Home Theatre

Food & Wine
Home Theatre

Multimedia.  Audio/Video.  Home Theatre.  Whatever you want to call it, this is another of my personal interests.  I truly enjoy fine music and a high-quality picture.  In fact, I probably pay more attention to these aspects than to the storyline in most material I watch.  Same applies to songs on the radio...  I listen to the beat and nuances of the music, but usually could not recite the lyrics for you.

I'm a sucker for the "Oooh...  Aaaah..." factor.   I'd love to have the latest, bestest home theatre setup I could get, but things have been pretty quiet in this area lately.  

Our current setup:

  • Yamaha RX-795A A/V Receiver
    • It was a toss-up between this one and the 995, and I went for the lower price.  It seems to have plenty of power for the size of room, but it lacks a little in the "inputs" section.
    • I had to add an optical-to-coax digital audio converter so that I could hook up the digital audio output of our digital cable box.  But then TWC came out with new boxes that have both optical and coax digital outputs.
    • 85W x 5 -- same as the R8 it replaced.
  • Toshiba 65H84 65" HD-Ready Rear-Projection TV
    • CRT projection (no, not even LCD or DLP projection)
    • Not as "sexy" as the flat-screen technologies, but it is at the end of a large room and it fit well into the existing A/V furniture, but the price was much better!!
  • Toshiba SD-6980 DVD Player
    • Does upconversion of video to 1080i, but I have not played with that aspect much
    • Plays DVD-Audio and SACD
  • KEF Reference Series 104/2 speakers
    • Big, heavy towers -- 36" high, 70 pounds each
    • After a series of good upgrade deals from Stereo West (thanks, Charlie!), I finally settled on this pair in 1990.  I don't know if Stereo West had anything better at the time, anyway
  • Paradigm Atom satellite speakers
    • Another place where I compromised in order to get something
    • They sound pretty good for as small as they are, but are a less-than-perfect match for the KEF's in front
  • Paradigm CC170 center channel speaker
    • Another compromise; this is the area that could best use an upgrade
  • Paradigm PDR10 powered subwoofer
    • The final compromise...
    • It definitely adds low-end, even though the big KEF's do a decent job themselves, but it isn't as "tight" as I'd like.

    All of these Paradigms were purchased at the end of February, 2000, so I will check on using Stereo West's upgrade path.

    My first choice for speakers:  B&W CDM-CSE and CDM-1SE for the center and rears, then Velodyne subwoofer.  Unfortunately they were just a bit over budget.  (okay, more than a bit!)  But the B&W's match the KEF's very well!


  • Sony SLV-960HF VHS 4-head Hi-Fi VCR
    • Bought it about a year ago after my 11-year-old Mitsubishi--an early hi-fi model--finally failed.  It really pained me to throw it away, but fixing it was very prohibitive.
    • Has some multimedia control features, but otherwise a good solid model
  • Yamaha 5-disc carousel CD player
  • Technics QL-D35 turntable
    • Quartz, direct-drive
    • 13+ years old
    • I still play some vinyl occasionally
  • Scientific Atlanta 8300HD DVR cable box


In the bedroom we have:

  • Toshiba CX36H60 36" TV
    • Has S-Video and component inputs, 800-line resolution and twin-tuner PIP, and even though I am not utilizing those now, it sets me up well for the future
    • Thought about getting a 50" rear-projection unit...  It came down to price (got a good deal on the Toshiba from Ernie's in Ceresco) and the fact that our family room just isn't that big.  Since we would be watching lower-res material (VHS, plain cable) for the foreseeable future, I did not want to the "defects" blown up that big.  Also, I am . . .
    • Waiting in earnest for HDTV.  I know it's coming, but it is far enough off (especially in Nebraska!) that the Toshiba was a good interim solution.  I will again look at a bigger screen when the source material is higher-res.
  • Toshiba SD-3109 DVD Player
    • The 3109 has component outputs, so is a good match for the TV
    • This was one of my "online auction" success stories = Egghead/Onsale
  • Yamaha R-8 Receiver
    • 85 W/ch and good features, but it is about 16 years old
    • Tuner has intermittent problems
    • used to be in the "A/V room" until I got the 795
  • Pioneer 2-way full-range speakers
    • Paid about $39 each for them 15 years ago
    • They've been idling some also, but still add more punch when watching TV
    • I also cannot stand listening to the "tinny" sound from clock radios for very long, so if I am going to listen to music in the bedroom, even this is an improvement!
  • Scientific Atlanta 8300HD DVR cable box

"On the shelf" . . .

  • NEC 26" stereo TV/monitor
    • Really good set of inputs/outputs, but . . .
    • Replaced by the Toshiba
    • (Ben is using it in his basement at the moment)
  • Technics RS-B78R auto-reverse cassette deck
    • Bought at the same time as the turntable above, whenever that was
    • Intermittent problem with output section (again! with the "intermittent"...  that's why I can't bear to get rid of some of these things--as soon as I make up my mind they start working again!)
  • Old MCS (JC Penney!) receiver
    • Bought it used in college (26 years ago?) for $40
    • Still cranking along; it was idle for a number of years


Revised: July 27, 2008