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post #1 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 02:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,

I just moved into a new house and want to add a projection and sound system to my living room. I need some help.

The room is 15' x 21' with 8' ceilings. At the far (short) end, where the screen should go, is a fireplace. On the left is a huge window looking out onto the San Francisco bay. On the right is a small window. In the rear is a large entryway to the dining room.

Mostly we will be using the system in the late evening. Ideally the shades could stay open so we can watch movies with the city twinkling outside. I'm willing to make superficial changes to the room but not structural changes, since the room is dual-purpose.

Usage will be movies, XBox, and music, in that order (system will not be used for daily TV).

Right now I am considering:

- Projector: Optoma HD33 or Sony VPL HW30ES projector...?
- Receiver: Denon AVR-1712...?
- Speakers: Hsu Hybrid 15 (7.1 Package Rosewood)...?
- Media: Blu-ray player with excellent DVD upscaling...?
- Games: XBox 360
- Screen: retractable of some kind to not hide the fireplace..?
- Acoustic treatments: ...?
- Equipment racks: ...?

I don't know anything about screen size or seating placement.

I don't need network/internet stuff or home automation and I assume the game consoles can handle any streaming.

Budget is $3000 to $7000, furniture excluded, but I don't want to pay for things my wife and I won't appreciate. DIY install. I can build simple cabinetry if necessary, mount things to walls, and potentially run some wiring.

Pics are with staging furniture. We just have some cherry bookshelves so far.

Excited to hear any and all suggestions!

Thanks





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post #2 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 03:11 PM
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Nice home, by the way!

First off, is there possibly another room you could put this system into? You have a lot of slightly nightmarish "obstacles" built in to that living room that may not allow it to sound and look its best. Especially with 7.1 surround speaker placement (for one, it's going to be hard to place your side speakers with the front window and --maybe-- the glass doors). You may get some door rattles from the sub was well. Then there's the wide open doorway into the dining room.

The window is one big reflective surface and you'd want some pretty heavy curtains in place during a movie night. No twinkling city lights, sorry to say.

It might be good for a secondary zone room with some in ceiling speakers for light ambient music... but as the main home theater location, I have some reservations.

Just a few things to think about.

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post #3 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! Unfortunately there's not a better location. We can get heavy curtains if that would make it workable. We're not really "living room people" so part of the motivation is to turn the space into something we'll use on a regular basis.

Assume by doors you mean the windows to the right of the fireplace. Would they still rattle, even with curtains? Everything is double paned.

Would 5.1 be easier to place than 7.1?
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post #4 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 03:33 PM
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Not quite what you had in mind, but the first thing that came to mind looking at the room layout and window was that it would be cool (if the window happened to be about the right size), to integrate a drop down screen into the window valence, and if the screen was 2.35:1 (looks like a 16:9 would be closer to the window size), the side curtains could double as side masking.
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post #5 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Hmm. That's a cool idea. It might fit better with the general room layout. The anamorphic lensing thing might be a bit complex for my setup though.

Would it improve the quality of the experience to lay it out that way?
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post #6 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyxle View Post

Thanks! Unfortunately there's not a better location. We can get heavy curtains if that would make it workable. We're not really "living room people" so part of the motivation is to turn the space into something we'll use on a regular basis.

Assume by doors you mean the windows to the right of the fireplace. Would they still rattle, even with curtains? Everything is double paned.

Would 5.1 be easier to place than 7.1?

I thought they were glass paned doors rather than windows to the right of the fireplace, my bad!

Yes, you do want heavy curtains with black out backing for both windows. It'll help acoustically quite a bit and towards light containment somewhat.

Yes, 5.1 with the side surrounds in about the 110 degree locations would most definitely be a better choice here.



I would recommend two VTF-15 subs, if you can swing it (good subs for the price). The framed open doorway will increase the square footage and you'll need to compensate for that.

While the HSU monitor speakers are pretty good budget speakers for the price, I'd consider other brands. Speakers and subs are the most important elements of your surround system. Do not skimp here.

You might also want to consider the PSB T6 towers, C5 center, and B5 bookshelves on stands for the surrounds. Good bang vs. buck.

Also, the Focal Chorus 700 series is another to consider. 714v or 716v towers, CC 700v center, and 705v bookshelves.

The Paradigm Monitor Series and Aperion Audio Intimus or Verus series speakers should be on your radar too.

The Onkyo 818 looks to have pretty decent video upscaling and has Audyssey XT32 calibration software (9.2 channel pre-amp outputs too). So, you could go with a much cheaper, BDP-S590 Sony 3D player and let the 818 do the scaling for satellite/cable, DVD, and 1080i Blu-ray discs.

You can most definitely go with a ceiling mount drop-down screen in front of the fireplace. Make sure it's tab-tensioned to eliminate wrinkling over time. The one thing you'll have an issue with is the center speaker placement... unless you don't turn on the fireplace!

Here's a good, basic viewing distance calculator to use in deciding your screen's size.

http://myhometheater.homestead.com/v...alculator.html

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post #7 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyxle View Post

Hmm. That's a cool idea. It might fit better with the general room layout. The anamorphic lensing thing might be a bit complex for my setup though.

Would it improve the quality of the experience to lay it out that way?

The only thing it would do IMHO is allow you to continue to use your fireplace because of the center speaker. Acoustically speaking, you usually want the screen on the short wall.

The surround speakers would also be very close to your couch and it would be harder to add over flow seating due to the foreshortened seating distances. Only a problem if you have company over for a movie.

You might also have to consider a smaller screen by placing it in front of the bay window. Check your viewing calculator.

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post #8 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 04:09 PM
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Though more expensive, you could also mount a center speaker just above the fireplace by using a drop down acoustically transparent screen. Just set the screen so it has about 3-6" between it and the face of the center speaker. Depending on the speaker manufacturer and model line you consider, there may be a sonically matching in-wall center speaker version as well. Or get three matching, vertically aligned in-wall's for the front left/center/right, so they're all in the same plane.

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post #9 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the speaker recommendations. That's the area I know the least about. I'm willing to invest in speakers since they don't obsolesce quickly.

Mounting a center speaker would be ok. Is the acoustically transparent screen just as good, visually? What's the price difference? Is it better to have the speaker up on the mantle or on the floor? I assume with two subs they would be either side of the fireplace.

Is it easy to tell the Blu-ray player *not* to upscale? It's not clear to me how to make the upscaling work well when the player, the receiver, and the projector all are able to do it. My assumption was that the player itself should upconvert because it has access to the maximum amount of data about the compression artifacts.

Would a PS3 do a good job as a Blu-Ray player or is it too annoying too use? It occurred to me if I got a PS3 instead I could play Uncharted.

I think after your points that the screen over the fireplace still makes the most sense.
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post #10 of 98 Old 05-17-2012, 10:14 PM
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Price difference depends on the brand. You may want to look in the screen section. If it's of decent quality, the PQ is very good compared to a regular non transparent screen.

You don't want the center speaker on the floor. You want the tweeters of all three front speakers to be as close to ear level (while seated) as possible, considering the room.

Yes, the subs would be flanking the fireplace just like the left and right speakers.

You can easily set which component will be doing the actual video processing. It all depends on which item has the best (and most flexible) video chip on board. Usually, you turn off all video "enhancements" on the player. Some have a "native" video setting that allows it to send whatever is recorded on the disc untouched... basically, bitstreaming for video just like with the audio portion of the data. Since the Onkyo 818 has a good video chip, it can also upscale your TV and DVD's too and the rare 1080i Blu-ray disc to 1080p as I mentioned before. Not that it matters right now, but it will upscale to 4k resolution as well. 4k TV's are coming soon, but it'll take a while for the prices to come down to where 1080p sets are currently.

I wouldn't go with a PS3 as your standalone Blu-ray player. I learned my lesson with that. I'd do gaming and some streaming on it only. Besides, they run hot and are noisy (and suck a lot of power).

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post #11 of 98 Old 05-18-2012, 01:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Thinking about the receiver...how many watts do I need?

An additional $1100 sub and $600 more for the receiver is a bit of a hit to my budget....better to spend money there than on a better projector? Is it possible to drive two subs from a 7.1 system, or is 7.2 absolutely required?

Also, is the Foral Chorus sub any good? I like that set a lot. Or better to stick with a mismatched Hsu or two.
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post #12 of 98 Old 05-18-2012, 07:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyxle View Post

Thinking about the receiver...how many watts do I need?

An additional $1100 sub and $600 more for the receiver is a bit of a hit to my budget....better to spend money there than on a better projector? Is it possible to drive two subs from a 7.1 system, or is 7.2 absolutely required?

Also, is the Focal Chorus sub any good? I like that set a lot. Or better to stick with a mismatched Hsu or two.

In the Onkyo 818's power range should be okay to start. However, if you want to improve your sound quality, dynamic headroom, lower distortion etc. then at a later date look at adding a power amp like an Emotiva XPA-5 or something similar and bypass the internal receiver amps. That's what I did with my receiver and it was an immediate sonic improvement.

I think the HSU VTF-15h sub (start with one, then add another later) would probably be a better unit than the Focal. Most mid to high end receivers (and pre-amps too) now have dual subwoofer outputs. So, don't worry too much about that.

Put most of your money on quality speakers and subs. That's the most important purchase (next to a solid power amp) you can make. They'll last you out through quite a few technology upgrades (receivers, pre-amps, TV's, players, etc.) as long as you buy right the first time.

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post #13 of 98 Old 05-19-2012, 12:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Aesthetic question...which of those speakers have real wood or wood veneer sides? Only the Focal Chorus?
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post #14 of 98 Old 05-19-2012, 07:04 AM
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Usually, in a lower to mid-tier speaker you're going to end up with simulated wood vinyl. It can still look fine if you choose the right finish (and skip black ash). I, personally, would rather focus on sound and build quality over aesthetics unless you're willing to move up a notch in speaker models that gives you furniture grade looks and performance.

That's one thing about the Focal Chorus line... they do look and sound snazzy for the price.

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post #15 of 98 Old 05-19-2012, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Sounds good. I'll probably go with that.

Question about the sub...do I really need the flexibility of the VTF-15? I don't know what most of the options do. Are there other subs or brands of sub I should consider?
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post #16 of 98 Old 05-19-2012, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyxle View Post

Sounds good. I'll probably go with that.

Question about the sub...do I really need the flexibility of the VTF-15? I don't know what most of the options do. Are there other subs or brands of sub I should consider?

Plug the RCA cord from the receiver's sub pre-amp out into the sub's LFE input, and with Audyssey auto calibration you bypass the internal crossovers in the sub and let the receiver do the setup. What you get with the VTF-15h is low frequency response and a pretty tight, servo controlled 15" bass driver that can fill a room. It gets great reviews for both music and movies. It'll knock you out of your seat if properly setup.

SVS and Rhythmic are two other sub brands to consider as well. However, they too will have crossover and volume controls that will not be utilized. You set the volume knob at a certain position (not too low and not high enough to add distortion) and forget it... Audyssey (as long as you get a receiver with it) does the rest.

What features in these subwoofers are you not sure about?

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post #17 of 98 Old 05-19-2012, 10:11 AM - Thread Starter
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What about the Hsu VTF3? Not worth the savings?
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post #18 of 98 Old 05-19-2012, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyxle View Post

What about the Hsu VTF3? Not worth the savings?

For your sized open spaced living room... you'll need the extension and output the VTF-15h can give you. You're not in an enclosed, dedicated theater room where sound waves can be contained.

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post #19 of 98 Old 05-19-2012, 03:19 PM
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If you do decide on an HSU VTF-15h sub, Dr. Hsu recommends that you start its volume knob at about the 8 o'clock position and have one port open on EQ1 and a Q=.7 when you run Audyssey. The manual will explain these better.

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post #20 of 98 Old 05-20-2012, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
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After some looking I am going to go with either the Verus Forte or Verus Grand line from Aperion with the Hsu sub. Does the Grand make a difference or is Forte good for my purposes?
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post #21 of 98 Old 05-20-2012, 12:40 PM
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If you listen to a lot of well recorded music and concert Blu-ray's and what not besides movies... then the Verus Grand series would be a much better investment. Also, if you don't plan on upgrading your speakers any time soon and want to start out with higher quality speakers... then go with the larger speaker models in the Verus line so they all match up.

I think you'd be very pleased. Doesn't hurt that they have a free 30 day trial.

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post #22 of 98 Old 05-20-2012, 03:17 PM
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Great looking home I suggest a big 3d tv
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post #23 of 98 Old 05-20-2012, 11:13 PM - Thread Starter
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If I get a receiver with upconverting, is the Sony Sony BDP-S590 definitely the best player to use? Is it easy to have it bitstream CDs and other audio as well as DVD?
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post #24 of 98 Old 05-20-2012, 11:21 PM
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Looks good
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post #25 of 98 Old 05-21-2012, 06:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyxle View Post

If I get a receiver with upconverting, is the Sony Sony BDP-S590 definitely the best player to use? Is it easy to have it bitstream CDs and other audio as well as DVD?


It really boils down to the Sony BDP-S590 or the Panasonic 220. There are minor pluses and minuses to both as you compare the two, but one thing the Sony has in its favor is the ability to play high resolution, multi-channel Super-Audio CD's.

Both players can bitstream CD's, DVD's, Blu-ray, etc. to your receiver easily.

You do have to turn off any image "enhancement" settings on either player for them to look their best. And turn off Dynamic Range Compression, BD-Live, Quick Start, and Secondary Audio in the setup menus.

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post #26 of 98 Old 05-21-2012, 10:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so here is what I've decided.

- Receiver: Onkyo TX-NR809 ($650 refurb) -- has the HQV Vida processor, and Audyssey XT but not XT32. The 818 is $450 more and doesn't actually appear to be released yet.
- Sub: Hsu VTF-15H ($1,086.12 with tax and shipping), black. Additional cost + tax of the wood finish didn't seem worth it.
- Speakers: Aperion Verus Grand 5.0 system, cherry ($3,095.00). Backordered until June 15th! Bah.
- Projector: Epson 8350 ($1,028 refurb). I gave up on 3D in this price range. Not worth the extra cost and 2D penalty.
- Blu-ray: Sony BDP-S590 ($117 open box)
- Surge protection and additional blinking lights: APC H15 Power Conditioner ($238)
- Screen: ????

Also:
- PS3 (used with new controller): $220. Will become the Blu-ray/game machine in the TV room so the XBox 360 can come upstairs. I really like the movies on demand selection on the Xbox.

A bit nervous about all the refurb but it saved me a lot of money.

So now I need advice about the screen (motorized, non-perforated) and perhaps wiring and speaker placement. We don't actually use the fireplace, just look at it, so I will put the center on a stand on the floor.
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post #27 of 98 Old 05-23-2012, 08:53 AM
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Nice room! I have a very similar living room HT setup, but I was lucky in that the short wall opposite the fireplace had a much smaller door opening and therefore allowed enough space for the (retractable) screen. Would you consider extending the wall to make the door opening smaller? That would make things a lot easier from both acoustic (less work for the sub and general sound leakage) and screen placement perspectives. Also - not sure if yuo'd want to do it - you could do what I did and place both a flat-screen (for daytime viewing) and the retractable screen onto the same wall. You'd need a pre-amp / receiver with dual video outputs; I have an Integra. That setup never fails to elicit a WOW from guests, when the screen comes down seamlessly in front of the TV...

Assuming that the room stays as it is though, what is it exactly that you need advice on? You already said that you need a retractable screen that would come down in front of the fireplace. That means that your center channel speaker will need to be mounted right above the fireplace and your screen material will need to be perforated, since the center will be behind it. That, by the way, will make the screen quite a bit more expensive (potentially by a grand), so you may want to think of spending that grand on extending the opposite wall
The side speakers will need to be right under the ceiling and angled down. I guess they need to be small enough to fit between the top of the large window and the ceiling... I suggest making them white to blend into the room better - that works well for me.
Your sub "sees" the entire open space around it, so you need a massive sub for your space with the opening; don't skimp on it.
Oh, and move both chairs to face the fireplace (one behind the coffee table, closer to the sofa, and one to the side, closer to the window).
Good luck!
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post #28 of 98 Old 05-23-2012, 06:42 PM
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Since you are placing your center speaker on a stand in front of the fireplace, you don't need an acoustically transparent motorized screen.

That is a good idea, however, to maybe have a smaller flat panel for everyday knock around TV viewing. Have the screen drop down in front of that. You can get a furniture grade TV stand that will accommodate a flat panel TV and a large center channel speaker.

Get some good 12 gauge speaker cable, a 22 gauge, high-speed HDMI cable for the projector, and 28 gauge high-speed HDMI cables for everything else needing HDMI connections (due to much shorter lengths and extra flexibility) from Monoprice.com.

Here's a good place for quality locking banana plugs at a good price:

http://www.speakerrepair.com/mm5/mer...y_Code=locking

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post #29 of 98 Old 05-23-2012, 09:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the wiring tips. Love monoprice!

We have a separate room in the basement with the regular TV for daytime and quick use. Nice because we can still look at the fireplace.

I ended up going with a 110" Vutec Lectric1 Vu-Flex Pro screen, which I got from the same guy who sold me the projector. $1178.

I don't have side speakers, just a 5.1 system with rears. So no need to worry about wall mounting right now. Right?
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post #30 of 98 Old 05-23-2012, 11:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Another question, the bi-amp setting in the Onkyo is useless, right? Or is there an active crossover that Audyssey can adjust?
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