A Home Entertainment System Guide

Get the lowdown from Gig Harbor Audio

 

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Erik Owen of Gig Harbor Audio. Photo by Rachel Coward.

It’s not as hard as it used to be to put a movie theater into your home. With the right technology and set up, you can have a theater-like experience while sitting on your couch munching on your own popcorn. We asked Gig Harbor Audio owner, Erik Owen, what he recommends for home entertainment systems. Here’s what he has to say.

Read our story on Gig Harbor Audio here.

Get the Biggest 4K TV You Can

Immersing yourself in your favorite movies and shows starts with a couple easy steps.  First, for video – bigger is better.  We recommend getting the biggest 4K TV that will fit in your room.  The extreme detail of a 4K TV allows for much closer seating roughly 6-7 feet if using a 65-inch TV. For great movie audio like helicopters flying around and incredible bass, you’ll want to make sure you get surround sound.  This simply means an array of five of more speakers and one bass unit.  The three front speakers give the stereo imaging and focused dialogue.  The rear speakers and subwoofer add ambiance that increases the size of the soundstage and give a great immersive feel. A 65 inch 4K TV will run about $1799.

Mounting Your TV

TVs are so lightweight these days most can be hung with a $99 mount which also saves lots of floor space as opposed to putting the TV on top of a table. The TV should be roughly eye level when seated on your favorite couch.  Mounting the cable/electrical socket directly behind the TV will hide any wires.

Wireless vs. Wired Audio

There are two routes for the audio: wireless or wired.  For wireless, we recommend Sonos speakers which can be mounted quite simply around the room to provide great surround sound without any speaker wires.  The easiest system costs a total of $1850 and includes a Playbar (center, right, and left speakers in one unit), a subwoofer, and two rear surround speakers.  Each Sonos device has a built-in amplifier that plugs into the wall socket wherever the unit is located.  A tiny hidden optical cable would go directly from the TV into the Playbar.  That’s it.  Plug and play.  Sonos systems not only have excellent sound, but provide great content like over 20,000 Internet radio stations, tons of services like Pandora Radio, Spotify, Tidal and access to all music on any computer in the house all controllable through the free Sonos App.  Sonos systems can also extend wirelessly to any other room.

The wired system will give more earthshaking audio with the use of a Yamaha RX-A660 receiver, a Sunfire subwoofer, and Paradigm PV-150 in-wall speakers (center, fronts and rears).  All these speakers would have wires that are hidden inside the walls. The speakers themselves can be flush mounted and painted so they blend in with the walls.  The Yamaha receiver and the Sony TV can access WiFi for content like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube.

Positioning the Room for Great Sound

Setting up the room correctly is important.  Once the TV and speakers are in place, you can stand in the middle of the room and clap your hands to test the sound.  If there are multiple echoes, you might want to use some sort of sound treatment for the room.  The first thing to do is to use what you already have. Shelves of books are the best since they provide lots of mass and nice uneven surfaces.  House plants with large leaves also do a surprisingly good job.  For window treatment, the company Lutron makes excellent automated blinds that not only block sun in the day time, but improve the sonic dynamics of a sound system.  If absolutely necessary, nice looking wood sound deadening panels can be put onto walls and ceilings in strategic places.  A good aim in room treatment is to let your new home theater work into your life, not the other way around.  Now you’re ready to pour a glass of wine and enjoy the Imperial Tie Fighters flying through your room.

Wireless System with 65 inch TV

Sony 4K TV (65”):  $1799

Sonos system (Playbar, Subwoofer, 2 Play1s): $1850

TV mount:  $99

Professionally hanging TV and installing cable/electrical box ($99/hour): ~$297

Total:  $4045

 

Wired System with 65 inch TV

Sony 4K TV (65”):  $1799

Paradigm PV-150 in-wall speakers (1 center, 1 front pair, 1 rear pair): $475

Yamaha RX-A66:  $549

Sunfire Subwoofer: $399

TV mount:  $99

Professionally hanging TV and installing cable/electrical box ($99/hour): ~$297

Installation labor to run speaker cables and HDMI cable ($99/hour): ~$495

Total:  $4113+

 

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is the managing editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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