Receiver help needed


New member
Username: Ljs736

Post Number: 1
Registered: Dec-10
Firstly, please excuse my stupidity - I am completely new to anything to do with sound systems and electronics. But I am hoping you pros out there may be able to point me in the right direction.

We recently bought a new house that has 5 speakers installed in the family room. The wires from them all run into a cupboard and I am sure the intention is to use it for a surround sound system (the previous owners did have their tv connected up in the Family room.) We don't want to do this but I would really like to be able to play your standard radio/cd through the 5 speakers. How do I go about doing this? The wires do not have connectors on the end (they are just wires) so I can't just attach them to our current radio - I gather I probably need a AV receiver but I don't want to spend heaps of money on something that won't work for me. The simpler the better!

Any advice will be greatly appreciated - and again, please excuse my stupidity!!

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1111
Registered: Oct-10
What stupidity? Not knowing something does not make you stupid. Nobody knows everything in here.

If you can tell us how much you're willing to spend and what you intend to do, that will help. For instance, if you plan to use all five speakers in a home theater arrangement or just 2 for stereo. Are the speaker wires labeled indicating which speaker each wire is attached to? Are + & - labeled? If not, you'll need to identify them. I recommend labeling them if they're not already. You can wrap a peice of masking tape labeled FR for front, right and FL for front left and so on.

Is the cupboard adequately ventilated?

If you tell us your plans, you'll get plenty of help.

New member
Username: Ljs736

Post Number: 2
Registered: Dec-10
That is really nice to know - thank you very much! The previous owner of the house had all the wires (including hdmi cable) built into the walls so they run from the speaker and from above the fireplace (where the tv used to be) into the large cupboard. The cables are labeled with the speakers but I don't think the wires are labelled + and - (there is a black and a red wire in each cable)
We are not looking to put the tv above the fireplace as we have a separate tv room so I don't think we would be looking for a home theater arrangement - I just really would like to used the speakers to play radio/ipod/cd. Is it only possible to use two speakers for this? Or can you used 4 of them and still get stereo (ie. two 'batches' of two?)

Moneywise - well, as cheap as possible but hopefully not more than $150 - if that is realistic?

Thank you again for your advice!

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1115
Registered: Oct-10
You're welcome.

The red wires should be positive (+) and the black, negative (-). The speaker terminals on the receiver should be color coded accordingly as well.

You can get an Insignial stereo (2 channel) receiver for $75 from Best Buy. This their house brand. You can also get a Sony for $150. I suggest listening and seeing which one you like.

You can use just 2 speakers. Just because the other 3 are there does not mean you have to use them. I recommend only using 2 if you play music loud so as not to overheat the receiver. If you keep it low to moderate, using 4 should be fine.

Always glad to help.

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4249
Registered: May-05
As Jazzy said, you're not stupid and no one knows everything (even if they think they do).

I'm not sure 4 or 5 speakers will really give you anything more than 2 will. Unless the room is really big, I'd go with two speakers. Even if it is really big, I'd probably still only use two speakers. Just because there's 5 speakers already installed doesn't mean you have to use them.

How much you'll end up spending and where you'll go from here depends on how much of a priority music and sound quality are to you. Obviously, personal finances also dictate how far you'll go as well.

If you're looking for the system to be background noise while you're doing other things, a $150 receiver and the current speakers will do just fine. If you're looking to sit down and listen to music, and make it focal point in the room, so to speak, then the $150 receiver and current speakers won't cut it for very long. It's all about what's "good enough."

If you want great sound, you have an upgrade path here. You can get a really good receiver or integrated amp and use the current speakers until funds recover, then get 2 really good speakers. 2 great speakers sound far better than 5 mediocre ones. There's very little point in having more than 2 speakers for music.

If you want great music, you also need a great source. iPods can sound quite respectable so long as the conditions are right - uncompressed music like Apple Lossless rather than mp3, possibly getting a dock that has a digital output, and so on. Same thing for computer music.

Just some background concepts. I don't want to throw too much out there right off the bat and confuse you. Sorry I didn't recommend any brands/models. I'd rather get you thinking about what you really want over the long haul and how much of a priority music really is. There's a ton of gear out there in every price range. Some are great values for the money, and others are crap.

Spending a good sum of money on something that'll get a lot of use, sounds very good, and ultimately brings you a lot of enjoyment is a very good thing. A lot of people look at guys like us like we have 3 heads when we tell them what we paid for our gear. I don't take that personally; everyone spends too much money on something. At least we really like what we've bought and get a lot of use out of it.

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4250
Registered: May-05
Forgot to add...

Listening to mp3 vs uncompressed music is like watching an old console tv with a rabbit ear antenna vs HDTV on a good flat screen tv.
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