The Next Great Inexpensive Home Theater

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#1
We currently have a Samsung HT-Q40. I think it is three years old, but it seems older. I know, when we bought it, we were thinking that Blu-ray was coming, so we didn't want to spend a lot on a home theater system. By the same token, we never needed much more than the HT-Q40 -- it served our needs very well. We are only considering replacing it now because I hear a very high-pitched whine coming from it whenever I turn it on.

There are things that we would prefer it do. First, while DVDs look great on my 50" DLP, I suspect with up-scaling they could look better. Second, we currently have only one HDMI device, and even if we had two, our HDTV has two HDMI inputs. However, at one point in the past, we had two HD DVRs (i.e., two HDMI inputs), so if we had also gotten a BD player at that time, we would have had an issue. (Of course, we could have just used the component video inputs for one of the input devices. There is no noticeable difference between component input and HDMI input.)

These consideration are not worth replacing the unit. However, if that high-pitched whine turns into system failure (and wouldn't you expect it to?), then we'll be scrambling for a replacement.

So my questions to you:

1) Is that high-pitched whine something you know about? Is it a certain death knell? Is it cheaply repairable?

2) We're considering the following replacement options. What are your opinions:
a) Sony HTSS360 Home Theater System + Sony BDP-S360 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player
b) Sony BDV-E300 Home Theater System with Blu-ray Disc Player (coming out next month)
c) The Samsung comparables to (a) (but, while I can find a Samsung comparable for the Blu-ray Disc Player [BD-P1600], I cannot find a comparable for the home theater system. Your suggestion?)

We don't specifically want Blu-ray (we think that the media costs far more, to purchase or even just rent from Netflix, to warrant the added price, given how good DVDs look), but at this point we don't think it makes sense to buy something that doesn't have a Blu-ray player. I expect media prices to fall in the next few years.

As I mentioned before, we do want up-scaling.

One thing that really has me avoiding this purchase if at all possible is that we don't need new speakers, but it seems that every inexpensive system comes with speakers. If we can just use the existing speakers with the existing wires, already run around the room, that's what we're going to do.
 

TonyT

DTVUSA Member
#2
We don't specifically want Blu-ray (we think that the media costs far more, to purchase or even just rent from Netflix, to warrant the added price, given how good DVDs look), but at this point we don't think it makes sense to buy something that doesn't have a Blu-ray player. I expect media prices to fall in the next few years.
Just a note on Blockbuster, we switched from Netflix to Blockbuster in April because there's no surcharge or extra fees on Blu-Ray rentals at the store and/or online. Included in the price you get a couple of vouchers for renting from the store too which cuts on costs compared to what we were paying at Netflix. :popcorn:
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#3
The cost difference between the BDV-E300 and BDV-E500W is less than $200, might be something to look into. Only reason why I suggest is the rear speakers on the BDV-E500W are wireless (if that's a problem for you). Not a lot of information available yet about these 2, but the BDV-E500W looks like it has 2 towers for front speakers.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#4
We have no problem wiring to rear speakers. Our room is shaped like a backwards C, with the television at the top, and wall all the way around to the back wall.
 
#5
Sony's new HTIBs interface with their blu-ray drives pretty well (they should anyway of course), but one thing to note about the HTSS360 which is a big deal breaker for me, is that it it's speakers are connected with a special connection for only Sony receivers. Not a big deal if you never plan on using these speakers with a different receiver, but my house is hard wired for the rear speakers and I've yet to see any adapters made so that I can utilize my wiring. Not sure if the BDV-300 is going to be the same way. The HTSS360 is around $300 now which is an incredible deal considering what you get.

BDV-S300

Great review here if you haven't seen it - Review: Sony BDP-S300 Blu-ray Player : Home Theater Blog | Home Theater News & Reviews

Some bad points from the review:

It looks as if the BDV-S300 isn’t HDMI 1.3 equipped after all. This post from A/V Magazine (Italian) clearly shows a Silicon Image SiI9030 chipset which is HDMI 1.1 only
Yesterday afternoon we went out and purchased ‘Ghost Rider’ on BD (One of the few BD’s with a TrueHD track) and you guessed it, the BDP-S300 in its current state doesn’t decode the track.
 
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#6
We currently have a Samsung HT-Q40. I think it is three years old, but it seems older. I know, when we bought it, we were thinking that Blu-ray was coming, so we didn't want to spend a lot on a home theater system. By the same token, we never needed much more than the HT-Q40 -- it served our needs very well. We are only considering replacing it now because I hear a very high-pitched whine coming from it whenever I turn it on.


These consideration are not worth replacing the unit. However, if that high-pitched whine turns into system failure (and wouldn't you expect it to?), then we'll be scrambling for a replacement.
Is the whining noise coming directly from the receiver itself or is it heard coming from your speakers? Or both?
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#7
The whining noise is coming directly from the receiver. It doesn't seem electronic at all.

The news about the speaker connections is a bit distressing... as I mentioned, I really don't want to mess with my speakers, and of course, what guarantee is there that the BDV-S300 will have rear speaker wires long enough? It probably won't, since my room is so long.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#8
The whining noise is coming directly from the receiver. It doesn't seem electronic at all.

The news about the speaker connections is a bit distressing... as I mentioned, I really don't want to mess with my speakers, and of course, what guarantee is there that the BDV-S300 will have rear speaker wires long enough? It probably won't, since my room is so long.
You could have the infamous ground loop problem. It's an easy fix with a $20-$50 ground loop isolator, but if you get a minute search: ground loop humming noise receiver.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#9
I am pretty sure that that is not it. The sound is mechanical, not electronic. It isn't a hum, but rather a whirring sound, as something makes when it is spinning but up against some resistance that it wasn't designed-for.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#10
I am pretty sure that that is not it. The sound is mechanical, not electronic. It isn't a hum, but rather a whirring sound, as something makes when it is spinning but up against some resistance that it wasn't designed-for.
Ah of course, missed the details because I'm here at work sneaking some posts in.....:cool:
 

TonyT

DTVUSA Member
#12
One other nuance about the noise: It is short-lived. It whirs for about 15-25 seconds and than tapers off.
Definitely sounds like a fan or something mechanical. That's one of those where, if you bring it in to get it looked at by a tech, it's minimum $100 just to crack it open and diagnose. Does it run real hot? I'd be a little concerned with not enough heat dissipation (if it is the fan), if you're still using it for now?

Are you looking for Sony products only? I've seen some great deals on 2008 Pioneer receivers.
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#13
I've been looking at Samsung too, but I haven't found a comparable receiver.

Do note that we never listen to the radio. Ever. I always have to do a double-take when shopping, because these devices are listed as "receivers" but, as far as I'm concerned, they aren't "receiving" anything. We are simply looking for a Blu-Ray player, and a 5.1 surround sound system to connect at least three HD video + DD5.1 audio devices (the Blu-Ray player, our TiVo S3, and maybe one or two others). If it tunes in radio stations, we'll never notice. The problem I've seen is that when you start looking for units that don't have radio tuners, the units get more expensive, not less expensive.
 
#14
I've been looking at Samsung too, but I haven't found a comparable receiver.

Do note that we never listen to the radio. Ever. I always have to do a double-take when shopping, because these devices are listed as "receivers" but, as far as I'm concerned, they aren't "receiving" anything. We are simply looking for a Blu-Ray player, and a 5.1 surround sound system to connect at least three HD video + DD5.1 audio devices (the Blu-Ray player, our TiVo S3, and maybe one or two others). If it tunes in radio stations, we'll never notice. The problem I've seen is that when you start looking for units that don't have radio tuners, the units get more expensive, not less expensive.
A receiver without a tuner is more of an amplifier, but you can't really classify it as an amplifier because they switch between inputs. There probably needs to be another classification added to this field of electronics.
 
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bicker

DTVUSA Member
#15
I've never seen an amplifier, though, with as many inputs and outputs as the receivers I listed above, for less money than the receivers I listed above. :confused:
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#16
I know you haven't mentioned Harmon Karden receivers, but I thought I'd mention something about them based on my past experience. I've owned 2 HK receivers in the past 8 years, (one a hand me down from my dad), and both went out within a matter of 4 years of the original purchase date. It's odd, but both receivers had the same problem of not being able to find audio on certain inputs. The problem started off as intermittent (which would be corrected by turning the power off and on), but then progressively got worse.
 

Jason Fritz

Administrator
Staff member
#17
We currently have a Samsung HT-Q40. I think it is three years old, but it seems older. I know, when we bought it, we were thinking that Blu-ray was coming, so we didn't want to spend a lot on a home theater system. By the same token, we never needed much more than the HT-Q40 -- it served our needs very well. We are only considering replacing it now because I hear a very high-pitched whine coming from it whenever I turn it on.

There are things that we would prefer it do. First, while DVDs look great on my 50" DLP, I suspect with up-scaling they could look better. Second, we currently have only one HDMI device, and even if we had two, our HDTV has two HDMI inputs. However, at one point in the past, we had two HD DVRs (i.e., two HDMI inputs), so if we had also gotten a BD player at that time, we would have had an issue. (Of course, we could have just used the component video inputs for one of the input devices. There is no noticeable difference between component input and HDMI input.)

These consideration are not worth replacing the unit. However, if that high-pitched whine turns into system failure (and wouldn't you expect it to?), then we'll be scrambling for a replacement.

So my questions to you:

1) Is that high-pitched whine something you know about? Is it a certain death knell? Is it cheaply repairable?

2) We're considering the following replacement options. What are your opinions:
a) Sony HTSS360 Home Theater System + Sony BDP-S360 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player
b) Sony BDV-E300 Home Theater System with Blu-ray Disc Player (coming out next month)
c) The Samsung comparables to (a) (but, while I can find a Samsung comparable for the Blu-ray Disc Player [BD-P1600], I cannot find a comparable for the home theater system. Your suggestion?)

We don't specifically want Blu-ray (we think that the media costs far more, to purchase or even just rent from Netflix, to warrant the added price, given how good DVDs look), but at this point we don't think it makes sense to buy something that doesn't have a Blu-ray player. I expect media prices to fall in the next few years.

As I mentioned before, we do want up-scaling.

One thing that really has me avoiding this purchase if at all possible is that we don't need new speakers, but it seems that every inexpensive system comes with speakers. If we can just use the existing speakers with the existing wires, already run around the room, that's what we're going to do.
Made a decision yet Bic? :pop2:
 

bicker

DTVUSA Member
#18
Unfortunately, we haven't gotten enough input to make a decision. In the interim, I have thrown more requirements into the mix -- my wife is hearing impaired and so there are closed captioning support considerations. Also, I've come to the conclusion that we do need new speakers. The ones we bought in 2006 were really cheap (I think the whole HT system, with 5 DVD carousel and 5.1 speakers, was less than $200), and a few recent programs have shown some limitations of the speakers. So we'll likely stick with a full HT system, with speakers, even if they have proprietary connectors, thereby requiring us to run new wire around the room; again we have the luxury of being able to easily do so because of the room's shape and position of the television and doorways.

I have been posting this around on some of the Home Theater forums:
bicker said:
Does anyone have any insights on whether it is worth waiting for the BDV-E300 versus just buying the HTS-S2300+BDV-S360 now?

links:

BDV-E300

HTS-S2300

BDP-S360
So at least I'm narrowing things down (not really considering the Samsung, anymore), though to be honest, bad news about the Sony's capabilities could derail my whole Sony strategy.
 

Jason Fritz

Administrator
Staff member
#19
Unfortunately, we haven't gotten enough input to make a decision. In the interim, I have thrown more requirements into the mix -- my wife is hearing impaired and so there are closed captioning support considerations. Also, I've come to the conclusion that we do need new speakers. The ones we bought in 2006 were really cheap (I think the whole HT system, with 5 DVD carousel and 5.1 speakers, was less than $200), and a few recent programs have shown some limitations of the speakers. So we'll likely stick with a full HT system, with speakers, even if they have proprietary connectors, thereby requiring us to run new wire around the room; again we have the luxury of being able to easily do so because of the room's shape and position of the television and doorways.

I have been posting this around on some of the Home Theater forums:
So at least I'm narrowing things down (not really considering the Samsung, anymore), though to be honest, bad news about the Sony's capabilities could derail my whole Sony strategy.
Not sure if you've seen this yet, but HomeTheaterMag did a review on the BDP-360 this month Home Theater: Sony BDP-S360 Blu-ray Player

What's the bad news about the Sony?
 

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