Ever since I did my first living room upgrade, I've been meaning to get a surround sound system. After six months, I felt like I've waited long enough. I went with the Onkyo HT-S5100 7.1 home theater in a box system because it was pretty inexpensive. More pictures here.
Both my HTPC and XBOX360 output 5.1, which the receiver can expand into 7.1. The only gripe I have with the receiver is that the HDMI inputs are pass-through only, meaning they can't be used for audio input. So whereas with my TV, I was able to connect one HDMI cable from my XBOX360 for both audio and video, now I need to connect one HDMI cable for video, and one optical S/PDIF cable for audio. Onkyo's higher end models do support audio over HDMI, but I wasn't going to pay an extra $200 or so for this extra convenience.
I hate visible wires about as much as Steve Jobs hates buttons (just look the latest shuffle), so I tried very hard to balance wire management with optimal speaker placement. The center speaker is on a wall shelf that is just above the TV. The front speakers are wall mounted with wires mostly hidden behind the TV. The surround speakers are on speaker stands with wires hidden under the thing that runs along the bottom of the wall (I have no idea what it's called). The surround back speakers are also on speakers stands with the wires hidden under the floor in the crawlspace (I hope I never have to go down there again).
Some movies that really show off the audio system:
- Children of Men
- Independence Day
- Terminator 2
- Iron Man