Home Theater catch-all

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Yea i think so too, and yes, rtings has it as their top sound bar choice.

Plus people that have speaker systems with subs in apartments are jerks and you don’t want to be that guy.

I want to do my first home theater upgrade since 2010 but don't have a lot of technical proficiency. I'm hoping you folks can give me a bit of advice, because after days of googling terminology the only thing I'm sure of is the headache I end up with most nights.

The setup I'm planning to do is as follows, 4K FIOS box > Xbox series X > AVR > TV (Hisense H9G). The specs on the H9G claim it will do 1440p at 120hz so I'm trying to find an AVR that will do that as passthrough, but the best I can seem to find is 1440p at 60hz.

My first question, is if 1440p at 120hz is possible without buying an AVR that's more expensive than the TV ($1,000 USD), or is it even something I should be concerned with? And, my second question is if 60fps is possible at 1440p at 60hz?

Apologies if I'm getting a lot, or all, of this stuff mixed up.

Grrr, my Denon receiver has started producing a very annoying cracking/staticky sound every so often while playing PS4 or watching movies. Seems to happen regardless of the audio source. It's almost 6 years old so well out of warranty, but I'm still annoyed that it's happening. Seems like it should have lasted longer than this.

FC Supernaut wrote:

I want to do my first home theater upgrade since 2010 but don't have a lot of technical proficiency. I'm hoping you folks can give me a bit of advice, because after days of googling terminology the only thing I'm sure of is the headache I end up with most nights.

The setup I'm planning to do is as follows, 4K FIOS box > Xbox series X > AVR > TV (Hisense H9G). The specs on the H9G claim it will do 1440p at 120hz so I'm trying to find an AVR that will do that as passthrough, but the best I can seem to find is 1440p at 60hz.

My first question, is if 1440p at 120hz is possible without buying an AVR that's more expensive than the TV ($1,000 USD), or is it even something I should be concerned with? And, my second question is if 60fps is possible at 1440p at 60hz?

Apologies if I'm getting a lot, or all, of this stuff mixed up.

1440p 120hz isn't common for av receivers, but if they support HDMI 2.0 they should in theory support it. I found one comment in a forum claiming it works with the pioneer vsx-532, which is a pretty basic receiver, so it's possible most modern receivers would. Best bet is to check with the manufacturers. That said, unless you're playing mostly first person shooters or fighting games where response time is critical, having 120hz may not make a huge difference for you.

To your second question, hz refers to how many times the screen refreshes the image each second. All displays built in the last 2 years support 60hz at up to 4k, which means you get up to 60fps at 4k. So yes, if you buy a display that supports 1440p output, it will output games that run at 1440p 60fps at 60fps.

Thanks for the clarification. My main concern is keeping 60 FPS at 1440p and wasn’t sure if the lower refresh rate would cause a lower frame rate. This will make searching for an AVR a lot easier.

Malor wrote:

In your circumstances, I'd probably do the 650H unless you have 7 speakers or are interested in Dolby Atmos. $50 extra for a lifetime warranty and local replacement strikes me as a great deal.

It looks to me like the Crutchfield receiver might be a generation back, with slightly less capable electronics. It does have 7.1 and Atmos, but it doesn't have eARC, and uses kind of weaselly language about its 4K support. (specifying it as "passthrough".) I suspect the Costco receivers will do a proper GUI on top of a 4K signal, but the X1500H may not.

eARC sounds like a pretty good idea to me if you're a gamer, because it puts the TV first in the signal chain instead of last. You send the video directly to the TV, so that whatever lag the TV has is your display lag. Then the signal goes through to your receiver, and on eARC (as opposed to the earlier ARC) can pass through unmolested by the TV, so the receiver can do whatever magic it can do without being interfered with.

Thanks for this. I went with the 650 and it sounds great. I'm sure I'll be back here asking again after it dies in 3-5 years unless I can convince my wife that the place she grew up is a hellhole (for reasons other than the fact that the humidity kills electronics).

About to pull the trigger on the TV... found out that my current receiver supports ARC (my current TV is so old I never bothered to check), so that buys me some time before I make a decision on my audio options.

My question is does ARC get any benefit from HDMI 2.0 for 5.1 sound? If I'm only passing audio signal, I assume the fact that the receiver only has HDMI 1.x inputs but the TV of course will have 2.X capabailities that it shouldn't matter and 5.1 sound should be totally unaffected. I won't be passing a video signal through my old receiver. I'll move all my devices to direct into the TV and the only thing going into my receiver will be audio from the TV via ARC.

For normal 5.1 (Dolby Digital, DD+, DTS), it probably won't matter. The thing to be aware of is that TV manufacturers can be kind of spotty with their implementation of ARC, of any description. That has the potential to affect what kind of audio formats can get passed through the TV and out to the receiver. With a newer TV, that probably won't be a problem, but you never know. It also introduces the possibility that your receiver may not quite agree with the TV's ARC signal, since HDMI has to handshake. If they don't get along, you might wind up where the TV can output the right thing, but doesn't think the receiver is capable of handling that format, so will helpfully downgrade to stereo or something.

There's also the possibility that the TV introduces some lag in the audio signal. Again, newer TV probably won't do this, but it might. For comparison, my old Vizio TV from ~2015 had a weird thing where if I output audio via ARC, there was a noticeable audio delay just passing a regular DD signal. if I changed the output connection to optical, the delay became imperceptible. I just got a new Vizio this past December, and running basically the same setup otherwise, it has no problem running audio out via ARC with no lag. It even converts a DD+ signal down to regular DD, which is great for my sound bar, and which the old TV wouldn't do.

tl;dr - 90% chance it'll probably work fine, but you might also find some quirks because ARC can be weird.

Thanks. Took a few tries with configuring my Receiver but got it to work. I kept the Switch going through the old receiver since that will never pass a 4K signal, and have an open spot for a 4K Roku to go to the TV.

Well got 95% of the way home on the new TV... My new Roku Ultra arrived and unfortunately it looks my old cables won't cut it. Can't get a good HDCP2.2 handshake so not getting 4K HDR. My wife works at one of the giant tech firms and they give HDMI cables away so hopefully they have HDMI 2.+ cables to test.

So, anyone mind giving me some basic education here on sound bars?

Within our price range, there seems to be three possible things:

Sony Soundbar 5.1 HTRT4 which has a bar, a subwoofer, and two very thin tower speakers. (300 euros)
Sony Soundbar 5.1 HTRT3.CEL which has a bar, a subwoofer, and two small speakers (250 euros)
Sony Soundbar 2.1 Dolby Atmos HTXF9000 which is just sound bar and subwoofer, but has the magical phrase DOLBY ATMOS (300 euros)

So...what's all this then? I have never had a 4k tv (getting advice on that on another thread), and certainly never had a freaking sound bar. Long, long ago I had some sound blaster 5.1 speakers on my PC and that was cool, but...I don't know anything about this stuff...

Thanks for any insight you might provide.

Okay, all the usual statements apply here, YMMV, just my opinion, etc, etc.

My first comment is always "Spend that money on a good receiver and some speakers instead of a sound bar." A good receiver goes a long way to helping even low end or mediocre speakers sound better. If you still have those speakers from your 5.1 sound blaster setup, they likely would work just fine with a good receiver and sound fantastic. You can then always upgrade your speakers over time to get better and better quality. However, sound bars these days are looking better and better, and are getting great reviews, so it really depends on your room setup. In a single small room or apartment, the soundbar definitely seems to be the way to go.

Part of the reason I prefer the receiver setup is just the number of inputs available. With sound bars, you're generally limited to just one input and one output. That means that if you have multiple devices, say an Xbox, a PS4, a Switch, a cable box, a streaming device, you have to plug all of that into the TV, then output the audio from the TV to the sound bar using either HDMI with ARC (if available) or an optical audio cable. This can introduce some difficulties with audio output depending on the TV. Of course, this can be overcome with a good external HDMI switch, but again, more devices can complicate the setup and the control experience. To further complicate this when you have mixed input sources such as 1080p devices and 4k devices, you have to be careful with what devices are trying to do what signal processing for those different inputs. A good receiver lets you take care of all of these difficulties in one place. A single throat to choke is nice when it comes to troubleshooting and fine tuning.

Having said all that, I prefer the 5.1 setup over the 2.1 with Atmos as I've never felt the "virtual surround" really works well. In the list you provided, I would go with the HT-RT4 with the larger tower speakers over the HT-RT3.

I was thinking that first bit too, ThatGuy42. Have always been reluctant with soundbars, though I know the technology has progressed and it's more sensible in some applications. Last year I bought a gently used Pioneer VSX-LX102 off of ebay for $100, and a pair of Pioneer SP-FS52 speakers (new - on sale) for $200. It might be a budget setup, but it sounds incredible and the receiver makes everything a snap to use. For Christmas I received a matching center channel (another $100), and that completes the core of a system which does not need a subwoofer as the main speakers can handle that job (each one's bottom half has its own crossover and dedicated sub). If I want to go with surround (up to 7.2) or even Atmos someday, the receiver can do that. Same with 4K.

I'm very pro-individual components. I built a 5.1 surround system in my NYC apartment, but when I moved into my previous house I didn't have convenient places to put speaker wire, so for four years I had a 3.1 system (I'm lazy). For 80% of what my family watches, discrete 3.1 was good enough.

A speaker bar might be good enough for 80% of people as well, but using discrete components has its advantages. For instance, in my 5.1 system one of my front speakers started to crackle at high volumes, so I just swapped it with one of the surrounds. In a soundbar system, if one component fails, you've gotta replace the whole thing.

In my new house now I'm starting over with a 4K/Atmos-capable receiver and 3.1 speakers, and planning on building out the surrounds over time.

Surround speakers add space and air, but I was quite surprised at how little they actually do. There isn't that much sound going through them, so you don't typically need very good speakers back there. Unless you're into quadraphonic music, or at least running stereo music on four channels, a cheap rear pair seems fine.

And, of course, just not having a rear pair is surprisingly viable. It's not quite as good, but it's not as much of an impairment as you might think.

I know our Sonos soundbar does a great job at mimicking a real surround setup.

Does anyone use a projector? Since it's rumored to get warmer soon around here, I'd like to get a cheap projector for our porch for some fun movie nights.

Anyone tried one of these cheap no-name options from Amazon?

I don't want to spend much more than $200 and it seems like I should be able to get a decent used one for that, but I can't really find any.

I own a DBPower T22 projector I bought from Amazon for about $150. That model is no longer available, but the updated version is on sale for only $99.

It works great, nice clean picture, and I've never had an issue with it. However, the built-in speaker is not that great, so I have a set of USB powered speakers that I hook up whenever we're using it. At home, I use an Amazon Fire TV stick with it, and I have a simple blackout window blind mounted to a wall in the kids' playroom that I roll down and project on. Note that the built in USB port does not provide enough power to run the FireTV nor the speakers, so I actually use a simple 4 port Anker USB charger to provide power to the external devices. The projector is an absolute joy, and I will often set it up on a Friday night for kids' movies in their room, while the wife and I will get to use the big screen in our living room to watch our own movie. I've also had great success hooking up gaming consoles to it.

Specific to your use case, we've used it for outdoor movies in our backyard many times, and it's small enough that I've taken it on the road with us when we go RV'ing where I'll plug in a BluRay player since there's no WiFi to use the FireTV Stick. When we do use it outside, we use this collapsible outdoor movie screen. I will say that my older model is not quite bright enough to use until after sunset, but the newer model has twice the lumens and should be a little better in bright situations.

Just note that the lumens rating is mostly BS. The number that really matters is ANSI lumens, which will likely be about 100x lower than the number those cheapie projectors advertise. Anything lower than 500 ANSI lumens will start to wash out with a modest amount of ambient light.

ThatGuy42 wrote:

I own a DBPower T22 projector I bought from Amazon for about $150. That model is no longer available, but the updated version is on sale for only $99.

It works great, nice clean picture, and I've never had an issue with it. However, the built-in speaker is not that great, so I have a set of USB powered speakers that I hook up whenever we're using it. At home, I use an Amazon Fire TV stick with it, and I have a simple blackout window blind mounted to a wall in the kids' playroom that I roll down and project on. Note that the built in USB port does not provide enough power to run the FireTV nor the speakers, so I actually use a simple 4 port Anker USB charger to provide power to the external devices. The projector is an absolute joy, and I will often set it up on a Friday night for kids' movies in their room, while the wife and I will get to use the big screen in our living room to watch our own movie. I've also had great success hooking up gaming consoles to it.

Specific to your use case, we've used it for outdoor movies in our backyard many times, and it's small enough that I've taken it on the road with us when we go RV'ing where I'll plug in a BluRay player since there's no WiFi to use the FireTV Stick. When we do use it outside, we use this collapsible outdoor movie screen. I will say that my older model is not quite bright enough to use until after sunset, but the newer model has twice the lumens and should be a little better in bright situations.

This is awesome, thanks!

Hey all!
It's time to replace my 15 year old receiver! I'd like something mid range and my wife would be thrilled if there was some way for the rear speakers to be wireless. I'm open to pretty much anything. Thanks!

I got the Vizio a couple years ago. SB3651 or something like that.

The front speakers are a bar for R C L channels. Then the sub plugs in to a separate outlet behind you and the rear speakers are just wired to it. Sub and sound bar connect wirelessly.

It's about as wireless as you can be and does pretty well for a $200 or so system.

My wife had the same request in our house after I ran wires all over our old apartment before that.

Yeah I think you'll need to go with a soundbar to get wireless rear speakers. Haven't seen such a feature supported on traditional AV receivers... but I agree it would be nice to have.

Roku has wireless rear speakers that are supposed to be decent. Not sure how they work with a receiver since I am pretty sure you need a Roku to use them.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Roku has wireless rear speakers that are supposed to be decent. Not sure how they work with a receiver since I am pretty sure you need a Roku to use them.

yeah they connect directly to a Roku tv or sound bar, bypassing a receiver. You'd need a receiver that can send a wireless signal

Sonos does the wireless rears (and sub!) thing. They sound pretty damn good too!

Or you could go with something like this. A decade ago, I had something like this, and it worked pretty well. Rears won't be totally wireless, but at least it eliminates the wires from the front of the room to the back.

Looks like one of the Wirecutter picks supports wireless surrounds, but the wireless speakers are quite pricey:

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/r...

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