Basement Theater is a Bargain at $5K
Marc Wiener made his room multifunctional -- and on the cheap.
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July 07, 2008 by Rachel Cericola

Good theater doesn’t require a massive bankroll. Just ask Marc Wiener. He created his basement home theater for a mere $5,000. 

That’s just for the electronics and new furnishings for his basement. “The construction pretty much only cost me the materials, plumbing, and painting, as my father-in-law is an amazing carpenter and did all the work,” Marc says. “I can’t thank him enough!”

However, this basement is what Marc calls “multifunctional.” It’s not just a theater; it’s for sitting, for socializing, and even doubles as a home office. 

Of course, it can be difficult to get any work done with 104 high-def DVDs and a rack full of equipment staring at you from the back of the room. This high-def mix includes HD DVD and Blu-ray. “I really like the fact that my theater is format-neutral,” Marc says. “HD DVD may be dead, but there is plenty of software out there that I am glad to be able to play with.”

When Marc first decided to add theater into the room, he knew he didn’t want to spend a boatload of cash. However, that didn’t mean his equipment selections were to suffer. “I try to be very particular in my choices and tend to do a lot of research,” he says.

That research led him to both HD DVD and Blu-ray players. Frankly, Marc doesn’t care how he gets high-def, as long as it’s in high-def. “I think with a 90-inch screen I am able to get more clarity, detail, and depth out of the picture, as well as more immersive audio,” he says. “I enjoy both high-def formats very much—although I wish HD-DVD had stuck around.” He still has the Toshiba HD-A35, and got it at a good price. However, Marc is also on the Blu-ray bandwagon, via his Panasonic DMP-BD10A. Marc says this player had the best features and reviews around the time he purchased it. “I know one day I will want to upgrade to a full profile player that can bitstream DTS HD-MA,” he says, “but for now I am very pleased with the player.” 

Out of all of the equipment, however, Marc says most of the research and planning went into his Panasonic PT-AE900 projector purchase. It was all worth it, though. “Nothing else in the room would make sense without it, and the first time I fired up an image from that thing the smile on my face was 10 feet wide!”

Aside from the equipment, Marc takes pride in his room’s decor. This was an area where he was able to show off some of his movie memorabilia. He has posters and other items around the room to reflect some of his film tastes. “I am a huge fan in particular of the horror and sci-fi genres,” he says. “A lot of the items, equipment or work were acquired as gifts from my family, so the room really feels like a gift to me. It is something I always wanted.”

The end result might not win any awards, but it’s a blockbuster hit with Marc’s family and friends. My 3-year-old son loves to watch movies in ‘our own movie theater’, as he calls it,” he says. Marc makes sure to have friends over on a regular basis—especially since he rarely goes to the local Cineplex anymore. He even has “theme” nights a few nights a year. “Halloween time is a favorite!”

Marc may not have the best or most expensive theater, but this beauty is in the eye of its beholder. “I see a lot of photos of home theaters that are downright beautiful, but that I think are unattainable for most people,” Marc says. “I think mine is a great example of the word ‘home’ in home theater.”

Quick Hits:
Location: Staten Island, NY
Year Completed: 2006
Room Size: 20 x 20 feet
Length of Project: 6 Months
Total Cost: Roughly $5,000

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.

Equipment List

B-tech 90-inch Pull-Down Screen
KLH Speakers (7)
Logitech Harmony 720 Universal Remote*
Monoprice 2x1 HDMI Switchbox
Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver
Panasonic DMP-BD10A Blu-ray Player
Panasonic PT-AE900 720p Projector
RCA Subwoofer
Scientific-Atlanta HD Cable Box - Time Warner
Toshiba HD-A35 HD DVD Player
Toshiba SDV-592 DVD/VHS Combo
Coaster Matinee Chairs (3)


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