What makes your Home Theater system

I went to see "Hellboy" the other night at the local IMAX theater. I must say this film was quite impressive on a grand scale! Very very very dynamic and powerful indeed. I always like to go see these types of blockbuster action flicks at a good cineplex first, so I can compare to home systems for refernce, at the very least. (I like to remember what it was like on the big system/screen in the back of my mind).
There is a lot about these large theaters and powerful suuround systems that is to be admired. Yet I find that the theater experience is quite diferent from what most of us experience at home on our systems...for better or worse. I'm wondering if anyone here as any input as to what it is about "their system" that they feel makes it special?!
Please be specific about equipment, room, set up, acoustics, whatever. Thanks for input
My first objection to theatres is noise. People who speak, rattle their popcorn or candy sacks, or forgot to turn off their cell phone.

The large space of a movie theatre is great, but even with all that acoustic treatment, the sound is seldom perfectly balanced. Two weeks ago my son and I saw "Dawn of The Dead" and the left channel was considerably louder than the right. We were not at the first showing so there was no excuse for the calibration being so far off.

Aside from the error in balance, the sound was too loud. I have not viewed a movie in several years that was not too loud and combined with overly bright, gritty distortion in high's, I resort to a layer of Kleenex in each ear.

Recent movies such as "Kill Bill" and "Dawn of the Dead" were both single layer Kleenex movies. The old "Jurassic Park" required full ear plugs and was still uncomfortable in places.

Recently a movie had several scenes where the boom microphone clearly dipped into view. At first I thought this was for effect or a minor slip up but when this happened all during the film it prompted me to ask the management about it. Surprisingly I found that many theatres control the crop with shutters on the projector and if not set properly the audience sees outside the intended area. We were offered an apology and told it would be calibrated. Perhaps yet another reason to watch on the "big screen" at home.

Still, the movie theatre has its attraction. Particularly if you don't want to wait for the DVD release. The really good movies I rent or purchase when they become available and watch again at home.

My own system is a fraction of the distortion, has tighter imaging and steering (ability to switch to correct channel with image) and beautiful bandwidth without harshness. Best of all, I don't play it at levels that damage my hearing.

If you wish to view my system click on the link. My home theatre gear is all tube. My side channels are bi amped and bi wired tube. Dialogue is driven by an Atma-Sphere OTL.
While I agree that seeing movies on a grand scale does indeed heighten the impact of the film , I agree with AP that the typical theatre has poor sound quality. Imax however has excellent sound equipment compared to about any theatre and I too find seeing something there { saw Matrix Reloaded last year } an absolute blast. Lets do get real however . Hellboy a blockbuster? Maybe a gut buster . I was hysterically laughing in the theatre but at all the wrong , untentially funny moments. I am assuming you are limiting your comments to the scale and impact of the Imax " experience " in the post. The juvenile script , uninspiring campy tone and horrendous special effects add up to one really dissapointing film from an excellent up and coming director who showed his stuff in Mimic and Blade 2. Del Torro { director } recently said of Blade 2 that it was just a " dress rehearsal " and watch what he can do with a real budget. I say take his wallet. Film is subjective too a point and agreeing on what constitutes a good film varies wildly so this is my take on it. Its a critical success if the Tomatometer site is to be believed . that said , if an Imax was in my town and it was playing there , i would have gone too ; hee hee .
I too use all tubes at home. (CJ 5s and 8s) so the sound is always 'hard,-- & too loud' at the c'plex. I haven't been to one of these Imax theaters yet but when we saw 'Kill bill' the picture quality was 'sad' !!--- It comes to dvd on the 4/17, I can't wait!! I got a 14k projector at home for comparison.--
I'd love to have Albert's system, but I make do. I feel that the closeness of the room is what makes it more fun at home. I've had the same experience as Albert at the theater. It is most annoying, and for the last couple of years, I wait for the DVD. If I really want to see something, I'll spring for it on HD digital cable.

I've got less than 10k in my system, and if I want to really blow it out, I can. I don't normally, because I too value my hearing!

Take a look:

Joe'sHome Theater

The one thing I have not done is room treatments. My room is between soft and live, a pretty good balance. That may be next, just because I am spending more on my 2 channel vinyl rig. I know it would help them both.


Movies were made to be projected. If it is the theater effect you want then you should begin with a very decent High Definition projector.
Went to a heck of alot of movies in the 70's in L.A. I miss those theaters. Some were very grand & elegant (L.A Wilshire Theater. I believed they had the good sense to restore this landmark.) Reasonable prices too. $1.25-$2.00 for two flicks! I'm sure most were leveled to make way for something newer and more profitable. These newer expensive shoe-box movie theaters are a joke. Nothing special and the music is played waaay too loud. My 2-channel stereo doubles as my HT system. Never felt the desire/need for more.
Yeah I think there are varying levels of "involvement" and "desire" when it comes to many peoples home theater.
I tend to think I'm "really into it" when it comes putting together a quality HT system, and I've done a lot.
What I was getting at, is I've come to the conclusion over the years, that a lot of what your traditional 2 channel hi-fi system reproduces, is not necessarily what I find makes for a stellar system necessarily!...particually refering to the speaker system mainly.
I've done, been around, sold, and installed A LOT of hifi gear and HT systems in general over the last 15 years. What I find is that most typical "hi-fi" speaker systems tend to offer qualities sonically that you don't necessarily find(ok, mostly never) at the local theater, where movies were designed to play in the first place. It's simply at home where we try to "make the most of it", and or try to bring their the best we can.
I think much of the audiophile speaker systems out there are capable of some truely clear, detailed, prettty sound used in a home theater context largely. But still, I think the area's that are the most important for a speaker system to reproduce for quality HT are dyanmics, focus, dialoge inteligibility, coherence, pressence, and involvment! And it's these qualities I think you often find lacking, or playing "second, even third fiddle" to the better commercial theater speaker systems!
Bottom line, I don't think what ends up in the homes largely can "bring home the goods" the way they probably should, for best results in many cases. I just think the typical hi-fi speaker is limited in it's scope when it comes to a "big powerful demanding sound"!
I take that back, there are way's to do this stuff "right!" in the home. I just think many "miss it", and often use gear and setups that aren't so thrilling and, well, ballsy!!
I do personally tend to like better sounding high efficiency horn systems for HT dubties to be well up to the task often, in the right application, also more active speaker systems seem to be able to 'deliver the sonic goods" to do justice to DD/DTS properly. Also, other systems I like are THX basse, multi-driver, high efficiency systems. This also works for me largely.
I personally tend to stay away from the "typical audiphile speaker"(if there is such a thing..but you get my drift) when it comes to doing "full blown HT systems" I just feel robbed in the "excitement category" with these!
Yeah, there may be some "pretty sounding gear" out there, but don't plan on doing any small scale rock concerts or small commercial theater setups with em! I think they'll sound a little "pip-squeekish" IMO.
What I really need is there to be more pro-audio speaker systems that are as refined sounding as what I hear from Thiel's, Wilson's or Maggies! (I know, Avantgardes...but those drop like a rock off axis, so you gotta small sweetspot with those). So far the best I've heard for ultra high end sounding, full dyamic blasting HT speakers are from a company called "Avlar"! These offer large Two way speakers with 15" mid/woofers and a plannar/ribbon tweeter/mid! Doesn't look like they should sound great, but they do!!!!...very high end sounding "active speakers, that are about 100DB/watt sensitive, and man do they kick!!!..and very refined as well.
Anyone hunting these down should go take a listen. They're what the doctor ordered for high end HT indeed. ex
A friend of mine were at his place one evening and we got a little brave and got 119db out of his sub w/o a bit of distortion that we could hear. We had our ears right next to the sub. Man, was that loud, for a second ot two.
A big part of what makes my home theater "special" is that it's, well, mine! I get the feeling that many of us who use this forum aren't the types who are simply going to pull out the checkbook and have someone else come in and do it all for them. Anyone who is into home theater as a hobby is going to put a fair amount of their own effort and creativity into their systems to make them unique.

In my case, I've built my system slowly over time choosing components with an eye towards being as "future-proof" as possible instead of buying everything whole-hog at the beginning. It's amazing to me how many people will go out and buy a packaged system with many compromises just to get everything all at once. Or, those who replace a piece of gear before utilizing it to it's full capacity. For example, I'd venture to say many people never take advantage of the pre-outs on their receivers as an upgrade path. It's too tempting to instead replace it with a more powerful one or to get the very latest surround processing flavor-of-the-month.

When I consider buying a new piece of gear, I try to emphasize connectivity and "how it fits in this system to do the job" over brand name. I developed this attitude as a result of my experience working as a system design consultant/salesman at a high-end custom (independent) home theater company in the Bay Area a few years back (2000-2001). I was only with the company for a little over a year full-time, but learned a TON from the experience. No, I wasn't fired, we parted ways amicably because my previous career path in financial services lured me back - sometimes I regret that move! Anyway, I digress..

I actually enjoy watching most, er, "films" at home more than at the movies. I like the privacy, the quiet, and the control I have at home over the theater environment (No kids yet as of this writing!) I agree with movie critics when they say that some films simply "work" better on the smaller screen. My video monitor is a Sony 34" widescreen direct-view HDTV CRT, soon to be ISF'd by an experienced tech. It still has a terrific picture as-is using only Video Essentials to adjust it though. And that size simply works great in my room, for my tastes (Quality vs/Quantity at the price point).

For speakers, I have the Hales Revelation Two's and a Revelation Center up front and they are simply fantastic.

Oops, dinner's ready. To be continued...
To continue.. I didn't mean to "preach to the choir" above if it sounded that way. I shouldn't post here on an empty stomach! Seriously, Excertfluffer and others have started some very good threads and made some very valid points in this forum regarding the importance of proper system setup/calibration, proper bass management and the (sometimes) different system requirements for reproducing movie soundtracks vs. music, among other things. They also help to dispell myths and clarify or point out misinformation surrounding home theater. I think these types of "how to" threads are much more helpful and interesting to me compared to the "which is better, this amp or that amp" threads that come up alot.

The ability to learn new information and apply it is what "makes my home theater special". Regarding buying new gear, it makes much more sense to me to make some time and get out there and look/listen for yourself whenever possible or practical. Equipment reviews (professional or peer) can only get you so far. On the other hand, practical information can make a positive difference in ANY system whether you have an HTIB or full-blown megabuck system.

Alright, sermon's over. Let's just say I enjoy my home theater/music system a lot, I (mostly) understand it's limits (both in the equipment and the room), and try to work to minimize their negative impact on system performance. I always try to maximize every drop of performance from each component in the meantime with proper setup and to take advantage of available upgrade paths and best connections before replacing stuff whenever possible. That makes the most sense to me. JZ

A good center channel, surrounds and an accurate sub. The rears/surrounds need as much power as the fronts and center (the right amplification for the speakers being used). The system has to be properly setup for the room and the seating positioned correctly. The TV needs to be the right size for the room and seating distance. A good balanced power unit or two will help with both picture quality and system dynamics. That is my quick and dirty. It doesn't take a lot of money to have a really nice home theater. Setup is key. I have found two channel to really be the money pit. Home theater of course can cost $$$$$$ if you go all out.

I too, happen to agree that going to a big local cineplex in order to see movies on the grandest of scales. Since I live in Washington, D. C., you would think that a city like Washington, a city with a lot of history to talk about would have something that is grand and elegant in Los Angeles like "Kotta" gets to experience once in a while with their "Los Angeles Wilshire Theater". But no......... what I have is a mayor who believes that tearing down something that has historical value and meaning in favor that is modern and profitable. And in the end, these newer and more modern movie houses (I don't think they deserve to be called movie "palaces" in my opinion) are something that doesn't no where near the grandular and aura of movie palaces from the days gone by. And while today's huge screens and powerful sound systems are something that is not to be ignored, I cannot help but to lured to the immediacy and intimacy of the older movie houses from the past. Even if they sound more "analog" like than today's digital counterparts. But now, if Washington, D. C. had such a historical movie house for its residents to go to and attend every once in a while, then they'll be doing something. But when I have a mayor who shuts down a public hospital and almost make it impossible for an average working resident to afford to buy a house in D. C. (from the prices of the homes themselves, right down to the property taxes residents have to pay in order to hold on to their properties, and you wonder why people are leaving the city to go live in the suburbs all the time), then I cannot fully expect him to resurrect and preserve a historical movie house in the city. But hey, that's me.

And speaking what to expect when one goes to the movies, I see that everybody fails to mention the highway robbery prices today's movie houses seem to charge, and that consumers have to pay in order for someone to enjoy a night at the movies. You got to think that a movie ticket costs almost $10.00. And if you take a date with you, you better count on pulling out a $20.00 bill just to pay for a pair of movie tickets. Because I tell you right now, taking a date for a night at the movies is going to tear the fuck out of a $20.00 bill. Then you got to think about the cost of the concessions. A bag of popcorn is about $4.00. A bag of nachos is about $6.00. A soda is about $3.00. And in the end, when you add up all of that, then you're talking about $40.00 or $50.00 just for a night at the movies. And for that same $50.00, then the average joe can go to Best Buy and buy themselves a Toshiba DVD Player for about $60.00 or so. And you wonder why people buy DVD's now instead of going to the movies. It's highway robbery.

With that said then, unless it's movie that I just got to see right away, and one that I am absolutely crazy about. Or one that my girlfriend would want to see, I have gotten to the point that I don't even go out for the movies anymore. If it is a movie that I think I am going to be crazy about, I would just prefer to wait for it to come out on DVD. Because if it doesn't do well at the box office, but yet, it is one that I am crazy about, then it will be out on DVD within four months after its thearactrical release. And when that happens, Best Buy will put it on sale for about $16.00 or $17.00 for the whole week it is released on DVD. And that way, I can look at it as many times as like to. Or if it something that I want to see, but don't care to own, then I put my "Netflix" account to work. I have a "Netflix" account too.

What makes my home theater special to me is the small and intimate space that it is placed in (which is my bedroom). I like the fact that since I live alone, then there aren't any others to intervine or to interupt me when I am getting into a flick. And just like "Albertporter" has also said, I also don't like it when other people are talking during a movie. Crying babies also seem to get under my skin as well. And cell phones are a DEFINITE pet peeve of mine (when you are in a public movie theater............. turn that GODDAMN cell phone off.......... PLEASE (!!!!!!)). So, those are definite advantages.

As for the room (I didn't put too much into setting it up since this is also a place where I retire for the day, and sleep at night), it is a squared shaped room that has wall-to-wall carpeting (which should go a long way toward softening the punch that I should get from a subwoofer when I finally install a home theater speaker system to my home theater) that is fully furnished with a bedroom suite. So, I guess that should go a long way toward influencing the acoustics of the room as well.

And my equipment is as follow:

Television/Monitor: Panasonic CT-27SF37 27" Television/Monitor

DVD Player: Pioneer Elite DV-37 Progressive Scan DVD/CD Player (internal DAC's are bypassed. The DAC's in the Harman/Kardon AVR-210 Receiver take care of all of the processing)

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

Headphones: Sennheiser HD-580 Headphones (these do home theater surprisingly well.......... you really need to try these with your home theater sometimes......... you're going to be astonished.......... I guarantee it)

But what I wouldn't do to have a home theater's like Albert Porter's. I guess when I hit the lottery, a home theater like that (except that I would prefer a solid-state version of that system) would be something for me to strive towards, wouldn't it????

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Tvad brings to mind something I've known for along time from working in and around the audio video business, and that's that I think most people really like to SHARE THEIR MOVIE/THEATER EXPERIENCE WITH OTHERS!...after all, most of us(I exclude the engineers, acountants, physicists, and sanitation workers...kidding) are social creatures, and like to share with people! What better place to do that than in an large commercial theater!!! I mean after all, there are women there...which is nice.(oh wait!...there's a woman at my house too!...another reason to get away...haha)
There is something about going out in public to check out the latest "to-do". Again, a social thing.
I like to share my home theater with my friends and family. I enjoy it that much more when I'm with them...even if they don't care as much as me about "the system". They like the experience more than the specifics.
So, from that standpoint, you can't replace that with the "home thing". Still, as men who like to put things together, and are into "things and toys", this is cool stuff!...home theater. And it's got great potential in replicating the real thing. And with the advent of higher def material, better video products, and improved audio(I'd like some more break throughs in speaker designs personally "by-en-large"), the potential for tremendous home theater is just that!(knowledge, experience and proper execution/application are key).
Aside from the obvious drawbacks of the large social experience(if that's for you) of going out, there's no reason you can't expect the same stellar theater experience in the home with the help of technology and skilled competent effort.
I think that most people who watch films at home do not get the same "theater experience" but there are people who have an actual "theater" in their home, rather than a multi-function media room. If you invite enough friends over, you can still get the social aspect of the film, which is very good to have.

The one thing I have that really sets my system apart from the theaters and even other peoples home theaters is the D-BOX Odyssee Motion Simulator. It adds an extra sensation that you cannot experience with anything else. While traditional reproduction systems will play audio and video, I get audio, video and motion.

For those who have never seen a movie in a system with an Odyssee motion simulator, I suggest you find a dealer who has one on display and watch a full movie on it.
What makes my HT special?

I'm not into sharing armrests. And, I get to pause the film when I need a bathroom break. Oh yeah, my chair is much more comfortable than the fake velvet fold down chair in the theater with the gum and nachos stains on it. And I can turn off all the cell phones in the area. Hmm. Plus, there aren't any wailing babies. And I can stretch out my legs and don't end up with mashed knees after a two hour film.

And if that weren't enough, those nasty movie theater owners take exception when I try to bring in my bottle of Macallan 18yo.
Get a front projector for your home theater instead of a big screen tv. Watching it on a good screen maybe 100" diagonal with a decent surround sound system is awesome, and the new projectors and screen cost less than most plasma tv's. Also HDTV looks great, and DVD's look great. Standard tv looks very good, pretty good or grainy depending on the channel & program.
100" screen, 3 sub's and over 5,000 watts of power. I will say that I don't watch a lot of movies, but when I do watch one it sounds better than any theater in Michigan that is near my home. My projector is just an Infocus X-1 and not a true hi-end projector...but all me and mine need and much more fun than my Hi-Def RPTV thats in the living room system.

Front projector w/100" screen and Theil 1.2 all around. But the best part which seperates my HT from any Theater I have ever been to is my Cinema chairs. I have never been as comfortable at any theater as I am in my sweet spot in my chair. I have 2 rows. The first row at ground level has 3 Cinema chairs that form an arc. The 2nd row is elevated by 12" and has 4 Cinema chairs forming a straight line.
When the movie happens to be a chick flick ( I have to daughters and my wife). I just hit the recline button and pretend I am watching. Sometimes the snoring clues them in though.
First off its the acoustic treatments.I made all of mine.Tube traps,acoustic panels and skyline diffusers.I use three B&K ST-140's.Not alot of power but they do 85db all day.Then it's six Paradigm mini mk3's.Textile domes all day long.My EAD Ovation is as sweet as they come.My six and a half foot wide hidef NEC projector gets the blacks right with help from a Dwin Transcanner.Not perfect but it looks so much like film.SACD/DVD-A with a Pioneer 563/Outlaw Audio ICBM combo unstoppable.My subwoofer system is to die for.Two Adire 15" Tumult drivers in 2.5 cu. ft enclosures each.One Adcom GFA 555mkII for each 15 bridge mono.One Behringer 1124p parametric to round out the peaks.Soon to be added to the subs is a Marchand Audio BASSIS to extend the bass pass its F3 point of 27hz down around 18hz and an adjusable "Q".......and last but not least my five year old cheering on the boys in Lord of the rings...priceless! And waitting for The return of the King!!!!!!!!
Lexicon MC12B, Arcam DV27, Velodyne SPL1200, B&W 802s. scm, htm. and totem model 1 signatures surround speakers. And oh by the way a really well produced DVD.