What about the ultimate home theater????

There was a similiar question to this posted about "ultimate audio" systems maybe a couple of years ago. And I have read that thread entirely. I have even written a post right onto that thread. And so forth. Now, I want to know what was the best home theater that you have saw??? And if so, what did it do to excite you??? What you felt it did which makes this system head and shoulders above anything that you either own, or has experienced before??? How close did this system come to emulating what you experience at a local cineplex??? And if possible, what components did this system contain, and what size and type of room was it located in??? Oh, I forgot. What movie was playing at the time you experienced this "ultimate" home theater system??

Okay, I'll start.

The "BEST" home theater system I have experienced so far consisted of the following components:

Speaker System: Revel Salon (Fronts) + Revel Voice (Center) + Revel Embrace (Sides and Rears) + Revel Sub-15 Subwoofers (x2).

Power Amplifiers: Mark Levinson No. 436 (Front) + Mark Levinson No. 434 (x3) (Center, Sides, and Rears).

Pre/Pro Control Center: Mark Levinson No. 40 Media Console.

DVD Player: Pioneer DV-AX10 Universal Player (For Video).

SACD Player: Sony SCD-XA777ES Super Audio Compact Disc Player (For Audio Playback).

Front Projector: Yamaha DPX-1 Digital Cinema Projector.

Projector Screen: Stewart GrayHawk.

Cables: Cardas Neutral Reference.

Power Conditioning: PS Audio P600 Power Plant (For Sources. Amplifiers were plugged directly into the wall sockets).

And if I could recall, the movie that was playing at the time was "The Mummy" starring Brendon Frazier.

The system was installed into a moderately sized room at a local "high-end" saloon. It even had the leather theater style seats with cup holders on each right. And let me tell you, the experience was BREATHTAKING. To see all of that action moving on the screen the way that it did was almost beyond realistic. That was as close as I got to experiencing the whole cinema experience without going to a cineplex. The action in which Brendon Frazier was a part of when he was trying to defeat his enemies was captivating as was the soundtrack of this DVD that the store was demonstrating. There was plenty of involvement as far as the soundtrack was concerned. The movie kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time during the experience. To me, it was beyond believability. I can only imagine if someone who is lucky and wealthy enough to own this system will be in for some kind of treat. All you need after you install this system onto your premises is a concession stand. To me, it didn't get any better than this. If I were to guess how much this system costs, then I would have to say that it is in the ballpark of $40,000.00 to $50,000.00. More perhaps. But that was the most "ultimate" home theater that I have experienced.

Buy now, if I had the money and I wanted to copy and emulate this system, and make a more "inexpensive (which is still prohibitly expensive to me)" version of it, then I would do it with the following. But I either have to come across a big inheritance or win the lottery first before I would attempt such an undertaking. But anyway, it would contain:

Speaker System: Totem Mani-2 (Fronts) + Totem Model-1 Center (Center) + Totem Model-1 (Rears) + REL Storm III (x2) (Subwoofers). In my room, there won't be any need for any side speakers. So my version won't have any.

Power Amplifier: Anthem PVA-5.

Pre/Pro Control Center: Anthem AVM-2.

DVD Player: Arcam FMJ DV27 DVD Player (For Video).

SACD Player: Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD/CD/SACD Player (For Audio Playback (Especially for SACD Discs)).

Display Monitor: Runco PlasmaWall PL-50cx.

Cables: MITerminator 2/MIT V-Linq/MIT S-Linq/S-Video Connection System/MIT ISO-Linq.

Power Conditioning: Equi=Tech ET2Q ((x2) One for source components, the other for the plasma display).

Approximate Cost: $20,000.00 to $25,000.00 vs. $50,000.00 for the more expensive version.

The last system would be a smaller scale (and a MUCH less expensive version) of what I saw at my local "high-end" on that fateful day. And unlike the one at the store, this one would fit into my home, but it would only do about 95% of what the system at the store did.

Okay. Your Turn. What was the "ultimate" home system you have ever saw??

I am very interested in what you saw, and whether or not it got you involved into the performance of a movie that it was playing at the time you experienced it.

Thanks In Advance.

I think I'd be real happy with your HT system, Charles.

I think the Revel/Levinson HT system retails for $125K to 150K. The speakers are about $45K. The ML40 is $30K and the mono amps are $4-5K each.

I am planning to get a demo of the Revel/Levinson system at a local shop in a couple of weeks.
Soundex had an all Wilson speaker system with a B&W 4000 sub, Sharp DLP projector with the Farajda NRS processor.
It was all driven by a Krell Home theater system on a Greyhawk screen. They also were demoing the Mummy.
It was awsome!!!!!
It was around $75000.00 complete and worth every penny.
You know, I've heard so so so so many ultra high end audio sytems used for surround sound, and the most expensive gear money can buy for home theater! Iv'e been in many of these homes, many of the shows, and been around most of this kind of gear for years. I've heard Revels and levinson gear, Wilsons and Krell, JM labs Utopias and Krell/Pass, etc, etc, etc!..all used for surround sound applications, with matching centers rears, and all the expensive components money can buy
Frankely, I'm not that impressed really!
Now, granted, I know the room and set up/acoustics are extremely, I mean extremely, important to pulling of any sytem properly. But, when it comes to putting together components that will maximize and give you the absolute pinnacle of what can be achieved for higher performance home theater/DD/DTS playback from a system, really I think most of that expensive gear is not just monetary over kill...but it's a waste of money overall!!!!
My experience with all that kind of gear is that it really doesn't offer any more in the way of maximizing the attributes that you should be getting to properly playback movie mixes! Yes you can get audiophile transparancy, ultra resolution detail and clarity, etc, etc. But really, especially when you consider how movies are mixed, and the overall sonic potential of a DD or DTS movie mixed on DVD, really you can get an overall better, more dynamic, more dialoge intelligable, focused, coherent, involving, and even thrilling sound from using more dedicated movie gear, for lots less!!!
You'll always find dialoge from your center channel will sound boxy, due to the mix and overdubbing for any movie, the soundtracks are not what you'd hear from a live recording, and the overall sound is less refined than good 2 channel source materail for music!
What you need from a good home theater system, alot like what's comming out of those ultra high sensitivity horn speakers at your local cinema, is speakers that were made to play back movies in the first place!
Now things vary from room to room/set up to set up. But in large I'd put something like an ACTIVE THX M&K S150p set up, with M&K ACTIVE subs in just about any modest sized home theater system, and the sound would blow away what any of these so called ultra high end stereo speaker rigs would put out for a world class movie experience!...SO MUCH MORE INVOLVING, THRILLING, DYNAMIC, FOCUSED, INTELLIGABLE, POWERFUL, AND EFFECTIVE for that medium!...these stereo rigs doubling as ht systems can't even hold a candle to what's capable from a dedicated, active movie speaker system really.
If I were a two channel guy, and listend to mostly light classical, modest rock/pop/R&B, instrumentals, jazz and vocals, then yes I wouldn't have a problem getting good 2 channel sound from something of the likes of Revels or Wilson WATT PUPPIES. But trying to put together a killer 5 or more channel HT system with ultra dynamics, power, coherenece and intelligablilty, and needing to use ultra high end gear, I think is a wrong approach...and just not that cost effective really..nor better at all!
Sfstereo: Thanks for the clarification on pricing. While i was not sure how much all of that gear cost, i was thinking that it was well beyond the price that Charles "guesstimated". With an investment like that, they should at least throw in a popcorn popper : )

Charles: I have seen some phenomenally poor performing systems that were phenomenally expensive. Most of the problems relate to poor selection of speakers or improper placement of the speakers.

As a perfect example, MTM arrays can work wonderfully for HT use due to their very "pronounced" midrange and spoken word clarity. However, one can not wall mount this type of design with the tweeter centered so that their line of fire is 3' over the heads of the viewers. I have seen this done more than a few times and by several different dealers / installers. Same goes for cramming woofers ( not set up correctly to be called "SUBwoofers" ) into a corner. This completely negates the possibility for proper pitch of the low frequencies.

Since most people are not well versed in audio / HT systems and the selection / installation of such components, they have to rely on local dealers. As such, combining the un-initiated consumer and a greedy dealer typically results in a system that is quite impressive in stature but a big underachiever in terms of dollars spent vs actual performance. Most HT consumers are more worried about cosmetics and brand names than they are about actual performance. Sean
I have not heard any home theater setups beyond the 2 channel setups an audiophile friend and I have and the 5.1 setups I built for my mother and brother. Bor have I listened to any HT demos at dealers. I tend to avoid those demonstrations and focus on audio-only two channel stuff. I'm not just that interested in big HT setup.
The most exotic system I saw was at a dealer in NYC - it had Wilson MAXX (don't know the exact model, but I think they were the better part of $100K) up front driven by the top-of-the line Mark Levinson monos (the 33's - gawd those things are huge). Appropriate center and surrounds driven by appropriate amplification. 100" screen with a nice front projector. I'm sure the total cost was a quarter mil. They had an episode of Speed Racer playing on it, seriously. I didn't buy it. My HT / audio system: Lexicon MC-12 Krell FPB-200c for fronts Krell KAV-500 for center / surrounds Muse Model 9 Signature for DVD / CD playback Dynaudio Contour 3.0 for L/R Dynaudio Contour Center Dynaudio Audience 50's for surrounds. Pioneer Elite RPTV (51") This system is in a 14x18 room, and it suits me perfectly. At some point, we'll remodel the basement, and when we do I'll be able to design the space for the theater to whatever I want (except I'll be stuck with 7.5' ceilings). When I do that, I'll upgrade the TV, and quite possibly go with a front-projector system. Movies are really captivating on my system, but there's no question that even an updated, and somewhat larger, RPTV would enhance them, and a 80-100" front projection system would REALLY enhance them. I really love the HT experience (puts me in a bit of a minority in these parts), but I share some of quackymacky's viewpoints on audio vs. HT performance - I've never been tempted to upgrade my surrounds. You read about people have Dunlavy SC-V's driven by expensive amps for the rears and I scratch my head. For me, anyway, you hit the knee of the curve earlier for HT, so I don't find it particularly impressive to have $100K worth of speakers up front or $25K worth of speakers in the rear. $50K in a front projection setup - well, that's probably another story :-) Kirk
Okay, now for the responses:


Oh, believe me, I am. As modest as my home theater system is, I am still quite happy with it (see my comment to "Kthomas below).


Your price does sound more like it. I believe it was well over $100K worth of gear I was looking at the day I went to my local dealer to check out this home theater setup. Your price is correct. I was waaaaaaaaay off. I didn't know what I was thinking.


Well said. I couldn't put it any better myself.


Well, I didn't buy none of the systems I have stated above either. I was saying what I experienced when I went and checked out this ultra expensive rig that my local dealer has put together recently. And to me, it was beyond description. And then if and when I wanted to copy and emulate that system with a less expensive version of my own, then the second system was the one I came up with. And even then, with the risk of my math being off again, I came up with a figure of about $30,000.00 to $40,000.00 for that system, which to me, is still prohibitly expensive (but man, if I had the money). If I were to liken these systems to automobiles, then the first system I that I have put together after seeing a demo of would be something like either a Rolls Royce, or a Bentley, and my system would be something more like a Honda Civic EX (it is modestly priced (say around $3,000.00 or so), but comprises of top quality equipment at their price points). I own a FAR more modest system than the two I have listed to start the thread, and thanks to me keeping up with the latest gear by either reading the magazines or surfing the internet, I already have started thinking about my next home theater system already. So far, my home theater system is as follows:

Headphones: Sennheiser HD-580.

Audio/Video Receiver: Harman/Kardon AVR-210.

Television/Monitor: Panasonic CT-27SF37 27" SuperFlat Direct-View Television.

DVD Player: Toshiba SD-2700 (for now. But the Pioneer Elite DV-37 will make a return to my home theater next month when a Sony DVP-S9000ES will be installed into my audio system (which is where the Pioneer Elite DV-37 is now). But that's a different story entirely).

And already, I am thinking about my next TV. I am thinking about a HDTV, as they are becoming affordable now. At the moment, I have my eyes glued onto a Samsung TXM3097WHF 30" Wide Screen Direct-View Set with 16:9 Aspect Ratio. It has a stripped down brother in the TXM3096WHF which I saw at Best Buy last weekend for about $1,200.00. The "3097" has 2 Tuner P-I-P and 3:2 Pull Down whereas the "3096" does not. So I suspect that the "3097" will be about $200.00 to $300.00 more than the "3096". So needless to say, let's just say that I may be upgrading my TV in the next two to three years.

But along with you, I also share some of "QuackyMacky's viewpoints as well when it comes to two channel audio and home theater performance, and saturation when it comes to the performance/price ratios of these systems.

The best system is I saw at my friend house-He had B&W nautilus 800,HTM1 center,802 rear,803 side,ASW400 sub 2 of them,amp was Jeff Rowland 8Ti main,Jeff Rowland multi channell amp,pre BAT VK50se,pro Sim Audio Attraction7.1,Sim Audio stealth DVD player,Classe Omega sacd player,interconnectsNordost Valhalla,speaker cable nordost valhalla,Video system is Runco dtv-1200 9inch CRT,Runco Vhd-4404 ultra video processor,Stewart Aeroview100 screen,Sony Direct tv.I watched saving private ryan upconvet to 1080p That was the best of best .