Home Theater on the Cheap

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  • P-Dub
    Office Moderator
    • Aug 2000
    • 6766

    Home Theater on the Cheap

    Well over this Christmas I set out to build a HT for the bedroom. My wife wanted to watch some of her DVD's and VCD's in the comforts of the bedroom, well so did I. The problem was our existing TV did not have any inputs of any kind. So what we needed was a small TV with video and audio inputs and a dvd player. That's all I started looking for, oh and it had to be cheap. I have my main HT gear and that is where we watch all our main movies, but we wanted something that would just do for the bedroom.

    Well we settled on a 20" tube size, as that would nicely replace our existing 20" tube. We found a flat screen model at Costco. What really caught my eye was the component in's, wow I don't even have those on my main monitor. (Yeah I have an an old TV.)



    Apex PF-2025

    20" Screen
    Pure flat Picture Tube
    Universal Remote Control
    Velocity Scan Modulation
    MTS Stereo Sound (5W+5W)
    3 Line Comb Filter
    Component Video input - YCbCr (1)
    S Video Input (1)
    Rear AV Input (1)
    Side AV Input (1)
    Rear AV Output (1)
    3 Picture Modes (Normal, Theater, Personal)
    4 Sound Modes ( Speech, Music, Theater, Personal)
    181 Channel Tuner
    Trilingual OSD (English, Spanish, French)
    Closed Caption Display
    V-Chip
    Sleep Timer
    Auto Off
    Recall
    Channel Scan
    Parental Control

    Now the cool thing is you can manually turn off Velocity Scan Modulation. The picture is very nice, and for the price, CDN$169, it just can't be beat.

    So I've got the display. Now which DVD player should I get? Well I looked at a lot of C$100-$200 units, and all would work great, then I saw a lot of low end HT box sets that included speakers and DVD players for a bit more money. So off I went exploring. Most of what I saw had passive subs, and cheap plastic speakers, so I wasn't too impressed. Well until I saw the following.




    VIVI HTB3000

    Vivid 85 Watt/Ch. Home Theatre System
    Includes DVD player, two main speakers, center speaker, two surround speakers and a subwoofer
    Compatible with DVD/CD/MP3/CD-R/CD-RW
    85 RMS and 210 total (peak)
    Component video output and S-video output
    DTS, AC-3 dual decoder system
    Coaxial/Optical digital audio output
    2-Band radio receiver (AM/FM)
    10-10 AM/FM staion memory
    5.1 Channel hi-power output
    Built-in digital decoder/Dolby pro logic decoder
    Four kinds of sound effects: POP, ROCK, JAZZ and FLAT
    Treble/Bass
    Five kinds of surround mode: PHANTOM, 3 STEREO, DISCO, HALL, CLUB
    Color VFD

    I saw this unit at The Brick. Those in Canada know that this is a large chain furniture store, that also sells some eletronics and TVs. The infamous, don't pay till 2006. Anyway, what really impressed me, as I examined this system on the showroom floor, was that all the speakers were made out of wood! As you can see, the main speakers are actually bigger in size than the surrounds and it had a powered sub! The sub woofer was also made of the same material, and was pretyy hefty, relatively speaking. There's a seperate level adjustment for sub output as well. The main unit itself also had a substantial heft. For those that have looked at the cheaper DVD players and all-in-one units know what I mean, some of these weigh next to nothing. From the spec sheet you can see it's got enough outputs, component, S-Video, composite, as well as the all important sub-out, and coax out.

    So for CDN$198, I snapped it up!

    I've hooked it up, using S-video and some cheap speaker wire. One feature that is not listed is that this is a region selectable DVD player. So if you have DVD's from another region that you received as a gift, you can now play them. Also, if you hae a different TV system, like PAL, you can select the video output to sync with your PAL TV.

    This things plays MP3's and it does DTS as well, which even my older A/V receiver doesn't do.

    How does it sound?

    For the price it sounds great! I'm amazed at it's stereo performance. The two main bookshelf speakers are pretty good. In surround mode, I'd say it is adequate. The small centre is a liability, but then again, what do you expect for C$200! The sub it self does a pretty good job, and is a bit boomy, it also trails off at around 50Hz, and is practically nonexistant by 40Hz.

    How does it look?

    Great! DVD's, VCD's all work perfictly. I'm tempted to try the component outs just for fun. But it's hard to justify spending half of what I paid for the whole unit on a set of component cables.

    Nit picks?

    Because of the compact nature of the unit, there is a built in fan. After about 30 minutes of use, it kicks in. Normally this is not a big deal, but because of its location, just off to the side of the bed, the fan is audible. It must be temperature controlled as it will shut off during the course of a movie.

    For people that don't like a lot of light coming from there unit, this unit has a bluish light ring around the volume nob, as well as those little equalizer bars that jump up and down to the frequency response. It doesn't bother me, but I thought I'd mention it.

    The surround mode is set for all types of inputs. So if you're listening to a CD, in stero mode, you have to make sure you switch the mode to Surround, when you pop in a movie. Also to switch modes you have to cycle through all the modes, PHANTOM, 3 STEREO, DISCO, HALL, CLUB, to get to straight Dolby Digital or DTS.

    I wish there was a way to user select the speaker size, I think the default is the mains are set at large and the center and surrounds are set to small. I think they should all be set to small since it comes with a powered sub.

    The final nit pick is still to be diagnosed. On some dvd's I see some kind of colour seperation, almost like a rainbow effect on my display. This happened with The Matrix. But when watching Finding Nemo, I had no problems. I've tried a couple of different S-Video cable, and that didn't make a difference, so I don't know if it's the player or the TV. I may return/exchange the TV and see if that makes a differnce, or find some cheap component cables.

    What's Great!

    Quailty of the materials. This setup is amazing! Of all the low priced all-in-one box sets on the market I've seen, this thing puts them all to shame. There is virtually no plastic! The main unit is mostly metal, with a top plastic lid to load your DVD's.

    Region Selectable. Wow. Everybody's going gaga over hackable dvd players that can be region free. Well why go through the trouble when you can just select it from your menu!

    Aux input. I have it setup so that the audio out from my TV is input to the Aux line in. This thing blows away the speakers in the TV.

    Timer. This may be lame for some, but I love it! I can set the unit to turn on at a specific time and turn off at a specific time. I can also set this up for my TV. So I've been waking up to the morning news through my system.

    Sub out and Coax out. So picture this. I was happy with the included sub, but I also had another sub that I wasn't using as much, it was part of my computer sound system. So first thing I did was to replace the sub. Now I'm running an Energy xL-S8 sub, that's an 8" sub that puts out a peak of 400 Watts. It is good down to about 30Hz and is still audible to 25Hz. I believe I paid about the same for my sub as I did for the whole package. Oh and the Coax out, is cool cause I can use the player as a plain DVD player and eventually use my old AV receiver to do the amplification.

    Trim. This allows the user to adjust each speaker level +-7db as well as the sub output. Amazing.

    Conclusion:

    TV: $169
    HTB: $198
    S-Video Cable: $9
    L/R Audio OUt: $4
    Subtotal: $380
    Taxes: $55.10 (PST+GST)
    Total: $435.10 (That's all in Canadian dollars)

    So for a total of $435.10 I've now got a little HT system for the bedroom, that almost rivals my main system.

    I'm now tempted to try my pair of my B&W 301's and the B&W center that I have just to see how well it works.




    Paul

    There are three kinds of people in this world; those that can count, and those that can't.
    Paul

    There are three kinds of people in this world; those that can count, and those that can't.
  • Chris D
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Dec 2000
    • 16877

    #2
    :banana: Way to go, Paul! I too made a nice bedroom setup, going to a clean, hidden look using a plasma TV and built-in wall and ceiling speakers. A beroom is a great place to relax while watching some boob tube.




    CHRIS
    Luke: "Hey, I'm not such a bad pilot myself, you know"
    CHRIS

    Well, we're safe for now. Thank goodness we're in a bowling alley.
    - Pleasantville

    Comment

    • David Meek
      Moderator Emeritus
      • Aug 2000
      • 8938

      #3
      A multi-region DVD player for under $200, and it comes with receiver and speakers, too? Yowzah! :T




      David - HTGuide flunky
      Our "Theater"
      Our DVDs on DVD Tracker

      .

      David - Trigger-happy HTGuide Admin

      Comment

      • Andrew Pratt
        Moderator Emeritus
        • Aug 2000
        • 16508

        #4
        Nice system Paul:T We bought my sister in law the 24" version of that TV and I agree its got a great image and it calibrated very easily with Avia. I was surprised at how well the power supply held up to during the white ballencing tests...it wasn't as good as my wega but certianly better then my inlaws panasonic and my old RCA! For cheap component cables goto Canadian Tire and you can buy RG59 coax cables pre terminated with RCA's for $5 each.




        Comment

        • Eduardo
          Moderator emeritus
          • Jun 2002
          • 1258

          #5
          Paul - sounds like a great BR setup. Where do you have your surround speakers? And how are you running the speaker wire - under the carpet?




          http://home.nc.rr.com/ejimenez

          Comment

          • Glen
            Senior Member
            • Dec 2003
            • 867

            #6
            Hey Paul.

            Sounds like a great set up for the bedroom. The HTB3000 originally sold for about $460.00 Cdn, so you got a heck of a deal.

            Happy veiwing.

            Comment

            • George Bellefontaine
              Moderator Emeritus
              • Jan 2001
              • 7637

              #7
              Nice bedroom setup, Paul, and definitely reasonable.




              My Homepage!
              My Homepage!

              Comment

              • efarstad
                Moderator Emeritus
                • Jun 2001
                • 2231

                #8
                NICE Paul! 8)





                The Norwegian A/V Nut!
                E-Cinema

                The Norwegian A/V Nut!
                E-Cinema

                Comment

                • P-Dub
                  Office Moderator
                  • Aug 2000
                  • 6766

                  #9
                  Pr@: Thanks, I'm going to have to check out Canadian Tire for those cables. I was also going to check for some video cables from some dollar stores.

                  Eduardo: Currently, one surround is sitting on a ledge by the window and the other is sitting on a CD/Video rack. I plan on mounting them on the back wall. The surrounds have a simple screw bracket, stick a screw in the wall and hang them up. Speaker wire is being run along the back wall and then down the side wall. We have hardwood floors. The bed is very close to the side wall, so the cables are not that bad, plus that's my side. I plan on using some ties or cable housing to keep it tidy.

                  glen: When I saw the price, it did say save $200 or something like that, I just thought it was just an advertising thing. You know like they never sold it for full retail.




                  Paul

                  There are three kinds of people in this world; those that can count, and those that can't.
                  Paul

                  There are three kinds of people in this world; those that can count, and those that can't.

                  Comment

                  • Sonnie Parker
                    • Jan 2002
                    • 2858

                    #10
                    Wow Paul! What a bargain.... nice setup you got yourself.

                    This sounds like something that would be nice for our palm room.






                    SONNIE

                    Cedar Creek Cinema

                    DVD Collection

                    BFD Comprehensive Setup Guide

                    Comment

                    • Andrew Pratt
                      Moderator Emeritus
                      • Aug 2000
                      • 16508

                      #11
                      Pr@: Thanks, I'm going to have to check out Canadian Tire for those cables. I was also going to check for some video cables from some dollar stores.
                      The $1 stores tend not to have RCA cables...at least none that are any better then the el cheapies that are tossed in with gear when you buy it. Canadian Tire and Princess Auto are two of the cheapest places to buy AV parts if they have them...I've found identical parts to what RS sells but for about 1/5 the cost.




                      Comment

                      • DavidY
                        Member
                        • Aug 2000
                        • 67

                        #12
                        Paul,

                        Nice going! You should post your new bedroom setup at RFD. I'm sure that they will go head over heels over your bargain.

                        Dave

                        Comment

                        • terryCh
                          Junior Member
                          • Feb 2005
                          • 1

                          #13
                          I bought two of these Vivid HTB3000 units and both of them have stopped working. I bought the first one for $200 and then I bought another one on sale for $98 at a Brick grand opening sale. I loved them and thought I had great deals on both of them. One was in our bedroom and the other was in the spare room. The DVD players in both systems stopped being able to read disks just before the one year warrenty. I took reciever/DVD player section back to the brick and they said they were not repairable and the model was discontinued and offered to refund the value in store credit but I have to return the speakers, remote, manual, etc. I'm not sure what I will do yet, I might ask to get one of them back as is and then hook up another DVD player into the AUX inputs

                          Comment

                          • Andrew G
                            Junior Member
                            • Feb 2005
                            • 1

                            #14
                            HTB3000 not working

                            "I bought two of these Vivid HTB3000 units and both of them have stopped working".

                            I have one of the HTB3000 units as well, and it stopped reading DVD's just after the warranty ran out (how do they get them to do that?). In my case I popped the top open, and located the laser lens mount just behind the spindle. I carefully pushed the lens mount (without touching the lens) to the back as far as it could go (not forcing, but nudging - if you push too fast it will strip the lens motor gear). I popped in a dvd and it read it no problem, and it has continued to read them ever since. Normally I wouldn't advocate doing this, but since they're not repairable, and are discontinued, you might want to consider it... I think what happens is that over time, the lens loses its alignment slightly.

                            Hope this helps

                            Andrew G

                            Comment

                            • ilde
                              Junior Member
                              • May 2005
                              • 1

                              #15
                              need your help w/ the vivid thb3000

                              Hi Paul

                              Just wondering if you can help me get the Manual for this unit???

                              I too, bought this vivid at The Brick for $125 inc 2years waranty is that good?
                              taxes included.

                              I just bought it last week but didn't got and English Manual, only french.

                              Also need some help with how to set it up like you did.

                              I saw some bad comments about this unit, what do you think?

                              You can e-mail me at constdesangles@hotmail.com
                              Thank for your help.

                              ILDE : :

                              Comment

                              • P-Dub
                                Office Moderator
                                • Aug 2000
                                • 6766

                                #16
                                Wow, old thread.

                                I too have experienced my DVD player going on the fritz! In fact my original unit did not respond to the remote after 6 months, and then before my year was up, it stopped reading DVD's as well. I got it replaced with the last display unit, and it too has stopped reading DVD's. CD's are okay, and I still have to try my VCD's. I bought the extended warranty and have the ability to exchange it, but really for the money there's nothing comparable. I am going to try Andrew's fix to see if I can realign the laser.

                                I still think for the money, I love the other features of my machine that I would keep it for the speakers and treat it like a AM/FM/CD player and radio clock.

                                BTW, I did connect it to my B&W 3 series center, and it does sound pretty good. Also I am 'borrowing' my cousin's CAT Cable Tigress component interconnects. Wow!

                                ilde: I thought I had the english manual in PDF and am currently searching my HD. I think I've got the english on had an I could possibly scan the relevant pages for you. It might take a while as I'm pretty busy these days.

                                That price is a great price! But be warned, enjoy your DVD's while you can as I would almost gaurantee that the player will die on you.

                                I got your email, but let me help you on this thread so others can benefit as well. How would you like to set it up? Have you had a HT before or is this your first setup? There are a lot of wires so if this is your first time, it can be intimidating.
                                Paul

                                There are three kinds of people in this world; those that can count, and those that can't.

                                Comment

                                • P-Dub
                                  Office Moderator
                                  • Aug 2000
                                  • 6766

                                  #17
                                  Success! Let's see how long the fix/realignment lasts.

                                  Here's some pics that I took to show you what I did.

                                  Hmm, let's see if I can figure out how to post pictures again. Just click on the thumbnails on the bottom.

                                  First picture is the front panel of the machine.

                                  Next picture is the back of the machine. Check out all those cables.

                                  Third picture is the top open ready to accept a DVD. The laser is just past the spindle.

                                  Last picture is where I just used my figure to push back the laser.

                                  Issues: When I first attempted this fix, I didn't get instant results. In fact my player refused to even spin a DVD or CD. So I was a bit bummed, but then it stopped playing DVD's for about 2 months now. So I popped the lid open and with a DVD in the spindle, I turned the dvd with my hand and closed the lid. I did this about twice and then the unit started working! In between I was powering off and powering on and pushed the laser pickup back again. So I'm not sure what I did to fix it, I just care that it's fixed! :T

                                  It's now playing Underworld for a bit before I head out.
                                  Attached Files
                                  Paul

                                  There are three kinds of people in this world; those that can count, and those that can't.

                                  Comment

                                  • P-Dub
                                    Office Moderator
                                    • Aug 2000
                                    • 6766

                                    #18
                                    Update.

                                    Well all is not perfect. While dvd's do play, they sometimes studder, they pause momentarily and play sorta like someone is playing with the pause button. Also when I tried to play a dvd, I had to spin the dvd, so I think the motor may be on the fritz. I will continue to update as I find a solution that works for me.

                                    I looked around at some alternative for a trade, and I really didn't see anything that I really liked.
                                    Paul

                                    There are three kinds of people in this world; those that can count, and those that can't.

                                    Comment

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