Sound A/V Choices Keep Theater Budget-Friendly
This home theater's balancing act offers solid performance at a superior value.
GOLD WINNER: Best Home Theater $25,000 and under
May 19, 2009 by Steven Castle

No, you don’t need $50,000 or $100,000 for a great looking, dedicated home theater room. You can have a very good audio and video experience—better than most people will ever have—for $25,000 or less, as the proud builder/owner of this space will tell you.

The idea was to keep costs down as much as possible, so much of the audio/video gear was chosen by the custom electronics pros at Hi-Tech Home to provide the best bang for the buck.

“We wanted to keep it good quality,” says Hi-Tech Home’s operations manager, Chad Lofgren. “The equipment that we used we’ve had a lot of good luck with in the past. We used a Panasonic [1080p LCD] projector on a number of installs, and it creates just as good a picture [as comparable projectors]. We’ve had good experiences with Vutec screens, and the Sonance speakers are good-quality, middle-of-the road speakers to stay within a budget.”

The Panasonic PT-AE1000U projector is mounted in a soffit and projects onto a 92-inch fixed Vutec Silverstar screen, and Sonance Symphony front speakers are located in the custom-built cabinet below the screen, along with a 10-inch Sunfire subwoofer. Four in-ceiling Sonance speakers provide the surround sound for a 7.1-channel system.

The brains of the system are in a Denon AVR-987 receiver. Lofgren says Hi-Tech Home really likes using Denon receivers, because of their sound quality, reliability and ease of set-up. “We really know those receivers well,” he says.

Another favorite is the Control4 home control system, which was used throughout the house. “We’re really big on Control4 for affordable home automation, and we use it for lighting and thermostat control,” Lofgren says. “We can also use it to go on the Internet and give them cover art of the discs in their Sony [400-disc] CD/DVD changer.”

The Control4 system is programmed to automatically dim the lights when the projector comes on, and raises them again when the system is powered off.

Costs were also kept to a minimum by getting Hi-Tech Home into the project from the start, so the wiring and other pre-installation work could be done while this second-floor room was being framed.

To give the room a real theater feel, the seating area was designed stadium style, with the back row a step up from the front. Encore GT theater seats add to the experience. It was all topped off with some vibrant carpeting, just as you would find in a real theater. 

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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.

Installers/Equipment List

  Find an Installer
  Find custom electronics installers who provide home theater systems,
  lighting, home automation, A/V and more! Click here to get started.

Systems Design and Installation
Hi-Tech Home
Clovis, Calif.

Kludgian Construction
Fresno, Calif.

Panasonic PT-AE1000U-EC projector
Vutec Silverstar 92-inch Screen
Sonance Symphony 623 LCR
Sonance Symphony S622C (2)
Sonance Symphony S622TR (4)
Sunfire True Sub EQ subwoofer
Denon AVR-987 receiver
Sony DVPCX777ES 400-disc DVD/CD changer
Control 4 HC-300 controller
Control 4 LDZ-101-W dimmers (5)
Encore GT theater seats (6)
onQ LyriQ F7637 Intercom unit
Cool Components CPCC4FN 4-Fan spacer unit
Monster In-Wall Power Center
Minuteman ETR700 surge protector

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