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Friday
Dec182015

Podcast #718: Ultimate Home Theater in a Box for 2015

Each year we design a Home Theater setup that is considerably better than a typical home theater in a box. We have seen complete setups for less than $500 from manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic that quite frankly do not sound good. While our system costs more than a name brand HTIB your satisfaction will be dramatically more. Plus we include EVERYTHING you need to actually setup a home theater. Minimum components for our system are a HDTV, Blu-ray Player, Receiver, and 7.1 speakers.

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Ultimate Home Theater in a Box for 2015

Each year we design a Home Theater setup that is considerably better than a typical home theater in a box. We have seen complete setups for less than $500 from manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic that quite frankly do not sound good. While our system costs more than a name brand HTIB your satisfaction will be dramatically more. Plus we include EVERYTHING you need to actually setup a home theater.  Minimum components for our system are a HDTV, Blu-ray Player, Receiver, and 7.1 speakers.

For this feature we choose components that we either have direct experience with or have experience with a similar model made by the same manufacturer. In years past we would set a maximum price but this year we are not doing that. We are defining a system that can had by anyone who is serious about home theater. These systems will look and sound great by anyone’s definition!


Braden:

Samsung UN65J6200 65-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model) ($1198)

Borrowed from the HDTV buying guide. My TV is a bit smaller than last year’s Sharp 70-inch Aquos but it’s also $400 cheaper. We’ve already talked about it, but this set combines great features with a really affordable price - even for Samsung. Its Smart TV technology allows you to access movies, games, streaming services, and other apps so you can easily get to your favorite media. Surf the web using the built-in Wi-Fi, or use the screen-mirroring feature to play your mobile content on the big screen and you can plug into the USB port to watch your own media. Great TV, great price, no brainer.


Denon AVR-X3200W 7.2-Channel Full 4K Ultra HD A/V Receiver with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi ($999)

Maybe it’s cheating a bit, but I snagged a receiver from the buying guide as well. Because we all know Denon makes the best receivers...this one has everything I need and more. It’s a bit more expensive than the Onkyo TX-NR636 from last year, but I had a little wiggle room with the less expensive TV, so we dropped that into the receiver. This bad boy is a 7.2 channel A/V receiver that packs 105W of power per channel. It has 3D and 4K Ultra HD/60Hz full rate pass-through with 4:4:4 color resolution, HDR, BT.2020. 8 HDMI 2.0a inputs (incl. 1 front) and 2 HDMI outputs with full HCDP 2.2 support. Of course, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. And let’s not forget Dolby Atmos (up to 5.1.2), DTS:X ready (via firmware update). Instant content Airplay, Spotify Connect, Pandora, SiriusXM Internet Radio Internet Radio, DLNA, DSD,FLAC, ALAC and AIFF High Resolution streaming. And the new IP control capability with the HEOS Link turns any stereo system into a wireless zone (HEOS LINK sold separately).


Hsu Research Hybrid 1 - 7.1 Package in Satin Black ($1449)

Speaker prices went up a bit this year, sorry. Last year was the Klipsch RF-42 II Reference 7.1 system for $1299. This year it’s the HSU Research system for $150 more. So I’m typically a Denon and a Klipsch fan-boy. Admittedly. Not ashamed. Denon made my list this year but Klipsch did not. Cuz it’s all about the boom. A full 7.1 speaker system with a killer sub. You won’t need you upgrade these speakers for a long time - if ever.


Miscellaneous

Logitech Harmony 700 Rechargeable Remote with Color Screen ($64)

Last year was the Logitech Harmony 650 for $60. That remote is now up to $86. Although the 700 has been discontinued, you can still get it at a great price. Great remote, ties all your devices together, has hard buttons for everything you need to do, and barely even changes the total budget at all. It’s a no brainer. And, unlike the 650, the 700 is rechargeable. No batteries to replace.

Forget Blu-ray, they’re commodity. Add $50 and pick up anything you want. Add about $100 for cables and a power strip and another $100 for the streaming box that suits your needs and you should be all set.  Sit back and watch some HDTV.


Summary

Total cost, end to end, for a killer, big screen, 7.1 home theater: $3960 (ip from $3583 last year, but that didn’t include a streaming box).


Ara:

LG Electronics 60LF6100 60-Inch 1080p LED Smart TV $865

Home Theater in a Box systems are typically about getting you an introductory setup and this TV is a perfect centerpiece for your theater. A 60 inch TV will allow for a more cinema like experience in a smaller family room. This HDTV has decent picture quality and good reliability numbers so buy with confidence!


Sony BDPS3500 Blu-ray Player with Wi-Fi $70

In years past I went with Oppos but I no longer feel you need to spend $500 for a Blu-ray player if the main thing you are going to do is watch Blu-rays. The Oppo is well worth its price tag but only if you need the added features. The Sony streams video from all the big players and you can stream video from your Android device via Miracast. For those who don’t have a hardwire connection near the TV the 3500 supports the MIMO protocol for improved speed and reliability.  


Yamaha RX-V677 7.2-channel Wi-Fi Network AV Receiver with AirPlay ($380)

This is the same unit I selected last year only this year it's only $380! Easy setup and calibration, network features so you can stream music from your favorite service, great Yamaha sound, and Airplay for $380 make this an easy choice for my system (Again!).


SVS Prime Satellite 7.1 $1,230

Speakers are the one place I spend a little more money on my system. It's because you can keep speakers forever so start out with something that’s worth keeping forever!  Being bookshelf speakers the Prime Satellite will be easy to place in your home. The set includes a 12 inch subwoofer rated down 24Hz which comes in a small 13 inch enclosure.


Miscellaneous

You will need a remote control to tie everything together. There are many options out there and rather than specify one, I’ll just allocate $250 and let you choose between Harmony, Simple Control, or iRule.

The last thing to consider are cables, power strips, and connectors. We will allocate an additional $200 for these items as well.


Summary

Last year my system came in at $4,480 plus tax and this year I spent $5 less than $3,000! Even at the lower cost you are still getting a high quality system that will last you for years to come. So much better than any HTIB system and you get a TV!


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Reader Comments (1)

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January 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMark12547

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