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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I want to lay out my history and plans, then ask questions on if what I am doing will be ok in the opinions of others:

When HDTV first came out, I purchased a Hitachi 42" projection tv. I have an Onkyo receiver (no HDMI input/output). I have a bose accoustimass with bass module and five double cube surround speakers. Right now, this system is in a living room.

I am converting half of my basement to finished space. Walls are up, insulation installed, wiring installed, etc. Basically, ready for drywall. I have to drywall the ceiling due to 7' ceiling height.

I plan on purchasing a 42" Panasonic Plasma, 1080p to hang on wall. Besides the tyipical 16" on center stud placement, I put cross braces between the studs (out of 2x4's) to be sure I could put my wall mount wherever I need to so I can center the tv in the middle of the room. Behind the insulated outside wall, I used 1.5" pvc pipe to make a "conduit" for any cables that will need to go from TV to components. On the wall behind where the tv will be, I installed an electrical outlet and a cable outlet (the cable outlet up here will just to be for PIP, since I will need a cable box below). I have layed the rear surround speaker wire through the rafters in the basement ceiling..they will be covered by drywall.

Questions:

1. Is the 1.5" conduit enough? With the wall being insulated, trying to fish new wires later will be a pain.
2. After installing an outlet at tv height, I realized I will probably want to use a surge protector, will there be enough room between wall and tv (after mounting) to place a surge protector up there?
3. I plan on upgrading to an AVR that will accept HDMI. At first I thought I would need several wires going through conduit. After talking to a friend, he said I could use an AVR as a "switching station" for the HDMI, allowing HDMI input from Blu-Ray and Cable box, then HDMI going from Receiver to TV. Doing research, it sounds like some AVR's with HDMI input merely pass on the video signal, but DO NOT decode the audio for true HD/Surround sound. To get the absolute best sound, i will want the HDMI cable to actually carry the sound too, won't I? If so, what do I need to look for in the description of the AVR to know if it will decode the audio as well as pass on the video? As long as I have the AVR on all the time, this setup will work, correct?
4. Anything else I should do "behind the scenes" before installing drywall? I figure once that's in, i'm stuck, unless I tear up my new walls.
5. I can still use the bose setup, correct?
6. What brand/model AVR should I purchase that will work well with the Bose? I would like to spend as little as possible, but am open to spending what it takes to get the most out of the Blu Ray and TV as well as prepare for possible future components/formats/etc.

Help, comments, suggestions requested!!! Thanks!!
 

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Okay Dan, I'll try to offer my advice, but if you could post dimensions and/or a sketch of your room, that would be helpful.

1) I'd go 2" on the conduit considering that component cables are pretty beefy, as are the ferrites on HDMI cables. However, the added cost of removing the 1.5 and replacing with 2" might be better offset by just making sure you have plenty of wire run right now.

I'd wire 2 runs of cat6 to each location. We will be networking our content in the future ("we" as in not just you and me, but everyone), and Cat6 can also be used to extend HDMI, Component, etc in a pinch. You should also wire for a projector (Power, HDMI at min, Cat6 and component would be a big bonus), and 2-4 sub locations (depending on your room shape/size), and 7.1 sound. You may be happy with your 42" and Bose Acoustimass now, but trust me, the upgrade pangs don't go away until you've officially reached overkill (and even then...). Unless your room is 10x10, you're not into overkill yet. Wire is cheap (especially if you shop at monoprice.com), tearing up drywall is not. Wire it now, and at the very least, your home will have great resale value.

2) There are special surge protectors designed to fit in small spaces (like behind a TV), though you certainly pay extra for the privilege. I like Tripp Lite, they're a company that provides power protection for a lot of industrial applications, including hospitals. If it'll be good enough for my kidney dialysis, some day, it's good enough for my home theater now. If you have enough room behind your TV, try this: http://www.tripplite.com/EN/products/model.cfm?txtSeriesID=73&EID=14382&txtModelID=3980

and this: http://www.tripplite.com/EN/products/model.cfm?txtSeriesID=73&EID=14382&txtModelID=3499

But the reality is, you may just be able to use a standard surge protector, mounted to the wall. This will be your most economical choice, and you really don't have to go wild with surge protection. Contrary to popular belief (at least in the marketing department) your audio/video quality will not improve noticeably. You're just trying to keep the lightening at bay.

You could also consider a whole house surge protector, or if your walls are still open, wire something in wall. Get a short cable for you TV to the wall from monoprice.

3) Yes to everything you typed. You want "HDMI repeater", not "HDMI Pass-through". Consider something along the lines of the Onkyo TX-SR606 at minimum.

4) Cat6, can't say it enough, so many uses, so little cost. Consider building sound treatment into your walls, unless you're going for total sound isolation. In that case, you want to do panels outside the wall.

5) Yep, though I'd give yourself an upgrade path as already mentioned.

6) Onkyo 606 refurbed from shoponkyo.com , their stock changes frequently, keep your eyes open for a deal and be patient, and you should be able to get it shipped for under $350 easily (that's what I paid for my 706 refurb). Denon, Yamaha and other are also viable options. You want to look for TrueHD Decoding (will virtually assure that you get HDMI Repeating as well), and 7.1 pre-in/outs are nice, but not 100% necessary.

Good luck, keep us in the loop with further questions, pictures, etc.
 

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1. Is the 1.5" conduit enough? With the wall being insulated, trying to fish new wires later will be a pain.
I agree with Marshall, use 2" and put all wires inside (it will be a good idea to use a spare HDMI in case one fails), or you can also put a string that you can pull from one end to add a cable in the future.

2. After installing an outlet at tv height, I realized I will probably want to use a surge protector, will there be enough room between wall and tv (after mounting) to place a surge protector up there?
Besides the triplite, I've seen (and I'm using) some similar to this power outlet ...what I like about them is that you just plug into the outlet and don't need an extension.

3. ... he said I could use an AVR as a "switching station" for the HDMI, allowing HDMI input from Blu-Ray and Cable box, then HDMI going from Receiver to TV.
Just be aware that using the AVR this way, you'll have to turn it on everytime you want to use the TV, if you're planning to use it without the AVR from time to time, you'll need to plan that ahead.

5. I can still use the bose setup, correct?
Do the speakers have a special connector or just bare wires??? ...you can use them, but I'm sure you'll benefit if you get speakers with better frequency response :hide:.

6. What brand/model AVR should I purchase that will work well with the Bose? I would like to spend as little as possible, but am open to spending what it takes to get the most out of the Blu Ray and TV as well as prepare for possible future components/formats/etc.
Onkyo are the best bang for the buck right now, but you can also check for refurbished on ebay, or my favorite ...look for open box deals at BestBuy, Circuit City, etc. ... you can also look for good deals on speakers too :yes:.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys! I like that surge protector 3 outlet thing.

I was planning on installing some CAT6 wire, just didn't mention it...did NOT realize it could "extend" HDMI if needed. Where exactly are you saying I should run this wire? My original plan was to run some from the unfinished side of the basement to an outlet behind the HT components..for possible future hookup of computer type components. It sounds like you suggested I do more than that...I didn't quite follow.

I was thinking of installing extra speaker wire...more in case the speaker wire to the Bose stopped working..never thought of future 7.1. I love that Monoprice.com site...cheap everything!!!

My Bose have bare wire on the speaker end, but special connections for the end that plugs into the base module.

The "conduit" I am putting in the wall..I am going to leave the openings to this conduit exposed at the top (behind the tv) and bottom (behind the component stand). That way, I can easily fish new cables if needed and the openings will be hidden. I did not plan on putting currently unused wires in there since it will be easy to place new ones in later if needed. At max, that conduit will only need two HDMI cables, right? (one for tuner to tv, one for cable box to tv). The speaker wire for my front speakers I just plan on shoving in the corner where the baseboard and carpet meet.

I am not what you would call a "home theater junkie"..I have too many "hobbies" to be a junkie at any of them (and spend the cash that goes along with them). My home theater room is going to have an "in the wall" fishtank opposite the tv (another hobby). So, I may upgrade some other components in the future, but with two little ones at home and a tight budget, that will be many years down the road.

I will have to draw a diagram and post it up here..room dimensions are probably around 15' x 10' with a 7' high ceiling.

Thanks for your responses!!!
 

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Run a couple lengths of Cat 5 to your component rack from a central network location (if you have one). Same for a potential projector location, and I'd sprinkle a few around the room for other network routing as well (I like one on every wall).

If you're running your theater the long way, and sitting 2/3 of the length from your display, you're looking at 10'. That's a little far for a 42" (in fact, at 1080p and 10' your ideal screen size is 80" for a 1.77 image). A rule of thumb I use is 1.5x the screen diagonal for seating distance at 1080p, 2x for 720p. You can find more exact details here: http://www.carltonbale.com/2006/11/1080p-does-matter/

In other words, for your proposed 42" screen, if you are sitting further than about 7' away, you will likely be unable to tell the difference between 720p and 1080p, so no sense spending extra money on it.

If you use the AVR as a switcher, you only need 1 HDMI cable to your display (2 if you want a backup). Keep in mind, you may add a DVD player, XBox, or Media Streamer down the road, and if you connect all those through an AVR, you won't need to wire more HDMI to your display.
 

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I was thinking of installing extra speaker wire...more in case the speaker wire to the Bose stopped working..
That will be an excellent idea, so when you upgrade your speakers you don't need to run the wires; even if you just upgrade the AVR I don't know if it will be a good idea to cut the connectors on the Bose to hook it up ...or just sell the system and get new speakers.

At max, that conduit will only need two HDMI cables, right? (one for tuner to tv, one for cable box to tv). The speaker wire for my front speakers I just plan on shoving in the corner where the baseboard and carpet meet.
What Marshall said is right, you can connect everything to AVR (DVD, Xbox, VCR, etc.), the only downside of this is that you need to turn on the AVR to watch anything on TV; What you can do is to connect cable box to TV using HDMI, and a coax/optical cable to AVR for audio; then everything else to AVR and then use HDMI to connect to TV ...this way you can choose if you want to use or not the AVR when watching cable programming (definetely you will when watching a DVD :bigsmile:).

I will have to draw a diagram and post it up here..room dimensions are probably around 15' x 10' with a 7' high ceiling.
That will be excellent, and if you can post a couple of pictures even better; we can make suggestions about speaker and seat placements, etc. :yes:
 

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Will you be keeping your components outside the main theater room (in the unfinished space) to keep everything cool, quiet, easy to work on, aesthetically pleasing?

In case you can't tell, I would.

I've posted a jpeg of Dan's HT layout for everyone without excel.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Since I wanted to include my aquarium hobby in this room too, the aquarium will sit in the unfinished space and face the finished space. Therefore, the components will all go on the opposite wall. Was just going to use your basic stand/shelf for all the components. (which at this point will just be a Blu Ray, AVR and Cable Box).
 

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Other notes:

With that unfinished space, you could also build a sub into the wall, saving you precious space in the room itself.

Make sure you can turn off the aquarium lights easily, or else you're going to have constant glare. Better yet, fashion a heavy curtain for the aquarium face that will both block light and help with acoustics (you'll get some nasty reflections off that hard, flat glass).


Your seating of 7' is certainly too short for projection, but you might consider bumping up to 50" 1080p if you're not going to scoot up to about 5'. Speaking of which, if you move up to 2' off the back wall, you'll find you system will likely sound better (and you'll have a little more space in which to enjoy the aquarium.

It helps to have your listening area as symmetrical as possible, especially with the Bose system that relies on bouncing the sound around the room, so anything that can be done there with your room openings (door at base of stairs, in front of water meter), would be great.
 

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Since I wanted to include my aquarium hobby in this room too, the aquarium will sit in the unfinished space and face the finished space. Therefore, the components will all go on the opposite wall. Was just going to use your basic stand/shelf for all the components. (which at this point will just be a Blu Ray, AVR and Cable Box).
Right, but you could put an equipment rack in the unfinished space as well, and just run the cables. That would save you floor space by your front wall, and keep the room from feeling too cramped (as well as making it easy to monkey with the connections on your equipment without having to fish around the back of a dark rack.

Or...build them into a cabinet under the bar, in the corner by the unfinished space. Put an access panel to the back of your equipment on the unfinished space side.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So when you suggest putting the components so far from the tv, i would need HDMI and whatever other cables I am using to be that long, correct? Does HDMI "lose" any of its power when the distance is that great? I assume whereever I would put them, I would need the front of the components to be accessible in the finished space..to change a DVD, or allow the remote to function, correct? If the TV and the components are in different areas of the room, does one of those new programmable remotes "find" the tv and components w/o having to point it in multiple directions to turn everything on, or change from watching a DVD to watching cable? Thanks for the different ideas...never even knew there were so many possibilities.
 
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