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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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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Discussion Starter #5
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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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/Mitsubishi+-+Diamond+840+-+73"+Class+-+DLP+Projection+-+1080p+-+60Hz+-+Smart+-+3D+-+HDTV/3754769.p?id=1218663290907&skuId=3754769&st=mitsubishi&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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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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Discussion Starter #9
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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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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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
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/Mitsubishi+-+Diamond+840+-+73"+Class+-+DLP+Projection+-+1080p+-+60Hz+-+Smart+-+3D+-+HDTV/3754769.p?id=1218663290907&skuId=3754769&st=mitsubishi&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
Okay after reading your suggestions, I'm thinking that the Mitsubishi 92" seems pretty good (and not too expensive - I hadn't looked into rear projection tvs at all before this, didn't even think I could get a 92" tv for < 3k); it'll actually fit inside that wall cavity in the living room too!

This obviously leads me to my next question though - audio.

JJ mentioned that I should consider selling my Polk CS2 center channel and PSW10 subwoofer and try getting something else? I actually have an old Denon AVR-789 receiver that I'm already planning on switching.

Would it be possible to give me some suggestions for speakers (for a 7.1 system, either swapping the Polks or no) + receiver? Speaker placement suggestions would also be really helpful - if I decide to put the tv in the wall cavity, everything is kind of off center, and one side of the room does open to another, so I'm not sure where exactly to place the fronts + surrounds.

Thanks so much everyone!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
After bugging JJ a little, I think I've decided on grabbing the SVS SBS-02 speaker deal. I did some more research, and it seems like a great bang for the buck choice. I'm leaning towards a 7.1 system, so 3 pairs of the SBS-02s (or should I choose something else for the mains?) + an SCS-02 center, with a HSU Research VTF-2 MKIV subwoofer.

Would it be possible to give me some advice on receiver choice? It seems like lots of people like the Onkyo Tx-NR709, but I was just wondering if there were other good alternatives?
 

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Brother, it was my pleasure to help in any way possible and certainly did not think of your PM as being "bugged". It is truly what I am here for. While I always prefer ideally to share insights with and for all Members, we are here to help.
J
 

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Brother, it was my pleasure to help in any way possible and certainly did not think of your PM as being "bugged". It is truly what I am here for. While I always prefer ideally to share insights with and for all Members, we are here to help.
J
JJ, you have really been extremely helpful (ALMFamily for dissuading me from the projector/screen combo too) - there is just so much information out there, and just from looking at popular review sites and Amazon, I would never have found the mitsubishi tv and svs speakers.

Since the svs deal may end, I'll probably get those soon (just have to figure out the 5 vs 7 thing), and I'll keep researching + asking around for receiver advice. How do you know if a certain receiver is good for certain speakers (other than checking the ohms)?
 

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Hello,
Considering the prices, it certainly cannot hurt to purchase another pair of SBS-02's. Worst case, you set them up in a Bedroom System. I simply cannot overstate the value of these SVS's at $150 a pair. Moreover, I would make sure you get an Audyssey DSX AVR and put the 6/7 Channels in the Front as either Height or Width Channels. I have honestly been more impressed with H/W Speakers than I have additional Rear Surrounds. DTS NEO:X and Dolby PLIIz offer a similar implementation of Height Channels and Neo supports up to 11.4.
Cheers,
J
 

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As far as a receiver, you really can't go wrong with any of the biggies (Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, Pioneer) - it comes down to what things are important to you such as:

- Airplay?
- Video processing
- Amplification
- Ease of use of the calibration software

The Onkyo's claim to fame is going to be the amount of extras are included at their price point as well as an amplification section that has bench tested very well. The others have Airplay and, as some have observed, a more "musical" sound.

I have heard that Audessey is the easiest software to use, so I would personally lean toward a Denon, Onkyo, and Marantz. The other units are good as well, just a bit less user-friendly.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hello,
Considering the prices, it certainly cannot hurt to purchase another pair of SBS-02's. Worst case, you set them up in a Bedroom System. I simply cannot overstate the value of these SVS's at $150 a pair. Moreover, I would make sure you get an Audyssey DSX AVR and put the 6/7 Channels in the Front as either Height or Width Channels. I have honestly been more impressed with H/W Speakers than I have additional Rear Surrounds. DTS NEO:X and Dolby PLIIz offer a similar implementation of Height Channels and Neo supports up to 11.4.
Cheers,
J
As far as a receiver, you really can't go wrong with any of the biggies (Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, Pioneer) - it comes down to what things are important to you such as:

- Airplay?
- Video processing
- Amplification
- Ease of use of the calibration software

The Onkyo's claim to fame is going to be the amount of extras are included at their price point as well as an amplification section that has bench tested very well. The others have Airplay and, as some have observed, a more "musical" sound.

I have heard that Audessey is the easiest software to use, so I would personally lean toward a Denon, Onkyo, and Marantz. The other units are good as well, just a bit less user-friendly.
Hmm okay - I checked the Audyssey DSX website, and it suggests width over height channels. However, the shape of my living room (floor plan in first post) is not very conducive to adding width channels, since there is no wall on the right... If I put the tv in the wall cavity, I barely have space for the two front channels on the sides of the tv. Putting wide channels at a different height doesn't make sense at all, right?

While everyone seems to love the extra width channels, there doesn't seem to be a consensus on the height - JJ, do you like height channels better than additional rear surrounds?

Thanks ALM! In terms of receivers, I think I'm leaning more towards the Marantz SR6006 or Denon AVR3312CI. They seem to have pretty good reviews, especially the Marantz - do you guys think that would be a good choice?
 

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I would actually go with Height Speakers before Width Speakers. Certainly a personal preference/observation, but is the way I would go.
 

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I would actually go with Height Speakers before Width Speakers. Certainly a personal preference/observation, but is the way I would go.
I'll trust your judgment haha - height speakers will definitely be much easier in terms of speaker placement for me.

So based on all your wonderful suggestions, here's my list:

Display: Mitsubishi WD-92840 92" 3d projection tv (~$2,700)

Audio:
Fronts/Rears/Heights: SVS SBS-02 x 3 pairs (~$450)
Center: SVS SCS-02 (~$100)
Subwoofer: HSU VTF-2 MK4 (~$585 w/ shipping)
Receiver: temporarily Marantz SR6006 (~$870)

Amazingly, this comes out to around $4705 (even with some small rounding up), which is still around $300 less than my $5000 budget! And this is not accounting for whatever cash I'll be able get for selling my old Denon AVR-789, Polk CS2, and Polk PSW10 - I was thinking hopefully around $200 for all 3 things, which would give me around $500 extra. Obviously, I could just count all of this as "savings," but I was wondering if anyone had some more ideas about small upgrades that would be good (if there's anything that would help make a difference with spending a little more). Thanks everyone!!!!
 
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