Home Cinema Equipment - suggestions?

I felt that way for a while but not anymore. I had a 80" projection screen which I used in a dedicated room for 10 years in 3 different homes. I cannot see myself ever going back to a projector though.

  • The room has to be dark to watch anything. Sometime I just wanted to watch something light while doing something else. Wasn’t possible.
  • It was a PITA to fit total blackout curtains in all three rooms I installed the screen.
  • The contrast ratio was never as good as the TV.
  • The noise from the fan was really intrusive during quiet scenes.
  • Despite all the above, the picture quality on the TV I bought was much better, had none of the above issues and was a fraction of the cost.

When I went from 80" projection to 55" TV, it felt like a massive upgrade because it was quiet, and the picture was so good. I sat a bit closer than with the projector but also went from a Yamaha THX amp to a Denon amp that was just miles better and overall, it was far more immersive.

I’ve invested a lot in getting a dedicate room built for AV in the new home being built. Everything from replaceable wall panels to facilitate on-wall speaker changes, to mass loaded and damped walls and multiple dedicated mains circuits. And yet my long experience with the projection screen has led me to still opt for a TV despite having no constraints whatsoever about screen type.

The balance between quality (and cost) of video and audio is of course a matter of personal preference. In my case music playing takes high precedence over any video, so the big spend has always been on the hifi. And when TV and hifi were in the same room, with TV between speakers, plugging TV sound into the hifi vastly improved the enjoyment of films. I now have hifi and TV in different rooms, as my wife prefers to watch TV when I listen to music - but I find for home cinema (immersive film watching) screen size definitely takes precedence over audio.

But in my view TV watching is different from wanting to have a fully immersive movie film experience, for which a screen subtending a small angle at my eye can never achieve.

Even though relatively low budget, my system was set up to achieve a true home cinema experience with every film I watch, and that it does. Could it be improved - yes of course! First improvement done using hifi for main two channels. But next improvement would be the video side with 4K, then (probably) the centre speaker, then the surround speakers, and finally the sub (which supplements the hifi speakers’ very capable bottom end by providing the more cinema-like low noises). At this stage nothing makes me think of wanting to upgrade the 7.1 receiver. And changing the projector will probably wait until either a house move, or perhaps tge next time the lamp needs changing (changed a year or so ago).

For the OP or anyone else I present this as my experience and view - others of course may have different preferences or priorities.

Regarding other points you made in your last post:

  • for a cinema experience the room wants to be dark, and I wouldn’t expect anyone to want to be doing anything else! Half watching something light while doing something else isn’t a cinema experience! (I do that in the other room with 50” TV.)
  • I don’t achieve complete blackout during daytime, not having sealed around the (cheap) blackout blinds on other windows and moderately thick curtains on two sets of patio doors, but the grey screen seems to cope quite adequately.
  • Contrast indeed isn’t as good - but visual contrast isn’t critical for enjoyment, except on awful films shot mostly in the dark (like the original Dune!). Upgrading projector would improve contrast.
  • I agree about fan noise on quiet passages, though not intrusive enough to spoil enjoyment.
  • Agreed re picture quality, except that in my case when new about 13 years ago the TV cost more than the projector+screen maybe 7 years later (and quite a bit more in real terms) - though now TVs have come down a lot in price. However I don’t find the lesser picture quality of HD on a screen as wide as my distance to the screen detracts at all from the cinema experience, though of course better would be even nicer, hence my aforementioned upgrade thoughts.

Of course a consideration in all this is “home cinema” vs all- purpose video screen watching (TV or films etc), and whether one can accommodate a TV and a cinema, either in the same room or different rooms. I’m lucky in having a room that doubles as music room and home cinema, and other lounge with TV. It would of course be possible to have a standard TV and a projector system in the same room, whether or not also a hifi system, and various parts can share functions. But if someone wants, or can only manage, one screen to perform all functions then there has to be a compromise - no way would I want to watch the News on a screen bigger than me!

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