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Planning a Home Theater Project (1 Viewer)

Swanton

Auditioning
Joined
May 22, 2008
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3
Real Name
Michael
Hello everyone,

This is my first post although I have been contemplating working on a home theater room since moving into our house in 2006. I apologize if this is not in the proper section of the forum; just let me know and I’ll move elsewhere.

I am about a month or so away from committing to upgrade our “lounge” to a full-blown theater room. I would love to hear advice on the various types of hardware and installation I might pursue.

A few notes:

1.We are planning to get a 50-inch plasma HDTV and mount it to the wall where our current TV is placed. I realize this is directly across from three windows, and we are in the process of getting heavily lined drapes to “blackout” the light from the windows.
2.The two gold chairs are going to be moved to another room. The couch pictured will move up against the wall to the left of the new TV (facing toward the TV). We have another couch that will be moved upstairs that will go in front of the windows and directly face to TV. The couch is pictured below (it’s the brown one) and the chez can be flipped so it’ll be on the right side and not the left. The combination of the two couches should provide ample room for viewing.
3.We have had DirecTV for about 10 years, and have an HD TiVo receiver although we do not have an HDTV yet. I’m going to try to see if I can get an upgraded model from DirecTV before moving forward; the least they can say is “no.”
4.We plan to get a Blu-ray player, and I am leaning toward simply buying a PS3 because I enjoy videogames (see #5).
5.We have an XBOX 360 and I’m looking forward to playing games on a more epic scale in the room once the video and sound system are installed.

I have several questions, but I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on anything I have mentioned thus far. For example, I feel like I’m set on getting a plasma, but I know LCD is another option we could go with.

First, after doing some research and watching various TVs in action, I am leaning toward the Pioneer PDP-5010FD, but know there is an Elite model that adds another $1,000 or so. What do you think about the Pioneer? And is the Elite worth the extra cost compared to other TVs out there? Are there other 50-to-58 inch TVs you would recommend over this?

Second, what type of sound system would you recommend? We are considering whether or not to do everything wall-mounted or to have tower speakers in the front and speaker stands in the back. I heard that the wall mounted speakers (especially the surround) do not perform as well as free-standing speakers. Also, are five speakers plus a sub-woofer more than adequate?

Third, I will not be installing all of this myself. I am trying to determine the best place to buy the equipment and the best place to install the equipment. I know I could get everything at Best Buy and have them install it, but I’m not sure I trust them, and it would be more expensive then buying things online and then having a contractor come out to put everything together in the house. What would you suggest?

Last, I do not have a firm budget yet, but certainly could not go in for more than the 8K range. I think that should be enough to put together a kickass room for watching sports, shows and movies and playing games. How would you allocate that amount considering I need to buy the following:

HDTV
Speakers
Receiver
Sub-woofer
Blu-ray player (likely PS3)
Cables, etc.
Storage/cabinet
Installation

Also, is there anything else in terms of a “cherry on the top” that would be good for the room? I’m not sure what that might be, but you might have some ideas from seeing the room and hearing my thoughts.

If you read this far, then thank you very much! This turned into a longer message than I thought it would be when I first started writing.

Thank you.
 

thrca

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Messages
50
Real Name
Jim
One thing that I havent checked on lately is whether the SED release dates have been announced yet. You might want to check into that, as you may either A) want an SED (since they are super-duper), or B) benefit from the huge cost savings once SED is released to the masses, because other technologies will likely drop in price. I havent followed whether the legal issues with Nano had been resolved yet or not, but rumors indicate that Canon thinks they have found a non-carbon solution that gets away from Nano's patent..

Maybe you arent ready to wait this long, since its unknown how long it will be. I guess I am just drinking too much SED koolaid.
 

Robert_J

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2000
Messages
8,350
Location
Mississippi
Real Name
Robert
3. DirecTV will gladly swap your HR10-250 for an HR21 (no Tivo software). Depending on your monthly bill, it will cost $199 or less. I upgraded back in October before the rush of upgrades and got a new receiver, new multi-switch, new dish and installation for $19.95 with a 2 year commitment. Do you use your HR10 for OTA recording? Then you will need the AM21 OTA module as well.

First - TV's that you see in a showroom will look totally different in your room. Most will be very close to the same picture after calibration. I let price and features be the main factors when picking out a TV.

Second - Wall mounted speakers vs. free standing should not be any different IF the speakers were designed to be mounted that way. Audition as many speakers as possible because speaker selection is very personal.

Third - I suggest that you install it yourself unless there is some physical handicap stopping you. It is cheaper (your labor is free). It will be done correctly (do you really trust the Geek Squad). When it breaks and something will break, you will have the knowledge how to troubleshoot and find the issue. You may not be able to fix it but you will be able to easily buy a new piece of equipment as a replacement.

Budget - Receivers and source components will always change but a quality set of speakers will serve you well for decades. Don't cut corners here.

Finally, post your location. You never know who in this large community is close by and willing to lend a hand. I've had locals over to demo my room as well as helping others with their systems.

-Robert
 

Vin_G

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 28, 2008
Messages
116
Real Name
Vince
Swanton,

You asked a lot of questions there, so I will only give my 2 cents on some of them:

Wall Mounted vs Stands - Stands are ideal for bookshelf speakers as any front speaker should be 3' from the wall behind it (measured to the front of the speaker) to prevent reflections of frequencies above 80Hz. So if you have bookshelves and you are using them as your main fronts then I would get stands. However, rear sounds are a completely different issue. You want to encourage desertion and reflections to get a more ambient sound. So these can be mounted on the wall and even high if you want, but put diffuser panels behind them so the sound is not directional. You can probably make these up yourself with something from Home Depot.

What Equipment to Buy - This is personal choice, but I can give you some ideas. Your center channel and subwoofer(s) work the hardest during movies so make sure these are big and powerful. Subwoofers are their own beast, and the top speaker manufacturers don't necessarily make the best subs. Craigsub did a shoot-out of top subs and some are quite affordable and can be seen here: Official Craigsub rankings thread - AVS Forum
If you don't know speakers at all, then you have to go to some higher-end stores and take a listen for yourself because it is like choosing wine; everyone has their opinion. Make sure that your center channel and your front speakers area the same brand, model and version so that they "timbre match" so when sound sweeps the across the front stage it sounds consistent. Ideally your surrounds would be from the same family, but there is where it comes down to budget.
As far as a receiver goes, if you want to take advantage of the new, uncompressed audio being offered by Blu-Ray you will need an receiver with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD decoding. This is the future (at the moment) for receivers. When selecting your speakers and receiver make sure to match the power closely too. Don't waste your money buying speakers that are 150 watts RMS and they buy an amp that is 75 watts RMS as you are not taking advantage of the speaker's potential and the sound will start to clip (and yes, only look at the RMS power wattage rating, not the "peak" or "dynamic").

You can buy 5.1 speakers, but I would recommend 7.1 as Blu-Ray has announced that everything will be recorded in true 7.1 surround sound from now on so you will be missing out! If money is real tight then just get 4 affordable surround speakers until you can afford to upgrade.

Buying - Be prepared to shop around. I don't know any one dealer that I would buy from. I don't think any two pieces of my home theater were from the same store and this is due to cost. If I was to buy all from one store that would have cost me at least 50% more than looking for deals on individual components. And Bestbuy? There is nothing they have for sale there that I think I would buy for home theater. I buy my cable from monoprice.com and bluejeanscables.com receiver from an authorized internet dealer, front speakers from a higher-end store, rear surrounds I buy used but they are high end, matching speakers, and maybe Blu-Ray at bestbuy if they have a killer sale.

By the way, are you doing any modifcations to the room? You can then hide the wires in the wall, add more electrical circuits, sound proof, etc.
 

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