I initially put my home theater site online both as a personal reference (a place I could document and track all my components and owner's manuals) as well as a way to share my excitement for home theater with fellow HT enthusiasts. I never expected the site to become as popular as it has.
Once this site passed the 2,000 visitor per day mark, however, I started to get lots of emails. Most were congratulatory (I love getting those, of course), some were commercial (salespeople pitching their HT products - which I don't mind getting either), and many contained questions. I noticed a pattern of many different emailers frquently asking me the same questions. So, of course, the natural result is this document containing answers to frequently asked questions about my home theater addiction.
If your question isn't answered in this FAQ, please still feel free to contact me. I only ask that you read the FAQ first, just in case your question has been previously asked and answered.
Are you completely insane?
The voices in my head are saying "yes."
How much did the theater cost?
This is by far the most frequently asked question, but one that I must respectfully decline to answer. I participated at varying levels in all aspects of the design, construction, finishing, and calibration of my theater project - so a cost figure wouldn't reflect any of my involvement. Additionally, many of the professional participants in this project extended preferential pricing to me because of the scale and uniqueness of the project, hoping make up for it later through marketing their involvement. The project was still an expensive one, but less expensive than MSRP would have been.
Who helped design & build the theater?
Yuck! That's so tacky, over the top, and cheesy!
Even though that's not really a question, I'll respond by saying "Yeah! Of course it is!" This isn't meant to be a room that you live in, or sleep in, or work in. The rest of the house can be decorated tastefully - but the whole intent of this room was to be "over the top" in a "Las Vegas meets old-style movie palace" kind of way. It's sensory overload by design. Some people prefer simple, muted, purely functional designs for their home theaters. And that's just great for them. I wanted something crazy, not tasteful. I wanted a room where my friends would walk in, start laughing, and say "Dude - you are NUTS!" And that's pretty much the reaction I get. :)
How long did the theater take to complete?
From initial concept meeting to the first time we watched a movie was about 18 months. It took an additional 6 months to tweak and iron out the final bugs. Of course, no true home theater enthusiast is ever finished with a project, so I'm always in upgrade mode.
How big is the room?
22 feet wide by 24 feet long.
What advice would you give me about...?
I get a lot of requests for advice, perhaps because visitors assume that completing such a project makes me a home theater expert. I will admit that I know a lot more about home theater now than when this project started, but I'm no expert. The best place to turn for any advice on home theater matters is AVS Forum
. That's where I learned nearly everything I know about home theater, and got invaluable help in completing this project.
Which projector/processor/speakers did you use?
Details and photos of each component used in the theater are included in my Equipment List
Can you give me a price on (insert component here)?
I don't know why, but sometimes people email me asking me pricing or availability information about certain products because they think I'm a dealer for A/V components. I'm not a dealer, just an enthusiast. I recommend getting in touch with a reputable dealer in your area, or contact the manufacturer of the product(s) you are interested in. You can link directly to the manufacturers of the products I use from my Equipment List
Can you help me with repair for my (insert component here)?
Sorry - as I stated in the previous answer, I'm just a home theater hobby enthusiast. I don't have any contacts apart from the ones in my Equipment List
or my Links
Can you recommend a dealer in (insert location here)?
Sorry, I can't. I don't know any dealers other than the ones I've used in Seattle - and the dealer I used for all my A/V components is now out of business. I recommend checking with CEDIA
(Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) to locate a certified dealer in your area. They have an online finder service on their website.
How big is your screen?
The screen is 66.5 inches high x 112.5 wide, which calculates to an approximate diagonal screen size of 11 feet.
Is the screen image in your photo galleries the actual projector output?
No - it's impossible to get a good photo of a live screen shot with the lights on, and my digital camera takes crummy pictures in the dark. So just like the home theater magazines do, I used PhotoShop to crop in a screen image.
Why did you choose (insert product here) instead of (insert different product here)?
I chose the components I did because that's what I felt was best for me at the time I purchased them. Of course, I respect the fact that others have different preferences. I am very value conscious, so in most cases I chose components that delivered the best "bang for the buck" rather than the most expensive item I could find.
Why didn't you use a CRT projector?
There is some division among home theater enthusiats regarding projector technologies. Some old-school purists swear that Cathode Ray Tube projectors (CRT) are the best because they yield the purest black levels and contract ratios. CRTs have been used for years in standard televisions, computer screens, and other devices. Others prefer newer digital technologies, such as Digital Light Processing (DLP), Liquid Crystal Display (LCD), or Digital Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier (D-ILA). These digital devices have been improving year by year, as do most digital devices, and gaining more and more momentum in the home theater industry. When I looked at display devices, I wasn't able to discern much difference in image quality bewteen my DLP projector and the older CRTs. In fact, I preferred the DLP in many respects. Additionally, the DLP projector was quieter, smaller, and able to mount at the back of the room. A CRT would have to be mounted in the middle of the dome above the seats, and I didn't want to "invade" that space and ruin the effect of the clouds and stars.
How did you make the lights at the tops of the columns?
The light fixtures in the posts were all custom made. For a close-up look, check out the Completed Project
album in the Photo Gallery
. Each column is assembled in peices over a 4x4 wood post that goes from floor to ceiling. The top of the column's capital serves as the bottom of the light box. Reflective sheet metal was placed on the top of the column, around the post, and on the top of where the fixture meets the ceiling. Four single ceramic bulb fixtures were installed inside a full column (two were placed in each of the half columns on the walls), and the bulb fixtures were spray-painted with Krylon silver. The sheet glass was cut into 4 individual pieces, which were then slid into place with metal guides on bottom and top, and metal corner pieces hot-glued onto each corner. The fixtures use 20W Halogena bulbs and are controlled with a Lutron Homeworks system. There are a couple good photos of the fixture without the glass slid into place in the Phase 3
If your question wasn't answered above, please feel free to send it to me
and I'll do my best to respond!