Cool Homes
DIYer Swears By 1972 Speakers
This homeowner doesn’t need cutting-edge equipment to enjoy the benefits of great home theater.
DIYer Swears By 1972 Speakers
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March 10, 2008 by Rachel Cericola

Technology may have changed, but for our latest DIYer, the songs remain the same. That’s because Rick has been using the same main speakers since 1972. 

In the early 70s, Rick bought a set of JBL Century L-100 speakers, along with a Marantz receiver, a Dual turntable and a Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder. “The Marantz still works, but is not used very often,” he says. “The turntable and reel-to-reel tape recorder were retired a long time ago.”

Of course, he has thought about replacing the speakers over the years. However, it’s not just sentimental value that keeps him hanging on. “These speakers are pretty unique,” Rick says of his favorite part of the theater. “They will play very loud without distortion and are efficient. Coupled with the SVS 900-watt dual 12-inch subwoofer the system is very dynamic.”

The JBLs are part of his daily routine, and handling up to 100 watts from the Sony receiver without a crackle. Rick also added the SVS subwoofer and bass shakers to give more boom to the room. “Equipment selection was focused upon providing solid performance but clearly not cutting edge,” Rick admits. “I tend to shoot for the middle of the technology at the time, trying to strike a balance between cost and performance.”

His speakers may have had a place in his home (and heart) for quite some time, but his theater space was a bit of an afterthought. Rick and his wife Elaine originally planned an addition to accommodate for a new kitchen. As the plans developed, they cooked up the idea of adding a bit of entertainment into the mix. 

“This room was part of a project that included removing our original kitchen and foundation and building a new larger one,” Rick says. “The area was excavated an additional two feet below the original foundation to accommodate an 8.5-foot ceiling in the theater area.” When all was said and done in 2001, Rick and Elaine had a nice room, whose highlight was the 61-inch high-def Toshiba rear-projection TV. 

Being that a DIYer’s day is never done, Rick kept tweaking. In February 2007, he added a front projector and a 106-inch 16:9 screen to match. “The larger viewing area makes watching a movie more of an event,” he says. Part of that event is the fact that Rick actually made his own screen using blackout cloth on a poplar frame; he received the inspiration from the AVS Forum. A second frame was added for the outside with a black velvet border; the screen rests inside the velvet area. The screen is set in a cabinet that houses the equipment, speakers and a three-sided gas fireplace. The projector and screen are used about 10 hours a week, while he’s added an LCD in the house for an extra dose of HD.

Just because room isn’t a dedicated theater, it doesn’t take away from the experience, Rick says. “The projector is bright enough that sports or nature shows are no problem with the lights on,” he says. “For movies we generally control the light, during the day, by closing the curtain [which Elaine made].” Speaking of experience: He also has a light organ that splashes color on the screen; it matches the mood of whatever music is playing when a movie is not. 

He is pleased with the size, but he will keep on tweaking. Rick plans to add Blu-ray into the mix, and possibly a platform and real theater seats. 

Quick Hits:
Year Completed: 2001 (updated in 2007)
Room Size: 15 x 38 feet; theater is 15 x 17
Length of Project: 4 Months
Total Cost: $90,000 (with kitchen)

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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

Advent Surround and Center-Channel Speakers
Aura Bass Shakers (6)
JBL Century L-100 Speakers
Panasonic PT-AX100U Projector
Samsung VCR
Scientific Atlantic 3250 HD Cable Box
Sony DB-840 5.1 Receiver
SVS PB12-Plus/2 Subwoofer
Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD Player
Homemade 106-inch Screen


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