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Need advice on home theater

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Nearing the completion of our lake place and could use some advice on a basic home theater system. Here's the particulars:
Will go with a 42" plasma located across the room (about 40 cable feet) from the component closet/wall unit. I have been told by one of the shops in Tampa that I can go up to 100 feet with red, green and blue component video cables from the closet to the plasma. The plasma location is above a fireplace and there is no room for any components at all there.
Planning on a TV receiver/audio/DVD player at the closet location.
Want a clean system, with the fewest components possible. Budget is $3500.

This is a second home so absolute high end is not a priority as we will not be living there - just a weekend place.

Any ideas? I appreciate your help.
 
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Are you going to do any zoning? (Speakers to your deck or other areas of your home)

What do you normally watch and what signals do you have coming in for TV?

Do you want/need a DVR?

Do you allready have any components you were hoping to use?

Do you listen to a lot of music too or just movies/TV for the most part?

Is wiring a problem (other then the things you mentioned)?

Will you spend any time tuning and playing with the system or does it have to be 100% plug and play and generically tuned out of the box?

Honestly - you may want to get a local expert to guide you. If I didn't enjoy tinkering and just wanted a solution (like I think you do) I would find someone who sells these types of system who is going to get you a great price on everything, deliver it, run wires, set it up, and program it all for you. They would then support you and you can just enjoy. Oftem times the electronics stores have packages and the smaller shops will even source on-line for a small fee.
 
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matteni said:
Are you going to do any zoning? (Speakers to your deck or other areas of your home) Zoning wiring is already in the closet

What do you normally watch and what signals do you have coming in for TV? TV feed is cable, and we watch DVDs

Do you want/need a DVR? No

Do you allready have any components you were hoping to use? No - fresh start

Do you listen to a lot of music too or just movies/TV for the most part? About 50/50

Is wiring a problem (other then the things you mentioned)? The cable feed, speaker wires and power are in the closet from the last owner. I can run the other wires fairly easily.

Will you spend any time tuning and playing with the system or does it have to be 100% plug and play and generically tuned out of the box? I can play around with it - does not have to be plug and play

Honestly - you may want to get a local expert to guide you. If I didn't enjoy tinkering Nick - just like you, I went to the North Avenue Trade School, so tinkering is in my blood
 

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T Bolen said:
Nearing the completion of our lake place and could use some advice on a basic home theater system. Here's the particulars:
Will go with a 42" plasma located across the room (about 40 cable feet) from the component closet/wall unit. I have been told by one of the shops in Tampa that I can go up to 100 feet with red, green and blue component video cables from the closet to the plasma. The plasma location is above a fireplace and there is no room for any components at all there.
Planning on a TV receiver/audio/DVD player at the closet location.
Want a clean system, with the fewest components possible. Budget is $3500.

This is a second home so absolute high end is not a priority as we will not be living there - just a weekend place.

Any ideas? I appreciate your help.

Ditch component and go w/ DVI or HDMI. You will be fine w/ $3500.
 
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T Bolen said:
Budget is $3500.

A $3,500 budget can get you a nice setup for a weekend home. This gives you some flexibility on your choice of receivers and speakers.

I use the main home theater receiver for both movies and music and it sounds like you plan to do the same. I use a Harmon Kardon receiver because it puts out good power (don't be fooled by the wattage specs - HK advertises lower wattage than other brands as they tend to be conservative with their ratings) and it does the music justice. If you were watching 75% movies (DVD, etc), I would say go with Denon (mid range level or high) or Yamaha (high end only). For movies a Denon with Boston Acoustics speakers is a great combo. If you go with HK, you might like it with Energy speakers. I use Acoustic Research speakers with my HK (but the original AR is no longer around and is owned by Audiovox now).

Also, if you go with the HK, or any receiver for that matter, get speakers with the highest sensitivity possible (db level) for the fronts and center channel, so you can push more sound with less wattage. A quick rule of thumb - for every 3db increase in speaker sensitivity you can reduce the wattage needed to get the same volume from a set of speakers by 1/2. Or said another way: It takes only 50 watts with 91db speakers to get the same volume level from a 100 watt receiver with an 88db speaker setup (benefit: amp may run cooler and you have more room to crank it up with higher db speakers).

The Harman Kardon AVR series receivers are top notch and if you go with this years models, get at least the AVR 335 or higher (if your budget allows). If your budget doesn't allow, then look online or even your local stereo shop (I think Circuit City carries HK) for any remaining stock on previous years models. You can get a previous year model HK for about a 30%-40% discount off of retail. Current models at the Harman Kardon website.
 
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DVI and HDMI are your video interfaces from your video source to your display (HDMI includes audio as well). These interfaces send the picture in a digital format vs analog (like you get with composite, S-Video or Component Video). Digital = better picture, but it also = being able to pick up more flaws on the source material (such as delayed edits, etc). DVI output is getting to be pretty common these days on DVD players in $150+ range, and you should be able to get most plasma displays with either a DVI or HDMI (or both) input.

I use a DVI connection from my DVD player to a Samsung DLP TV and the image looks like its High Definition. HDMI does the same thing, but with a different cable and plug.

DVI: http://searchsmb.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,290660,sid44_gci805034,00.html

HDMI:
http://searchsmb.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,290660,sid44_gci847398,00.html

You really don't need either of these for occasional viewing, but if you can get either one (make sure your TV and your DVD match either DVI or HDMI or both), you will definately enjoy the picture quality.

One question - how far is your viewing position from your monitor / TV? I only ask b/c 42" is probably too small (not optimal for movie viewing) for anything more than 8-9 ft away.
 
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mickeylex said:
One question - how far is your viewing position from your monitor / TV? I only ask b/c 42" is probably too small (not optimal for movie viewing) for anything more than 8-9 ft away.

Thanks for the replys so far. I have limited the size to 42" as the space above the fireplace works the best with that size. This is a fireplace between 2 french doors that face the lake view. The seating is arranged to view the lake, and any larger screen would be look out of place. The viewing position is about 14-15 feet away at the living room area, and the screen can be viewed from the kitchen too which is maybe 25 feet away. I am OK with this size as we are not a home theater family at our other house. This will be a treat at the vacation place.
 
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