I have been asked by several friends now what I have put into my home theatre setup and why, so I figured I would answer definitively:
- Television: Sony KDS-60A2000 60″ SXRD television – the Liquid-Crystal-on-Silicon (LCOS) style televisions work well with my lighting environment (as opposed to front projection). Size-wise, they are more price competitive than LCD or Plasma. And – for me- they do not suffer the viewing irregularities of Digital Light Projection (DLP) sets – namely wobulation and rainbow effects. If I had a larger room, the Sony Ruby projector would be my choice. Or if doing the TV today, I’d do the 70″ XBR2 set which was not available at the time I purchased.
- Speakers: Totem Acoustic Forest (Left/Right), Model 1 Center Signature, Thunder subwoofer, and Lynks (surround) – speakers are a matter of personal preference. I wanted something that would work well for the average apartment/condominium sized room, look good, and work equally well for cinema and music. If I had a larger room and budget, I would probably go up to the Wind/Shaman left/right speakers and go with additional Lynks for a 7.1 (vs 5.1) surround setup.
- Pre-Amp/Processor and Amplifer: Outlaw Audio Model 950 and 5100. Outlaw makes great equipment for the money. They are getting a bit dated in terms of lack of HDMI support – but otherwise they are hard to beat. I get around that by connecting the HDMI devices directly to the television. If I were to do it over today, I’d probably go with Anthem.
- Optical Media: I opted to bet on both camps and go with the high-end offerings from Toshiba (XA1) and Sony (BDP-S1) for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray respectively. The Toshiba HD-DVD players I have found – subjectively – play standard DVDs much better than the Sony Blu-Ray players.
- Cabling: I went with BetterCables.com and bought their high-end cabling. They aren’t a name brand, but the electrical specifications and build quality are outstanding – and I saved a lot as a result.
- Other Stuff: I use the latest Comcast Motorola HDTV DVR cable box and an AppleTV for other programming. The AppleTV provides a great way to leverage my iTunes investment and huge media library. I tried a Windows Media Center PC, but found it not worth the trouble and complexity given that it cannot record over HDTV digital encrypted cable.
I chose these components after 6-9 months of research in every category based on best-of-breed performance and best bang for the buck. For more details:
- Sony (TV, Projector, & Blu-Ray) – http://www.sonystyle.com/
- Totem Acoustic (Speakers) – http://www.totemacoustic.com/
- Toshiba (HD-DVD) – http://www.lookandsoundofperfect.com/
- Outlaw Audio (Pre-Amp/Processor & Amplifier) – http://www.outlawaudio.com/
- Anthem (new choice of Pre-Amp/Processor & Amplifier) – http://www.anthemav.com/
- Cabling – http://www.bettercables.com/
- Comcast – http://www.comcast.com/
- Apple TV – http://www.apple.com/appletv/
Although not an official endorsement of any kind, I have been very happy with my setup and met my goal of getting the quality I desired for ~$10,000 investment.