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Building my first home theater for the first time in a long time!

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by bradyw121, Jan 23, 2018.

  1. bradyw121

    bradyw121 Auditioning

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    Hey guys,

    I've lurked for a long time and have already learned a lot that I thought I knew in terms of building out my actual room. I'm a general contractor so the building part I'm confident in, but I am needing some technical help as it's been a good whole since I've really delved into what's needed.

    My room will be 24' x 16' x 10' high and have all the accoustical treatment and such, but I'm really wanting to go with Dolby Atmos after reading things on here. So my question becomes what is the best way to go about it.

    I'd like to do a 7.1/2.4 system and really want to do it right, however I'd like to do as much in wall as possible minus the front left right center speakers and sub.

    My budget for the whole system is open at this point as I don't want to skimp but don't want the "crazy Lamborghini" type stuff.

    If this were you, what would be your go to's? What should I definitly avoid?

    As a start, here is a preemptive THANK YOU for any help!
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Brady,

    I want to get you the advice you need. I am not a handyman. I built a very generic home theater in my basement. I can't speak for the in-wall wiring work or anything else.

    If you are looking for a place to start hardware wise, my advice would be perhaps Denon's just announced receiver that offers all the Atmos outputs you need. Otherwise, you would have to go with a 7.1 or 9.1 receiver plus an amp for the additional height speakers.

    I am telling you this all out of memory from what advice was given to me.

    I hope you are going 4k. Unfortunately, Atmos is usually only included on 4k discs. That being said, I am a projector owner and if you are doing a projector, you are going to pay out of the you-know-what for a good 4k projector. You could do a Blu-ray projector and down-rez like I am with a 4k player.

    Is there any specifics you want to know about? I can try to help as much as I am able, and make sure others here chime in.
     
  3. Message #3 of 15 Jan 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
    bradyw121

    bradyw121 Auditioning

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    I am definitely looking at some of the true atmos receivers, specifically the Denon 6300H

    Projector wise I'm not sure, is a true 4K projector that crazy? I have considered just going with a 75-85 inch 4K TV instead as the room is 24 feet deep but we don't plan on the seating being towards the back.....that's for the little bar and popcorn machine ;)
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Brady,

    You are going a much cheaper route with a 75-85" 4k display. That's a good thing. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have gone that route. I love projection, but now I am stuck with it and backed into a corner by its costs in upgrading to 4k.

    Stick with your plan to go with a panel instead. I hate to say that, but the realism of costs hit hard when getting the best value for the buck.
     
  5. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Producer
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    Here is a simple rule of thumb regarding Atmos and receivers:
    * A 7.1 or 7.2 receiver can only provide a 5.1.2 configuration (2 height channels)
    * A 9.1 or 9.2 receiver can provide either 5.1.2, 5.1.4, or 7.1.2
    * An 11.2 receiver can provide all of the above, up to 7.1.4
    * The just-announced 13.2 Denon AVR-X8500H can provide up to a 7.1.6 or 9.1.4 configuration. This will set you back about $4k. If that is a bit steep, you can step down to the AVR-X7200WA for $3k, but the specs are a bit confusing in that it claims to be only a 9.2 channel receiver but has 11.1 capability. I would contact Denon directly to have them explain that to you (don't ask a sales person at your local dealer). You might actually be better off stepping down to the AVR-X6400H at $2200, which still gives you 7.1.4 Atmos and DTS:X capabilities.

    All three receivers were recently announced at CES earlier this month, so it may take awhile for them to arrive on your dealer's showroom floor.
     
  6. bradyw121

    bradyw121 Auditioning

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    What about the denon 6300/6400H?
    Onkyo TX-RZ3100?
     
  7. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Producer
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    I'd stick with Denon - they are still a fairly premier brand. Onkyo has had some issues with their HDMI chipsets in the past, and basically replaced the low-end Pioneer line after they acquired Pioneer's home theater business.
     
  8. bradyw121

    bradyw121 Auditioning

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    Got it.

    My current receiver is actually the Denon AVR-X2300W and I have been happy with it, but I've never looked into the higher end options.
     
  9. Message #9 of 15 Jan 25, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
    JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Brady,

    I'd like to encourage you to change your priorities on a couple things. If you want to do an above average HT, then give it a little more priority. For instance, why use in wall surround speakers, which eliminates 98% of your speaker options, when some small wall mounted shelves allow you to select from any bookshelf type speakers? For Atmos speakers, yeah, in ceiling model are probably your best move, since you're a contractor and have more flexibility available.

    As far as receivers, Personally the idea of spending $4K on a receiver is a little absurd. For the same or even less $ you can get a pre/pro (preamp/ processor) and external amps and have a significantly better system. Once you get into a little larger room, power is a great thing to have. Since Marantz (which is the premium line of Denon) just released new preamps, you can get the AV7703 new for $700 off. A couple Emotiva amps (which are my preference) and you'll have a power center that will blow away any receiver in existence, and you'll save money to boot. In the future, if you want to upgrade the processing, you keep the amps and just upgrade the preamp. You can keep using those amps for decades. I can go into more detail about why a receiver can never possibly provide the performance of external amps, if you want. Just ask.
     
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  10. bradyw121

    bradyw121 Auditioning

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    I hear you and tend to agree, honestly I've just never had any experience with anything but receivers. Do you have a go to video/article about using amps and such in lieu of just a reciever

    Also, super open to other speakers, just don't want any on the floor on the sides and the back, but I assume there's some that mount on the wall that would be mostly out of the way, open to suggestions of course!
     
  11. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    There's not much to separates. A preamp-processor looks and functions mostly like a receiver, but instead of having speaker outputs, it has pre outs, which many receivers also have. Each channel that isn't a sub goes to the power amp, then it has speaker outputs. Most of the time they all have 12v switches which you connect together, so that when you turn on the pre, the amp(s) turn on a few seconds later.

    As far as wall mounting speakers, there's no trick to that either. Just use bookshelf speakers that match your front ones and mount small shelves on the wall to set them on.
     
  12. John Dirk

    John Dirk Screenwriter
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    Your room will be pretty large. Congrats!!! I can offer the following advice.

    1) Strongly consider separates. My room is smaller than yours, 21.4 ft long, 10.0 ft wide with 8 ft ceilings, and that's what I ended up going with. Be honest with yourself about the level of performance you are looking for. In my case, I like it loud and immersive. If I have to turn my volume higher than 50% to achieve audio nirvana I tend to get upset. :) I normally listen at about 25 - 30 %, but still... Integrated receivers are nice but they do tend to sacrifice overall muscle for features. If your budget allows, get a good pre/pro and a good amp or amps. See my theater setup below for my recommendations but there are MANY other options, again, depending on your needs and budget.

    2) In-wall is elegant, but.... I did it in my last home but ultimately regretted it as it limited flexibility in speaker placement as new formats emerged and I felt the urge to upgrade. For video runs, perhaps its OK, since HDMI will get you pretty much any level of performance you want and there should be no need to change things for the foreseeable future, assuming you get the latest [18 Gbps] HDMI cables.

    3) Regardless of the cost, go 4K if possible. If you don't you'll likely want to later and that will add to your eventual cost. I started with 720P even though 1080P was available [at steep prices] at the time. Now I have a perfectly capable 720P projector collecting dust with little resale value. My current projector is the venerable Panasonic PTAE8000, a 1080P LCD unit, yet I'm already salivating over 4K and will eventually take the plunge. When I do yet another capable projector will begin collecting dust. The lesson is "buy the best you can afford upfront." I learned it the hard way and at considerable expense, just ask my wife. :)


    The way I see it, a home theater [in a dedicated room] is always a work in progress, I.e, a mans paradise. I treat mine like a lab and so I need it to be accommodating when I want to make some changes. I've seen other setups that are more visually pleasing than mine but none that are more flexible. When I'm enjoying my system it's usually dark anyway so I opt for functionality over elegance.

    ...But as Dennis Miller might say, "of course that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."

    Good luck!
     
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  13. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Ditto on the separates and not going in-wall, except perhaps the in-ceilings I guess -- no plans to do Atmos myself though.

    And given your room size, I also would recommend leaning toward projection instead. IF you occasionally want to be able to watch some things more casually in a well lit room, maybe consider adding a (less expensive) flat panel just for that purpose instead -- you've got the space afterall.

    Yeah, true 4K projection is probably too expensive right now, but why settle for a much smaller screen (80"-ish vs say 120"-ish) for such a large room though? You can always just go w/ a modest 1080p setup (w/ big screen) first until true 4K comes down in price. Honestly, since you haven't gone that big before, I gotta think you'll love it just fine in 1080p for a good while -- long enough until the prices come down -- especially since there really aren't even that much high quality 4K content yet anyway. Personally, I'm not even that tempted about going 4K and will definitely wait til the prices come waaaay down.

    And if you go much smaller, you're probably gonna eventually want larger anyway, especially since you'd be doing this w/ the intention to make the most of 4K content... unless you plan to sit quite close to the screen I guess (in such a large room)...

    _Man_
     
  14. Bobofbone

    Bobofbone Second Unit

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    Go with a projector and screen. A 1080 projector still beats most of what you will see in a theater. I'm using a Panasonic 7000 on a DIY 155" screen with a 2.4:1 ratio, and viewing it from about 12'. It's much better than watching a flat screen TV. If I'm having guests and playing something with the lights on, I have dimming switches on everything. I use a slightly higher intensity for the projector and it's fine. I tried it with a new bulb at 100% brightness, and projecting from 15' yielded an image that was uncomfortably bright. You don't need to worry about how the superbowl is going to look during the party for everyone with the lights on using a projector.

    Concerning costs, I made my screen. Materials with a frame, border and screen was less than $125. If you can use a mitre box, saw and drill, you can make a screen. My expenses were a bit more-my trusty 20 year old staple gun bit the dust making the screen. We gave it toast and viking send off. I didn't factor in the cost of the new staple gun and beer.
     
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  15. Bob Bielski

    Bob Bielski Second Unit

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    Go separates, easy to repair, replace, upgrade is cheaper. Try to stay away from in wall just won't be as good as floor standing and like John said can't be easily be moved to optimal placement. Want to share a few links to help all. One on Dolby Atmos and a new one on room acoustics, on a site I bumped into lately that has a boatload of information.
    https://www.dolby.com/us/en/technologies/dolby-atmos/dolby-atmos-home-theater-installation-guidelines.pdf
    http://www.mh-audio.nl/Audio Tips.asp?what=chain
    Hope this helps you and everyone else.
     

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