How to Build a Hassle-Free Theater, DIY-Style
With some research and planning, you can tackle a breezy installation like this.
Credit: Tony Scarpetta
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August 28, 2009 by Steven Castle

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 - Contributing Writer
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.

Project Details/Equipment List

About the project
Under $15,000
(system alone).

3 to 4 months.

1 day.

The $2,500 Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080p LCD projector, which is “not much different than a Pro model.”

“If we have a bunch of people over, we don’t have enough seats. So we added little bar table with four stools behind the second row of seats, and that works out well.”

“Do a lot of research and know what you want.”

Equipment List
Epson PowerLite 1080p LCD projector
Sanus Sytems ceiling mount
Carada Criterion Classic White 1.78:1 92-inch screen
Mirage OM8 front tower speakers with powered subwoofers (2)
Mirage Omnisat V2 center-channel speaker
Mirage Omnican 6 in-ceiling surround speakers (3)
Mirage PBS150i 150-watt subwoofer
Onkyo TX-SR805 receiver
Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray player
API DV702 Karaoke player
Harmony 880 universal remote Control
Pyle Pro 1000-watt transducer amp
Bass Shaker transducers (8)
Monster 14- and 16-gauge CL3/THX audio cable
Comprehensive XHD Ultra HD HDMI cable
Apollo seats (2 rows of 4 with love seats)

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