DIY Reader Home Theater: DIY Made Easy

We wired the room, installed the equipment, and calibrated the system ourselves—and we couldn't be prouder.

My home theater desire started in 1994 when I went to a friend's home theater to watch Jurassic Park on laserdisc. All I could say that day was, "Wow. . .that was amazing." For the next 10 years, my living room was my theater, but my wife suggested that we do a room addition to the house and make it my dedicated home theater. I was all in favor.

It took about two-and-a-half years of research, planning, and learning to complete my room. I spent a lot of time reading Home Theater magazine and Audio Video Interiors, doing research, and getting ideas from others.

I worked with an architect to implement the things that I wanted in the 15-by-25-foot room, such as two-by-six staggered stud walls for sound isolation and a 9-foot soffited ceiling. Next came hiring a contractor to build the room. I also worked with an electrician to lay out the 10 separate 20-amp circuits that feed everything in the room.

So, here's the DIY part of the story. I had a week between the framing and drywall stages to wire the room. I ran about 150 feet of 14/4 in-wall speaker wire, seven runs of RG6 to the projector, 200 feet of RG6 for the cable and satellite feeds, 100 feet of Cat-5 for networking, and one 30-foot HDMI cable.

The room was then drywalled and, after my wife and I installed the baseboards and the crown molding at the bottom of the soffited ceiling for rope lighting, we painted. I enlisted the help of a friend to build the TV riser, seating riser, and window cover/poster frame. For the carpet, I wanted something a little different, so I got a black carpet with a 2-foot gray border. Black is a great color for home theater because it absorbs rather than reflects light. The theater was really coming together.

Without gear, the room was just a shell with no soul. We tackled the audio first. The center of my system is a Lexicon MC-12 V5 pre/pro that handles all the audio and does digital room correction. Power comes from two Adcom amps. Two NHT VT-2.4 towers and five NHT VS-2.4 speakers for center and surround duties handle all the sound from 80 hertz up, and two Outlaw Audio LFM-1 subs and a Definitive Technology sub handle the bass.

For the video, we have a 56-inch Samsung DLP HDTV fed by a DISH Network HD satellite box and an Oppo DV-981 upsampling DVD player for everyday TV watching. For movie time, the Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player feeds a Sony VPL-HS20 projector through the HDMI input and shines on a 106-inch Da-Lite screen that lowers in front of the DLP TV. All of the electronics in the rack are plugged into a Panamax MAX 5300 line conditioner. For control, we chose the Philips ProntoPro TSU7000, which I programmed myself.

The only thing left to do was watch a movie, so my wife and I invited all the people who helped make our theater a reality over for a Saturday barbecue and a movie. I was very proud. One of the benefits of doing it yourself is that, if you ever have a problem, you are familiar enough with your system to know what to do. As far as budget, I spent $55,000 for the room and equipment. Now, that may sound like a lot, but I know people who have $50,000 RVs and don't use them as much as I use my room.

Equipment List:
Surround Processor
Lexicon MC-12 HD w/ RoomEQ
Adcom GFA-5400 (125X2) (Front L&R)
Adcom GFA-7000 (125X5) (C, LS, LR, RR, RS)
Audio Source AMP-ONE (80X2) (Zone 2 Power)
NHT VT-2.4 (Front L&R)
NHT VS-2.4 (C, LS, LR, RR, RS)
Outlaw Audio LFM-1 (RF, LF Subwoofers)
Definitive Technology PF15-TL (Rear Subwoofer)
Source Equipment
Toshiba HD-XA2 (HD-DVD Player)
Sony BDP-S300 (Blu-ray Disc Player)
Oppo DV-981HD (Up-Conversion DVD/SACD/DVD-A Player)
Dish Network VIP622 (HDTV Satellite Receiver/DVR)
Pioneer CLD-D704 (Laser Disc Player)
Microsoft XBOX (Modded Media Box)
Samsung HL-R5656W DLP TV (Everyday Watching)
JVC RS-1 D-ILA Projector (Movie Night)
Da-Lite Contour Electrol (110” High Contrast Matte White)
Other Electronics
APC J Type AV Power Conditioner with Battery Backup
Xantech IR Repeater
X-10 IR543 IR command Center
X-10 Appliance modules (Used to power Amps)
Philips Pronto TSU-7000 (Color Programmable Remote)
Kenwood DEM-9991D (RF Demodulator for LD Player)

Original Budget (2004)
Room: $35,000
Equipment: $20,000

Equipment Budget (2006)
Room changes including new A/V rack: $2,600

Rough Value of Existing Equipment $57,000

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David Stammler's picture

I really like the color of the walls in your home theatre. What color is it exactly?

Ray Coronado's picture

THX guy came from the CES show in Vegas was a THX gift if you filled out the survey.

Tamara's picture

Hi, I've just got started on a plan to create a home theater, and in my search, I've found a really great new site that offers free advice. If anyone elses needs to ask someone objective for some tips, I'd suggest you visit them too, at - they don't sell anything, so they really will give you the RIGHT advice!

sohbet's picture

Wonderful Site! thanks for sharing

al??veri?'s picture

Adcom GFA-5400 (125X2) (Front L&R)Adcom GFA-7000 (125X5) (C, LS, LR, RR, RS)Audio Source AMP-ONE (80X2) (Zone 2 Power)!!!! wowwoowwwwww

LeeB's picture

Hey Ray!Beautiful room. Great Job!Lee

cet's picture


Greg Jones's picture

What I really want to know is where did he get the little THX guy that's shown on his equipment rack? Is this available to the public or do you have to know someone at THX?

msmakeia's picture

I was wondering what color your walls are? That's the exact color I am looking for and how many coats.

4fsd's picture

did he get the little THX guy that's shown on his equipment rack? Is this available to the public or do you have did he get the little THX guy that's shown on his equipment rack? Is this available to the public or do you have to know someone at to know someone at

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