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So I was wondering if people could give some advice on surround systems. I currently have a 5.1 set for which I paid about £200. I want something better, I think I would be willing to spend another £400. What's best to do?

Is it better to just replace the speakers I have for the current system? Or should I just buy a new set? Or is there hardly any difference in speakers considering I'm 'only' willing to spend £400 on them?

Any words of advice are appreciated!
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Adrian Chapmanlaw's profile photoMartijn van der Meulen's profile photoJames Woodcock's profile photoPaul Gray's profile photo
14 comments
 
Hmm if I can recommend one thing: get big, full range (front) speakers. Don't believe what it says on the box, a good full range speaker that can also handle mid-low to just-about-subwoofer needs volume (as in space). If you don't you'll end up with a lot of high-to-mid + sub - which is still great for movies but terrible for music.
 
I don't care about music. I only care about films and games to be honest :).
 
It's all in the receiver my friend.  If you have a crappy receiver with awesome speakers it will sound lousy.  If you have an awesome receiver with okay speakers it will still sound good.
 
Forget surround, a well placed pair of good speakers will give far better sound quality and with the use of clever phasing can push the sound behind you.

Get a decent stereo amplifier and speakers and you will be fine. I would personally spend less on amp and more on speakers. Amps are easy to get right, Speakers are very complex beasties.

Rule of thumb. The heavier the speaker is the better it is.
 
Does your surround system support Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio? This is very important as well. 
 
So has HDMI and so on?

If so, although the decoder is always a good place to start - speakers particularly the front set can make a real difference.

Before you invest though, might be worth checking speaker balances and settings to see if they can be better tuned for what you need. 
 
Yes, it has HDMI - although I've connected it to my PS3 with an optical cable since I heard/read that that's better?

Did my best to follow the guidelines for setting it up correctly, don't think I can improve on it.

So it might be better to just buy better individual speakers? I'll try to dig up which set I currently have ..
 
Optical isn't better at all, via HMDI you can have PCM 5.1 so no compression on route to your surround system.

Personally I would start with a few hundred pound decoder by someone like Yamaha, Onkyo etc and steadily build it up with some really nice additions. 
 
Wow, I really always thought that optical was better. I'll have a look at that.

So what you're saying is that for now it might be best to start with getting a good decoder (and get it to work with my current speakers), and then slowly build up the whole set?
 
The room is a big factor - hardwood flours, smallish room, lots of furniture?

I suggest going to Richer Sounds - checking out some demo's and from there you can see what your missing.

I would be tempted to go for 7.1 - spend the money on good decoder media amplifier and just add a couple more speakers for the extra 2.

What aspect of your current system do you feel is lacking?
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