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The Metaphysics of HT

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30 replies to this topic

#1 of 31 OFFLINE   Tom Logan

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Posted May 24 2003 - 03:39 AM

Greetings all: I hope this, my first post, won't be too abstract or simply annoying....but here goes... I'm wondering if seasoned HT owners truly achieve something like the immersion effect of watching a movie in a theater. I ask because I'm about to go from a 34-inch Sony and two stand-alone speakers to the Samsung 61" HLN617W DLP and HT sound system (specifics undetermined). While it seems possible--and quite enjoyable!--to focus on the myriad aspects, trivial and important, that go in to perfecting an HT system, the bottom line for me as I evaluate my new system (30-day test drive through Magnolia HiFi) will be this: Does the HT system allow one (me!) that sense of immersion in a film akin to the theatrical experience? Do you find your HT allows a qualitative (quantum?) improvement in your movie-viewing experience over your previous direct-tv, non-HT set-up? Opinions? (And thanks to all who maintain and participate in this forum--it's the Internet at its best!) - Tom

#2 of 31 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted May 24 2003 - 04:46 AM

Well a HDTV gets you much closer to the film-like quality you get from a theater. A lot of the immersive aspects comes from the speaker system and a good subwoofer. You can answer the questions yourself. Keep your old TV and put it in another room/bedroom. After a few months with your new HT system, go to the smaller set and try watching a movie that you own/have watched on DVD on the main system. You may find yourself un-able to finish the movie because you feel it's a waste of time on the older/smaller/non-ht television.

#3 of 31 OFFLINE   David Ruggiero

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Posted May 24 2003 - 10:02 AM

Tom, if you truly love to watch movies then a home theater is the only way to go. I have a 65" wide screen Toshiba tv, and watching movies on that tv is much more enjoyable then watch movies on my old 32" Sony. But not let's not forget sound, which may be even more important for that "Theater Experience" then a wide screen tv. The speakers on most tv's are not good at all, and even a cheap home theater in a box will completely blow them away in how they sound, not to mention you will have surround sound. So if something happens behind the camera on the screen you will hear it behind you coming from the rear speakers. Let me put it this way... before I bought my wide screen tv and theater sound system I owned about 10 dvd's.... now I have about 120 with more on the way! : )

#4 of 31 OFFLINE   Tom Logan

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Posted May 24 2003 - 10:32 AM

Thanks, David & Bob, I realize my question was a tad general, but I do appreciate the answers! And maybe I can entice more answers if I offer this... Imagine a continuum of movie-viewing set-ups. On the high end: the best movie theatre (stadium seating, hugescreen, perfect sound, rapt but empathetic and appropriately QUIET audience members). On the low end of the continuum is a good-size (say 32" direct view) TV in the family room. Where on this continuum would a good 60" HDTV with, say, $1500K in sound, all optimally installed, configured, and calibrated, fit? Closer to the low end, the 32" TV? Closer to the high end, the perfect movie theatre? (And please feel free to tell me I'm framing the question the wrong way!) I realize since I'm awaiting the arrival of my own HT I'm really just managing expectations with these questions, but I'm truly interested in what the more thoughtful cinephiles think about the HT movie-viewing experience vis-a-vis the movie theater. Thanks again... - (ever-questioning) Tom

#5 of 31 OFFLINE   Brian tj

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Posted May 24 2003 - 10:33 AM

HI Tom
One word YES!!!!!!!!!!Posted Image
OK more than one word, I am also new at this my theater is not all don and all ready I fined it hard to go to work in the morning!!Posted Image Like every one ells it all about sight and sound!!Posted Image SUB mager player.Posted Image
I send my web page if you are interested.http://users.nac.net/armor/

Have fun Posted Image
Brian tj

#6 of 31 OFFLINE   Jim Williams

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Posted May 24 2003 - 10:34 AM

For me, watching a movie at home on my own HT system is far better than going to the theater. First of all, my HT is tuned perfectly, second of all, there are no distractions from other people, sticky floors, high prices and uncomfortable seats. My HT looks better and sounds better than any theater that I have been to since I left NYC. Perhaps it is because I am older now or maybe it is some other factor, but I no longer experience the "romance factor" of going to a theater. Besides, if my wife and I decide to "make out" while watching a movie at home, we can now very easily put the movie on hold until after the flames of our passion have cooled.
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#7 of 31 OFFLINE   Frank Zimkas

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Posted May 24 2003 - 03:12 PM

Yes, but only when I'm wearing my Pyramid hat, and rubbing my Moon Stones!Posted Image

#8 of 31 OFFLINE   Jeff Engel

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Posted May 24 2003 - 06:17 PM

I find my HT to be leaps and bounds above any theater in my area. With properly setup gear and the size of screen yoou are talking about I think you will find it to be more immersive than the movie theater. The reason is that there are fewer distractions. At the movies someone coughing or sneezing, answering a cell phone(even if they leave) light from an Emergency exit sign, people chewing with their mouths open all remind me of the fact that I'm not "into" the movie and that I am really in my seat. Without these distractions at home I find myself more in tune with the movie and can appreciate all the nuances that the director put into his work. Small changes in score or odd framing that might have gone unnoticed at the regular movie theater. I would say that with the tv and sound you're talking about you would be a little over half way to the big time. You will be leaps and bounds above the low end, but still missing some key pieces to really push you closer to the theater dream. I'm talking about front projection and separate amps and pre/pros mainly to get you closer to the high end. The setup you're suggesting is what I had(minus HD) when I first started out and the results were awesome. I wanted to be closer to the high end however and have been taking those necessary(and expensive) steps to get there. Trust me, you will like where you are starting from.
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#9 of 31 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted May 24 2003 - 11:33 PM

Is it as satisfying as going to a theater? Absolutly! Posted Image

Can it be better than a theater? Pour enough dough into it and you betcha! Posted Image

With the right A/V equipment, (your off to a GREAT start with that 61"), properly set up and calibrated, in a darkened room with you on the couch with popcorn, their is nothing that matches the experience of watching a movie on your own HT, nothing! Posted Image

I've had many HT over the years and it ust keeps evolving, from first hooking up the family hi-fi VCR to my mom's old floor model stereo back in 89, to Dolby Surround, to Laser Disc and Dolby Pro-Logic (I went through 3 recievers) and finally to progressive scan DVD, Dolby Digital, DTS and a 48" 16X9 HDTV.

I promise you, that once you get it all together and spend just ONE DAY with it previewing movies, you will never watch another film on that other TV again. And also maybe, just MAYBE, you won't go to the theater as much either. Since I discovered my system often looks and sounds better than any theater in my area, I never go to the theater's except to see a film that I REALLY want to see.
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#10 of 31 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted May 25 2003 - 01:36 AM

The equipment as you describe it is way closer to the theater experience than the 32" unit. You forgot 2 important things that make your HT experience 'better' than going to the theater: - You had the fun/anticipation of picking out the equipment - You (will) learn a lot about HT & movies doing the setup/calibration These two things 'flavor' the experience. If you look at older posts, you will find LOTS of guys who setup their first HT system with a 32" TV, Dolby Digital sound system, couches placed on risers to create 'rows', sheets hanging over windows to control light, etc. It's budget, low-end, home-made. Yet, the guys are so proud of their HT, they post pictures, learn to calibrate/equalizer, debate nuance issues about movies/sound with owners of more expensive systems. Like so many other things, it's the journey that's important, not just the destination.

#11 of 31 OFFLINE   Tom Logan

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Posted May 25 2003 - 04:34 AM

First, you guys are GREAT: thoughtful, funny, and generous for sharing your experiences--thanks! Bob, I'd never thought about the journey toward an optimum system being part of the pleasure. Very interesting...even metaphysical! I've had the experience of friends and family getting cranked up over their new systems (I've known a few early adopters) and the myriad techie challenges they surmounted, but when I'd experience their actual systems, i.e., watch movies with them, I'd notice (keeping such observations to myself, of course!) how far short these systems were compared to the theatre experience. Thus I've always thought my bottom line would be performance, but I have indeed observed what you describe: these friends and family members really get into the journey as well. It remains to be seen if I do. Right now I'm just worried that my Samsung 61" DLP will have rainbows sans gold, withering ditherings, or priceless artifacts made of clay faces. (And Jeff: Lloyd Dobler is my hero! When I grow up, I want to be just like him....) Thanks again. I'll keep posting as the actual HT comes to fruition. A final question: is there anywhere an online glossary of HT terms, abbreviations and acronyms? I can infer but am not sure of the difference between artifacts, twinkling, banding, dithering, etc...any help would be appreciated! - Tom

#12 of 31 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted May 25 2003 - 01:03 PM

i think i may be in dissention here.

while i feel having a home ht is a great experience and something i would not trade for anything, i don't feel it comes that close to the movie going experience ... except maybe those ultra hi-end setups we see in magazines.

nothing beats watching a movie on a big screen with a "good crowd". of course, i exclude the babbling teenagers or crying baby from that equation. Posted Image

a perfect example is the film i just saw (the matrix reloaded) - there is just no way i could have experienced the same sensory overload on a "smallish" (yes, even a 65" qualifies) screen. it was loud and visually stimulating - my entire peripheral view was taken by the screen. that is something most people just can't get from their home ht.

believe me, i'm not dissing on any home ht, but i just don't feel they're the same.

#13 of 31 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted May 25 2003 - 07:57 PM


Welcome to the forum.

Of course the experience in a home room is different from the one in a theatre filled with people. Going outside one's house is not exactly the same as staying inside it. Dressing up and being seen is not the same as sitting on one's couch. Things that ARE truly different cannot be deemed the same.
Yes, allright.

As simple as that is, it depends mainly on one's taste. How important is it to you to be in a crowd - and at the same time make your joy partly (or perhaps even mainly) dependent on them and how they behave. And this distinction works both ways: certain aspects may be felt much better for you in one situation - but that situation may very well be your HT.
No-one can answer that question for someone else.

That all said, your hypothetical home system is much and much closer to your ideal cinema system than you might think. First of all, although the size of your homescreen may seem far apart from the size of the theatre screens, don't forget you sit so much closer to it (it's the viewing angle that counts here). Also, your very position may be way better - and more constant.
Secondly, the sound in your HT can be tweeked by you, the listener, to sound at least the same (in your smaller room) as in the cinema, and frankly: often better.

And I think, when you speak of "being immersed" - that may be possible in a theatre (and also, there are movies that more or less can "win" by reactions of the public). But generally in my experience, that special feeling now and then, that you wake up from another world and place when the end-credits start, and feel you're returning to your world and place - and continue to think about it, almost reliving part of it, during some next days - for me it only happens that intensely and frequently at my home.
And it started long ago, when my system was much more modest than the current setup. And it increased immensely when the first, still modest, HT-version of my system (29" screen, Pro-Logic sound, active sub) arrived.

What I'm trying to say in answer to your question, is: "yes!".
Posted Image


#14 of 31 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted May 26 2003 - 02:29 AM

Yes! And it's also possible to be "immersed" in the home-theater experience even with a smallish screen. It is, after all, the film that counts, and being drawn into it. Home theater is a state of mind as much as an issue of one's physical surroundings.

#15 of 31 OFFLINE   Greg*go


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Posted May 26 2003 - 04:02 AM

Yes, the sound alone makes it an awesome experience. I've been working on my sound system for a couple years with a college kids budget, and even though I still have a small 10 year old 27'' tv, I'd much rather watch a movie at my house then at a friends who has a flat screen 27'' or even a 36''. I watched Darkness Falls at my girlfriend's house this past weekend and I couldn't help but think "I wonder how this would sound at my place" as people were getting attacked all over the place. Now my buddy with the 46'' with a nice sound set up, that's a different story.
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#16 of 31 OFFLINE   Tom Logan

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Posted May 26 2003 - 04:10 AM

Hi again, guys: Your replies are truly helping me refine my expectations about my imminent HT. I think what's emerging for me is that HT will be a different experience from theater-going, and now I'm looking forward to the HT experience even more. A specific question: In his most excellent post, Cees mentions that it's the angle of viewing that counts. I can see that how much the image fills your field of vision obviously matters, but I should think that the size (i.e., the depth/distance) of the image your brain perceives matters also. That is, unless you're using just one eye and don't have depth perception, your brain knows whether that movie image of a face, boat, mothership, etc., is 40 feet wide or 4 feet wide. I should think this apprehension of scale has some effect on one's immersive (new word!) experience. Any thoughts on this? At the risk of sounding repetitious, thanks again for your replies. - Tom

#17 of 31 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted May 26 2003 - 07:14 AM


You're right, and I probably should have said there ".... it's the angle of viewing that counts most in this respect." I certainly wouldn't suggest anyone to sit one foot in front of a 15" screen and think it's the same experience. Posted Image

Given the dimensions of our eyes and their mutual distance, the distance to screen in itself begins to become less important if at least greater than, say, 6-8 feet. But I'm sure you got my drift.


#18 of 31 OFFLINE   Tom Logan

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Posted May 26 2003 - 07:21 AM

Hi Cees,

Both your smart messages definitely clarified the issue of distance/viewing angle. Posted Image

And I'm glad to know that beyond 6-8 feet screen distance diminishes in effect; my own HT screen will be 10-12 feet from viewers.

Thanks again!

- Tom

#19 of 31 OFFLINE   Darren Mortensen

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Posted May 26 2003 - 05:16 PM

Tom, One man's idea of a HT is rarely the same as another man's idea. I have worked long and hard on my HT, yet I rarely talk about it outside these forums. Why? Because most people cannot comprehend the idea of room simply dedicated to a home cinema. HT has been thrown at the general public as a quick, affordable novelty that you can charge on your Best Buy Credit Card with no payments until 2004. I find it difficult to explain the electronics, sound fields, video projection and all the many facets of a true HT, in order to attain the "immersion" of a full scale multiplex. Last week I broke a record for attending the local cineplex twice in one week. This was to watch MATRIX:RELOAD once by myself and again with my 19 year old son. My cinema simply BLOWS the cineplex experience away! My picture on my 159" screen is far superior, and my most humble audio system puts their system to shame. Unless the movie I am watching is a "dud", I am always totally immersed in the movie experience at home...much more than I could ever be in a public theater.

#20 of 31 OFFLINE   Tom Logan

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Posted May 26 2003 - 07:37 PM

Ok... I think this Forum generally and you experts in particular just helped me make a really important decision. I'm about to make a big shift here in the plans (and probably a shift in the thread topic, too--sorry!), thanks to all your input but especially to Darren's thoughtful post and excellent site displaing his incomparable Cyberdyne Theatre... The Former Plan: buy the Samsung 61" DLP RPTV and put it in the family room niche (downstairs). The New Plan: get an FP and screen instead and begin to turn the unused upstairs bonus room (20' x 17' with 9' ceiling) into the HT I really truly want. This bonus room is upstairs in a far corner of the house, over the garage, with ambient light that I'm pretty sure I can reduce to virtual if not 100% pitch black. Seeing has how I was dropping $5300 (to start, sans audio) on the Former Plan already (included the Sammy HD931 DVD), I should think that that amount will get me going pretty well on an FP system. Welcome to a brand new learning curve! And just to bring this 'round to my original thread post, I should think this FP system in the dedicated room would have a better shot at achieving the immersion that is my HT goal. Opinions on this change in plans? I'm all set to call Magnolia HiFi in the morning and cancel the DLP (with the consolation to my salesguy that I'll soon be picking FP stuff). Am I doing the right thing?

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