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First dedicated Home Theater build w/ $10,000-$15,000 budget. Help me get there. (1 Viewer)

DanaRuns

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I'm a 66-year old woman who wants to DIY build out her basement into as good a home theater as I can get on a $10,000 budget.

I'm starting with a finished basement with the dimensions 7'4" High x 14'6"Wide x 26'6" Deep. It's 100% hard surfaces.

IMG_1327.JPG


There are doors on every wall, which will limit my screen size.

I'm starting from scratch, which means it's going to cost me a bundle, but it also means I can design everything from the ground up, which is cool!

NEEDS:

Projector. Priorities are 4K, bright (dim or washed out is a no-go), high contrast, deep blacks, color that pops and is fairly close to true. I'm budgeting $3,000 for this, so I know I'll have to make compromises. Right now I'm considering the Epson 505UB, which gives me the contrast, blacks, color and some other features, but sacrifices picture quality with its "faux-K" 4K. Are there better projectors in my price range? While it's hard (impossible?) to meet all my needs at $3K, I'd like to find a projector in that range (or maybe a little more) that gets me as close as possible. The law of diminishing returns means a small improvement can cost a ton of money, so I'm looking for that sweet spot, the best I can get on a budget. Whatcha got for me?

Screen: I have no idea. Given the room limitations, I think I'm looking at 100" to 120" max. I assume that means I should go with a 16x9. I would love a cinemascope screen, but given the size limitations I'm wondering if that's practical. I assume I'll want a 1.0-1.3 reflection, but would love a screen that would give deeper blacks, great contrast, and popping color. I don't need to worry about ambient light reflection, as the whole room will be painted a flat, dark color.

Surround Sound: To start, I have two ancient Bowers & Wilkins 802 series 2 loudspeakers in need of TLC. As old as they are, they still sound better than a lot of consumer loudspeakers.

IMG_1045.jpg


I suppose my best budget course would be to use my B&W 802s for L and R, and get B&W surround speakers. Maybe spend my money on a 700 series center channel (at 66 years old, hearing clear dialog is my priority), and go with 600 series for surround? Or should I dump the 802s and go with a cheaper complete surround system, like Klipsch reference or some such? Also, my AVR allows a 7.1 surround max, and what I'd prefer if I stick with that is a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system, which means I'd have to find Atmos speakers.

Surround Receiver: I have a Denon AVR S930H.

IMG_1329.JPG


It's not that powerful (~90 watts per channel into 8 ohms), it's a lower end Denon, and it will do only a 7.1 surround. I mean, I'm on a budget, so if I have something I should probably use it and spend my money on the other needs. But this seems really limited. Can I get away with this for now and have it sound good in this space? And if so, what's a better overall sound, a 7.1 surround or a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos configuration, and can the Denon even do the latter? (It must, right? I mean it says it's Dolby Atmos.)

ROOM DESIGN:

Right now the room is all white, with all hard surfaces. And it has a 7'4" ceiling. What do I need to do to make this room attractive, sonically good, and without ambient light problems?

Paint. I'm going to paint the walls a flat dark color. Grey? Burgundy? Dark blue? Dark brown? Are there brands or anything I should watch out for?

Acoustic treatment. It will need sound absorption panels. I don't know what to get or where to get them. But I do know I can blow my whole budget on that feature alone, which I don't want to do. I want acoustic treatment for $1,000 or less. What do you suggest?

Lighting. I'm also going to want to do the right kind of lighting that doesn't shine any light on the screen. Wall sconces? Recessed can lighting? LED strips? A combination? I'm also going to want it dimmable by remote control. What suggestions do you have that won't bust the budget?

Seats. The room will have only one row of three seats. These seats, which are Seatcraft Virtuoso, with heat and massage, because I want even sitting there to be a great experience. I don't know whether or not to get the bass shakers. Anyone have experience they can share?

1667842959853.png


Ceiling: I could paint it and leave it as it is. I could put up some acoustic panels or something. Or I could do a soffit with center detail, though the ceiling is really too low for that. One thing I'm considering is putting in these ceiling tiles that look like metal but are made of PVC.

1667843432157.png


Those would be a great look, and would provide some texture for sound diffusion, but I'm wondering if they would be too bright and too reflective and would actually cause more acoustic problems rather than solving them, and if I'd be better off with the existing flat drywall ceiling just painted black.

Miscellaneous. If there's any money left over (ha!) I'm also going to put in some sort of soffits or other feature on the walls to break up the flat surfaces. Maybe something like this, where there are soffits with sconces in-between the acoustic panels.

1667843550063.png


EPILOG

I want to put all this together on a tight $10,000-$15,000 budget. That means I'm going to have to DIY it, as much as possible. I'm not afraid of the work, but it's not like I have a lot of A/V, electrical, or construction skills or tools, so I'm going to have to farm out some of this.

But before I go sinking my money into all the wrong things, I wonder if those of you who have the knowledge and experience I lack can help me wring every drop of value out of that $10,000-$15,000 in order to get me to a first home theater that will make me feel immersed in the experience and not make me unhappy with something every time I sit down to watch a movie.

Give me your thoughts on any or all of these items, please.

I live in Northern California, so any resources you can point me to would be greatly appreciated.
 

david makalaster

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I'm coming here for some suggestions too so I don't have a lot of insight for you. However, 2 years ago I had a choice of either the Klipsch system or a brand I had never heard of called Elac. The Elacs were on a wild sale of 50% off at Best Buy after Thanksgiving. I was able to listen to both in store and did some research before buying. The Klipsch had a slightly "empty?" sound compared to the Elacs. After buying them and installing them in my home I couldn't be happier. It's so weird to turn them all the way up and have everything crystal clear and so full. I hear things I've never heard before in some of the music I listen to. Or maybe I always heard them but not as clear and distinct?

I build and remodel homes for a living and after reading and looking at your pictures I'm worried your budget is too low. I'm sure you've looked at prices for everything but if you need a carpenter or electrician you may end up a bit over budget. I hope more knowledgeable people respond because I have similar questions.
 

DanaRuns

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I'm coming here for some suggestions too so I don't have a lot of insight for you. However, 2 years ago I had a choice of either the Klipsch system or a brand I had never heard of called Elac. The Elacs were on a wild sale of 50% off at Best Buy after Thanksgiving. I was able to listen to both in store and did some research before buying. The Klipsch had a slightly "empty?" sound compared to the Elacs. After buying them and installing them in my home I couldn't be happier. It's so weird to turn them all the way up and have everything crystal clear and so full. I hear things I've never heard before in some of the music I listen to. Or maybe I always heard them but not as clear and distinct?

I build and remodel homes for a living and after reading and looking at your pictures I'm worried your budget is too low. I'm sure you've looked at prices for everything but if you need a carpenter or electrician you may end up a bit over budget. I hope more knowledgeable people respond because I have similar questions.
Thanks! I wasn’t very clear about the budget. It’s for equipment, and any left over will go for building materials. I don’t expect a remodel to be within my budget. I have an electrician friend who will help, but I will likely need to hire a carpenter, which I have not budgeted for.
 

JohnRice

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The Klipsch had a slightly "empty?" sound compared to the Elacs. After buying them and installing them in my home I couldn't be happier. It's so weird to turn them all the way up and have everything crystal clear and so full. I hear things I've never heard before in some of the music I listen to.
Yep. You're hearing the difference between a "resolving" speaker (ELAC) and a "flashy" speaker (Klipsch).
 

JohnRice

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I'm a 66-year old woman who wants to DIY build out her basement into as good a home theater as I can get on a $10,000 budget.

I'm starting with a finished basement with the dimensions 7'4" High x 14'6"Wide x 26'6" Deep. It's 100% hard surfaces.

View attachment 161683

There are doors on every wall, which will limit my screen size.

I'm starting from scratch, which means it's going to cost me a bundle, but it also means I can design everything from the ground up, which is cool!

NEEDS:

Projector. Priorities are 4K, bright (dim or washed out is a no-go), high contrast, deep blacks, color that pops and is fairly close to true. I'm budgeting $3,000 for this, so I know I'll have to make compromises. Right now I'm considering the Epson 505UB, which gives me the contrast, blacks, color and some other features, but sacrifices picture quality with its "faux-K" 4K. Are there better projectors in my price range? While it's hard (impossible?) to meet all my needs at $3K, I'd like to find a projector in that range (or maybe a little more) that gets me as close as possible. The law of diminishing returns means a small improvement can cost a ton of money, so I'm looking for that sweet spot, the best I can get on a budget. Whatcha got for me?

Screen: I have no idea. Given the room limitations, I think I'm looking at 100" to 120" max. I assume that means I should go with a 16x9. I would love a cinemascope screen, but given the size limitations I'm wondering if that's practical. I assume I'll want a 1.0-1.3 reflection, but would love a screen that would give deeper blacks, great contrast, and popping color. I don't need to worry about ambient light reflection, as the whole room will be painted a flat, dark color.

Surround Sound: To start, I have two ancient Bowers & Wilkins 802 series 2 loudspeakers in need of TLC. As old as they are, they still sound better than a lot of consumer loudspeakers.

View attachment 161685

I suppose my best budget course would be to use my B&W 802s for L and R, and get B&W surround speakers. Maybe spend my money on a 700 series center channel (at 66 years old, hearing clear dialog is my priority), and go with 600 series for surround? Or should I dump the 802s and go with a cheaper complete surround system, like Klipsch reference or some such? Also, my AVR allows a 7.1 surround max, and what I'd prefer if I stick with that is a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system, which means I'd have to find Atmos speakers.

Surround Receiver: I have a Denon AVR S930H.

View attachment 161684

It's not that powerful (~90 watts per channel into 8 ohms), it's a lower end Denon, and it will do only a 7.1 surround. I mean, I'm on a budget, so if I have something I should probably use it and spend my money on the other needs. But this seems really limited. Can I get away with this for now and have it sound good in this space? And if so, what's a better overall sound, a 7.1 surround or a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos configuration, and can the Denon even do the latter? (It must, right? I mean it says it's Dolby Atmos.)

ROOM DESIGN:

Right now the room is all white, with all hard surfaces. And it has a 7'4" ceiling. What do I need to do to make this room attractive, sonically good, and without ambient light problems?

Paint. I'm going to paint the walls a flat dark color. Grey? Burgundy? Dark blue? Dark brown? Are there brands or anything I should watch out for?

Acoustic treatment. It will need sound absorption panels. I don't know what to get or where to get them. But I do know I can blow my whole budget on that feature alone, which I don't want to do. I want acoustic treatment for $1,000 or less. What do you suggest?

Lighting. I'm also going to want to do the right kind of lighting that doesn't shine any light on the screen. Wall sconces? Recessed can lighting? LED strips? A combination? I'm also going to want it dimmable by remote control. What suggestions do you have that won't bust the budget?

Seats. The room will have only one row of three seats. These seats, which are Seatcraft Virtuoso, with heat and massage, because I want even sitting there to be a great experience. I don't know whether or not to get the bass shakers. Anyone have experience they can share?

View attachment 161693

Ceiling: I could paint it and leave it as it is. I could put up some acoustic panels or something. Or I could do a soffit with center detail, though the ceiling is really too low for that. One thing I'm considering is putting in these ceiling tiles that look like metal but are made of PVC.

View attachment 161694

Those would be a great look, and would provide some texture for sound diffusion, but I'm wondering if they would be too bright and too reflective and would actually cause more acoustic problems rather than solving them, and if I'd be better off with the existing flat drywall ceiling just painted black.

Miscellaneous. If there's any money left over (ha!) I'm also going to put in some sort of soffits or other feature on the walls to break up the flat surfaces. Maybe something like this, where there are soffits with sconces in-between the acoustic panels.

View attachment 161695

EPILOG

I want to put all this together on a tight $10,000-$15,000 budget. That means I'm going to have to DIY it, as much as possible. I'm not afraid of the work, but it's not like I have a lot of A/V, electrical, or construction skills or tools, so I'm going to have to farm out some of this.

But before I go sinking my money into all the wrong things, I wonder if those of you who have the knowledge and experience I lack can help me wring every drop of value out of that $10,000-$15,000 in order to get me to a first home theater that will make me feel immersed in the experience and not make me unhappy with something every time I sit down to watch a movie.

Give me your thoughts on any or all of these items, please.

I live in Northern California, so any resources you can point me to would be greatly appreciated.
Briefly, I would try to keep your B&Ws. How is their condition? The surrounds and cones look good, but I don't know what is up with the tweeters. Is the cloth over them deteriorating, or just dirty?

In general, I suggest keeping them and getting a matching center speaker. You really don't need to pend that kind of $ on the surrounds and in-ceiling Atmos speakers, though. Ironically, I'd look into ELAC for those. The Debut v2 or Uni-Fi v2 lines, and also SVS, which is internet direct, but retailers also sell them.

Ultimately, you'll simply need to upgrade your receiver.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Welcome to the forum, Dana!

Wow! You sure have put a good deal of thought into this (and seem to already have some good amount of knowledge/experience) before posting to start out, and that's a good deal more than usual for us to digest and offer input, which is both great and perhaps requires some more time/effort for us to consider, hehheh.

But offhand, my 1st inclination is definitely keep those B&W 802s for your front L/R if they indeed still sound great to you. And you're probably on the right track considering B&W speakers to help match them for most of the rest. IF you do Atmos, I'd suggest considering RSL's C34E in-ceiling speakers as one good, budget option... though not sure how good/realistic/viable Atmos will be for such a low ceiling in your case -- you probably shouldn't need to stick w/ B&W for that. Likewise, for subwoofer, you shouldn't need to stick w/ B&W, but could go w/ something that fits your budget from SVS or Hsu or a couple others... though I'd probably spend more on the subwoofer(s) than on the other speakers, except making sure the front center channel matches your B&W 802s well enough, which could possibly be a somewhat tall order. Sounds like you should probably spend at least $1K on a subwoofer (for something like Hsu VTF-15H Mk2 or SVS SB-3000), if not $2K-plus (for upto a SVS SB-16 Ultra or similar).

Second, if you meant the Epson 5050UB projector (not 505UB), yes, that may be your best bet in its price range for PJs... though if you can only fit/get to ~100" for the 16x9 screen, you might possibly be better off going w/ the largest flat panel you can afford instead depending on how you feel about the tradeoffs (of size vs HDR capability/quality). But if you can fit significantly larger than 100", like 120"+, sure go for it me thinks -- yes, I have my 5050UB projecting to 120" in my setup although I was originally hoping to go to 135". Shop around some and probably at least wait for Epson's next instant rebate offer to knock that price down some -- I managed to acquire mine for just ~$2.4K a couple years ago (between Epson's instant rebate and other holiday sale offers).

Given how deep your space is despite only wanting/needing 1 row of 3 seats, something to consider might be whether you would be willing to place the screen further into the room away from a (actual) wall instead of right up against a wall. That would open up the possibility of working around some doors perhaps (though maybe not), especially by using an acoustically transparent screen instead (though such screens and the additional setup/config would cost more). That might actually also yield better audio quality for you and allow bigger screen (in part also because the front speakers won't be obstructing the view), which is something worth considering since you have certain space limitations and have those B&W 802s w/ possibly higher standards than many for good audio.

You can probably hold off on upgrading the AVR me thinks, especially if 5.x.2 is all you want/need and you don't intend to push the system all that hard. But those B&W 802s might deserve better, if they're still very close to their original performance quality...

_Man_

PS: Just saw John's suggestion of ELAC speakers for the surrounds (and maybe in-ceiling), and I can heartily support that as well, especially for budget reasons (as they should be better value than similar new B&W's). And ditto w/ the rest of his post.
 

John Dirk

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Welcome to HTF! Before we go any further, how did you get a basement in N. Cal??? I grew up there and never heard of such a thing. :cool:

Now on to the issue at hand.

My observations are as follows.

  1. You are trying to accomplish a whole lot up front, especially for your stated budget. I'd recommend a somewhat more gradual, prioritized approach.
  2. I think your current tower speakers and the Denon receiver will be just fine to start with. You might end up replacing the Denon at some point but it will suffice in the short term.
  3. When you do go looking for gear, if budget is a serious concern, don't rule out the used market. There are some great values to be had. Here is a popular used AV site. https://www.usaudiomart.com/
  4. While technically somewhat inferior to true 4K, "faux K" is practically indistinguishable from reasonable distances. I have the "Pro" version of the Epson 5050 [6050] and can all but guarantee you'd be happy with it. Alternatively, like @ManW_TheUncool suggested, you could get a pretty nice flat panel for the same money if you're willing to compromise on size.
  5. I've used tactile transducers such as the "Buttkicker." I'd recommend skipping them in favor of a better sub unless you're concerned about disturbing others.
  6. I wouldn't immediately be concerned about room treatments. You need to construct and measure the room before you'll be able to decide what might even be needed.
  7. Can lighting is cheap and effective. A simple wifi switch can give you remote control.
  8. I agree with you on the seats. Don't skimp there.
Here are a couple of pictures of my room. I used velvet fabric instead of paint for the walls but did paint the ceiling. This helps with vibrations and allows me to hide wires, etc. easily. I wasn't overly concerned with aesthetics as this room is used for movies, sports and music only.

Floor Without Mask.jpg
Completed AT Screen.jpg
 

Wayne_j

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Definitely keep the B&W's for the front. Try to see if you can get a good enough phantom center image before spending money on a center channel.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Definitely keep the B&W's for the front. Try to see if you can get a good enough phantom center image before spending money on a center channel.

Yes, that's certainly another cost-cutting option (that could certainly be enough for short term, if not quite long term), especially if those B&W 802s are indeed reasonably close to "like new" for performance... or if you don't mind the probably reduced audio imaging quality for the 2 side seats. Depending on all the factors, you might even consider getting the best sub(s) more important than getting a suitable center channel speaker, especially if only the prime middle seat needs to have quite that good imaging for center channel audio.

RE: what @John Dirk said about using velvet treatment for the walls, actually, black velvet would probably be best (and better than any black paint) for light control. That's the tried-and-true option recommended/used by all the real pros (even for the insides of RPTVs back in the day). But of course, that might not suit what you want/need for that space (outside of HT usage). That's the way to go though for a space completely dedicated to HT, especially if you want to optimize projection performance/experience. And paint the ceiling matte black (or even use velvet there) maybe at least 1/2 way between viewer to the screen, if not that entire section of the HT space. Do somewhat similar for the floor as much as possible as well... although maybe you could just go w/ a good, thick, very dark, reasonably color-neutral area rug in that case since you already have nice wood(?) floors -- a thick area rug would also help w/ excess vibrations/sound reflections along the floor w/out necessarily detracting in other ways.

And yes, you won't know quite what kind of room treatments you'll need until you've probably gone a whole lot deeper into this endeavor -- and there could always be some additional tweaks, if you desire the utmost, after you have everything fully set up for the 1st iteration or two. IF you're serious about such, I suppose you might wanna plan on saving say $1K toward that just in case... and if it turns out not needed, then you have that $$$ could likely go towards some other upgrades (like the AVR or maybe a 2nd sub or matching center speaker or the like). Most of us find there's usually something else we'd like to upgrade not long after... though of course, we/you do certainly want/expect a great deal of satisfaction once we're done w/ that big installation/build/overhaul and not feel some kind of buyer's remorse -- but proper planning and well managed expectations are keys me thinks.

_Man_
 

John Dirk

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actually, black velvet would probably be best (and better than any black paint) for light control. That's the tried-and-true option recommended/used by all the real pros (even for the insides of RPTVs back in the day). But of course, that might not suit what you want/need for that space (outside of HT usage).
Yea, even I was unwilling to make that compromise aesthetically. :cool:
 

DanaRuns

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Thanks, everyone, for some very good and helpful input. This is a process for me and I have more and more questions and decisions and things to learn as I go.

I'm gonna keep the B&W 802s, as suggested, and take them in for a tuneup (and refinishing of the cabinets).

The problem with the old 802s is that they require much more power to drive them than the modern speakers do, and more than all the other speakers in the system will require. So for now I'll keep the Denon receiver for the surround speakers and add a two-channel amp to drive the 802s.

I'm not going to put black velvet on the walls and ceiling. Even though this will be a dedicated space, I have aesthetic boundaries, and black velvet on walls is a class 2 felony. LOL. In the end, I want it to be a beautiful and stylish room, as well.

As it turns out, I can get a deal on a Sony VPL XW5000ES projector that was opened and used by a customer for a few weeks before being exchanged for a different unit, so even though it's more than the Epson 5050UD, it might be worth it to get native 4K and laser projection. But I do like the Epson, and it's cheaper. Decisions, decisions.

And it just started snowing here. This would be a wonderful day to curl up in the home theater with a movie and some hot chocolate.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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I'm gonna keep the B&W 802s, as suggested, and take them in for a tuneup (and refinishing of the cabinets).

Probably a good idea... as long as that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, hehheh.

The problem with the old 802s is that they require much more power to drive them than the modern speakers do, and more than all the other speakers in the system will require. So for now I'll keep the Denon receiver for the surround speakers and add a two-channel amp to drive the 802s.

Unfortunately, looks like that Denon AVR doesn't provide pre-outs to allow adding external amp that way.

How were you driving those speakers before, if the AVR wasn't powerful enough?

As it turns out, I can get a deal on a Sony VPL XW5000ES projector that was opened and used by a customer for a few weeks before being exchanged for a different unit, so even though it's more than the Epson 5050UD, it might be worth it to get native 4K and laser projection. But I do like the Epson, and it's cheaper. Decisions, decisions.

Do note that Sony projector uses a fully manual lens (and of course, no lens memory), which is probably fine if you never need to (quickly) adjust the lens yourself after setup (and/or never want to go 2.4:1 CIH re: AR/screen, zoom the lens on-the-fly or the like). And you may need some (extra) help for the setup, if you're doing it yourself, because of that.

Yeah, basically, Sony completely cut corners on that aspect, and probably most considering spending remotely that much would balk at that -- it's almost certainly a non-starter for me if/whenever I make my next, future (likely final) upgrade of PJ (anywhere in that ballpark price range)...

_Man_
 

John Dirk

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And it just started snowing here. This would be a wonderful day to curl up in the home theater with a movie and some hot chocolate.
Ah, that probably explains the basement. I was in the Bay area back in the day. I guess further north, basements exist.
As it turns out, I can get a deal on a Sony VPL XW5000ES projector that was opened and used by a customer for a few weeks before being exchanged for a different unit, so even though it's more than the Epson 5050UD, it might be worth it to get native 4K and laser projection. But I do like the Epson, and it's cheaper. Decisions, decisions.
I would strongly suggest you take a look at both before deciding. You might just be surprised.
 

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Hi Dana - welcome to our forum!

There are people more experienced than me in most of the hardware areas so I don’t have much to offer with speakers and sound systems. What I do have experience with is working on a budget and working in spaces that weren’t originally built as theaters. (I’ve always been a renter - hope to change that one day - so I’ve had to make things work on a budget in spaces I couldn’t really change much.) My attitude is “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

So kinda the two cents I have to throw in are:

-I think @John Dirk’s suggestion to consider replacing some things piecemeal is a good one. For instance, you’ve got a receiver that’s good enough to get started with, and those speakers you have are worth keeping and adding to instead of replacing. My opinion is your money is best spent adding things you don’t yet have rather than replacing what you do. Things like receivers can always be upgraded as necessary down the line.

-I love Epson projectors and have an earlier model in the same 5000 series you’re looking at. Mine is now more than eight years old and I’m just as happy with it as I was the day I got it. Those Epsons in that series are light canons - you’ll never have a problem with brightness. They also have a ton of placement flexibility with a massive amount of lens shift and zoom compared to pretty much everyone else. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of that. Most projectors have limited placement flexibility - if they’re not in one or two specific places in the room relative to the screen, it won’t work, and that can become problematic if your room isn’t shaped up accommodate that. The Epson, by contrast, can be made to work almost anywhere. Having that flexibility can be a huge cost and sanity saver down the road because you won’t have to deal with modifying something expensive about your room to make your projector work. Another useful budget feature on the Epson: the replacement lamps (bulbs) tend to be cheaper than those of other brands. They do need to be replaced occasionally with any non-laser projector so you have to figure in the long term operating costs, and the Epson is favorable in that regard compared to others. Honestly, I think the Epson is hands down the best projector out there in there $3000 range and frankly maybe even in somewhat higher ranges. (I don’t think the so-called 4K/faux-K thing is a big deal in real world performance. Lab tests and demos might make the difference between the two seem greater than it is when you’re actually watching a movie.)

-Ok, I know I promised two cents but if you’ll forgive me, one more general thought. Projectors look different than flat panels. It’s just a different experience. Flat panels are great for perfect sharpness and HDR. Projectors have that wow factor in size but they don’t do HDR and sharpness in the same way it stands out on a flat panel. I like projectors better for movies and immersion so that trade-off is more than fine by me. There’s really nothing like turning on a projector and having a giant screen in your home and watching whatever movie you want whenever you want. It’s amazing.

I wish you the very best with your theater and hope you’ll keep us updated on your progress!
 

JohnRice

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Thanks, everyone, for some very good and helpful input. This is a process for me and I have more and more questions and decisions and things to learn as I go.

I'm gonna keep the B&W 802s, as suggested, and take them in for a tuneup (and refinishing of the cabinets).

The problem with the old 802s is that they require much more power to drive them than the modern speakers do, and more than all the other speakers in the system will require. So for now I'll keep the Denon receiver for the surround speakers and add a two-channel amp to drive the 802s.

I'm not going to put black velvet on the walls and ceiling. Even though this will be a dedicated space, I have aesthetic boundaries, and black velvet on walls is a class 2 felony. LOL. In the end, I want it to be a beautiful and stylish room, as well.

As it turns out, I can get a deal on a Sony VPL XW5000ES projector that was opened and used by a customer for a few weeks before being exchanged for a different unit, so even though it's more than the Epson 5050UD, it might be worth it to get native 4K and laser projection. But I do like the Epson, and it's cheaper. Decisions, decisions.

And it just started snowing here. This would be a wonderful day to curl up in the home theater with a movie and some hot chocolate.
As mentioned, you can't use an external amp with your receiver. Unfortunately, there are still some pretty severe supply chain problems, and I don't see many deals on models that can. In Denon, you need at least a X3xxxH level model, and I don't see any refurbs of them, so you're looking at over $1,500. The Marantz SR5015 refurb is $999, which has preamp outputs for an external amp, is about the best deal I find right now. As far as the amp, I would use a three channel one for the front three speakers, instead of just two. You can get the Emotiva BasX 3 for $539.
 

Wayne_j

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Emotiva does have a $999 atmos processor but you would need amps for every channel.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Right.

Something not mentioned yet is you can likely find some good deals in the near future on at least some of the aforementioned options.

ELAC, in particular, runs frequently recurring sales (mostly on their Debut and UniFi series speakers) that easily knock 20-30% off their list price -- and ordering directly from them may well save your sales tax as well. I've gotten some excellent deals and customer service buying directly from them last year.


IF you really want/need to upgrade the AVR and considering very good value amps (and/or maybe the aforementioned preprocessor) from Emotiva, they also typically run holiday sales and/or promo rewards program (probably best for earning rewards toward whichever last piece you know you'll need to buy before such rewards expire). Yes, I've done that as well and own 3 of their amps (for my originally planned HT overhaul) w/ all the earned rewards applied to the last purchase (of the least expensive one meant for driving Atmos channels). They make/carry roughly 3 tiers of amps that fit various budgets and demands, and you should likely find something to suit your needs and budget, if going that route.

Some of us have also tried Emotiva's various prepros/preamps/processors, and they're generally pretty good and good values, especially for the budget-minded, but they do seem to have earned a reputation for being a bit quirky (and maybe somewhat awkward in UI), more flakey/buggy and/or maybe less durable than many of the bigger names (though all of them tend to start out at least a bit buggy upon initial product release nowadays).

I don't have much to complain about the old, refurbed UMC-200 I've owned/used for a good handful years, but I also only paid ~$400 for it at that time. The $1K prepro Wayne mentioned above would probably be the latest variation/revision along that series of prepros primarily w/ 4K and Atmos added I guess -- not sure what other enhancements offhand. I would've probably considered it myself if it was already available and (pretty much) bug-free when I upgraded ~2 years ago, but it wasn't, so I opted for a well-cared-for, used Anthem AVM-60 instead -- I'm guessing these probably still go for around $1.8K or so that I paid 2 years ago, and they can't be beat at that price... though warranties (if not already expired) are *not* transferrable for Anthem products (unlike some like Emotiva).


Anyway, unless you're quite sure you need to upgrade the AVR to provide enough power to those B&W 802s (plus other speakers), I'm guessing you're probably best off spending toward most other areas first before coming back to this... Something to keep in mind is the better and more powerful the subwoofer(s) you get (upto say the SVS SB-16 Ultra), the less of a power burden the other speakers, especially those B&W 802s (and any well-matched center), will/can be on the AVR/amps because you can/would/should offload more of the (most) power-hungry bass to the subwoofer(s)...

_Man_
 

DanaRuns

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Thank you all for such great advice and help! You've made a big difference.

Okay, after going over a million things, this is what I've tentatively decided on. Let me know if you see any red flags:

VIDEO
Projector: Epson 5050ub $2995.
Screen: Elite Screens Aeon 120" 16:9 Fixed Frame Projection Screen, Cinewhite. $480

1668209691796.png

1668209746938.png



SOUND
Receiver: Anthem MRX-740 8K (140 watts per channel, 7.2), $3,100.

1668209783313.png


SURROUND SPEAKERS
L & R Front speakers: B&W Matrix 802s (existing) $0.00
Center speaker: B&W HTM1 (existing) $0.00
Surround speakers (2): B&W Nautilus 805 (used) $1,900
Atmos speakers (2): B&W CCM 664 in-ceiling speakers (new) $700

1668209873832.png

1668210171942.png

1668209937103.png



SUB-WOOFERS
STS pb3000 (new): $2,999 for a pair

1668210005261.png


BLURAY
Sony UBP-X800M2: $278
1668210024286.png

THEATER SEATING
Seatcraft Virtuoso Heat & Massage, row of 3: $3,507

1668210064422.png


Total equipment purchases: $11,972.00.
Seating: $3,507
Additionally budgeting $1,000 for acoustic room treatments.

TOTAL INVESTMENT: $16,479.00.

Okay, I went a little over my $15,000 budget. But did I do a good job here? Did I miss on anything? Do you have better/cheaper alternatives for some of my choices?

Thanks! :)
 
Last edited:

Josh Steinberg

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If you can swing it, I’d recommend going with the Panasonic UB820 for your disc player - it frequently drops to $400 on Amazon so you just have to time it right. That’s the one I plan on getting. It’s supposed to have the best tone mapping (for anything under a grand, at least) to handle HDR on projectors, so if all the raves on that are right, for an extra $100 or so you’ll really get an improvement on disc playback quality.
 

JohnRice

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If you can swing it, I’d recommend going with the Panasonic UB820 for your disc player - it frequently drops to $400 on Amazon so you just have to time it right. That’s the one I plan on getting. It’s supposed to have the best tone mapping (for anything under a grand, at least) to handle HDR on projectors, so if all the raves on that are right, for an extra $100 or so you’ll really get an improvement on disc playback quality.
It's also just a more reliable player.
 

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