I’ve spent some time over the past couple of weeks figuring out how to install components into my new house. I’m starting to pick what components I might want to upgrade and how to integrate everything. My trusty Onkyo TH-DX939 is getting long in the tooth. I’m been very pleased with it over the years and was thinking of another Onkyo but really wanted a little more flexibility and performance. I recently realized that Integra and Integra Research were Onkyo brands with more performance. The flagship brand is Integra Research and their new RDC-7.1 appears to be an amazing processor with the modular expansion cards for future compatibility. This is definitely the receiver I want if it is ever available — it was supposed to be released in Summer 2004 but that has slipped to early 2005. Luckily, I’m not it a big hurry.
Of course, by switching to processor as opposed to a receiver, I’ll need a separate amplifier. Integra Research has an amp but I think it is a bit overpriced. I was browsing though the AVS forum and found mention of a new external 7-channel amplifier that is sold factor direct by Gemstone Audio. I started reading some reviews of the Blue Diamond amp and was quite impressed, especially considering the price relative to established competitors. I was even more surprised that I recognized the name of the one of the founders of Gemstone — Steve Herrala of Sound Video in Minneapolis. I’d talked to Steve on several occasions before I purchased my Marantz VP-12s1 projector.
I’m also considering how to distribute video and audio through the house. I do have Ethernet cables running to every room so it will be easy to play ripped DVDs and TiVo shows at other locations in the house. However, I want to get a HD TiVo in the near future and distributing the HD content is a little more difficult. I stumbled upon a Gefen product that allows DVI and HDMI content distribution over 2 dedicated (on IP) Cat 5 cables. I would have to run some extra cables between televisions, but it looks like one HDTV TiVo would be able to play content over the entire house. Lot’s of other work to do before I start that project though. I don’t even have satellite hooked up at the new house yet!