What players/speakers to buy for my new plasma

addagalla

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Hi,

I bought a 42" Samsung plasma (B450) last week. Can you recommend what set up I could buy for my media playing & sound requirements? I am a novice and don't have good idea about HTPC, home theatre in a box, media players, amplifiers, etc. Following are my requirements.

1) Sound: 2.1 output is sufficient. Not really looking for a home theatre/cinema experience. Need decent bass/treble. Samsung plasma excels at everything else but sound.

2) Player: Apart from VCDs & DVDs, I'd like to be able to play most video formats (avi, wma, mkv, etc.) from hard disk/USB. Is there any all-in-one device that satisfies all these requirements? And how good is a laptop with HDMI out for this requirement? Will it give sub-par picture/sound quality compared to some dedicated devices?

I don't have any budget in mind. May be around 20K INR for the whole setup.

Thanks
 

venkatcr

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Sound: 2.1 output is sufficient. Not really looking for a home theatre/cinema experience. Need decent bass/treble. Samsung plasma excels at everything else but sound.

To get decent bass you need to a get an amplifier that has a sub out and connect a sub woofer to that.

2) Player: Apart from VCDs & DVDs, I'd like to be able to play most video formats (avi, wma, mkv, etc.) from hard disk/USB. Is there any all-in-one device that satisfies all these requirements? And how good is a laptop with HDMI out for this requirement? Will it give sub-par picture/sound quality compared to some dedicated devices?

What you are looking for is a media player such as WDTV, Xtreamer, TViX, etc. These can play any formats and are software upgradable. A decent player will cost you between 15K to 20K.

Theoretically a laptop can be used but is inconvenient and needs a external amplifier in any case.

I don't have any budget in mind. May be around 20K INR for the whole setup.

For a total budget of 20K all you can look for is a HTiB. If you are ready to spend about one lakh, you can look at a media player, a mid level AVR, and decent bookshelf speakers.

Cheers

Thanks[/QUOTE]
 

BLASTO

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Hi,

I bought a 42" Samsung plasma (B450) last week. Can you recommend what set up I could buy for my media playing & sound requirements? I am a novice and don't have good idea about HTPC, home theatre in a box, media players, amplifiers, etc. Following are my requirements.

1) Sound: 2.1 output is sufficient. Not really looking for a home theatre/cinema experience. Need decent bass/treble. Samsung plasma excels at everything else but sound.

2) Player: Apart from VCDs & DVDs, I'd like to be able to play most video formats (avi, wma, mkv, etc.) from hard disk/USB. Is there any all-in-one device that satisfies all these requirements? And how good is a laptop with HDMI out for this requirement? Will it give sub-par picture/sound quality compared to some dedicated devices?

I don't have any budget in mind. May be around 20K INR for the whole setup.

Thanks

Hi Suresh,

My laptop with DVI is doing well with MPC-HC for the non VCD/DVD playback and am happy with my normal DVD player for DVD/VCD playback. With laptop, you actually have more control ovre fine tuning.


For your requirement of sound, I highly recommend audio engine A5 speakers with inbuilt amplifiers.

Audioengine USA A5 90W Active Bookshelf Speakers - Best Buy -

Photos/Reviews,

Amazon.com: Audioengine 5 - PC multimedia speakers for iPod - 45 Watt (total) - 2-way - black: Electronics

(Check the last photo for installation with TV)

It can be connected to the headphone out of the TV and can produce excellent sound for voice and also music. I have auditioned it in my collegue's house and was excellent to pair with a TV.

No speaker with inbuilt amp in the size of A5s can beat them in performance.

For reference,
(For voice, It was better than the speaker setup you saw on my house the other day but for music, my setup is better but it comes with a price in terms of space)
 
Last edited:

addagalla

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What you are looking for is a media player such as WDTV, Xtreamer, TViX, etc. These can play any formats and are software upgradable. A decent player will cost you between 15K to 20K.

Theoretically a laptop can be used but is inconvenient and needs a external amplifier in any case.

Thanks
[/QUOTE]

Why does it need an amplifier in any case? If we forget the convenience factor, is there any drop in picture/sound quality if we connect a laptop through HDMI?

Also I tried reading about AVR, but didn't get a "practical" answer. When does one need it exactly?

Thanks
 

venkatcr

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Why does it need an amplifier in any case? If we forget the convenience factor, is there any drop in picture/sound quality if we connect a laptop through HDMI?

Also I tried reading about AVR, but didn't get a "practical" answer. When does one need it exactly?

Thanks
Computer units such as a laptop have very low powered amplifiers - these are meant to drive the tiny speakers inside the laptop, or, at best, a pair of headphones. They cannot drive external speakers.

When you watch a 42 inch TV, you have to sit some 7 to 8 feet away. You can do one of the following:

1. Have a long cable going from your laptop to the TV. Use a pair of headphones and watch you moves with the laptop on your lap.

2. Keep the laptop somewhere near the TV and have a short cable running to the TV. Use a wireless headphone unit, sit away from the TV, and watch the movie with the wireless headphones.

3. Use a set of powered (active) speakers such as the ones Blasto has suggested, feed the audio from the laptop to these speakers and watch you movies.

4. Feed the audio from your laptop to an amplifier and connect passive speakers to the amplifier.

In most cases, unless you purchase a very high end laptop, the graphics capabilities built-in are meant for display of computer related such as text and graphics. In addition, the basic assumption is that you will be using a small screen or an reasonably sized external 'monitor'. A TV is a different animal. To drive a TV, the graphics processor has to understand a number of additional things. In a monitor, the data is displayed as dots or pixels. A TV, on the other had, works on the principle of scan lines.

A VGA connector has three separate lines for the red, green and blue color signals, and two lines for horizontal and vertical sync signals. A TV, on the other had accepts a single composite signal, which it segregates inside. The separation of the signals is one reason why a computer monitor can have so many more pixels than a TV set. So the laptop has to 'create' a composite signal from the VGA process it has inside. Even when you display digital information, the same data will be sharper and clearer on the laptop than on a TV connected to the laptop.

Because of lack of space, the graphics processors inside laptop are not very advanced and are designed to maximise the capabilities of digital information. A media player, an HTPC, a DVD player, etc., on the other hand understand how a TV works and are designed for that.

Cheers
 
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I'll elaborate whatever little I know about my HT. I have a 2.1 setup consisting of a Denon 1909 AVR driving a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 9.6 tower speakers and an active Subwoofer SW150. I went for a decent setup on the sound front before I thought I needed the TV.

To my inexperienced ears I find that these speakers are good with considerable bass (and I mean, considerable) of their own, but I wanted that seat to shake in the odd (Transformers) movie, so I went ahead and bought the sub. Some of my music is not HD content (read, its mp3) so the sub is not even throwing out anything.

The AVR and the Tower deals that I was getting were temptingly attractive (or maybe I was foolishly impatient), so for the price I paid, I am happy. While I am sure their are better speakers out there (I certainly want to hear the RS6), this combination sounds musical, involving, and detailed enough to my untrained ears. But honestly I may have taken a slightly different route today, which is thus: if one is going to buy the sub anyway, you could look to buy a pair of good bookshelves (15-20k range) and an AVR. (I found the Wharfedale Diamond 10 series better than the 9 series, so the 10.1 was better than 9.2 and so on). And then later when one has the 'ears' and the money, buy the towers, and use the bookshelves as surrounds. I for one am still debating the center channel, and till then using the TVs own speakers fill in the center!

Many aficionados argue in favour of a dedicated two channel amp over the AVR, because for the same price point the amp has better circuitry than an AVR. But that is a choice one makes only when your requirement of listening to music has far higher priority than the visuals. Mine wasn't so clear cut. So while I may never buy the surrounds, though my avr is a 7.1, but having the capabilities that an AVR offers at hand was a must for me. This is not to say that AVRs are not good. I bought the Denon after reading a smattering of reviews giving it a high rating in the music capabilities. However, I was (and am) a novice in this field.

I am sure you will find many threads and posts, particularly those written by Venkat (mbr, dinyaar, and so many others) to be far more informative. There is however one advice that I took to heart, which was: 'Let your ears decide'. No matter how lucidly the sound is described in words, it can never match up to an actual audition. And your ears can disagree with others! I was lucky to join an audition of Viren's Tube amps pitched against SS amps that people brought and I did note that some of my (mental) notes did not match with what others were saying.

I'll also take the opportunity to add a little about the other stuff I bought later (though you have started a separate thread elsewhere). When I bought the Pio 410 dvd player, I wasn't really aware of the media players available. Now having got the WDTV I don't use the DVD player at all, except for the odd movies. I converted all of my favourite music for which I had CDs, into flac. So no more physical changing of disks and you can play tracks as per your choice/playlists. The music CDs too stay less prone to scratches and wear and tear. I wish WDTV had a nimbler menu navigation and wifi capability (which BTW can be hacked). The 'WDTV live' has it built in. One can use the laptop to drive the visuals and the sound, but they do not have a remote! In short If you don't watch too many movies, then use your laptop, and buy the media player for all your music.

I've little else to add, but feel free to come and have look at my system if you ever visit Delhi.
 
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