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$5k Project Turns into $20k Theater

A homeowner opts to increase his budget to get the entertainment experience he and his family desire.

John Harris of Massachusetts' North Shore had a certain budget in mind when he stepped into a Magnolia Home Theater boutique in his local Best Buy. Like $5,000. We wanted to modernize, he said. We had an old CRT [cathode ray tube] TV and an older stereo system in the same room, and we wanted a flat [panel]. We originally thought it wasn't that big a deal. Then you begin to see this stuff, and it is fantastic.

John wanted the best he could get, so he set up a home consultation with Magnolia's installer, Derek Everson, who assessed the family's living room. Then John sat through some demos of different video displays and sound systems at the store. I didn't know the difference between LCD and plasma, John says. Going to their showroom and sitting there and watching the same programs on the various types of screens made it pretty clear that the plasma gave us the better picture. And from an angle, you get a much better picture, which in our room is important.

The decision was made to go with a Pioneer Elite Pro-1120HD plasma monitor, and John also loved the sound of MartinLogan's on-wall Fresco speakers, which use thin film planar, or ribbon, technology to produce silky-smooth high and midrange sounds. A Pioneer Elite receiver, Denon DVD and 5-disc CD players, and wall-mounted Boston Acoustics MR120 surround-sound speakers round out the system. But that $5,000 budget? Fuhgettaboutit.

To find out what happened with the Harris' home theater, get a complete equipment list and see a few photos, check out