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Creating a Home Theater

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Hubrahabr is read by a lot of very smart people 😉 so an article on how to set up 5.1 speakers would look ridiculous here.
Creating a Home Theater
That’s why I’m not going to do it (even considering that a superficial search for similar material didn’t turn up). Today I just want to tell the story of laying out my track with elements of component review. Lots of text and pictures.
The first thing I want to warn you about – I’m not going to brag about something or do something else there, which many people sometimes try to see between the lines ) There is no one and nothing to amaze here – almost every apartment has something like this. All I want is to generate discussion, soak up tips and useful links, learn something new. So, take it seriously, share your experiences )
Before I never paid much attention to this kind of equipment and, consequently, was not interested in it at all – I had no time to watch TV (and still do not), and student life did not contribute to the development in this direction, much less to shopping. Besides the hardware, I had no Internet to download any high-quality movies and the local network was chaotic… Anyway, I was the last to learn the meaning of words like hdtv, hdmi, fullhd and other mkv.) After graduation I got a little more free – it was time to properly enjoy life (sleep, eat, rest) and I decided to begin to catch up with the lost time. My fascination with hardware made me demand more and more about this or that device as a "test bench" – I had to test the Popcorn on the old 4:3 TV, which is not serious at all. With a bit of gold coins saved up, I made up my mind.
Next – a little advice which might be useful for those who dare to do the black work.) You may not listen to the choice of components at all, just your needs and possibilities.
Creating a Home Theater
One of the key points in a system like this is the device to display the image. As far as I know, there are not many variants, from available – a projector and a TV set. To tell you the truth, I’ve had much experience with the first ones and there’s nothing much to tell. I can only say that a projector is preferable if you have just a huge room, in most other cases, imho, it’s not a good solution. TVs are more common – everyone has them, some people even have more than one or two. So let’s go with them.
So, the first thing you need to do when creating a movie theater (let’s call all this nonsense) – to decide on the tasks that will be performed on it. Of course, the main task will be to watch movies, but you can also, for example, play on the big diagonal, or listen to music. Accordingly, the first step is to think about where this same TV will be located. There are two options again – to put it somewhere or hang it on the wall (I have not yet met the TVs hanging in the middle of the room). And if there are not many nuances with "put", then there are pitfalls with "hang" which we will talk about later.
If you are going to watch only movies, then both variants will be equally suitable, but if you are going to play – you need to plan the placing beforehand so that the computer can be connected to TV without any problems (respectively, there must be an additional place for the computer and a sufficient length of wire to connect), as well as to place itself comfortably near it.
Creating a Home Theater
The next point is the size of the screen. Here it is necessary to proceed from your financial capabilities and the size of the room. If you can afford to buy any diagonal size, but your room is small, you can "stingy" and get a not very pleasant feeling when you watch a big picture at close range. When I was in college, at the light engineering department we derived some kind of ratio for calculating the maximum "comfortable" screen for the human eye (which takes into account the distance, angle of view and other nuances), but I something these records have not found myself. In general, the main thing is not to go overboard. As an option – you can come to a technology store and look at this or that screen from different distances for a while.
Going back to the challenges, you need to decide what will be used as a signal source. Whether it’s just a TV antenna, a bluray player, or a server from the closet, everyone decides for themselves, but you can’t omit that from the calculations.
So, after figuring it all out on paper, I started to act. I had a 3.7-meter long (wall-to-wall) part of the room, on one side of which is a couch. Opposite it is a homemade double-decker bed (the pride of childhood, which can not yet throw away, because it keeps a bunch of stuff), under which it was decided to make a cozy little nest.
Actually, I was limited in space just by this bed – I have 2 meters in width. Since there was nothing else I wanted to see underneath it, I tried to take up as much space as possible.
As a TV, I have my eye on BBK LT4710HD – TV with the largest diagonal (119 cm) of the "beanbags" available. Despite the fact that many people look at this company with disdain, I have more than once proved itself well and I treat it completely calmly.) The length of the device is about 120 cm – enough space for everything else. I originally had my eye on another model from them. LT4222HDL with LED backlight and two USB ports (where you can insert a flash drive and watch everything directly from it – very convenient). But it is smaller (42") and much more expensive. In the end, the size got the higher priority for a number of reasons. There were other contenders, from almost every company. Panasonic , Philips (check out the clip), SONY , LG and SAMSUNG – are probably the largest of the representatives of this category. But the prices for a similar diagonal there are different in multiples ( Kind of made up my mind and started searching the web. Later I ordered with delivery, which amounted to slightly less than 40k. Advice – do not give up the delivery, if it costs within the bounds of decency) samomu not to get 200%, and in the car like this box is also not in every fit.
Creating a Home Theater
The first pitfall I encountered when I started "trying on" my future TV set on the wall – it would be great if the child had an extra two square meters to "crawl" in a cramped room. However, the TV set I have chosen weighed neither more nor less than 49kg. Casting a net for suitable fasteners I was a bit upset – a rare piece of metal could withstand such a load (here I looked again at the smaller diagonal models – they were lighter, and some had a bracket in the set). And if something did hold, the price was not satisfying at all. By the way, the website of the company can be a nice reference for the reader Ergotron – one of the leading companies in tech mounts (but the prices go a bit out of step with the competition, too). Well, or a more illustrative site – 3DNW Almost all devices (TVs, monitors, tablets like the Wacom Cintiq) have the ability to mount to the standard VESA But in the case of TV sets and monitors – make sure that the stand is detachable and does not interfere with the mounting.)
Creating a Home Theater
Anyway, I gave up with the mounting (if such a stove crashes, it would be great) and went the other way – installation on the table. First, I turned to my wife (she is a furniture connoisseur) with a request to make a custom table sideboard. However, even here the weight of the TV played a cruel joke (of course, I didn’t even think about it… and all the big diagonals weigh a lot) – the table top I need (120cm) must be thick and strong, and it is either solid or glued particle board sheets with additional supports. When I learned the prices for solid wood, even at dealer prices, the desire immediately fell off. The second option was more affordable, but required time to fabricate – cutting and gluing sheets, gluing edging, etc.
The problem solved itself when I came to IKEA ) Yes, yes, the very same one, which many people also do not like. There I came across a wonderful table (about as I drew, only lower) at a more than affordable price. Just the thick tabletop (two glued chipboard sheets of 25mm each, with edging), just the metal supports I needed, just the size and color I wanted.
Creating a Home Theater
The final choice fell on it after reading the documentation – the ability to exist at the load I needed. So I took it without thinking. In addition I bought for the baby sticky "legs" on the sharp corners, as they cost a penny.
Creating a Home Theater
In the end, all that’s left is to decide on the acoustics. I had a pretty good 5.1 system Microlab H500 But it didn’t fit me with the system I was creating because of the subwoofer (in the shape of a rather large cube). I simply wouldn’t have anywhere to put it since I limited myself to the height of the table I bought. The search for a decent system with a sub that would fit the dimensions was not particularly successful.
As a result I ventured out and picked up an interesting kit from TopDevice (heard a lot about this company and the first time I decided to "listen in" to their numerous products at the HIT 2008 in St. Petersburg, where they had a huge booth), namely TDE 500 On it I would like to elaborate, because it is fairly new and very rare in its kind. From the two available colors I chose the dark one.
Creating a Home Theater
The first thing that attracted me to this set was the fact that it’s 5.0, ie without a separate sub. The manufacturer promised the bass from two bass speakers, and I must admit that he didn’t cheat.) Second – it is an active system, i.e. there will be no expense item called "amplifier". The system is two meter high "towers" (one of which is the main one) and three speakers (center and rear).
Creating a Home Theater
Total power output – 210 W (subwoofers in the front speakers – 30Wh2, center – 20W, front – 45Wh2, rear – 20Wh2.), which is enough for my space and the neighbors. They sound loud and high quality, I like the bass too (especially when listening to music like Black Sun Empire, The Qemists or Pendulum).
Creating a Home Theater
Yandex says the material is wood, but it’s kind of like glued chipboard. Nevertheless (at least to my ears) – did not suffer in the slightest because of this, absolutely no complaints about it.
Creating a Home Theater
When watching movies the speakers also show themselves well – already watched (which I did not have time to do in the movies) the last Ice Age in excellent quality, as well as reviewed all three Pirates of the Caribbean – it turns out they are masterpieces)
Finding a couple hours of time with the baby is hard enough. Make fun of it, but I had to watch a movie a couple of times… through the headphones ) while the little one was asleep. So a useful bonus was the long wire (3 meters) with mini-jacks and a Y-splitter for the same – to connect two headphones. Just like in the song "Romance" by Kasta)
I have a very simple adapter,
To put two headphones in one jack instead of one.
Very handy for a laptop if not enough sound.
Imagine : me and my friend.
On a summer night at sea, comets fly across the sky,
We have a bottle of delicate something.
The waves are murmuring, the laptop is in my lap.
The volume is on full, and you can barely hear.
Here I am putting two headphones in the adapter,
And we’ll watch a movie together through them.
And without that little thing, the laptop is as good as gone,
And without the laptop, it’s last century, there’s not much romance.

Included was a simple remote control, stands for the towers, as well as all the necessary cables and wires (with good stock).On the front side of one of the towers are functional elements – infrared receiver, buttons to control volume, mode and sound source, as well as two 6.3mm jacks for microphones. There is a possibility to connect karaoke – many people like to indulge in this sinful business )
Creating a Home Theater
Separate attention should be paid to appearance – in this case, he played a major role in the choice. Also positively influenced quite an attractive price – about 7000 rubles.
Looking ahead, after I bought the speakers, I had to make a quick trip to Ikea to get the wall-mounted shelf which harmonized perfectly with the table (I would even say they are from the same series). Once installed, it ended up with a front speaker and a few other things.
I won’t tell much about the TV (all details are given on the web site). I can only say that the picture it draws is more than decent (for its price). It has a new on-screen menu, which is very convenient. To be more exact, I should say that it became convenient with the joystick on the remote control – with it you can get into any setting for a couple of clicks. I also liked the remote control, made of plastic, soft-touch and aluminum, with backlighting around the joystick when the buttons are pressed.
Creating a Home Theater
The TV is about three meters away from my eyes – my eyes don’t get tired in the slightest when watching. From a regular antenna the TV self seeker found about 40 channels, but I sometimes just hate cable TV for the nonsense they spin there.
As an additional signal source I chose Popcorn (from the same BBK, hahah), which I already did a review of (in two parts already – 1 , 2 ). Connected via the included HDMI cord, to popcorn, a two terabyte external Verbatim (review as well was ) – put it all on the shelf. I think this bundle in terms of volume will last me a long time. Verbatim still has FAT32and no "serious" movies, so there are just some good old cartoons for the baby, some 700Mb movie portions and other digitizations.
I almost forgot – there was a simple UPS attached to all this APC BK500-RS which did not affect the resulting appearance in any way. It’s already proven to work, so I’m cool with it.
Creating a Home Theater

Result

I ended up with a versatile (omnivorous) and very functional system on which to :
– Watch cable TV
– Watch movies from external drives
– Listen to music from external drives and devices, and view photos from them
– Climb the Internet popcorn services (games, podcasts, radio, YouTube, etc.)
– Easily interact with compa data (over the network)
– Play
I.e. guests came, for example – turned on a large "photo frame" pre-selected photos for a slide show or just beautiful pictures from the Internet. Watch a wedding or a movie? No need to rummage through the disks, just flick the remote and that’s it. Download a new episode of House? Without getting off the couch…
Power consumption… yeah, I guess it adds up quite a bit… but I guess it’s a bit less than that with SLI of two modern graphics cards ) You can’t escape this expense item.
I am very pleased with the picture and sound quality. At least compared to what it was before – just heaven and earth.
Creating a Home Theater

Estimate

– BBK LT4710HD LCD TV – 38000
– PopcornTV NP101S HD player with 500GB drive 8000
– TopDevice TDE500 speaker system – 7500
– Verbatim 2TB external drive 9000
– APC BK500-RS uninterruptible power supply 2500
– Table + shelf – 3500
Total just under 70, 000 for a brand new system, although by and large, if you don’t count external drive and media player – all 50. It is possible to save some money by buying a smaller diagonal and using the old speakers, but then I would like to have something new.
By comparison, the MB Light Phillips alone with the same diagonal would have cost about twice as much as the whole set. But what to argue, it’s really cool 😉 In the future, in addition to popcorn, I plan to move my media center under the table (which I am still working at; was review ), so you can fully browse the web using a more familiar operating system 😉
In general, the first "sexual experience" was not easy and even a little tedious.) I drew the following conclusions from it :
1 The most important thing is to take your time, lest it be too late to bite your elbows later.
2 You have to think about everything in advance – tasks, device models, shipping, installation, wiring, security – everything and everything.
3 Once you’ve made up your mind – before you go shopping, study all the information on the device, all the documentation and parameters, forums and reviews, as well as run through the competition once again.
4 So that the process does not take too long, it is desirable that the necessary amount of money has already been accumulated.
5 Whatever you’ve got there, don’t forget the uninterruptible power supply.
6 Ikea is not always a bad thing and sometimes helps out 😉 and often saves you a good deal of time.
Perhaps someone will find this advice useful. When you have two equally attractive models and difficult to choose, you need to write out their main disadvantages and decide which you can live with, and which do not or would not want to. It’s easier to make up your mind that way than weighing the many pros )
Actually, some of these items I have not done – I was on the rake. Nevertheless, the system is great (no regrets at all) and most importantly – relatively inexpensive. And I hope, that my detailed GJ’s Roadmap will be useful for someone who is making a hard choice – nowadays a wide range of equipment is so affordable, that almost every working person can afford it.
Also, keep in mind that all of this is just entertainment ) and it’s unlikely to help you achieve your life’s goals. Listen, watch, download, play – have fun, but don’t forget about the "pebble principle" )
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