Top positive review
34 people found this helpful
Exceptional entry-level system to build on! Best bang for the buck by far!
on April 23, 2012
Pros: Most home theater per dollar of any of its competitors; perfect price point; finally a package that doesn't include 10 crappy plastic components that is expandable; powered, active subwoofer.
Cons: Minimalistic front panel controls require remote for many configuration options; iPod dock requirement for making network-ready; size (depth) could stand to lose just an inch for standard A/V cabinets/racks
Verdict: There is no better Home Theater in-a-Box (HTiB) out there. Period. In my opinion, no other system came even close and I'm a very picky shopper for big purchases like this. I shop at least 3 manufacturers, at least 3 stores, and at least 3 of any of my top products' competitors before finally pulling the trigger. When I buy anything expensive, I am not a compulsive buyer; and in my humble opinion, this is the rule, not the exception.
Let me just say that I am NOT a compulsive buyer. I do not let my ears make the decision nor am I a "shoot-from-the-hip" decision maker on anything pretty, fancy, feature-laden, trendy, or cool (et al). It normally takes me about a month from the time I decide to buy a new piece and actually buying it. I took 6 months to decide on exactly which HDTV I wanted (and the sweet spot for technology changes roughly every 3-4 months).
I never buy the first run in a series of equipment. I never buy a new technology from the first batch. I never trust a new manufacturer unless they have been around for at least a few successful years. I trust quality and quality can usually be found in the expensive section of Best Buy (such as in the Magnolia Home Theater department). While this particular package doesn't appear set up in Magnolia; Denon and Boston Acoustics are regularly in Best Buy's most exclusive club. I am an Electrical Engineer in the intelligent building business so I'm quite well aware of things such as cable ratings, installation practices, and all the techno-jargon that appears in a typical specification sheet. I'm also a professional mobile and club DJ and VJ as a hobby, so I know quality sound, imaging techniques, and the importance of a "real" sound field. Anyone reading this review who knows sound knows full well that just because something is loud and blows your hair back does not mean it's correct. Or good.
I knew going in that I didn't want one of those "all in one box" crap systems that most TV manufacturers offer. Sound bars: don't even talk to me. They should be banned; or at least relegated to bedroom or den duty, not primary home theater duties. I love, love, love pretty much every component Samsung offers, EXCEPT their home theater offerings. I know, they're marketed to the average idiot (which we all know there are enough of them out there); but I'm embarrassed to say that they don't have a legitimate contender in this arena at all. I have an 40" 120Hz LCD SmartTV, a SmartBD, and a Galaxy SII; but you couldn't pay me to install a Samsung HTiB. Passive subwoofers, basic sound stage, combo receiver/BD unit, overrated amplifier power ratings, etc. I digress with Samsung's deficiencies; however, it's meant to make a point: where Samsung fails, so do LG, Sony, and so on.
On the other hand, the big dogs of home theater (Pioneer, Definitive, Panasonic, Onkyo, etc) are not exactly entry-level priced when figuring the total of all speakers, receiver, wiring and peripherals required to get going. The sky is the limit for components and pricing; which all but turns off the average buyer from getting quality equipment. The point I'm trying to make here is that I was a person in need of a solid starting point for a high-end home theater. The quick fix options were not even seriously considered (soundbars, AiO-HTiB) and with a budget of around $800-$1000, I could have purchased a receiver and. . . That's my point. I would have to wait another month to get enough of an additional budget so I could buy a good sub and. . . Month later, surround speakers. You get the idea.
Then there's the Bose conundrum: for 190% more money, we'll sell you something that doesn't work well with any other piece of equipment on Earth, comes with the bare minimum needed to produce sound, and doesn't have a single technological advancement from the last decade of feature sets of their competitors. Ok, maybe it's good marketing to stand out from the competition. As a business model, it works wonders because there's a sucker out there everywhere with too much damn money that are willing to spend that kind of coin on something that's overpriced, under-featured, is not able to be upgraded, and is difficult at best to get to work with others. Sound familiar? Yeah, I think Steve Jobs started Bose as well when nobody was looking. If you like Bose, ask yourself this: how many movie theaters have you ever heard of using Bose? Exactly. None. And it's not because Bose is expensive. I'm pretty sure that with cinema competition the way it is, if it gave a competitive advantage, someone surely would be using Bose in theaters now.
That being said, the Denon DHT-1312BA with the Denon AVR-1312 3D-ready full A/V switching receiver and Boston Acoustics MCS-160 speaker system are a match made in heaven for true aficionados. Here's what you get: a pair of top-notch receiver and speaker manufacturers (owned by the same company) in Denon and Boston Acoustics working together to create a perfectly matched system that is upgradable, user-friendly, budget-friendly, and, most importantly, quality. For just under $600 retail, you get a 3D-ready, 600W (rated), HDMI-switching, network-ready receiver, a POWERED, ACTIVE subwoofer, and 5 amazing-sounding surround speakers. Those are just the quick highlights, but that's enough right there to justify its price. Just the speakers alone would set you back nearly $700 if purchased the traditional way and you would still have to acquire a receiver.
I bought this system because I trust Denon and Boston Acoustics to have quality I can depend on for a long time, even at their collective low-end. When I'm ready to upgrade, I replace only the pieces I need to, when I'm ready to. All the while, I'm enjoying this for what it is: a great system with pretty much no downside.
Hope you all find this comparative review helpful. Cheers on your new home theater! You're going to love it.