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  The Begining

02/01/05

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The Beginning

This page a just a brief description of what it took to make my Home Theater Setup. It consisted of not only a electronic equipment system assembly project, but also a construction project. Here is an account of how my Home Theater came together.
 

The Planning

(The Room)

I decided to assemble my Home Theater in the basement of my home.  Problem was, we live in an old house that only had a basement ceiling height of only 4 feet 6 inches. After many measurements, I decided we would have to dig down about 36" to give us an acceptable ceiling height. (Allowing for 6" of crushed stone and 4 " for the concrete floor) Upon completion, that would give us a finished height of around 6 feet 7 inches. That would have to suffice due to the layout of the steps and outside doorway. Plans were finalized and in came the sledge hammers. The construction company had to do one wall at a time, since the new floor level would be below the existing foundation. As they completed a wall, they had to pour a 8" thick concrete retaining wall to hold the foundation in place. Once all the knee walls were completed, the stone was brought in and the concrete floor was poured. Then it was my turn to take over. First I studded out the walls, then ran 4 dedicated electrical lines over to where the system would be placed. I also had to complete runs for the cable TV, Satellite dish distribution, and phone cables. With all the wiring completed, I ordered all the drywall. I used 2 layers, one placed vertically and than one placed horizontally over the first layer. We completed the spackling, painting, and installed the wall to wall carpeting. The finished dimensions of the room are 14' wide by 24' feet long. I utilized a few different equipment stands. First was the home made ones you see in the Stereo Review pictures. The second was a wall unit that held everything but was huge! The third time I decided to utilize a 30" space behind the wall  and make a rack system that would slide on rollers in and out when necessary. The rack is about 60 inches wide by 58 inches high. It extends out about 13 inches to allow easy access to the rear for equipment updates or changes. New pictures reflecting the changes will be added to the page shortly.

 (The Equipment)

By the time I was ready for my Audio Visual room, I had already assembled a respectable A/V system. It consisted of an Adcom 555 II Pre-amp, 2-Adcom 555 II Power Amps, a Yamaha DSP-E300 Dolby Surround Processor, Nakamichi CR-1A Cassette deck and CD Player 2- 7 disc changer, Sony Hi-Fi VHS player and a Laser Disc player, Infinity 9 Kappa speakers, a pair of Polk Audio Monitor 2's and Mini Monitor's for the rear surrounds, and a 25 in RCA monitor TV.

(The Additions)

When the system was moved to the lower level, I decided to upgrade some of my equipment. (Who am I kidding, mostly all of my equipment!) These changes took place in about a 4 year time frame where there were quite a few additions made.  I purchased a Parasound 2200 II Power Amp to drive the lower end of the Kappa 9's, Sony Satellite system, Sony Mini Disc, Kappa Center Channel speaker, an Infinity sub, Carver 5.1 Cinema Surrounds for the rear, a Niles SPS 6 Speaker switcher, and a Hitachi UltraVision 50" Projection TV. 

(More Additions - Then Came Dolby Digital)

I first auditioned the Dolby Digital System at a local Circuit City retail store. As I sat and watched "Twister" in Dolby Digital on their system, I couldn't believe the difference the Digital system made. Wow! I knew that if it sounded that good on the receiver powered mini Bose system, it would be great on mine. I quickly investigated the Digital Processors and DVD players and found the Sony SDP-EP9ES processor and the rave reviewed Sony S-3000 Digital Video Disc Player. I quickly ordered them and within 5 days the system was updated. Unfortunately, the processor I picked worked only in the digital mode, so I purchased a second hand Sony TA 1000-ESD Control Center to accommodate the Hi-Fi and the Digital Satellite System. At this time I was also in trouble with my remote controls. There were about 11 of them. My wife kept asking me which one do I use for the TV, which one for the Pre-Amp? So thanks to Marantz, I immediately ordered the RC 2000 and quickly programmed in all the new codes. Believe me, this thing is Great! 

(Even More Additions)

The system  was in place for about 2 years when a friend brought over a sharp LCD projector. To test it we started by using a white bed sheet for the screen. We're talking Very High Resolution Bed Sheet here! We hung the sheet at one end of the room and set up the projector on the other end which projected about a 100" diagonal picture. When I saw that big picture, I just had to have one. I moved the Hitachi to the upstairs living room and then I purchased a Vidikron Crystal One LCD video projector and a  Da-Lite Cosmopolitan Electrol 100" Screen. I also bought a Sony 19" Trinatron for when we don't want to utilize the projector.

(Guess what? More Additions- Too Many Pieces of Equipment!)

Somewhere in all of this I said to myself there has to be a way to eliminate some equipment, considering my racks wouldn't hold anymore. I decided to try out the new Sony TA-E 9000ES Dolby Digital 5.1 channel pre-amplifier. Here I had the chance to eliminate one rack space! I ordered the 9000 and quickly took out the SDP-EP9ES processor and the 1000 ES pre-amplifier and threw in the 9000 ES. While I was shopping, I decided to upgrade my DVD player to a DVP S550 D. This pre-amplifier simplified my setup due to audio and video switching capabilities in the 9000. This pre-amp also offered DTS out which was a plus. This was probably the best move I made because it is now simple to operate. My kids can even do it! 

(Was that the Last You Say?)

No! Well Sony had to go out and make this great little thing called a VPL VW10HT. It's a new high resolution LCD video projector that is HDTV compatible. It boasts XGA resolution and puts out 1000 ANSI Lumen Brightness for spectacular pictures. I also ordered the ceiling mount and had it installed in just over 1 hour. Since I was changing to the 16.9 display I had to trade in my 100" screen for a 120" De-Lite Cosmopolitan Electrol 16.9 screen and mounted it to the ceiling. Since this projector accepts progressive signals, I decided to upgrade my DVD player to a Toshiba 5109 with progressive outputs. 

(The Finale!)

After about 2 hours of setting and tweaking the speaker levels, this Home Theater was ready and willing to go! My expectations were very high! My screen size doubled, my equipment was simplified, the only thing I had to do was try it out. The first DVD I demoed was Twister. I knew what results I experienced in the Circuit City demo and I was very curious now to see my systems rendition. I popped some popcorn and settled down to my favorite chair and placed Twister into the DVD player. As the Theatrical Trailer started, I anxiously began to see and hear my results. The sub-woofers started rattling the walls, the picture was big, bright and perfect and from there on, I knew my system was right where I wanted it. I've viewed many movies like Dante's Peak, Air Force One, Blown Away, Outbreak, and T2 and find the system sounds very natural. Voices are well defined, and surround effects are very excite full. It seems to flow from the whispers of the Titanic's Rose (Track 4 on the Sound Track) to the mighty Hurricane winds in Twister effortlessly. (Thanks to the power amps) Looking back, I must say that I have accomplished my goals with this system. It doesn't compare with the $60,000 to $100,000 dollar systems you see featured in some of the Home Theater magazines, but it comes real close in my mind!

(Wish List)

Well, Yeah I guess I still have a few items I'd like to put into my system. I'd like to automate the  system. I intend to use a Pentium based computer to control the whole thing. I'd also like to control the whole room via remote control.  

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