That room is indeed huge. My entire urban house isn't that big, and my custom-designed listening room at my desert house is very large but less than half that size.
The first thing you should know is that 99% of the HT receivers on the market do not have the power one would need for that room to set up HT. You need 200 watts RMS for each channel with ALL FIVE channels driven.
A preamp/processor unit such as the Marantz AV7005 would be essential IMO. It has no power amplifiers of its own, which allows the installation of individual mono power amplifiers at each speaker location and to run balanced cables long distances to them as needed from the AV7005 or similar unit with balanced outputs on all channels.
I am not sure what kind of money gives you sticker shock, but I don't think you can realistically set up any home theater in that room for any less than $10,000. It might easily require twice or 3 times that much money.
My 2-channel stereo system in a room half that size at my desert house has about $25,000 worth of equipment in it, so one could easily spend $40,000 on good-quality equipment for a 5-channel system in a 1600 sq. ft. room.
My advice would be to set up a viewing and listening area in one part of the room (about 15 feet wide and 20 feet deep) and in it set up a 73" Mitsubishi HDTV (or similar unit) with two very good large speakers and two subwoofers and a top-quality preamp and power amplifier. You will have a good-quality sound setup for movies in that area and the acoustical problems will be far less than trying to do multi-channel HT in such a large space. The acoustical problems could be immensely difficult for 5.1.
One good way to do this is to set off the viewing area to some extent with free-standing or ceiling-suspended acoustical panels. If you could effectively create a smaller room with acoustical-panel "walls" then you would also have a much easier time doing 5.1 if or when.
Another possible setup is to put the TV/TV stand/equipment across a corner of the room and have the speakers near the walls on either side.
One wild card in all of this is how many people you intend to have viewing at any one time. I assume you are talking about 10 or less, rather than 40 or 60 people. Two different problems entirely.
I would recommend that you start by getting the Mitsubishi WD-73838 3D DLP HDTV (there is also an 82" model), which Amazon has for about $1700 now. It has an excellent picture, IMO as good as the very best LED or plasma sets. I have the 60" version and am very happy with it. A good base unit with two shelves for amps, players and other boxes is the Tech-Craft BCE 73 stand (or Tech-Craft BCE 82 for the 82"). Mitsubishi also has its own stand for the 73" which is on Amazon.
Speakers usually fail from being overdriven and overheated; good speakers should last at least 20 years in most environments.
Originally Posted by sandtrooper
I'm a HT newb in the process of wanting to build a quality home theater for a 40'x40'x9' carpeted living room. I currently have an old Panasonic HTIB that works well, but doesn't have the audio fidelity I'm wanting.
The plan is for a 5.1 system with AVR. I have a few speaker sets I'm interested in getting, but am experiencing sticker shock at the prices. If I shell out for a more expensive set-up, how long should I expect the speakers to usable? I guess paying out that much for the system would be more bearable if they would be good for years (decades?) to come.