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The $75,000 Home Theater System

by , May 01, 2007

We decided to go all out on this $75,000 audio system and include top notch products priced right at the crest of that place where your budget hits the point of diminishing returns. This means we included some of the finest A/V products "smart" money can buy. You can possibly do better, but not likely for the price. In either case, we provide some alternates along the way should you want to branch out from our top recommendations, or upgrade them. With the inclusion of future expandability and upgradeability, along with the primary room being acoustically analyzed and treated for optimal performance, this is one flexible solution for a receipt of happiness and content not just for the audio and videophiles, but for the whole family as well.

This system is capable of running an entire home with up to four (4) zones, including two complete home theater rooms and expandability. The kicker is that we decided to do it with a single processor as the front end - the Denon AVP-A1HDCI. Why? Because it measured extremely well, performs better than other separates costing much more, and allows us the ability to easily configure the multiple zones all from one convenient chassis.


The Projector: Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 7500UB

MSRP: $4,999 info

Epson 7500UBEpson’s newest high-performance 1080p 3LCD flagship projector is a sight to behold. The 7500UB features the latest-generation Epson D7 platform with C2Fine technology, Ultra Black technology with 75,000:1 contrast – that’s the best in the industry, Silicon Optix HQV Reon-VX with PW390 processor, 12 bit panel driver, 120 Hz FineFrame Technology, Anamorphic (vertical stretch) scaling, etc, etc…With too many features to name, you’ll have to see this one to believe it. It is also compatible with an anamorphic lens attachment is made by Panamorph which will bump up the price a couple of thousand dollars.

Alternates: JVC DLA-HD100 ($7999) info, InFocus ScreenPlay 777 ($14,500) ; Yamaha DPX-1300 ($12,495) info


Projector Screen: Seymour AV 109" H095 Center Stage XD Screen

SeymourAVPrice: $2,637 (109" HDTV screen) info

What doesn't Seymour AV Screens provide? We can't think of anything. They retract, they are acoustically transparent so you can place your center channel behind them, they come with either IR (for easy universal remote integration) or RF control. They manufacturing every screen with its fabric cut at an 15 degree angle with respect to the roll to eliminate the possibility of screen induced Moire. They have Somfy ILT motors for fast, smooth, and most importantly quiet operation. Want an extruded aluminum case? No problem. Want it in custom finishes? They've got that too. For this system we've picked an H095 Center Stage XD 109" diagonal screen with 1.18 gain, 1500+ holes/sq. in., 4k ready A.T. material with stitched fabric velvet borders, tab tensioned, and black backing included. Of course, it's got the Somfy ILT motor with IR receiver, control junction and wall switch. For extra pizzazz we've opted for the extruded aluminum case with Black Pearl Blue, 5 coat gloss paint but you can certainly find less costly options from them. .

Alternates: Stewart Luxus Deluxe StudioTek 130 ($2395) info; Da-Lite Cinema Contour High Contrast Cinema Vision ($1400)

The Processor: Denon AVP-A1HDCI 12CH Home Theater Processor

Denon AVP-A1HDCI Retail Price: $7,500 info / review
The Denon AVP-A1HDCI represents bleeding edge technology that only a select few manufacturers can compete with regardless of price. If you’re looking for the very best home theater separates solution, I highly recommend considering the Denon AVP-A1HDCI pre/pro and POA-A1HDCI ten channel power amp. While their model #’s aren’t impressive sounding, and the associated name doesn’t quite have the prestige of a Levinson or Krell, you can rest assured the Denon products have it where it counts in performance and features and are pound for pound a better value than virtually all of the super high end products on the market. From its Realta video processing engine, to its sophisticated Audyssey room correction, top notch construction and component usage, you’re getting Mercedes level performance and refinement at Acura prices. Your high end audio snob friends may snicker at this system, especially since they likely spent 2-3 times more for hollow boxes, but I suggest humbling yourself by saying nothing. You don’t want everyone driving the same car you’re driving, do you?

The Processor: Denon POA-A1HDCI 10 Channel Power Amplifier

Denon POA-A1HDCIRetail Price: $7,500 info / review

The Denon POA-A1HDCI is as powerful as it is heavy but most importantly it exhibits ultra low noise and distortion to handle the subtle nuances of music with great finesses and clarity. The POA-A1HDCI revitalizes Denon’s high end stigma that it earned over the years but also puts itself into an elitist price category that only the very wealthiest audiophiles would dare tread. It will most certainly serve as a conversational piece when people visit and see the sheer mass of this mega multi-channel amplifier. You can rest assured that its size is backed by legendary performance one would expect from Denon flagship pieces. The POA-A1HDCI delivers respectable high and most importantly clean dynamic power and provides enough channels to handle even the largest scale home theater installations with a few to spare for specialized needs and installations. Coupled with the matching AVP-A1HDCI processor, you’ve got a state of the art A/V separates solution that can run toe to toe with any of its peers in this price class.

Transport: Denon DVD-A1UDCI ‘Universal’ BD Player

Price: $3,800 info

Denon DVD-A1UDCIThe DVD-A1UDCI ‘Universal’ BD Player not only plays DVDs and Blu-ray, but also SACD and DVD-A. Finally, you can get rid of all your other transports while retaining access to your entire content library. Except for those HD DVD discs of course. At $3800 a pop, this is definitely not your father's Blu-ray player. So what does $3800 get you? Blu-ray 2.0 ready, SACD and DVD-A playback (a first in combination with a Blu-ray player), and just about any other format you can think of. Of course, you're going to be interesting in 1080p upconversion and Denon's got you covered with the 10-bit Silicon Optix Realta chipset famous for providing the highest resolution high-definition video available today via HDMI connection. The DVD-A1UDCI has dual HD video output scalers so images can be output in HD resolution quality via both the HDMI output and component output ports. On the audio side, you've got Advanced AL32 Processing, allowing digital upsampling of 16- and 24-bit digital signals to 32-bits. The player offers full on-board HD Audio decoding from Denon’s DDSC-HD branded circuitry, as well as allowing for Bit Stream Bypass to HDMI for Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio digital transmission to an AVR/AVP for decoding.

Alternates: PS3 ($399) info Plus one of the following - Denon DVD-1940CI ($369) info; Oppo DV-983H ($399) info

The Speakers: RBH Sound T30-LSE, T-1/R, 66-SE/R, 61-SE/R, 1010-SEP/R

RBH T30LSERetail Price (system): $15,000/pair (T30) + $4,519/each (T-1/R) + $2,949/pair (66-SE/R) + $2,049/pair (61-SE/R) + $2,999/each x 2 (dual 1010-SEP/R)= $30,515 [Locate a Dealer]

T30-LSE - Review
T-1/R - info
66-SE/R - info
61-SE/R - info
1010-SEP/R - info

We know speakers are subjective, but we have found RBH Sound to consistently make products that challenge what we know about "high end" speakers time and time again. Many speakers costing much more have graced our Reference Systems, and just as quickly departed. With an incredible, almost unbelievably detailed mid-range and crystal clear, undistortable highs, the RBH Sound Signature Series dives to the top of our loudspeaker recommendation list. These are the flagship speakers we use in our highest end setup which alone should be recommendation enough. The only worthy alternative would be the RBH Sound CinemaSITE which will save you about $5000 info | Review.

Acoustic Consultant: Auralex Room Analysis

Price: $250+ info

Auralex has three different levels of Room Analysis, standard (where you fill out a form, Plus (where they send you a sweep, you fill out the form and measure the response in your room, and they tell you where to move your speakers and place treatments), and Pro (where they come to your house. The standard edition is free, all you need to do is fill out a form. The Plus is $250 for the first measurement location and $100 for each additional measurement. The Pro version has a qualified Auralex rep out to your home to measure your room. Cost on that last one is variable based on your location and scope of work. We suggest at the very least the Plus version with a theater of this magnitude probably demanding the Pro version. Hey, if you're going to have nice speakers and electronics, you'd better take care of that room too!

Acoustics Treatments: Auralex Acoustics

Price: $4,000 info

Now that you know what treatments you need and where you need it, the next step is to treat your room. A good starting point is Auralex Elite which has a wide diversity of acoustical products that will improve the sound of your room without hampering the aesthetics. The SonoSeude system is a great start. Sonofiber and Metrofusor are great supplements when more aggressive room treatments are required. Consulting with the experts at Auralex couldn't be easier. Fax them your room plans and they will come up with some recommended treatments and locations to fit within your budget. Its always good to have more than one set of eyes looking at your room to recommend the best type of treatments. Properly treating your room will ensure you get the most out of your A/V system.

Power: APC Power S20 Conditioner

Price: $1,799/ea (we recommend two)

APCS20APC is the leader in power protection and battery backup products. Moving into the home theater market was a welcome event. The APC S20 features an output capacity of 1500VA (1250W) with battery backup and adjustable voltage sensitivity. The batteries are tool-less, hot-swapable and the unit has resettable circuit breakers. It is UL approved and the VFD display and LED status and display indicators gives all necessary information to ensure that the system is running at optimal settings. Additional features include pure sinewave backup, sequential turn on/off, USB connectivity, isolated filter banks and dataline surge protection. Additional batteries can be added to extend backup time. Additional features include network manageability, temperature/humidity monitoring and a 28 percent larger power train versus the S15.

Note: The installer is advised to run two dedicated 120V 20A amp outlets to power all of the equipment while also running a dedicated line for the Epson Projector.

Power: Furman AC-215 Compact Power Conditioner

ac215Price: $249/ea info

Your probably thinking why another power conditioner when your all set with the two APC S-15's. Well, at only 1.75"H x 5"W x 8.5"D, and weighing in at only 3 lbs., the AC-215's compact, low-profile design makes it ideal for mounting on the ceiling right next to the Yamaha DLP front projector. You definitely don't want to skimp on protecting your most valued piece of equipment in the system (not to mention extending the life of your bulb) and Furman handsomely delivers the goods in the neat little package

The Seats: Berkline 090

Price: $2500 (for 3 chairs)

seatsThese chairs by Berkline are very popular due to price and size (about 40" wide each including a left and right armrest) so you can usually fit 3-4 of them into a decent size home theater room. We chose to include a basic triple configuration of these chairs in black for this system. The convenient cupholders and the ability they have to recline without needing much clearance from the back wall makes them extremely versatile. You can upgrade these chairs to include TouchMotion motorized reclining and you can even add a Buttkicker system should you want a more tactile theater experience.

Another important thing to note is the height of the back of the theater chair. You want something that is going to allow the sound from the Surround Back channels to freely reach your ears without hitting the back of the chair. At 41.5" tall, these chairs are perfect for 7.1 surround rooms.

Alternatives: For more custom and upscale solutions with the utmost quality, we recommend checking out seating solutions from Continental Seating. A seating package starts at around $5k for 3 chairs, but the sky is the limit with respect to configurability and choices in materials, colors, etc. Considering you spend most of your time sitting while being entertained by your home theater system, this is money well spent.

The Remote Control: RTI Corp T3 Universal Controller

Price: $1,199 info

remoteThe T3 is RTI's ultimate handheld universal controller. With a full color TFT LCD display, powerful 32-bit MCU, 32MB of memory, and Wi-Fi communication option, the T3 takes remote control to a new level.

The amazing T3 Universal System Controller combines the power and flexibility of a graphic LCD touchscreen with an ergonomic design that permits effortless one-handed operation. The T3 is one of the most user-friendly universal remote controls on the market and certainly one of the most diversified for programmability and configurability. Combined with the other TheaterTouch products, the T3 becomes a robust commercial-quality control system.

Alternates: Universal Remote Control Inc MX-950 Aurora w/MSC-400 ($1449)

Zone 2: Bedroom 6.1 Home Theater System

EF30This system utilizes the Denon Separates from the main zone and takes many of the system components from the $3,500 Recommended System Guide (such as the EMP EF30 bookshelf speaker package, Oppo DVD player, and Impact Acoustics cables). Rather than reprint the details of those recommendations here, we encourage you to view that system which we will keep updated as new products and technologies become available. Some notes:

  • Feel free to make substitutions for the display as you see fit to match the requirements of this second room.

  • System price allocated for this room (not including the Emotiva amplifier) is $4,229

Alternatives: If you want a more integrated speaker solution, try Axiom Audio's new Architectural Onwall products which are equivalent in performance to their box speakers, but offer a more compact form factor with higher spousal acceptance. The W22's (MSRP: $650/pair) take the place of the M22ti's, the W100 (MSRP: $340/ea) takes the place of the VP100 while the W2's (MSRP: $440/pair) take the place of the M2i's.

7-Channel Amplifier: Emotiva XPA-7

Emotiva XPA7Price: $649 info

This amplifier will serve up enough power to drive the bedroom theater system as well as Zone 4 audio. Check out our power amp assignment table below for our suggested Emotiva and Denon power amp system configurations. Talk about multi-tasking! We found the Emotiva XPA-7 to provide plenty of clean power for almost any need. In addition it is extremely efficient so you aren't wasting all that energy on heat production and you can drive more real power to your components before reaching the limits of your 15 or 20A receptacle.

Recommended Power Amp Assignment for the Emotiva IPS-1 and Denon AVR-5805




Amp Assignment


Main Theater

Main Left

Denon Separates




Main Right


Side Left


Side Right


Back Left


Back Right


Bedroom System

Main Left

Emotiva XPA-7




Main Right


Back Surround

Denon Separates


Back Left

Emotiva XPA-7


Back Right


Office Room

Main Left

Denon Separates


Main Right


Dining Room or Back Yard

Main Left

Emotiva XPA-7


Main Right


Music Server: Yamaha MusicCAST MCX-2000

Price: $2,199

music2000The Yamaha MusicCAST 2000 comes with everything but the kitchen sink. This interactive wireless music network system includes a 160GB hard drive to store your CDs at full resolution or with the ability of variable MP3 compression. With independent zone control and provisioning for streaming PCM audio wirelessly, you can add audio to any room that isn't prewired for it, or upgrade your current zones via their touch panel displays with GUI interface to select exactly what you wish to listen too independent of other simultaneous users. It even sports XM radio for those wishing to take advantage of commercial free music or talk programming.

Note: We recommend running at least 2x CAT5e lines to each Volume Control (VC) location as well as other home locations currently not planned for audio service, for future upgradeability and expandability. These VC locations should be near an outlet so power can be added to enable the Yamaha touchpanel distribution amps such as the wireless MCX-A10 or MCX-C15. Consult your Installer or Yamaha for more information.

Alternative: If you're computer saavy you can certainly do this on a PC and get a less-expensive device like a Slim Devices Squeezebox2 to serve up your collection, but if you want to go PC-free and the ability to serve this is a great option

Interconnect Cables and Wiring: Impact Acoustics

info While we are not looking to stack this system with exotic cables, we thought we'd recommend some products that we have tested and ensured pass muster while still providing a nice, uniform look to your system. Yes, you can hook up your speakers with 12/2 zip cord, but at this price point we felt that it would be appropriate to dress it up a bit nicer. Here are the basics we recommend for this system, though feel free to make substitutions as you see fit:

  • 3' SonicWave Component Video Cable $55.36

  • 3 x 15' Velocity Speaker Interconnects $14.76/ea

  • 100ft 12AWG Velocity Bulk Speaker Cable from Impact Acoustics $76.24

  • 5 x 3' SonicWave Dual Channel "RCA" Audio Interconnects $30/ea

  • 12 foot Velocity subwoofer cable from Impact Acoustics $12.85

  • 1 meter Velocity optical cable from Impact Acoustics $9.55

Note: Cable lengths recommended here are for guide purposes only. We recommend having your installer determine exact lengths needed and order accordingly.

HDMI Cables: DVIGear SHR HDMI Cables

You need certified HDMI cables for this system, so we've brought you the ones from DVIGear, which are guaranteed to pass up to 1080p - even over longer runs.

  • 7.5m HDMI projector cable $135

  • 2 x 1m HR HDMI interconnect $25/ea

*Note: Your HDMI video cable may need to be longer or shorter depending on where the audio rack and the projector are located. Other cables may be necessary to terminate existing audio/video components such as VCR's, Tivo's, and HDTV receivers.

Additional Notes on Cables:
Cable lengths and # of cables required for this project are best determined by your installer. We recommend having your installer examine your house in the framing stage if possible to determine proper lengths and amounts needed. Always have them run additional cables for redundancy and future expansion.

Cable Terminations / Wall Plates

Price: around $500

We recommend DVIGear and Impact Acoustics wall plates and terminations for this job. We have found both of these companies offer unparalleled build quality, particularly their banana terminations which are some of the select few on the market that can accommodate 10AWG speaker wiring and make a truly excellent compression fit once screwed down tightly.

Universal Remote Control MX-950 "Aurora" with MRF-300 RF Receiver

mx950Price: $699 plus $200 for the MRF-300 | Review
When you connect a system this complex, you'll need a couple of really good remote controls to go along with it. The MX-950 "Aurora" by Universal Remote Control, Inc is one of the best we've seen and offers a huge value for those wanting to have a truly bullet-proof solution for their home's remote needs. We recommend coupling it with an MRF-300 RF receiver for ultimate control over up to 6 different zones/products in the bedroom system. A solid RF remote like this will insure that you are able to control your components without having to point the remote at an IR sensor or even keep your equipment within view.

Alternatives: For the ultimate control, grab the $799 MSC-400 system which provides much better IR control and implements a "trigger" macro so your remote only sends one command to the MSC-400 for all initiated macros.


Zone 3 Office Room

Speakers: RBH Sound MC-83 Inwall Speaker System

Retail Price: $649/pair [Locate a Dealer] info

mc83Who says you can't jazz up your office room with killer sound while maintaining aesthetics to appease the spouse?

Thanks to the 8" aluminum woofers, frequency extension goes down to 45Hz proving little need for a subwoofer for normal music listening.  Feed these babies some clean power from the Denon AVR-5805 and you are all set to rock while you are hard at work or at least pretending to be. Just don't let the kids or their friends catch you air drumming to YYZ before you become their source of amusement.

Zone 4 Dining Room or Back Yard

Speakers: RBH Sound MC-615 Inceiling Speaker System

Retail Price: $499/pair [Locate a Dealer] info
mc615What's for dinner?  How about a nice 6" aluminum cone 2 way inceiling loudspeaker system that serves up tasty performance without being an eye sore?  The MC-615 are a true two way coax loudspeaker system which include a 1" aluminum swivel tweeter to ensure proper coverage of the listening area.  Next time you have guests over, pop in some tunes and you may find them paying more attention to the quality of sound than the savory flavor of the chicken marsala and red wine you are serving.

Power these speakers with hard hitting pristine power from the Emotiva MPS-1.

Alternates: Should you opt for running outdoor speakers instead of the dining room for Zone 4, we highly recommend the Klipsh AW-525 ($399/pair) ultra high efficient, high output horn loaded speakers.  more info

Note: The recommended power amp assignment leaves one spare amp on the AVR-5805 which can be used for a surround back speaker in the bedroom system or remain in idle.

VC Control: Russound ALTx-WIRi2D  UltraMatch Volume Control with Built-in IR Receiver

Retail Price: $99/ea x 2  info
volThe ALTx-WIRi2D is a wall-mounted, Decora® style, speaker-level, UltraMatch volume control which includes an IR receiver built into the same faceplate. It connects between the speaker outputs of an amplifier or receiver and a pair of speakers. The 1x setting allows the volume control to be used as a standard non-impedance matching control (this is the setting we recommend using when connecting a single pair of speakers back to the power amplifier). The 2x, 4x, and 8x settings allow it to be used as an UltraMatch control. The UltraMatch volume control provides a method of matching the minimum output impedance of an amplifier or receiver, in addition to attenuating the volume. This eliminates the need for a speaker selector or other impedance matching equipment. The volume is adjusted by adjusting the amplifier signal output of the volume control to the speakers. All Russound volume controls are manufactured using a high quality autoformer design which provides long life, excellent frequency response, no heat build-up, and maximum power transfer from the amplifier to the speakers.

We recommend a total of two of these volume control systems in order to maintain independent control of Zones 3 & 4.

Alternates: Should you opt for running outdoor speakers instead of the dining room for Zone 4, you may have to go with their weatherproof alternative WALTx-2 but you lose IR capability. more info

Cables: Blue Jean Cables Belden 5000UE (Gray jacket, 12 AWG)

Retail Price:  $0.40 / ft [Buy it Now] info

bluejean12-gauge versions consist of two separately insulated conductors, twisted together and wrapped in an outer PVC sleeve. These cables are UL-listed and NEC-rated for in-wall use (the NEC rating for 5000UE and Twelve White is CL3R; for 5T00UP and Ten White, it's CL2).  Most importantly they are snake oil free.

Note: Cable lengths recommended here are for guide purposes only.  We recommend having your installer determine exact lengths needed and order accordingly. Don't forget to run CAT5e from the amplifier to every volume control location to support IR and future upgradeability.

Trim outs and terminations are left to the customer and installer. We do however recommend F connector to Female RCA on decora wallplates for all A/V coax and female banana plugs for all speaker termination locations at the amp location.  We have had excellent success with SpeakerCraft terminations and wallplates.  For male bananas we again recommend Blue Jeans Cable.  See page 2 for more information.

Essential Items For Whole System

Equipment Rack:  Middle Atlantic WRK-44SA-32AXS-26

Price:  $3,000 & up (depending on configuration) info
rackYou need a place to house all of your equipment. We can't think of a better solution than one from Middle Atlantic. The uncompromised build quality, and flexibility of these racks are endless. They can be configured with wire management, thermal management and customized faceplates for a more blended look for your components. Best of all, they can be installed in a closet, or concealed into a wall.  Need to access your equipment?  No problem.  These racks have sliders that allow simple access to your components for service or upgrade.  To sweeten the deal, these racks are UL listed and seismic certified for all of you California residents.

Tools: Radio Shack Analogue SPL Meter (Cat# 33-4050)

Price: $40  info

radioshackSPLmeterThis is another must have and will allow you to calibrate your system's speaker levels.It's easy to use and its use is covered in Avia Guide to Home Theater.

Rives Audio Test CD 2

Price: $21 [Buy it Now from Rives Audio
rives2 Got a tweaker in the house? How about a subwoofer, SPL meter and a CD player? The Rives Audio Test CD is a unique and inexpensive way to determine room and speaker response. It has 1/3 octave precisely calibrated test tones from 20 Hz to 20 kHz for flat response and a series of test tones which compensate non-linearites of the classic Radio Shack SPL meter traditionally used for home theater calibrations.  Armed with your trusty Radio Shack SPL meter this Test CD 2, you now have an inexpensive and more accurate way to integrate your sub into the rest of your system and do your best to minimize those nasty standing waves.

Thrifty Pop 4oz Popcorn Machine

Price: $400  info
popcornWhat home theater is complete without an authetic popcorn machine?  Sure you could buy the microwave kind, but it lacks the cool factor and feel of a real movie theater.  We recommend one of these babies to spruce up your system.

The Thrifty Pop 4 oz. Popcorn Machine is a more affordable alternative to our full-featured Theater Pop line of poppers. Made entirely in the USA, this machine features a high-output, hard-coat anodized aluminum side-hinged kettle, tempered glass panels, and sturdy cabinet construction to keep you producing movie theater quality popcorn for your family year round! Stand is included (please note: this stand is not push-cart style like the rest of our popcorn machine w/ cart combos).

The Thrifty Pop 4 oz popcorn machine popper utilizes a 50 watt R20 presentation lamp to highlight the popped corn for added impulse sales. The Thrifty Pop 4 oz popcorn machine popper will cycle in approximately 3 minutes and produce 92 ounces of popped corn in an hour. One serving will produce enough popped popcorn to fill approximately four 1-oz bags. One Year Manufacturer's Warranty.

All that you need now is the popcorn and to figure out what your guests' price of admission should be!


About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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