I first ventured into the concept of â€śHome Theaterâ€ť in 1992 when I was living at a friendâ€™s house. We loved movies and I added speakers by splitting the left and right RCA jacks into a boom box with removable speakers. This was a very make shift start but it was fun.
About a year later, I visited a once common A/V store in Atlanta, GA called HiFi Buys with my brother in law to upgrade his old receiver to a new AVR with surround sound. I think this is when I became hooked for life. At this point, I knew one day I would have my own nice setup.
A couple of years later, I graduated from high school and I moved to my own place. It was not long before I started working on my Home Theater (about 3 months). This was still before Dolby Digital arrived so I was looking for the equivalent of 5.1 for Dolby Pro Logic. I started with a low end Denon AVR and Polk Audio Speakers (RT12 towers), a Mitsubishi 32â€ť with a Mitsubishi VHS, once again, from HiFi Buys. Over the next few months, I made several upgrades as HiFi Buys would accept returns for store Credit up to 1 Year for Speakers and AVRs. I kept the towers but upgraded the center speaker to what was then Polkâ€™s biggest Center (CS350-LS) outside of the SRT (Signature Reference System) and some RT equivalent bookshelf surrounds (RT3s maybe?). The Sub was some small Polk 10â€ť ported box.
I also started upgrading AVRs at this time. I moved from the Denon to other brands like Yamaha and Pioneer Elite finally ending up with the higher end Denon AVR-2600 ($900+ in 1990â€™s money).
I had friends come over to watch movies all the time and one friend brought his parentâ€™s Laserdisc player. We hooked it up and compared the video and sound to the VHS copy of Speed. I was sold and my next purchase was a new Pioneer LD (donâ€™t remember the model#).
About a year after settling on the AVR-2600, Denon Dolby Digital models started to be released. I had spent several hours playing with a Dolby Digital Yamaha setup (it had an outboard Dolby Digital demodulator) at the store. I was amazed by the concept of discreet channels versus matrixed channels with ProLogic. I traded in the AVR-2600 for the brand new AVR-3600. This was Denonâ€™s very 1st digital (audio) AVR. A month later I traded the AVR-3600 for the just released AVR-5600. Denonâ€™s 1st Dolby Digital THX AVR ever! Unfortunately for me, DTS came out shortly after I would not have DTS in my theater for over 12 years. The 5600 was just shy of 3k and it would need to last me. The very next year the Denon AVR-5700 came out and the AVR-5600 was a footnote in history.
I next had to upgrade my LD player to one with an AC3 RF output for Dolby Digital so I purchased the Pioneer CLD-504.
Not long after I purchased the AVR-5600, I discovered Home Theater Magazine and they just did an article on the AVR-5600. In the same issue, I was introduced to M&K Speakers. I realized there was much more to speakers that I knew and I started to learn everything I could about audio. I spent the next few years listening to every speaker brand/model I could. I always came back to the M&K speakers and finally pulled the trigger and ordered the M&K S-125 system and sub. Less than a month later, I returned the MX-125 sub and purchased the M&K MX-5000 MKII THX Sub. I had also installed the 1st version of the Clark Synthesis tactical transducer with a Carver amp. It was a beast of a setup and I was barely 20.
My next upgrade was for DVD. I was an early adopter and purchased the Pioneer Elite DVL-90 the 1st week of its release. DVD launched in several different test markets which Atlanta was not part of. I had to order my 1st DVD out of state since the only movies available local were IMAX flicks. The DVL-90 was later replaced with the DVL-91 which served me until Blu-Ray.
By 1998, my focus had shifted to video. The 32â€ť TV was not cutting it and because I had been to various A/V shops around Atlanta and Greenville, SC to audition speakers, I had discovered front projection. The holy grail was CRT. The Buckeye (expensive area in Atlanta) HiFiBuys had an 8â€ť Sony CRT with a Faroudja line doubler displayed on a 100â€ť Stewart Screen. I was sold, kind of (no way I could afford this setup). At the end of the day, I ended up with a Sharpvision XVS- 96U which was still a ton of money back then (MSRP was about $7K) and a 100â€ť 16:9 Stewart Filmscreen StudioTek 130 Electric Lexus A screen (also not cheap).
Fast forward 5 years, we (now married) moved to a new home with a dedicated, but open (back wall) theater. I sold the Sharp for an Infocus X1 and sold the M&K S125s for M&K S150s (w/ SS-150 surrounds).
Until 2007, the only thing I had upgraded was moving from an original Pronto Remote to an URC MX-3000 and MSC-400.
In 2007, the M&K MX-5000THX sub started to act up so I purchased 2 JL Audio F113 Subs. The M&K Sub was repaired and sold.
Having lived with an open floor plan theater for 7 years with projection, I finally decided to close in the room (2009). After several expensive quotes, I chose to complete the construction myself with help on the sheetrock only. I also decided to build a bar and purchased 4 Coaster theater incliners. I have provided pictures of this part of the project here.
During this build, the Denon AVR-5600 lost the right channel amp (started to smoke). I had received about 12 years of service from the Denon. To replace the Denon AVR, I purchased an Integra DHC-9.8 and the DTA-9.4 7 channel amp. The Clark Synthesis transducer was sold. The M&K SS150s were sold and 4 M&K Surr-250s were purchased for 7.1. The Infocus was replaced with a Sony VLP-VW40 and I purchased a Sony BD player, later replaced with the Oppo. Some ATS Acoustic Panels were added and shortly after, the Integra DTA-9.4 amp was replaced with a NAD M25 THX 7 channel amp.
Though I enjoyed the JL Audio Subs, I did miss the extra sensations that a tactical transducer could provide. I looked at Buttkickers and seriously inquired about Crowson Tech Actuators. When comparing these I saw D-Box mentioned as another league of immersion. I had heard of D-Box many years ago when it 1st was released. The prices were so astronomical and the idea sounded really gimmicky, especially when I could do other tactical systems at a fraction of the price. Fortunately, there was a D-Box dealer less than a mile from my place of work and I decided to finally demo D-Box before I finally wrote it off once and for all. The 1st scene I experienced was the 1st test flight in Iron Man. I was floored, amazed, excided, wowed, you name it. I had to have D-Box, I had to. Then I got the quote for 4 D-Box enabled chairs. Keep in mind, the Coaster chairs needed to be replaced as D-Box would have disintegrated them in no time. The quote was for almost $45K.
Instead of dropping this kind of cash, I was able to purchase 4 United Leather â€śFormula oneâ€ť D-Box â€śreadyâ€ť seats. These were made so that D-Box Actuators could bolt right in. In order to afford the D-Box actuators, I purchased 2 of D-Boxâ€™s SRP-220 platforms and literally dissected them. The platforms used to be cheaper than the chair kits (this is no longer the case). I owe full credit for this idea to AVSforum member â€śckenisell.â€ť He not only provided the idea, he provided all the part numbers to accept D-Boxâ€™s connections. I had a local machine shop fabricate steal brackets to my specifications/design. Instead of cutting any wires, extensions were made with the exact same connectors (provided by ckenisell) used by D-Box. Pictures of this modification can be seen here
. Until this point, D-Box has made the most significant improvement to my theater and has provided more smiles from visitors than anything else I have ever demoâ€™ed before. This includes showing my guests a 100â€ť screen in 1999!
This brings us to present day (Dec 2015).