Home theater can be an itch that’s tough to scratch if you need to stay on a tight budget. Thanks to the plethora of technology options and manufacturers, though, you can put together a quality system and have years of enjoyment—with enough left over to keep beefing up your CD and DVD collections.
As a self-proclaimed “bit of a geek when it comes to computers/networks and home theaters,” Sean Cox wanted to install a theater with more thump in his living room than what he had. And after this project, another media room in his basement is still to come.
All Sean had to do now was figure out how he wanted to split up his budget and fill the roughly 308-square-foot room of his Gardner, KS, home with audio and video delight. He started with a checklist of upgrades from a previous modest A/V setup.
“In March of 2004 I purchased my first house and wanted a home theater room, even if it wasn’t a dedicated room. I started with a Mitsubishi 42-inch CRT HDTV with a stand, an older Sony 5.1 receiver and a JVC three-disc (not progressive-scan) DVD player, and only three speakers with a sub,” says this DIYer. “From there it developed to a 42-inch plasma, with all other equipment the same, and then to what I have now.”
What Sean has now is much more movie-like than a 42-inch display and a few speakers. The TV is a 71-inch DLP from Samsung with Full HD 1080p resolution; the surround-sound system combines a Pioneer Elite VSX-91THX 7.1 receiver and JBL SCS-135 loudspeakers and 8-inch subwoofer.
While a Time Warner high-def cable box receiver supplies an assortment of broadcast HD options, Sean wanted to ensure he got the most out of the 1920 x 1080 resolution on the big Samsung display. That meant choosing one of the high-def DVD formats.
“My main goal was to upgrade my TV in both size and quality, so when I was able to afford a larger TV I started looking for the largest size I could afford that also gave me the technology I wanted,” Sean says. “Once the TV was taken care of, I didn’t really like the idea of having one that could display 1080p with no way of producing that 1080p picture. The only option is a Blu-ray or HD DVD player, which ended up being a no-brainer to go with Blu-ray. Right about the same time I needed an upgrade to my receiver, and so I decided to go with 7.1 along with the latest technology like HDMI 1.3a.”
Sean went with Samsung again for the Blu-ray player, choosing the company’s BD-P1200. He’s got Monster Cable HDMI 1000HD and Monster Cable speaker cables to tie everything together. He also has an Xbox 360 for gaming, and control of all the A/V through a Logitech Harmony 1000 Advanced universal remote.
A broad collection of 290 DVDs, including movies, TV shows and Blu-ray discs, provides hours of entertainment, and impressive demo material for family and friends. The living room also makes for a great virtual stadium during football season, as well. When he’s not immersing himself in video, Cox can turn up the volume on a music collection that includes rock, blues, jazz and classical.
Challenges such as finding the time to work on the project, researching and weighing the countless electronics options and deciding which pieces were most important have proven well worth it for Cox. He plans to add lighting control, automation, distributed video, media server products and more to this, some in conjunction with his basement project.
“My cost so far would be around $9,000,” says the homeowner. “My budget was more ‘on the fly’ so to speak. The evolvement of this project has freed up equipment to make a nice little home theater in my bedroom and work on one in my office.”
Year completed: 2007
Room size: 19.7 x 15.9 feet
Length of project:
Total cost: $9,000