New Home Theater Day
Well, not completely new as it's been coming together for a couple of months and still has a few things to be done but I've recently added the flagship so I'll share what has been done.
Over the years I've amassed a pretty kick ass audio system. I've got a surround system that is comprised of old school Castle speakers. I have always absolutely loved the mid range of the Castle's. Some might argue they are not really "cinema" speakers but I always figured if they are good enough for an audiophile they will do me for movies. I augmented them with a B&W 1000 watt sub to beef up the low end for movies. My Castle Winchesters will go down to about 70Hz but they won't shake the house when the Millenium Falcon hits light speed, thus the sub.
The speakers were until recently driven by a Nakmichi AV10. It replaced a Yamaha RX-792 and to be honest I've hated the Nak since the day I got it. Back then though I just couldn't justify the $4k upgrade to a B&K that I was lusting over. Around the end of November I got a smoking deal on an RX-A2000.
Sorry about the stock photo here. We'll get to the good stuff in a bit...
I'm mucho happy to be rid of the Nak. The Yamaha has a few more bells and whistles than I would argue are necessary but I find it does a very admirable job on 2-channel stereo audio when all the crap is shut off. Likewise it is a great center piece for all the AV switching and provides full up conversion to dual HDMI outputs. It sounds far less sterile than the Nak.
So, on to the video side of things...
Last year we bought a new house. The basement, while huge, didn't accommodate our oversized sofa as well as I'd hoped and I ended up sitting about 20' away from my 65" Hitachi CRT rear projection.
While a great set, it was only capable of 1080i and because I was now sitting so far away from it the 65 inches just wasn't cutting it. Aging eyes and the insistence of game developers to use ever smaller fonts was making it tough to read text. I knew the dated CRT was going to die soon and figured something larger was in order.
I had done some calculations and determined that I needed at least a 92" diagonal 16:9 screen for the seating distance I have. There really aren't any direct view options of that size available in Canada so a projector was pretty much the only option.
The week before Christmas I received a bit more of a bonus than I had expected and the wife gave the nod on dropping the windfall on a projector and screen.
I watch a lot of movies as well as play games on my PS3. Considering this I wanted a setup that was capable of full wide screen (anamorphic) 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This allows a constant picture height so that when watching anamorphic content you don't get the black bars at the top and bottom of your 16:9 screen. That has always bothered me since upgrading to an HDTV.
After a whole bunch of research I was pretty much settled on a late model Panasonic AE-4000 projector. It was well rated and about to be replaced by a new model. It also has automated lens memory that zooms anamorphic content to fill a screen without the extra cost and complexity of an anamorphic lens set up. Unfortunately the Panasonic warranty sucks. When I finally went to the showroom they had the new JVC X-30 in and when doing back-to-back comparisons it handily beat the Panny.
The JVC has the same lens memory, better black levels, better contrast and dynamic range, resulting in better picture. It has full 3D capability which the older Panny lacked.
So after much deliberation I came home with the JVC DLA-X30B and a 120" 2.35:1 Elunevision Perlux II Fixed Frame screen.
Sorry, another stock photo of the JVC but last one, I promise.
Had to make some changes to the setup in the man cave and I've been tweaking the projector settings for a while as I initially had a very dark image with no shadow detail. Finally found out it had to do with the HDMI input configuration. Now that I'm getting things fully tweaked I'm much happier. The man cave is now a little more drool worthy...
Apologies for the pic quality. I didn't use a tripod and it's tough to get a good image in a dark home theater without one. My bad.
Some 16:9 content from BBC Blue Planet. This is taken with some of the lights on while seated in my normal viewing position. Still not ideal.
Utilizing the lens memory feature to zoom anamorphic content to fill the full 120" diagonal screen. Again, taken with some lights on from the normal seating position.
Same pic with the lights down.
Some 16:9 nature content taken from the recommended seating distance with minimal ambient light. Pics really don't do it justice. You can see a bit of reflection off a bulk head that is about 4 feet in front of the screen (top). I intend to cover this with black velvet to minimize reflections that can wash out the image a bit. The ceiling between the screen and bulkhead is the typical white and I may do something about that as well.
Full wide screen at the recommended seating distance in low light courtesy of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Damn those monkeys can act.
Sorry, couldn't get a full frontal pic as the projector is not yet ceiling mounted and is firing from the coffee table. I would have blocked the image.
Yes I know there weren't really any apes in the film.
Sir Jeremy of BBC Top Gear fame. You can barely make out the Yamaha receiver at bottom center as well as the glorious Castle Winchesters on the right and left...currently a bit out of place straddling the cheesy DIY A/V rack...hey, it's temporary. More on that later.
Can't have Top Gear without the exotic hot rods.
Anyway, still need to get the projector ceiling mounted and I plan to clean up the "stage" around the screen once I find some appropriate A/V stands. I'm a little eager to try out some big screen 3D gaming but it's a bit of an expensive option for what may really be a novelty. That might take a while.
I might also make up some "curtains" to better shade the screen on the left and right when watching 16:9 content. You don't really notice it when the lights are low however.
Time to watch some Hi-Def goodness.
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Fucking kickass home theater setup, dude. I was gonna put up pics of mine at some point, but not after seeing that monster screen.