I'm finally ready to replace my embarrassingly ancient barely-theater (Kenwood KC-X1/KM-X1, Sony rear-projection set, and Boston Acoustics 555/575/595 THX speaker system). The newer system in my bedroom is far superior, but now it's time to put together a respectable theater for the living room, and I'm interested in advice on how to spend about $20k on a display, receiver (or separates), and a speaker system. This budget won't include HD sources or a remote, etc., I'll cover those separately.
About the only component I'm 99% sure on is going for the Pioneer Pro Elite 151FD 60" Kuro, since apparently nothing was announced at CES that exceeded it in terms of Picture Quality, which is my #1 priority.
But I'm open to advice on a receiver/separates and family of loudspeakers.
The Kuro will take approximately $5k from the budget, leaving me with about $15k for receiver (or separates) and speakers.
The system will be used primarily (~80%) for movie watching (Blu-ray, HD Cable, DVD, and networked streams), video games (all current gen platforms), and secondarily (~20%) for music (MP3s only, sorry, not audiophile grade.)
Some general criteria:
I rent an apartment/loft, so I don't want to mount anything to walls. I'll make floorspace available for stands. That also means I don't have complete control of lighting in the environment, necessitating a regular display instead of a projector. I do plan on having the display ISF-calibrated once it's broken in. Being a single-room loft the floorspace is completely open (but obviously not containable acoustically), and the space available for the theater area is approximately 17' x 11'.
For a receiver or separates, I'll expect all the latest bells & whistles. I like the idea of THX certification, but it's certainly not a requirement.
I'll have a lot of sources, and will need several HDMI inputs. Estimated sources are: Comcast HD Cable box (HDMI), Xbox 360 (HDMI), PS3 (HDMI), Wii (Component), potentially a dedicated Blu-ray player (considering Sony's new jukebox) (HDMI), and would like the ability to add more sources in the future, such as a network-video streaming device (HDMI). No dedicated CD player, but I'll be streaming audio via Airport Express AirTunes. iPod integration not terribly important.
I'm open to either an integrated receiver, or separates. I have a Denon 3808CI in the bedroom, which I'm pleased with, but open to any brand. Would probably prefer brands in a different class than what Best Buy sells.
For speakers, since I'm a huge movie fan and want to be immersed in great surround, I'm leaning towards a 7.1 system instead of 5.1. Have always thought about getting B&Ws, but they are probably beyond my budget. Short of adding a Buttshaker system (which I'm not opposed to), I'd really like to feel the bass in movies. Haven't had any neighbor complaints with current system, so I don't mind pushing my luck.
I live in San Francisco and so have access to a couple of high-end stores in the city, but I think boutique shops like that tend to push the brands they have relationships with, rather than keeping recommendations wide open (hence my posting here). I also don't really like the arrogant if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it attitudes of the high-end shops I've visited here, so I don't mind keeping my shopping mostly internet-based.
I understand that the best way to make a decision on equipment is to have an in-person audition. However, if my local specialty stores don't carry brands strongly recommended here, I'm willing to purchase unheard/unseen if necessary.
I do have a requirement for new equipment, not used.
Thanks so much for any advice!