Living room setup advice appreciated - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 42 Old 07-22-12, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Living room setup advice appreciated

Hi, I've been roaming around on this forum for a while, mainly because we're moving from an apartment to a condo (which means I can finally do stuff to walls - I really don't like seeing wires around), but I'm definitely a noob, so sorry if my questions are dumb....

I realized at the end that I had written a crazy long post, so here's the quick rundown:
Budget: around $5k, but flexible (don't know if this is reasonable at all)
Currently have: Polk PSW10 subwoofer + Polk CS2 center channel

Need recs: projector, screen (100"-110", ceiling recessed), 6 more speakers (probably Polk), receiver and placement for everything (floor plan attached, room is around 15' x 17'3" x 8'2 (or maybe 8'6, not sure)).

For more specifics, here goes:

My family and I are all really into watching movies + tv shows, and while our old Samsung LN52A650 tv is nice, we're also really into "big pictures" - immersive experiences. At first I was contemplating one of the large Sharp tvs (at least 70", leaning more towards 80"), but at that price range, I started considering the possibility of just getting a projector + screen and having something like a 100"-110" screen.

Problem is, I've had really little experience with this kind of setup, and I've heard a variety of things about using projectors (some love it, some really don't). I also just don't know what the optimal setup (in terms of placement) would be, which is why I uploaded a pic of the room in consideration. I had to adjust the resolution, so it may not be clear - the room is 15' x 17'3" (not including the little nook, which is 2'1" x 7'8"). I'm not totally sure about the height (not moving in for another 4 months), but it should be around 8'2" - 8'6". I'm planning on getting some pretty good shades for the windows in this room, but as you can see, the room actually opens up to another - do you guys think good shades will be sufficient for ambient light control?

Also, since this is a living room, I would like to keep the screen hidden when not in use - it seems as though there are ceiling recessed screens for this right? Where would you guys suggest I install the screen + projector (obviously, I would super appreciate recommendations for the actual screen + projector as well)? I was considering installing the ceiling recessed projector in front of the nook, and putting some components inside the nook, but then I realized that IR remotes would probably all be blocked by the screen....

I also need some advice on audio.... I'm thinking of a 7.1 system; I currently have an old Polk PSW10 subwoofer + Polk CS2 center channel, so I was thinking of just getting 6 more Polk speakers tsi100/200/500s for surround/rear/front? I would really appreciate suggestions on speaker placement + type as well (also corresponding receiver).

By the way, we don't really have much 3d stuff, but I'd prefer everything to be semi-future-proof, so decent 3d support would be nice to have.

In terms of budget, I'm kind of flexible in that I definitely value quality (but I know that's a slippery slope) - it'd be nice if I could hit "sweet spots" in terms of quality vs price. For now, let's say my budget is around $5k, but if there are places where some extra money could make a big difference, I'll probably consider it. I'm probably going to get someone to help me install the screen + hide wires for the speakers, possibly wall mount, but I'm not including that in the budget right now (just as a reference though, what would be "fair" prices for this kind of work). Also, if this number is completely ridiculous for what I would like, let me know....

Any help for my confused self would be immensely appreciated!!!!!!
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post #2 of 42 Old 07-23-12, 06:33 AM
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Re: Living room setup advice appreciated

Projectors are fantastic and a great way to go large screen. One thing to remember is that a projector setup requires light control in the room. I think I see windows in your floor plan. Unless you can almost completely black out the light from them (there are black out curtains available that work very well) your picture will be washed out in the daytime. Think of a business presentation using a projector in a lighted room and you will understand what I am saying.

That said, projectors work best in a dedicated room where the light can be controlled. Some folks have had success using projectors in general use rooms by using screens designed for acceptable performance in that type of environment, but they tend to be expensive.

So, if this room is general use and if you plan to use the system in the daytime, a large flat screen likely will be your best option. Don't get me wrong - I have had a front projector based system since 1996 and love it, but I have a dedicated room with black walls, blacked out curtains and black ceiling - not something you would want in a general use room.

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post #3 of 42 Old 07-23-12, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Living room setup advice appreciated

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hjones4841 wrote: View Post
Projectors are fantastic and a great way to go large screen. One thing to remember is that a projector setup requires light control in the room. I think I see windows in your floor plan. Unless you can almost completely black out the light from them (there are black out curtains available that work very well) your picture will be washed out in the daytime. Think of a business presentation using a projector in a lighted room and you will understand what I am saying.

That said, projectors work best in a dedicated room where the light can be controlled. Some folks have had success using projectors in general use rooms by using screens designed for acceptable performance in that type of environment, but they tend to be expensive.

So, if this room is general use and if you plan to use the system in the daytime, a large flat screen likely will be your best option. Don't get me wrong - I have had a front projector based system since 1996 and love it, but I have a dedicated room with black walls, blacked out curtains and black ceiling - not something you would want in a general use room.
Hmmmm so I think I'm planning on getting room darkening honeycomb shades (lutron) that are supposed to be good at blocking out light. (Also, I definitely watch more at night, so hopefully, it won't be too big of a problem.) I definitely won't have black walls + ceiling, but would the shades be good enough? Would screen placement make any difference?
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post #4 of 42 Old 07-23-12, 10:26 AM
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Re: Living room setup advice appreciated

In complete agreement with Harry, a projector / screen is a great combination provided you can control light. The shades do a good job of blocking light - I have used the honeycombed room darkening shades in my kids' rooms when they were little. However, they do not block all light.

If your room has light colored walls, light will refract off the walls and will ultimately land on your screen. I cannot see a location in your room where you could get around this. With the honeycombed shades, it will be significantly reduced, but you will still get some washing out of your picture.

TBH, with that many windows in that room, even with the darkening shades you are probably going to get a fair bit of light in. I am a big proponent of the projector / screen combo, but in your specific set-up, I don't know if you would be happy with the quality of the picture.


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post #5 of 42 Old 07-23-12, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Living room setup advice appreciated

Thanks hjones + ALMFamily! Now I'm starting to be unsure about the planned setup - I think I'm going to go try and find a friend with a projector + ambient light, to see how washed out the image is. Like I said earlier, I would mainly use this later in the day, when ambient light hopefully will not be too big of an issue, and having a 100"+ screen is just so tempting!

In addition to external light control, hjones mentioned the possibility of special screens. How expensive would these run? Are there some projectors that would also perform better? I guess I could also considering painting the walls a darker color.......
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post #6 of 42 Old 07-23-12, 10:55 AM
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Re: Living room setup advice appreciated

Hello,
Congratulations on the Condo. For $5000, we can help you put together a stellar HT. While I do think Polk makes a quality Speaker, I would personally sell them and put the proceeds towards the project.

As hjones pointed out, Ambient Light must be hugely attenuated for a Projector to operate properly. Otherwise, the Picture will be completely washed out during any Daytime Viewing such as watching NCAA/NFL Games on the Weekend.

If you have a space that can be made completely dark, Projectors are just an amazing experience and after watching a 100" Screen at home, it is next to impossible to be happy with anything else.

That being said, a Projector and Retractable Screen is going to represent a very large amount of your budget.

If Ambient Light is an issue, Mitsubishi's DLP Microdisplays are quite cost effective and work great in Rooms where light is an issue. For instance, for $1899 you can get a 3D 73 inch Mitsubishi Diamond from Best Buy that is actually sold at their upscale Magnolia Home Theater Area:http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Mitsubis...ishi&cp=2&lp=1

Truth be told, if purchased Online you could get that TV for even less. Also, Mitsubishi makes a 92 Inch Microdisplay as well, but it would eat up too much of your budget. However, it might be possible for find a 2011 92 Inch Mitsubishi heavily discounted Online. Another great thing about Mitsubishi is they only charge $99 for a Replacement Lamp whereas many Projector Lamps cost close to $300.

Regardless of which direction you decide to go, we will do everything possible to help you.
Cheers,
JJ

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post #7 of 42 Old 07-23-12, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Living room setup advice appreciated

Thanks JJ + everyone else who is being so helpful!

About the speakers, do you really think it'd be worth it to sell them (I've taken really good care of them, but they're still 4 years old, so I don't really know how much I'd be able to sell them for...)?

I think I'll be able to make the space reasonably dark, so maybe finding a projector + screen combo that is semi-resilient to ambient light would still be okay? How much do you think that would run? On a side note, I actually just took a look at the suggested Mitsubishi DLP display - and it seems nice! I'd probably go for the 92" (I only checked Amazon, and it seems to be around $2600) as opposed to 73". Interestingly, there aren't too many reviews of this display available. What are the disadvantages of this compared with a projector + screen combo?
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post #8 of 42 Old 07-23-12, 12:14 PM
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Re: Living room setup advice appreciated

One question just occurred to me - is this going to be your family's main viewing area? As in, when you just want to watch TV, will you be using this set-up as well?

If that is the case, it may get more daytime viewing than you realize with weekend viewing, summertime (where daytime goes much later), etc.


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post #9 of 42 Old 07-23-12, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Living room setup advice appreciated

Good point - this would probably be the main viewing area; we'll be putting the 52" tv in the master bedroom. We really don't watch cable much, just tv shows and movies, but it is true that we will be using this setup on weekends, i.e. more daytime viewing than I was accounting for.

So do you guys think that given the situation, JJ's suggestion of the Mitsubishi 92" dlp would be a better alternative? That'd be better than trying to find a good screen + bright projector?
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post #10 of 42 Old 07-23-12, 12:57 PM
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Re: Living room setup advice appreciated

I really do think that is probably the best option for your set-up. I would love to be able to say go with the projector, but with the amount of ambient light I think you will see, I think you would lose the quality picture you are striving for.

With a 92" screen, I think you would still get the immersive effect you desire.


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