Q I recently purchased a 50-inch plasma TV. I want to have the surround-sound experience with it and plan to either purchase one of the boxed home theater systems or attempt to put together a component system myself. I have two pairs of old Boston Acoustic speakers that were recently still providing great sound. They are the floor-standing A100s and the bookshelf A40s. Would these provide a good basis to build my system around? If I use the speakers, I plan to buy either an Onkyo or Yamaha receiver.
DENNIS PAPPALARD, ALLISON PARK, PA.
A I would stay away from box systems -- end of story. They can't come close to even the most modest component system. Either the Onkyo or Yamaha receiver is a good choice, so the speakers are where I will try to advise you. If you want to try your Bostons, just put the Al00s an even distance from the left and right of the TV and use the A40s as surrounds. When you set up the receiver, set the center channel setting to "None" and the receiver will use the left and right speaker to create a virtual center speaker.
I would recommend getting new speakers to get the most out of the high-resolution sound available today. Also, it will be hard to match a center channel to your Boston speakers. The Acculine speakers from the Audio Insider use a leaf tweeter that is typically found only in very expensive speakers. The speakers are well-made, with solid cabinets and high-quality aluminum woofers.
The Acculine A1s are extremely impressive, providing tremendous detail and rich, natural sound. The A1 bookshelf speakers list for $249 per pair, the A2 center for $179 each. So two pairs of A1s (front and surrounds) and one A2 come to $677. Add the Parts Express Dayton sub for $125 and you have an amazing speaker system for $800. Add your Onkyo receiver and for around $1,100 total you have sound without compromise. You can see the Acculine speakers at www.theaudioinsider.com and the Dayton sub at www. partsexpress.com.
You might also want to try the Insignia NS-B2111 speakers from Best Buy if you do not have the budget for the Acculines. They are under $90 per pair and have very satisfying sound.
Q I'm looking for a good, inexpensive stereo setup. I'm going to follow your advice and get a refurbished, entry-level Onkyo receiver and the Insignia speakers you have recommended. You recommended four speakers, but I don't have space for a surround setup. Can I get just two speakers for a receiver with 5.1 channels? And if so, which channels would these speakers have to be hooked up to?
ARTHUR CUNNINGHAM, PITTSBURGH, PA.
A Yes. Just set the receiver to stereo mode and it will work fine. You use the left and right front channels. Be sure to use a digital connection between your DVD player and receiver for the best sound quality.