mweiss

Built a Home Theater for $2500

8 posts in this topic

We had constant rain from May through end of July, so I did some indoor projects. One of them was funded by the sale of some vintage audio gear.

It all started when I helped a friend of mine calibrate his new projector. I had been a skeptic of projection systems, as they were both as costly as a medium sized home and offered washed-out images of low resolution. All that's changed, as my experience setting up my friend's 1080P projector showed me. I came home and scoured eBay for a projector and found one. Oddly, the seller was an Objectivist! There were only 2 bids and I got this $5500 (street price) projector for $1425 with only 82 hours on it:

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I built my own projector sled mount out of drawer slides, saving hundreds more:

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Then I got to work building a 154" 2.35:1 Cinemascope screen:

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..and we finally finished building, including our own hand-sewn velvet drapes with materials I bought at Jo-Ann's Fabrics:

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It looks like I spent a lot more on the screen, but the screen itself is acoustic transparent from Seymour AV Products, a company that caters to DiY theater builders. I built the frame within a frame and hung the screen in that subframe in the screen wall. Quite a project, but all the materials, and three new chairs, came to just under $2500, not including sound system, which preexisted.

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The vintage speakers probably sound awesome. There just huge :angry2: All that for $2500 is amazing. Where are the pictures of the amp, etc.?

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That is beautiful! Watching a movie has got to be a blast! :angry2:

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The vintage speakers probably sound awesome. There just huge :angry2: All that for $2500 is amazing. Where are the pictures of the amp, etc.?

Here's a photo of the amp racks.. it's already a bit outdated, as I've added some new equipment since this was taken, but it's a pretty good representation of it:

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The speakers were pre-existing. I built the projection system/screen and added the seating for $2500. I've got about 20X that into speakers and amplifiers, spent gradually over 38 years' time.

All of the woofers were updated with modern versions in 2006. My pride and joy are the four Bassmaxx Technology woofers, which take technology to the extreme. One Bassmaxx ZR18 moves as much air as four conventional 18" woofers of high performance. Their pistons are kevlar and fiberglass, two layers with honeycomb reinforcement in between. It's rigid, like the hull of a fiberglass boat and just as hard. I can hit them with a bat and do no damage except maybe chip the resin coating. They're the D-9 bulldozer of subwoofers. Bassmaxx designed them to fill stadiums with 20Hz bass you can feel from 300 yrds away. You can imagine what it feels like standing just 3 yards away in a closed room. :D

The mid and hf drivers I have been pleased with since 1982. I haven't found anything that sounds better, or plays louder, or is as reliable. They're the only speaker item that's left from the original 1982 updates. The racks have two items that I have not been able to find modern suitable replacements for: Carver's Sonic Hologram Generator and the dbx 4bx Expander with Impulse Restoration. These two boxes do their respective jobs like nothing else out there. Imitations have been on the market, but none worked nearly as well. So these remain important piece of rack gear. The second oldest gear is the four Hafler power amps. I invested $1100 in larger capacitors, increasing the power supplies' current delivery while maintaining high voltage for longer periods. Each of those amplifiers is bridged for mono operation and puts out 1500W in that configuration. All the bass is driven by the QSC Powerlight series amps below. These monsters can put out 7,000W a piece. It's all overkill to the extreme.

Just today, while the family was out on errands and my daughter was in school, I had a chance to flirt with death and crank it up. Had my CEL sound level meter set up. It's top scale goes to 140dB. I turned the music up briefly until the needle hit the peg. I need a higher level meter.

Later on, I was observing that when the 'signal present' LEDs just start flickering on the power amps (the lower threshold where the indicators indicate that some low level of audio is present) the sound pressure level at my seating position was 129dB with each beat of the percussion on some 90s Japanese disco song I was playing. My seat felt like a jackhammer was hitting it from all directions. What a visceral experience! (Yes, I am aware this is dangerous to health, but I'm a hopeless addict and I don't do this but a few times a year.)

The whole family piles in here every weekend for a double-feature on Blu-ray disc.

I had a client in here last Monday to show him some HD video footage I'd shot and what an impression it made on him! Of course my little secret is that I saved tens of thousands between the great deal on the projector and DIYing everything else.

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I just noticed your signature. No wonder :D I'm geeking out on your setup. It looks like a lot of manual work, though, with all the separates and a graphic EQ of all things :angry2: I have an all-in-one Denon 3808.

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It may seem like a lot of manual work, but it's a dream to operate compared to my tube gear from the 1940s that I used to run! Imagine you have to fire up filament power, wait 30 seconds, then fire up plate voltage supplies, trim the bias on each output tube and adjust the hum balance every so often. Then you have to fire up the field coil power to the electro-dynamic speakers (my McMurdo-Silvers pre-dated permanent magnet speakers) and finally you are ready to put a signal through the system.

Nowadays, I just switch on 3 breakers, 6 power amps and select the input source I'm going to use. Pretty simple, eh?

I have several graphic EQs, but I no longer use them. I'm all digital now, with phase-linear digital EQs with variable Q, center frequencies and gain. Very versatile!

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