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DIY home theatre, where to start?
DIY home theatre, where to start?
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Old 10th November 2015, 05:06 PM   #1
flat4awd is offline flat4awd  Canada
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Default DIY home theatre, where to start?

I want to build myself a nice home theater that can play music too. My background in car audio SQL systems make me look at going with active crossover. I'm looking to build 3-way front speakers, and 2-way rear surround. I want to keep things "affordable" so I'd like to have suggestion for receiver, processor and amplifiers that do not cost arm and leg.
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Old 10th November 2015, 06:06 PM   #2
chrisb is offline chrisb
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I think you can start by assessing how serious you want to get both in terms of budget and dedication / reconstruction of a room to his solitary purpose.

Earl Geddes wrote an excellent text on this about a dozen years ago, and while I think he'd agree the video / display technology has changed considerably during the interim, the basic laws of physics / acoustics haven't.

Home Theater

That said, IMO the current flock of mainstream surround receivers offer outrageous value for the money in terms of tech features, ease of use -but keep in mind that by the time the heat shrink has cooled on your speaker cables, there likely will be some new features, including number of channels etc. - Atmos 9.1.2 anyone?

Dolby Atmos Speaker Setup Guide


My most recent surround receiver (3rd in the past 10 yrs) was to a particular model of Onkyo (TX NR 818) that has a very handy feature worth detailed reading spec sheets or downloaded owner's manuals to find - onboard digital XO and active bi-amping of front L&R mains.

With the ever increasing number of surround channels many of the models from middle of line up have at least 7 channel of amps and the ability to assign one or more pairs of those to either secondary zone systems, or to biamp front mains.

As the receivers' surround processing filters and mono blends the LFE channel at frequencies generally no lower than the THX standard of 80Hz, additional outboard active XO's may be unnecessary with the right receiver, and considering the mess of source interconnects and speaker wiring in an HT system with multiple sources, AFAIC the fewer black boxes / amps the better.

Then of course there's the discussion / dispute as to the requirement / importance of actual vs virtual / phantom center channel speaker. I happen to fall in the actual school, but there are several forum members who take the opposite position. Not having to deal with the constraints of that separate enclosure certainly has its advantages in some domestic situations.

There's no doubt that a very satisfying 5.1 array of speakers can be home-made from kit packages offered on many speaker distributor's websites, or some found here. Concerning subwoofers, I would personally advocate against installing plate amps: I've heard far too many tales from a local hifi shop's speaker tech of commercial brands' amps failing from poor thermal dissipation design - either in or out of warranty, and with repair parts that will fit "unobtanium". As the receiver/processor will have the XO and level setting required, you can easily get away with a basic power amp. I happen to use 2 subs, so a mono source into stereo amp works just fine.

ps - is your ID short for Subaru?
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Old 10th November 2015, 07:02 PM   #3
chrisb is offline chrisb
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Define "affordable" - at the low end of budget, any of these might be work a look
Home Theater Receivers & Stereo Receivers in the Home Audio / Video Department at Parts Express | 105
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Old 11th November 2015, 12:59 AM   #4
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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DIY home theatre, where to start?
I agree that receivers provide astonishing value for money. Just be aware that with complexity comes opportunities for Murphy... an extended warranty may be justifiable, or just get the cheapest thing that does the job, and consider it disposable. When my Pioneer AVR became too problematic, I replaced it with a similar vintage Onkyo for $20 at a local thrift store.

As for speakers... building 5 or 7 speakers is quite a lot of work. Consider hunting down a set of used speakers of some popular model, if only as an interim measure while you make sawdust. Adequate bookshelf speakers can be picked up for a song at yard sales, thrift stores, and even pawn shops, and should be a vast improvement over most in-a-box home cinema sets.

For a subwoofer amp, I want to suggest a used (semi)pro power amp, since those tend to be nearly indestructible and have ample power. However, lately I've been using a modest 40 watt/channel DIY amp to run two subs, and that's been enough for bass I can feel on my leg hair. But, if I didn't have nearby neighbours to consider, I'd push things a bit louder and need another 10 dB or so.

Stereophile's Guide To Home Theater magazine published a series of columns that addressed building a home theater. Room dimensions, acoustic isolation and treatment, seating and subwoofer locations are just as important as the electronics. That info may still be available somewhere at Home Page | Sound & Vision
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Old 11th November 2015, 02:20 AM   #5
chrisb is offline chrisb
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As referenced earlier, Earl Geddes published an excellent text on the subject circa 2003, which while out of date in terms of the video technology / resolution , is still spot on re construction requirements for a full blown balls to the walls audio system for HT.

However that is likely far beyond the budget for a reasonably affordable rig.

And who are we to discourage speaker building - particularly if one starts out slow with the front row - for which there'd be no shortage of DIY design or kit suggestions to be found here.

I definitely agree with the recommendation of amps for subs
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Old 11th November 2015, 12:01 PM   #6
flat4awd is offline flat4awd  Canada
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I'm almost done building my HT room in my basement. it is 12x28. I used Roxul stone wool in every wall and in the ceiling, between upper floor joist. the wall are made of sonopan panel covered by fabric. I used suspended ceiling with non-reflective tiles.

For the audio equipment, I have a behringer EP2500 amp that I use to drive a pair of jbl W12GTI mk2 subwoofer. I have a Pioneer VSX-530-K receiver that is about 1yrs old, i'll keep it if I can make it useful, but it doesn't seem promising for now.

I want to build 3 way fronts with a pair of dayton RS-180 woofer, RS-52 dome midrange and AMT mini-8 tweeters. rear surround are gonna be 2 way, with RS-180 woofer and RS-28 tweeter. I'm gonna build the enclosure, it's not a problem for me.

where I really don't know what do is active crossover/eq/amplifier that is really dozens of possibility
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Old 16th November 2015, 10:42 PM   #7
wesayso is online now wesayso  Netherlands
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I'd go with a PC based setup plus JRiver. It is an excellent suite with active crossovers, more goodies than you'll even need on the audio front and excellent video playback with the MadVR renderer. I am sold, got into JRiver for Audio but now it does everything (Video too I mean).

I run it on a Workstation based PC with a solid graphics card and Windows 7 Pro. I've heard about some troubles on the Mac side.

JRiver will give you PEQ, GEQ, Convolution, Crossovers, Room Correction all at a very affordable price. If it looks like I'm one of their sales person, I'm not. Just a very enthusiastic user that really drives their product to the limits. I have yet to find or encounter those limits... On top of that you can load VST plugins for even more functionality. There's a free 30 day trail. Run it on a serious computer and give it a spin.
Use the high quality video renderer, that's when MadVR is activated (with basic settings).
Even that can be tuned to perform to the limits of your equipment.

You'd need quite a bit of audio channels for that setup. You do realise that every active channel needs it's own amplification right?
An external multichannel DAC could be a solution, you'd get nowhere with the 8 channels of an internal audio card. There are a few examples on this forum though that run such equipment.

Last edited by wesayso; 16th November 2015 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 9th October 2017, 06:48 AM   #8
homevisionsolutions is offline homevisionsolutions  United States
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Start from google, know everything about home theater, contact with local home theater installer
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