Lower middle class home theater, and damn proud of it

Show Us Yours: Not every setup we feature is a seven-figure media paradise. Matthew's "average consumer" room can still rock.


David Carnoy

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1 of 18 Matthew/CNET

As you might be able to tell from his Vikes jacket, Matthew hails from Minnesota (Elk River). When he submitted his home theater to be featured as CNET Show Us Yours showcase, he modestly described it as "a lower middle class average consumer home theater" that's populated with equipment that isn't coveted by audiophiles.

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"The room is an average townhome living room and not a dedicated media room for tech worship," Matthew says. "Wife, kindergarten-aged child and two basset hounds roam these not-so-hallowed grounds," he said. "I assure you the struggle is real in keeping my equipment as holy as possible." 

The room serves as the family's living room, his wife's office, and a media and gaming room.

The showpiece of the theater is a Sony XBR-65X850E 4K HDR TV purchased last September for Matthew's birthday. It replaced an aging Sony 70-inch XBR2.

It's paired to a Sony STR-DN1020 AV receiver, which feeds two Sony SS-F7000 tower speakers and a SS-CN5000 center-channel speaker.  

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That object on top of the center-channel speaker is a McDonald's Happy Meal toy: Gunter from the movie "Sing." 

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Close up of the Sony receiver, Linksys switch, Playstation 4 Pro, PlayStation 3 and Wii/Wii-U Balance Board. Those are "ceramic garden creatures" on top.

Matthew laments that while he's wired for 7.2 surround sound, he's not getting it because Sony's engineers didn't allow for LPCM pass-though over HDMI-ARC from the PlayStation 4, forcing him to set the PlayStation 4 Pro to DTS bitstream, leaving him with only 5.1 surround.

"It's terribly frustrating," Matthew says, "and until I upgrade the receiver to a HDMI 2.0 compliant model from Sony, the PlayStation 4 Pro will remain connected to the 4K X850E first and audio pushed via ARC to the receiver."

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Matthew says that since the room is multifunctional, certain compromises had to be made. Below the rear-channel speakers in the back of the room are his wife's office space for her work as a civil drafter.

"I got my speaker placement but she got to decorate as she pleased," Matthew says. As a result, there's a bit of design discord in the room.

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Close-up of the Sony SA-WM500 subwoofer. The ceramic bobble cow dances when the subwoofer rumbles.

The printer is an Epson Workforce WF-7720 with dedicated fax line and wired CAT6 Ethernet connection. Tucked next to the SS-F7000 and unseen are a few vinyl records such as Motley Crüe's "Theater of Pain," Prince and the Revolution's "Around the World in a Day," The Beatles' "1967-1970," and Kenny Rodgers' "The Gambler."

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This cow bobble jiggles as the subwoofer kicks out the low end.

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The table under the TV used to support the Sony 70-inch XBR2. Now it's populated (from left to right) a Nintendo Wii-U, 1970's Sony PS-X20 turntable/phonograph, wife's ceramic garden creatures, Sony PlayStation VR, PlayStation 3 and 4 controllers and peripherals.

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The record collection.

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Close-up of the Sony SS-F6000 surround speaker.

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One of two media racks, with Blu-ray at top, then DVDs, followed by audio CDs and more ceramic garden creatures.

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Matthew found the table below the TV and its matching square counterpart (in the middle of the room) on Craigslist.

"Both are whole wood construction," Matthew says. "They need to be sanded and refinished horribly -- and they're very heavy."

For the curious, that yellow kitty litter container has been repurposed to hold bird seed.

"We no longer have any cats," Matthew reports.

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The other media rack with mostly games, at the far bottom is one of two Donkey Kong Conga Drums for Nintendo GameCube and two functional but retired Sony PlayStation 2 units.

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The networking heart hidden from sight in the printer/tech table. Charter "Spectrum" supplied Cisco cable modem current provisioned at 100/10 mbps and paired to a Linksys EA6900 wireless 802.11ac router that junctions off to the Epson printer and the Linksys SLM2024 gigabit switch under the Sony STR-DN1020 receiver.

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Rear Sony SS-MB100H speakers.

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Matthew says he's tried to hide cables by placing them under the edge of the carpeting. Unfortunately, there's more cables then space under the carpet.

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Matthew says the only cool thing he's done is install RGB LEDs to the underside of the stairway railing "which is really nice at night when traveling to the kitchen at midnight."

In this shot it's purple because the family, needless to say, supports the Minnesota Vikings. Matthew took the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles hard in last year's NFC Final, especially with the Super Bowl being played in Minneapolis. Perhaps 2019 will be kinder to Vikings fans. #SKOL.  

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Matthew and family say thanks for checking out their home theater showcase -- and Merry Christmas, whatever time of year it is.

If you want to see more Show Us Yours showcases, we have plenty more here.

And click here to submit photos of your own theater! 

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