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HELP... I'm moving into an APARTMENT and need advice on a HT setup!!

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13 replies to this topic

#1 of 14 OFFLINE   MarcoBiscotti



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Posted September 02 2004 - 06:04 AM

I'll be moving into a one and a half apartment unit in January and am totally lost as to what I can do as far as a HT setup is concerned!

I would really appreciate some advice from the experts here... I'll be purchasing all-new hardware/software and would like some suggestions, everything from T.V. and audio, speakers, subs, etc.

I don't even know where to start, but can't really get into the technicalities yet because I'm not sure on the exact size of the available space I'll be working with.

I'd like to know if anyone thinks this can actually work in a somewhat constricting apt. space? I really want to go all out with the best (for my convenience) high-end resources, but I really know nothing about any of this!

Can you guys start off by running down a quick list of basic hardware that I'll need to focus on?

Also, would it be at all possible to work with a projection unit or am I pushing it now, again I won't have much space considering it will be the livingroom of my one and a half...

If it's a possibility, please inform me as to how I'd go about getting started and if not, can you guys reccommend quality HDTV widescreen monitors that I should look at?

I'm not sure what else to inquire about... HELP ME GET STARTED!!!

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I want to at least have an idea and price range for the type of equipment that I'll be looking into... I don't know what to focus on first, I guess the monitor / screen, etc?

I'd really appreciate you guys taking the time to school me, I'm so excited about this move and it will be my first "real" home theatre setup!

#2 of 14 OFFLINE   SethH



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Posted September 02 2004 - 09:01 AM

Well, what you should focus your budget on, and how much that budget is, is completely up to you. What is more important to you, audio or video? I would think projection would be an option in most apartments, but you probably would not be permitted to mount the projector to the ceiling. I would advise against getting a sub at this time. Invest in some nice speakers that will dig down to <50Hz and you won't be too disappointed. But out of respect for your neighbors (and not wanting to be cited for a noise violation), you should hold off on a sub until you move again.

You asked for basic hardware needs, so here's a quick list:
Display (TV, projector, etc)
DVD Player (Universal player if you want Hi-Res audio)
A/V Receiver
5 speakers
1 sub (optional, and not recommended by me as noted above)
Speaker wires
Audio interconnects

You'll have to present us with a budget and your priorities (audio v. video) to get more specific recommendations as to brand or models of equipment.
Video interconnects
A calibration DVD (Avia, Video Essentials, etc)
RadioShack SPL meter

#3 of 14 OFFLINE   MarcoBiscotti



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Posted September 03 2004 - 12:48 AM

Thank you so much Seth!

As far as a budget goes, I'd be looking at about 10k give or take...

You don't think overhead projection would work? Just because of the building code/rules or for techincal reasons because I'm sure I'd have no problem with my landlord. Many of the units are privately owned condos and I'll be doing a lot of significant renovating as it is so I don't think the building should pose any inconveniences in that regard...

Eitherway, I'm not really that educated on the pros and cons of various displays. I presume and have been told that projectors offer significantly better visual quality than your average or even high-end widescreen HDTV...

Is there any benefits or setbacks to having a ceiling mounted projection and how would I otherwise work it out... the livingroom will not leave much free space for creativity.

Also, would you mind explaining how overhead projection works? Do you have to run wiring through the ceiling and how does it connect to the DVD player?

Anyways, this is the first issue I'd like to take up... various display options and what would work given the space provided (which while I don't have specific measurements to offer, will not be that generous).

DVD player... right now I have a multi-region JVC XV-SA602SL. I'm quite satisfied with it, though I will eventually be looking into a higher-end unit strictly for viewing my R1 encoded discs and keeping the JVC as a backup for my R3 and R2 PAL library.

I don't want to get ahead of myself just yet, but would it eventually be possible to connect 2 seperate players to an overhead projection without causing a hassle each time I wanted to switch between either unit?

Eitherway, that's probably the last thing to focus on right now because I don't plan on purchasing a second unit until after the move but I just want to know if that would be something to explore down the road..

Okay now, you asked me whether audio or video was most important. To be perfectly honest, I'd like to find a healthy balance.

Audio is certainly a factor I would delve deeper into without the structural restrictions I'm facing as well as the issue of neighbors... for exapmle, I'm sure when you guys begin construction on a home theatre (as opposed to an apartment theatre, heh) you would optimize by building specific wall foundations with proper insulation etc. to maximize the depth and range of sound, etc. I obviously can't manipulate the structure of the room which means that I would already be facing difficulties in this department.

It is still very important to me however, and I would like to obtain the best and richest possible surround sound I can given circumstances.

Visuals are extremely important also though. My JVC I have right now is a progressive scan and I have not yet been able to reap the benefits of it so I'm looking forward to experiencing what it has to offer, though I have to admit I'm really not up to par on all these technical features, etc. While I try to avoid them, I do have a small number of non-anamorphic titles in my collectiona nd when I've zoomed into the picture on certain DVD's in the past, I've noticed that the quality was really frightening (pixelated and blurry) and was concerned how this would appear on a larger display.

I would really like to get maximum video quality and it should be a main focus, but as I said, I'd like to find some sort of medium where neither option would be compromised.

As for the sub... I would really like to invest regardless and see how that works out because I've lived with my father in an apartment up the street for 3 years, and many of the tennants are much older and not to be disrespectful... but many are half-deaf themselves! I've kept my computer sub turned up full power over the years and played my music at full volume without a single complaint so while I will still obviously be mindful of my neighbors, I'm going to see how it works out and in worst case scenario, I either won't keep in turned up or turn it off altogether.

Anyways, I REALLY appreciate your help Seth!

Please keep the advice and suggestions coming, I can't wait to get started on all of this!!!

Posted Image

#4 of 14 OFFLINE   MarcoBiscotti



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Posted September 03 2004 - 02:26 AM

Forgot to mention that I'll be looking to have everything wall-mounted and built-in rather than floor speakers, etc.

To give you an idea, I plan on putting in a wall to wall built-in with shelves that will look something like this, (at least in terms of basic concept), lol...

Posted Image

So I will have this giant built in (which will cost me more than most of the hardware itself!) with detailed moldings and shelf space surrounding for my extensive DVD library with a free wall space centered for the screen which I'm not sure yet if I'll use the existing wall backing or have an extended flat out mounting area so that it doesn't appear too recessed.

With such a design, is there any benefit to having your projection screen either set back or forward extended from the surrounding wall as opposed to at level?

Posted Image

I would like to have my speakers built-in and wall mounted as well surrounding the perimeter of the room and there will be a cabinet space for my player and equipment, etc in the built-in unit will closing doors too. This way I can maximize the space of the room without having hardware placed sloppily on the floor or in free-standing shelves because I think that would look horrible in a semi-constricted area. I would also be able to situate and organize my seating and couches around the room but still in keeping with a minimalist appearance.

Since the apartment is a one and a half, I'll try to give the impression of more space with light cream colored wall-to-wall carpeting and a sort of modern art-deco san fransisco studio loft design.

Okay, sorry for getting carried away but it's my first "real" apartment outside of the cheap college roommate schtick, that I'll actually be putting money and time into renovating and making an actual home!

Now back to tech talk... what's next guys?

#5 of 14 OFFLINE   MarcoBiscotti



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Posted September 03 2004 - 03:05 AM

Btw, can anyone give me an idea of 16x9 projection screens to look at with full electric masking systems?

I notice on various websites that the surface options between "Audio Vision", "Cinema Vision", "Da-Mat", "Dual Vision", "High Contrast Audio Vision", "High Contrast Cinema Vision", "High Contrast Da-Mat", etc. are offered...

I have absolutely NO idea what ANY of this means!

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Also, would anyone mind explaining the pros and cons to front versus overhead projection as I'm still not 100% sure. Where would one generally situate a front projector in a semi-constricted area? I don't want to have it sitting on a table in the middle of the livingroom...

#6 of 14 OFFLINE   SethH



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Posted September 03 2004 - 05:07 PM

Hi Marco. First of all, I'd like to clear up the projection issue. An "overhead" projector and font projector are the same thing. Most people mount them on the ceiling so that they don't get moved around. They can also be set on tables or stands.

Here's the first speakers I'd look at if I were you:

http://www.bwspeaker......20FPM Series

They are B&W and are made to hang on the wall. I'm sure there are lots of others out there you should listen to, but this would be a good place to start. Take a look at SVS for subwoofers (you'll never think of your little computer sub the same!!!).

About the screen . . . I'm not sure about a brand, but I would personally just mount it flush against the wall, but there is probably no problem with recessing it if you'd like.

If you picked up those B&W's with an SVS, a 16x9 screen and an LCD or DLP projector for about $2500, you'd have a pretty sweet setup for just under $10k (the speakers retail for about $900/each and the SVS could range from $550-$3000 depending on model).

#7 of 14 OFFLINE   MarcoBiscotti



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Posted September 07 2004 - 08:45 AM

Thank you so much Seth!

I'll be looking into all of these suggestions and will be sure to post again with updates, pictures and further inquiries when the time comes nearer to the move.

Btw, I'm doing a Google search now... but what's the difference between an LCD vs DLP projector and is one better suited for different functions?

PS - Any voucher of approval for the B&W Nautilus SC1 speakers? I'm looking over the specs now and would just like to know whether they hold up in sound as good as they look with the sleek wooden design? Would I need to purchase 5 units for proper surround given the capacity of the room and limited wall space placement and would I be able to get full range out of my DTS discs that I haven't yet been able to experience?

#8 of 14 OFFLINE   MarcoBiscotti



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Posted September 07 2004 - 09:33 AM

Btw, as you already know I'm not well-informed on the technical side of my h.t./film enthusiasm so please excuse my lack of knowledge for what might seem like obvious questions to most of you... but should I also be looking at amps and/or stereo recievers as well or are they irrelevant for my needs?

#9 of 14 OFFLINE   seth_petry_john



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Posted September 07 2004 - 01:14 PM

I'm not exactly sure what a "one and a half unit" apartment is... I'm assuming its larger than a one unit apartment?

In any case, over the past 5 years I've built up my HT while living in apartments, so I know some of the things you're up against. [Side note: I'm actually buying my first house in 2 weeks, so I also know how exciting it can be to plan a theater out!]

First things first: as you have already alluded to, apartments rarely have a stand alone theater room. Usually, the living room does double duty as the theater and as a living space, and this affects some of the choices you'll need to make. Throwing usability to the wind and focusing strictly on performance may sound like a good idea NOW, but be careful! It really sucks to invest a bunch of money into your setup, only to discover later that it leaves you no NON-theater space to live in!

Secondly, choose your display device with care. The rule is (and someone correct me here if I'm wrong) that you should sit 2.5x the screen height away from the screen. So don't rush out and buy a swet 57" RPTV or kick-butt projector if the final image will be too big for your space. Right now I'm sitting about 7 feet away from my 57" RPTV and it SUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKS. Picture quality really suffers. Pick a display that fits your room and you'll be way happier.

Thirdly, I think its OK to have a sub in an apartment (an 8" should be plenty), but you'll need to be mindful of neighbors. Switch it off if you watch things late at night out of courtesy. DON'T spend a bunch of money here for a super big sub because you won't have the chance to really let it rip, and in a small space you may not need it.

I can second SethH's B&W recommendation. I bought my set about a year ago and have been very pleased.

Good luck!


#10 of 14 OFFLINE   MarcoBiscotti



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Posted September 07 2004 - 11:59 PM

Hey the Seths are reppin full effect in this thread!

Posted Image

Thanks guys!!

Just to give a better idea of what I plan on doing with my living room... I certainly don't intend to sacrifice living space for this exclusive home theatre setup.

I am trying to go the way of a minimalist open space design throughout the apartment so if you've ever seen these studio lofts in san fransisco with light wood floor paneling and one big open living quarter, that's basically the look I'm trying to obtain. Everything open and light colors to impress a more spacious design. I won't be cluttering the room with big furniture and accessories. Everything will be spaced out and have a sort of retro modern art-deco feel to it. This way, I can sort of have the HT blend with the aesthetics of the room so that when you walk in, the projection screen will feel almost like a painting on the wall to complement the style of the room.

As for display device, I was thinking of going with a Stewart Filmscreen Luxus Deluxe, 16x9 Firehawk Screen. I've done research online and read many reviews and comparissons and this seems to be the most fitting for my needs. I assume this screen varies in size so when the time comes (in a month or two) and when I have exact room dimensions, etc. I can decide upon what would be most fitting.

As for the sub issues, I agree with you Seth (the second Seth!) I will be very mindful of my neighbors and will never keep it turned on late at night. The sub would be one of the last priorities in terms of additions to my home theatre and I would likely only purchase it later in the year or perhaps early spring once the rest of my apartment is finished as there will still be plenty of money to spend on other things!

I was thinking of going with the B&W ASW 850 because once I'm spending the money, I'd rather go for the extra dynamic and power rather than upgrading in 4-5 years or whenever I next move.

Anyways, this might be a little over the budget I had laid out but here's what I was looking at for my setup. I'd appreciate your opinions on the following:

DISPLAY: Stewart Filmscreen Luxus Deluxe, 16x9 Firehawk Screen

PROJECTION UNIT: Sharp XV-Z10000U DLP Front Projector

SPEAKERS: Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus SCM1 Speakers, (2-Way Vented Box System) - Cherrywood Finish (x5)

SUBWOOFER: Bowers & Wilkins ASW 850, (Active Closed-Box Subwoofer System) - Cherrywood Finish

Do you think the damage would run more than 15 if I scour the net for bargains?

#11 of 14 OFFLINE   seth_petry_john



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Posted September 08 2004 - 01:08 AM

It sounds like the "apartment" that you're getting, and the "apartments" I've lived in, are quite a bit different. But I live in Ohio, where there is plenty of housing real estate and therefore noone really "buys" apartments. If you can mesh a substantial HT into your living space without clutter, go for it!

I really can't help you with pricing estimates though, as I've never dealt with any of the specific products you've mentioned. Plus, it sounds like your total budget is about twice what I've spent over the years all added together. I'm a little envious Posted Image

Good luck,
the 2nd Seth

#12 of 14 OFFLINE   Jeff_King



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Posted September 09 2004 - 06:15 AM

I also have my home theater set up in an apartment and there are a few things that you should consider when choosing front projector as a display type. While they are great for dedicated theater rooms you may have problems when your theater also doubles as a living space. The main problem is light pollution. If you dont always watch TV or DVDs in the total darkness then your image will suffer. (like watching a movie in the theater with the lights on) So if you watch anything during the day without "blackout" curtains closed you will not the image that you are looking for. Also if you will be living with or having a girlfriend lounging in your apartment and she wants to do something other than watch TV while you are watching TV (at least anything that requires light) you will have problems. As I dont alwas watch TV in total darkeness I had to go with a DLP. Which you should check out as an alternative as they do not take up too much space realtive to their screen size.

You will also need a good A/V reciever to power those speakers, at your budget (and mine) I would stay away from seperates. It does not look like you bugeted for that (figure about 1,000) and you will also need cables (good ones not the ones that they sell at Bestbuy (figure at least another 700 there) You migth also want to look into a line conditioner for surge protection (I think that MonsterPower and Panamax make these). Also if you are going to have an HD ready display you will need a progressive scan DVD player (400-900 for a good one).

Its so hard to stick to a home theater budget will all the stuff that we "need"

#13 of 14 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

Andrew Pratt


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Posted September 09 2004 - 06:29 AM

Marco I sent you an email that might help with some local contacts but you seem to be on the right track from what I can see. Please check out the link I sent you as there's a dedicated B&W forum there that will likely be very helpful to you if you're looking at that line (good choice BTW)

#14 of 14 OFFLINE   MarcoBiscotti



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Posted September 10 2004 - 03:26 AM

Thank you guys SO much, I truly appreciate all of your help!!

Unfotunately, I'm late and have to run out to a physics class (bleh), but I'll respond to the emails and this thread later this evening when I get home.

Thanks again guys, I have a bunch of other questions to ask as well!!!