Cheap Home Theater in a Box ? - Building an affordable Home Theater:PT1

To view Part two of this series click here

Home Theater in a Box options

When prices appear out of control many of us cannot even look at making purchases like stereos.  We must make sure we don't get stuck on the back end(when it comes to getting a good price that is)  As a result, I thought over my next few posts and give you my advice on what to look for how to build a good home theater with minimal cash.  This can be done over time to get quality sound without compromising your taste or your budget.  For the most part every system I've built was by buying a components separately.  Receiver then speakers and then a sub, almost never at the same time.  I would venture to say I've become very good at never paying full price and unless I get it for a price substantially lower than the MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price) or I just won't buy it.  Actually, maybe I'm lying.  I've made a few impulse buys but even then I don't do it unless it is on sale.
Anyways I have two 5.1 systems in my home and a 7.2 system that I've purchased over time for a fraction of the MSRP.

Colby DVD 765 5.1 Surround System

To begin.  Ya you can say screw it and go get a 5.1 home theater in a box and really unless you want to spend some money this is what you'll get for virtually nothing....the major benefit of this is easy setup and the "all in one factor".  Now just so you have all the information, before you do this.  Think..and ask yourself a few questions. "Will I ever want to upgrade this?", "Will I ever move or put this in a bigger space requiring bigger speakers?", "Do I care what it sounds like?".
If the answer is no to all these questions. Then don't waste your time trying to aquire quality, just shop for price.  A quick search led me to this product which you can find for cheap. (Colby DVD 765 5.1 system).

Now before I say anything else about this stereo system, let me be clear.  The only circumstance where I would recommend such a system is if you have no way to spend more.  I'm not going to mention specifications on this system because if you're buying it you don't care or it shouldn't matter. Really the only people who can benefit from such a system are those who don't use and don't plan on using digital media besides CD's and DVD's.

With that being said, people can only pay what they can and as a result maybe this is the best option for some.

Sony HT-SS370 5.1 surround system

Sony HT-SS370 BLU-RAY Disc Surround Sound System

Now for $150-300+ you can get something a little more recent that can be used with your flat screen TV and take advantage of the HD capabilities it possesses.  These are the traditional Home Theater in a Box.  Here I've shown the Sony HT-SS370 5.1 surround system. I have reviewed this particular model

These systems are essentially a blu-ray player with surround sound connected; you can play cds and blu-rays.  Many don't have the connectivity to connect other devices like your computer or a PS3..etc  Not to say none of them do,but for the most part it cost more money.  Sony, Yamaha, Panasonic, JVC..etc there are several brands you can choose from looking for this sort of option better deal and if all you want a blu-ray player in your system, this may be the right choice for you.  There are some like the one shown here the does give the functionality of a receiver with multiple inputs allowing you to connect other devices or use the USB functionality most new TVs have.  For the most part they are above the $200-300 range though.   Either way these systems have a fatal flaw.  They lack the ability to upgrade if you ever choose to and the power capabilities are limited.  As I said, there are several options but for the price, this Sony is a better choice from the list.

You can find full specifications for this product here.
I wouldn't buy this product unless it was at least half price looking at a MSRP is $349;  Especially considering the next product.

For those of you that have followed this blog I've covered this area before and I've looked at several options for 5.1 theaters and I did come to a conclusion. Onkyo.

Onkyo HTS3400 5.1 system

This Onkyo HTS3400 5.1 system is in a whole different class from others in its price range.  You'll find my review has also been made here.

If you want a starter system that cannot be compared to any in its price range, it decodes every audio track (TRUEHD/DTSHD, THX or DTS ES/EX).  While some of the cheaper ones do decode these audio tracks the don't possess the connectivity for other devices or the true power this receiver possesses.  One of the most important things about this 5.1 system is the receiver is solid and if you want higher quality speakers or new devices?  You will have no problem it will be able to support what you want in the future.

For full details on specifications and a review, click here.

Just shows, when shopping for quality products that aren't $50-$60.  Its not always a matter of "you get what you pay for", its a matter of "can you buy it when its cheap" :)  All electronics are marked up at a rediculous rate and I'll say again, never pay the regular price for anything.

Make sure you stretch those dollars and get what you want

Now I thought I would start here.  I want to re-iterate if you're just starting out and have a limited budget the above Onkyo 5.1 system is your best bet.  Why? it comes with a standalone receiver with true power that you can upgrade on.  Over the next while I'm going to look at upgrading or making a new home theater.  Looking at receivers towers, bookshelves, sub-woofers.