Help building a HT for friend

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Giuseppe, Dec 31, 2003.

  1. Giuseppe

    Giuseppe Auditioning

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    A friend of mine is purchasing a new home.
    She has asked me to help her design a home theater for the family and entertainment rooms in her new home.
    The family room is 21'x 24' with a vaulted ceiling and a built in entertainment center (I don't have the measurements for the entertainment center yet).
    The entertainment room is also 21'x 24'. It has a wood burning fireplace which she will use a lot. The room is open on both sides so the only decent wall for video is the wall opposite the fireplace.

    The family room will be for occasional satellite and DVD viewing. I am thinking that a RPTV that fits in the entertainment center (she has owned and likes the pioneer elite), a/v receiver or separates, DVD player, DVR, and good speakers would be perfect for this room.

    The entertainment room I would like to make into a media room of sorts. She loves basketball and watches her team religiously. I want to put an LCD projector/screen and plasma monitor in this room side by side if it is at all possible and depending how it will look aesthetically or 2 plasmas, one large one a bit smaller. The other list of items I would like to add to this room is:
    1.Two HD satellite receivers, DVR for both (I understand that HD receivers with built in DVR are not available yet so maybe one HD with external DVR for now and a non-HD Sat/TiVo combo.)
    2.Progressive scan DVD player with SACD (DVD-A also if there is a decent player that does both)
    3.Pre/Pro and Amp with zone capability for the other rooms in the lower level.
    4.Front/Center/Surround speakers. (B&W possibly)
    5.An easy to operate remote control with macros to accomplish any viewing/listening combination. Touch screen and non-technical.
    6.No theater style seating. She wants to be able to enjoy a fire and a movie/game at the same time.
    7.Anything else I may be forgetting.

    The budget for all this needs to be in the $40,000-50,000 range with installation (I will not be the one drilling holes in her new home’s walls.) She is very frugal, and while she is not very technical she knows what she wants and will definitely shop for the best price. I thought it would be fun setting up a home theater for someone but I am a little nervous.

    I would like recommendations on what equipment I should consider for this project.
    Once I get a broad idea of the equipment I will narrow it down, hunt for best prices then look for an installer.
    If you know of a reliable installer the Oak Brook, IL or West Suburbs of Chicago it would help a lot.
    I have been reading this forum for a couple of years now and have built a decent home theater of my own using the information found here. This is a little more involved than what I have done in the past.

    Thanks in advance for any help/suggestions you can offer.
     
  2. Pat Estes

    Pat Estes Auditioning

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    With that kind of money it sounds like she should hire a person to do it all (ideas,etc). Just my 2cents
     
  3. Shawn Keeler

    Shawn Keeler Stunt Coordinator

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    Why the two plasmas or plasma/screen? One for each eye? As Pat mentioned, with that chunk of change she could hire somebody to do the job. especially, if she is not a technical person, she would probably need something with easy of use. My 2cents also. Now you have 4cents!!!
    Good Luck,
    Shawn Keeler
     
  4. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    Yes they are available. I just got my DishNetwork 921DVR on Christmas Eve. It might be just the ticket for her, especially since she can get the NBA League Pass from Dish and watch some of the games in HD!
     
  5. Giuseppe

    Giuseppe Auditioning

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    I figure that I could get better equipment for the money if I didn't ask a salesperson for advice.
    I may be pessimistic but I believe that their main goal is to make a profit/commission.
    My goal is to find the best equipment, then the best prices, then a salesperson and installer.
    Just because her budget is large I don't think she should throw her money away.
    If I can help her spend only half as much, that much better.
     
  6. JoshuaT

    JoshuaT Stunt Coordinator

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    The salesman's main job is to make a profit and money while at the same time using his/her experience to help in the design and gear selection for what is best for the customer. With the budget you have stated, it is quite clear that someone who designs theater rooms of that caliber would be better suited to design the room. You can always haggle price, you can't haggle experience.
     
  7. Giuseppe

    Giuseppe Auditioning

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    That is why I am here, to tap into the experience of the people on this board. Then I will have a preliminary list of equipment to pick from and a price in mind so I know how much to haggle. I don't know enough about projectors to even begin making an informed decision with or without a salesperson. I believe it was on this board that people said some salespeople will push you towards Bose to make a better commission(just an example). I would like to know if I am being given skewed advice.

    When I built my home theater I came here and read people's recommendations and got a lot of great ideas.
    I ended up getting a Toshiba 65H82 (still kicking myself for not waiting for the 65HX), Outlaw 950/770, Paradigm Studio 100s, SVS 20-39PC + and Panasonic CP-72.
    I am happy with most of my decisions and they were all from recommendations I read here. I did not have an outrageous budget but bought stuff over time.
    I was hoping I could do the same for my friend but get everything at once with a larger budget. I am kind of surprised that I am getting advice to go to a ‘professional’. Is that what everybody here did when they were putting their systems together?
    I thought this would be fun for me and the people on home theater forum.
    I am starting to think differently
     
  8. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Giuseppe,

    You may have shot yourself in the foot by mentioning the budget. Unfortunately, once people here see that they will be more prone to mentally “check out” than take your requests seriously.

    Still, your friend’s needs offer some technical challenges that may indeed require the attention of a professional. The dual monitoring devices, for instance - I wouldn’t have the first idea how to properly or successfully integrate that into a system, and I have some installation experience. It may require some professional-grade video processing or switching equipment that you can’t just get at the local Best Buy.

    Same with the remote requirement. It’s a fact that the most intuitive and user-friendly remotes are also the most complicated to program and set-up. I’m talking here stuff like AMX, which is only available through installation companies.

    Also your post has a large scope, and that makes it fairly daunting. I think you would have much better success by posting “bite sized” threads in our other more appropriate Forums, escpecially since nothing you've raised is really "construction" or "interiors" related.

    For instance, posting the DVD player question (no. 2) in the “Video Sources” Forum would not doubt get a lot of replies. Same with the speaker question and the pre-pro question. There might even be people at the “Display Devices” Forum who could put you on the right track for that dual plasma thing.

    Hope this helps.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  9. Giuseppe

    Giuseppe Auditioning

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    I posted in this forum because I was hoping I could get some recommendations from people who have spent this much money on their home theaters. I didn't. I couldn't afford it. Some of the people who frequent this site obviously can. I've seen the pictures. I've seen posts from people who claim to have helped Steven Spielberg's-cousin's-friend's-neighbor install $500,000 systems. (
     
  10. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    Most of the mid to upper price point preamps will allow for 2 video outputs that can be used in seperate zones, even if the zones are side by side.. This actually makes sense if you want to run a plasma/direct view/RPTV for television viewing and a projection system for movies. You can connect quite a few different sources to a single preamp and relabel the output mames via the on-screen-display. I'm in the process of getting my AVM-20 returned from ANTHEM and selling it. I plan on replacing it with a Sunfire Theater Grand III. My experience with the AVM-20 was less than stellar so I can't recommend it. Others have had good luck with theirs, so you need to really look at good and bad reviews if your interested in it. I guess the same holds true for any piece of equipment though.

    Dual DVR's really is overkill, but it can be done. You really need to help your friend re-think her position on the need for 2 DVR's. A 921dvr allow for viewing 1 hd channel while recording another HD program, add an 811 receiver as a second unit and your good to go.

    I use a Pioneer Elite DV-47a universal player for Audio/Video duties (including DVD-A & SACD), but there are quite a few others that will do a great job as well The Denon 2200 and 2900 deserve a long look.

    I've got an MX-500 universal remote that I really like. It's loaded with features, easy to program, and a breeze to operate.

    Find place to audition the Polk Audio Lsi series speakers. I've got a room full and don't plan on parting with them for a LLLOOONNNGG time. I did audition some B&W's, but my ears prefered the Lsi's.

    Keep in mind that having the fireplace going while watching a movie/tv may make for some viewing irregularities.

    BTW, Excellant sarcasm...it seems to be a lost art.[​IMG]
     
  11. Scott*B

    Scott*B Stunt Coordinator

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    Man salespeople get a bad rap. I just don't get it. A good professional salesperson who takes the time to do some good counseling and helps you select the correct product that you will be happy with is worth any commission he gets paid. Rant over.
     
  12. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    An interesting project. A couple of random comments to add to what others have already said here.

    First, regarding the use of two screens or monitors in the room. I understand why you want to do this and I think that a possible solution might be to consider a Front Projector that does picture in picture. I wasn't even aware of this until I got my Runco CL-710 DLP projector last year. This projector (and I assume that this is also true of many other projectors so you are not limited to Runco) will display both an analog and a digital source either side by side ("picture by picture") or one in the other ("picture in picture") with a wide range of sizing options. While I used to think of this as a gimmick I came to realize that it really isn't that at all. I find myself occasionally watching a ball game (via my Dish HD digital input) while also viewing a DVD movie (via the analog inputs on my projector - the internal scaler on the Runco does a better job than the ones in my players). I suspect that watching a sporting event and watching movies share the priorities of this "NBA/Movie Buff" riend of yours.

    Second, to echo what Frank has said, yes, there are HD PVRs available and we are just at the beginning of a very exciting time in this area. I own several Dish PVRs (a 721 and a 501) and will soon be getting a 921 HD unit to add to my "stable." I'm just waiting for Frank and others to get the bugs out of it a bit (RAF sarcasm here since I'll be on-board shortly in this area). And even if your friend won't be using DISH, but one of the other HD providers, every vendor will have HD recording options shortly. That's the nature of competition.

    Finally, regarding salesmen. Unfortunately, the few rotten apples spoil it for the good ones. Yes, there are competent salespeople out there but there are just as many (probably more) who, whether good intentioned or not, actually do more harm than good especially in such a specialized area as "Home Theater." And as the term becomes more a part of our national (and international) culture, the number of vultures ("culture vultures?") will increase. That's why places like the HTF are so valuable. You may not get all the answers you need, but you will probably get enough information to start the ball rolling as well as follow-up support as you and your friend progress.

    The good news is that you have many, many options. And that's also the bad news.

    :wink:

    Good luck!

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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