New to the scene? Always been wanting to build one but didn't know how to go about doing it? Get ripped off lately? Ronin is here to help In Home: First, despite your knowledge of home theater, you need to figure a few things out: 1)Budget, it is important to have planned a budget and set your sights on a price bracket for what you are prepared to spend. 2)Application, what is the intended purpose of this sound system? 3)Don't fall for marketing ploys and spiced up jargon. If you don't know about home theater a salesman will pick up on that quick and run with it. So be a careful shopper and look at ALL of your options before that final transaction is made. Let’s talk about how to work your budget into a home theatre system. There are a few ways to go about doing this. One option is to spend your whole budget on the first blow, getting every component you need. The other one is buying a few things to start off with using that same budget. You then purchase the rest of your system as more money becomes available, and I highly recommend taking this option if you are a bit tight on money. The end result is much better. And you will be a lot happier with the fact you don't need to go to Regal Cinemas to watch a movie, or to that annoying friend who smells like cheese but has a cool set up. You should take some time to consider how you wish to divide your money. Once you have that figured out it’s time to think about what you want to get out of your system. What will the speakers be used for mostly? If it’s going to be playing mostly music then I highly suggest going the route of dividing your budget and starting off with a high quality 2-channel set up to begin with. If they will be pumping out a lot of movies then some things are important to consider. Keep in mind the fact that 60 percent of the movie soundtrack will be going through your center channel, so spending a bit more money here is important. The center channel will be handling the dialogue, so you want those words to be clear and defined. You will also have to look at your room and figure out the best way to place rear speakers, and if you wish to run 7.1, where to put the side speakers. You may need to reorganize your room to better accommodate the new additions. Now you have a budget in mind and you know what you want to get done. But what components to use? Where can you get good deals? How do you go about shopping for said components? Your budget should be divided into probably something like this: Percentages are of total budget 15.5% for receiver 20% for Left/Right speaker pair 20% for center speaker 20% for subwoofer 7.5 %for DVD player (I don’t stress a lot of money on this component, differences are minimal.) 13% (Rear speakers, IMO, are for ambience and encompassing effects, pin point precision and detail is less important as in the front. Argue if you will, but I don't really care.) This leaves you 5% for cables and wiring and leeway for non exact pricing. You may also find it handy to cushion some more money for things such as stands and wall brackets. The numbers are my personal method of ratio to a system. Other people may feel differently. I also left out things such as amplifiers due to their costly nature. I feel the above ratios will get you ample performance for an every day set up. Depending on the importance of certain things and your money restraints you may find it fit to alter things. IE: you want to spend 800 on your front speakers, bass isn’t very important to you so you decide to spend only 600 on the subwoofer and get better rears or a better receiver or turntable. The average internet user isn’t going to be striving for ultra high-end equipment, and if they are, they most likely already know how to get their equipment and what to choose (unless they just have a lot of bling and don't know where to spend it ), so I will be aiming the following information at the average person that doesn’t have a huge budget. The first component to look at is the Receiver. This is the basis for any home theater. If you are not already brand savvy then the following list will help you become more accustomed to some makers of Receivers. For general mainstream audio these are the big 4. Yamaha www.yamaha.com Denon www.denon.com Marantz www.marantz.com Onkyo www.onkyo.com Each company is solid and out of the 4 you will find something to fit your needs. I personally favor Yamaha. For Onkyo, Denon, and Yamaha receivers I suggest using a service such as www.pricegrabber.com . Marantz will be a bit harder to find, pricegrabber directs to a couple models. You can also search for models via Google.com. As far as DVD/CD Players go, the same companies stand. The next part of your system is the Speakers. There is a large quantity of different companies to look at. I suggest auditioning them when possible. As far as companies go I suggest: Paradigm www.paradigm.com Bowers & Wilkins www.bwspeakers.com JBL www.jbl.com Definitive Technology www.definitivetech.com Axiom www.axiomaudio.com Polk www.polkaudio.com Mission www.mission.co.uk Athena www.athenaspeakers.com Alpine www.alpine-usa.com Give them a look on these sites, see what’s in your budget. Audition them if you can. www.pricegrabber.com www.google.com www.ebay.com www.audiogon.com www.tsto.com On speakers like the Paradigms you most likely won’t find them on an online dealer or get good price cuts so finding a dealer or ordering them used are going to be what you have to do most likely. www.audiogon.com and www.ebay.com are good places to look. I ordered a pair of used paradigms via ebay and am quite pleased. Subwoofers. Just about everyone enjoys a good subwoofer, it really adds that lovely impact to your experience. The previously mentioned speaker companies will have subwoofers, and in addition to those take a look at: HSU www.hsuresearch.com Rocket www.av123.com/products_category_brand.php?section=subwoofers&bra nd=10 Outlaw Audio www.outlawaudio.com SVS www.svsound.com Need cable? Don’t worry yourself in spending a lot on cables by companies like Monster. www.bluejeanscable.com www.bdcable.com On A Tight Budget? A tight budget could mean you only have about 200-1000 dollars to spend, depending on a person’s definition of 'tight'. HTIBs (Home Theater In A Box) are going to be one of the things you are looking at. The consensus is that Yamaha makes some of the better ones, and Onkyo is right up there to. If you are on a 200-300 dollar budget I strongly suggest buying a receiver and matching it with an upgraded speaker pair. Remember, www.pricegrabber.com is your friend. Think of HTIBs as the easy alternative. And pairing seperate components as the harder yet more rewarding alternative. Let's look at the Yamaha HTR series. http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_attrib.php/page_id=73/form_keyword=yamaha HTR/rd=1/sortby=priceA I suggest getting the 5830. Now for a pair of front speakers, I suggest JBL Northridge, they’re cheap and provide decent output, I've listened to most of the line and for a basic home theater they are quite sufficient. If you are in a large room and think you need big speakers then be prepared to spend at least 300 dollars a pair. Bookshelf: http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=2929417 Floorstanders: http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=1770852 That puts us at about 320 with shipping (receiver + bookshelfs) or about 490 if you decided on getting floor standers. You should be sounding quite a bit better than the satellites you'd normally get in an HTIB. Your next step is to find a subwoofer and center channel speaker followed by your rear speakers. I suggest staying with JBL for your speakers. (Possibly Velodyne for your subwoofer) Now you can weigh a long term project against a short term one. Whatever is most important to you. Staying cheap and getting it done quick Or Spending a little bit more and taking your time. The important thing to know is that you have options. The last thing I have to mention is that when ordering online be aware that ordering from some places will not allow you to get a warranty. Normally when certain things such as Yamaha receivers are ordered at deep discount you will not be getting them warrantied, so if you want a warranty it is important to find an online dealer that will sell you a warranty. Car Audio Head Units now generally have a large number of standardized features such as the ability to read MP3s. Many people will argue what head units are better, and that you should get "This" over "That". It pretty much comes down to preference for the most part. Pioneer http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/pn...6_4035,00.html Alpine www.alpine-usa.com Eclipse www.eclipse-web.com Nakamichi http://www.nakamichi.com/flash.html Take a look at each manufacturer, see what fits into your budget and see if you can demo them or if you know anyone who owns a model you are interested in. www.woofersetc.com www.pricegrabber.com www.thezeb.com www.onlinecarstereo.com These places offer some low low prices and a wide selection. Now you have a head unit in mind and you want to find some speakers. First off, don't worry about equal quality speakers in the front and in the back. Music is 2-channels, your rears will be for ambient effect. You will want a much higher quality set of fronts. I also suggest that unless you are doing a simple install or have done it before that get some help or have it professionally installed. Generally an authorized install will help your warranty. As far as brands go for speakers there is a wide selection of different things to choose from, of course as usual, auditioning is the best way to go. And if you want better than a simple stock replacement then you will want Components. Morel www.morelusa.com Seas Lotus www.seaslotus.com Boston Acoustics www.bostonacoustics.com CDT Audio www.cdtaudio.com Dynaudio www.dynaudio.com Focal http://www.focal.tm.fr/accueil_en.htm www.woofersetc.com www.pricegrabber.com www.thezeb.com www.onlinecarstereo.com www.mobilesq.com The basic info still applies for subwoofers, except now you are getting into 3 basic categories: SQ, SPL, SQL. SQ=Sound Quality, may not be the loudest but will offer very clean and clear bass response. SPL=Loudness is the primary concern of an SPL driver. SQL=A balance of both SQ and SQL. SQ subwoofers include Image Dynamics IDMAX, Seas Lotus SW. SQL subwoofers include Resonant Engineering XXX, Adire Audio Brahma, JL Audio W7. SPL=Most of what is made by MTX, Digital Designs, and Kicker. (Adire Audio Brahmas get incredibly loud as well) Sound Deadener is another very important element of Car Audio. And as much as I could elaborate I will point you to this very handy web site: http://www.sounddeadenershowdown.com Ontop of the regular sound matting, you will probably want to put (in some areason) a thicker road noise cancelling matting. Tacmat is a good one and Elemental Designs has recently come out with TekLite or eDead v.4. I have ordered both, equal thickness, Tacmat is wider, Teklite is a much better bang for your buck. Starting To Build The Car Stereo It is important to know that just adding a decent CD/MP3 Player will greatly improve the sound of your car. So that is the place you want to start. What you get will depend on budget, higher end will be Alpine. Eclipse or Nakamichi, lower will be either Alpine or Pioneer most likely. The next step after the CD player is to get upgraded speakers. Upgrade the front ones first or perhaps only the front ones. Then the rears. The reason is because music is 2-channels, the rears are just there for ambience. When installing speakers you will need to choose between either kick panels or door mount installation. People generally feel kickpanels are the best choice. Getting an amp to power aftermarket speakers is a very good idea, a seperate amplifier is leaps and bounds better than the amplifier in a factory deck. The sound produced by the amplifier will not only be much louder but more accurate and far more dynamic. The next step is to find a subwoofer-amplifier combo. You may be turned off by how many people ride around with large quanitites of bass emitting from their vehicle but there are many subwoofers designed to provide superior sound quality as opposed to loudness. You will have seen the breakdown in the above opening section to Car Audio. If done properly you will be both pleased and surprised at how good an in-car sound system will sound.