One of the things Jennifer was looking forward to when I moved in was the integration of my audio/video equipment with hers. While she already had a DVD player and HDTV, she didn’t have a sound system to go along with it. On the other hand, I DID have a home theater setup, consisting of an Onkyo receiver and Aiwa speakers and subwoofer (the speakers were part of a “home theater in a box”; the original receiver was long destroyed). When I moved in, we put my receiver in place, along with my DVD player (as it was upconverting). While I hooked the DVD player to power and had it ready, we left the receiver disconnected for a few months.
The problem wasn’t that we didn’t want to use it. The problem was that we didn’t know what to do about the rear speakers. Our floors are hardwood, so we couldn’t just run the wires under the carpet. Also, we had NO desire to run wires through the wall. I did that before at my parents’ house, and did NOT like it. That’s also the reason my office at home is linked to the home network through a wireless bridge.
A few weeks ago, however, I came across the perfect solution. A company called Rocketfish had a universal wireless rear speaker system. We picked one up from the local Best Buy, brought it home, and I spent the evening wiring up the receiver to the speakers, TV, DVR, DVD player, and Wii.
The end result was very satisfying. The sound came through very crisp and clear, and the rear speakers were clear as well. Even my friend Mike, who has the most impressive home theater room I’ve ever seen, was impressed by how well the wireless solution worked.
In fact, the home theater setup revealed a weakness in how I had the speakers set up at my parents’ house. When we wired them up at my parents’ house, we put them up by the ceiling, facing out… but not down. The sound as a result was always subpar, and I thought the speakers themselves were probably very low quality. It wasn’t until I listened to them at ground level on the new setup that I realized why they seemed low quality: they projected across the room, but not down to where I could actually HEAR them properly. Oops. At least now they sound great at room level.
Since we put it together, we’ve gone ahead and added a Blu-Ray player to the mix, and use it to watch Blu-Rays and instant viewing from Netflix. We ended up getting a decent little player from Samsung for about $140; a number of people had recommended that we get a Playstation 3, but we didn’t think it was worth it. It cost twice as much as the Samsung (which does everything we’d want the PS3 to do), and we wouldn’t be using it to play games. It’s worked out beautifully so far; the best test was when my parents came over to visit a week ago last Sunday. As I sat Dad down in front of the home theater, he asked if he could borrow my copy of Avatar… and then sat, mouth open, as the Blu-Ray version of Avatar finally finished loading and started showing. He asked Mom for a similar setup, but I don’t think Mom’s going to go for it. :-)
Since then, it’s gotten plenty of use. We still have two movies waiting to see for it from our Netflix disc queues (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Cloverfield), and my entire instant viewing queue. Looks like it’ll be serving us well for quite a while. :-)