Sound for my new theater?

We are nearing completion of our new home theater. Size is 26'x21'x11'. !30" Stewart screen with Pioneer projector. I currently have a small Linn system consisting of a Unidisk SC, 5105 and pair of 5140s. My thoughts regarding options are as follows:
1) Add three Linn 5120 speakers as surrounds and center and actively tri-amp the 5140s with a new Chakra 6100. Add a Rel sub.
2) Start over with a Magnepan based system using 3.6s as the mains with the Maggie center and surrounds. Also add sides for 7.1 and a Rel sub.
3) Start over with another dynamic speaker system.
My questions are:
A) Which approach would be the most musical and still capable of rocking for the movies.
B) Which pre pro and amps for #2 and #3? Need to support all the new codecs and 7.1
C) What complete system for #3?

Thanks for any and all feedback.
You're going to get so many opinions on this that you better start to narrow the parameters. First, what is your budget? Second, is your first priority HT or music?
First priority is music but this is a full blown custom built theater with 12 seats and a fairly large volume. I've been an audiophile junkie for most of my adult life. I cleared out all my high end stuff (Roland Research pre and mono amps with B&W 801s, Sota vacuum table with EMT air bearing arm and numerous cartridges) in the mid 90s due to a lack of usability at the time. The kids were young and the only room was the main living area. They made noise during the day and I couldn't make noise at night. I've had Maggies in the 70s, Acoustats, Vandersteens and B&Ws in the 80s and 90s. Got into the Linn stuff a few years ago but really didn't have a very good room until now. Almost anyway, it should be finished in about a month.

As for budget, I really don't want to spend more than $5k or so on the main speakers plus whatever additional $$ for the center and surrounds. Would like to stay around $5k for a pre-pro although I'm intrigued by the Anthem. Maybe $5k or so on amps. I'm concerned about committing to deeply to the Linn approach especially considering that the Unidisk SC doesn't support HDMI and lossless codecs. The system would be somewhat obsolete from the start.

I'm willing to start from scratch but I haven't really kept up with the audiophile equipment for a long time and would like a very musical combined HT system. And as we all know, there aren't as many Audiophile shops around as there used to be.
I think the Linn 5140 is a great speaker (I owned two pairs active with 5105's powering them and a 5120 center, also active) but they do not output the volume needed for larger rooms,especially for HT. They were great in my condo, but not enough for my home so I would look elsewhere.
Next week the Oppo digital BluRay player comes out that will, eventually, do all discs including SACD and DVD-Audio, so wait and buy that. Then since you have a nice budget, I would go all Maggie speakers with Bryston amps, a Rel B1 sub, and Cary 11a and 11v home theater processor.

Thanks, that was fun to spend your money!!

I would also add a Scoutmaster Sig turntable with and ARC 5 phono preamp.

Man, that's a nice system. Can I come over and watch/listen????
All Magggie 7.1 systems sounds interesting. You are going to need some bass reinforcement and big amps to pull it off. I would consult the maggie crowd for amp recommendations.

Soundstage liked them.

I got my dad into the Anthem AVM50 and he loves it. It has HDMI switching, and he felt that was the future standard. They provide some upgrade paths in the design as well to avoid obsolescence.
Wow. Nice size room and screen! Yayy you. 12 seats? You’re the proud father of a very large family, or you will be entertaining. Congrats either way.

I’d think the biggest obstacle in erecting a good to excellent HT system, is when someone wants to mitigate the intended aim or goals of an actual home theater rig. Namely by adding this item to their designs , “… and for music as well”.

That simgle compromise confounds me, and I’m quite guilty of making it. My answer was provided me by separating things into individual systems. In your case perhaps via a ‘pass thru’ option in the pre/proc.. in mine, just separates entirely will suffice… and maybe a tube CDP or TT.

I’m sure you get this but I’ll add it in to be sure. Audio and theater rigs are in fact very different animals. Only the components seem to indicate some correlations… though not the actual content of each. HT wants snap crackle, and BANG! Music wants sizzle, slam, and smooth extension. Occasionally some of the HT attributes yet in a different context

It’s pretty hard to have breaking glass, gun shots, helicopters, missles, lightening, monsters and rain sound like they should when played in a musical system with the same impact they have in theater systems… the ‘jump’ factor is a prerequisite for HT!

I’ve never employed panels at all. My observations & auditions of them however don’t lend them to providing HT excellence though IMHO. I say go cones throughout. I’d say too, rethink the sub or subs for that size room. I believe two will be your best bet. I do like my DD 15 in an < 2800 cu ft. closed off room. I’d also think about dipole surrounds to lessen the point source info and increase the information those sitting off prime real estate positions will receive.

Anthem does a good job with their pre/procs. I’d go with other amp (s) though. Krell amps offer much for HT SUCCESS. I’d also look for a pre/proc with MACROS, so you can configure all the lights, projector, amps, etc to initiate sequentially for a stunning presentation. Triggering on & off this and that, lights, curtains, screen deployment, etc. with but a single button push of the master remote sure makes you look like the expert you are… and the cool factor is off the scale.

My Onkyo receiver will do that so I assume a good processor should too.

HDMI 2.0 is now on the scene in limited fashion, so at least go with 1.3a there. A nice Blue Ray player isn’t a lot of money now either. A good item there can do all the decoding for you via analog anyways. HDMI DOES give you great sound and video though too… and saves $$$. I run a 26 ft HDMI cable to my PJ without any issues at all. $60 - $75 via Blue Jeans incld ship. Also for other components at $12 - $20 depending on the lengths you may need. Only until I get well into my IC cables does the sound improve noticeably… and I do mean well into… HT Magic IIs, SR Resolution Refs, Nirvana SX, etc. I’ve found Audio art a tuff to improve upon calbe, until you get well into the $400 > $500 per set range.

Personally keeping the Lynn speakers and adding to them if they are in fact acceptable is where I’d start, unless you just want a change. I’d focus on good strong amps, subs, cabling, and ease of operation.

Had you thought of built in wall speakers? The resultant cosmetic is super clean and expands the overall room size by not subtracting speaker foot prints and their resultant configurations. I’d strongly think that way were I to do it all over again… or on the scale your’s is headed.

With all HDMI cabling through out, power cords can become quite the thing at each end of the signal train… sources or amps.

I’m very happy with what my HT array supplies me, and it’s not a full on HT rig. The Silverlines do very, very well in HT but save some impact from the most leading edge of information, given their Dyn Audio drivers. Musically however as the result, they remain quite enjoyable… with SS power. Better with tubes though for sure. The DD sub makes all the difference in the whole of things I’ve always felt that they did have a great effect with HT RIGS AND SHOULD SOME COMPROMISES BE NEEDED, LOOK ELSWEWHERE THEN AT THE SUB WOOFERS TO GET IT..

For me to improve overall, only adding a 3ch amp, and maybe thereafter a dedicated processor would be required to really elevate things. BTW I used Canare 4s11 speaker wire and am impressed, especially with a couple runs of near 40 ft to the rears which the Onkyo receiver runs now with out issue driving Silverline SR 15s on Sound anchor stands.

Given your screen size, the audio does need to be as congruent as possible to fill out the effect. Pretty good duynamic speakers with good to very good amounts of power and a great sub or two, should do the trick.

One last note… it’s more of an embarrassment to explain why something isn’t just right in the audio or video end when I’m entertaining someone, so do spend time in there getting all the bugs out, and instructing yourself on exhibiting a seamless presentation for your guests by previewing the proposed content before they arrive… by setting .volumes mostly so you are hands free during the event when the lights go down.

Very good luck.
"First priority is music but this is a full blown custom built theater with 12 seats and a fairly large volume."

Every time I've tried putting anything between my Eidolons the staging suffers.
I love my modest HT setup, thankfully it's in another room.

My suggestion is to change your priority to multi channel. Music videos are fun. Go with two smaller Velodyne DD subs for better system/room integration and room loading. Look into Wyred 4 Sound multi channel amplifiers. Blue Jean cable.
"Start over with a Magnepan based system using 3.6s as the mains with the Maggie center and surrounds. Also add sides for 7.1 and a Rel sub"

Have sold the Magnapan line, and have intimate experience with them. Down sides are going to be limited off-axis high quality sound (tiny sweet spot), VERY LIMITED dynamic output (low efficiency/sensitivity, more delicate speaker - not so great with heavy dynamic material, period). Also the Rel is going to do well in a small/medium room setup for modest music dubties, not a full blown HT system. The Rel will bottom out on you, and is a better music sub than it is a balls to the wall HT woofer (also, just one woofer? You'd need more!)

I'd recommend, yes, looking into more dedicated HT dynamic speakers, that are still musical, have a good focused propegation (Dappolitos), still offer excellent detail, and have tremendous dynamics! I'd be recommending possibly some sort of active speaker system if you could, otherwise something that's either higher efficiency, has a very simple passive crossover network (like 3 of the Triangle center speakers across the front - using smaller sides/rears, likely), maybe something with active woofers like Definitive makes, and forget about the linn system! Keep that in another system or whatever.
You must prioritize, and limit your compromises. I mean is it a system where mostly others will be joining you often, or mostly just you?
Keep in mind off-axis will compromise some stereo imaging, but multi-channel can make up for that, and you want balanced, high quality sound overall for lots of seats. Also, a center seat in such a room will still be in a bad acoustic spot. I'd setup for 4x4x4 seating if I were you, and you needed 12 seater.
Look at big centers from PSB, Dunlavy, Thiel, Triangle, Definitive (I like these with tubes in the system, FTR), and other higher efficiency systems. Also, horns like tubes, but do exceptional with dynamics and acoustical friendly applications!
Good luck
I had to make the compromise of HT and 2-channel occupying the same space. I can't stand programming HT technology with video based menus. I get enough of that from my PC, I want the audio to be simple. So for me, I went the most simple route I could while keeping 2-channel as priority. I use a Sony ES SACD/DVD, McCormack MAP-1 5 channel pre, Classe CAM-350 for the mains, Parasound A52 for center and rears. Thiel 3.6 for mains, MCS for center, and old JBL for rears (until I get Thiel in-walls). The system function very well as 2-channel. Turn on the Parasound and switch to TV for HT. I don't have bells and whistles or subwoofer slam for explosions. Most HT sound is recorded so poorly it doesn't matter.

......"I don't have bells and whistles or subwoofer slam for explosions. Most HT sound is recorded so poorly it doesn't matter. "

If you mean it doesn't matter to you, I do understand.

If not though, Man! I really got to differ with you on the low level output quality in HT, movies, soundtracks, and lately cable TV shows… it’s getting better and better and has been good to very good, with any number of excellent ones, for some time. Get a sub and you will definitely see for yourself. Even if it’s not a great or expensive sub, adding one opens another door to video enjoyment you should not be missing out on.

The musical score in just about any adventure, action, deep drama, horror or sci fi, carries usually a very deep sub line or low freq accompaniment. Even next gen Star Trek, Stargate, and others have a pronounced low end component throughout the film for effect.

Low end effects are abundant and quite well laid in with many TV shows and films now. Even the Nat Geo, Smithsonian ch, Disc, History, Military, Science ch, and even the DIY ch, has low/sub effects with many of their programs.

Subs are a must for HT in a room of this proposed size. Like the very large screen size, subs will evoke as much of the sonic tables influence and impact. Cohesiveness of the surrounding Sonics provides pretty much just the involvement. In action adventure many cues too.

The only place where the musical end of things isn’t as up to par or important is with vintage films…. Pre 70s, mostly. Even some 80s as well. There I’ve found it best more often than not to utilize A Dolby Pro logic sound field, or an all ch audio/stereo feature. Many of today’s receivers & processors have built in to them… rather than just the center ch speaker doing all the work and being the focus.

In the classic films genre I’ll sometimes use a sound field choice such as theater, or church, which ever gives just a very slight reverb to emulate a large venue’s live characteristic, or introduce some ambience to an otherwise bland soundtrack.

Big screens need bigger if not better sound when possible, and in a space of size… spread it out. Even if it is only mono or just 2 ch. It is a nicer effect. IMHO

But there is a wealth of sub based info in TV and films these days for sure… having it in your bag of tricks is a must.
I think a sub adds value for music as well, especially if you enjoy pipe organ music. I supplement my KEF 104.2s below 80 Hz with a Velodyne HGS-15 and a Velodyne SMS-1 room correction module. It makes for a seamless integration that works well for music and HT. I use a vintage Proceed PAV/PDSD pre/pro with Proceed Amp 2 and Amp 3, so I use a separate HDMI switcher. The result is excellent audio and video.

True Blindjim, its just my perspective. I've had DTV and Dish and in both cases the audio is very poor even for concert programs. Perhaps cable is better.
Regarding subs, I can imagine that one might be nice for HT. But I can't stand subs for music so wouldn't buy one since my priorities are music. For now, my Thiel's are doing a great job.


Honestly, I do feel my current FIOS cable setup is better than DTV overall, sonically, and visually. I felt other cable vs. DTV was a 'pick 'em' affair.

Of course, saying that, all my electronics have been changed/upgraded too. I've come a fair piece from the Gold 60s, Krell amp, and Sony STRV 444es receiver with a 50 CD changer & 100 watt no xover sub.... which is what I had when DTV was my provider... about 5 yrs ago.

Them Theils must bang out some good bass in that room. Subs for me are a 'given' now however, music or HT. For the latter especially though.

When I got these Silverline Sonata IIIs, prior to the Velodyne DD15 sub, I really felt no sub was needed for music. Really.

Once it arrived though, and a good power cord was attached to it, my mind was changed for me. I got that going into the 'big room' at the dealership effect. One of those you won't truly know what you might be missing until you hear the diff, sort of things.

Truth be told I could have stood to have gotten two subs in fact and might add another down the road, or just leave well enough alone with the DD 15 in the HT side, and get slightly smaller twins for the music side, as I'm thinking about going with large monitors there anyhow for my next experiement in audio.

It is hard to find a pair of speakers which can reproduce the larger lizards foot stomps, jets, building collapses, and sub sonic info in flicks generally speaking though, and that's why I added the above thoughts... and given that room size too, which plays a large, large part as well.

Enjoy... either way. As is the prefference or desire.

I just wanted to say thanks for all the responses. I made a similar post on both AV Guide and AVS and had virtually no response. I listened to several systems in the last week. Proac ?? and Revel F32 played by NAD Master integrated and Rega player. Then Wilson Sophia 2 played by Ayre Pre and Power with Esoteric player. Then Def Tech Mythos ST played by Marantz receiver and Playstation 3 both in straight 2 channel. The Proac was definitely not my cup of tea while I could live with the Revel but it seemed a little too "romantic" for my taste. The Wilson setup was spectacular but I really don't want to spend this much. The real surprise was how much I liked the ST. The front end wasn't the best but the speakers have real potential. I think the reviewers may be right on regarding this speaker. I think I might give these a shot with my Linn electronics as the front end. It's been so long since I listened to my own system, almost a year, due to the move and construction. With the STs I don't need to spend $2k+ on a sub and the mids and highs were nice as well as the imaging. One solid idea I did get from the AVS guys was to add a DVDO Edge for switching, conversion, processing of the video since my Linn Unidisk SC only outputs component. I also think I'll go ahead and get an extra set of side speakers with the Def Tech setup just in case a musical 7.1 pre pro ever shows up. It seems the old Proceed is the current darling of the music lovers.

Well friends and neighbors, any thoughts?

Go back to the Maggies system, much improved sound quality. I am a fan of Def Tech, but hey are not in the same league with the Maggies.
I have been reading about some speakers designed by Marc Seaton on AVSforum. They are called the triple 12LF's. I think they might be worth a look.
Actually, they are called the JTR Triple 12LF's.