Super home theater surround sound system for $1,250 complete

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Lately I’ve received more than a few emails from people either upgrading their existing sound system to match a new HDTV added over the holidays, or who simply want to add surround sound to their home entertainment system for $1,000 or a hair above.  I’ve emailed this recommendation several times recently so I am going to post it here for everyone’s benefit.


Speakers: Arx from The Audio Insider

Sold exclusively by The Audio Insider, for the money you simply can’t do better than an Arx system. Even if you are willing to spend more I would say quite a large segment of the population would be thrilled with the sound to the point where spending more wouldn’t make sense.  If you are a hardcore or budding A/V enthusiast with cash to spend, a serious movie and music buff, or want your speakers to have a finish like fine furniture you may be best served shopping upmarket, but most people will listen to these, say “wow!” and sit back and smile, satisfied.  Arx brings exotic driver technology to an unheard-of price point and it is well implemented, at that.  The wrapper is plain but the guts are amazing!


Main speakers: one pair Arx A1 bookshelf speakers $249

Surround speakers:  one pair Arx A1 bookshelf speakers $249

Center channel: one Arx A2 speaker $189

Total: $687

Though they are called bookshelf speakers, the Arx A1 should be used on stands, especially for the front channels.  Sanus makes some good ones at an affordable price, $32 for a pair as shown below.

Subwoofer: Dayton Sub-100

The Dayton SUB-100 powered 10″ subwoofer has been THE go-to subwoofer for audiophiles and music lovers on a budget.  It’s great, and it’s affordable.

Total: $130

Receiver: Pioneer VSX-1020

A clear improvement from its predecessor, the VSX-1019, the Pioneer VSX-1020 has a stronger, more robust amplifier combined with Pioneer’s class-leading MCACC auto-setup and room correction system. Nice on-screen menus, too. A steal and a half at the current going rate of $367 from

Total: $367

Hooking it up

I’m assuming you have a cable/satellite box and a Blu-ray player, and if you do not have a Blu-ray player, shame on you!  Go get one.

You will need three HDMI cables. One each to connect the cable/satellite box to the receiver, and one from the receiver to the TV.  They should cost $7 each max, call it $20 for all three.  See this page for more info on HDMI cables. You will also need a subwoofer cable, which should run under $10 from Amazon or See the HDMI page linked above for links to their sites.

Speaker wire: 16 gauge will do you fine.  Here is 100 feet for under $15:

Summing it up

Even with stands for the front left/right speakers, HDMI cables, subwoofer cable, and speaker wire you are in at under $1,250 for the whole setup. Pretty hard (if not impossible) to beat for the sound quality it will deliver. If you try building this system drop me a line and let me know!

Questions? Email Don

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