Even before the walls were closed, Betancourt tested all of the components on tables in the room, just as a good custom electronics company would test a system in its facility before transporting it to the site. “I’m a detailed guy, and I don’t like surprises,” he says. “I set up the system on a table and with speakers, connected the projector on a stool, and made sure everything ran and played.”
When the walls and ceilings were finished and carpeting laid, he installed the system and seating in a day. He also installed audio transducers under all of the seats for some shake, rattle and roll. “I had to run separate wires to a 1,000-watt amplifier. It took a little to adjust those, because you can easily overdo it. When they hit those big notes, it could cut out, but I can control the first and second rows separately,” he says.
The equipment rack on a side wall holds an Onkyo receiver, Pyle amplifier for the transducers, a Sony Blu-ray Disc player, Comcast HD receiver and karaoke machine. Betancourt used his two Mirage tower speakers from a previous system upstairs for the front left and right channels—each containing a powered subwoofer—and added a Mirage center channel and three Mirage Omnican in-ceiling surround speakers.
Betancourt credits his smooth installation on research and careful planning. “I knew what I wanted, and knew how things had to fit. When I figured out all the things I needed, I started calling places,” he says. “I always call and talk to someone before I make a decision. I got the best deal from Crutchfield, which gave me a 20 percent discount for everything. I bought almost everything online, and Crutchfield stands behind it.”
The only thing he didn’t buy through Crutchfield was the 92-inch Carada screen, which through his research he concluded could perform as well as other, more expensive options. Best of all: The home theater system, which came in at around $15,000, was a fraction of the cost of the entire basement project.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates