• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Spec a "dream" home theatre (within a budget)

LukeD

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2021
Messages
19
Likes
7
Location
UK
[mods please move or delete if in appropriate]

I watched Dune the other month and was, almost literally, blown away by the audio. As a result, I started thinking about what my "affordable dream" home cinema set up would actually consist of. I'm now very far down the rabbit hole :) and hoping for some alternative perspectives/opinions.

Firstly, my current system is as follows:

Netflix/Disney+ and movies/music on HDD --> Raspberry Pi 3B+ and Allo Digione (S/PDIF out) running OSMC (primarily) and Volumio --> Mytek Digital 192-DSD DAC (Mastering Version) --> Genelec 8040B speakers (2 off). Screen is an old computer monitor (2nd hand/free).

Both the Mytek DAC and Genelec speakers were second hand from ebay. I've had the system since ~2017 and it has been and still is great.

What would I want a surround sound system to look like? Here are some constraints:
1) Budget ~£15k but it can't all be spent in one go. I'd have to build the system over a period of 5+ years. i.e. yearly budget ~£2k max.
2) Projector for visuals.
3) Genelec's or other powered/active speakers. I really like my Genelec's even though I was originally going to get Focal Shape (brand-new). Pretty keen to stay within the Genelec family (The Ones!) but open to suggestions.
4) Raspberry Pi running OSMC as the source. I like the Pi and the "simplicity" it offers and am happy to tinker. I am open to alternatives if they offer similar simple interface. I'd ideally like to stay away from smart TV's and the like. We don't watch live TV at all.
5) Dolby Atmos / DTS:X capable (this is the end-goal...will I ever get there or actually feel the need? Only time will tell...)
6) Future proofed hardware
7) 5.1.4 speaker layout as the goal, maybe 7.1.4 as a longer term aim
8) Simplicity of overall system / minimum number of boxes / limit amount of duplicated hardware (i.e. DAC/amps in an AVR and also in Genelec SAM-enabled speakers)

A few of the things I've learnt over the past few weeks of trawling through the web:
- sound cards that feature AES/EBU output don't have drivers for Linux.
- fitting a round peg (OSMC) into a square hole (delivering multi-channel digital audio to speakers) isn't as trivial as one might expect (perhaps I'm just naive haha). OSMC is Debian/Linux based and currently only has versions suitable for ARM processors. Even if an x86/64 version existed, it'll still be Linux based and drivers for sound cards likely won't be forthcoming
- It doesn't seem to be possible to decode Dolby Atmos or DTS:X except by using an AVR. Gotta love big business...
- Is Audio over IP the future for home theatre installations? Probably. The single-cable simplicity is an installation dream though obviously max. power cabability is limited. The new Genelec 4430A look great. But, sound cards for AES67/DANTE don't seem to be readily available with Linux drivers or for ARM processors.

So, some specific questions for the forum:
Q1) Given the above constraints, what system would you build and in what order? (Ignore room size and assume room treatment comes from another budget haha.)
Q2) What do you think is the future of AV/HiFi connectivity and user interfaces in the next 5 to 10 years? AoIP?
Q3) Are there any major downsides to delivering analogue audio signals (from an AVR) to speakers such as the Genelec 83XX series? (Aside from the obvious duplictaion of hardware i.e. paying for kit/capability that isn't used).
Q4) If I ultimately have to use an AVR with preamp line outs, is there any benefit to getting Genelec 83XX series over 80XX series? i.e. is the AVR room correction software good enough?

Here is the system I've tentatively decided:
Year 1: sell 8040B's and replace with 8330. Keep Mytek, RP3B+/Allo
Year 2: replace Mytek DAC (maybe sell?) with Mutec MC-3+, GLM set and GLM remote volume. Swap RP3B+ to RP4 and use USB out to Mutec. This gives a stereo system that is all digital to the speakers.
Year 3: add 8331 centre channel. I think this is usable despite overall system only having a single AES/EBU channel. Mutec --> Centre (summed) --> L/R
Year 4: add second 8331. Reconfigure system to use 8331's as L/R and single 8330 as centre. The second 8330 is now not used.
Year 5: add 7360 sub. I think the system will still work with all digital signals. Mutec --> sub --> C --> L/R
Year 6: add Genelec 9301A networking and MiniDSP U-DIO8. The Mutec is now no longer used. Shift 8330's to be located BL/BR. I now have a 4.1 system.
Year 7: add 8331 centre channel. I now have a 5.1 system.
Year 8: is there really any point planning this far ahead... To get to 5.1.4 I need to replace the Genelec 9301A with a "proper" AVR (with analogue preamp outs) and obviously get the extra speakers (which could be 8030's or 8020's?). Reconfigure system so all surround speakers use analogue inputs (from AVR), re-introduce the Mutec into the system for the L/R speakers for stereo listening (is this even possible? 8331 only has single input shared between analogue and digital). RP4 feeds Mutec via USB and AVR via HDMI.

The total spend from Years 1 to 7 is ~£10750 (ROM costs from https://www.thomann.de/gb/index.html), leaving ~£4k to cover the AVR, projector, four height speakers and all cables. Probably not quite enough... but ideally I'll get most items second hand.

Rationale for waiting so long to get an AVR (in the yearly plan) is simply that as technology continues to change, the longer I wait, potentially the "better" the AVR will be or the more options that will be available 2nd hand. Or, some of the hurdles I've encountered the last couple of weeks w.r.t. linux drivers for sound cards will just disappear/no longer be relevant ultimately resulting in a simpler system.

I'm interested to hear thoughts/comments/critisms? Can I do better for the same money?
 

dshreter

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 31, 2019
Messages
750
Likes
1,081
Are you committed to getting a projector? A 77” or 83” OLED to me is much more practical and pretty darn big. Good projectors are extremely expensive and the environment requires light control to even perform moderately well. Then there’s more complexity with pj and screen installation…
 

litemotiv

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
318
Likes
572
Are you committed to getting a projector? A 77” or 83” OLED to me is much more practical and pretty darn big. Good projectors are extremely expensive and the environment requires light control to even perform moderately well. Then there’s more complexity with pj and screen installation…

I don't necessarily agree. I had a 65" LG OLED before and bought an ultra short throw 4K laser projector with an electric ALR screen as an experiment. 3-4 months later i realized that i hadn't turned on the TV even once since i got the projector, so i then decided to sell the OLED.

Daylight performance of UST/ALR is just fine for casual viewing, and at night it obviously is even better.

Total cost for 4k projector + electric screen was just around $3.5k, which is probably the same or less than what a large OLED costs.
 
OP
L

LukeD

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2021
Messages
19
Likes
7
Location
UK
Are you committed to getting a projector? A 77” or 83” OLED to me is much more practical and pretty darn big. Good projectors are extremely expensive and the environment requires light control to even perform moderately well. Then there’s more complexity with pj and screen installation…
Yeah kinda am. Neither I nor my partner like the aesthetics of large TV screens. Ultimately, I envision having a room that doubles as a library and living room with AV system. The main seating/couch would face a bay window, projector screen would be retracted unless in use meaning I can sit on the couch, looking out the window reading a book haha :)

Will this be a compromise on image quality during the day - dunno, I haven't looked into what is feasible with projectors/screens. Am I happy to compromise on image quality - definitely, particularly given most of my watching is during the evenings after work. I've other hobbies that keep me busy and out of the house most weekends.
 

MLaranjeiras

Active Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2021
Messages
135
Likes
69
Hi. I invested around US$ 3,000.00 on this trio. The Sansui is for stereo listening. If you do not care, you can save 1/3 of this value. And, if you do note care about blurays, go with a NVidia Shield attached via HDMI hidden behind the AV receiver. With the savings, go to the tv and speakers.
20210712_123311.jpg
 

Vince2

Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
102
Likes
73
Location
Kentucky
I would keep an eye on test results of the new emotiva processor and explore making it the backbone of your system. Can keep your active powered speakers and expand to more channels than you ever need.
 
OP
L

LukeD

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2021
Messages
19
Likes
7
Location
UK
I would keep an eye on test results of the new emotiva processor and explore making it the backbone of your system. Can keep your active powered speakers and expand to more channels than you ever need.
Thanks Vince2. Which emotiva are you referring to?
 

AudioJester

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 7, 2020
Messages
648
Likes
841
I don't necessarily agree. I had a 65" LG OLED before and bought an ultra short throw 4K laser projector with an electric ALR screen as an experiment. 3-4 months later i realized that i hadn't turned on the TV even once since i got the projector, so i then decided to sell the OLED.

Daylight performance of UST/ALR is just fine for casual viewing, and at night it obviously is even better.

Total cost for 4k projector + electric screen was just around $3.5k, which is probably the same or less than what a large OLED costs.

Which projector?
I have a top of the line 4k eshift jvc projector form a few years ago x9500. With a madvr envy its not bad, but my 4 yr oled easily betters it. With any ambient light there is no comparison. You have me intrigued!
 

litemotiv

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
318
Likes
572
Which projector?
I have a top of the line 4k eshift jvc projector form a few years ago x9500. With a madvr envy its not bad, but my 4 yr oled easily betters it. With any ambient light there is no comparison. You have me intrigued!

It's a Xiaomi 4K laser projector which i bought at around $1900 (inc shipping/tax). The combination with the ALR screen makes the most difference, blacks are just black like you are used to with OLED. Below are two snapshots as an example, taken with my cheapish phone so the colors may be a little off, but it'll give an impression of the overall contrast and vibrancy. It's nighttime here so i don't have a daylight shot. ;)

zyM0hXJ.jpg


7OKLuCk.jpg
 

muslhead

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
1,210
Likes
1,209

kma100

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2020
Messages
62
Likes
34
It's a Xiaomi 4K laser projector which i bought at around $1900 (inc shipping/tax). The combination with the ALR screen makes the most difference, blacks are just black like you are used to with OLED. Below are two snapshots as an example, taken with my cheapish phone so the colors may be a little off, but it'll give an impression of the overall contrast and vibrancy. It's nighttime here so i don't have a daylight shot. ;)

zyM0hXJ.jpg


7OKLuCk.jpg
How far is the projector from the screen? And how is the picture in the daytime? Looks like some light control and an ALR screen is key!
 

litemotiv

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
318
Likes
572
How far is the projector from the screen?

You can see the projector standing right in front of the screen on the cabinet. It's beaming upwards in a very sharp angle, and the ALR screen is composed of tiny angled lines that only reflect light from the bottom. That is why there is close to no light scattering from ambient light sources that are on the side or above.
 
OP
L

LukeD

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2021
Messages
19
Likes
7
Location
UK
You can see the projector standing right in front of the screen on the cabinet. It's beaming upwards in a very sharp angle, and the ALR screen is composed of tiny angled lines that only reflect light from the bottom. That is why there is close to no light scattering from ambient light sources that are on the side or above.
Is the screen retractable or fixed in place? (I haven't looked into projectors + screens in detail yet.)
 

litemotiv

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
318
Likes
572
Is the screen retractable or fixed in place? (I haven't looked into projectors + screens in detail yet.)

It's electric with a remote control, so you can lower/raise it sitting on the couch. If you want you can for instance hang a painting behind it that will be visible during the day when the screen is not in use. ;)
 

kma100

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2020
Messages
62
Likes
34
You can see the projector standing right in front of the screen on the cabinet. It's beaming upwards in a very sharp angle, and the ALR screen is composed of tiny angled lines that only reflect light from the bottom. That is why there is close to no light scattering from ambient light sources that are on the side or above.
Oh I can see that. Was trying to understand the actual distance...5" or 15". Thanks.
 

voodooless

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 16, 2020
Messages
6,216
Likes
10,311
Location
Netherlands
Oh boy, there is a lot to unpack here. Let's see:

- Forget running everything from the Pi. It's missing most of the multichannel decoding goodness an AVR has and will only lead to tears. Just get a decent AVR and use that as your centrepiece. An AVP is another possibility, but they would blow your yearly allowance ;)
- What would be the point of the Mutec MC-3+? If you want AES on your pi, just get a cheap HAT. The Mutec is a total waste of money
- Get more subs. One sub is sub-optimal (see what I did there ;) )
- As for room correction, you can use GLM, but could also rely on the AVR/AVP. For multichannel the second option is probably better because it fully integrates with all the fancy processing options available.
- If you don't use GLM, possibly the analogue Genelecs might be good enough for you?
- Genelec 8331 is a small speaker made for near-field listening. It will not have a lot of maximum output down low. So see how loud you normally listen and if that would suit you?
- Allocate some budget for room treatment as well. Next to room correction, that will have the biggest impact on the sound.

I would start the investment with an AVR/AVP with the current Genelecs. Next, add a sub (doesn't need to be Genelec, 2k for a 10" sub is crazy), then look at a centre and surrounds, and finally do something with the height channels. Or move the 8040's to the back and get better fronts.
 

litemotiv

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
318
Likes
572
Oh I can see that. Was trying to understand the actual distance...5" or 15". Thanks.

Ah i see yes, the distance is 5" (13cm) to the base of the screen, and 8" (20cm) to the screen itself.

This is a 100" screen, with a larger screen the distance would increase slightly.
 
Top Bottom