Finalizing a Basement Home Theater
I am installing a home theater in the basement (17x15 feet) with a budget of $10,000 to $20,000. I am considering two rows of seating with the second row close to the back wall. I have finalized a few things, but I'm still debating between projection (2D versus 3D) and a large LED-LCD TV. Also, I'm trying to decide between 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. Here are my top product candidates with the best prices I have found:
In terms of projectors, I'm looking at the Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 9700 UB (2D, $3,100) and 5010 (3D, $3,000) on an Elite screen (120 inches, $500). Or should I get a Sharp 80-inch LED LCD ($4,300)? The most likely A/V receiver is the Marantz SR7005 ($1,500), which is not THX-certified; is that okay? I've decided on the Definitive Technology Mythos STS SuperTower system ($4,000 for 5.1, $4,500 for 7.1). Finally, do you think the Universal MX-880 remote is better than Logitech Harmony universal remotes?
Chandrasekhar R. Vasamreddy
First of all, I would not place the second row of seats close to the back wall, because this degrades the sound for people in those seats. Try to position the second row a few feet from the back wall.
The choice between 2D and 3D depends on whether or not you enjoy 3Dmany people don't. The Epson 9700 UB (reviewed here) is an excellent 2D projector, and I presume the 5010 is also excellent at both 2D and 3D, though we haven't reviewed it yet; in fact, we just got one for review, so look for that in a few months. Also, the 5010 does not come with any active glasses you need for 3D, and they cost $99 each.
If you have complete control of the ambient light in the theater and dark, neutral-colored walls, ceiling, and floor, I generally recommend projection over any LED LCD TV, because you can have a bigger screen and a truly cinematic experience. As for the Sharp 80-incher specifically, we haven't reviewed it, so I can't say for sure how well it performs. However, I can say that it uses full-array LED backlighting, but it does not offer local dimming, which means the contrast is not likely to be all that great.
The Marantz SR7005 (reviewed here) is a superb AVR. In my view, THX certification is not necessary; it does assure a certain level of performance, but a product can certainly perform well without it, which the SR7005 clearly does.
The Def Tech Mythos STS SuperTower speaker system (reviewed here) is also excellent, though it has subwoofers integrated into the main towers. I prefer separate subs so they can be placed in the best locations for low frequencies, which are not always the same as the best locations for the main speakers. On the other hand, separate subs typically have a lower spouse-acceptance factor, which might or might not be a concern in your case.
In deciding between 5.1 and 7.1, I'd probably go with 7.1 if you can afford it. There aren't many Blu-ray movies with native 7.1 soundtracks at this point, but their numbers are likely to grow in the future, and you'll be ready for them. If you can swing it, I'd even add two more Gems for the front-height channels of Audyssey DSX and Dolby Pro Logic IIz, which the Marantz SR7005 provides.
If you want to go really crazyand your budget and spouse allow ityou could also add two more SuperTowers for the front-width channels of DSX. The Marantz AVR has 11 speaker outputs, so you can connect front-height and front-width speakers along with back-surround speakers, but it has only seven channels of amplification, so you must choose between the back-surround, front-height, and front-width speakers depending on what you want at any given moment.
As for the remote, I definitely prefer the Logitech Harmony remotes over all other universal remotes I've tried. I haven't used the MX-880 specifically, but I have used other remotes from Universal, and I found them much more difficult to program than the Harmony models. This isn't a big problem if you have an installer program it for you.
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