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new to home theater need some advice

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Richard_Long, Apr 24, 2003.

  1. Richard_Long

    Richard_Long Member

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    Hi, if you can't tell from this thread title I am ne to home theater and its' aspects. I have done quite a bit of research over the past month and just recently found the forum. Seeing as how you guys are the foremost afficianados on the subject of home theater I thought I would run some questions by you. I have researched several components and here's what I have come up with. Tell me what you think and any suggestions or advice would be great.

    widescreen Sony KV-34XBR800
    Sony HT-5500d home theater-in-a-box
    Sony touchscreen remote

    Let me know what you guys think with any replacements or advice you could give.
     
  2. sean_pecor

    sean_pecor Well-Known Member

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    TV Comments
    Are you sticking with a direct view TV for a reason? The Sony is a nice set for many environments, but $2,200 will buy you a much larger big screen TV.

    If you're building out a new home theater and want to create something that will provide an immersive experience then I'd go with a larger rear projection TV. How much larger depends on your room, what the ratio of TV viewing to DVD viewing will be, and your personal tastes.

    For less than $2,000 you can own the Sony 46" KP46WT500, which is what I have. It's a fantastic TV for smaller rooms and offers a 35% larger viewing area over the KV-34XBR800.

    For around $2,200 you can own the Sony KP-51WS500, a 51" set that will pack alot more punch than the 34".

    Home Theater System Comments

    Buying a nice $2,200 TV and mating it with the Sony HT5500D is like buying a Porsche 911 and slapping 13" donut tires on it. With a nice TV like that I'd recommend spending $1,000 on something else. I own the Cambridge SoundWorks Megatheater 520 (http://www.hifi.com), which is $1,199. You can pick up the entry level Megatheater 505 system for $699, and it's still a better system than the HT5500D. If you're looking for the remote control convenience of ALL-SONY equipment (all Sony touchscreen / programmable remotes are shipped to work with all their equipment with no setup needed) then I'd recommend the next step up (DAV-C990 for $1,000). The DAV-C990 speakers are very stylized so you might not like their look.

    Just some thoughts.

    Sean.
     
  3. Richard_Long

    Richard_Long Member

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    I am very new to the home theater scene and thus am not very up on the "lingo". What do you mean by direct view tv? Is that a tube television? The reason that I do not particularly want a rear projection television is because I have several video game systems that I want to hook the tv up to and I have heard that it is bad to do that with a projection screen television. I will be doing mostly DVD viewing and playing video games on the new television as opposed to tv watching. I get your point about the sound system and I will definitely take a look at the systems you suggested. As you can tell I just recently discovered home theater and I am in need of some serious help. Thank you for your suggestions and I will take a look into the suggestion that you graciously gave. Any more help that you could give me would be infinitely appreciated.

    Richard
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Well-Known Member

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    Direct-view and rear-projection sets boil down to a matter of preferences. If you prefer the higher light output and greater contrast ratio of a direct-view, then the widescreen Sony KV-34XBR800 is an excellent choice.

    My philosophy is that picture quality should prevail over picture quantity.

    Yet, the KP-46 is a fine RPTV.

    It's up to you. Do you want a bigger picture, or do you want the apparent (but not actual) sharpness of the smaller direct-view?

    In terms of practicality, just bear in mind that the direct-view XBRs are extremely heavy.

    As for audio, I think Sean is pointing you in the right direction. You can find superb-performing dedicated components to handle the surround-sound requirements much better than the Sony HTiB. There are any number of $500 A/V receivers and economic but nice speaker-system suites that can be assembled for less money and offer better performance.

    Finally, video games: Consider the messenger here, but I believe home-theater equipment is best used for home theater. Find another display to play your games on; direct-view sets can also be worn out more quickly by playing video games on them.
     
  5. sean_pecor

    sean_pecor Well-Known Member

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    Yes, a CRT (tube) TV is also called a "direct view" TV in Home Theater jargon. Rear projection TVs are often called RPTV for short.

    Since you'll be mostly playing video games and doing DVD playback I'd strongly recommend a rear projection TV. Playing games on a big screen is awesome! It's been 12 years but I still remember playing DOOM on an 8 foot screen front projection system. It was mind altering.

    How far away from the TV will you be? What are the dimensions of the room? Will you be putting the TV in the corner (bad for audio) or centered in a wall (good for audio)?

    Using a video game system on a rear projection TV won't harm the TV if you follow some basic guidelines. Here is a good web page that covers the essentials:

    http://www.lynxfx.com/hdtv/preventburnin.html

    You can purchase Avia DVD direct from Ovation Software:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...810727-9743350

    Even if you buy the 36" direct view TV, you should still buy the Avia DVD because it will help you set up the TV properly (color, contrast, hue, sharpness etc).

    Sean.
     
  6. Richard_Long

    Richard_Long Member

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    Thanks for all the help guys. I have been looking into home theater speaker components and have found some that are in my price range ($1000 or less) and seem to offer good quality. Mr. Briggs I am with you in the belief of picture quality over picture quantity. I don't particulalry care how big the screen as long as the picture quality is better than your average off-brand television. I also appreciate your advice of playing video games on another display device. I had not even thought about that, but thinking about it now I would like my home theater system to be strictly home theater not a gaming station, another television can be purchased for that.


    Mr. Pecor thank you for the point in the right direction for the projection screen help. I will definitely purchase the Avia DVD ot tune my tv to a perfect picture. As for the placement of the television: it will be in the living room of my apartment for the next 6-10 months until I buy a house to move into. Right now the room I am putting the television in is a loft style living room. The room is a combined living room/office area, it is 20ft wide and 45 ft long with 15 ft cathedral cielings. Basically a big rectangle. The tv will be going in the middle of the 20ft wall with my couch 6-8 ft away. I plan to setup a center speaker mounted on the wall directly above the television and two side speakers on either side. Two more speakers will be on either side of the couch angled slightly towards the tv (for better sound). I have not determined exactly where the subwoofer will go yet but I was thinking about putting it under the couch as it sits up off the ground and seems that it may fit.

    Let me know what you think, especially with any modifications on speaker or television placements you may have. I will llok at RPTV's today and see if I see any that I like and let you know in my next post. Once again thanks for all your help I appreciate it greatly.

    Richard
     
  7. sean_pecor

    sean_pecor Well-Known Member

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    At this point I can offer some more technical advice, from my own novice/intermediate's perspective.

    Regarding the Screen

    When you design a home theater, what appears to be The standard to strive for is the coveted 30 degree viewing angle. THX certified theaters must have a 26 degree viewing angle from the back row, at a minimum. The recommended viewing angle is 36 degrees. If the couch will be 7 feet away, and if we assume eyeball to screen distance may be 9 feet, then you'll need a 65" diagonal 16:9 TV to achieve a 30 degree viewing angle. To achieve the minimum of 26 degrees, you'll need a 57" diagonal 16:9 TV.

    Once you start looking at a 65" or larger screen, you must begin to seriously consider front projection as a viable alternative (especially if you'll be buying a separate set for video games and regular old TV programs). Highly recommended 65" sets are roundabout $3,000 and up and with dimensions of 60"x60"x28" they are going to eat up major real estate, etc etc. It goes without saying that moving house with one of these bad boys can introduce a few logistical problems [​IMG]

    So! With that said, you might consider shopping for a DLP or LCD front projection system. They are extremely compact and screens can be mounted on the wall or the ceiling (pull-down). Easy to move, no giant TV enclosure dominating the room, etc. One such unit to consider is the Panasonic PT-L300U:

    http://www.projectorcentral.com/proj...m?part_id=1949

    With an $1,800 front projection unit such as this, in addition to a wall mounted fixed screen ($300+) or a ceiling mounted pull-down screen ($600+), you can paint a beautiful 40" to 110" (+) diagonal image that will leave you without words to describe your state of euphoria [​IMG]

    There are many factors to consider when buying a front projector and http://www.projectorcentral.com is a great place to start. One issue with front projection is lamp life. For example, the lamp for the above projector has an expected lifespan of 2,000 hours. Replacement lamps can be had for about $300.

    It's hard to demo front projection systems unless you're in a metro area with higher end dealers who carry the non-mainstream consumer stuff. Alternatively you can find some forum members who are local to you and ask if you can arrange a tour of their home theater.

    Regarding the Audio

    Make absolutely sure you select the TV / Screen Size first because this affects placement of speakers, seating etc. For Home Theater, Dolby (http://www.dolby.com) recommends something like a 45 degree angle between your ears and your left/right main speakers (22.5 for left, 22.5 for right). For Stereo Music, Dolby recommends 60 degrees for more stereo separation. That much separation is not ideal for Home Theater, hence the smaller 45 degree angle.

    So, first establish screen size, which in turn establishes where your seating should be placed. Then, you can establish front left / center / main placement based on the 45 degree angle, and should be ideally at ear height too (impossible for the center, which is typically placed above or below the screen and tilted to strike the sweet spot where you'll be sitting). Then you can place your surrounds, which should be in line with your seating, and ideally be at ear height.

    Most folks place a subwoofer in the corner even if this is a great distance from the TV. You get higher output from the subwoofer from corner placement, and if you stick it under or next to your couch you might need to increase the bass level to compensate for this loss of output. If it is a powered sub (and many theater-in-a-box systems are) then this may further limit placement because the subwoofer may also be connected directly to all your speakers.

    The last bit of advice I'd give is do some serious demo'ing of all kinds of audio and video equipment, and shoot on the higher end of your budget window. The one mistake I see many people make is that they spend conservatively, get slightly obsessed with the whole Home Theater thing and decide that they should have gotten the SuperToy 2000 instead of the SuperToy 1000 and trade up at a higher loss then what they would have had if they bought the 2000 in the first place [​IMG]

    Or, at least, that's how I like to rationalize my spending habits anyway [​IMG]

    Sean.
     
  8. Richard_Long

    Richard_Long Member

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    I can see that I have a lot more to consider when choosing my components than I thought. I see your point about choosing my television and screen size first. I guess that for the next few days I will look more extensively into the different types of televisions. Thanks for all you advice and suggestions. It has really helped.

    Also if you could, do you have any more suggestions on television that I should look into? Both direct view and projection. Again thanks for all your help.

    Richard
     
  9. sean_pecor

    sean_pecor Well-Known Member

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  10. Michael Mathius

    Michael Mathius Well-Known Member

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  11. JakeMcM

    JakeMcM Well-Known Member

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    if you can control the light I would go w/a front projector, there easier than you might think, and unless you get a crt projector you don't have to worry about burn in w/the video games. For about 2,000 I got a panasonic L300 projector projecting onto a 96" diagonal screen. I made my screen myself w/no real experience. I just screwed together 4 2x2's stretched $35 worth of screen material over it and mounted it to my wall with L brackets from Lowes. You should check out pictures of peoples setups in on this site. It should give you some good ideas. But yeah for about the same price as an rptv I have one thats twice the size diagonally then the one I was going to get, and its not a 250lb beast. My room seems bigger with out a tv in there.
     
  12. ScottRCapt

    ScottRCapt Well-Known Member

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    Me thinks the man from Waco has stumbled into a den of projectionists!

    Richard,

    Don't let anyone here sway your decision about what TV to buy. You are the one who will own and watch it! If the room you are setting up this HT in is absolutely dark 100% of the time when you want to watch your TV, then by all means, go ahead and buy and set up a projection system. But remember, when you go to the movie theater, there is a reason why all the cloth on the walls is dark, and the double doors close at show-time. Ambient light is the enemy of any projection system.

    That said... I think you were doing OK in the first place, a Sony 36" Wega is a damn fine T.V. screen. When plasma prices come down, and they are, we all can get what we want, a BIG SCREEN and Hi Contrast and Unbelievable Resolution. Right now that just is not in your budget.

    Shop E-bay for a Good Surround Sound receiver, make sure you pay for it with a credit card that gives you buyer protection... Look hard At Sony ES series, and or Denon if you can afford it.

    Then maybe buy a pair of used Definitive BP30B's to fill that big room of yours with incredible sound you will not believe!

    If you are moving soon, and you have no idea what new home you will own... I simply see no reason to set up a rear projection TV. That's My 2 cents...anyway

    Have Fun, Buy Good Quality!
     
  13. Richard_Long

    Richard_Long Member

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    Thnaks for all the great advice guys. I think I have narrowed down my choice of television to either a direct-view or smaller RPTV. I don't believe that I watch enough television or movies to justify setting up a front projection system. I am currently leaning towards a smaller (32" - 36") direct-view television since most of the time the only people that will be watching the television will be me and my wife and I don't believe that a 53" projection television will be necassary.

    I can see now that I have a lot more to think about when choosing my display device. Is widescreen really better? Can anyone suggest any reputable widescreen televisions other than the Sony XBR's that I already know about?

    Again thanks for all the help guys. You have opened a world to me that I was scarcely aware existed and anymore advice you could give would be great.

    Richard
     

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