DIYer Loves His MartinLogan
Seth Valencia spent four years and $75K perfecting his theater room -- as well as choosing the right equipment.
Seth Valencia uses seven MartinLogan speakers as the basis for his living room theater.
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January 28, 2010 by Rachel Cericola

We all have our favorites. Some have a favorite comfy chair. Some love their homemade racks and screens. Seth Valencia has a favorite as well. You could say that his favorite is a MartinLogan—well, everything.

Unfortunately, there’s no MartinLogan HDTV and no MartinLogan throw pillows. (Although, the company should really consider sending Seth a few, just to commemorate his loyalty.) His seven MartinLogan products are his babies, as well as the cornerstone of his living room theater.

“It’s one of the very first things that grabs you when you walk in,” Seth says of his two 6-foot-tall reQuest speakers. “They’re very striking!” Seth is very proud of each of his five MartinLogan speakers and two subwoofers, which he says sound amazing.

Apparently, it was love at first listen. Back in 1996, Seth got to sample a pair of MartinLogan Monolith III speakers. “I was awestruck! Never before had I heard such detail and finesse in a speaker as I did with those,” he says. “From that point, I knew that someday I would own MartinLogans.”

They would soon come. However, he didn’t start his dream room with dream speakers. A year before he got a glimpse of the Monoliths, he had a JVC 55-inch widescreen rear-projection TV, a 5.1-channel Paradigm speaker setup, his laserdisc player and S-VHS deck. At the time, it was very state of the art.

Some of the gear does remain; he’s just upgraded a bit. The S-VHS, Minidisc, Laserdisc and CD player are all still there. However, everything else is essentially new. Sadly, none of the Paradigm units are still being used. However, the company is still an essential part of his 9.2 setup. Along with his fleet of MartinLogans, he’s added Paradigm Mini Monitors, which are used as left and right height surrounds, as well as rear center surrounds.

He has a ton of other equipment too, including his prized Denon AVP-A1HDCI preamp/processor. “It’s the heart of the whole system and every part of the home theater needs it for functionality,” Seth says. “At the time I decided on the Denon AVP, there was no other pre/pro that could touch it.” Seth says that statement still stands true nearly two years later.

Aside from the pre/pro, Seth’s two racks are stuffed with all kinds of other A/V goodies. This is awesome for family and friends. However, hooking the whole thing up was a bit of a challenge. To get the 9.2-surround sound working together in harmony, Seth ran flat 14-gauge speaker wire to each of the six surround speakers. The front reQuests and Theater i MartinLogan center-channel units use 12-gauge wire, with the reQuests being connected in bi-wire fashion. He also spent a lot of time getting two rack’s worth of cables under control. “The end result was well worth the time it took to complete it.”

Overall, Seth’s project took a total of four years, from beginning to end. Once he had those MartinLogans, everything else seemed to fall into place. “Then over the course of a year, I really wanted to have an even more immersive surround experience,” Seth says. That’s when the Paradigm Mini Monitors were added to achieve a full 9.2 system. In 2007, Seth upgraded his television, putting in his beloved 70-inch Sony SXRD HDTV. “The Sony, in my opinion, is still one of the best TVs out there.”

Of course, nothing beats a big projector. Even Seth knows it. “I would love to watch movies on a 110-inch screen!” With his eyes on that prize, he had originally picked a Sony SXRD projector and screen from Stewart Filmscreen. However, his room just wouldn’t play along. “The kitchen and dining areas are adjacent to the home theater room,” he says. “Anytime someone would go into the kitchen and turn on the lights, stray light would enter the viewing area.” So, the projector is out—at least until he can find a combo that will work with his lighting issues. 

That’s not the only possibility for Seth’s future. He says that since he’s adding items all the time, he feels that the room will never be fully completed. Recently, he’s added items, such as the Denon DVD-A1UDCI Blu-ray player. Naturally, MartinLogan will always be close to his heart (and ears). “The dream has finally been realized,” Seth says. “Now every time I watch a movie or listen to music, I can’t help but smile from the beautiful sound that is presented.”

For a better look at Seth’s living room setup, check out the images in our slideshow.

Quick Hits
Location: Southern New Mexico
Year Completed: 2008
Room Size: 19 x 23 x 14 feet
Length of Project: 4 years
Total Cost: $75,000

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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

Equipment List

Denon AVP-A1HDCI Preamplifier
Denon CDR-W1500 CD Recorder
MartinLogan Aerius i Speakers (2)
MartinLogan Descent Subwoofers (2)
MartinLogan reQuest Speakers (2)
MartinLogan Theater i Center Speaker
Paradigm Mini Monitor Speakers (4)
Sonance Sonamp 5150 Amplifier
Sony CDP-XA20ES CD Player
Sony MDS-JE530 Minidisc Recorder
Sony TC-K707ES Cassette Deck
Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature Series II Amplifier

Denon 2500BTCI Blu-ray Player/Transport
Denon DVD-A1UDCI Blu-ray Player
Dish Network VIP622 HD DVR/Satellite Receiver
Pioneer Elite CLD-99 Laserdisc Player
Sherwood 5003 Blu-ray Player
Sony BDS300 Blu-ray Player
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70-inch SXRD HDTV
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Players (2)

APC Smart UPS SUA750 Battery Backup
Berkline Model 45016 Seats (4)
Berkline Sofa
ButtKicker Tactile Transducers (4)
Monster Power HTS 5000 Power Conditioner
Panamax Max DBS Panamax Max DBS
VTI HGR-406-B AV Equipment Racks
Yamaha APD-1 AC-3 RF Demodulator

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