I'm in the process of building a new basement theater.
Room is 22' x 14' with 10.5' ceiling. Mix of pine paneling and drywall. I'm installing an Epson 8350 HD projector with 120" screen. Room will be used for movies only.
Originally I was going for HTIB as I am not well versed in things audio related and have a hard time appreciating fine audio (so far). Looking through the speaker forums it became clear that this wasn't the best way to go. I decided to jump in and purchased a bunch of Polk Audio speakers instead as Newegg had a good special running.
2x Monitor60 Series II Left/Right Channel
1x CS2 Series II Center Channel
4x Monitor30 Series II Left/Right Surrounds and backs
1x PSW10 Black 10-inch Powered Subwoofer
I need to buy a receiver to drive them and I have a few questions:
1. I have the walls to do 7.1 and I bought the speakers to do it. I've never heard a 7.1 system before - is it materially better than 5.1 and worth the extra expense?
2. Given the size of my room and projection screen it would seem having PLIIz front height speakers would be ideal. Most reviews I've read indicate it doesn't make a noticeable difference. What is better for movies - standard 7.1 layout or replace the side surrounds with front height?
3. I want a receiver that can decode the proper audio formats from Blu-ray. Inputs will be constrained to two HDMI's max, Blu-ray and an AppleTV for Airplay.
I've been looking at Onkyo's and Denon's. It is very hard for me to see the value in paying for the higher end versions; I don't care about more ports, upconversion, 3D pass-through, 4K, 2012 vs 2011, etc. I would like to know what I am missing here. I'd like to spend $500 or less but can spend more if there is a reason.
Reading these forums has been a big help in the screen/projector/speaker area but I can't converge in the receiver area. Thanks for your thoughts.