Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home Theater 2.0

Ever since I did my first living room upgrade, I've been meaning to get a surround sound system. After six months, I felt like I've waited long enough. I went with the Onkyo HT-S5100 7.1 home theater in a box system because it was pretty inexpensive. More pictures here.

Both my HTPC and XBOX360 output 5.1, which the receiver can expand into 7.1. The only gripe I have with the receiver is that the HDMI inputs are pass-through only, meaning they can't be used for audio input. So whereas with my TV, I was able to connect one HDMI cable from my XBOX360 for both audio and video, now I need to connect one HDMI cable for video, and one optical S/PDIF cable for audio. Onkyo's higher end models do support audio over HDMI, but I wasn't going to pay an extra $200 or so for this extra convenience.

I hate visible wires about as much as Steve Jobs hates buttons (just look the latest shuffle), so I tried very hard to balance wire management with optimal speaker placement. The center speaker is on a wall shelf that is just above the TV. The front speakers are wall mounted with wires mostly hidden behind the TV. The surround speakers are on speaker stands with wires hidden under the thing that runs along the bottom of the wall (I have no idea what it's called). The surround back speakers are also on speakers stands with the wires hidden under the floor in the crawlspace (I hope I never have to go down there again).

Some movies that really show off the audio system:
  • Transformers
  • Cloverfield
  • Children of Men
  • Independence Day
  • Terminator 2
  • Iron Man


Amanda Shen said...

Very nice Andy! I'll have to come and check it out.

Andy Hou said...

Glad you like it. You're welcome to come over any time. :)

Daqing said...

Great job! I did the same thing: running the surround-speaker wires through the crawl space, filled with spider webs and dusts. But you do enjoy the neat layout after that. Does the receiver come with a microphone for an automatic speaker level adjustment?

Andy Hou said...

The receiver does come with a calibration mic. I'm still not entirely happy with the rear speaker setup though. It's kind of easy to bump into the speaker stands (especially the one by the front door since it sticks out from the wall). I'm thinking about wall mounting them.

Kevin Chiu said...

I don't remember those cone things on top of your TV. What are they?

Amanda Shen said...

Hey, I'm sure your speakers would be great for a Karoake night too!

Andy Hou said...

I think I'd want my speakers to be as quiet as possible for that. :)