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

Josh Steinberg

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It's a never-ending rabbit hole. How do you keep your sanity? How do you keep your wives?

That’s actually a really great question.

The marriage question I’ll leave to others. I’m either still married because of blind stupid luck that I couldn’t possibly repeat if I tried, or perhaps because I make a great boeuf bourguignon. I don’t think it’s my looks and I know it’s not my money or my singing voice, that’s for damn sure. :D

As to the sanity - I think in many ways this is like any other big ticket item be it a car or a house or a fancy computer, etc. There’s always something more you could add, and there’s always more money could spend. There’s the realistic wishlist and then there’s the “if I won the lottery” wishlist. It’s very easy to let your own voice in your head get crowded out by other ones. We’ve probably all fallen into that trap at some point or another. Most of us can’t tell the difference between 94% perfect and 95% perfect - which is sort of the area we’re living in at the high end - but most of us whether we realize it consciously or not have egos that require us to believe we can. :)

My philosophy for home theater and just about everything else is “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

You joined us with the most well-researched and well-thought out conception of what you wanted to accomplish and how you wanted to accomplish it that I’ve ever seen from a brand new member. I’ve been here 20 years so I’m not saying that lightly. You have good instincts and good research skills.

If you ignored every suggestion you got and went with the original list you came in with, you would still have one hell of an awesome home theater. So please know and feel good about your baseline starting point - you already started with a winning hand.

At one point early in the thread, someone suggested (and I seconded) starting with the things you had that you could keep and building on to that and replacing as necessary instead of all in one fell swoop. That might be a great way to reduce costs, see how the stuff you have plays in a real world environment, and give you a basis to make a more informed decision about where to go next.

For example - you’ve got a great receiver. Is it the best receiver that’s ever been made in the history of receivers? Probably not. Is it way better than the one I have (which has served me well for nearly a decade now)? Absolutely. So why not consider putting decisions about new receivers and amps to the side for now, and see how everything sounds using what you’ve got? Best case scenario, you have a small fortune. Worst case scenario, you end up replacing it down the line, and who knows, maybe the shortages that are driving up prices now will be less of an issue later on.

Similar thought with subwoofers: some people swear by two. Others are satisfied with one. Why not consider starting with one and adding a second in the future if you discover it’s necessary, instead of laying down the extra cash up front only to discover that you could have been happy without it?

None of the options you’re considering (both the ones you came in contemplating and the ones you’ve taken as suggestions) are going to be bad. You are at a point where you are gonna have a great setup no matter which final choices you settle on. It’s ok to want stick to a budget. It’s ok not to take every upsell you’re offered. You’re in a good place no matter which direction you go in. If your gut is telling you, “these suggestions I’m getting all sound great but I’m getting away from goals that are important to me,” trust that feeling too. No one here is going to judge you for saying “thanks but no thanks” at any point.
 

DanaRuns

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That’s actually a really great question.

The marriage question I’ll leave to others. I’m either still married because of blind stupid luck that I couldn’t possibly repeat if I tried, or perhaps because I make a great boeuf bourguignon. I don’t think it’s my looks and I know it’s not my money or my singing voice, that’s for damn sure. :D

As to the sanity - I think in many ways this is like any other big ticket item be it a car or a house or a fancy computer, etc. There’s always something more you could add, and there’s always more money could spend. There’s the realistic wishlist and then there’s the “if I won the lottery” wishlist. It’s very easy to let your own voice in your head get crowded out by other ones. We’ve probably all fallen into that trap at some point or another. Most of us can’t tell the difference between 94% perfect and 95% perfect - which is sort of the area we’re living in at the high end - but most of us whether we realize it consciously or not have egos that require us to believe we can. :)

My philosophy for home theater and just about everything else is “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

You joined us with the most well-researched and well-thought out conception of what you wanted to accomplish and how you wanted to accomplish it that I’ve ever seen from a brand new member. I’ve been here 20 years so I’m not saying that lightly. You have good instincts and good research skills.

If you ignored every suggestion you got and went with the original list you came in with, you would still have one hell of an awesome home theater. So please know and feel good about your baseline starting point - you already started with a winning hand.

At one point early in the thread, someone suggested (and I seconded) starting with the things you had that you could keep and building on to that and replacing as necessary instead of all in one fell swoop. That might be a great way to reduce costs, see how the stuff you have plays in a real world environment, and give you a basis to make a more informed decision about where to go next.

For example - you’ve got a great receiver. Is it the best receiver that’s ever been made in the history of receivers? Probably not. Is it way better than the one I have (which has served me well for nearly a decade now)? Absolutely. So why not consider putting decisions about new receivers and amps to the side for now, and see how everything sounds using what you’ve got? Best case scenario, you have a small fortune. Worst case scenario, you end up replacing it down the line, and who knows, maybe the shortages that are driving up prices now will be less of an issue later on.

Similar thought with subwoofers: some people swear by two. Others are satisfied with one. Why not consider starting with one and adding a second in the future if you discover it’s necessary, instead of laying down the extra cash up front only to discover that you could have been happy without it?

None of the options you’re considering (both the ones you came in contemplating and the ones you’ve taken as suggestions) are going to be bad. You are at a point where you are gonna have a great setup no matter which final choices you settle on. It’s ok to want stick to a budget. It’s ok not to take every upsell you’re offered. You’re in a good place no matter which direction you go in. If your gut is telling you, “these suggestions I’m getting all sound great but I’m getting away from goals that are important to me,” trust that feeling too. No one here is going to judge you for saying “thanks but no thanks” at any point.
This is a wonderful and very centering post. Thank you for it. Thanks for the perspective on my journey, and thanks for the great advice and reassurance.

I suppose the only thing pressing against the wisdom of an incremental approach is that my wonderful spouse is holding her tongue and just letting me do this without criticism or disapproval. When I lamented the difficulty in getting the quality I want for the money I've allocated, she actually suggested I raise my budget a bit! She is very supportive, even though she sees it as money flushed down the toilet. I think to respect her tolerance I need to rip the bandaid off and do it in one fell swoop, and that will have to last me for at least a couple years. :) But yeah, maybe incremental would be smarter.
 

Josh Steinberg

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If it helps any, sometimes I’ve realized that I’d get better results with an incremental approach after getting the green light, and I just tell my wife what I’m considering when that happens. And her response to date has always been, “if you think you can get a better deal or a better plan doing it that way, do it that way.”

It’s funny we’re talking about this right now and that your wife is a chef because I have the perfect kitchen example for you. I have an old stock pot that had served me well for decades but I’ve had a nagging feeling in the past couple years that it was time to let it go. I haven’t loved any of my replacement options - there’s “what I was looking for but twice what I planned on spending” and “not quite what I’m looking for but less than I wanted to spend.” This is probably my most used pot so I want to get it right the first time, you know?

Tonight while I was washing it after making dinner, I noticed a crack in the inner lining and that was the final, “ok, it’s time to recycle it” moment.

I checked a professional kitchen site I sometimes buy from and had those same two types of options I mentioned above. On a whim, because I have an outstanding gift card for Amazon, I checked there and they had a new stock pot that was actually pretty much exactly what I wanted. 20% off. With an extra $35 coupon. In other words, what I wanted for half of what I planned on spending.

If I had replaced the pot last year, I’m sure whatever I would have gotten would have worked fine. But by waiting until I needed to make a replacement instead of just when I had first thought of making a replacement, I wound up in a best case scenario.

No bad options. Just ones that work better than others for what your aims are :)
 

JohnRice

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Here are some cost cutting suggestions to consider. I seriously doubt you would regret any of them.

Instead of the Anthem MRX 740 for $3,100, a refurb Marantz SR7015 for $1,799.

Instead of the Anthem or Emotiva XPA-DR3 amp for $2,200-2,300, an Emotiva XPA-3 for $1,399.

Maybe instead of dual SB4000s you go with a single SB16... Dual subs are more complicated to incorporate into the room and doing it badly will make things worse.
 

John Dirk

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How do you keep your sanity? How do you keep your wives?
My HT hobby is actually instrumental in maintaining my sanity although the extent I actually do so is certainly debatable.
My wife tolerates me largely because I'm her tech support. I'm under no illusions otherwise.

I apologize for any part I may have had with information or suggestion overload. You're trying to do a ground up build in one take whereas most of us built our current setups over many years. I can only imagine the pressure you must feel. In my case, I knew I would be retiring soon, so over the past couple of years my mission was to build my "end game" system. Well, I [semi] retired a year ago and I'm still working on it. :cool:

There should probably be a support group for people like us.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Here are some cost cutting suggestions to consider. I seriously doubt you would regret any of them.

Instead of the Anthem MRX 740 for $3,100, a refurb Marantz SR7015 for $1,799.

Instead of the Anthem or Emotiva XPA-DR3 amp for $2,200-2,300, an Emotiva XPA-3 for $1,399.

Maybe instead of dual SB4000s you go with a single SB16... Dual subs are more complicated to incorporate into the room and doing it badly will make things worse.

Yes, if needing/desiring to cut costs to stay w/in budget, etc, I'd fully support going w/ those kinds of options as well, including going w/ a single SVS SB-16 Ultra instead of dual SB-4000 -- you can always add a 2nd sub later, if you actually find the need (and you just might be happy w/ the one alone, especially if you're the only one using the system who's all that discerning).

There are certainly options, and you could choose some or all of those alternates to cut costs and still be very happy/satisfied w/ the results... or you might also hold off on some upgrades like the AVR and/or amps for now -- that's actually probably what I would do myself... though I would likely eventually upgrade (and I'm certainly not averse to the refurb/used/2ndary market at all to cut costs for some of this stuff as I indicated earlier)....

_Man_
 

DanaRuns

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@JohnRice got me thinking about alternative receiver/amp options. One of the websites he linked to has tons of BBB complaints so I dumped that, but started looking elsewhere.

I'm so overwhelmed and confused by all this -- LOL! I'm easily confused. :) -- that I got tired of researching and just pulled the trigger. So I just ordered the Marantz AV7706 Pro/Pro combined with an Emotiva XPA-11 Gen3 11-channel power amp. What do you think of my choice, knowing that I already did it and can't undo it? Did I do okay?

So here's everything I actually have now:

DISPLAY
Epson 5050ub projector
Elite Screens Aeon 120" 16:9 1.3 reflectivity CineWhite screen

PROCESSING
Marantz AV7706 pre/pro
Emotive XPA-11 Gen 3 11-channel power amp

VIDEO SOURCES
AppleTV 4K (2022)
(No Blu-ray player yet)

MAIN SPEAKERS
Bowers & Wilkins matrix 802 series 2 L&R speakers
Bowers & Wilkins HTM1 center channel speaker
SVS sb4000 subwoofers (pair)

SURROUNDS AND ATMOS
Surrounds: ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 bookshelf speakers
(No Atmos in-ceiling speakers yet)

I'm about done now. I still need 4 in-ceiling speakers (I'm upgrading to 7.2.4), a Blu-ray player (probably Panasonic 820), cables, and a universal remote.
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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I probably woulda gone w/ a couple separate Emotiva amps so at least the front LCRs get more/better dedicated power to feed them (maybe w/ an XPA-3) -- the surrounds and in-ceiling Atmos channels don't need as much power, so even a cheaper BasX model (or combo pair perhaps) should do fine for those.

Otherwise, looks good! :cool:

_Man_
 

DanaRuns

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I probably woulda gone w/ a couple separate Emotiva amps so at least the front LCRs get more/better dedicated power to feed them (maybe w/ an XPA-3) -- the surrounds and in-ceiling Atmos channels don't need as much power, so even a cheaper BasX model (or combo pair perhaps) should do fine for those.

Otherwise, looks good! :cool:

_Man_

I kinda tried to do that in one amp. In this amp the Left, Right, and Center channels are high power @ 300 watts each into 8 ohms (all channels driven), while the surrounds and atmospherics get 80 watts into 6 ohms apiece, all channels driven (my surrounds are 6 ohm speakers). According to Emotiva:

The XPA-11 is populated with three of our High-Powered Single Channel Modules, and four of our Stereo Modules, for a total of three high-powered channels and eight lower-powered channels. This combination is ideal for a surround sound system that is used for both music and home theater listening, and includes height speakers. The three front speakers, which are the most critical for both music and home theater listening, are powered by the three high-powered channels. The surround channels, and the height channels, are driven by the lower powered stereo modules. Even though the channels differ in terms of maximum power output, they feature perfectly matched electrical characteristics, and the same superb Class A/B sound quality.
1668892492978.png

And if I don't like it I can, of course, add another amp. This was how I was able to stay in the neighborhood of my budget while powering 11 speakers and getting 300 watts to each of my front B&W speakers. But this was kind of a pig in a poke, so 🤷‍♀️

I was able to stay in the same zip code as my budget by getting a refurbished Marantz Pre/Pro for $2,200 instead of $3,199, and sinking 11 channels into one Emotiva Class H power amp for $2,199. And that's still $2,200 over what I had budgeted.
 
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JohnRice

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Now I have to wait for the puppies to reach 8 weeks old and go to their homes so I can start actually putting this project together.

Yes, the room has puppies right now.


That's teamwork.

...sort of...
 

JohnRice

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I was able to stay in the same zip code as my budget by getting a refurbished Marantz Pre/Pro for $2,200 instead of $3,199, and sinking 11 channels into one Emotiva Class H power amp for $2,199. And that's still $2,200 over what I had budgeted.
So, that's $4,400 for the whole setup, as opposed to $3,400(?) just for the Anthem receiver? It's a good decision.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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I kinda tried to do that in one amp. In this amp the Left, Right, and Center channels are high power @ 300 watts each into 8 ohms (all channels driven), while the surrounds and atmospherics get 80 watts into 6 ohms apiece, all channels driven (my surrounds are 6 ohm speakers). According to Emotiva:


View attachment 162967
And if I don't like it I can, of course, add another amp. This was how I was able to stay in the neighborhood of my budget while powering 11 speakers and getting 300 watts to each of my front B&W speakers. But this was kind of a pig in a poke, so 🤷‍♀️

I was able to stay in the same zip code as my budget by getting a refurbished Marantz Pre/Pro for $2,200 instead of $3,199, and sinking 11 channels into one Emotiva Class H power amp for $2,199. And that's still $2,200 over what I had budgeted.

Ah... I had forgotten you can have the XPAs configured that way. Makes sense.

_Man_
 

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