Home Theater

Home theater has been a major hobby of mine since the early 1990s when I hooked my first stereo VCR up to a 2-channel receiver. In college, my roommate start his co-op job and purchased at 20″ TV — my experience was as complete, or so I thought. A couple of years later, Dolby Pro-Logic receivers became available, and I upgraded to 5.1 sound. The addition of a DVD player shortly after they were introduced made a significant impact on sound and picture quality. My next phase was acquiring one of the first 720p 16:9 projectors to be released, which replicated the big theater experience for the first time. The next major revolution was add HD capabilities with a TiVo HD Satellite receiver. Next came the addition of a Blu-ray player and a 1080p projector. I can’t wait to see what further improvements will come my way and fight my resistance to upgrades. . .

My Home Theater Photo Gallery:

I’ve created a home theater construction photo album showing my current (version 2.0) and my previous (version 1.0) home theaters in various states of progress. The album includes a brief description of each picture, so you can get an idea of how everything was designed and constructed. Here a some pictures of the completed project:






My Movie Collection:

I use My Movies Collection Management to catalog my movie collection and I have it published and viewable online.

Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC):

I currently use a combination of Windows 7 Media Center and the  to browse and play my movie collection from any HTPC. I currently use Windows 7 Media Center and the Media Browser plugin and sometimes the MyMovies plugin to browse and play my movie collection.  I use Windows Home Server to store all of my movie backups; Slysoft AnyDVD HD is used in the backup process. MyMovies Collection Management for Windows Home Server is used to provide the movie descriptions, cover art, actor profiles, etc., for all of my DVD and Blu-ray backups.HTPC History: I’ve been a Home Theater Person Computer (HTPC) enthusiast since about 2000, when I borrowed a VGA projector to display movies on the wall but found the lack of a line-doubler intolerable. So I used PowerDVD to play the movie and purchased a high-end (for the time) sound card to output Dobly Digital audio. I later tried XLobby v2 (by Steven Hanna) as a movie browser interface, in hopes of replicating the $40,000 Kaleidescape system I’d seen demoed at the CEDIA home theater trade show. I also tried TheaterTek DVD player software. When Media Center Edition of Windows XP was released, it became my primary platform.

My Current Home Theater Equipment:

Preamp / Processor: The Anthem Statement D2v is a fantastic high-end preamp / processor.  It has a some of the best audio capabilities available, a built-in high-definition video processor, and some of the best factory support available.  I purchased my D2v directly from Anthem as an upgrade from a D2 I purchased on Audiogon.

Amplifier: The  Sherbourn 7/2100A does everything I need an amp to do: deliver lots of clean, undistorted power. Pure audiophiles say that the amplifier makes a huge difference in sound quality, but it’s my opinion that it has the least effect of any component in a system. This amp delivers 7-channels at a max of 300 watts each, which is way more than my home theater requires. It accepts balanced inputs (XLR connectors) from my Anthem pre-amp and turns on and off automatically. Nothing more, nothing less, and all I need, and maybe then some. I purchased mine from Steve at SoundVideo.com.

Projector: The JVC D-ILA projectors offer the blackest blacks. I wouldn’t consider any other projector for home theater. The optics are very sharp, THX mode give a great out-of-box initial calibration setting, it operates quietly, has more than enough inputs, and is by far the best projector I’ve ever owned. I purchased my JVC D-ILA HD750 new off of eBay. The projector mount I use is a Chief RPM-223 Elite, with a CMA-006 and CMA-115 ceiling mount and extension pole. It offers a perfect fit, fine adjustment for pitch/tilt/rotation, and a lock for additional security. I purchased the mount components from ProjectorCenter.com and AValive.com

Component Model Vendor Manual Potential Upgrade

Screen Stewart Firehawk 123″ diagonal ProjectorCenter.com Install Manual none

DVR TiVo HD (over-the-air antenna HD broadcast networks only) none
Media Streamer Syabas Popcorn Hour C-200 w/internal hard drive and Blu-ray drive added PopcornHour.com
OTA HD Antenna Channel Master 3020 UHF/VHF Antenna
Channel Master 9023 Wall Mount for attic mounting
WarrenElectronics.com none
Remote Control Philips Pronto Professional TSU9400; RFX9600 IR/RS-232 Base Station (x2) eBay.com

Front L/R Speakers PolkAudio RT16 Ovation B&M TBD
Center Speaker PolkAudio CS350-LS Ovation B&M TBD
Side Surround Speakers Sonance Cinema Ultra II SUR AudiophileLiquidator none none
Rear Surround Speakers Sonance Cinema Ultra II SUR AudiophileLiquidator none none
Subwoofer Velodyne HGS 15 Audio Video Today second subwoofer?
Video Game Console Microsoft Xbox 360 Circuit City Black Friday Sale
HTPC Self-built, Atech Fabrication 4000 case, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H motherboard (with NVIDIA 9400 mATX HDMI 8 channel LPCM) motherboard, Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, Blu-ray drive AtechFabrication.com
Asus K8N-e Deluxe
Media Server Self-built, Coolermaster Stacker case, Windows Home Server, Tyan motherbaord, Areca ARC1230 RAID card, 14 x 2TB hard drives max NewEgg.com
Tactile Transducers (8 total, aka bass shakers) Aura AST-1B-4, 50 Hz low-pass FMOD crossover PartsExpress.com ast_1b_4_a.jpg
Amplifier for Tactile Transducers Old Sony receiver

Power Protection Panamax Max 5300 LetsGoDigital Owners ManualOverview none
Lighting Control PCS SmartSwitch (Black) x 4, X10 IR543 IR Receiver, X10 Pro PHC02 Maxi Controller Worthington Distribution PCS SmartSwitch Manual none
Video Calibration Video Essentials [DVD], Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics [Blu-ray] Amazon.com none
Audio Calibration Rives Audio Test CD 2, RadioShack Analog SPL Meter RivesAudio RadioShack OME33-4050.pdf none
Seating Bass Industries Executive Lounger-series home theater chairs; motorized recline, Mustang Brown color. (x 9) Bass Industries none

List of my Old Equipment:

Component Model Vendor Manual Use / Disposition
Projector Sony VPL-HS51 + Chief RPA-102 mount ProjectorCenter.com VPLHS51.pdf sold on eBay
Projector Marantz VP12-S1 SoundVideo.com Sold
Satellite Receiver DishNetwork 4000 Sold
Satellite Receiver / DVHS Recorder JVC HM-DSR100U Sold
Television Toshiba CX35f60 35″ television Circuit City Sold
Remote Control Philips Pronto TSU-1000 Worthington Distribution Sold
Remote Control Philips ProntoPro TSU6000 Sold
Remote Control Philips ProntoPro NG TSU7000 GoPCPlus.com My detailed commentary sold on eBay
Remote Control Philips ProntoPro NG TSU7500 GoPCPlus.com My detailed commentary For Sale
Surround Speakers PolkAudio LS f/x Sound Seller [info] Kitchen “ambience” speakers
Television Panasonic 32″ Circuit City Stolen when moving
VHS VCR JVC 830u Crutchfield Sitting in closet
DVD Player Toshiba SD2108 PCMall.com Gave to my mom
Receiver Pioneer Pro Logic Crutchfield Stolen when moving
Receiver Onkyo TX-DS939 The Sound Approach [info] TXDS939om.pdf Died a loud and painful death
Receiver Anthem Statement D2 Audiogon classifieds Sent to Anthem for repair, replaced by D2v
Satellite Philips DSR6000 TiVo Direct Connection gave away on TiVoCommunity.com
Satellite HD Hughes HR10-250 TiVo BestBuy B&M in closet gathering gust
Amplifier for Tactile Transducers Samson Servo 120a Sweetwater.com link sold on ebay
Video Game Console Microsoft Xbox BestBuy B&M Next Door Neighbor
VHS VCR JVC 830u Crutchfield.com in closet gathering dust
  • Room Treatment: 50 custom-made 2’x4′ audio panels; Ownens Corning SelectSound Black Acoustic fiberglass panels, 45-degree beveled MDF 2″ frame, Guilford of Maine (GoM) fabric covering (Style: Spinel 3582, Color: 021 Obsidian)
    • The fiberglass acoustic panel room treatment was by far the single largest contributor to audio quality.
    • 60% room coverage; 2 layers installed on the front wall and corners
  • Projector: JVC HD730 1080P projector w/Stewart Firehawk 123″ diagonal screen and Chief micro-adjust projector mount
  • Custom Home Theater Personal Computer
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
    • Media Browser Plug-in
    • Arcsoft TotalMedia Theatre Blu-ray player
    • VMCPlayit client for Windows Media Center
    • HAI Home Control plug-in for Windows Media Center
    • Intelliremote remote control software
    • LogMeIn remote desktop client
    • Xenarc touchscreen installed in Atech Fabrication rack-mount case
    • Griffin Technology scroll/select wheel
    • nVidia 9400-based chipset for HDMI video and 7.1 channel LPCM HD Audio, Gigabit Ethernet
    • Lite-On Blu-ray drive
    • TiVo HD TV tuners: not directly controlled by Windows Media Center so no live TV; web-based recording scheduling; automated script downloads recorded shows from TiVo HD, runs commercial-skip, and stores files on the Windows Home Server shared folder for playback in Media Center
  • TiVo HD
    • 1 TB internal drive upgrade
    • Over-the-air antenna HD content
    • Netflix WatchNow, Amazon VOD
  • Anthem Statement D2 Preamp Processor with Room Correction, HD video switching and processing
  • Sherbourn 72100A 7-channel amplifier
  • Panamax Max 5300 surge protector
  • Velodyne HGS15 subwoofer
  • PolkAudio front speakers RT16 (x2), CS350-LS (all hidden behind floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall frames with speaker grill cloth covering)
  • Sonance Cinema Ultra II SUR (x4) side and rear surround speakers (in-wall, hidden behind fabric panels)
  • 9 Bass Industries Executive-series home theater chairs; motorized recline, Mustang Brown color
  • 8 Aura bass shakers; Sony 4-channel receiver for amplification
  • Middle Atlantic Equipment rack and custom rack shelf for TiVo HD, retractable light
Written by on 2006-Nov-11, Last updated on: 2012-September-24 in: |


  • Dennis Gilliam says:

    Carlton, I am in the final stages of building my dream home, which includes a home theatre. The room is 20.7″ x 17.5″ with 9 ft ceilings. I have an Onkyo TX-NR3010 Receiver, Onkyo BD-SP809 Blu-Ray Player and Harmony 1100 Universal Remote. I have 4 in-ceiling Proficient C840 Surround Speakers, 2 in-wall Polk 265-RT speakers for my front R&L speakers and a Polk 255c-RT as the front center speaker. I still have a few items left to purchase and would appreciate your opinions on each. The first is the subwoofer, which I have been looking at getting 2 SVS SB13 Ultra subwoofers. I have read some great reviews, but would like to know if you have any experience with them? Also, I have been looking at the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5020e Projector and am curious of your thoughts on this one and lastly on the screen. I have actually purchased a Da-lite Cinema Contour DaMat 65×116 screen, which is 133″ diagonal. My fear is that this is actually too large and am thinking of going down one size screen to the 119″D screen. Again, I appreciate your thoughts on this as well. Thank you in advance! Dennis

    • Carlton Bale says:

      Hi Dennis. Sounds like an awesome setup. I don’t have any direct experience with SVS SB13 subs, but I have with other (lower) models and they were awesome. I think you will be very happy with 2 SB13s.

      From what I understand, the Epson 5020e is quite bright. In a light-controlled room, I think it could do a great job on a 133″ screen. I would try it with that screen first before downsizing. Given the option, I would pick the 133″ screen (unless the room is really bright.)

      Good luck finishing your build!

  • Your Wife says:

    why aren’t your new subwoofers listed?

  • Courtney Brooks says:

    Hi, sweet site love all the ideas! i have a question is 100inch screen to larger for a 16 1/2ft long 11ft wide?

  • Chad says:

    Hi Carlton,
    I’m getting ready to install a home theater in a new construction basement. I love how your equipment is organized. Could you point me to the type of racking that you have?

    • Carlton Bale says:

      Hi Chad. My equipment rack is from Middle Atlantic. They can be ordered in a variety of configurations and heights. I got the standard version (no side panels or other add-ons) and installed it in a drywall enclosure. The rack shelves are Middle Atlantic as well. They have a huge database of components and custom laser cut each one to exactly match each component. If they are missing a component in their database, you can either send it to them or send them the measurements. (You typically order through a dealer/retailer, not directly from them.)

  • Akash says:

    Hi Carlton,

    First of all I have to say that’s a awesome home cinema. I am interested in one to make so, I was checking your list and googling it where can I get the stuff half the stuff from the list is discontinued from the manufacture. Is it possible for you if you can update this list with the best products in available in the marker and roughly how much it’s cost.


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