Where does size matter?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by VinhT, Feb 14, 2002.

  1. VinhT

    VinhT Second Unit

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    Which is more important for an enveloping home theater experience, a big picture or "big sound"? I ask because I am in the process of replacing my no-fi audio and video gear.

    While going through about 3/4 of the home theater gallery section, I noticed a few things. First, a lot of people had tons of expensive hi-end audio equipment(processors, amps, speakers, the works). But then when it came to the visual component, it seemed that a 27" screen was the most popular choice. As I type this, I can look over my shoulder and see various frames of TV sizes that I have marked on my wall(27", 32", 36" direct view, and 42" plasma). Standing 4 feet away, the 27" already seems small. From a mere 6 feet away, all of them look small, and my calculated viewing angle is about 26 degrees.

    I bring this up, because in most of the photos that I've seen, the sitting position is located even further back, around 8-12 feet, making the viewing angle about 13 degrees. Anyways, movie theaters are required to have a minumum of a 30 degree viewing angle for the sweet spot, and THX even recommends 36 degrees for a more immersive movie experience.

    So what I'm wondering is, since so many home theater enthusiasts choose to invest more in the audio department, is that the more important component to a successful home theater? Anyone have suggestions about how money should be allocated(ratio wise) when budgeting for home theater?
     
  2. Dheiner

    Dheiner Gazoo

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    In my opinion, at first sink most of your money into the TV. Get the biggest and best you can. My reasoning is that the display is the most expensive to upgrade later, while most any other upgrades would be do-able in less than $1000.00 chunks.
     
  3. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I agree with John. A lot of people go for small display devices because of space constraints. Big RPTVs take up a lot of space, and the bigger they get, the less flexibility you have with placement. Front projectors require a large room and a fairly sophisticated installation (at least as compared to unboxing a 27" TV!).

    A good audio system, by contrast, can be fit into a smaller space and, especially with separates, can be arranged in numerous ways. Speakers don't have to be huge to sound good. If space is tight, you can usually manage to incorporate much better audio than video gear.

    M.
     
  4. Rod Melotte

    Rod Melotte Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a Sony 27in WEGA Trinatron. I was VERY VERY happy with it. I then purchased a Sony DVD player and then a Surround Sound system.

    I figure I'm 10-12 feet away from the tube and 2.35-1 Widescreen is OK but we move the couch closer on those movies. I WISH I would have had the money (at the time) to go with a bigger tube.

    HOWEVER - good without the good sound I would not care about frame size. The are SO interrelated it's silly.

    IF I could do it all over I would get a bigger TV with stereo and fill in the back later.

    One thing to consider - most entertainment centers are made for 27in TV's thus a 32in tube will cost extra if you do not have a place to put it.
     
  5. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I agree. A huge picture and a HT in a box has more of an impact than a smaller TV and great sound. When I got my TV I was running some cheapo speakers and a cheap DPL receiver and the TV made a dramatic difference.
     
  6. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Yep, the big picture makes the biggest difference. I had a small 35" Sony then recently made the jump into the 46" 16:9 RPTV. That made a huge difference. I just had her ISF'd by HTFs own Gregg Loewen, that made an even bigger difference. Big picture with little sound will beat out a small picture with big sound, IMO.
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  7. Jon_B

    Jon_B Screenwriter

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    I have to agree that a "big" picture seems to have more of an initial impact on people than sound does. I think a good balance of both will yield the best results. If that means a compromise of not getting the biggest video display or the "biggest" sound, so be it.
    All this coming from a guy with a 25" tv. [​IMG]
    Jon
     
  8. Ron Eastman

    Ron Eastman Second Unit

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    A large television is typically so much more expensive than an individual audio component that many here invest small chunks of money into the audio side and neglect video. Personally, I think a good spending ratio is probably 50-50 even though my ratio is about 70-30 in favor of audio.

    The first thing I upgraded when I got into DVD was my television. I'm in an apartment and the furthest viewing distance is about 13 feet from the screen. When I bought my 50-inch 4:3 RPTV my friends and family told me I was crazy, that this was just too big for my room. I almost considered going with a smaller screen and I'm thankful that I didn't. After having lived with it for a few years I'm convinced that it's probably the minimum I should have in my room for widescreen programming but seems to be the ideal size when used for 4:3 programs. A few months ago I made a cardboard template of a 65-inch 16:9 screen and placed it in front of my television and it convinced me that this would be an ideal size for my room. The bonus with this size is that I wouldn't lose much with 4:3 programs.
     
  9. Alex Prosak

    Alex Prosak Supporting Actor

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    A big screen is must. I just bought a 55" widescreen Mitsubishi that I'll build my system around. Just going with 2 channel for the time being.

    Once I got the Mits delivered I wished I'd got the 65" instead. Screen size has such a large impact on the feel of the movie. When I go upstairs and turn on the 27" TV, I wondered how I did without a big screen for so long. The 27" now seems like a 13".
     
  10. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I run the Sony W400Q front projector which went for $3K a few years ago. The jump into the 105" screen size was more than a little dramatic. I felt like I had been into home theater before that (already had a DD 5.1 system) but when the projector came home I KNEW I HAD HOME THEATER.
    However, like the suggestions above stated, I have kept chipping away at the audio section and probably have a little over $3K in that too...a 50/50 breakdown.
    I still have a few more audio upgrades to go though while I will ride this projector out for at least 2-3 more years if not more.
    Video makes the bigger impact especially if you have the space. 2nd biggest upgrade, going from Pro-Logic to DD 5.1/DTS (which is basically standard now). The sonic seperation is very noticeable, just not as dramatic as a much bigger screen.
    1 big chuck for video, baby steps for audio. [​IMG]
     
  11. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

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    I agree with Alex, a large screen is a must. The bigger, the better! To me, it's the sound that compliments the picture, not the other way around. While I appreciate hearing & feeling the thunder of major sound effects as much as the next person, it's the picture that mezmorizes me.
    I'm currently shopping for an RPTV, and the minimum screen size I'd even consider would be 57". My frontrunner is Sony's KDP-57XBR2. Circuit City stated that, once it's delivered and set up, if I'm not happy with that size, they'd order the 65" XBR2 and swap out the 57" without any problem. Someone else on the forum mentioned that, yes...at first the set seems overwhelming, but after a few days they couldn't have imagined getting anything less.
    As for sound, the XBR2's speakers deliver amazingly decent sound. In fact, they sound better than the moderate Sony Receiver/surround sound speakers that I'm currently using on a 32" Magnavox. But, since the RPTV is my *major* expenditure, I can always save and splurge on Bose speakers in a few months.
     
  12. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

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    Aaaaaaah!! She said 'Bose'! Someone get the garlic and holy water! [​IMG]
    All kidding aside, I would definitely consider carefully before buying Bose. As far as I know, they are the only major audio manufacturer that do not provide any meaningful technical information about, or specifications for, their products; a definite caution sign in my books.
    Many of their products are also of questionable design with prices that are very hard to justify in terms of their raw audio performance.
    Take a look at the following pages for some related information:one, two and this recent thread.
    Adam
     
  13. Drew Eckhardt

    Drew Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    Your friends will be more impressed by a big screen, although you might get more enjoyment out of the audio side especially if you can't setup a separate listening room (I only have one spare room that has both reasonable size and shape). With good audio gear, you can almost forget that it's not real. Until recently, affordable big video wouldn't even be mistaken for film.

    If the room is not dual purpose, I think it's a frame of reference thing. My parents never had a large television, the first two I got were 12 and 19" respectively (free), and I was used to the small size. Conversely, my first stereo was separates paired with decent speakers and a good CD player. Exposed to HTIB setups, I get distracted by the actors with colds, droning/chuffing subwoofer, and islands of sound rather than a continous immersive soundfield. I'd also look at it as "which first" rather than "either or" - last year I got my surround sound setup dialed in and was happy I did that first, this year my project is front projection (I'm currently using a six foot wide 4:3 screen which makes for a 90" NTSC diagonal).

    People try to apply rules of thumb to budgets (I've heard half audio, half video; or 1/3 display, 1/3 speakers, 1/3 electronics), although the democratization of good video equipment (buy a new big-screen and you get a free line doubler that used to cost $10K), emergance of direct sales on audio gear lacking the normal markups, spill-over from the computer projection market, etc. really screw with this.

    To visit the video size issue: Beyond some point, you can't take in the whole thing and will get distracted (less than 1.5X screen width). This is not possible with consumer one-piece sets at normal domestic seating distances (you'd need to be seven feet from a 65" 16:9 set). LCD keeps me from getting that close before screen door is distracting.

    If you want a cinematic experience, you need a front projection setup. While in home theater circles this is considered high end equipment, used CRT projectors, new computer projectors, and last season's home-theater models are all more affordable. Either a used CRT projector (CRT light control and fixed mounting requirements make them inappropriate for corporate installations where they're being surplussed after being replaced by digital projectors) or new presentation market digital projector can be setup for less than you'd pay for a rear projection set.
     
  14. RayRho

    RayRho Auditioning

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    Here goes my very first post on HTF...just my 2 cents.

    While I agree wholeheartedly that largescreens have a significant impact on the home theater experience, my recent purchase of a 27" Sony Wega was influenced by weight and value. This beauty weights 110 lbs and is as much as I can carry downstairs by myself. More importantly though is my reluctance to spend kilodollars in a market that seems to be in a transitional state. I'm not planning on investing in a largescreen until I see HDTV being more commonplace and standardized.
     
  15. Drew Eckhardt

    Drew Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    1) A portable digital projector weighs five pounds. A 7" CRT still weighs less than 100 pounds. The later is much more interesting.

    2) Excellent used 7" CRTs can be found for about $1250 from reputable sources with good tubes. There is no plural in that kilobuck, even after you throw in a screen.

    3) The 5C licensing specs make an exemption on the output limitations in the first few years for computer devices which you use to drive said CRT. If that doesn't work, they can probably be resold to CRT Cult Members for about what you paid at least until digital projectors are fixed and a reasonable HD software library is available.

    3) DVDs scaled via HTPC on a CRT projector look like film. HD offers more detail (In my last professional life I did disk based digital video recorders with top resolutions of 1080i/720p at 360 Mbps using outboard Panasonic HDP CODECs. I was subject to HD with minimal compression at full resolution far more often than necessary. Scaled DVD detail doesn't match that although the overall feel is still there) on a movie theater scale.

    4) CRT Setup is about as difficult and time consuming as building a bicycle wheel (read as not very although it takes patience).

    Front projection needn't be expensive. Although setup isn't trivial, if you're a technical sort of person it's more a time than talent issue. Try it, and you will believe....
     
  16. VinhT

    VinhT Second Unit

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    Thanks for all the input everyone, especially Drew; very moving arguments in favor of front projection CRT.
     
  17. OliverT

    OliverT Stunt Coordinator

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    I have to agree that you should go with a bigger picture and then fit sound into what budget you have left over.

    Do not underestimate HTiB. A good friend of mine who is a serious audiophile switched his normal $10000 rig over to a a HTiB he was evaluating for a family member. He was completely blown away by the sound he was getting for less than $500. He said he could barely detect any difference from his normal setup - and he was pretty sure that the difference he was detecting was probably just a subconsious bias. He told me he really tried hard find fault with the sound generated by the HTiB but just couldn't do it.

    Go for the bigger screen and then get an HTB. You won't be sorry.
     
  18. Gregg Pearson

    Gregg Pearson Auditioning

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    I purchased a Mitisibishi 55 inch widescreen and DVD player in Jan of 2001. Wow!, was I impressed. My living room is 17 X 17 and I could have gone much bigger. I just recently started looking into getting a HT system.

    I can only imagine the impact a HT system will have on my movie watching experience at home. Right now, I only have two old Sony stereo speakers hooked up and to me, since I have no experience, sounds pretty good.

    In the next month or so, I should have the total package set up. I have no experience in HT, but I think getting the biggest, best TV you can has to be important, but of course, we are talking close to 3000 bucks.

    Anyway, Ill let you guys know if my opinion changes once I get my HT set up. But, for now, I vote for the TV.
     

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