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Budget Surround Sound gear advice

General Home Theater & Media/Game Rooms - www.avsforum.com
This seemed like the best area for this question...

A relative is currently remodeling their den and have asked me for help setting up a surround sound system. The only equipment they currently have is a flat screen TV. So basically starting from scratch.

I tend to go with "bigger" gear and they want to stay on a relatively low budget. (I don't know the number, but they were originally talking about getting something as Costco). While the walls and ceiling are open I will get them set up with 7.1 wiring, HDMI jacks and cat6 cable runs so we have options now and in the future. Where I am stuck is what to suggest for the sound system.

It's a fairly small room and the setup is probably better as 5.1 - anything more would be wasted.

Any suggestions for a decent "starter" system? Are they better getting a "system in a box" or should I piece together a set of speakers with a receiver?

I'm really confused at the lower price points. I thought the Polk 5.1 systems were supposed to be decent - they come in at about $300-400 for just the speakers. Yet I see something like the Onkyo HT-S3800 at under $300 for the speakers plus a receiver.

I'm obviously not looking for serious audiophile quality. Is there much difference in quality at this price point? Any ideas or suggestions?


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