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Build a home theater for $10,000 (help)

Old 09-22-06, 12:50 PM
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Build a home theater for $10,000 (help)

My father has fallen in love with my home theater, so he has decided to build on to his home and get his own. It will be approximately 15x26 with no windows. It will start at an 8' height and end up about 10' with two steps for 3 viewing platforms. The main viewing distance will be at 15'.

So here is what I need, as he needs it all.

projector
audio receiver 7.1
speaker system (am thinking about two sets of side surround, but don't know how that is integrated, and would like 7.1)

And what else am I forgetting? Don't worry about wiring, screen, etc. as I can take care of those. Also this is a room built soley for home theater, so let me know what your experiences are and what you would have done differently. I am thinking a "ledge" for the projector would be preferable to a ceiling mount, but not sure.

Anyway, this will only start to be built in a few months, so I have time. Thanks much.
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Old 09-22-06, 01:00 PM
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Well I planned my theater for nearly a year before building.

Here is a link to the dolby website for speaker placement

http://www.dolby.com/consumer/home_e...oomlayout.html

My room is also a dedicated room 15x19. Make sure you wire for everything possible as cable is cheap. Pay attention to insulation everywhere, think about sub placement especially. If you are going to go projector and screen be sure to calculate throw distance for your screen size and plan where the projector will hang. A hush box is nice but it takes away headroom, honestly on my Sharp 10K I rarely hear the fan during most movies.

Plan your lighting, how many zones you might want. I ran a dedicated circuit just for my equipment that was off the lighting circuit. Remember to include drops for phone, coax and cat 5.

You can see my theater in my sig, good luck!
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Old 09-22-06, 01:14 PM
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If he is going that big and has the budget - why not go w/ separates instead of a receiver?
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Old 09-22-06, 01:21 PM
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So, $10K just for those 3 things? Easy! But you need to add control to the list. Frankly, you could even pay a local high-end shop to install it for $10K, although trying to get some of these places to put in an inexpensive PJ is like passing a kidney stone.

There are countless possibilities of good equipment. This might be an awesome audio setup:
Outlaw 970/7125 combo (separates for easier upgrades)
http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/index.html

Speakers is tough. People have individual taste. We've had lots of speaker threads. I'd probably look at Paradigm, NHT, Rocket, SVS first, if it was for me.

Control:
Harmony, MX-850, or a Pronto 3000. Depending on how you want to control. This site lists most of these:
www.surfaudiovideo.com

PJ:
I'd probably look at either a new $999 720p DLP, or jump to the new 1080p models. None of these are shipping yet. We've had a couple threads about these in the last week.
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Old 09-22-06, 01:50 PM
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If I had your budget I would be looking at the Mitsubishi HC5000BL or the VPL-VW50. Both have recently come out at CEDIA and initial reviews have been promising.
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Old 09-22-06, 02:29 PM
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Thanks for a good start. There is nothing even remotely local to me that could do a custom install, unfortunately. I've also never messed with seperates, so I have no idea what they are, or why one would do them. My father will want stuff to be simple.
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Old 09-22-06, 04:03 PM
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720p or 1080p projector?

For 1080p look into the Sony VPL-VW50

1: Benq 8720 (a bit pricey for 720p, but has the highest contrast of them all)
2: Optoma HD73 (excellent deal. Only $1,999 for 720p Darkchip 3 with brillaint color and other great features)
3: Optoma HD7100
4: HC3000U (can be had for only $1,500)
5: HD70 (720p for only $999. However, for the amount you guys are spending don't skimp on picture quality to save some money, go all out. Get the best contrast at the very least).


I'd have to disagree about going with the HD70 unless you have a tight budget, which clearl you do not. See the units above. If you go DLP get a Darkchip 3 unit (preferrably the HD73, which won't drop as much as the 8720).

There is still a big difference between the prices of say the Optoma HD73 Darkchip 3 720p unit and the Sony VPL-VW50 1080p LCOS. About $3,000 to be more specific. Do I think the picture of the Sony is $3,000 beter (1.5x the price for the difference in price alone.). No, absolutely not.

These great 1080p units are gonna see their prices drop like rocks over the next year or two. Get a nice 720p unit that won't drop as dramatically in price and then upgrade to 1080p when their prices are less ridiculous.

The HD73 shouldn't drop lower than $1,500 for awhile. The HD70 will probably have the smallest decline in price (it'll probably drop no more than $300 for awhile). However, while the quality will be very good it will not be on the same level as the HD73 and if you sell to upgrade to 1080p you may only lose $100-$200 more by going with the HD73. All the material looking as great as it will on the machine will make it worth that IMO. The HC3000U is a good choice too because it can be had for just $1,449 and will probably not drop below $1,100-$1,200 for awhile.
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Old 09-22-06, 04:18 PM
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Yeah, the projector is a pretty big issue. I use the Panasonic PT-900AU and love it. I am quite sure that he would as well. I previously had the Infocus A1 and had an LCD phobia, but I no longer do. Decisions, decisions....
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Old 09-22-06, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Thanks for a good start. There is nothing even remotely local to me that could do a custom install, unfortunately. I've also never messed with seperates, so I have no idea what they are, or why one would do them. My father will want stuff to be simple.
I listed an example of separates above. A receiver contains 2 parts, the preamp/processor (pre/pro) and amplifier. In "separates", these are separated into 2 different devices. Here's why they are superior.

First, quality is generally superior, both build and sound. Most companies make pretty decent amps at any price, if they are a separate product. The amps in receivers are all lesser in audio quality compared to separate amps, even in the $6000 receivers. (Sunfire is an exception to this) The same holds somewhat true for the pre/pro side, there are usually better quality components in the separates than in a receiver.

Next, there is always change in the processing, so the preamp part keeps needing upgrades if you want to keep up. For example, BD and HDDVD have added 3 new codecs, each with variations. Even if you don't upgrade for every little thing, there have been 3 major upgrades in the last 20 years that most people wanted to get: Dolby Surround/Pro Logic, Dolby Digital/DTS, and now DD+/TrueHD/DTS-HD.

The one thing that may NEVER need upgrading in your system is the amp and speakers. Except maybe adding more of them as surround gets crazier. So, keeping the amp separate from the pre/pro means you are saving money each time you decide to upgrade. A good power amp should last decades, and could easily have outlasted all the major upgrades. (although one from the 70s or 80s would only be stereo)

As to simplicity: all the difference to the end user is that there are some wires between the preamp and the amp. That's it, control and menus and whatnot won't be any more difficult.
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Old 09-22-06, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Yeah, the projector is a pretty big issue. I use the Panasonic PT-900AU and love it. I am quite sure that he would as well. I previously had the Infocus A1 and had an LCD phobia, but I no longer do. Decisions, decisions....
He'd probably love the LCD, but the fact is you can get a better projector for as low as $999 (HD70) and the AE900 isn't in the same league as a DarkChip3 DLP like the Optoma HD73 which can be had for $2000. The $1449 Mitsubishi HC3000U is quite a bit better too.

With DLP you will see added richness and depth. The AE900 has low native contrast probably around 700-800:1 based on what I've read they use iris tricks to claim higher. The $999 HD70 has a 2700:1 native contrast without Image AI on (with it it provably scores 3500-4000:1).

The HD73 scored about 4500:1 without Image AI. The question is why settle for less, especially when better can be had for not much more or even LESS.

The AE900 should only cost $799 brand new right now. Coming from the X1 you shouldn't have given you LCD phobia. The X1 isn't even close to units like the 4805 which is an 854x480p unit. Coming from a better DLP is a different story. They give you better perspective.
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Old 09-22-06, 05:36 PM
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You better find out if your father is sensitive to DLP rainbows before picking a projector.

If you're concentrating on the picture, how about the Sony Ruby? Or is it overpriced for its performance these days? How about the Sony Pearl?
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Old 09-22-06, 06:10 PM
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He watched stuff on the X1 and never noticed a rainbow, so I think we would be in the clear there.

Do all the normal makers (Yamaha, Sony, etc.) make seperates for the amp, etc.? I don't even know where to go to begin looking at those things.
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Old 09-22-06, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
He watched stuff on the X1 and never noticed a rainbow, so I think we would be in the clear there.

Do all the normal makers (Yamaha, Sony, etc.) make seperates for the amp, etc.? I don't even know where to go to begin looking at those things.
Yamaha used to make seperates, not sure if they still do.

Honestly while I like seperates I think that some of the top of the line Denon or Yamaha theater receivers will give you more bang for the buck.
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Old 09-22-06, 07:17 PM
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Does this price include seating? What about a DVD player? Screen? In additions to those mentioned above I'd recommend,

KEF for speakers
H/K for HT receiver (tho I also love the Outlaw stuff)
Harmony 880 remote
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Old 09-22-06, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by X
If you're concentrating on the picture, how about the Sony Ruby? Or is it overpriced for its performance these days? How about the Sony Pearl?

The Pearl was mentioned twice and yes the Ruby it is overpriced, regardless of its performance.
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Old 09-23-06, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Sdallnct
Does this price include seating? What about a DVD player? Screen? In additions to those mentioned above I'd recommend,

KEF for speakers
H/K for HT receiver (tho I also love the Outlaw stuff)
Harmony 880 remote

It's a pretty rough amount. He through out the figure and it probably doesn't include seating. DVD player is such a small amount of this as the HD-A1 can be had for under $400. He and I made my 122" screen and we will probably make his as well (though a little larger) so there isn't much expense there.
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Old 09-23-06, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
It's a pretty rough amount. He through out the figure and it probably doesn't include seating. DVD player is such a small amount of this as the HD-A1 can be had for under $400. He and I made my 122" screen and we will probably make his as well (though a little larger) so there isn't much expense there.
Well, if he wants the typical, leather, HT recliners, this can be a huge budget item. At roughly $400-$800 (or more) per chair for a couple of rows of three or four add up real fast and can turn into one of the most expensive items in your theater (say $600 average price X 6 chairs = $3,600).

While Berkline is considered the standard, also look at some of the Coasters. Depending on color needs and if you can work within their configurations can save some money and yet still get good reviews. Sams/Costco also carries some "in stock" Berkline from time to time. You can save pretty big with these if you indeed can work with whatever they happen to have in stock.

But things to consider for seating,

How many? Do they need to be wall hugger? Do you want power recline, butt kickers, fabric.

Keep in mind that once you have a plan in place, you should consider ordering seating even before construction. Why? Most (other then those at Sams/Costco) are made to order which often takes 6-8 weeks.
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Old 09-24-06, 12:29 AM
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The Ruby is overpriced as soon as the Pearl ships. Maybe, it's already come way down in street pricing and does have a far superior lamp compared to any of the new 1080 models. Although the lamp is very expensive, too, that's what's really overpriced even if it is the going rate.

Most of the big names don't make preamps anymore. Integra is one that does, the upper class from Onkyo. They do make some amps, but they are probably overpriced compared to the bigger names in power amps, which you may not be as familiar with. Adcom, NAD, B&K, Rotel, Proceed, Parasound, Anthem, ATI are some big names in separates.

What Brian said about high-end receivers....I really don't agree. You can pay $4000 or more for a receiver that won't have as good an amp as the Outlaw 7125 I linked above at $1000 or less. An Outlaw or B&K combo will kill any receiver, and be cheaper than the high end models.

Last edited by Spiky; 09-24-06 at 12:32 AM. Reason: Crazy Firefox error
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Old 09-24-06, 12:37 AM
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AVS can be a good place to buy stuff, too. Getting help in the forum there is kinda like swimming in the ocean, maybe more than you want to handle. But they are a dealer for many things and have excellent prices, even more excellent if there is a power buy or whatever they call them. PJs, audio equipment, chairs, etc. If you are a member, email or call them to get pricing or purchase something. They don't have an online store to browse.
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Old 09-24-06, 02:50 AM
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I have Coaster seats myself. While decent, I'll bet he will want something of a little better quality.

He rarely ever upgrades equipment. Current speakers are from 1969 and he doesn't currently even have surround set up. I think I can go with a middle of the road Yamaha receiver and he will be happy with it until he dies.
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Old 09-27-06, 02:28 AM
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I've got to be honest, I think I would spend more money on the HT furniture and trappings than the actual equipment. Powered screen & drapes, comfy theater style seating, popcorn machine, etc I'd probably toss the $1k HD70 projector, the Oppo DVD player or an HD-DVD player, a $500ish receiver (I guess maybe more for DVI/HDMI switching)..and spend the rest of speakers - the part of the system that actually matters
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Old 09-27-06, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by GreenMonkey
I've got to be honest, I think I would spend more money on the HT furniture and trappings than the actual equipment. Powered screen & drapes, comfy theater style seating, popcorn machine, etc I'd probably toss the $1k HD70 projector, the Oppo DVD player or an HD-DVD player, a $500ish receiver (I guess maybe more for DVI/HDMI switching)..and spend the rest of speakers - the part of the system that actually matters

a $500 receiver will not properly power a great set of speakers.
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Old 09-27-06, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSpacey
a $500 receiver will not properly power a great set of speakers.
If you say so. If the receiver matches the speaker specifications (as far as ohms, etc) there should be no problem.
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Old 09-28-06, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
He rarely ever upgrades equipment. Current speakers are from 1969 and he doesn't currently even have surround set up. I think I can go with a middle of the road Yamaha receiver and he will be happy with it until he dies.
I've read a recommendations over the years that say a good rule of thumb is either 1:4 or 1:3 for your receiver/speaker cost-ratio.
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Old 09-28-06, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by GreenMonkey
If you say so. If the receiver matches the speaker specifications (as far as ohms, etc) there should be no problem.
No, it isn't just a matter of matching the electrical specs to make sure nothing blows up. If you are going to drop this much on a dedicated room, get a real system that will sound good together.

I do tend to agree with you about the importance of the furniture, that is what you "interact" with the most. But skimping on the receiver is not a good way to do this. It can all be done well in that budget, just not the highest-end stuff, either audio or the furnishings.
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