Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are good Home Theater and Audio Systems. Hopefully this article will save you time, money and aggravation.
This is how I put together my Home Theater and Audio Sound System and you might want to use this as a general guide in terms of what I learned through trial and error. The first part of this article is general buying tips. The remainder of the article is arranged in alphabetical order by topics beginning with Audio/Video Receivers and ending with Tweaks. Thus you can scroll down in order to find DVD players come after CD players, etc. As previously mentioned, this article is intended as a general guide written in layman’s terms not technical terms trying to summarize Home Theater and Home Audio basics. Onwards and upwards.
Buying Used or Refurbished Items
My rule of thumb with buying something used online is: 1.Make sure it comes with the original manual and remote control, which will make reselling it, should you chose to do so, easier. 2. Make sure it is described as in very good or better condition from a seller in the US (or the country you reside in). 3. Pass on any item which the seller has described previous problems with., 4. Do not buy anything listed “As Is” or “No Returns” as it basically says your stuck with this once you pay for it even if its DOA. 5. Only buy from someone with a lot of feedback whose positive percentage is 95% or better. As a rule I won’t buy from anyone with feedback of 10 or less, if you’re putting up $200 or more, I’d increase that to 20. Even if you do pass up some legitimate people in the process with that rule, the chances are good that the item will show up again within the next 2 months or so from a seller with feedback of 20 or better. What I’m saying is, don’t rush things when you don’t have to. Also pay by paypal only. This way if there is a problem, paypal will help resolve it and/or get your money back.
What Not to Buy Used or Refurbished:
Do not buy a used or refurbished TV under any circumstances. You are asking for trouble if you do.
Do not buy a used or refurbished DVD player, Universal player or DVD recorder under Any circumstances. These are made with a limited life in mind.
How to decide what to Buy
If you’ve heard or seen any system personally that you liked, I would go by that first to decide what to buy. What I wouldn’t do is go to a store & make your decision based on what you hear or see there. In many cases for instance, the HDTV’s are not actually showing HD shows in the store because they’re not receiving HD signals or the sound system is giving lousy sound because of bad acoustics, bad ambience and improperly set controls which the salesman is pretending to not notice. Should you ignore all that, let the buyer beware, at least bring a CD and/or DVD of your choice to sample their system, not the stores generic ones.
I would go to Forum sites and see which components or system, are constantly being praised and then read Online Reviews and information from the Manufacturer and base your decision on that. Likewise use the forums to ask about a specific product.
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Audio/Video (A/V) Receiver
Most of the basic features on 7.1 or 5.1 A/V receivers are similar, no matter how old the receiver is. Before I go on, you can get 5.1 sound (5 speakers and a sub)on a 7.1 receiver and most of the receivers in the last 5 years or so are 7.1. You can get very good used receivers online for, 40 to 70% off the listed retail price when that receiver was new, complete with a remote and manual. Again, research any receiver, from a friend’s opinion, a forum, manufacturer information & online reviews. I myself got a Denon A/V 3801 Receiver which I love for around $380 including shipping that came with the Remote and Manual. As I had a Universal Remote and knew I was going to keep this receiver, I sold the remote for around $35 online, so all I spent was $345. This receiver cost over $1100 when it was new. On a lot of these receivers, you are just paying for extra bells and whistles, which if you don’t need, can save you on money. For instance, many of the newer receivers come with built in EQ/DB systems, that will automatically set up the receivers & these cost a lot more then systems which you have to do this manually. Note, I listen to CDs on the Denon’s All Natural 5.1 Stereo Sound which plays CDs from all 5 speakers and my subwoofer without reprocessing the sound. To me this gives my sound much more depth. Other people do not like to listen to CDs that way.