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Building the Ultimate Theater


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#1 of 28 Clint Walker

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Posted November 12 2003 - 07:17 AM

Hello HTF Members and loyal DVD ETC. & HDTV ETC. Magazine readers. It is with great pleasure that I announce to you that after nearly two years in the privately-owned publishing business--yours truly is finally going to build his "Dream Theater." Actually, I plan to build two theaters in my new Montana home. One theater will be my "ultimate theater" and the other more of a "TV/Gaming" room.

So I'm going to flip the tables here a bit and ask you all for some help in putting these systems together. Remember, I am a "price versus performance" type so I'm looking for some real-world suggestions here.

The main theater measures approximately 20 x 15 of usable floor space. And the "TV room" is approximately 12 x 12.

I'm guessing a 100 to 110-inch screen in the main theater.

So please send me your suggestions on everything from screen size and type, speakers, subs, display devices, seating choices, cables, amplification and processing--the works. Be sure to qualify your suggestions with your experiences or other reasoning.

Depending on how many replies I get here, I may go ahead and print this thread as a feature in the magazine. I fully intend to assemble these theaters using your suggestions as a platform.

Thank you for your help...

-Clint
Clint Walker, Editor
DVD ETC. Magazine

#2 of 28 Parker Clack

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Posted November 13 2003 - 01:30 AM

Clint:

I personally believe that you cannot go wrong with getting (and these are my personal opinions) any of the following.

1) An SV Subwoofer. Especially the new PB2-ISD or the PB2+. They are the best bang for the buck subs out there.

2) The Sanyo PLV 70, Infocus 7200, Samsung SP-H700A or Optoma H76 front projectors. These have some of the brightest pictures with great contrast and again great value for the money. Besides there are some great deals on these going on right now.

3) Stewart Studiotek 130 or Firehawk with a 100 inch diagonal screen.

4) An Outlaw Audio 950 Preamp 770 poweramp combo or 7 model 200 monoblocks. When it comes to preamps and amps the Outlaw's offer the best bang for the buck out there.

These are my recommendations and I know that others will follow with other great examples. IMHO I believe that the above give the best performance for price out there.

Parker

"I tried to get my medical records from the company but they say they

are confidential and can only be released to other insurance companies,

pharmaceutical​ reps, suppliers of medical equipment and for some

reason the RNC."
 


#3 of 28 Tim Hoover

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Posted November 13 2003 - 07:03 AM

Clint, for your "ultimate theater" I'd say the SVS B4+ is almost a must-have. Ferocious output, super-deep frequency response, and all that Posted Image

As far as power amps, although I respect Outlaw on the whole, there are of course other companies building fantastic amps at reasonable prices. Parasound, ATI, and even some Marantz offerings spring to mind.

I would be interested to see a printed report in your magazine about many of the quality internet-only offerings which don't get much press. I would think that your new theater rooms would give you ample opportunity to try these products yourself.
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#4 of 28 David Tolsky

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Posted November 13 2003 - 03:24 PM

Clint, whatever front projector you end up with (I have the Marantz VP12-S2 and it is awesome) try to get one with a DVI input. I know the Infocus has one as well as the Marantz or Sharp DLP pj's. Then get a DVI-based DVD player like the Bravo D1 or Samsung and combine it with a Stewart Firehawk screen and marvel at your picture!

#5 of 28 Robert Franklin

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Posted November 13 2003 - 04:00 PM

Clint, I believe that Definitive Technology speakers are the way to go for your audio side of the Ultimate Theater. I would suggest the BP-2000 TL's, CLR 3000 Center, and BP-VXP powered Surrounds. With the 2000 TL's it comes with a built-in sub in each cabinet. If you want to add an additional sub, I would recommend a Super Cube I or II to complement and even out the low frequencies. I personally have the Definitive PF 1500. It has a 250 amp, and I put in a DTS Demo CD, and the frequncy sine wave went all the way down to 10, it shook the house with no effort!! So can you imagine what a sub with a 500 W amp would do?

On the video side, I would agree with David. I just saw the Marantz projector that he has at a local authorized dealer, and I was amazed. I have to say that I would get the SharpVision, it has almost the same specs as the Marantz, for a cheaper price. Like Parker, I just recently downloaded a spec sheet for the Sanyo PLV 70 projector. Looks good, but I think that I would personally get a DLP projector. As far as screens go, I am not the expert, but I have been looking at the Firehawk and Greyhawk, even though I haven't bought a decent screen for my projector just yet.

As far as surround processing and amplification, there are too many to say the least. I think that I would ultimatelty need to know how much you are planning to spend. But, my recommendations would be the Denon AVR-5803 or the Pioneer Elite 49TXi. But, I know that Pioneer is coming out with something to replace the 49TXi. I believe that it will be called the Pioneer Elite 59TXi.

When its all complete, please post some pictures so that we can see what you have accomplished.

I hope it turns out well. No, I hope it turns out great!!

RF

#6 of 28 Clint Walker

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Posted November 13 2003 - 04:26 PM

Posted Image There are some excellent suggestions here so far. But I don't see any seating suggestions(?). Also, I have a DefTech SuperCube Reference subwoofer now (but then you know that from reading the magazine Posted Image ) I was thinking of using that along with my Velodyne HGS-18 THX Ultra II subwoofer--remember, the house is in Montana so I don't have to worry about neighbors--or reports of bombs for that matter.

I like the idea of a DLP projector. I've got 3-chip on my wish list, but they are pricey. I've heard great things about the Marantz. I also just finished a review of a Vidikron Vision Model 40 and it was excellent for $10k. DVI is essential--future compatibility. I'm also thinking nothing bigger than a 100-inch screen for the main theater.

Any suggestions on panel displays for the "TV room" and don't forget speakers and the works.

I intend to put these systems together and do the full photo-tour when it's all said and done. I'm also thinking of securing an EchoStar 921 HD PRV/Receiver.

Keep them coming!
Clint Walker, Editor
DVD ETC. Magazine

#7 of 28 Herb Kane

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Posted November 15 2003 - 02:47 PM

Quote:
But I don't see any seating suggestions(?).


Hi Clint... I'm not a fan of "theater seating" per se. Oftentimes, we're watching 3-4 hour movies and there's something to be said for being able to stretch out, or cuddle the kids during a Disney flick (or the wife, for that matter). Sure, you lose part of the "theater feel", but the tradeoff is comfort... just my opinion.

I completed my new HT late last year and went with 3 tiered rows of sofas (3 leather sofas). Go to my profile (or the little HT icon above) and follow the link - click on "members systems", I am system #57.

Good luck.


Herb.
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#8 of 28 Clint Walker

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Posted November 15 2003 - 03:18 PM

Hmmm? While I agree that dropping in a couple of sofas can be more economical, I have to strongly disagree that it is more comfortable.

In fact, the new theater chairs from various lines I've has hands-on experiences with (well, butt-on) are much more comfortable than sitting sideways on a couch. Likewise, there are several "love seat" styles that allow you to sit closer to the family.

Throw in the cup holders and I don't know what gets better.

-C
Clint Walker, Editor
DVD ETC. Magazine

#9 of 28 Herb Kane

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Posted November 16 2003 - 01:09 AM

Ahhhh cupholders... Posted Image

Good luck.


Herb.
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#10 of 28 gregstaten

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Posted November 16 2003 - 01:57 AM

A few thoughts:

I agree that you have to check out an SVS sub. I have a 16-42 in my theater and it is phenomenal.

Speaker-wise, I'd strongly suggest looking at Triad speakers. They make both free standing and in-wall speakers (including in-wall dipoles) and they sound fantastic. I used their freestanding Gold L/C/Rs for my front mains (all mounted behind a microperf screen) and their Silver In-Wall dipoles for the four surrounds. They match perfectly, are invisible to the eye and sound fantastic. They are also quite inexpensive and deliver a magnificent bang for the buck.

I really feel that in-wall surrounds are the way to go because they don't detract from the look of the room. Afterall, the surrounds need to be heard, they don't need to be seen.

I'd also recommend going with a microperf screen and putting your center channel (at minimum) centered horizonally and vertically behind the screen. It really does make a difference when you hear the dialog coming from the middle of the screen rather than from above or below the screen. With a 100-110 foot screen the center location difference will definitely be noticable. I went with a Stewart screen, but DaLite makes an excellent microperf as well. You'll pay more for a perforated screen, but the difference is worth it.

Without question, though, the most important thing you can do is acoustically treat your room. This isn't necessarily inexpensive to do, but can be done relatively reasonably. You want to divide your room into lower (below ear at a sitting position) and upper halves. The lower half should be treated so that it is primarily absorptive. This is easily accomplished using an acoustic insulation such those made my Johns Manville. The upper half should be more reflective and a good way to do that is to use cotton batting. (The rear wall behind the screen should be also treated with sound absorbing insulation.)

Cover all the acoustic treatment with a acoustically transparent cloth. Guilford of Maine makes a wide line of textures and patterns.

-greg

#11 of 28 RAF

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Posted November 16 2003 - 04:38 AM

I'm partial to the Stewart StudioTek 130 screen because of its adaptability to almost any FP technology. I started with an LCD (one of the first SONY VW10HT's) and moved on to a Runco CL-710 DLP FP. The screen works great with both (and you will eventually change your FP no matter what to intend to do.) I always intended to change my FP but hope to make my screen investment a very long one.

Also, on the seating, I'm a believer in both comfortable and theatrical seating for the full HT experience. I went with some LaZboys for the front and some genuine Radio City Music Hall seats for the second row (and a bit of theatrical nostalgia and "wow" factor.) Check my website for a link to see if there are any of these classic seats left for sale.

Also, on the seating, while I went with some traditional recliners, LaZboy has added a line of modular theatrical seats that look as though they can be configured in a number of ways to satisfy just about any room and seating requirements. I believe you can see their HT line here. If I was starting from scratch today I probably would have chosen this new line rather than the ones I did (although I'm happy with my current seating.)

And on the question of HT speakers, you must at least consider M&K speakers on your short list. To me, they produce some of the finest theatrical sound out there for the HT buff. Of course, speakers are the most subjective area that you will encounter so your mileage may vary.

I beta tested the Outlaw 950 pre/pro and still use Outlaw amplification. I agree with Parker that the 950 is a great bang-for-the-buck unit. But also add Lexicon pre/pros to your component consideration list if your are considering a "dream" theater (without getting into the supermegabuck range). I recently upgraded to their MC-8.

Feel free to look through my rather extensive HT website for other ideas, etc. And ask any questions you want.
RAF
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#12 of 28 Parker Clack

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Posted November 16 2003 - 07:42 AM

Clint:

Since you already have the Def Tech line in your subwoofer I would highly recommend their line of speakers. I have some of the their first speakers in the BP 20s, CLR 1000 and BP2s (which I have recently changed to the BPX models). I personally believe their BP 30s make for a great front speaker and I know of several members that use them for their surrounds. The CLR 3000 is one fine center channel too.

Parker

"I tried to get my medical records from the company but they say they

are confidential and can only be released to other insurance companies,

pharmaceutical​ reps, suppliers of medical equipment and for some

reason the RNC."
 


#13 of 28 Clint Walker

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Posted November 16 2003 - 09:09 AM

Hi Parker, I've always had excellent experiences with DefTech--they are consistent over the years--more than I can say for some other companies I've reviewed in the past 7 years.

Are you using Outlaw right now to process & power them?
Clint Walker, Editor
DVD ETC. Magazine

#14 of 28 Parker Clack

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Posted November 16 2003 - 04:56 PM

Yes. I am using the 950 and the 770 combo. I cannot believe the neutrality of this combination. By that I mean that it does not color the sound in any way. And at the same time I can hear nuances in recordings that I very familiar with that I never heard before (even on my vinyl recordings). And to my ear that is not an easy feat to accomplish.

So the combination of the Def Tech line of speakers with the Outlaw Pre/Pro and (in my case an SV Sub) got me the "sound" that I was looking for both in music and soundtracks.

Now I just have to find that same type of satisfaction on the video end. For me I have yet to find it but they are getting closer and for my eyes the Infocus 5700 just about did it. I mean when a guy with a Runco CRT system with a line doubler tells you that the picture from the 5700 on a 10 foot by 20 foot screen looks better it makes you think.

Theater chairs. To me its what feels good to sit on and that like audio and video are personal choices. 10 years ago there were very few choices. Today there are far too many.

The one thing that you haven't mentioned that I feel passionate about is the room itself. I know you mentioned size but I believe that room treatment (live end / dead end with double wall construction) is a must. Also, I have found that have about a 10 to 15 degree pitch to the roof is a must so it is not flat. That little bit of pitch allows the room to "open" up and pull your eye into the picture. Its amazing what this does to a room. I have only seen this done once but the difference was phenomenal.

Again, this is all stuff that I have observed in person over the years. Testing and testing got me to the point that I really didn't care anymore. It took getting away from the tests to be able to "hear" and "see" a difference.

I am really excited to see what our members come up with as suggestions and your final outcome. This is going to be fun.

Parker

"I tried to get my medical records from the company but they say they

are confidential and can only be released to other insurance companies,

pharmaceutical​ reps, suppliers of medical equipment and for some

reason the RNC."
 


#15 of 28 Wes

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Posted November 16 2003 - 06:15 PM

Give us a drawing of your workable room size and we can help design the room for you!

Wes
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www.prosteering.8k.com

#16 of 28 marion.r

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Posted November 17 2003 - 09:20 PM

Clint,

The elements of home theater include the visual and the audio. Seating is a personal preference...as you can see.

For visual from screen backwards:

Studiotek 130...nonPerforated.(110" diagonal) Perf the drop above the screen, but not the screen. This will allow you to put the center channel above or below the screen

Sony g90 (used or new)...most brilliant colors and clarity

Faroudja DVP 5000 or other high quality scaler

Arcam DV 27 or other high quality DVD player
HDTV source dependent on local providers

Lexicon MC12B A/V Processor

Audio, from the speakers backwards:

ATC active (powered) speakers or Genelec active (powered) speakers. Sub should match the speaker set if possible. SVS is well liked in this forum, but may not be the best depending on speaker sets. Active (powered) speakers allow you to do adjustments at the speaker source. The amps in the speakers allow you 20db of additional sound "power" for those dynamic scenes. An explosion is really an explosion...and sound drops back to talking levels instantly.

Balanced Cables...good quality, but NOT boutique

Lexicon MC12B A/V Processor

marion.r

#17 of 28 RAF

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Posted November 19 2003 - 07:51 AM

All very nice recommendations. As you can see, Clint, selecting components for a Home Theater can be as elusive as selecting the right car. Lots of ways to go. And very often, the most expensive solution might not be the best solution.

Case in point: If your display is capable of DVI input there's a $199 DVD player out there (Vinc.'s Bravo D1) that outputs DVI directly, producing a picture that rivals the megabucks players.

Like I said, lots of ways to go here. Good luck in your continuing quest for HT nirvana.
RAF
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#18 of 28 Clint Walker

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Posted November 19 2003 - 08:02 AM

I enjoy all of these suggestions. However, I must shoot down the Sony G90 idea. A close friend of mine has one--I spend about 3 nights a week at his theater--he is agravated to no end with convergence issues. We have literally tried everything and it drifts daily--the last thing I need is a $30k headache. Likewise, we have put single chip DLP projectors next to his and weighing the price and maintenance issues--the DLP projectors are my choice hands-down.

Being the Editor of two great magazines allows me the luxury of "playing" with these components in my home before making the leap. I have first-hand experience with the Bravo and I was very impressed--less impressed with the Samsung w/DVI output.

I'll be back in Whitefish at the house in just two weeks--I'll put up some measurements then. Keep the suggestions coming!
Clint Walker, Editor
DVD ETC. Magazine

#19 of 28 marion.r

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Posted November 19 2003 - 08:42 AM

Clint,

I can understand your aversion to the Sony g90 if this is your experience.

My experiences are vastly different. I had my g90 converged by an ISF guy who is excellent (Roger from Florida). He flies around the country and has probably worked on more g90's than anyone. If you would like, I could give you his name and phone number so your friend could at least fix his problem.

I have had NO difficulties and NO drifting.

I have seen DLP's and have found them to pale in comparison. Although they are bright, their black levels seem very pale and the detail is substantially reduced.


My backup to the g90 is a 50" Toshiba plasma. I can safely say the g90 at 110" is far superior to the plasma. I use the plasma for news, routine tv, etc. For movies, the g90 with the Faroudja scaler is by far the best picture in a home theater setting I have ever seen. Some of the Pixar movies seem to be in three dimentions.

My recommendation about not perf-ing the screen comes from Tom Stewart himself. If you must use a perfed screen because there is no alternative, then do so. I owned a perfed screen and switched to a non-perf because the perforations were clearly visable on text. If text was scrolling, I would see a screen door effect caused by the perforations. I went to the non-perfed StudioTek 130, and this effect disappeared.

There are certainly some elements of the g90 that are NOT for the faint of heart, and convergence is one of them.

Incidentally, new g90's can be found for a lot less than 30k...more like 18k.

If you like DLP, you should not hessitate to use it.

I just don't like the g90 getting a bad rap because of anecdotal information based on one unit experience. Perhaps others that use the g90 could share their experiences.

marion.r

#20 of 28 Shane Martin

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Posted November 19 2003 - 08:49 AM

For Seating I'd recommend Berkline. Their Home Theater chairs are very comfortable and very affordable as well. They are about $1,000 a chair cheaper than the Lazyboys. Lane also makes a HT chair but I didn't care for the chair at all.

PJ Wise: You could go all over the map here. It all depends on cost. Personally you have to decide if you want to deal or can deal with the rainbows that DLP's have or the ones I've seen have. For some they are not obvious, for others they give out headaches. For me I wouldn't want to take a risk that my friends would come over and get headaches so I would rule them out and deal with a LCD setup or if I could afford the dough, the new Sony SXRD setup. With the market the way it is, I'd almost buy the Cheaper HS20 Projector and wait a few years for that market to settle down a bit.

Speaker wise it all depends on what you like as far as sound goes. If you like the in wall idea, then Triads are excellent. If you don't and you want to change from Def Tech(I don't personally like them) then the sky is the limit. Speakers are so personal.

Sub wise: I'd go with a SVS Pb2+ or the b4+ depending on how much room you have. I almos think that a pb2+ would be enough.

Amp/Pre wise: While Outlaw is an option, I don't care for their product that much on the preamp side. I would personally be willing to pay more money for features such as Logic 7 on the Lexicon or the upgradability such as the Anthem has. The Anthem avm20 is probably my favorite of the current processors. They DO listen to their customers wants and as of late have put out a number of software upgrade/feature upgrades. Outlaw amps are good though.

At this point its going to come down to your own personal preferences such as would you pay extra $$ for the functionality that the Anthem/Lexicon over the Outlaw offerings.