Onkyo HT-S9400THX vs. Polk RTi and Pioneer VSX-1121
I have an LG 55LW5600 TV and an LG 3D Blu-ray player in a 13.5-by-16 room. The TV is on the long side of the room, so the placement is not optimal, but it allows me to maintain the peace with my better half.
Now, I need a sound system. I think the Onkyo HT-S9400THX system offers good value. Do you like how that system sounds? On the other hand, a large retailer is selling the Polk RTi A5 and RTi A7 at $519 and $629 per pair, respectively. That seems like a good deal, but I would still need a receiver (I'm considering the Pioneer VSX-1121) and a center channel; I do not have a lot of space for surrounds in the back of the room as the couch is against the wall. Would the Polk setup sound just as good with two speakers (say the A7s) versus the Onkyo 7.1 system, considering that it might just be 5.1 or 3.1)? In two or three years, I will develop the basement and move the home theater downstairs to a larger room. Would the Polks be a better long-term investment?
We haven't finished our review of the Onkyo HT-S9400THX (shown in the lower portion of the image above), though it is in process. Last year's HT-S9300THX was very positively reviewed here, so we expect the S9400 to perform well.
Still, given that you're only going to implement a 3.1 system for now and add to it in a couple of years, I'd probably go with the Polks and Pioneer AVR, which will probably provide better sound quality than the Onkyo. We haven't reviewed the RTi A7 (seen in the upper portion of the image above in a matched 5.1 system) or A5, but we did review the step-up RTi A9 here. Similarly, we haven't reviewed the Pioneer VSX-1121 (next to the Polk system above), but we did review the step-down VSX-1021 here. Both reviews were very positive, so I would expect the models you're interested in to be quite good as well.
If you go with the Polk RTi A7 or A5, I'd get a matching center-channel speaker, either the CSi A6 or A4. Then, when you move into your basement theater, you can add two or four FXi A6 or A4 surround speakers, and you'll have a really sweet system (but don't forget the subwoofer!). The Polk system depicted above has two RTi A7s, a CSi A6, two FXi A6s, and a DSW Pro 500 subwoofer. See Polk's recommended RTi system configurations here.
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