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.
I 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 donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
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 26, 2017 and originally published August 19, 2006.