For this month's MyGear we travel to Melbourne. David Penman is a home theatre enthusiast and gadget fan, and he's built up an impressive system that includes motorised chairs! Read what he has to say.

My life revolves around movies, so right from the word go I wanted to build a system that can play pretty much anything, anywhere in the house. But while I wanted amazing picture and sound quality, I didn't want to waste money. So I did a lot of research to arrive at the best bang for buck for my needs.

Picture

Big enough is never really big enough, so I went with a 130-inch Majestic Cinemascope screen to get that really immersive feel. To ensure I got a quality projection in both 2D and 3D, I upgraded my trusty old BenQ W5000 to the new JVC X7 (and begged forgiveness from the wife rather than permission up front). The JVC really has to be seen to be believed. I also imported the new Oppo BDP-93 from the USA with a region mod and this picture is to die for in both 2D and 3D. Also, given that the Oppo BDP-93 does not stream enough codecs for my liking, I also included a home theatre PC (HTPC) based on an HD6870 video card.

To ensure I could get access to all kinds of content in the cinema I hooked up a Topfield TRF 7160.

Of course, what self-respecting father would have a home cinema without a PS3. It's a joy to see Little Big Planet 2 in all its HD glory and, while we aren't avid gamers, it's a fun break to play games on the big screen just because you can.

Sound

I use an 11.2 sound system with dual-Paradigm DSP 3400 subs and Mordaunt Short in-walls and in-ceiling speakers. Because most receivers won't handle 11.2, I went with the Denon AVR 4311 and boy is it a nice piece of kit.

Effects

I use Moran Galaxy recliners sitting on a low profile platform mounted with Crowson transducers (super magnets). The Crowson system is a little different to most, as it doesn't only use low frequency effects, it also integrates left and right main speaker inputs. The Crowson system can be calibrated from subtle to bone shaking, but, either way, once you've felt it you can never go back.

Control

This is the weakness in my system. I use a Logitech Harmony One, which is sort of OK, but doesn't generally work as planned, even when programmed using raw commands. That said, it does the job once you get used to its quirks. On the bright side, the Harmony does operate my Clipsal IR light so that I can truly be lazy.

Total cost of the system less chairs is AU$25,480, or AU$34,480 with chairs. If you are shopping around you can get some real bargains.

Photo by: David Penman

The HTPC is capable of streaming my backups from a 16TB QNAP 809 Pro NAS. I use ArcSoft TMT5 to play all videos on the HTPC, and a Logitech diNovo Mini Keyboard to control the HTPC.

Photo by: David Penman

The HTPC (top), AMC 2N100-2 stereo amplifier and the Crowson control unit.

Photo by: David Penman

The Scope 2.37-to-1 ratio screen is sound transparent and hides the Mordaunt Short in-wall speakers.

Photo by: David Penman

Folks who stop by to watch a movie can be forgiven for thinking the subs are shaking the house down, but that's just the Crowson tactile system working its magic.

Take the scene in Star Trek where the Enterprise arrives in the debris of the fleet. The 11.2 Audyssey system and Crowson have you absolutely convinced that you are crashing through the whole mess. You can also hear sheets of metal pinging past you on all sides as the chairs shudder from chunks of debris impacting.

People even cringe as the chairs react to a chunk of metal "buzz sawing from left to right" through the recliners in the mid range. Yep, those mid-range effects are truly special. But the second you get up from the chair you realise that the cinema isn't actually shaking itself apart courtesy of the subs — it's just the impression the Crowson gives you. I often find myself watching old movies over again just to experience the effects.

Photo by: David Penman

The 16TB QNAP 809 Pro NAS.

Photo by: David Penman

All of the components are rack-mounted and hidden out of the way.

Photo by: David Penman

I wanted to do something special with the walls, so I had a few pictures knocked up into a collage and even had pictures of my kids worked into the art.

Photo by: David Penman
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