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Home Theater Equipment: What’s In My Basement

This article was written by in Consumer, Shopping. 6 comments.


This is a guest post written by Darren R. Sussman, founder and chief engineer of Reid Sound, Inc., a company specializing in audio/visual services for all types of events including theater, concerts, meetings, tradeshows, and more. This is the second of two parts. The first part is A Shopping Guide for the Enthusiast.

In this post, I will describe the entire process I followed to create a home theater in my basement, from conception to completion. First, realize that I had my theater custom built from the ground up. I designed the room and gave those plans to a contractor to build to my specifications. I did all of the A/V wiring and equipment installation myself. I tried to get the best that I could without spending too extravagantly.

Sony VPL-HS51I chose a Sony VPL-HS51 front projector because the reviews I read basically said that it was the best LCD front projector you could buy in its price range. I did a lot of research before settling on this particular projector. I was able to find the projector online at B&H for less than most other stores (I used PriceGrabber to compare).

I originally purchased a Da-Lite perforated screen because I wanted to put my center channel speaker behind the screen to allow for good “localization.” However, I ended up not being able to use the screen because of an unanticipated problem with the moiré effect.” (Basically, when you project the pixels of an LCD projector on the “pixels” created by the multiple small holes of a perforated screen, they usually don’t line up, causing a series of alternating dark and light lines to appear in the image.)

After much trial and error, I ended up using blackout curtain fabric for my screen. It’s solid and doesn’t let light pass through it, so it has a lot of the same traits as a regular screen. Obviously, there is some image quality loss, but it was a trade-off I was willing to make. There was also, of course, a significant price difference between the $1,600 perforated screen and the $20 worth of fabric we ended up using.

I chose a Yamaha RXV-2500 receiver because it had sufficient power for the Paradigm speakers I chose and because it was compatible with the newer 6.1 and 7.1 surround sound encoding formats that are coming into use. Of course, given how fast technology changes, this receiver is already somewhat obsolete. Still, I got a good deal on it, again by using PriceGrabber. I bought the speakers from a small local store where I was able to first audition them with several DVDs and CDs that I brought with me.

My theater chairs came from La-Z-Boy. While they may not be as high quality as some other chairs out there, there is a significant price difference. The chairs I purchased are about $700 each. Most other theater chairs start at $2,000 and go up as high as $5,000 each.

In all, the project cost me about $30,000. Probably not the best investment in terms of return on my money, but I definitely get my money’s worth in terms of enjoyment. Here are some photographs of the finished product.

basement-theater2.jpg basement-theater1.jpg basement-theater31.jpg basement-theater4.jpg basement-theater5.jpg

As I said, there is a lot more to this, and I’d be happy to answer any questions that I can. You can e-mail me privately (remove “REMOVE”) or post comments here.

Updated December 17, 2009 and originally published August 19, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Anonymous

What wire did you use to connect to the LCD projector? Svideo? RGB? Video Cable? … Did you run them through the walls?

Thanks in advance

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avatar Darren R. Sussman

I ran both component and HDMI cables to the projector, and yes, everytihng was run inside of the walls. Since I had the luxury of running cable while the walls weren’t up, this was easy to do, but even if I were going to run new cabling now I would put it inside of the walls. I had a drop ceiling installed instead of drywall, so once the cable is up the wall, it’s very easy to run it across the room. I wish I had actually run more cabling to the projector (specifically RGB cable), and I’m not sure why I didn’t except to say that it was an oversight and not a mistake that I would make again. If you can run cable while the walls are down, I would always recommend running more cables than you are actually going to use. Run everything that you think you ever might want to use, because it will be much harder to do it later.

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