Home Theater

 

I've been into home theaters since about 1990.  It all started with a 27" television, HiFi VCR, and modest Onkyo receiver.  Over the years, many different AV components have been added or replaced in my system. 

I have two home theater systems in my current house.  One is a fairly simple system in the family room designed for normal day-to-day use.  I decided to conform the system to it's surroundings and to try to keep it as simple as possible.  It looks and sounds pretty good. This system is comprised of the following components:

  • Mitsubishi WS-65809 (65" 16x9 HD RPTV)
  • Denon 3801 AV Receiver
  • Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD player
  • Brighthouse Networks High Def DVR
  • B&W CDM-CNT speakers (front left, center, right)
  • Atlantic Technology SR10 dipole surround speakers (in the ceiling)
  • Velodyne HGS-12 subwoofer

I painted the compartment around the TV flat black which helps make the TV 'disappear' in the room.  Which is not an easy feat for such a large black box! 

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The main home theater system is in the 'bonus' room over the garage. Since the room will be a dedicated home theater, I've decided to go a little bit crazy.  The room is approximately 13 1/2'x23'x8' and the decor for the room is what I call "Fortress of Ultimate Darkness". Otherwise known as the "BatCave".  The ceiling and front wall are flat black.  The side and back walls are medium neutral gray and the carpet is dark gray and very plush.  The furniture is a black leather Ekornes 'Stressless' loveseat and two Ekornes "Vegas" swivel recliners. 

Here's the equipment list:

  • Epson Home Cinema 720 LCD projector
  • Stewart Luxus Deluxe Screenwall Grayhawk 123" screen (107"x60")
  • BetterCables.com video interconnects
  • Whisperflow DILA hushbox
  • Lexicon DC-2 
  • Two (2) Sherbourn 5/1500A (5x200w) amplifiers
  • Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player
  • XBox 360 with HD DVD player
  • Sony PS3 for BlueRay DVD
  • B&W 804 (front left and right, rear left and right)
  • B&W HTM (center)
  • Boston Acoustics VRMX side surrounds
  • Velodyne F1500 sub
  • Straightwire encore interconnects
  • Xantech IR wired repeater system

And this is what the room looked like originally....

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The ceiling has been painted....

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And then the side walls were painted and the old carpet and padding was rolled up for removal....

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Working on the back wall and trim.  You can see the white 2" foam insulation I'm using to reduce the noise from the dedicated air handler....

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This was the original 104" Draper screen (Later upgraded to the 123" Stewart Grayhawk).  When it arrived I put it together even though it would be another 2 weeks before I got the projector.  This photo shows how big the screen was relative to the family room system....

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Here's the equipment rack that I custom built to fit in a closet in the previous house. The equipment rack is designed to maximize cooling air flow.  I decided to install a laminate floor in the equipment closet because it's easier to move around the equipment rack.

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  1. Monster HTS-3500 surge protector/line conditioner
  2. Crystal Image video scaler
  3. Lexicon DC-2 processor
  4. Sony 9000ES DVD player
  5. Brighthouse High Definition cable box
  6. Sherbourn  5/1500A amplifier
  7. Sherbourn  5/1500A amplifier

 

The JVC DLA-G11 in the Whisperflow Hushbox. The DLA-G11 has been replaced with an Epson HC720.

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Screen shots from Toy Story 2.  The Draper Clarion screen and the black wall behind the screen do a very good job of making the video image appear to "float in space".

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Finally the furniture arrived.  The furniture is 2 Ekornes Stressless "Vegas" recliners and loveseat in black leather with cherry wood trim.

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I decided to upgrade to a larger screen (and try the new "gray screen" technology for improved contrast/black level).  I bought a Stewart Luxus Deluxe Screenwall (GrayHawk) 123" (107"x60").  It is significantly larger than the Draper (106" diagonal) screen (30% more screen area).  The contrast is better, but the picture might lack the POP and absolute clarity of the smaller screen.  Basically I'm not 100% positive that it's a "net" improvement. The good news is that the Stewart was much easier to "build" than the Draper (4 screws vs 48 screws) and the frame feels much stronger.  Of course it cost twice as much, so it better have some positive attributes.  :)

You can sort of see the 'grayness' of the screen in these photos.

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The red rectangle super-imposed on this photo shows the approximate difference in size between the Draper (106" diagonal) and the new Stewart screen (123" diagonal).

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My next step is to work on the acoustics by adding some absorber and bass trap panels.

I recently had to take down the screen to perform some maintenance and decided to snap a couple pictures of the room since it's been almost 5 years since there's been any sunlight in the room.  My wife had never seen the room with the screen and blackout blinds removed such that the actual window was visible.  Hopefully she won't get any "ideas".  :)

I finished installing acoustics panels to deal with some of the terrible acoustic issues that have plagued our theater room.  It sounded more like an echo chamber than a movie theater because of all the parallel hard surfaces (walls/ceiling). The acoustic panels and corner bass traps have made an amazing difference in the sound quality. It's hard to describe the tremendous improvement! I bought the pre-made acoustic panels from ATS Acoustics (www.ATSAcoustics.com) and I bought the corner nest system super sub bass traps 'kits' from Ready Acoustics (www.ReadyAcoustics.com).  Both ATS and Ready were great to work with to generate design plan for improving the acoustics.  Ideally I would have installed bass traps in all four corners of the room however it was not feasible to put bass traps in the rear corners so I opted for 4" thick panels on the walls rather than 2" thick panels that could have been used.  In addition to the five first reflection absorption panels (4"x24"x48") along each side wall of the room, I also installed two custom sized panels (4"x20"x48") that are on the front wall below the screen.

These pictures are overexposed in order to be able to show the acoustic panels because normally the room is too dark to see much in photographs. Because the photos are overexposed the panels appear more red and less burgundy than they actually are.

My library of DVDs and BlueRays got booted from the guest bedroom when we converted it into a craft/sewing room, so I built a custom shelf to store them up in the home theater.  Hopefully it won't screw up the acoustics of the room too much. :)

                                                                                   

 

 

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