Home Theater Systems Reviews

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HT Staff  |  May 01, 2004  |  0 comments
If you've got $5,000 to spend, we've got five great systems to show you.

It's tough being a consumer in the home theater market these days. You want eye-popping visuals and earth-shattering sound, but sometimes the only eye popping and earth shattering that occurs is when you find out the prices of some A/V systems. Never fear. We at Home Theater hear your cries for a powerful system that won't give your wallet a beating, and we understand. That's why we've gathered our top minds and put together five excellent home theater systems that cost around $5,000. Loudspeakers, universal disc players, HDTVs, projectors, and screens—you name it, we've got you covered. So take a peek over the next few pages, and see the systems for yourself. With all the money you'll save by purchasing the systems we've shown you, you'll be able to spend a little extra to upgrade your wire, cable, and interconnects—and maybe even purchase a sexy stand to hold your new gear. You definitely deserve it.

Kevin Hunt  |  Jan 01, 2004  |  0 comments
The low price of well-heeled HTIBs.

Consumer confession: A little more than three years ago, I bought my first DVD player for $300. It was a basic player in a nondescript black box with none of the now-standard features like progressive-scan video and component video outputs. It couldn't even read recordable CDs.

Kevin Hunt  |  Sep 09, 2003  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2003  |  0 comments
Panasonic's striking—and strikingly similar—HTIBs.

Another case of separated at birth? If you close your eyes during a movie, it's difficult to distinguish Panasonic's top-of-the-line SC-ST1 from the middle-of-the-pack SC-HT900. Open your eyes, and it doesn't get any easier to tell these two home-theaters-in-a-box apart. Aside from the Penn-and-Teller, tall-versus-small DVD receivers and slightly different center-channel speakers, the two systems are dead ringers.

Kevin Hunt  |  May 12, 2003  |  First Published: May 13, 2003  |  0 comments
Divide or unconquerable? Onkyo's speakers-optional HTIB.

Instant home theater—speakers, a receiver, and a DVD player packaged tidily in a single box—is the hottest thing since the bare midriff. So why does it bug me so much? Maybe because so many sub-$1,000 systems bundle generic speakers that are about as flashy as the cardboard box they came in. Onkyo's response to this HTIB speaker crisis? With the Envision LS-V500C, you can take the speakers or leave 'em.

Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 05, 2003  |  First Published: Mar 06, 2003  |  0 comments
A home-theater-in-a-box means different things to different people. For some, it's the total DVD experience for dummies (or the slothful), in terms of both purchasing simplicity and ease of use. For others, it's a real bargain, compared with the cost of individual components plus the many necessary odds and ends. For Cambridge SoundWorks, it's about the speakers.
Adrienne Maxwell  |  Jan 01, 2003  |  First Published: Jan 02, 2003  |  0 comments
Yamaha's DVX-S100 has all the makings of a good HTIB.

Like the proverbial chain, a home-theater-in-a-box is only as strong as its weakest link. What's the point in putting outstanding speakers in your HTIB if you top them off with a weak amplifier that can't exploit the speakers' gifts? Does it matter that everything is conveniently located in one box if the consumer can't figure out how to set up the system because the manual and remote are too confusing? Keeping in mind a target audience that consists of entry-level home theater consumers, any good HTIB's goal should be to offer the most well-rounded package for the least number of dollars. In this respect, Yamaha's new DVX-S100 HTIB is a qualified success.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  May 09, 2002  |  First Published: May 10, 2002  |  0 comments
Can home theater really be simplified into one box?

A home theater in a box? Can it really be that simple? Do you really get everything you need in one package? HTIBs are huge sellers. Some complete systems sell for less than $500, and others cost more than $2,500. We gathered three that fall somewhere in the middle: the JBL Cinema ProPack600, the Sony DAV-C900, and the Unity, codeveloped by Kenwood and Boston Acoustics. All three retail for $1,200, but you should be able to find them for a bit less. Promising free ice cream, I gathered the usual suspects to participate in the Face Off: audio editor Chris Lewis, executive editor Adrienne Maxwell, copy editor Claire Lloyd, and the ubiquitous Ron Williams, our technical consultant. Much was voiced about the ruse of free ice cream, which was a lie.

Chris Lewis  |  Apr 09, 2002  |  First Published: Apr 10, 2002  |  0 comments
Who says HTIBs have to sound bad?

I can still remember the first time I heard the phrase "high-end home-theater-in-a-box" uttered in public and the reaction it brought at a press conference. Half of the crowd simply laughed off the idea, and the other half began muttering about the demise of civilization, openly pondering the oxymoronic nature of what they had just heard. Admittedly, I counted myself in the former group. While I didn't take the announcement as confirmation that the apocalypse was upon us, I did chuckle, make a few sarcastic remarks to those around me, and begin setting an over/under in my mind for how long it would take for this piece of marketing magic to expire. After all, who was going to pay thousands of dollars for a system that came in a single package?

Kevin Hunt  |  Mar 06, 2002  |  First Published: Mar 07, 2002  |  0 comments
With the DHT-700DV, Denon takes one small step into the HTIB arena.

Denon threw away convention in the 1990s when they partnered their electronics with Mission loudspeakers to produce a series of two-channel mini-systems. Other than maybe David Crosby and Melissa Etheridge, was there a more-stunning collaboration in the decade?

HT Staff  |  Nov 07, 2001  |  First Published: Nov 08, 2001  |  1 comments
Got money? HT editors tell you the best value for your $$$.

As editors of Home Theater, everyone asks us questions about the consumer electronics business. This is fine—it's our duty to help those who may not have the time to spend all day playing around with really cool gear. Some questions are easy, like "How do I hook this up?" or "What does anamorphic mean?" Unfortunately, the one question we get all the time is not as simple to answer: What gear should I buy?

Kevin McNulty  |  Sep 03, 2000  |  First Published: Sep 04, 2000  |  0 comments
With Kenwood's HTB-503 home-theater-in-a-box, you can enhance your home on an average budget without sacrificing your firstborn. To take advantage of surround schemes that use more channels than a 5.1-channel receiver offers, you'll need to chain-in an external amplifier. Theoretically, any THX-certified amp of equal power will work fine with a THX-certified receiver that has the appropriate line outs, but it's usually a good idea to stick with the same manufacturer—if for no other reason than the components look as if they're from the same family. Denon offers the POA-5200 two-channel amp ($699) as a complement to their AVR-4800 receiver. The 5200 is a THX Ultra-certified two-channel amplifier that delivers 120 watts per channel into 8 ohms or 200 watts into 4 ohms. It features a rear-panel jack for remote power-on/-off control through the AVR-4800. The 5200 differentiates itself from many stereo amps in that it's actually two mono amps in one box—each channel has its own power transformer and DC-storage-supply section. It also features A/B switching for each channel so that one or two speakers can be connected to each channel and can be turned on or off as needed. When testing the POA-5200 in conjunction with the 4800, I found no distinguishable sound or level differences between the two, proving that the 5200 is an excellent addition to the 4800 for bringing THX Surround EX to life.
Krissy Rushing  |  Jul 18, 2000  |  First Published: Jul 19, 2000  |  0 comments
What Dreams May Come . . . The new Sony DVD Dream System is a bargain that's almost too good to be true.

Far be it for me to expound the simplicity of a system's hookup. My home system is a wreck, with wires running hither and thither that I trip on almost daily. Oh what a tangled web I've woven! Yet my M&K THX speakers sound excellent, and my video system (a Panasonic DVD player and an RCA 36-inch TV) is a godsend. This is my main system, and my conscience would be partly cloudy with a slight chance of regret if I were to bring another system into my house (especially into my bedroom). But when Sony sent me the DVD Dream System (which is perfect for a second system), the trumpets sounded, and I suddenly found myself wearing a red cape and spandex outfit with the letters "EHW" scrawled across the front. I was, for a short while, Easy Hookup Woman (and I don't mean that lewdly, men in the audience).