Dec 092005

I had imagined owning a Home Theatre System for some time now, not so much to watch it or use it, but more to have it. You know, one of those brash displays of the wealth I will eventually have. However, I’ve devised a cunning plan that will allow me to build one of those bastards for cheap. The biggest, IMHO, part of a HTS is the TV (three acronyms in one sentence, a new record). For a TV, I intend to make a DIY LCD projector which can be made for a coupla hundred bucks. More information here. I’ll prolly sign up for those forums and see if anyone has made one where you can move the front lens back and forth to make the projected image bigger or smaller, so that I can project in regullar 1.33 (TV) screen size large enough to cover my wall to the top and when I’m watching movies in different aspect ratios, I can cover the wall vertically again (I wonder what Ben Hur with it’s 3.00 aspect ratio would look like, prolly take up my entire basement wall’s width). Other than that, I intend to put this in the basement, hook up the projector to an old computer I’ve got. I’ll stick the TV tuner (unused at this time) into it. That computer will prolly be hooked up wirelessly to the network so I can watch all my other programming. The XBOX will be connected to the computer through the same TV Tuner card (Hauppauge PVR-250, it has a remote) so I can play DVDs and game. The computer’s own CD drive will be used to play back archive shows and movies. Other than that, that computer will be able to play videos from the other computers through the wireless network. I’ll also prolly set up TightVNC servers (secured against outside access, of course) so I can surf the internet or do things that the computer in the basement (being a crappy old machine) is incapable of doing.

Of course, no respectable HTS system can exist without beautiful surround sound audio. So, my HTS will not be respectable, at least not in the beginning. According to the above, I’m looking at putting down around 300-400 dollars, maybe and most probably less than that (if I can do this under 200, i will be a true penny-pinching desi university student). So I’ll just stick some old speakers of mine to the computer, they’re just two speakers, no subwoofer or anything, but nice sound. I could split the signal and put other old speakers behind me or wahtever to get "surroundish" sound, but it’d be the same stereo info from all the speakers. In the future I can do a number of things, I can either get an HTS audio/video receiver, and just output one video signal into the computer after I hook up all the devices (right now: xbox, vcr, satellite and cable) and the audio would go directly into speakers and subwoofers (which would have to be bought piecemeal or in sets). Or I can get a surround sound computer system that’ll go into some expensive audio card.
Parts lists for both systems:
HTS Receiver:
 – Audio/Video Receiver
 – Prolly a sound card so I can get surround sound audio out of the computer whenever I play from movies or whatever (which is where most of my movies and shows come from). Of course, I don’t have to get an expensive one, just one that supports a decent sound card that has certain outputs. I don’t even need digital output, I can just take hte minis, use y-adapters to covert them to RCA composites and stick that into the receiver. Or I can stick digital out to the receiver, depending on how much each costs. A big question is if most of the videos etc I have have surround sound info, I think most are just encoded in stereo, in which case it’d just be the same information from most of the speakers but it will include some subwoofer.
– Speakers, to bought piecemeil or whatever. This is a very component based set up so I can find different kinds of speakers, different prices whatever I want and hook it all up (assuming the receiver is capable of delivering the wattage required, etc, obviously).
The other crazy (but prolly cheaper system):
– Sound card compatible with the following speakers and has digital audio input
– PC surround speakers compatible with the sound card.
– XBOX Hi Def cable or whatever to get surround info into the sound card and must make sure the xbox supports surround audio (it’s been modded), especially in video game play.
If it wasn’t for the XBOX stuff (which’ll prolly fall through) this second idea could be put together for very little, like a coupla hundred squids. Say, about 50 bucks for the sound card and 200 for a 5.1 system (or less for both, off like eBay or something) plus taxes and/or shipping. The xbox can be connected to the Logitech 5300e for 200 dollars. So about 300 dollars for this idea to get surround sound.

The other option, that of the receiver, the receiver will be a coupla hundred bucks. At least 250 from retailers (without sale) for a decent one, plus the sound card, again, at least 50 and speakers, which would be…yea, like 350 min for a package. So that’s insanely expensive.

The other suboption is to buy a home theatre sound package which is a coupla hundred bucks, like 200-300 min from retailers which would include a receiver and then I’d just need to have a cheap decent sound card and some y-adapter cables. That’ll be about same as the first one with damn good quality.

Those are, of course, upgrades. Each of those requires me to get a sound card. In the first one, I’m using the computer as a receiver, and in the others I have dedicated receivers. For now, I’ll just hook up the speakers I have lyin about. After I get around to it, of course.

I’ll come back and clean this thing up at some point. But so far, I can make have a home theatre system, ish for about 200-300 dollars (the cost of the projector is it).

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