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Snapshot 24th December 2008 04:47 AM

novice seeking help in building a sound system

I'm not sure if I'm in the right place.. If i'm not then please move me to where this should be. Thank you.

I would like to get your guys advice on how and what to use for my dream sound system. I don't think it's too hard to built but you know better than me.

I would like to connect 4 good quality speakers and sub to a main system or "brain" so from this "brain" I'll be able to use the speakers and sub with my- tv,dvd,laptop,iphone and radio. This way if I wish to listen to something from my iphone I would simply connect it to the main system brain (not sure how to call it) and then it will play through the speakers and sub and when I'd like to watch tv i'd just switch it through the brain.

I have no idea which speakers and sub to use nor what kind of equipment I should buy in order to make this dream a reality. I will say this- I don't want to spend more than 700-900$... possible?

Thanks guys,
I'm looking forward to get your help.


elecres 24th December 2008 04:52 AM

Do you have a computer?If so why not use that as the "brain"

elecres 24th December 2008 04:56 AM

Yes i just noticed in your post laptop.Do you have hdmi input or computer input on tv?

elecres 24th December 2008 05:01 AM

What are your intentions to build or to buy?Then i can guide you in the right direction.

Snapshot 24th December 2008 05:10 AM

Hi, thanks for the quick reply!

I rather not use my laptop as the brain because the speakers and sub will be in the living room and my room is right next so I like to keep my laptop in my room.. If the cheapest way to do this is to get a used laptop to use as the brain then I'll go for it. I just want something permenant in my living room

elecres 24th December 2008 05:33 AM

I have server based systems all over the house.I am a mac user.Do you use mac or pc?You can use a usb dac into a amp. My suggestion is to spend the larger portion of your money on front speakers.I build all kinds of speakers and can suggest many diffferent ones and crossovers once we narrow down what type of system you want.I my humble opinion surround sound is over rated[been there done that]real quality front 2 channel system sounds incredible.However rear speakers are cheap and easy to add and so is a sub!!Another question I do not have a I-phone do you want to play movies from it ,on the tv and is the quicktime format for the I-phone smaller then the format for monitor playback[you would know better then me if you have ever hook it up to the tv to watch movie!]

dangus 24th December 2008 06:41 AM

I'd suggest just going with a reasonably good surround receiver, preferably one that comes with an RF remote so you can control it from other rooms. It should support HDMI audio if you expect to go Blu-ray in the near future. If you don't intend to go Blu-ray within a few years, then pay as little as possible for a digital surround receiver. It'll have various audio inputs (analog - RCA, and digital - RCA and optical) for the various sources.

There's some very good deals on used stereo speakers if you troll yard sales and thrift stores. $50 should get you a front and rear pair. Or, there may be good buys on new stuff if you watch the liquidators, or catch some after-Christmas sales. Building a set of speakers is admirable, but a lot of cabinet work if you're going to make up a surround set. And if you're going to that much trouble, it seems foolish not to build something really good, which would probably take your entire budget to build 4. (Look at plans/kits from Madisound or Zalytron, because designing from scratch is not easy.)

As for the subwoofer, that's worth building. $100 or so for a nice driver, some MDF and wood glue, and the stuffing from a Wal-mart pillow. For the sub amp, you may have to spend some real money, like $200, for a used "pro" or "mid-fi" power amp. While there are "plate" amps that are cheaper, they don't offer the same watts per dollar, and probably aren't as well built. Plus, a stereo amp will let you add a second subwoofer for just the cost of the driver. With luck (or desperate sellers), you might score an amp much cheaper. "Investing" in a good sub will really pay off when it comes to watching movies, and it ain't bad with music either.

To connect the computer in the other room, run an S/PDIF cable through the wall. There's various USB audio gizmos that include S/PDIF I/O if the computer doesn't have that already.

Snapshot 24th December 2008 04:41 PM

Wow so much information! Thank you!

I don't want to build a speaker myself or a sub for that matter. I can't really do it in my small apartment (/i live in nyc) so I'll need to buy everything and the hooking up, I'll do on my own.
I think the main use of this system will be for listening to music and the kind of music I listen to is-
Radiohead, the national, mum, sigur ros, R.E.M, kings of leon, boards of canada, bjorek, bloc party,etc.... so mainly alternative rock.
I still didn't understand what kind of device I will use as the "brain".... If you guys can tell me which equipment to look for (if you see a good deal online then please let me know) and then how to hook it up. That will be great..


HK26147 24th December 2008 04:54 PM

I suggest you explore the many different "music server" options available, and refined your needs, budget, etc. Google "music server" and you will see what I mean. You can roll you own or buy a turnkey system, with a lot of options in between.
PC based - wireless - in a variety of implementations is just one option.

elecres 25th December 2008 03:59 AM

First off how big is your i-tunes library?Do you just want to use your i-phone as your on demand music base or server.If this is your intentions then i suggest a apple i-phone dock with remote with both video and audio outs in back,so you can install it in your choice of amp or receiver.You also need to decide whether you will listen to the radio or not and if so do you want hd radio.This will determine what receiver you purchase or if no radio is ok, you can purchase a better amp for the money,like the cambridge audio or the new onkyo intergrated!!either way the dock is a good start to build the system and gives you the option to use remote with i-phone[check with apple to verify this!!!!]let me know what you think

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