Most people think they have to overhaul a sprawling basement or game room in order to create a true home theater experience. But that’s certainly not the case. You can create a true home theater, a room that lets you escape from the outside world and immerse yourself in top-notch audio and larger-than-life video in so much as a spare room. Kid leaving for college this summer? Boom! You’ve got a home theater. Have an extra room over the garage? Boom, a home theater. Is that spacious utility/mud room room really necessary? Boom goes the dynamite, you have a home theater. We relied on the expertise of guest blogger Glenn Thomas, owner and technician of REEL HOME Theater, one of whose specialties is creating small home theaters in any room. Here, he gives us his five tips from the front lines for doing just that. Glenn also offers up one of his favorite equipment lists for smaller rooms and budgets.
First, don’t “skimp” on your equipment! Buy professional-quality equipment for superior performance, ease-of-use, and long-term reliability. You will thank yourself every day for choosing pro-level, I guarantee it. Here is an example of a REEL HOME Theater pro-level equipment list:
$649 Canton Movie 90 5.1 Speaker System – It’s German, which means you get the best sound in the smallest package. Tiny speakers will all fit inside your AV cabinet for best look.
$649 Marantz NR1604 OR Yamaha Aventage RX-A730 AV Receiver with 3-year warranty – These are some of the best AV receivers made for the money today. Most important features is their included “video up-conversion” of all video inputs to one HDMI output, because you want to run only one HDMI cable to your projector.
$3,499 Epson Pro-Cinema 6030 projector kit with spare bulb, Chief mount, 3-year warranty – Offers a great picture, ultra-quiet fan, is ultra-reliable, has a rock-solid mount, extra backup bulb, high-range zoom lens, and horizontal and vertical lens shift. No better package for the money.
$699 Screen Innovations 110″ diagonal Theater Sensation 16:9 matte white screen – This is pro-quality at the lowest price. Or you can upgrade to the best screen, the SI Black Diamond 0.8 gain with built-in LED lighting. This is the “coolest” home theater product in the last 30 years and it looks as good with the projector off as when it is on.
$499 Oppo Digital BDP-103 Universal Disc Player – I would not recommend any other Blu-ray player today. You can also step up to the 105 model, or, better yet, the Darbee model are better yet. Remote control is the best design in the world and the zoom feature is extremely valuable.
Grand Total: $5,995
That’s the total Investment for the most economical, professional-level equipment!
Second, pay a great deal of attention to picking the proper AV cabinet to sit below your screen. Invest in a long, low, deep equipment cabinet that will house your three front speakers and AV equipment such as a Bell’O WAVS99175 Cabinet ($610) or something even more attractive and deeper. 24 inches is the recommend cabinet depth to support large AV receivers and multi-disc CD players.
Third, don’t skimp on the “most important cable” in your system – the AV receiver to projector HDMI cable. Invest in a 20 meter (65.62 ft) high-quality, high-speed, active, HDMI cable with a secure attaching feature like a Binary Cables B6A-HD-20 with GripTek ($250) for the projector run. Don’t believe the false Internet talk that all HDMI cables are the same. The biggest problems that we find in the field are picture and sound drop-outs caused by inferior, cheap HDMI cables! Remember, your total audio / video quality is only as good as provided by the lowest-quality cable in your system.
Fourth, hire a professional custom audio/video installation company, preferably ISF and HAA certified, to install, setup, and program your system. Nine out of 10 theater systems that we have inspected have been installed improperly by people who thought they knew what they are doing. They end up with multi-channel stereo sound instead of Dolby Digital and DTS sound; a standard-definition picture instead of HD because of improper settings and cables; wrong speaker settings; wrong input settings; wrong picture settings, etc. If you are going to invest in the gear, spend a few dollars on getting the most out of it!
Lastly, have your picture and sound professionally calibrated to ensure that you get the maximum performance out of your investment! An ISF / HAA certified technician can easily double your picture and sound quality in about four hours. There are about 15-50 settings in each piece of home theater equipment (AV receiver, BD player, projector, etc.) that have to be perfectly set. Audio calibration is critical to hearing every detail, every word, crystal-clear, even at the lowest volume.
The Final Product
A professionally designed and installed home theater system, even in a converted bedroom, will look and sound so great that you will never want to go on vacation again. Daily “goosebumps” become the norm. The world comes to you in a room like this. You experience “reality” in the privacy, comfort, quiet of your own home. And you’ll never have to hit the crowded cineplex with its greasy floors, movie talkers, and pesky kids kicking the back of your seat again.
With more than 30 years experience in his industry, Glenn Thomas of REEL HOME Theater knows what it takes to build a personalized entertainment system. And for his customers, this means having access to the highest degree of quality entertainment with the simplicity of one easy-to-use remote control. Specializing in professional grade home audio and video systems, Thomas focuses on quality inventory and customer satisfaction.