Low Budget 'High End' Home Theater - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 11-18-2012, 11:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey all first post here. Not sure if I posted in the right spot so if I did moderators don't be afraid to boot me somewhere else smile.gif.

Anyways down to business. My bedroom, roughly 12'x13', needs a theater setup. I am a somewhat recent high school grad and I am finishing my first quarter at the community college here (planning on transfering to a four year school) so I don't have a lot of cash BUT I do want to start building up decent home theater so the plan is to gradually buy different pieces to eventually fit it all together into a home theater.

I am going to start with a projector then move up to the audio equipment. I have done some research and compiled what I have been thinking. All of my A/V sources will be straight off my XPS laptop I have (HDMI/S/P DIF Digital Output). Receiver and center I am hoping I can get for Christmas and I plan on buying the front channels right around then. Until I can get that setup I will be running the projector off of my laptop and all of the audio will be through its speakers or my current cheaper speakers.

Projector

Optima HD66, but I am planning on whatever hits rock bottom on Newegg this Friday. Any other recommendations would be great. This will be going above my head and the bed.

Screen

Need help here. Thinking of doing DIY, but I have read most yield subpar results yet I don't have cash for the expensive stuff I have seen around.

Speakers

Front Channels-Monitor 60 or 70's
Rear Channels- I have a set of inexpensive speakers that would work
Center Channel- Need some advice for something 100-200$ (more towards the 100$ spectrum)
Bass- Need something for 100-200$

Receiver

I have no clue, some help would be great. Something cheap (200-250$ would be great) with HDMI input/output and enough juice to power what I am thinking about.

Cables

All coming from Monoprice

Basically I need advice on what to cut back on and to fill in the missing pieces. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated! biggrin.gif

Thanks Ahead!
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post #2 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 06:42 AM
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First of all, if you're trying to go as cheap as you can, to say nothing of easily moving in the future, you don't want tower speakers. Just get a pair of bookshelf speakers. In a 12x13 room they will be more than enough. And you buy a matching center channel speaker. For a receiver, look on HK's online store, under clearance or factory reconditioned...you will find some real bargains.
In fact you will find real bargains on those pages for speakers, HK, JBL, Infinity.
http://www.harmanaudio.com/search_browse/outlet.asp?&utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign=hk-clearance&gclid=CKzo99eh27MCFQUFnQodf0gAMg
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post #3 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 07:55 AM
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If nothing else, do NOT skimp on the center channel. It's the workhorse for movies, and if it's insufficient, it will really take away from the experience.

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post #4 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mn_hokie View Post

If nothing else, do NOT skimp on the center channel. It's the workhorse for movies, and if it's insufficient, it will really take away from the experience.

What would you recommend?
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Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

First of all, if you're trying to go as cheap as you can, to say nothing of easily moving in the future, you don't want tower speakers. Just get a pair of bookshelf speakers. In a 12x13 room they will be more than enough. And you buy a matching center channel speaker. For a receiver, look on HK's online store, under clearance or factory reconditioned...you will find some real bargains.
In fact you will find real bargains on those pages for speakers, HK, JBL, Infinity.
http://www.harmanaudio.com/search_browse/outlet.asp?&utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign=hk-clearance&gclid=CKzo99eh27MCFQUFnQodf0gAMg

Are the Polk monitor 30's any good bookshelf speakers?
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post #5 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by gidgiddonihah View Post

What would you recommend?
Are the Polk monitor 30's any good bookshelf speakers?

I gave you a link to HK, JBL, Infinity speakers. They will beat Polk.
The JBL LC2 is a center hard to beat, certainly at the price. Add L820 for the mains/surrounds.
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post #6 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

I gave you a link to HK, JBL, Infinity speakers. They will beat Polk.
The JBL LC2 is a center hard to beat, certainly at the price. Add L820 for the mains/surrounds.

The link you sent me doesn't have either speaker and their normal prices are way too high. Thanks though smile.gif.
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post #7 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 10:48 AM
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The link you sent me doesn't have either speaker and their normal prices are way too high. Thanks though smile.gif.
Did you look under all three tabs? JBL, clearance, factory reconditioned.
Various models are not in all three. The L820 boxed pairs can be found for $200 below the reg price.
And then there is Amazon, I saw some models even cheaper there.
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post #8 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 10:57 AM
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And on the topic of moving "soon" - you should consider investing instead in a good-sized flat panel TV instead of a projector setup at this point. Your first residence on your own will either be a dorm room or a small apartment - projector setups are tough in those environments. It wouldn't be fun if you put your money into a projector setup only to find there's no way to set it up physically for the next few years.

And +1 on the bookshelf / compact speakers - much easier to place in the dorm / apartment...

Jeff


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post #9 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 12:35 PM
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I'm in a somewhat similar situation as you: college student (though I have roommates) on a budget and I wanted a thater setup. I blew a ton of money, almost $3500 now, on my theater which is in my garage. One thing I didn't realize with projectors is how expensive bulbs get. If you only use the PJ a few hours a week, then you'll be fine for a year or two. However, if you use the PJ for everything, you'll burn through a new bulb in anywhere as quick as 6mo to a year. At $200-$400 a bulb, this is a big expense for students. My recommendation would be to go with a flat screen from a black friday sale (or just look at eBay. There's a ton of large plasmas going for VERY cheap these days).

Anyway, if you're set on a projector setup, here's what I'd recommend you do.

DIY sintra/komatex/expanded PVC screen: $50 for the foam, another $40 for wood and metal clips to build it. Don't go bigger than 100"
Projector: Viewsonic Pro8200. $500-$600 on eBay refurbished.
LCR (left, center, right) speakers: JBL L830 and LC2. Videogon. He says he prefers local pickup but most are willing to ship provided you pay.
Rears: Klipsch Synergy S2. Videogon.
Sub: JBL E250P. eBay. These go for around 150 on ebay.
Receiver: Denon AVR 791. eBay

When it's all said and done, be prepared to be out around $1500.

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post #10 of 17 Old 11-19-2012, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry guys, working two jobs and going to school is a busy life smile.gif. I'll look at your recommendations later tonight when I get the time and edit this post with anymore questions or follow up.
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post #11 of 17 Old 11-20-2012, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

I gave you a link to HK, JBL, Infinity speakers. They will beat Polk.
The JBL LC2 is a center hard to beat, certainly at the price. Add L820 for the mains/surrounds.


+1 The LC2 is a KILLER center channel. 4 way and loads of power handling. it is also wall mountable, which gives you some installation options.

I am using the JBL LC2 and L820's and a JBL S120 sub (mixed in with some JBL S38's). I am a BIG fan of JBL.

I actually picked up my L820's on eBay and Craigslist. 1 of my LC2's on Craigslist and a pair of S38's on Craigslist as well.

As for a screen, check out the section on using spandex (YES SPANDEX) for a quality, inexpensive DIY screen. It is also acoustically transparent, so you will be able to put your center channel BEHIND the screen.


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post #12 of 17 Old 11-20-2012, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
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As for a screen, check out the section on using spandex (YES SPANDEX) for a quality, inexpensive DIY screen. It is also acoustically transparent, so you will be able to put your center channel BEHIND the screen.

I forgot about this. This is a great idea if you have space to extend your screen from the wall. Just make sure to get both black and white spandex and put the black behind it so that the stuff behind the screen doesn't get lit up.

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post #13 of 17 Old 11-20-2012, 10:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok. I have been considering grabbing the 60" Vizio TV that CNET raves about when it hits the 600$ mark this Friday. If I do that I really might wait on audio equipment for some time as that's a big chunk of what I have saved up for 'extraneous spending' (i.e my mother will kill me when she finds out I spent 600$ on a frivolous item when i need to be saving for college rolleyes.gif). And I did read about the spandex thing and mentioned it to a friend who owns a projector. He said he was going to try it out and I could stop by when he finished it.

When I do get (if I am still alive biggrin.gif) to the point I can start looking for audio equipment I can come back for current advice as you guys have been amazing.
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post #14 of 17 Old 11-21-2012, 01:08 PM
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As a suggestion to save some $... PLAN where you want to take this project. My theater started VERY modest, when I was in college (if you think you're broke now....wait til college... RAMEN noodles are a FEAST!)
But seriously, Settle on a line of speakers, read up on receivers, projector yes/no etc... and check out eBay and Craigslist. I got several of my items from Craigslist. eBay I got my JBL L820's for $159.00/pair (retail is like $599) referb direct from JBL.

Get as much information as possible, as questions, and get what makes you happy. Maybe the first build is the Vizio and a Home Theater in a box to get you started.


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post #15 of 17 Old 11-21-2012, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
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As a suggestion to save some $... PLAN where you want to take this project. My theater started VERY modest, when I was in college (if you think you're broke now....wait til college... RAMEN noodles are a FEAST!)
But seriously, Settle on a line of speakers, read up on receivers, projector yes/no etc... and check out eBay and Craigslist. I got several of my items from Craigslist. eBay I got my JBL L820's for $159.00/pair (retail is like $599) referb direct from JBL.
Get as much information as possible, as questions, and get what makes you happy. Maybe the first build is the Vizio and a Home Theater in a box to get you started.

I believe I will take the advice of getting a TV instead of a projector. My dad is a complete and total shameless audiophile so I think I may entrust the choice of receiver and front channels to him for Christmas. After Christmas I will pick up a center channel and call it good for awhile.

TV's In Order of Preference:

1. Panasonic TC-P60U50 60-Inch Plasma (Will only get if it crashes to 600-700$ range)
2. VIZIO E601i-A3 60-Inch (Amazon should be having the same deal as Walmart, if not I can move down the list)
3. Panasonic VIERA TC-P50U50 50-Inch (Pretty much what I plan on getting if the other 2 don't work out)
4. Samsung PN51E550 (Backup plan if all others fail or sell out)

The only thing against the TV's is my parents have a 55" setup in their A/V room and from 11' away 55 seems smaller than what I would want. If I grab the 50" it will look really small from 12' away and the 60" will still be somewhat small compared to a projector setup.

For audio I can't decide. Way too many options to go to.
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post #16 of 17 Old 11-21-2012, 02:05 PM
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For audio I can't decide. Do home theaters in a box ever come with receivers? If not I may just stick with the receiver and front channels for Christmas. Or I could get a good receiver and a cheap theater in a box setup until I can save for some good stuff.
HTib do have receiver/speakers.
But you will get more for your money, as in quality, by starting with a 2.1 system at the same price as a 5.1 system of lessor quality. Then its just a matter of adding center/surrounds at a later time, as money permits.
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post #17 of 17 Old 11-21-2012, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
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HTib do have receiver/speakers.
But you will get more for your money, as in quality, by starting with a 2.1 system at the same price as a 5.1 system of lessor quality. Then its just a matter of adding center/surrounds at a later time, as money permits.

I did some reading and came to the same decision (that's why you have a quote that doesn't exist anymore). The problem is money. If I spend 650-780$ w/ tax I don't have money to buy a receiver and then speakers. Need to see what this Christmas's budget it smile.gif.
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