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Author: MichaelRead Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Winner! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 10534  
Subject: What is a home theater? Date: 11/1/2012 2:13 AM
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What is a home theater? My definition first and then into arguments.

A home theater is a 16:9 television having a 5.1 sound system and a media player (DVD, Blu-ray, or VHS). That’s it.

Sure, a room can be transformed – with enough cash – into a duplicate of the Roxy down the street but, while called a home theater, is décor for an interior designer’s idea of décor. A faux authenticity. In fact, I’d go further: such an installation removes home from home theater. First objective of such a place is to isolate an experience – and call it home theater.

It could be argued my definition is but that of increases in technology – which is true but not that relevant. To be sure the technology has advanced from the days of the bulky CRT with internal speakers allowing my description yet what then the dividing line between a better TV and a Home Theater if that only? Cost?

If it is cost then the specialized room built at high cost is home theater while that costing less isn’t? If it is cost then where the dividing line?

A decent home theater can be put together for less than $2,500: a 60-in. TV at $1,200, an amp at about $700, a Blue-ray player at about $150 and about $500 for speakers. How do I know this? I built my other home theater for about that cost.

Of course you can spend more but that’s preference. All the components described above can be obtained at much higher cost and, for their features, worth the cost. However, that’s choice of equipment to preferences. But, my view, cost does not a home theater make.

Some might say I am being minimalist but that’s not my position: my position is a home theater is not necessarily that created at great expense. Again, a home theater is a 16:9 TV with a 5.1 sound system and a media player. Essentially, if you have that you have a home theater.

Comments?

MichaelR
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Author: halco Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9893 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/1/2012 5:31 AM
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Agree about the components, but I'd say that the media player can also be a digital media player like The Popcorn Hour, which I have, or one of many other good brands like the WDTV Live. Or it can me a home computer with media player/DVR capabilities.

Cost of my HT is considerably less than yours, and I have pretty good stuff for my budget - LG LCD 42" HDTV at $500, Onkyo amp (refurb) at $300, speakers at $300, media player at $200. And one of my fav components - URC universal remote, at $150. Total - $1450.

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Author: RocketsMomma Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9895 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/2/2012 9:48 PM
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A home theater is a 16:9 television having a 5.1 sound system and a media player (DVD, Blu-ray, or VHS). That’s it.

I only have a little quibble with the 16:9 thing. After all silent films were shot in 4:3 as were other films at least till Cinemascope in 1953. I think whatever TV one has is good enough to be called a home theater if it's hooked to a 5.1 sound system. It's just a matter of degree as to how advanced your HT is.

Until December 2010 we used a 24" CRT with a 5.1 system, DVD player, and VHS. (We once had a much bigger CRT but it died.) We considered it a home theater, we watched movies in wide screen whenever possible. Of course, we had to sit fairly close, wide screen on a 24" TV made things very small. Certainly it wasn't ideal picture-wise, but the sound was pretty good even with the old Altec Lansing as a center. In fact here's a photo of it I managed to dig up.

http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e9/MIMudPuppy/ZS15%20Full%...

Shocking, no? Things for me are so much better now.

RM

PS - The pup is my sister's.

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9896 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/2/2012 11:14 PM
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I think 'Home Theater' means different things to different people. Some were surprised when we built "nice hauz" (is that what you called it?) that we didn't put in a dedicated room for it. Many of those think you need a 60" or larger screen, forward-facing seating with small tables in between, and of course the 5.1 (or greater) sound system. I don't think they would consider my setup "home theater" because it is a family room.

My opinion is that you need the 5.1 (or greater), a screen (of whatever size), and a media player of some sort. That's a minimalist HT, but it's a HT.

The sky's the limit from there, of course. You can go as big and expensive as you want...

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Author: MichaelRead Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Winner! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9897 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/3/2012 12:15 AM
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Agree about the components, but I'd say that the media player can also be a digital media player like The Popcorn Hour, which I have, or one of many other good brands like the WDTV Live. Or it can be a home computer with media player/DVR capabilities.

Cost of my HT is considerably less than yours, and I have pretty good stuff for my budget - LG LCD 42" HDTV at $500, Onkyo amp (refurb) at $300, speakers at $300, media player at $200. And one of my fav components - URC universal remote, at $150. Total - $1450.

halco


Based on function not cost you have a home theater. You underscore my point: a home theater is an assemblage of components and not necessarily the structure these components are within. When 1poorguy recommended those l/r speakers for your system he did it on cost/performance and not if these speakers would match your décor or ambience.

All this came about because a neighbor said his Old Faithful 28-in RCA CRT bit the dust and he wanted my recommendation on what to buy – but said, since the budget was limited – he couldn’t afford a ‘home theater’. His thought was one would cost multiple thousands.

Long story short: I cost out a 42-in. LCD, a small amp, and an inexpensive speaker set (we used his old DVD and VHS). We came in at about halco’s spending. Could it have been more? Sure. But why? Of course, if Rob wants to upgrade it will cost but he and Rose have a nice setup they and their grandkids can enjoy.

MichaelR

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Author: Mark12547 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9898 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/3/2012 12:16 AM
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I guess I missed having a home theater by 3.1!

My main viewing room has a 46" 1080p (native mode) 120Hz LCD HD TV with these attached devices: blu-ray player (1080p HDMI), Roku Netflix Player (720p HDMI), DVD player (480i/480p component video set to 480p), and a VCR (480i composite video).

My bedroom isn't so advanced, having a 32" 720p (native mode) LED TV with these attached devices: a Comcast HD DVR and a VCR/DVD player.

In both rooms I just use the TV speakers.

If I wanted to reproduce the theater experience, I would need to do a few things:

1. Have no control when a feature starts, and make sure I have to walk down a long hallway, at least a hundred feet, to get to the bathroom without being able to pause the feature, so I have to miss at least 3 minutes of the feature for a 1-minute bathroom break.

2. Spill beverages, pop corn, and maybe some gum on the floor so it is sticky and just a bit smelly.

3. Lock my TV volume at just about ringing level without ability to reduce the volume to comfort level.

4. Tell neighbors to crank up their TVs so that in the quieter parts of what I am watching what they are watching is clearly heard through the walls.

5. Have people talking during the show around me, and have a few smart phones in front of me with bright screens be clearly visible throughout the feature.

6. Have people walk in front of me at critical parts of the movie.

7. Have bright exit signs illuminating the screen and have the house lights refuse to go dark, so any scene in the shadows would be completely washed out by other lighting in the room. (I tell you, when I watched "House of Wax" at a local theater, 3/4ths of the film was washed out by the lights in the theater, most shots being a green haze from the exit signs instead of whatever the Director wanted us to see.)

8. Be forced to watch all commercials at the start of any program I watch, after having to wait 15 to 30 minutes before watching and not being able to do anything useful 15 to 30 minutes afterwards to simulate the drive to/from the theater.

Even with a poor-man's stereo instead of Dolby 5.1, I find most features are more enjoyable at home than at the local theaters.

However, I don't call my home setups "home theaters".

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Author: MichaelRead Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Winner! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9899 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/3/2012 12:34 AM
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I think 'Home Theater' means different things to different people. Some were surprised when we built "nice hauz" (is that what you called it?) that we didn't put in a dedicated room for it. Many of those think you need a 60" or larger screen, forward-facing seating with small tables in between, and of course the 5.1 (or greater) sound system. I don't think they would consider my setup "home theater" because it is a family room.

My opinion is that you need the 5.1 (or greater), a screen (of whatever size), and a media player of some sort. That's a minimalist HT, but it's a HT.

The sky's the limit from there, of course. You can go as big and expensive as you want...

1poorguy


Correction. I said ‘niiiiiz haus’. How is 1poorgal enjoying the new home?

I realize my description (and yours matches it) is minimalist and there are those who would scoff at it being so basic yet the difference in cost does not a home theater make. Difference in cost will cover additional base functions and these can be excellent (as in advanced sound codecs) but with the base covered enjoyment is covered.

My thought is a home theater need not be what some think it should be. Those pictures in magazines of rooms converted into Starship Command Centers is, of course, what the owner wanted and more power to him but my objection is a person wanting a home theater doesn’t have to go to those lengths to have a home theater.

MichaelR

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Author: MichaelRead Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Winner! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9900 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/3/2012 2:09 AM
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Until December 2010 we used a 24" CRT with a 5.1 system, DVD player, and VHS. (We once had a much bigger CRT but it died.) We considered it a home theater; we watched movies in wide screen whenever possible. Of course, we had to sit fairly close, wide screen on a 24" TV made things very small. Certainly it wasn't ideal picture-wise, but the sound was pretty good even with the old Altec Lansing as a center. In fact here's a photo of it I managed to dig up.

http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e9/MIMudPuppy/ZS15%20Full%......

Shocking, no? Things for me are so much better now.

RM


My first ever TV was when I was 13 in England. Nine-inch b/w. One station: the BBC. It was owned by neighbors who would sometimes let me watch – when the TV received which was from 7 pm to 11 pm.

You can imagine how I felt when we moved to Canada in 1953 and had an absolutely HUGE 19-in b/w that received, gasp, three stations.

It was a hard life then. Consult TV Guide, yell ‘Ed Sullivan in five!’ and manually turn the station selector to channel seven while turning the aerial rotor for a better picture. Commercials were for bathroom/snack breaks yet some were so interesting we’d wait which caused, at program’s end, a mad rush to the can (parents first, kids after). Some shows were rated by the water consumption during commercial breaks.

Close my eyes and I remember all the programs. Maybe it was the novelty of them yet some stick in my mind that some of those recent blur. And that’s not due to age but because some are just terrible. Terrible defined as poor writing supported by a pre-recorded laugh track (but on that I go into a rant).

It was so new back then.

MichaelR

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9901 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/3/2012 1:34 PM
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I couldn't tell you what our first TV was. I do remember it had a wooden box, and I think it had legs to stand on its own. Rabbit ears at first, and then we got an OUTSIDE antenna! (ooooooh!)

I'm pretty sure it was color, but a lot of programming then was b/w. When it was color they announced it proudly just before the show started..."Get Smart! IN COLOR!" The NBC peacock used to do it's little flourish to announce color also (I don't remember now if they printed the words, or if it was just the peacock getting its colored feathers).

We had four or five channels. The three networks, plus a local independent, and PBS (I used to watch Sesame Street and Electric Company, so I know we got PBS). I remember watching "Mod Squad", "Star Trek", "Get Smart", "Mission Impossible", and Looney Tunes and Roadrunner. And Vietnam whenever it interrupted my cartoons (a good way to infuriate a 7 yr old).

The first TV I got to myself was an 8" Sony b/w. I didn't have to watch what the old people wanted anymore! Of course, even with UHF the selection was extremely limited. I also got an RCA turntable all for me! It was a compact unit. You opened the hinged speakers, and then the turntable would fold down. You could detach the speakers and place them a few feet apart for separation. That was so cool!

As a teen we got our first VCR. Top-loading, about the size of a carry-on bag today (maybe a little bigger). As a reward for helping with the puppies (our dog had a litter) I was given a Hitachi combo unit. I was 15 or 16. Turntable and cassette player under a hinged plastic top cover, and an 8-track and AM/FM radio accessible from the front. I could record onto the cassette from any of the other sources (which was neat). My dad, when giving it to me, held it up and said "like an airplane cockpit!". Yeah, sure, Dad. Had that at least 5 or 6 years until I got my first component...a Pioneer SX6 (I was in college by then). My TV was a hand-me-down from the old people. Don't remember what it was. No remote. Cable ready, but I had no cable. Just rabbit ears. Had that until it died sometime in grad school.

My RX-V670 was my first HT-capable beast. Got that 15 years ago(??). Had to get speakers to go with it, then! Enter my SM62s....and then my SM center....

I've been enhancing my HT ever since. :-)

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9902 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/3/2012 2:43 PM
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How is 1poorgal enjoying the new home?

She's always fussing. Sometimes she wants to paint (even though the existing paint is fine), we're always cleaning stuff, and we're still trying to finish the back yard.

But overall she seems to like it. I hope so since I made a point of having her make most of the choices.

I wish I could say she likes the HT, but honestly I don't think she notices. She has picture and sound, and that's enough. I believe I mentioned the time one of my tweeters went out. She was watching something, I walked in and immediately asked "what's wrong with the system". "Nothing, why?". "Doesn't sound right.". Within a few minutes I isolated the offending tweeter. Once I replaced it, she still didn't notice.

1poorguy

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Author: MichaelRead Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Winner! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9903 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/3/2012 6:20 PM
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I wish I could say she likes the HT, but honestly I don't think she notices. She has picture and sound, and that's enough. I believe I mentioned the time one of my tweeters went out. She was watching something, I walked in and immediately asked "what's wrong with the system". "Nothing, why?". "Doesn't sound right." Within a few minutes I isolated the offending tweeter. Once I replaced it, she still didn't notice.

1poorguy


In a way that’s a compliment. The system is transparent to content. Elly’s the same. And it isn’t she’d be satisfied with lesser but that various increments – while thought out as to making the system better – emphasizes content further. I have noticed with certain changes to the system Elly enters that ‘content zone’ sooner. That what she and 1poorgal fixate on. Most do. As I said, a compliment.

It isn’t that Elly isn’t interested in the technology. She is yet not deeply. In that I mean it isn’t a great concern if the sound is 13.2 or 5.1 or Dolby or DTS while to me it is. We have nine speakers in the front, two speakers on either side of the seats, and four behind. To Elly that adds to the system transparency so content (supported by sound) is entered.

We got Downton Abbey and, within 15 minutes Ely was hooked. We went in to Bad-Kids-Mode (watching three episodes each evening far too late into the night) and, know what, Elly didn’t even mention that it was upscaled from 480 to 1080p and the sound was massaged into 13.2. She was more interested in what was said, who said it, and what did they mean by what they said.

MichaelR

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Author: RocketsMomma Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9904 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/3/2012 9:47 PM
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Those pictures in magazines of rooms converted into Starship Command Centers is, of course, what the owner wanted and more power to him but my objection is a person wanting a home theater doesn’t have to go to those lengths to have a home theater.

Oh good! I really don't want to have to throw myself out of my chair every time one of those starships lurched to port!

rm ;-p

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Author: MichaelRead Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Winner! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9905 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/5/2012 4:27 AM
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There are home theaters that stand out.

One is RocketsMomma and her husband Hal’s magnificent construction of a rustic lodge complete with post and beam construction and high vaulted ceilings. This installation is so authentic – it is set within a swamp area surrounded by high trees – that it is hard to believe the veracity of designer’s décor aim which was to replicate a North Michigan hunting lodge complete with gun and camera racks.

This home theater is not a cheap replica but a fully fledged working cinema that, in addition to hi-def visuals and 7.1 sound, features a completely operational ‘kitchen area’ and attractive ‘sleeping areas’. Moreover, the realism is carried to where the theater’s ambience includes two friendly dogs, a mud room, and coat racks for ‘foul weather gear’.

No expense has been spared in this home theater. All appliances in the ‘kitchen area’ are fully functional allowing RM and her husband access to fine culinary foods to benefit from while also enjoying the cinema’s presentations. Swedish meatballs while watching Lord of The Rings? Easily done.

As said, this is not inexpensive; literally, thousands of dollars have been spent on creating this home theater. The result is outstanding.

MichaelR

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Author: RocketsMomma Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9907 of 10534
Subject: Re: What is a home theater? Date: 11/5/2012 10:28 AM
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Well.

Wow.

Thank you. *performing elegant bow* (swamp people do NOT curtsy)

I guess I ought to show the magnificence of the current set up now as you have already been subjected to the old CRT version.

http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e9/MIMudPuppy/ZS15%20Full%...

On the left is the Thorens turntable, Hal's Kenwood we are using as its preamp and the Boston Acousitc CR8 and its subwoofer the CR400.

In the center is the 42" LG 1080p HDTV and the new Atlantic Technology 2200 center.

And on the right the DVD player, digital/analog converter, VCR, 25 CD changer, speaker, satellite box and my lovely new Yamaha AVR.
(Note the heavy beam above the cabinets, have 5 of those suckers overhead. They were actually milled on site, Hal believes they are red pine).

We are 9 feet back from this wall and are enjoying the set up very much.
.
.
For contrast I have also provided you with the previous set up that has the TV on the taller bookcase. The old Altec Lansing speaker as center had to be off on the right, the smaller CR6s are sort of hidden behind the cabinet posts next to the TV screen and the CR8s which were exclusively used for stereo music and attached to my Onkyo were way up on the top. This also had the ancient Sony as AVR. This is the one we sat 16 feet back from when we still had the room set up conventionally.

http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e9/MIMudPuppy/ZS15%20Full%...

Today I have decided to continue re-arranging the great room. Nothing in the HT area will change. I've decided to swap the sofa (now against the wall behind us) with the dining table. Technically the table requires less room and it would allow the sofa to face the fireplace. Much more sensible and if we really, really wanted to, we could then watch TV while eating Christmas dinner. :-D

I wonder how Luna and Ziggy will feel having their sofa moved yet again!

RM

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