that you may be the only one that is even concerned about having good sound in your circle of family or friends, and in my case not a damn one cares about the details of my system or spends time doing any critical listening.
"Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu. "
what about Apple TV, Showtime, Paramount, Prime, AMC, BritBox? Get your subscriptions in order first! :)
Not sure what your "open concept" space allows, but I can suggest a few things from my experience. We are fortunate to have a semi-dedicated but all-purpose family room that can be darkened with shades for projection TV. We use a 105" inch retractable screen and a Sony 4K Laser projector. The picture is great, but the decent sound system makes it even better. We use Apple TV > pre/processor > 5-channel surround amp > subwoofer. rear channel speakers are flush in the ceiling, basically invisible. Center channel is not visible but concealed in fabric-fronted cabinet below the screen.
Since you are apparently still working on your renovation, now is the time to install good sound equipment and discrete wiring. I also recommend soundproofing your room. We used RockWool brand insulation in all walls and ceiling. This makes a nice difference and allows others not in the home theater to carry on without distraction.
Good luck with your project.
I’d recommend having at least a 5.1 setup, but I’d wire for a 7.2 system since it’s very cheap while the walls are down and gives you the flexibility to expand later if you get the itch. Especially with an 85” screen you want the sound to match the scale and immersive qualities provided by a nice TV that size. I once did a home install where the guy invested in a nice $20k surround system but would only buy a 42” TV because he wanted it to fit in his damn antique cabinet. The sound was so much bigger than the impact of the TV it was a mismatch from an enjoyment standpoint. As with everything in audio and HT, balance is key. Best of luck.
Doable? Sure. Worth it? That depends on how much value you place in the overall experience and what kind of movies you typically watch. If you watch movies and TV that is predominately dialog, a nice sound bar could suffice. However, as mentioned above, even a high end soundbar will not provide the presence and impact of a halfway decent 5.1 system. To use a tortured metaphor (alluded to above), putting a soundbar under an 85-inch TV is like putting bias ply tires on a Ferrari. It’s a mismatch verging on sacrilege. 😱😁
If you like action/adventure content at all, you’d be well advised to go with a 5.1 system at minimum. I’m guessing the fact that you are asking your questions that you’ve not had opportunity to hear a home theater system in a friend’s/relative’s home? The immersion provided by a 5.1 system cannot be understated for action movies. A 7.1 (adding height speakers) is even better if you go with an AVR that supports Atmos. I would think that any AVR that has 7.1 ability will support it by default.
My setup is a marantz AV8805 AV pre tuner feeding into a MM8077 7-channel power amp with the main front speakers powered by my new Schitt Tyr monoblocs. (Previous were PS Audio M700s). It is total overkill for my application as I am not using all the channels available.
For 2-channel stereo listening, I put the pre tuner into “pure direct” 2-channel mode. But it’s nice to have 5.1 for some of my SACDs of Pink Floyd remixed for 5.1. Come to the Dark Side. 😉
Keep in mind that there are viable options for wireless speakers for the back channel if running wiring to them presents a challenge in your open concept remodel.
My 3 cents. Because… you asked. 😁
we design and build movie theaters
so yes getting a real sound system dramatically improve your experience
there are elegant high performanceloudspeakers which can work in such a room
please feel free to reach out to us for ideas
Dave and Troy
Audio Intellect nj
home theater specialists.
I do streaming with a 5.2 system in an open-concept living room. I was debating the same as well when we had purchased our current residence, especially since I knew I would be putting a two-channel system in another room. We went with on-wall front R, L, and Center speakers with in-ceiling rear speakers - this reduced the footprint quite a bit. Subs are flush with the credenza. I, too, came from a sound bar, which was great for dialogue but not exactly immersive.
I mirror another member here; more time is spent watching television and movies than listening to music in my 2-channel system - primarily because I’m with the spouse when watching in the living room. My preference will always be 2-channel, but watching television with a 5.2 is the reality 80% of the time.
If you buy new. The closest boutique with good service , is the best . You may need advices and help for the speaker’s callibration setup, speakers placement and choice , etc .
You may buy used . Moreover if you are looking for a Receiver instead if a Processor. There is so much changes in this sector ……
The sound is very important in a movie . It will change the whole experience.
Not that much if you only watch CNN
I’m a big movie buff along with being an audiophile(Two channel music first with HT being a strong second).
One thing that I think is often missed is that a true HT system isn’t always about the deep rumbling bass or the bullets wizzing to the sides or behind your head(although that is cool). It’s also about the gripping musical scores that are played in the background of these movies. If you have a great musical HT system the background music just pulls you emotionally in to the movie even more.
Also, if I’m spending big $$$s for the stereo system I might as well be using that equipment for everything.
How can anyone watch a movie through TV speakers. 80% of a movie experience is surround sound.
I would recommend buying an ARCAM surround receiver. If you can afford their G amplifier technology I would do that. First 50 watts is pure Class A. Then buy some decent speakers.
then watch Saving Private Ryan. You can hear bullets passing by your ears.
you can also hear 2 channel music through your ARCAM. Very good sound.
Surround is more enjoyable for surround music such as SACDs (some.)
If you don't have them tracks I don't know if it's worth it to you. I rarely fire mine up for video. YRMV.
I dunno... two channel is sufficient for me, with my Klipsch Heresy IV speakers which project the sound out through the room. I also had excellent results with an old pair of Pinnacle AC850, and with my trusty Epi 100. I also think a high quality soundbar would be fine with me.
I used to have surround, but actually got tired of it. My enjoyment of movies has not diminished since I've gone to two-channel (plus a modest sub) for watching.
I'm at a large expensive house right now, where I'm taking care of it for a business associate and touring northern Nevada while I'm at it. He has an 85" TV in his big living room, with a Sonos Beam and no sub. I am impressed; it works very well. I'm sure the Sonos Arc is even better. And, one can add wireless Sonos One surrounds if one wishes, and even a wireless sub, to either model. I think such a system would be a good compromise, as the TV sound source. Easy partner factor as well: turn on the TV and the sound engages immediately, without fussing with any other components.
That way I save my nice amp, etc., for music, while the partner - who has little interest in ultimate surround sound experience and prefers simplicity - can just turn on the TV and be good to go. I'm more and more leaning towards simplicity as well.
I put a good deal of time and, for me, money into my two channel room. The theater room was less planned, but more appreciated by the family. The room is about 20x18 and fully opens at back and two steps down to a much larger room with little furniture. Sony XR-83A90J, Anthem AVM70, Emotive XPA Gen 3 Amps and powered HSU subs. Speakers were all Klipsch. Not exotic, not inexpensive, but easy to assemble 11.1 Atmos system . TV folks setup TV and Anthem ARC.
Why not just add a TV to your two channel system? We love watching TV and movies through our stereo, and never miss the extra channels of audio. We did invest in a very nice TV, one of those that renders black as very black; and it was well worth the money. For sound, I just grab the audio from the back of the TV with an optical cable and into the DAC-60 card of an Accuphase E-5000. And, by saving the expense of three or even more extra speakers, all of the investment can optimize the stereo pair. In our case, it's a pair of Borresen Z3 Cryos. We do have a pair of subs too, and the sheer power of this system imbues movies with most of the visceral sound one would get in a theater.
85” tv screen do not consider anything but Sony.
Over the last few years I needed to upgrade our tvs. There were realy only three choices: Samsung, LG, and Sony. The most reliable and best looking were always Sony. I bought two: a 77” OLED for our home theater and a 65” regular LED for our bedroom.
They both failed… the OLED in 14 months (top of the line so warrantee was 18 months.. they sent a brand new replacement. The regular LED failed at 11 months… within the 12 month warrantee… in twelve days a repair man came and replaced a module and it has been fine since.
Sony is statistically shown to be the most reliable and their top of the line has the longest warrantee, so after this experience (I had Sharp for about a decade since I worked there)… i’ll be buying top of the line Sony from now on.
They have excellent pictures as well.
If you are into movies then absolutely especially the big spectacle movies with lots of effects if you can manage to set up a fully immersive surround sound system with two or more subwoofers.
Be aware that streaming audio for movies is usually not as good as what you get with Blu-ray or HD Blu-ray discs.
Oh yeah! Movies thru a good system is a blast. I have the Sony Bravia 86 inch and recommend it. Using a preamp for 2channel music and a pre/pro for movies and TV. Both share the power amp and front speakers and a subwoofer, integrated thru the preamps. Have two side surrounds which adds up to a 4.1 system - no center channel.
I tell people I don’t go to the movies anymore because the sound is better at my house. And I can stop the action and go to the bathroom when I want. 😉
interestingly, movies and TV don’t tax my system as hard as 2channel music does
I think home theatre is very enjoyable and not that hard. While my 2 channel system is what I consider high end, my home theatre is relatively standard wtih a Denon 4700 HT reciever. I use pre out from the Denon into my 2 channel amp for the front speaker and then have relatively inexpensive speakers ($1000 a pair or less) for rears and surrounds. 2 relatively inexpensive subwoofers and Top Gun sounds like I'm on deck.
If you are considering an 85" TV make sure to check out short throw projectors, they work great. Smaller footprint, bigger picture, more value:
You should get a receiver capable of 7 bed channels, 4 height channels and at least two subs like the new Onkyo, Denon, or Anthem.
Then start with as many speakers as you like and simply add as budget allows, no need to go all in at once. KEY- all speakers should be same brand and ideally same series. I prefer monitor speakers with subs instead or towers but YMMV.
I started HT 5.1 since 1990. I had walls of equipment and still love HT experience.
There is not much sound difference between HT 2 chs and Hi-Fi 2 chs audios. They both have veil, glare and un-natural sounds. I think HT is much more enjoyable than 2 chs because in HT, I don’t have keep track for sound details, images, and stage like 2 chs. HT gives me everything in sound that I can truly relax (or exciting) and have a fun. Unless you must listen older CDs, you can listen so many music and movie in the internet.
I wouldn’t started 2 ch audio seriously if I knew the natural sound in reproduction audio doesn’t exist. I found it after investing so much money in 2 chs and 3 decades of effort later. Though I am glad that I started 2 chs now because I made the true natural sound audio system. Alex/ Wavetouch audio
Yes, it's worth it if you are a film buff and have the space and separate walls from neighbors to make it worth your while.
It's not really that hard. At a basic level, it just involves setup and tuning to get the sound right. The hardest part is probably the subwoofer setup if your room isn't an ideal in shape and treatment.
Soundbar is always a compromise—even the premium soundbar setups. I'd recommend a 2.1 stereo + subwoofer vs. going with any soundbar solution. At least, you'd know your music is going to sound decent while your movies will still get a decent size soundstage.
Check out the upcoming Nakamichi Dragon sound bar system with 2 subs and wireless surrounds. It is supposed to bridge the gap between sound bar and a separates system. Looks pretty cool!
I’ve run several large home projection systems and they were always separate from the two channel hifi. At one point, I was using all ARC tube amps just for home theater, with a projector, native rate scaler and various inputs, there was Blu, HD, and eventually streaming. I used big Snells and and 18 and 15 inch Velodynes, with Meridan controller, etc. I also used a McI controller -pre-pro.
I still run top tier hi-fi, but one area where trickle down has occurred is home theatre. In the old days, a Farjoudja line quadrupler was 20k; now it is a cheap chip in most TVs or pre-pros. I had my share of hi-end pre pros and the market for those diminished. The quality I get from a 3 grand pre-pro into McI solid state and 5.1 plus good sub and big flat screen is more than adequate for my needs. I sort of lost interest in re-creating the theatrical experience (though it was fun in the day, starting in the ’90s with big CRT projectors and laser disc), but the quality/cost is ratio is better for the consumer now- you get more quality for the money and the gear is far less massive in terms of equipment installation.
I dunno about sound bars. I like the rear channel effects, a lot of stuff I watch is in 4k and sometimes in Atmos, though I didn’t set up all those additional speakers.
Maybe I’m just satisfied with less, but honestly, TV sound has limits given how sound tracks, dialog, etc. are patched together and as long as I get good quality video signal (I have Google fiber at 1 gig, so monster bandwidth for cheap), I just stream movies and tv series. For what it is, it is fine.
Audio for serious listening is a different matter in my book which is why, no matter how elaborate the video system, I kept the two channel set up separate.
*G* Video of any nature is just part of the menu here...
Been screwing ’round with a Walsh surround, and playing with what’s improbable.
In possession of 4 large Ess amts’ to complicate or placate.
Keeps me preoccupied when I can’t.
Thinking DBS for the bottom.
And a space right-sized.
Wish me luck.
is a drain ;)
In 1998 long before BluRay, I bought a mid-fi 5+1 channel system. Cost was around £8,000 but the 40 inch screen was £3,500 of that then. It had a big Denon amp, Ruark speakers, REL sub, Panasonic player. The screen blew after 14 years so I bought a 50 inch. I changed the player to cover BluRays when they arrived.
I have enjoyed this system for 25 years and don't want anything better. Don't want streaming either. By contrast, my 2 channel system would cost £150,000 at today's retail.
It's whatever you want; don't ask us for advice on a question like this. Test dem a high-end theatre system and see if moves you. Act accordingly
I am a 2 channel person as well, but could not build this large dedicated listening room without taking into account family and friend gatherings, especially since not many of them have been exposed or experienced a truly immersive home theater. Plus, the wife said my space, all 33x22x10, is hogging, haha. It’s our retirement home build and last house we are building. 3rd listening room and theater. The room is being built with soundproofing concepts and front row seating is primarily setup for the 2 channel sweet spot. With 400 pound field coil horn speakers that have 15” forward bass drivers and 18” sub bass drivers, I plan on a listening distance of about 9-11 feet, and 13-15 for second row seats for movie watching. Screen width is 135” diagonal and speakers are Klipsch RCC 102 behind the screen professional theater speakers. I purchased the Klipsch system because it’s a literal plug and play solution. Unbox the speakers, set on ground behind screen and connect the speaker wires. The speakers are connected to each other and are all the same height. Plus, they are highly efficient. I learned with this 3rd theater, that having more efficient theater speakers is key to satisfactory movie watching without cranking up the amps. I also love to watch concert movies and home theater brings me closer to that experience.
You really answered the question with “I’m a huge TV and movie fan”. We are too and it is totally worth the investment. We have a 2 story open floor plan and movies are amazing ! Music is great too! You can see our system on my details page. Go for it!
My Sister-In-Law house/dog sits for people while they travel ...
Many wealthy, larger spaces, bigger Monitors.
I am flabbergasted by the poor audio, it just boggles your mind. Aside from poor speaker choices, the placement, echos, hollow spots, OMG. Center channel speakers in odd places; fl/fr spaced wide, flat in walls, imaging off center problematic, let's not mention Monitors above Fireplaces.
Lousy light control (harder in large rooms).
Most are unable to explain how the system works to her before they leave, she often waits for me to visit just to get regular TV going. Then afraid to change anything.
Monster TVs, with Sound bars,
AV consultants and I used to design high tech boardrooms, with custom remotes, tried to make it usable for brilliant executives. Eventually only 1 wiz kid from Special Projects ... could operate the damn thing. It's the same, brilliantly dumb.
IOW, RTFM, learn the fundamentals yourself, so you can figure it out/reset when something goes amis which is not if but when.
Open concepts are great and prefer them. A dedicated Home Theater is nice if you really have the perfect space but it is difficult to use the space or converse with guest when you are all facing the screen. I recommend in an open space that you build the Home Theater setup around the main couch (group of seating) and have the screen determine your locations of your speakers. The other areas and awkward angled seating just won’t have as good of an experience but they are not primary. The main 1-4 seats are what really matters (maybe more depending on the size of your family). You could always add a recessed motorized screen that drops down in front of the TV. A ton of options in an open concept!
What is really needed. How much is too much or too little?
After I recently upgraded my AV center I had a left over NAD so I put it in my bedroom, hoping to liven up the Television there. A couple of days ago I was watching the TV W/O the NAD and though it had good sound and part of the fault might be the CHEAP Clipch speakers I connected to it, The TV along sounded better that when using the NAD.
I think in my lifetime, I've set up at least 12 home theater systems at 5 different houses now, some for me, some for friends/ family. And I will say this, yes, in my opinion, getting surround sound is worth it. Even if you're streaming. Having said that, you have to make sure that your streaming device will decode the latest signals. So my streaming source is an Apple TV. I use that and am able to get Atmos through HBO, Apple TV, Disney, Netflix and Amazon. (Hulu stinks and I don't think they have anything over stereo to my knowledge.) I know the Apple TV works with the streaming and sound formats, I'm not sure if other streamers such as a Roku, or Amazon stick are as compatible with other streaming services in delivering Atmos sound. (You'll also need the highest Netflix tier to stream in Atmos /4k too.)
Next up is the TV. As others have said, if you want 85 inches, I think Sony is unbeatable. LG OLED and Samsung High end TV's compete with picture quality, but LG doesn't make an OLED that size, and Samsung doesn't support Dolby Vision. (And after switching from regular HDR to Dolby Vision, its game changing because your TV is automatically dialed in using DV and calibrated making the picture even better.)
As far as sound goes, every step up will improve your experience. I have yet to ever hear good TV speakers, like, ever. They just don't sound good. A soundbar is certainly an option, and that would certainly be better than TV speakers. And, most good, two channel systems with a sub are going to best most soundbars. But adding speakers to your rear, sides, and ceiling, that's where it really becomes an immersive experience. So a "basic" 5.1.2 system is, in my opinion, the best bang for your buck. But, I have constantly upgraded my system to where I now have a 9.2.4 system, and my movie experience is now far better than having fewer speakers. So, if your room would be able to support that many speakers, I'd suggest to at least wire up a 9.4.6 solution while you can and that way you have the option to put in more speakers if you ever wish to.
As far as speakers go, I have used Klipsch in-wall speakers, Focal's, but my favorite theater speakers are either Definitive Technology towers, or Golden Ear tower speakers. They both have built in subs, and their quality is great for music or movies, plus they manufacture complimentary speakers that you can use for surround and height speakers. Paradigm, Focal, Klipsch, there are really a lot of great options.
I disagree with a lot of people here though who say you have to get a pre/pro and separates to start. I think a high-end receiver that has built in amps is perfect for most scenarios. Or, at least to start. Just make certain it has pre-outs for all your channels so that, if you choose to, you can offload the signal to an external amp if you ever want. Anthem makes a great receiver depending on the number of channels you want to start out with that can decode 7.2 channels up to 15.2 channels. (But you'd need an external amplifier to power some of those channels.) Marantz, Denon, Yamaha, they all have some good solutions as well with built in amplification so your starting costs are a lot lower, and you can add external amplification if you ever choose to. (And if you eventually move to external amps for all your channels, then you can move to a pre-pro only which would deliver a great sound too.)
Anyway - that's my .02. One other thing of note too is your room size. If it's a small room, then 9.4.6 may be huge overkill. If the room is huge, that may not be enough. But yeah, with modern room correction software, good speakers, good sub or bass performance, in my opinion, I think it would be worth it to setup a multi channel surround system. (OH! And Music with Atmos, that's life changing! My two channel stereo sounds great, but when you get immersive audio involved, it's an entirely different experience.)
I've had 5.1 AV surround system for over twenty years and can't watch a good movie without it I also consider myself a bit of an Audiophile as I have a pretty good two channel tube stereo rig Now that I'm retired and have downsize, I have both my two channel and now 5.2 AV Emotiva XMC-2 system in a low profile credenza, so two separate systems Lately I've just been using just my main speakers, center channel plus two subs as I didn't want to run speakers wires for the rears But just recently I've added the SVS wi fi speakers for the rears and now I'm back in 5.2 AV heaven
It's pretty cheap and easy to add rear speakers to that mix and a nice subwoofer for those action movies.
It's pretty trivial to get set up. You buy an inexpensive surround sound receiver from Costco, buy your front and rear speakers, and a subwoofer and you're good to go. The investment here is probably $2K at most. Half of a Saturday afternoon will do it. The speakers don't even have to be expensive to enjoy it. Listening to the surround sound movie tracks doesn't require anything more than adequate speakers.
Heck, the receivers include a microphone to ping the room for you and set themselves up appropriately.
What is your budget? Are ok buying on the secondary market? I have both in the same room, with XLR switch for HT bypass for Vinyl from my 2ch gear. Our house is open concept, the HT\2Ch is in the corner of the L shapped floor plan. Its amazing both 2ch spinning and streaming movies. Trinnov, Kaleidoscape, ATV, FireTV, 77' OLED, and 3 subs. 5.3.4 :)
My movies are limited to those that don't have much video or sound effects. Sometimes they have great music on the soundtrack, but the soundtracks I do prefer to listen separately.
I'll give my 2 cents. My brother has a 65" OLED and a $2000 setup with a good-quality sound bar and 2 small subwoofers. These are run by his TV.
I have a 4K 7.1 system. Same TV model but a Marantz Pre-Pro with separate amps, speakers, and subwoofer. I would call my system the upper middle of the road.
Can I hear the difference? Yes, very easily.
Would I be happy with his system? Definitely not for movies, maybe for television
shows, but I doubt it.
After spending the money and listening to my system, have I ever wished I had done something cheaper? No.
Can my wife tell the difference? Yes
Is that a good thing? Yes, I would say mandatory.
It is just a matter of what you want in life and how much time you spend in front of your TV in a week.
Yu Da Boss!
If you have the space and budget I would highly recommend it. I have a 5.1 home theater system with matching Wharfdale towers, center channel, bookshelves for the surrounds and a Velodyne sub. A majority of streaming content on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu have a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack and a lot of Blu-Rays have Dolby Digital HD or DTS HD soundtracks which are even better. I also use my home theater system to listen to multi-channel SACDs, Blu-Ray audio, and DVD audio music. I would recommend purchasing the speakers front L&R, center, surrounds, and sub as a matched set if possible for uniform sound.
i dismantled my living room theater 1 1/2 years ago, and man i miss it. big Legacy front 3, psb surrounds and back. 2 velodyne DD12+ subs. heaven....i wanted my living room back with very nice 2 channel. also, it's not all about earthquake shake and boom. Breaking Bad in 7.2 sound is indescribably great, as one example........
I have a tannoy home theater kit, 5 satellites and a sub, run by a nice sony amp. Sounds great! I play DVD, bluray, and 4k through the oppo 103.
Some advice from a guy who’s been designing and installing home theater systems before the term "home theater" existed. Think "Kloss Novabeam".
Audiophiles have some reverence for the artists and composers who created the work. When we’re fully resonating with the performance we make the connection between ourselves and the creative genius behind what we are experiencing. To classfy this is "special" is an understatement. That’s why we throw real money and time into assembling these purveyors of art.
"Movie buffs" have a similar admiration for the work and those who created it. Someone wrote a story. Someone thought story was interesting enough to develop it into a movie. What follows is a screenplay and an accumulation of talent that in some cases produces a piece that will live on thru the millennia. Wardrobe, casting, lighting, sound, and actors and actresses who don’t just play the part, but become the part. Just like an epic recording where all the stars line up and everyone involved reaches deep inside and produces the best performances of their lifetime, we are "gifted" with something truly unique that may happen on once in a lifetime.
I view "home theater" as something a couple of ’pay grades" above the "A-ticket amusement park ride" that is often attributed to "home theater". Don’t get me wrong, being pinned back into your seat as sounds whirl around you can be pretty amazing. But, that’s a small, narrow view of watching movies at home.
The target objective for "home theater" is in the form of a question: "Did the writer’s story get told?" Were all of the creative elements portrayed in my home to a degree where I "got it" and felt like "I was there?"
Some of my favorite (and, most effective) demos were of simple restaurant scenes where "nothing is going on" except dialog between the two main characters. Enter the high-performance surround sound system. You hear other conversations. The clanking of glasses and silverware, and the sense of the space the characters are in. Not to mention that the dialong between the charactiers is highly intelligible, and the emotion of the charactiers is presented more accurately. Extend this level of performance to more complex (and, engergetic) scenes and you get the sense of what "home theater" is all about. Low performing system don’t even come close.
Some of the impactful music ever written just happens to be on movie soundtracks. The movie Stardust is a fun ride, with an excellent cliassical music soundtrack, for example.
As for equipment, I’ll start with subwoofers:
Activity on the screen is happening at the speed of light. Sloppy cones just can’t keep up with it. The flash of an explosion happens on the screen and is gone before the sound get to us, then lingers far after the moment of visual impact departs. You’re supposed to be startled, yet what you are experiencing is a slow motion, time-delayed portrayal of the event. It takes real power and precision for a subwoofer to do its job -- correctly. It takes quality AND quantity. Not easy to do on a tight budget. But, do the best you can. Just don’t overlook this aspect of system performance.
Receivers can do a decent job of putting you there. I’d recommend experiencing "better stuff" to see if the investment is worth the money for you. Higher resolution results in more information in the space. Your ears (and brain) may appreciate the difference.
So, in my view, the heros of the "home theater system" are those who create the content. Movie lovers may want to be just as committed to "getting it right" as we are with our music systems. That is IF we want the storyteller’s story to be accurately "told" in our homes.
Interesting comments, can you please post your system in your profile? You are spot on when you talk about power being key. In my my system I have one 500 watt multichannel amp that powers 4 satellite speakers in my height channels which are easy loads. Every other speaker is either active, being fed power by a 150 watt (woofer) and a also a 50 watt (tweeter) internal monoblock, or a dedicated two channel 100 watt amp (back surrounds). My Sunfire subs are being driven by a 1400 watt amp. When you add it all up that is about 6000 watts +- driving my 9.2.8 system. It isn't designed to sound loud, its designed to sound effortless.
Yes, I’ve been too lazy to get my system profile(s) up (5 total). Sorry. My HT set up is essentially at Kaleidescape-based system with big Marantz receiver, B&W’s all around (ATMOs) and Sunfire sub. This is what I settled for after retirement. We chose a motorhome over the ultimate HT. It was the right call for us. In my "part time" 75-hour work week, I was heavily involved with Marantz, Mac and Arcam electronics (and some Sony ES, Pioneer Elite and Denon). Along with B&W, we used Golden Ear, Klipsch, and JL Audio subs. REL subs were on my "wish list" but I hit the eject button on my career before this happened. Separates are far more definitive in my experience. Even at low volume levels.
My post was centered around the dedication to those who write and produce movies. I’ve discovered that there is a lot that goes into the most mediocre of scenes that is under appreciated (or, lost entirely) without the right setup. Hearing things at home the way the sound engineer intended certainly adds a level of enjoyment and appreciation for the work.
Sounds like you’re still at it. Good luck with that.
I will tell my (2 channel guy) story:
Dont watch much TV. Just had a tele on the wall and couple crappy B&W wall mount speakers. Then I added a Velodyne Micro Vee sub. wow much improvement.
New GF likes streaming movies and with all the new HD concerts on the YouTubes i figured I would build up a modest AV platform. Gots new Tele, got a Denon AV receiver on close out, those are alway available for considerable discount. Added a couple of nice used bookshelf speakers and then got another deal on a used nice center channel from LD. Then got lucky and a friend gave me a nice DAC. Kept the Velodyne sub. All in proly got ~$3k totally invested in I suppose what would be called a 3.1 system. Don’t really need the surround stuff for my requirements. Just added a cheap blue ray player the other day to primarily watch music performances.
It took some time and frustration to get the AV dialed in to make the system balanced and sounding good. Lots a knobs to turn and new things to learn about the set up.
To anwser you question: I think its totally worth doing as you can go as small or as big as you want and make the system sound a bunch better than a fancy sound bar. And totally worth doing if you like watching concerts. I just checked out a blue ray from the library of Sonny Rollins 1965 performance in Denmark with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen on standup bass. Alan Dawson in drums, Dawson taught some of the most famous jazz drummers in the world. After watching this I am soooo glad I invested.
I think it all depends on how much time you spend watching vs. listening. I set up a modest HT (Marantz Pre-Pro, Marantz 5 channel (use my McIntosh Integrated to power main speakers) Oppo 83SE BluRay), and find that I’m watching the news or sports and that’s about it. It’s complete overkill for what we do. We are moving and I’m selling off the HT components. In the new home, I will do a larger TV and a high quality sound bar. I will keep my 2 channel system completely separate from any video duties.
If you’re a true movie buff then a good HT system is definitely worth the time and effort. For me, it was not used enough in that capacity to justify keeping it at the new home.
Please be honest with me. I'm a huge TV movie fan as I'm sure many of you are, and in my youth I used to have a Denon setup, blu-ray, etc. I loved the experience. Fast forward 25 years and now I just stream my tv and movies off Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu. We are doing a new addition where we have an open space concept. I see myself continuing to stream in the future, but would like a clean sound at least. I am treating myself to an 85" TV not sure the make model yet, but I want a big one. Does it make sense for me to even invest in something more then a sound bar given my streaming and open concept? If so, what type of setup should I consider or if I should prewire something up and where would that be? Thanks for your advice https://routerlogin.uno/.
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