Advice on New Home Cinema Kit / AV Receiver



I am planning to buy a new TV, Blue-ray player & Cinema Surround Sound System. Here is what I had in mind…

1. Sony 40” Bravia LCD TV (KDL-40W4000) - £1270 (
2. Sony Blu-ray Disc Player (BDP-S500) - £465 (
3. Sony Home Cinema Surround Kit (HT-SF1300) - £315 (
4. With Sky HD Box

I’m no expert, so I’ve been doing a bit of reading up recently. This has generated more questions. Wanted to ask someone in the know, rather than some sale bod in a shop.

What I’m concerned about is that the Home Cinema Surround Kit supports video pass through of High Definition 1080p from Blu-ray & HD channels, but doesn’t support video upscaling. Is this going to affect the quality of images/sound from normal DVD disks/non HD channels? Also, there is no support for the new Dolby True HD.

I’ve noticed that some AV Receivers support Video Upscaling & True HD, but these tend to be quite expensive. Is it worth spending the extra, or it something that I don’t really need?

Are there any better Home Cinema Kit’s than the one I have in mind? Do the AV receivers offer better quality sound & video than the Home Cinema Kit?

Any advice / recommendations would be most appreciated!!


Novice Member
To be frank with you and this is my opinion I wouldn't buy any of those items that you have on your list except SKY HD.

You could get a much better sound system by not spending so much on the screen and still be getting a better screen.

You could get a Panasonic PX80 OR PZ80 Plasama for £699 or £899 repsectively and thus giving you extra to spend on the sound system. Also at this price you can get them from John lewis's on a price match which then also includes a free 5 year guarantee.

On the Blu Player front right now I would perosnally stick to a PS3 as it is the latest profile, PQ is just as good and is more than likely better with DVDs too (plus does games if you fancy it). Also it is is easier to update and comes in at around £279 to £299 thus saving you even more money.

On the sound system front with the savings you can get a decent seperates sound system as the PS3 covers your Blu Ray and DVD base.

You do need this if you want to have the top notch sound quality (as in HD audio), you could get the Onkyo 606 (£399) or wait a bit for the Sony 820 (£300 ish). There are other options here perhaps a bit cheaper like a Yamaha amp.

Then you just need to add some decent speakers, you could check out the Canton Powerbuy speaker range (speaker forum) at reasonable prices.

I got the Monitor Audio BR2 AV system which are traditional type speakers but sound brillaint but they cost quite a bit more.

This set up would knock the spots off what you are after but others may tweak it a bit here and there.

Get some QED original strand speaker cable and off you go.

That is my 2 pennies worth.

PS I would only get seperates for one other reason, if you buy an all in one and 1 item breaks then you have to replace the lot.


Novice Member
I would reiterate what matr69 said really; as a blu-ray player the BDP-S500 isn't a great choice; it's too expensive for what effectively is a first gen profile 1.0 model which has no support for DTS-MA. As a surround sound format that's used on quite a few movie releases, for example it seems to be the Fox studio's 'hd' format of choice. Better to go down the PS3 route with the optional bluetooth remote - think of it as a blu-ray player with free games machine (- it's even better value now with the recent firmware update). It'll give you 1080p/24 blu ray movie playback plus Dolby Digital plus, DTS-MA, Dolby TrueHD and uncompressed PCM surround with a suitable amp (i.e. one that can handle LPCM over hdmi). It'll also upscale SD DVD's over hdmi providing you don't need multi-region. However, if you don't need to buy now I would otherwise suggest you wait to also evaluate the new models from Panasonic and Sony specifically the Panasonic DMP-BD50 and Sony BDP-S350/S550.

The LCD vs Plasma debate has been raging for a while - obviously both have their fans, but you should certainly go and demo the Panasonic PX80 and PZ80. Let your eyes decide. Even though the former is not a full HD model, it still does well with hd content from the likes of blu-ray. Your viewing distance will play a part here as well since the further you are away the less likely you are to see a difference. Both do produce a really nice natural looking picture, with excellent viewing angle and motion.

You mentioned upscaling - bear in mind that upscaling happens whenever the source is at a lower resolution than that of the television's native one (otherwise content would end up being displayed in small window in the middle of the screen). It just depends on the quality of that processer/scaler not where that scaling is done, either by the source (as in the case of an upscaling dvd player), amps with their own scaler (like the Onkyo SR705) or otherwise the television itself.

Also, you don't need an amp with in-built 'hd' decoding if the source does it - in the PS3 for example, decoding is done directly before being sent to the amp (- it isn't capable of sending these formats to the amp for decoding so would otherwise be purely for future-proofing if present).

The Sony HT-SF1300 isn't a bad choice as a neat all-in-one solution (given the amp part is nice and slim which is the opposite of pretty much all standalone amps). But with a tweak of the split of your overall budget it would open up some more flexible and better sounding choices. Can you give some indication as to the size of your room?


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