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Best of the Best: Home Theater

Ken Kessler

Happy Medium
A theater with bespoke quality and off-the-rack convenience.

 

At one end of the home theater spectrum are the all-in-one packages that offer simple, instant solutions to your entertainment needs. At the other end are the massive, custom-designed and custom-installed surrogate cinemas. The home theater we have assembled falls somewhere between the two extremes. This theater could be installed in an existing room without requiring the services of an army of carpenters and electricians, and at the same time, it represents an entertainment experience comparable to that offered by a completely bespoke system.

The McIntosh MHT200 A/V System Controller ($6,100) combines several functions in one chassis without compromising any quality—though at 9½ inches tall, 17¾ inches wide, 19 inches deep, and 73 pounds, it is a large chassis. The complete audio and video processor features eight channels delivering 140 watts each, a controller that addresses every form of Dolby and DTS surround-sound processing, and an AM/FM tuner. It also accepts another source (CD or radio, for example) for a second stereo zone. The MHT200 automatically calibrates the speaker levels and signal delay, and is operable with a variety of remotes.

The Linn Unidisk 2.1 ($8,200), a universal player that handles every disc format, including SACD and DVD-Audio, is the ideal player for the discs that have not been loaded onto the Escient Fireball DVDM-100 server (about $5,000 for full capacity). The Fireball allows for easy control of as many as 1,200 CDs, Super Audio CDs, and DVDs located on three different changers.

For digital radio reception, we have included the Antex Electronics SRX-3 TriplePlay ($1,700), the only satellite radio receiver that offers three zones of distributed audio. Our choice for a personal video recorder is the Pioneer Elite DVR-57H ($1,800), which features the greatest hard drive capacity (120 gigabytes) among its peers, and TiVo functionality. The InFocus ScreenPlay 777 DLP projector ($30,000) has an astounding 3000:1 contrast ratio, and a Stewart FireHawk perforated screen will make colors appear as vivid in the movies as they are in reality.

The Aerial Acoustics System 1 ($28,500) surround-sound system integrates a projection screen and array of speakers into a single unit that is only 12 inches deep. The speakers and electronics, positioned along the sides and bottom of the screen, are camouflaged by a cloth border.

Aerial Acoustics
www.aerialacoustics.com

Antex Electronics
www.antex.com

Escient
www.escient.com

InFocus
www.infocus.com

Linn
www.linninc.com

McIntosh
www.mcintoshlabs.com

Pioneer Electronics
www.pioneerelectronics.com

Stewart Filmscreen Corp.
www.stewartfilm.com

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