As some of you know, Deb and I bought an old Nazarene church in 2006 with the idea of converting it into our home. It was, once the pews and other church furniture were removed, basically a big, empty cube. One of the key features that weighed in on the decision to purchase the building was a large space behind the pulpit that we could see was about 16:9. We thought that would make a great theater; and after a fair amount of work and kicking equipment around, it turns out that was right. Here’s what we ended up with:

204" 1080p DLP FP home theater
I pushed the shadow levels up so the details of the system are easier to see; this makes the projected image look like it isn’t getting very black, but it actually is — DLP projectors make good blacks

You’re looking at a 17 foot (205 inch) diagonal, 1080p projection system with well over a thousand watts RMS distributed across 7.1 channels. It presently features a Mac (as media librarian), DirecTV / HD-DVR, 16-channel IR/color 1 TB security DVR, SVHS, DVD, MD, CD, Sirius sat. radio, XM sat. radio, broadcast HD receiver, blueray / PS3, HD-DVD / XBox360, PS2, XBox, Gamecube, and a Wii. The receiver is a Sony STR-DA5300ES with six HDMI inputs, and the projector is an Optoma HD-80. Deb and I built and finished the audio cabinetry, and I put the electronics together. Seating is a 12-foot wide, 8-person couch with two built-in recliners at the center “sweet spot” just out of the picture, a few feet in front of the cabinetry.

The front speakers are Marantz HD-880s, primo 4-element designs with 12" optional port bass drivers; the center and rear pair are Linnaeum designs, with the rears having 8" low frequency drivers. The sides are 3-element 15" low driver custom boxes. The sub is a dual-coil passive 12" being driven by 200 watts RMS out of a Yamaha natural sound amplifier. All the speaker systems except the center do bass support work and are phase aligned (via the receiver’s setup procedure) for the sweet spot (two recliners built into the couch, at center seating), so the system has well over a kilowatt RMS of usable bass capability. Explosions are downright thunderous.

I do a lot of listening in stereo, particularly when studying or reading; to that end, the classic HD-880′s and the Sony (in 2-channel mode) make a spectacular combination. The space, being a church pulpit after all, was actually designed to do a good job with sound and the combination is most pleasing.

All those guitar controllers are from Rockband and Guitar Hero. Everyone in the family likes those games, including us “old” folks. The wifi versions are by far the best controllers. Less susceptible to damage by static, too.

The raised stage in front of the screen has some other uses as well. I have a 12-foot green screen I can set up to create a “background-free” photo studio; I often shoot portraits there and compose in the backdrops digitally. I usually do the shooting from across the A/V cabinet, leaving the entire stage area free for the subject. The door on your left in the image is where I store my photographic equipment, including the green abd blue screens, strobes, modeling lights and so forth.

I’ll write further about our church-to-home conversion in subsequent posts; we’ve done a number of things that are a bit… eclectic, at least. Odds are my readers will find them interesting, if only in a “check out those weird people and their strange project” sense. Besides, writing about it means a break from waving saws and screwdrivers about. Makes one appreciate contractors, it really does. It’s just the contractors bills we don’t appreciate!