Home Theater Project

In the Summer of 2000 we set out to replace the aging TV and receiver which had comprised our home theater system for the past fourteen (!!!) years. This page documents the progress of the project and is a mix of entries from a span of updates from 2000-2010, many of which are dated or now incorrect.

The First TV

The original twenty six inch Mitsubishi console TV that we tolerated for 14 years.

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The Second TV

Picture taken on the evening of the first HDTV installation. This picture was taken shortly after turning the set on. Notice the Yamaha-style front effects speakers at the top of the wall which add additional surround effects when watching movies, and expand the soundstage when playing music.

The TV is a Mitsubishi WD-65000 HDTV which is based on Texas Instruments DLP (micro-mirror) technology. The DMD device incorporated supports true 16:9 720P (1280x720 pixels) resolution with 16.7 million colors. The TV has a multitude of inputs, including two computer (VGA/SVGA/XGA) inputs. By attaching a computer to the RGB HDTV inputs it is possible to display images at the full 1280x720 resolution.

Unfortunately, this TV died several days after a lightning storm. We had used the TV for only 4-1/2 years and it was no longer under warranty and not repairable. It was an expensive loss. We really loved this TV set.

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And so we moved on to the third TV ...

The third TV is a Samsung HL-R7178W. This TV is a 1080P DLP unit which uses a ½ resolution DLP chip (960x1080) with a “wabble” mirror to paint a 1920x1080 image. While previous DLP devices used square pixels, this DLP device uses diamond shaped pixels. There is a slight overlap between the pixels so that even from a foot away you can not see the individual pixels. Unlike most of the current 1080P rear-projection TVs, the full resolution of the TV is available from an external input but it requires use of the analog VGA port rather than FireFire, DVI, or HDMI. Most current 1080P TVs only offer 1080i or reduced computer resolutions, and thats that. See the Samsung 1080P Owners Thread on the AV Science Forum for information on Samsung's 1080P offerrings.

Center Channel Placement

The center channel speaker is placed on a box in front of the TV in order to align the speaker as well as possible with the left and right speaker heights. Output to the center channel speaker is delayed by two milliseconds to adjust for speaker distance from the listener. Yamaha recommends placing the center channel below the screen since the front effect speakers (top left and right) help pull the audio to the center of the screen.

Rear Speaker Placement

Rear surround speakers are installed in the Yamaha-recommended (not THX) locations, with the left and right rear surround speakers placed in the rear corners, and the center channel surround speaker (to support 5.1 Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES) placed in the middle. 

Component Rack

Dish 6000 HDTV Terrestrial and Satellite Tuner, Yamaha RX-V1 Receiver, Panasonic PV-VS4820 VCR, Sony DVP-C600D DVD/CD player.
This picture is out of date. Since it was taken, a Pioneer DV-37 DVD/CD player has been added to the system.

The Dish 6000 is a second generation terrestrial broadcast HDTV, and DISH satellite tuner. It provides huge amounts of functionality for a very small price. The HDTV pictures are superb. Unfortunately, as with most low-cost hardware, not everything is perfect. The analog broadcast tuning is not worth using, the menus are slow and don't take advantage of HDTV resolutions. The infrared remote is not completely compatible with the Marantz 5000i remote.

The Yamaha RX-V1 is an exellent multi-channel receiver. It offers DSP modes to enhance movie watching, and provide much more dynamic sound for stereo recordings.

The Pioneer DV-37 provides a high-quality deinterlaced 480P output for the best possible picture. A player with 720P output would be nicer but these are not available yet.

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A Velodyne HGS-15 subwoofer with 1250 watts of continuous power (3000 watts peak) and a 15" long-throw woofer cone really kicks out those dinosaur steps and sounds great for music as well. The black laquer finish is amazing. The volume on the subwoofer must be turned most of the way down in order to match the rest of the system. Regardless, it makes plenty of sound when it should.

(click on image to see 600x600 rendition)

Terrestrial Broadcast Antenna

HDTV broadcast reception starts with the antenna so it is best to do things correctly. The antenna (Winegard Model HD7696P) is mounted to a 40' ROHN H40 telescoping mast (ROHN H40, purchased as Radio Shack Cat.#: 15-5067). The two dishes which feed the DISH DVR are visible on the roof. The antenna gets its own four foot copper grounding rod to limit the damage from Texas storms.

(click on image to see 622x829 rendition)

Terrestrial Broadcast Reception

We are blessed with a large number of digital channels that we can receive using a traditional antenna. This summary of local DFW digital stations (as of 2010) is from CEA's Antennaweb site.

The www.tvfool.com site provides a different opinion on local reception:

Cats like HDTV too!

It seems that two of my cats (both now deceased) appreciate the latest technologies as well.  One morning I caught them enjoying the TV when they thought I wasn't watching. A perfect photo opportunity.

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Theater Seating

We plan to install reclining theater seating to provide luxury reclining seating for two people, with an additional three seats for guests. It would be nice to support luxury seating for everyone but there is just not enough space for five recliners.

DVD Audio / Super Audio CD

The problem with these new high-resolution audio technologies is that they currently only provide analog outputs. The Yamaha reciever provides compatible multi-channel analog inputs but a digital interface is much more appropriate so that the audio processor can do something useful with it rather than relying on the capabilities of the DVD player. Will someone please invent and approve a satisfactory interface?  Perhaps Firewire will become the de-facto digital interface.

Blu-Ray / HD-DVD

It seems that HD-DVD is finally on its way to a decent burial. Given this, it seems that it is about time to purchase a Blu-Ray DVD player. Unfortunately, in order to obtain full benefit from the available audio formats, we will have to replace the venerable Yamaha RX-V1 receiver with one which supports HDMI switching and full audio decode. The Yamaha RX-V11 seems like such a beast.