My system, and how it got this way. :) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-12-2012, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi folks,

I'm new around here. I've been a home theater enthusiast for years, but the finances have never supported the hobby until recently. Now, I'm finally building a decent system for my living room. (Some of you, I'm sure, will laugh at what I consider decent.)

A recent failure of my Blu-Ray player has prompted a long string of upgrades. Read on for more. smile.gif

Display
My TV is a Panasonic Viera 42" plasma (P42S2). 1080p, 2D only, 600Hz. Before that I had an HD CRT and I just can't give up those amazing black levels. I got it a couple years ago at a Black Friday sale, for well under what one would pay for a comparable full-array LED. Right now it sits on a small rolling TV stand which doubles as the home for the receiver and source devices.

Receiver
I just upgraded from an Onkyo HT-S590 HTiB (5.1, rated 100w per channel, plus a 110w channel for the passive sub) that I bought used for $150. It worked fine for my purposes, but the sub is passive (and weak), and the receiver doesn't have any HDMI connectivity. I was using all component video connections, and digital (one coax and one optical) from the HD sources.

On Friday I took delivery of a Denon AVR-2313ci (7.2, 105w per channel, two sub preouts, two zones) which I bought new from Paul's TV at a decent discount from MSRP (thanks to Amazon for the bargaining chip!).

Speakers
For now I still have the mains, center, and surround from the Onkyo HTiB. I hope to upgrade these, and I'm seriously considering a full set from Ascend Accoustics -- CBM-170 mains and surrounds, CMT-340 center.

I've added a pair of Polk Atrium 4 outdoor speakers, which I've wired up to the zone 2 outputs on the Denon and mounted on my deck with great personal effort. Outdoor music is awesome! smile.gif

Subwoofer
I'm using a BIC V1020 subwoofer -- 10" ported, down-firing, 160w (350w peak). At first I was using this with the Onkyo receiver and the speaker-level inputs, but there's an unfortunate hum from the sub when the receiver is off, so I had to turn the sub on and off manually, which was annoying. This problem went away when I got the Denon and started using the preout. I tested the sub with a couple of movies and a car audio bass test CD, and I'm thoroughly impressed with the level of bass that's available in the $150 price range. I occasionally regret not going with a sealed enclosure sub, but generally only when watching non-HD television where they don't put a lot of effort into the sound track. It sounds great on music and movies to my ears.

Source - Blu-Ray
This is where all of the upgrades started. I had an LG BD-570 that started refusing to play some newer BluRay discs. I called LG tech support and determined it would cost $80 plus shipping to Indiana just to have someone look at it, and then I'd have to pay for parts and labor if it was repairable. Instead, I bought a Panasonic BDT220 for not much more, but that introduced a problem: it only has HDMI out. I didn't want to go back to the dark ages of switching inputs in multiple places, so I convinced my wife to let me buy the Denon, which in turn required the purchase of the sub.

I'm an Amazon Prime member, so I get free streaming movies via the Amazon Instant Video app that's built into the player.

Source - uVerse DVR
Not much to say here. 720p/1080i video and 5.1 digital sound.

Remote
Pre-Denon, I was using the uVerse remote with much success. Along with the Denon, I picked up a URC R50 for a decent price. So far I'm fairly disappointed with the URC. The build quality is great and I like a lot of things about it, but it just doesn't offer enough advantages to justify not continuing to use the uVerse remote. I'm considering my options going forward, and right now the frontrunner is iRule.


Total System Cost
TV: $690 (late 2011)
Receiver: $849
Speakers: $150 (for the whole Onkyo HTiB, private-party used)
Subwoofer: $150
Blu-Ray: $129
5x 3' HDMI cables: $20 (two cables still unused)
Speaker wire: $42
15' RCA subwoofer cable: $15
18 pairs of gold-plated dual-screw banana plugs: $42
Banana-plug wall plates (2x two-channel, 1x 7.1 channel): $44
Remote: $60
Total: $2191

I got the TV from Best Buy on a Black Friday sale. The receiver came from Paul's TV with a bit of haggling. The HDMI cables came from Monoprice. Everything else came from Amazon or an Amazon Seller.

Future plans:
  • AppleTV. I'm waiting for a model that supports third-party apps, which has been rumored for quite some time.
  • Get rid of the URC R50 and find something I like better
  • Sell the Onkyo w/ passive sub
  • Give away the LG Blu-Ray player (still plays DVDs and streams Netflix reliably, also plays some Blu-Rays)
  • Ascend Accoustics speakers -- CBM-170 mains and surrounds, CMT-340 center.
  • Wall mounts for the speakers and the TV
  • Upgrade the sub (Ascend D15SE? I'm open to suggestions here, and I have no idea what price range I'll be looking at when the time comes.)

Living Room: Denon 2113ci + BIC V1020 + Panasonic BDT220 + AppleTV + uVerse DVR + Panasonic P42S2 plasma
Theater: Denon 2313ci + Klipsch RW12d + Panasonic BDT220 + Mac mini + uVerse wired receiver + Epson 8350 PJ + 100" screen
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-27-2012, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, my future plans just got thrown way up in the air. I won the Worst Install Mistake contest! My prize is an Epson 8350 projector. So, now I have a few options:

1. Sell the PJ.
2. Install in my living room, with a screen that rolls down in front of the plasma. (Cost: ~$400)
3. Abort the current plans to remodel the main basement room and instead remodel it as a theater room. (Cost: $4000)

For the record, I'm not a fan of option 1 at all.

Option 2 is easy. Ceiling mount for the PJ, ceiling-mounted motorized screen, a 30' HDMI cable from behind the wall to the ceiling (I know what I'm doing now), some tweaks to the in-wall jacks I installed, and done.

I've always wanted to do option 3, but this is a lot sooner than I ever thought it would happen. $2500 is my best guess for the aforementioned screen and ceiling mount, a Denon 1712 (or better; I want MultEQ XT and 7.1), a full 7.1 set of speakers, speaker wire, wall mounts, and jacks. I figure $1500 will get me a nice sectional sofa, which will suffice for seating at least at first. I haven't accounted for the things I'll need to do for the renovation (floor, walls, and lighting), which I was going to do anyway but will probably do differently with this new plan in mind. It would take me a few months to set aside that much money, during which time the PJ would most likely sit unused, which would almost certainly drive me crazy!

So the question is, $400 and use it now with a good system, or $4000 and use it in several months with a kickass system?

I guess I could do both. I'd have to patch some holes in the living room ceiling after the switchover, and I'd spend some time running wires through walls that I'd eventually have to remove, but everything I'd buy for the living room would be useful downstairs when the time came.

The other quesiton is, what sub for a dedicated theater room? Figure no more than $500. I like my BIC 1020, but I think I'd want something stronger for a dedicated theater. The BIC F12 fits within a $500 budget well enough to get two of them...

Living Room: Denon 2113ci + BIC V1020 + Panasonic BDT220 + AppleTV + uVerse DVR + Panasonic P42S2 plasma
Theater: Denon 2313ci + Klipsch RW12d + Panasonic BDT220 + Mac mini + uVerse wired receiver + Epson 8350 PJ + 100" screen
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-28-2012, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeRobb View Post

Well, my future plans just got thrown way up in the air. I won the Worst Install Mistake contest! My prize is an Epson 8350 projector. So, now I have a few options:
1. Sell the PJ.
2. Install in my living room, with a screen that rolls down in front of the plasma. (Cost: ~$400)
3. Abort the current plans to remodel the main basement room and instead remodel it as a theater room. (Cost: $4000)
For the record, I'm not a fan of option 1 at all.
Option 2 is easy. Ceiling mount for the PJ, ceiling-mounted motorized screen, a 30' HDMI cable from behind the wall to the ceiling (I know what I'm doing now), some tweaks to the in-wall jacks I installed, and done.
I've always wanted to do option 3, but this is a lot sooner than I ever thought it would happen. $2500 is my best guess for the aforementioned screen and ceiling mount, a Denon 1712 (or better; I want MultEQ XT and 7.1), a full 7.1 set of speakers, speaker wire, wall mounts, and jacks. I figure $1500 will get me a nice sectional sofa, which will suffice for seating at least at first. I haven't accounted for the things I'll need to do for the renovation (floor, walls, and lighting), which I was going to do anyway but will probably do differently with this new plan in mind. It would take me a few months to set aside that much money, during which time the PJ would most likely sit unused, which would almost certainly drive me crazy!
So the question is, $400 and use it now with a good system, or $4000 and use it in several months with a kickass system?
I guess I could do both. I'd have to patch some holes in the living room ceiling after the switchover, and I'd spend some time running wires through walls that I'd eventually have to remove, but everything I'd buy for the living room would be useful downstairs when the time came.
The other quesiton is, what sub for a dedicated theater room? Figure no more than $500. I like my BIC 1020, but I think I'd want something stronger for a dedicated theater. The BIC F12 fits within a $500 budget well enough to get two of them...

Congrats and I'll take door #3!
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post #4 of 8 Old 07-10-2012, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
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The projector arrived today! I just connected it to my work PC and tested it out briefly. So far, so good, but it's not quite up to the task of running under full office lighting. (No surprise, no problem.) I'll hook it up at home and get more detailed impressions soon.

My wife shot down Option 3, but we have a similar plan in the works. The room won't be a dedicated theater; more like a party room. It probably won't have dedicated or tiered seating and almost certainly won't have dark walls, but it'll still be a pretty kickass place for a handful of people to gather and watch a movie. smile.gif

Living Room: Denon 2113ci + BIC V1020 + Panasonic BDT220 + AppleTV + uVerse DVR + Panasonic P42S2 plasma
Theater: Denon 2313ci + Klipsch RW12d + Panasonic BDT220 + Mac mini + uVerse wired receiver + Epson 8350 PJ + 100" screen
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post #5 of 8 Old 07-16-2012, 10:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Sigh. We finally got some rain after several weeks of drought, and now I discover a foundation leak. Funds for the room renovation are going to be diverted for a while until I can do that. frown.gif

On the plus side, I was able to sample the projector's abilities at home this weekend. The setup was far from optimal (using a dry erase board for a projector screen, and with the screen set up in the back of the soundstage, so the surround was reversed), but it was still pretty awesome. I remain quite excited about the prospects of getting everything set up. smile.gif

Living Room: Denon 2113ci + BIC V1020 + Panasonic BDT220 + AppleTV + uVerse DVR + Panasonic P42S2 plasma
Theater: Denon 2313ci + Klipsch RW12d + Panasonic BDT220 + Mac mini + uVerse wired receiver + Epson 8350 PJ + 100" screen
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post #6 of 8 Old 08-06-2012, 02:29 PM
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I f you still want to try tiered seating. I would suggest wooden pallets and futons. Although with your foundation leaking, that might be a bad idea.
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-25-2012, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, the foundation leak has been repaired. The damaged carpet and wall paneling are gone, a new floor has been installed (wood-look laminate), and the lower portion of the walls (formerly water-damaged panels) is now drywalled -- mudded and taped, but not primed or painted yet. I've installed modern recessed lighting with LED flood lamps and a dimmer. I have one last wall to drywall (have to get my speaker wires run first, as it's where the screen is going to be).

I have materials to build a ceiling-mounted box for the projector, which will be painted to match the ceiling in order to blend in as much as possible. I haven't figured out how I'm getting power and signal up to it yet; probably just a cable cover going up the wall behind it.

I still need to buy speakers + mounts (still thinking of the same Ascend Acoustics setup), a sub (BIC F12), a screen (106" AcousticPro VMAX2), a receiver (Denon 2113 I think. I'd go with a 1713 except I really want the video upscaling.), a set of source units (BD + AppleTV + uVerse), an RF remote setup, and furniture (a pair of three-place sofas and a few end tables). I think I'll do a very basic DIY rack and have it under one of the end tables, or maybe it will BE one of the end tables.

I'm hoping I can eventually talk my wife into letting me do one of those inside-the-ceiling recessed installs for the screen. I'll wire it up to the 12v output on the projector so it goes up and down automatically. Has anyone here ever installed one of those? I'm wondering how much trouble they are to do in an existing ceiling. Is the trim plate big enough to cover a hole big enough to get the unit inside the ceiling, or am I going to be patching the ceiling?

It's close enough now that I'm getting antsy about getting it all done, but I have to pace myself for budget reasons, and to keep my wife sane. Maybe it'll be done by Christmas. smile.gif

Living Room: Denon 2113ci + BIC V1020 + Panasonic BDT220 + AppleTV + uVerse DVR + Panasonic P42S2 plasma
Theater: Denon 2313ci + Klipsch RW12d + Panasonic BDT220 + Mac mini + uVerse wired receiver + Epson 8350 PJ + 100" screen
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-04-2012, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
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New progress update:

The downstairs room is finished and now just needs to be equipped with components. I had an old 30" CRT HDTV and a VCR+DVD player sitting in my garage, so I dusted those off, brought them inside, and wired them up. I also had an old RCA shelf stereo I've had since high school hooked up to an Airport Express in the garage. Since it's winter and I won't be spending much time in the garage for a while, I brought all of that inside as well, and those have been hooked up for a couple weeks. The RCA system was crappy in the first place and now it's dying, so it hums and pops a lot, especially if you turn the volume up. Between that and the fact that the only input source I have down there is the VCR+DVD, I haven't been using it much yet.

Luckily, I just took delivery of a Denon 2113 today, which will replace the 2313 in the living room; the 2313 will then move downstairs. I'll hook the two RCA speakers up to the 2313 for now, until I have enough saved up for the Ascend 5-speaker package. I'll need to buy or build shelves on the front wall to hold the speakers; the RCAs are just about the same size as the Ascend speakers, so that's nice.

Newegg put the Klipsch RW-12d on sale again for $299 the other day, and I snatched one up before they sold out again. It'll be here in a couple days, at which point I will have a comical combination of great subwoofer and ****** mains. I probably won't have time to hook anything up until this weekend.

Still on the to-buy lists:
* Speakers. As I said before, the original plan was CBM-170 mains and surrounds, CMT-340 center. I'm now considering HTM-200s instead for the surrounds and possibly the fronts too; I really think four CMT-170s is quite a bit of overkill for my purposes in a room this size, and it'll save a bit of money. Then again, the 170s are on sale right now for the same price as the 200s.
* PJ screen. I'm looking at a 100" motorized, acoustically transparent screen from Elite, plus an in-ceiling trim kit to keep things looking nice when the PJ isn't in use.
* Blu-Ray player. I'm looking at the Panasonic BDT-320. I have a 220 upstairs and I like it; I'm stepping up mostly for the slot-loading feature.
* Furniture.

I also need to call AT&T and have them send me another uVerse receiver.

Once I have the screen, it's time to build my PJ box and mount it to the ceiling, at which point I'll have to reconfigure the locations for all of the components, which is going to require some additional changes to the furniture arrangement.

This is really starting to seem like a neverending project!

Living Room: Denon 2113ci + BIC V1020 + Panasonic BDT220 + AppleTV + uVerse DVR + Panasonic P42S2 plasma
Theater: Denon 2313ci + Klipsch RW12d + Panasonic BDT220 + Mac mini + uVerse wired receiver + Epson 8350 PJ + 100" screen
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Panasonic Tc P42s2 42 Inch 1080p Plasma Hdtv , Onkyo Hts590 5 1 Channel Component Home Theater Audio System , Denon Avr 2313ci Receiver , Ascend Acoustics Cbm 170 Se , Ascend Acoustics Cmt 340 Se Center , Bic Venturi Subwoofer V1020 , Panasonic 3d Blu Ray Player Dmp Bdt220
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