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WARNING: This is a long post but I wanted to be as thorough as I can. I also thought it would provide a good reference for someone like myself that is completely new to the field to give some things to think about that they may not have considered yet. It takes a lot of grinding and jumping in and out of threads to get all the information you need.

Some pointed questions are at the bottom and you can feel free just to skip down to the questions and come back up to a specific section if you need more info.

After reading countless threads for countless hours to learn about home theatres, I finally feel like I'm at a point where I can ask for some help and not be completely embarrassed by my questions.

As someone who has never had any experience at all with home theatres I have to say without this website I have no idea where I would be. All the users who contribute to the site are much appreciated even if lurkers like me don't get the opportunity to say that very often. Especially considering some of the posts are even years old.

The point of this thread is to make sure I'm not completely out of line as I finish making the purchases I need to get started on my home theatre set-up and to get some info cleared up that I am having trouble finding.

THE ROOM

My room is 11'9" wide and 7'4" tall with as much length as required. It's an entire basement so I can push the projector or seating back as far as I need. Currently the couch is approximately 12 feet back.

There is no windows in the room until you get about 20 feet back down the length and it is only a small basement window which can be covered if use in the day is needed.

The ceiling is white tiles which can be pushed out and in and at this point will not be painted but as my home theatre setup becomes more advanced I will likely do something with them as I figure out what my room needs.

MY VIEWING NEEDS

I will likely split my viewing between movies and TV, with a little gaming mixed in once in a while.

The biggest reason from switching from my current HDTV. Aside from it only being 60 inches is to get rid of the black bars when watching a scope image. It really takes away from the experience for me and it is more important that I can get that working correctly than having a large picture when I watch tv as half the time I am researching something on the laptop or my phone when the tv is on anyway.

Black levels are something that are high on my priority list but not as high as cost savings at this point in my life.

MY SCREEN

After reading through several threads on screens I decided to build my own screen. I made the frame out of 1x4 wood and attached white blackout cloth to it. The cloth was one of the limiting factors for the size of the screen as the largest cloth I could find was 54" wide but given the small wall I am placing it on it couldn't have gone much bigger anyhow.

So in the end I built a frame that is roughly 52" wide and 120 inches long and will use black hockey tape to make the border for now until I can bet my hands on some felt tape. Being a Canadian resident and not being directly in a major city seems to make getting materials a little more difficult. But so far I only have about 45 dollars in it so considering it got me exactly what I needed for my space I am very pleased with the outcome.

MY PROJECTOR

My budget was around $1,000 for the projector. I would consider going slightly higher but it seems like moving up from the Epson 2030 at 699.99 CDN or the Benq w1070 at 799.99 you need to really double the price to see much else and triple the price (Sony HW40ES and panasonic AE8000) if you want better zoom and black levels.

At the moment I am leaning towards the Benq W1070 as this community seems to hold it in high regard.

CONSTANT IMAGE HEIGHT

From what I have been reading there are two main ways to achieve the 2.35:1 ratio with pretty much all projectors out there. There may be other methods using a HTPC and shrinking? but honestly I couldn't really follow those conversations. If someone feels like that would be a better solution for me I would certainly read more into it.

Zoom method - Please correct me if I am not thinking about this correctly as I have never actually used one. I am considering purchasing the Benq W1070, which means the zoom method will pose a significant challenge as it does not have quite enough zoom to fill a 2.35:1 screen and also does not zoom up and down equally but rather holds the top of the screen and pushes the entire image down. This means I will need to manually tilt the projector back up to get the projector back in place which likely means refocusing each time. I have seen in several places that the solution to this is to mount it to a sliding ceiling mount that pushes the projector forward and tilts it up to accommodate this. This solution is somewhere in the Benq W1070 thread but it is over 11,000 posts and I'm only about 4,000 posts in or so. It's taking a while to find it.

Anamorphic Lens - The only one I could find so far was around $5,000. This unfortunately is too expensive for me at this point in my life. Fortunately there are a lot of people out there who are building their own lenses out of crystal wedge trophy prisms. This is something that interests me a lot and I would consider building this if it ends up being the best solution. I have been having a hard time finding any of these prisms in Canada but will order them from a US store if need be.

MASKING

I haven't found much information on DIY masking. My end goal would be to cover the white sides of the screen when I am watching TV in 16:9 format but other than curtains I haven't really seen much out there for ideas. Any thoughts on this area would be much appreciated.

QUESTIONS

1. If I start with the zoom method and then decide to go with the 2 prism lens will I need to completely change my ceiling mount or will it be roughly the same spot in both cases assuming I am filling the height of the screen with 16:9. Also if there are any Canadians that know of a decent outlet to buy prisms that would be much appreciated.

2. I have had salesmen recommend the Epson 2030 to me over the Benq W1070. Is there any merit to what they are saying or should I stick with the Benq? It of course has even less zoom that the Benq so I hadn't given it too much thought as I was planning on just using the 1.3x zoom to get as close as I could but now I am wondering if I need to be completely rethinking my approach.

3. If I use the 2 prism lens system, is it just as simple as moving the lens in place (once you have them working correctly) for 2.35:1 and moving it back out to get back to 16:9 or will there be refocusing and lens shift again?

4. Is there anything I am overlooking that you wished you knew about when you first started this process or anything glaring that I missed mentioning?

5. Are there some areas where I should undoubtedly not be cheap in?

Thanks for any and all help on any of these topics. Look forward to chatting with everyone here.
:)
 

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The ceiling is white tiles which can be pushed out and in and at this point will not be painted but as my home theatre setup becomes more advanced I will likely do something with them as I figure out what my room needs.
Paint them. Seriously. I did and it helped significantly with the quality of the picture.

At the moment I am leaning towards the Benq W1070 as this community seems to hold it in high regard.
Good choice. Get an ND2 glass filter off ebay, find a way to attach it to your projector (tape even) for better black levels.

Anamorphic Lens - The only one I could find so far was around $5,000. This unfortunately is too expensive for me at this point in my life. Fortunately there are a lot of people out there who are building their own lenses out of crystal wedge trophy prisms. This is something that interests me a lot and I would consider building this if it ends up being the best solution. I have been having a hard time finding any of these prisms in Canada but will order them from a US store if need be.
If you want to zoom, go with a more expensive LCD, but if you go with a lens, ebay occasionally has B stock Panamorph UH480's for a smoking deal, and check the AVS classifieds section also. I went with the lens because I could still see light spill above and below the screen when zooming. YMMV

I have had salesmen recommend the Epson 2030 to me over the Benq W1070. Is there any merit to what they are saying or should I stick with the Benq? It of course has even less zoom that the Benq so I hadn't given it too much thought as I was planning on just using the 1.3x zoom to get as close as I could but now I am wondering if I need to be completely rethinking my approach.
Epson - LCD
BenQ - DLP

Some are susceptible to seeing rainbows when watching DLP and it bothers them. I don't notice it. I chose DLP because of the sealed light path - you will never get dust blobs on your panels like you can sometimes get with LCD (as well as convergence issues). Maybe things have changed in the last few years, but that's what I recall about LCD. I also chose DLP because it typically provides the most razor sharp image I've seen. Others feel that the LCD looks more natural. What they call natural I call soft and I like a sharp image. Just my 0.02.

5. Are there some areas where I should undoubtedly not be cheap in?
Don't get a cheap lens. Look into DIY screens and get XD material from Seymour AV - it will save you some bucks or just buy one of their screens. Wait til fall to get a Dolby Atmos/DTS:X receiver, look into Internet Direct speakers if you don't already own any (HSU research, for example), look into acoustical treatments for your room...

Yeah, you've got lots of reading to do, but that should get you started. Cheers.
 

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Blastermaster is giving you good advice :)

Black levels are pretty high on both the Epson 2030 and the BenQ 1070, so if you zoom I'm pretty confident you would see the overspill.

Re: lenses. Panamorph is having a special on the CineVista lens right now, and it's way under $5K. It will perform considerably better than a DIY 2 prism lens. The CineVista is astigmatism corrected so you won't have focus issues (without correction you can never get good focus in the vertical or horizontal plane simultaneously).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you both for you replies.
@blastermaster - I will definitely be looking into and probably getting the ND2 filter. On amazon they sell them from 52mm up to 77mm, is this what I would be getting and what size should I get?

- Thanks for the tips on a sound system (Is the fall just when the good deals are? Or is there something new coming out?) I obviously will have to do quite a bit of research there. haha
@JOHN - I tried to return a PM to you but I think it failed due to me not having enough posts yet. This is only my 3rd one so I've got a little ways to go. Would you PM me an e-mail address?
 

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Thank you both for you replies.
@blastermaster - I will definitely be looking into and probably getting the ND2 filter. On amazon they sell them from 52mm up to 77mm, is this what I would be getting and what size should I get?
Wait until you get your projector, then measure the diameter of the housing of the lens on the projector then go from there. I haven't received mine yet, but I matched it to the housing that holds the lens and am hoping to just tape it there. It's new territory for me also as I was really jealous of the black levels of my friend's JVC (but not his sharpness). The lenses are like 10 bucks off ebay. Make sure you get a glass one, as a plastic one will get melted by the bulb.

- Thanks for the tips on a sound system (Is the fall just when the good deals are? Or is there something new coming out?) I obviously will have to do quite a bit of research there. haha
Big changes in the realm of home theater sound with the introduction of 3D or "immersive" sound. The two major players, Atmos and DTS:X processing, will be released in the upcoming receivers. As of yet, there are no receivers that have DTS:X. So I'd wait...and plan out your speaker layout. Go to the Audio section for receivers, amplifiers and processors and check out some of the threads there. Happy reading! :)

FWIW, my exhaustive reading on receivers has led me to believe that the new Anthem receiver will be the best for my needs.
 

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I chose DLP because of the sealed light path - you will never get dust blobs on your panels like you can sometimes get with LCD
They aren't hermetically sealed (with the exception of a few commercial based 3-chip DLP projectors). They just are sealed "better" than most LCD and LCoS projectors out there. Typically they're sealed after the integrator rod as the light goes into the light engine with some type of gasket material. Dust can still still get through and you can still get dust on the DMD surface (I've seen this many times). Just thought I should point this out as it isn't 100% true.
 

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They aren't hermetically sealed (with the exception of a few commercial based 3-chip DLP projectors). They just are sealed "better" than most LCD and LCoS projectors out there. Typically they're sealed after the integrator rod as the light goes into the light engine with some type of gasket material. Dust can still still get through and you can still get dust on the DMD surface (I've seen this many times). Just thought I should point this out as it isn't 100% true.
It would appear that I was somewhat misinformed. According to the following article, though, most DLP projectors have sealed DLP chips (which has always been my understanding), but the color wheel can get dusty? At any rate I have owned three DLP projectors over the last ten years and I have never once seen any indication of dust blob issues when watching a movie.

http://www.projectorcentral.com/lcd_dlp_comparison.htm?page=DLP-Advantages
 

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It would appear that I was somewhat misinformed. According to the following article, though, most DLP projectors have sealed DLP chips (which has always been my understanding), but the color wheel can get dusty? At any rate I have owned three DLP projectors over the last ten years and I have never once seen any indication of dust blob issues when watching a movie.

http://www.projectorcentral.com/lcd_dlp_comparison.htm?page=DLP-Advantages
They're not "sealed" in the way you're thinking. I've owned over 30 DLP projectors over the past 5 years and can definitively say dust can get in to the light engine on top of the DLP DMD where it shows on screen. The color wheel gets dusty because it's not normally in the "sealed" portion of the light engine. Typically there's a condensing lens just past the integrator rod where light engine gets a gasket type seal. Though I find it's more common to get dust in from behind the lens. Typically the TIR prism in front of the DMD isn't sealed like it is at the other end of the light engine.
 

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Next time you power up your projector take a peek through your lens before it reaches full output. I'm betting you see some dust build up. On occasion a big enough piece of dust can land on the DMD surface. Usually some compressed air can remove it from the surface. With that said, they're less prone to dust issues compared to your typical LCD projector, but "never" is the wrong word to use. Like I said, I've seen it happen on mine and others' DLP projectors.
 

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Next time you power up your projector take a peek through your lens before it reaches full output. I'm betting you see some dust build up. On occasion a big enough piece of dust can land on the DMD surface. Usually some compressed air can remove it from the surface. With that said, they're less prone to dust issues compared to your typical LCD projector, but "never" is the wrong word to use. Like I said, I've seen it happen on mine and others' DLP projectors.
Fair enough. I guess I've been lucky or my eyes are too dull not to have noticed any dust blobs. I'll make the effort to look through my lens tonight. Cheers.
 

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QUESTIONS

1. If I start with the zoom method and then decide to go with the 2 prism lens will I need to completely change my ceiling mount or will it be roughly the same spot in both cases assuming I am filling the height of the screen with 16:9. Also if there are any Canadians that know of a decent outlet to buy prisms that would be much appreciated.
You will likely have to change it. When you zoom the image you are creating a 16:9 image that fills the width of the scope screen and spills the black bars above and below image area. With a lens you fill the height of the screen. After you engage the anamorphic mode the scope screen is still a 16:9 image, but now the image is distorted and filling the whole frame (no black bars). The lens then slides into place and expands the distorted image to fill the scope screen and corrects the geometry. If the projectors zoom is unable to both fill the width and zoom in to fill the height you would need to move it when switching to a lens.

I don't know a good source for prisms. I do want to add I used a 2 prism lens for over a year with an Infocus X10 (1080p DLP) and do not agree with the sentiment to avoid them. They are inferior to a more expensive lens, but put out a very nice picture considering the cost and we enjoyed ours while we used it. We switched to a JVC model with zoom and no longer needed it.

2. I have had salesmen recommend the Epson 2030 to me over the Benq W1070. Is there any merit to what they are saying or should I stick with the Benq? It of course has even less zoom that the Benq so I hadn't given it too much thought as I was planning on just using the 1.3x zoom to get as close as I could but now I am wondering if I need to be completely rethinking my approach.
I have not seen the 2030, but generally the Epsons I have do throw a very nice picture. If you are considering either zoomed out for scope, I would consider an image processor or home theater PC to crop the image to 1920x810. Unless you really intend to manually zoom between the 2 (which the BenQ can't really do). Another option you should really think about would be a Panasonic 8000 and using the zoom memory. Yes it would be more costly, but it would be a very nice solution.

3. If I use the 2 prism lens system, is it just as simple as moving the lens in place (once you have them working correctly) for 2.35:1 and moving it back out to get back to 16:9 or will there be refocusing and lens shift again?
No refocusing required. Just slide it into place for scope, remove it when you want to watch 16:9 content.

4. Is there anything I am overlooking that you wished you knew about when you first started this process or anything glaring that I missed mentioning?
You've got a pretty good handle on it. One thing I would caution is that if you are not PC savvy I would advise against the HTPC route.

5. Are there some areas where I should undoubtedly not be cheap in?
Projector and speakers. I know this is the CIH forum, but I can't stress enough how long a good set of speakers can last you.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you jeahrens for some more amazing advice.

I will be doing a lot of thinking about using a JVC instead of a Benq with a lens.

As far as the home theatre PC goes, it is interesting to me but I would need to do quite a bit of research before going down that road.

I have seen a few threads regarding changing the resolutions but haven't fully understood what it accomplishes as I haven't ever had a projector to play with.

Everyone in this thread so far has mentioned speakers and I would definitely agree on that front. Unfortunately I have a very cheap Home theatre in a box and it is not very good so I will be replacing it very soon as well. I have been doing some research on the new 3D sound technology and it sounds really appealing to me.

Would anyone recommend just buying better speakers for my existing receiver to start or buy a good receiver and slowly add speakers over time?
 

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Thank you jeahrens for some more amazing advice.

I will be doing a lot of thinking about using a JVC instead of a Benq with a lens.

As far as the home theatre PC goes, it is interesting to me but I would need to do quite a bit of research before going down that road.

I have seen a few threads regarding changing the resolutions but haven't fully understood what it accomplishes as I haven't ever had a projector to play with.

Everyone in this thread so far has mentioned speakers and I would definitely agree on that front. Unfortunately I have a very cheap Home theatre in a box and it is not very good so I will be replacing it very soon as well. I have been doing some research on the new 3D sound technology and it sounds really appealing to me.

Would anyone recommend just buying better speakers for my existing receiver to start or buy a good receiver and slowly add speakers over time?
I'll try to explain what we're talking about in regards to resolution. OK you know that the image you are projecting has an aspect ratio of 16:9. That image is made by a 16:9 imaging device with a resolution of 1920x1080, Meaning that each horizontal row of pixels is made up of 1920 pixels and there 1080 rows of them. You can do the math to 1920\16=120 and 120*9=1080.

So now what happens when you zoom for scope? The physical panel and its aspect ratio don't change. But the active image area does. We are now projecting an active image area of 2.4:1 and not 16:9. The width of the panel is still full, but the height is not. So we are still looking at a horizontal resolution of 1920. So if we take the ratio of 2.4:1 and apply it with the same math above we get 1920/2.4 = 800 and 800 * 1 = 800. That gives you 800 rows of active pixels. And 2.4:1 then has a resolution of 1920x800

So what people do is they use a scalar or home theater PC to force the image size sent to the projector to 1920x800 and leave the projector zoomed all the time to fill the scope screen. There's no refocusing or moving of anything, but any content that is not scope will be squeezed to fit in the 1920x800 area. And loses some resolution because of it.

Just an FYI you'll see the number 1920x810 thrown around a lot because some scope content is 2.35:1, while other is 2.4:1 (and even some in between). So 1920x810 essentially splits the difference between the 2. If you go this route and want a perfect match for a 2.35:1 screen you would end up with 1920x817. But honestly there is always a touch of overscan so you'll be fine with any of these.

If you are interested in using a projector with lens memory, the least expensive new option I know of is the Panasonic AE8000. I love my JVC, but it isn't an inexpensive option. If you are looking at speakers, these are outstanding choices for their price:

http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speakers/Pioneer+Speakers/SP-PK52FS

I've heard them in a 7.1 setup and was really blown away at their performance for their cost. I didn't catch your receiver, but these aren't particularly hard to drive. So I would think about any receiver would be OK driving them.
 

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Thank you very much again jeahrens I hadn't realized the connection between aspect ratio and resolution (quite obvious now).

I'm starting my research into speakers now. Im having trouble It's every bit as daunting as the video side of it was haha

The pioneers seem amazing. I'm having trouble finding them in Canada. I'll have to keep searching for now.
 

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I'm using a Benq W1070 and Prismasonic C-100F(edited, mistakenly called it the M model). For the realm of CIH it's a reasonably priced combo. I do use an HTPC to handle the aspect ratios and a gaming PC for 21:9 gaming on it, again with custom resolutions. The lens is constantly in the light path with a fixed PJ/lens mount. I don't see Prismasonic getting a lot of love on here, but I think it's pretty great, as well as the Benq.

As far as the two prism lens, I'd GIVE you mine. Bear in mind the W1070 has a recessed lens, making it nearly impossible for the image to pass through both elements clearly, and when it does, it's not really that clear/bright, due to the nature of the trophy wedges. As well, since the DIY lens has to be so close to the PJ, a sled isn't really viable.

Don't go the DIY route, it will only whet your appetite. :)
 

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I'm using a Benq W1070 and Prismasonic C-100F(edited, mistakenly called it the M model). For the realm of CIH it's a reasonably priced combo. I do use an HTPC to handle the aspect ratios and a gaming PC for 21:9 gaming on it, again with custom resolutions. The lens is constantly in the light path with a fixed PJ/lens mount. I don't see Prismasonic getting a lot of love on here, but I think it's pretty great, as well as the Benq.

As far as the two prism lens, I'd GIVE you mine. Bear in mind the W1070 has a recessed lens, making it nearly impossible for the image to pass through both elements clearly, and when it does, it's not really that clear/bright, due to the nature of the trophy wedges. As well, since the DIY lens has to be so close to the PJ, a sled isn't really viable.

Don't go the DIY route, it will only whet your appetite.
Thanks so much for giving me your input and experience. I hadn't done any research on prismasonic. It seems as though there's no dealer for Canadians as usual. Must not be enough home theatre enthusiasts in Canada.

I was definitely planning on going the DIY prism route in order to get my feet wet and see how important the CIH is to the experience and how the lenses worked.

If you were serious about letting me have the DIY lens I would gladly pay you for it. It would definitely help me justify the cost of buying an actual lens if I could try it out first. Unfortunately I can't pm or I would send you a message.

Thanks again for the amazing advice.
 
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