Home Theatre: Redux


Intro

Those of you who have been following this site for a while will know that I have a certain proclivity towards engineering sometimes complex home theatre configurations.

Naturally, as an Architect and Software Engineer (former life) I’m a huge fan of continual improvement – and my home theatre experience doesn’t escape this principle.  Since we moved into the new house late last year, the configuration has been somewhat suboptimal.

As someone who has suffered from poor vision for over a decade and a half, I’ve been a huge fan of the home projector option, and this carries to this day.  As a result, a 720p DLP projector which was purchased way back in 2006 still has a place in the current configuration – although this time around it is ceiling mounted.

The Layout

The house suffers from the very popular open planned living concept, and as a result the lounge area is only bounded by three walls.  This leaves a rather awkward open area which exposes the surround left speaker – not much can be done about that.

We have two sofas (3-seater and a 2-seater) plus a leather single seater recliner which is styled in the gold class theatre design complete with twin cup holders.

Having bricks-and-mortar which we own also provides us with an opportunity to do things right – as a result, the surround back channel speakers are wired through the ceiling and re wall mounted behind the main sofa.  Here’s a diagram which illustrates the current speaker layout (a lay of the land, so to speak):

image
Lounge configuration

Now this configuration is hardly out of the ordinary – with one notable exception: a 55” Sony Bravia is wall mounted above the amplifier/center speaker, which means we have 2 HDMI outputs.  In addition to this, I prefer to have independent ability to play an Xbox console while the main TV is in use, so to the left of the center speaker is a 24” LCD monitor.

In Theory

With the new Harmon/Kardon AVR 370 now installed and configured, almost all input devices are using pure HDMI output only (direct to the amp).  The notable exceptions are the Rega RP-1 turntable (with pre-amp) and a BlueTooth extender which came with the amp.

The new amplifier supports two HDMI outputs (but doesn’t support outputting different discrete sources!) however it does make more logical sense to output to the Projector and the Bravia since they won’t ever be used at the same time as the projection goes over the Bravia’s screen.

Achievement unlocked: All-HDMI setup.

The one problem was how to handle the 24” LCD monitor?  Using an existing 2×4 HDMI switch, I output the Xbox HDMI to the switch and made the LCD one of the two outputs, the second daisy-chaining to the amp.  This provides a way to run the Xbox via the Amp (to the Bravia or Projector) whilst also providing output to the 24” LCD.

Here’s how it all looks:

image
Configuration Guide

Basically, all input runs through the amplifier and for the Bravia or the projector, there’s no need to do anything special to switch between sources.  It’s a nicely centralised configuration using almost 100% HDMI.

In Practice

Well, I’m very happy with the outcome!  Here are a few pictures of the final configuration.

IMG_0909_Medium IMG_0905_Medium

Above we have the new amplifier which is pretty slick looking on the outside, and a profile of the amplifier surrounded by the media units, with the center speaker above.  You can just make out the 24” LCD monitor to the left of the center speaker.

IMG_0907_Medium IMG_0908_Medium

The next set of photos show the view from the 3-seater sofa, you can see how the projection screen sits above the 55” Bravia.  The photo above and to the right is a side profile which shows where the Rega RP-1 sists in relation to everything else.

IMG_0906_Medium

Last;y – a quick shot of the projector which is nicely ceiling mounted now.  The effort hasn’t gone unappreciated by the audience as my youngest son Damian looks on:

IMG_0861_Medium


About Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified architect with nearly two decades of industry experience, 18 years in commercial software development and 11 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

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