Upgrading the Home Theater

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jim Brown, Jul 7, 2001.

  1. Jim Brown

    Jim Brown Auditioning

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    I'm planning to build a home theater as part of a major basement renovation. The space will be 19' x 14'. The door must be placed within 3' of one corner of a 14' wall. I'd love some advice on equipment upgrades and speaker placement.
    Currently, my home theater resides in my family room. About 95% of my viewing is 4:3 from DirecTV at a rate of about two hours per day. The rest is widescreen DVD. Because the TV must be placed in a corner, speaker placement is currently highly sub-optimal. The equipment is as follows:
    Sony 53" RPTV (not XBR) circa 1996
    B&K Ref 10
    Carver 100W x 5 amp
    NHT Super One Front L/R
    NHT 1.1c Center
    NHT Supoer Zero Rear L/R
    NHT SWP1 subwoofer (40W)
    Pioneer DV-F07 DVD changer
    I also have a very low-powered (266 MMX) computer in the mix to provide automation and music storage, although music constitutes a very small percentage of my listening time.
    Overall, I'm pretty satisfied, but here are the areas I've been thinking about improving:
    1. Audio doesn't seem immersive enough, especially in DPL. A lot of this could simply be speaker placement, but I wonder whether DPL II, 7.1, or better speakers would help significantly. The whole concept of filling a room with nine speakers, plus subwoofers, just brings out the Tim Allen in me. [​IMG]
    2. Although I've seldom felt limited by my subwoofer, 40W just seems anemic conceptually. [​IMG]
    3. I like a big picture, and I'm intrigued at the possibility of both increasing my picture size and improving it using an internal line douler or something like the iScan.
    I don't want to spend a fortune, but I'm open to prioritizing and improving gradually. If advisable, I can postpone any purchases about six months. What would you do?
    Thanks in advance.
    ---Jim
     
  2. Steve_D

    Steve_D Second Unit

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    You may be surprised how much having things in their proper place will do for your existing equipment. Anyway, this is how I would plan my upgrade:
    1) Subwoofer + amp- $800
    2) Costco has great deals on HDTV ready Tosh's, the 56" is about $1700 and the 65" about $2500. Add $300 for shipping and yes, your spending (at least) 2 grand but hey lets make it $2600 by adding a prog scan DVD and a decent component cable.
    3) By then, Outlaw is sure to be ready with their 7 channel pre/pro for $900. If you want to go 7 channel, add a nice 2 channel amp for your front 2, and use your existing Carver for the other 5 channels.
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  3. Jim Brown

    Jim Brown Auditioning

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    Good ideas! Thanks. [​IMG]
    Some comments:
    1. Would you really go with a 16:9 set when 95% of my viewing is 4:3? Why not a 4:3 HD ready set, either Toshiba or Sony?
    2. I'm willing to spend perhaps $5,000 on a new video solution. Does that change your suggestion? Is anyone tempted to recommend a front projector?
    3. I'll have to do some research on the Outlaw. I was considering a B&K Ref 30, Yamaha RX-V1, or Yamaha RX-V3000. Any comments on those? Are the front effects outputs Yamaha provides of any value?
    Thanks again. [​IMG]
    ---Jim
     
  4. Steve_D

    Steve_D Second Unit

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    I have a 50" HD ready Toshiba (TN50X81). I bought it for the reason you mentioned, 90% of what I watch is 4:3. Unfortunately, it does not do the vertical squeeze for anamorphic prog scan DVD's therefore I lose resolution. Interestingly, it does for 1080i (the vertical squeeze) but only by messing with designer mode functions.
    If the new 4:3's will (I think the new Tosh's do) do vertical squeeze for all formats... I think that's a reasonable solution. the 16:9 crowd will vehemently disagree but there are whole threads on this debate you can search for.
    Defintely get a prog scan DVD! And what about the new SVS ultra sub at $1100? The $800 I mentioned was for SVS non-ultra line with amp.
    If I had $5k for video upgrade, I'd look at the Pioneer Elite series RPTV...versus the Tosh and Mitsu offerings at about half the price. I'd also investigate FPTV as you suggest...but I'm the wrong guy to ask on that since I have no experience or knowledge of FPTV, except what carries over from RPTV. Sony has their fans...but I think the picture is a tad soft in comparison to the others mentioned...and this seems to be somewhat of a consensus among RPTV fans.
    I misinterpreted your "don't want to spend a fortune". At the price points you are now indicating, they are a step above my current league so hopefully some of our higher line members can step in. FWIW, I don't like Yamaha's (or anyones) DSP modes. I have a B&K amp, and have been impressed with their other offerings, so I would be tempted to add the 30 + Reference series amp.
    There are whole threads on each of your subtopics so search on them and you'll get a lot more info on each.
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  5. Jim Brown

    Jim Brown Auditioning

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  6. Jim Brown

    Jim Brown Auditioning

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    I was looking at the Sony because I'd read good things about the DRC line doubler. While I love the Pioneer Elite, the current models all appear to be 16x9. Perhaps I need to take a much closer look at the Toshiba's. [​IMG]
    After purchasing the DV-F07, I think I'm going to pass on a progressive DVD player until I can get it in a changer. That's one of the reasons I'm so interested in an internal line doubler or something like a DVDO iScan.
    The biggest question in my mind at the moment is the decoder. I'm simply not versed enough in the various surround options even after spending many, many hours reading topics here and at AVSForum trying to update my knowledge. I really want immersive surround sound, particularly for sources that are DD5.1 or DPL.
    Sorry about not providing better budget guidance earlier.
    Thanks for the advice!
    ---Jim
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I'd say you will definitely benefit quite a bit from a better sub. Sony SWAM-40 comes to mind.
    The speakers should be fine, but I think the NHTs lack a little on the bass to mid-bass, so you will have to compensate by running the sub at a slightly higher crossover. Again, the sub is probably the poor performer here. As mentioned, the problem could also lie in the placement of the sub or the other speakers. Put the sub near a corner and see how it does.
    Spend some good money on a receiver. It will likely make the biggest difference in sound. As long as you have 5.1, you will be happy. It is a dramatic improvement over DPL.
    One other recommendation, I would say experiment with your settings. Major improvements can be had with what you have just by getting everything set up properly. It is often just a minor adjustment that can make a big difference.
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  8. Andrew_S

    Andrew_S Auditioning

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    Jim:
    I'd skip the Yammies and go for the B&K Ref 30. I just bought one on Saturday. Paired it with my Sherbourn 5/1500 amp and it's simply beautiful. The only analogy I can think of is it's like someone unwrapped a carpet from around my speakers. The Ref 30 sounds very smooth compared to my Onkyo. I never knew seperates could sound this good. Hell, my Dish Network stuff sounds better than when it was on my Onkyo TX-DS777.
     
  9. Jim Brown

    Jim Brown Auditioning

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    Very true. I suspect having to set everything on the diagonal of the room is 80% of the culprit in my case. Once I get the HT room built, I'll have a better idea. However, as long as I'm building the room, I'm tempted to upgrade to 7.1.
    Thanks!
    ---Jim
     
  10. Jim Brown

    Jim Brown Auditioning

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    quote: Andrew_S wrote
    I'd skip the Yammies and go for the B&K Ref 30.[/quote]
    Yeah, the Ref 30 looks like a sweet piece of equipment. I wish B&K was more forthcoming about their plans for a DPL II upgrade for it.
    How good of a job does the Ref 30 do of taking a DPL source and expanding it to seven channels? How about a 5.1 source?
    I've really enjoyed my Ref 10. [​IMG]
    ---Jim
     
  11. Andrew_S

    Andrew_S Auditioning

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    Jim:
    I'm only a 5.1 guy so I have no idea about DPL or 5.1 to seven channels - I'll have to leave that comment to someone else. I have heard that after B&K provides a Ref 10 and Ref 20 upgrade to the Ref 30, they'll release the DPL II upgrade. I'll definitely upgrade, but i'm not in a huge rush for it and I wouldn't let the lack of DPL II yet detract from the quality of the Ref 30. Maybe you could just upgrade your Ref 10?
    If you like the sound of the Ref 10, the Ref 30 should blow you away. From the reviews I read, the sound is even much improved over the Ref 10.
     
  12. Jim Brown

    Jim Brown Auditioning

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    I could probably work a trade-in on my Ref 10 for a Ref 30 with a dealer.
    I've been doing a bit of reading, and in addition to the Ref 30 and Yamaha RX-V1, I'm also considering the Harmon Kardon 8000 and Denon AVR-5800.
    Andrew, thanks for your comments on the Ref 30. I'm certain you'll enjoy it for many years. [​IMG]
    ---Jim
     

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