The Trials of the AVR Setup

So we’ve had our beloved Onkyo AVR for a few weeks now and we’ve been doing what we can to make it feel at home.  For awhile it seemed like that gave us a good excuse to find new home-theater furniture to hold it and our television, and the rest of our home-theater components.  

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After a little bit of shopping, we decided that could wait until a more favorable time of year rolled around for some sales.  We checked Bankrate.com’s “Month-by-Month Guide for Finding Bargains” and found we may need to wait another year for a sale on home entertainment furniture.  That should give us plenty of time to decide what we really want in a cabinet for our media components.  That will also give us time to save our pennies so we can buy something nice enough that we will love it forever.

The next hurdle was how best to arrange the furniture in the living room that mainly serves as our home-theater room.  My poor sweetie!  It wasn’t that long ago that he moved the cable from our satellite receiver to the other side of the living room.  Now that we have a functioning AVR again, we decided the best way to arrange the furniture included moving the television back to where it was before we tried to get our Harmon-Kardon AVR repaired.  That meant my dear hubby had to go back to the basement to pull the satellite cable and rethread it back to the other side of the living room.

Only so much can be done it a weekend, so connecting the AVR will have to wait.  We moved the furniture and reconnected the satellite cable directly to the television.  It would cost $170 to have Circuit City come out to connect the AVR for us, so we are going to do some studying and figure out how to do it ourselves.

 

We Love Our Onkyo TX-SR505!

That honey of mine certainly got us a deal on our new Onkyo TX-SR505 AVR!

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Now it’s time to set it up, so we’re searching for some online videos to see if we can make it easier.  C-NET is always a good place to start.   One of C-NET’s “Weekend Projects” how-to videos featured an Onkyo TX-SR805.  Close enough?

C-NET also offers a written guide on how to setup home theatre speakers.

YouTube had the most comprehensive how-to video that we found.  We collected the videos on a YouTube Playlist.

AVR Reviews

So Valentine’s Day has passes and we are still searching for the right AVR for our modest home theater system.  No matter because we do want to be happy with what we decide to purchase.

We are considering 4 different systems at the moment.  We may add more.  For now, it’s good to visit some of the review sites to see what they say.

Denon AVR-588

Audioholics

C-NET Reviews

C-NET Shopper

PC World

Retrevo

ZD-Net

 

Onkyo TX-SR505

C-NET Reviews

C-NET Shopper

PC World

Retrevo

 

Onkyo TX-SR575

C-NET Reviews

C-NET Shopper

PC World

Retrevo

 

Onkyo TX-SR605

Audioholics

C-NET Reviews

C-NET Shopper

PC World

Retrevo

ZD-Net

 

Resources for AVR Reviews

We considered buying a subscription to Consumer Reports, but why start there when you can start on the web!

Any of these would be a good place to start.  Retrovo has tons of information presented in all sorts of interesting formatsC-NET Shopper shows similar itemsAudioholics gives a lot of information that’s easy to read and summarized with simple ratings at the end of each review.

The Search Continues

The folks at Circuit City showed us the Denon AVR-588 as a possible replacement for our 5.1-channel Harman-Kardon AVR 35.  It’s a 7.1-channel home theater receiver.  Those 5.1’s seem hard to find.

The Search for the Valentine AVR

Best Buy is now the Harman-Kardon dealer, but we have so many reasons for not liking to shop there.  Circuit City has been better to us in some ways.  We checked a few things and then we found some places to begin our search for a replacement for our Harman-Kardon 35.

I found this interesting post about the Onkyo 805.  Somehow, I don’t believe that’s the model number the Circuit City guy meant to give us, but it certainly is a nice system!  And a well written review!  Cool… THX!

How This Begins

This story really begins some years ago when my beloved spouse made the difficult decision to have some seriously needed back surgery.  Expecting a long and motion-limited recovery, we agreed that a dream home-theater system was an investment we could justify (scaled to our 1999 budget requirements, of course).

We purchased a Harmon-Kardon 35 AVR with a set of Polk Audio 5.1 Surround Sound speakers.  We had recently subscribed to DISH Network, plus we bought a DVD player to give our AVR more variety in delivering its “healing” entertainment.

My beloved’s back-surgery healed extremely well and we continued to enjoy our entry-level home entertainment system for quite some time.  That is, until one of the speaker channels went out.  Standard troubleshooting determined that it wasn’t a bad speaker or speaker cable.  The problem had to be in the AVR “box.”

The Fix-It Alternative

Shall I go into what it took to try to get our beloved AVR fixed?

I don’t think so.  Maybe later, if it might benefit someone else.

Suffice it to say that budget restrictions prevented many attempts to get it fixed until recently  We’ve heard a lot of advice that it’s often more cost-effective to just replace a crippled AVR.  Sales clerks seemed inclined to refer to that as “upgrading” our current system.

Maybe our definitions of “upgrade” differ.  We didn’t spare too much expense when we bought the first system.  We still have a perfectly well-functioning set of 5.1 Surround speakers from Polk Audio.  We see no reason to replace those as part of an “upgrade.”

Now it will soon be Valentine’s Day

My beloved was so downhearted when we found out the local shop couldn’t fix our Harmon-Kardon 35 AVR.  We both were.  We thought that local shop could fix anything.

Should we call the nearest authorized service location (1000 or so miles from here) to see if they could get the sealed part that would get the dead channel working again?

It’s no longer under warranty and it’s no longer manufactured, so it would take a long time to get it fixed (at best) or it might cost $40 plus shipping only to find out it’s unfixable (at worst).

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!

 What Works for Us

We don’t have an HDTV and we have no immediate plans to invest in one.  We recently purchased a standard definition digital television that uses a CRT as the output, rather than an LCD or plasma display.

For what we paid, we’re EXTREMELY happy with the performance of our standard definition DTV.  We believe it will last awhile, until prices of quality HD televisions come further down from the stratosphere.  When that time comes, we’d like to be able to use our DTV as an “extra” television.

It’s true that the prices of HDTV’s have come down considerably over the past few years, but we’re just not ready yet.  If we lived in a high-density HD broadcast television market, we would have that factor to consider but we don’t.  Even if we did, we get our local stations via satellite too.