Living Room Theater Upgrade Under $10k
For less than $10,000, a Florida family added a 60-inch flat panel and a full surround system to their family room.
Living Room Theater Upgrade
Click to enlarge. A Sony flat-panel SXRD display provides video while Canton speakers and an Integra receiver handle audio in this sub-$10,000 system. Photo credit: Alexia Fodere.
April 27, 2007 by Steven Castle

Randy and Marta Paul of south Florida already had a pretty nice family room system. They had a 40-inch Mitsubishi TV with a great picture and some nice KEF speakers for the audio. But Randy felt it was time to upgrade. He called Fort Lauderdale–based Gregg Launer, whose company, SkyTheater, normally installs custom home theaters on private jets and who had helped Randy with his system before.

“Gregg gave me advice on what TV to get,” says Randy. “And we discovered it was also time to upgrade the receiver. I had a budget in mind, and we stuck to that. We also got new speakers, [including] a new center speaker, and a new DVD player”—all for a little upwards of $10,000.

The TV selected was Sony’s 60-inch flatpanel SXRD (Silicon Crystal [Xtal] Reflective Display), a form of LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon] technology that shows tremendous brightness and detail. In fact, many consider the technology a big improvement over DLP, plasma and LCD systems, “It has much better clarity in the video,” says Randy. “And I wanted the sound to have the quality of the picture.”

Launer selected Canton’s Ergo 690 DC front speakers and an Ergo CM402 center channel for the front channels, with Canton InWall 700 speakers for the two rear surrounds over the kitchen counter and a Canton subwoofer.

“The Canton 609s are very impressive,” says Launer. “They have extremely good response, and the range and detail is spectacular.” As Launer explains, the Canton speakers are designed for wide dispersion of sound, which in a small room like the Pauls’ is an advantage. The room’s vaulted ceiling could cause a lot of sound reflection, or cause what’s called a “live room,” but Launer used that to an advantage. “You don’t need that much volume, because the sound is bouncing in all different directions, and that makes the room sound bigger.”

Launer also tilted and aimed the front speakers, measured their distances from the seating area to THX specs, tuned the subwoofer to make the sound tighter and worked with cabinetmaker John Rinaldi of Rinaldi Kitchen and Cabinet to fit the wall unit to the equipment.

Integra’s DTR-7.6 THX receiver was chosen to replace a receiver that had failed. “The Integra receiver reproduces very high details that you don’t find in other all-in-one units,” Launer says. “You catch more realism in the performance, and you’re hearing more depth.” The effect is not lost on the Pauls. “The clarity of the picture and sound make it feel like you’re in a movie theater or at a sporting event,” says Randy. Whether the Pauls’ son is watching sports, their young daughter is taking in an animated flick or Randy and Marta are settling in for a show in the evening, they’re impressed by the performance. And best of all, they didn’t have to break the bank to get it.

Equipment List


  • Equipment cost: $8,950
  • Labor: $800
  • Total: $9,750

Electronics Design & Installation

Fort Lauderdale, FL

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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.

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