As I got older, I watched more online streaming, and I went to theaters less and less. I can’t remember the last time I went to a theater in-person. COVID certainly didn’t help.
When I was shopping for houses in Vegas, I wanted space to build a home theater. I didn’t want anything fancy like stadium seating, red curtains, or signs. I just wanted a dark room with comfy seating, good audio, and a giant screen. The house I ended up with had five or six bedrooms, depending on how you read the floor plan – way, way more than I need. However, two of the small bedrooms were the perfect shape & layout to be merged into one bigger room and turned into a home theater.
Before the work, the two small bedrooms were just tiny boxes that both looked like this:
And then after the installation:
Normally the room is pitch dark, of course – for the photo, I just opened the blinds and the blackout curtains, and turned on the light. (And I mean it’s *really* dark and quiet in there – we’ve had friends who slept over and said it was like a womb, hahaha.)
We have 3 rows of seating altogether – a low front pair of comfy seats, and then two cheap modular couches from Amazon.
The first step was hiring a contractor to demolish the wall between the two rooms, make some electrical changes, turn the entry into just one door, run conduit for the video & audio cables, fix the drywall, and paint it all black. Given the economy – everybody was in a rush to build & flip houses – it was surprisingly hard to find a contractor who was willing to actually show up for anything less than a whole house renovation.
After that dusty mess finished, the room was a blank black slate, and it was time to pick home theater gear. It took a while to get in – turns out a lot of people were building home theaters during the pandemic, go figure.
Projector: Epson LS11000. This laser projector does 4K HDR and renders with sub-20-millisecond latency. (Low latency was important to me because I wanted to play Dead By Daylight in there – although that game’s only 1080p, not 4K.)
One of the cool features of this projector is vertical lens shift: you can mount the projector above or below where you want the image to be displayed. I could mount the Epson to the ceiling, keep it out of the way of the rest of the room, and still have a nice, clean, rectangular picture with low latency.
Without that feature, a projector has to kinda be in the middle of the image, or else it uses digital processing to correct the image – and that adds latency and fuzziness to the picture. (This is why theater projectors are at the back of the theater, and they’re basically aiming at the middle of the screen.)
Screen: 150″ Silver Ticket screen. It’s best not to order these until after the projector actually arrives and gets mounted. That way you can figure out exactly how big the projector’s image will be once it’s mounted in your room, and have a minimum of unlit screen around the image.
Receiver: Yamaha RX-V6A. I wanted Dolby Atmos audio, 4K 60-120fps video, Apple AirPlay 2 to stream video direct from iPhones/iPads, and a receiver that could automatically optimize audio for multiple listening positions. (Some receivers just optimize audio for one spot on the couch.)
Speakers: Jamos S 809 Cinema Pack with Atmos toppers. I’m very picky about my audio, but this is one aspect of the home theater where I actually went cheap. The speakers altogether were under $1,000. These just got really good reviews at their price point. I figured even if they were on the low end of home theater audio, they’d still be an order of magnitude better than anything I’d heard streaming shows on in the last few years. The first time I fired up the opening scene of Baby Driver, I was sold. The Jamos speakers get the job done.
All in, it was less than $6K for the equipment – which was actually less than the construction part of the work!
Once it was all in, I called Vegas Calibration to come out and calibrate the projector for the best results. I tried doing it myself, but hooweee, it’s not a good idea to put a part colorblind guy in charge of the calibration. Totally made a difference before & after.
I totally love it. I spend hours in there playing Dead by Daylight. The giant screen and the immersive audio are fantastic. I bet there are empty nesters out there in the audience who’ve wondered what to do with those extra bedrooms after the kids leave – give this a shot!