What was your first "home theater" system like?

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  • Kevin P
    Member
    • Aug 2000
    • 10808

    What was your first "home theater" system like?

    Just another one of my pointless threads to get a discussion going.

    Even if you have a "kick-ass" HT system now, chances are you started out with a more humble set-up, or even a set-up you would be embarrassed about now. Now's your chance to describe the systems you had in the "good old days," and how it led up to what you have now.

    I'll start with what I consider to be my first true "home theater" oriented set up. It consisted of a:

    Sony STR-AV1070 receiver with Dolby Pro-Logic
    Hitachi 27" TV - no S-video, only composite video
    Fisher HiFi VCR
    Pioneer CLD-S201 LD player
    dbx 3-piece satellite speaker system (out of DAK catalog), for mains
    Realistic Minimus-7s as surrounds
    A Pioneer bookshelf speaker for my center channel

    I guess you can say I've come a long way since then. I upgraded the receiver to a Yamaha 795, then an Outlaw 1050. I added a Pioneer DVD player. I replaced my wannabe speakers with real ones. I replaced the 27" TV with a 46" widescreen HD-ready RPTV. I upgraded the Pioneer DVD player with a Sony progressive scan player. I rewired with 12 gauge speaker wire and CatCable interconnects. I added a SVS sub.

    The last piece that dated back to my "old" home theater system was retired last summer, when I upgraded my LD player to a Pioneer CLD-D704.

    Any other home theater "growing up" stories?

    KJP




    Official Computer Geek and Techno-Wiz Guru of HTGuide - Visit Tower of Power
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  • Andrew Pratt
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Aug 2000
    • 16508

    #2
    hmm depending on what you consider a home theater my answers could vary but I guess if we say that the "receiver" had to have at least pro logic decoding then my "first" HT consisted of a Sony DE315 (I think) receiver, kenwood mains and centre and some really really bad kenwood rears. The TV was a 19" hitatchi that was coax only and we had a Sony hi-fi VCR as a source. I still remember been blown away with twister in pro logic though Shortly after that I built my first sub using a driver from Madisound...it kept bottoming out so I replaced the driver twice more before selling it off and starting from scratch with a shiva in a sonotube....from there its a roller coaster ride to where I am now

    If you can go back before pro logic I've had speakers rigged up to my TV since I was about 14 or so...either directly to the internal speaker leads on the TV or from a VCR into a receiver for stereo playback (well when I finally got a hifi VCR)




    Comment

    • David Meek
      Moderator Emeritus
      • Aug 2000
      • 8938

      #3
      Wow, that's been a while - like 1984-5?

      27" Maganvox console color TV
      Pioneer SX-880 stereo receiver
      Pioneer HPM-100 speakers (heavy muthas too!)
      hand-made walnut speaker stands that angled the speakers back at about 10%
      top-loading VCR (pre-remote control)

      It made me happy at the time. Once I upgraded to a Mitsubishi stereo VCR (what they considered hi-def in those days) it got even better. Looking back at what I paid for those first few VHS movies, though - OUCH!!!!!





      David - HTGuide flunky
      Our "Theater"
      Our DVDs on DVD Tracker

      .

      David - Trigger-happy HTGuide Admin

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      • Burke Strickland
        Moderator
        • Sep 2001
        • 3161

        #4
        I "invented" home theater my senior year in college when I connected my 15 inch Panasonic portable color TV's headphone output to my Dynaco SCA-35 integrated amp and Acoustic Research AR-4ax speakers. The folks who sold me the Pannie thought I was crazy for wanting an audio output on the TV, since it had its own "built in" speaker. Video tape was still a ways off, but the broadcast movie experience was significantly enhanced in the mean time using this set-up. (There have been a few upgrades since then.) :>)

        Burke

        What you DON'T say may be held against you...

        Comment

        • dsmith
          Senior Member
          • Jan 2003
          • 114

          #5
          My first HT was really pretty damn good considering I was fortunate to luck into a set of awesome speakers - the same speakers I am still using 8 years later. It all started when I bought a new 31" TV (Panasonic Superflat) that I am still using because it gets a really fine picture. The problem was it had lousy sound, so I started looking at getting outboard speakers and realized I needed to educate myself about audio. I started reading a lot of the mags and thumbed through a couple of books. Dolby Pro Logic was just then replacing plain old Dolby Surround; DVD and digital audio was just in the planning stages. I read a review of Digital Phase speakers by Julian Hirsch in the old Stereo Review mag and was impressed. They sell direct and had a toll-free number so I called and got their brochure and called back several times. They offered a good discount ($400) on a HT package with a 30 day trial period and I decided to try it. It was the best decision I have made to date - these are truly wonderful speakers. The main speakers (AP-2.1) are sizeable floor-standers that are flat to 35 Hz and produce the best (not the lowest) bass I have ever heard from any speaker. In fact bass was so good I did not get a sub until less than a year ago (SVS PCi 20-39).

          My receiver was the H/K AVR20II, which the folks at Digital Phase recommended as having enough current to drive their 4 ohm speakers, and it did very nicely. My VCR was a Panasonic SVHS model that I m still using to this day. It can record a picture at EP speed that is comparable to my Replay PVR at its highest resolution.

          So I guess I was spoiled from the start. But I did my homework and realized early on that I would not be satisifed with the mass market speakers. And that, as they say, has made all the difference.

          Don

          Comment

          • Bob
            Senior Member
            • Jul 2000
            • 802

            #6
            Burkes early attempts to improve the sound from broadcast tv brings back lots of memories. I remember having friends do similar things and than having to degauss their tvs because the speakers weren't shielded. Seems to me that early home theater was more about bringing movies into your house. Although, Burkes method of adding speakers to a portable tv was certainly clever and elegant. Just a few short years ago, there was no such thing as a video store and the idea that you could watch a movie in your home, at your leisure, without commercials was pretty foreign to probably 99.9% of the population.
            My first home theater consisted of a 16mm projector and mono sound but, that was all that was on the film then. There was no internet, of course, and collecting 16mm versions of movies took some effort. Collectors traded and there were mail order lists. If I hadn't grown up in a film community I can't imagine that I would have ever known that you could buy movies. I always marveled at the people I traded films with that lived outside of Hollywood that were involved in this early form of home theater.

            Comment

            • Burke Strickland
              Moderator
              • Sep 2001
              • 3161

              #7
              Bob -- Sounds like you were one of the real pioneers of home theater. You had the opportunity to do what many of us only got to read about in those early days... that must have been way cool! Even as much as we enjoy our DVDs, there's still nothing quite like film running through a projector.

              Seems to me that early home theater was more about bringing movies into your house.
              Exactly. It was all about movies. But at the time I did the thing with the TV and stereo system to enhance the "broadcast movie experience", unless you were close to the movie industry or VERY well off, and/or had plenty of spare time to pursue them, broadcast TV was about the only way to get movies into one's own dorm room, er, home. The films we had ready access to on 16 mm in my college days, at least around where I lived, may have been, ahem, "classics", but they sure weren't "Hollywood classics". :>)

              the idea that you could watch a movie in your home, at your leisure, without commercials was pretty foreign to probably 99.9% of the population
              That is certainly true. As a kid who had an interest in movies and (unrealized) plans to become an architect, I sketched house plans that included a small movie theater (dedicated room with theater seats, and some kind of projection facility). My friends said I was crazy to even dream of such a thing unless I planned on being a millionaire. To which I responded "what's wrong with that?" :>)

              Even if everyone else thought it was an unrealistic pipe dream, I planned to have a movie theater in my home someday, and "knew" it was a worthwhile goal. Of course, some 40 years later, while the technology is certainly different, both the movies and equipment for enjoying them at home are within reach of people of even fairly modest means, which I think is a good thing.

              Burke

              What you DON'T say may be held against you...

              Comment

              • David Meek
                Moderator Emeritus
                • Aug 2000
                • 8938

                #8
                Originally posted by Mr. cut to the chase Burke
                It was all about movies.

                That's the bottom line for this hobby. It was, is and always will be about the movies. Our systems may evolve from 17" TVs and 16mm projectors to . . . whatever, but without that celluloid (okay, okay, I know it's not celluloid any more - go with me on this), without those movies, we wouldn't be here. I know I tend to lose sight of that sometimes.

                Reaching back even further, it really wasn't home theater, but in college (living with my grandparents), we got cable just as soon as it was available. It was a hard-wired controller with 24 buttons to select the available channels. I had friends over at all hours to watch the incredible selection of channels and the movies available. Who knew it would grow into this?




                David - HTGuide flunky
                Our "Theater"
                Our DVDs on DVD Tracker

                .

                David - Trigger-happy HTGuide Admin

                Comment

                • George Bellefontaine
                  Moderator Emeritus
                  • Jan 2001
                  • 7637

                  #9
                  My first HT was a 19" Sanyo color tv with an Electrohome VCR ( the remote was connected by a cord to the vcr) with sound outs from the vcr connected to ther aux ins of a Sansui amplifier, and with a couple of huge 3/way Sansui speakers. Seemed pretty awesome at the time.

                  Tex mentioned 16mm projectors. I once owned an 8mm PJ ( silent) and had a collection of old films from a company called Blackhawk. They were basically short versions of feature length films. Some were black & white, some were color. So maybe that was my first HT.




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                  • Chuck G
                    Member
                    • Feb 2003
                    • 37

                    #10
                    My first HT system was in 1996 I think. Whatever year ID 4 came out is what prompted this crazy money sponging hobby. I actually went to a REAL theater in Washington DC (Mount Vernon theaters) and had my first surround sound movie experience and was blown away. You see, we had no such sound in Greenville and Washington NC.

                    So I got a Sony STR-80es pro logic receiver and used my ESS speakers I have had since 1976 or so. A set of LS'8 bookshelf speakers and the AMT-1D monitors. The closest sonic match I could find for the center speaker ended up being NHT VT1.1c and I have been entrenched with NHT speakers ever since.




                    Chuck
                    Chuck

                    Comment

                    • Eduardo
                      Moderator emeritus
                      • Jun 2002
                      • 1258

                      #11
                      This is an easy one to answer, since I'm still on my first system. Although there has been some changes but nothing monumental.

                      Current Next Upgrade
                      Zenith 27" HDTV Widescreen (12-18 mo)
                      Sony STR-DE835 Rotel 1055
                      Sony CDP-CX400
                      Sony DVP-650D Progressive Scan W/ SACD or DVD-A
                      Sony SLV-799
                      Sony RM-AV2100
                      Klipsh SB-1 (mains) DIY - Kit281 or MK8a(?)
                      Klipsh SC-1 (Center) DIY
                      JBL satellites (Surrounds) DIY
                      147L Shiva Sonosub DIY (15"-18")




                      http://home.nc.rr.com/ejimenez

                      Comment

                      • Lex
                        Moderator Emeritus
                        • Apr 2001
                        • 27461

                        #12
                        Well, I am not quite as pioneering as Bob, but I owned one of the first two hi-fi VCRs back in probably 84. There was a Magnavox out, and a Mitsubishi available at Circuit City, maybe they were still called Dixie Hi-Fi at that point, not sure. But I had it hooked into a Sherwood receiver using 4 speakers.

                        From there, I moved to a Technics receiver, a pair of Bose 4000s (cabinet speakers), a small Pioneer center, and 2 surrounds that were junk. this was my post divorce system, purchased the components from sears. Got a Mitsu 36" console TV.

                        A few years later, that's when the madness began. I went to look for a new VCR. I picked up a Sony, and next started looking at RPTVs. Wound up getting an XBR Sony. After 2 blew up, wound up with a Pioneer Elite, then a new sub, (Klipsch), then started trading components, got Rotel, kept for a short time, moved to Lexicon DC-1, then soon the Proceed amps, selling the Rotel stuff at that point. Also, got new speakers when I got the Rotel, Infinity. From there, total insanity took hold, with trades, additions, whew, it's exausting, lol.

                        Lex




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                        Doug
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                        • JonMarsh
                          Mad Max Moderator
                          • Aug 2000
                          • 15336

                          #13
                          Put this in perspective- most of my life I haven't even owned a TV- as a former musican and part time studio engineer, I was just too busy to care about it.

                          In 1986, after moving to CA with Siemens, I bought my first TV, mostly to have so my daughter could watch Sesame Street.

                          Late that year, ThomasW's stepdad gave up on getting a Heathking front projection TV Kit he'd bought working for more than a few weeks at a time. He was going to give it to GoodWill for a small tax write off, but I ended up buy it from him, and spend two days on my Xmas breal tearing it down and rebuilding it. Thomas said he wasn't very skilled with a soldering iron, and that was something of an understatement. While his stepdad got a Kloss Novabeam to replace this Heathkit, I got it running reliability without investing anything more than time in it. It used one of the big curved silvered screens also, and driven by a Hitachi HiFi VCR, and running with a pair of tower speakers I'd built using Woodstyle enclsoures, it wasn't quite the movie theater, but it would blow away what was sold in TV's in those days.

                          After Nancy and I separated in '88, I bought another Heathkit CRT FPTV, this one was based on a Zenith chasis, and was quite a bit more sophisticated. My daughter Elaine and I spent many an hour while she was growing up watching our favorite Laser Disks on that rig; especially Back to the Future, Star Wars, Problem Child, and a collection of her own disks of favorite movies. That Zenith was donated to the Waale foundation for worthwhile friends and moved to some friends of his in Denver when we made the "meet in the desert" so I could pick up the X1 SLAMM cabinets to bring home a few years back....

                          -Jon




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                          • Rich B
                            Junior Member
                            • Jun 2002
                            • 16

                            #14
                            First System:

                            Yammy DPL receiver.
                            Radio Shack speakers (they had a 50% off sale at the time).
                            Radio Shack 200W sub - it farted, but it also shook the entire apartment.
                            Hand me down 10+ year old 48" NEC RPTV that actually folded up in the back - I kid you not!
                            Mitsubishi VHS VCR.

                            I was SO proud. Man, what memories. Great thread!

                            Rich B.

                            Comment

                            • George Bellefontaine
                              Moderator Emeritus
                              • Jan 2001
                              • 7637

                              #15
                              Jon, what an interesting story. Sounds like you had a lot of fun.




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                              • Bob Santos
                                Senior Member
                                • Mar 2001
                                • 273

                                #16
                                My first home theater started when I bought my first "largeish"
                                TV in 1995 (I think) I bought a 35" Toshiba direct view.
                                In the days that followed that purchase I went out and bought
                                a Teac Prologic receiver, a pair of JBL bookshelf speakers, a $129.00 set of sony speakers that had a center, and 2 surrounds, and a Pioneer CLD201 laserdisc player.
                                At the time I was in HT heaven. I proudly plased my surrounds on the back of the couch just behind my head, cranked up the level of the rear's and started my (not known at that time) favorite hobby of spending most of my family's spare money on my never ending quest of building my perfect home theater.
                                Since then the amount of changes, and upgrades, sidegrades, and downgrades have been countless.

                                BTW: Except for the JBL bookshelf speakers I still have all the pieces from my original home theater. In a closet

                                Comment

                                • Bob Santos
                                  Senior Member
                                  • Mar 2001
                                  • 273

                                  #17
                                  ops: Holy Cow !!!
                                  I guess it's a bad idea to keep smacking the submit button while impatiently waiting for the post to submit ops:

                                  Comment

                                  • Bob Santos
                                    Senior Member
                                    • Mar 2001
                                    • 273

                                    #18

                                    Comment

                                    • Bob Santos
                                      Senior Member
                                      • Mar 2001
                                      • 273

                                      #19
                                      ops:

                                      Comment

                                      • Bob Santos
                                        Senior Member
                                        • Mar 2001
                                        • 273

                                        #20
                                        Please let me know if you need to repeat anything :LOL:

                                        FLIP ? :twisted:

                                        Comment

                                        • David Meek
                                          Moderator Emeritus
                                          • Aug 2000
                                          • 8938

                                          #21
                                          :rofl:
                                          .

                                          David - Trigger-happy HTGuide Admin

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                                          • Glauco BruZZi
                                            Junior Member
                                            • Mar 2003
                                            • 4

                                            #22
                                            My first HT system was around 1994 I guess:

                                            Pioneer VSX-9700s Receiver
                                            Sony 27" TV
                                            JBL Speakers
                                            Panasonic VCR
                                            Sony CD Player

                                            And here's what I have now:

                                            Panasonic TH37PW5UZ Plasma Display
                                            Denon 4800 (As pre/pro)
                                            Rotel RMB-1095 Amplifier
                                            Definitive Tech Speakers
                                            Pinnacle Digital Sub 650
                                            Behringer DSP-1100P Parametric Equalizer
                                            Panasonic DVD-RP82 Player
                                            Home Theater Master MX-500 Remote
                                            AudioQuest Cables all around
                                            DIY Power Cords (Belden 19364/Marinco 8215T Plug/IEC Schurter 4300.0603)
                                            PASS AND SEYMOUR Wall Plugs 5262AI

                                            Comment

                                            • Rich B
                                              Junior Member
                                              • Jun 2002
                                              • 16

                                              #23
                                              Glauco:

                                              How have you been? I bought your saw last summer. It worked out great for a backyard project. Hope all is well.

                                              Rich B.

                                              Comment

                                              • George Bellefontaine
                                                Moderator Emeritus
                                                • Jan 2001
                                                • 7637

                                                #24
                                                Glauco, how do you like the Plasma ?




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                                                • Glauco BruZZi
                                                  Junior Member
                                                  • Mar 2003
                                                  • 4

                                                  #25
                                                  Hi Richard, I'm doing fine thanks!!! I'm glad the saw have helped you with the project.

                                                  It's nice talking to you again.

                                                  Regards,

                                                  Glauco

                                                  -----------------------------------------------

                                                  George,

                                                  I'm VERY HAPPY with my plasma. The ED 37" has smaller pixels than the 42" ED (Same Count) resulting in a better PQ for closer viewing distance.

                                                  HD: A lot of people think HD sources will not look great on the 37" ED or the 42" ED Displays. Well, resolution isn't everything on plasmas. HD Programming looks amazing on both sets.

                                                  DVD: Because it matches up perfectly with the 480 horizontal resolution of the plasma, PQ is excellent and superior (not much) comparing to HD sets. it's even better now that I'm using a Panny RP82 DVD Player. Also there's a visible difference in PQ using the DVD Player on Progressive Scan Mode: Richer colors, Much better black levels and gray scales

                                                  Regular TV: That vary from awful to excellent depending on the source and signal.
                                                  Bad programming look a little bit worse than a direct view TV IMO.



                                                  * Please note that you have to keep a minimal distance from the ED sets to avoid seeing the pixels structure (Also called "screen door effect"). And since people have different vision, that distance will vary. To my eyes the pixels on the Panasonic 42" ED start to disappear around 8 feet (5 feet to my 37" set). For some people 9-10 feet is the minimal while others are fine sitting 6-7 feet away from the display. So, let your own eyes be the judge.

                                                  Comment

                                                  • Ricky
                                                    Senior Member
                                                    • Aug 2000
                                                    • 226

                                                    #26
                                                    1996: my first HT that integrated the TV with more than 2 speakers.

                                                    Signet SL266 towers, VC266 center, bose 201 bookshelves (no sub)
                                                    Adcom 5300 80x2
                                                    Yamaha dsp-e492 DPL processor with amps for center and rears
                                                    old VCR
                                                    Pioneer Elite 25+1 cd changer
                                                    32inch Hitachi TV

                                                    Since then, there haven't been too many changes

                                                    Comment

                                                    • craigdcan
                                                      Member
                                                      • Dec 2002
                                                      • 42

                                                      #27
                                                      Kinda funny to think about, but here goes.....

                                                      25" Sharp TV
                                                      Toshiba VCR(was about $600 at the time.....kinda funny now)
                                                      Signet center channel
                                                      400 watt Cerwin Vega mains
                                                      Paradigm Titan surrounds
                                                      Kenwood receiver (can't remember the model number, but it was the only THX model at the time)
                                                      Energy 12" sub(no model#)

                                                      Whle this system didn't sound very seamless or detailed, it was quite impressive......big "wow factor", due to the extreme db's......Those CV's sure play loud without needing a ton of power.....

                                                      Comment

                                                      • MuShu007
                                                        Member
                                                        • Jun 2002
                                                        • 61

                                                        #28
                                                        My first surround system started back in '94:

                                                        Sanyo 20" TV (coax video only)
                                                        Pioneer VSX-503s DPL receiver
                                                        JVC JVC HR-VP612U VCR
                                                        Bose 301's main speaker
                                                        Technics ??? center/rear speaker

                                                        1996:

                                                        Marantz SR-96 THX receiver/ DP-870 Dolby digital decoder
                                                        Sony 32" TV
                                                        Pioneer CLD-504 LD player
                                                        Klipsch CF-1 system
                                                        Clark synthesis tactile transducer /NAD 2700 THX amp

                                                        1999:

                                                        Marantz SR-18 THX Receiver
                                                        Gone thru:
                                                        Ist Sony dvd player,Panny A-110,C-220,JVC 723,Tosh 6200
                                                        B&W CDM 7,1,Cse (still in use with Klipsch sub)

                                                        Finally! Here's what I have now:



                                                        Long ways from the Old DPL system..........contented for now

                                                        Comment

                                                        • Azeke
                                                          Super Senior Member
                                                          • Mar 2003
                                                          • 2123

                                                          #29
                                                          Alright I'm game.

                                                          First:

                                                          1) Sony Receiver
                                                          2) Panasonic VCR
                                                          3) JBL Speakers

                                                          Currently:

                                                          1) Yamaha RX-V3200 (pre-pro)
                                                          2) Mirage OM-7
                                                          3) Mirage OM C-2 (Center)
                                                          4) DefTech BPV surrounds
                                                          5) Rotel RMB-1095
                                                          6) Rotel RCD-1080 (CD Player)
                                                          7) Panasonic DVD player
                                                          8) Epson LCD projector

                                                          I've come a long way from when I first started. This seems to be an expensive hobby, but at least it keeps me home.
                                                          It's also actually quite amusing sometimes, once guys come over to the house the upgrade bug bites them too.

                                                          Zeke

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