DIY Home Theaters
DIYer Builds Audio Haven
Thirty years after buying his first stereo, this audiophile completes his own music sanctuary.
A drop-down 92-inch Da-Lite screen can be hidden when the family is in the mood for just music.
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May 27, 2008 by Krissy Rushing

Michael Tarasenco was 13 years old in 1977, the year his father cosigned a loan for him in the amount of $3,500. With the money, which was at the time a significant sum, Tarasenco purchased his very first stereo system, and was instantly the envy of all the kids at his junior high. “I’ve always had a passion for music and electronics,” says Tarasenco. “I have been gradually moving up in the quality of gear I buy over the years.” Previous systems stayed in his circle—two he sold to friends, and one he gave to his brother-in-law. And as he passed on the systems, he also passed on his enthusiasm, making high-performance audio a new-found hobby for these lucky recipients.

Now, 30 years later, Tarasenco resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where he works for Air Canada. He lives in a house that is not only home to him, his wife and two teenage daughters, but to his $30,000 audio system down in the renovated basement turned home theater/listening room. “I was accumulating nicer and nicer equipment, but did not have the proper place to listen to it,” he says. That all changed about four years ago when he and his family purchased a new home.

While Tarasenco had always been into renovations, performing a few minor projects in previous homes, the construction of the basement was a task that he knew he could do, but knew he could do better and easier with a little help from some key players. Tarasenco’s younger brother, Tim, for example, is good at tradesmen skills. Another friend was adept at electrical, and his brother-in-law pitched in, as well. “Between all of us we have the skills to do everything from plumbing to wiring, we used no outside labor,” says Tarasenco.

The first challenge that Tarasenco and friends faced was the raw basement space construction. “We live in an older, established neighborhood, in a Tudor style home built in 1936. Back at that time, they didn’t construct basements to be finished. They were raw empty spaces. The floor was sloped to a common drain, so we had to fix that first.” To correct for the sloping floor, Tarasenco raised the level of the concrete 1 ½ feet at the drain to provide a level surface to support the insulated sub-floor.

The second challenge was the large solid oak structural beam that cut the basement space in half and could not be removed. While this division left the area for the home theater/listening room at only 13 x 28—much smaller than Tarasenco had originally dreamed—he is still quite happy with how the room performs and the overall “cozy” feel.

And while audio is truly his thing, Tarasenco now also enjoys movies on the system through a 7.1-channel Paradigm Reference Studio system (plus a couple of Polk FXi3s for the rear surrounds). When it is time for a two-channel listening session, he will switch over to some Jazz or Classical vinyl played on the Denon DP45F turntable. “I just can’t give up vinyl,” he says. The room is tuned to sound its best with bass traps and diffuser panels. Tarasenco used sine wave sweep tones (measured with a Radio Shack sound pressure level meter) and a laptop to plot the room response curves and adjust the room accordingly.

Now that his girls are older, and have according to Tarasenco, “regrettably started to date,” the room is a great, chaperoned venue for budding romances. The whole family can enjoy an 8-foot image projected from the Sanyo PLV-Z5 front projector onto the 92-inch retractable Da-Lite screen, or dear old dad can retreat to the basement and replay those records that got him into the audio habit in the first place. Only this time, the music is sweeter, more emotional, more real, and more breathtaking, thanks to a top-notch, hard-earned do-it-yourself audio haven.

Quick Hits:
Year Completed: 2007
Room Size: 13 x 28 feet
Length of Project: 6 months (design and construction)
Total Cost: $50,000 ($30,000 equipment, $20,000 construction)

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Equipment List

Anthem Amp 1 (tube amp running off pre-outs for 2-channel listening)
Anthem Pre2L SE Modded Pre-Amplifier ( also for 2-channel listening)
Onkyo TX-SR805 HDMI 7.1 Home Theater Receiver
Panasonic BD30 Blu-Ray Player
Oppo 981HD Upconverting 1080p DVD Player
Coolsat 6000 Satellite Receiver
Denon DP45F Turntable with moving coil cartridge
Paradigm Reference Studio 100 V.4 Mains
Paradigm Reference Studio CC-690 V.4 Center Channel
Paradigm Reference Studio ADP-590 Surround Speakers
Polk FXi3 Rear Back Surrounds
Sanyo PLV-Z5 Front Projector
Da-Lite 92-Inch Screen
Harmony 880 Advanced Universal Remote
SVS PB-13 Ultra Subwoofer
Tara Labs Audio Cables
Monoprice Video Cables

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