Share Your Setup - Chris 
Home Theater Feature Articles Best Of & Top 100 Lists
Written by Michael S. Palmer   
Tuesday, 14 June 2011

In this week's installment of AVRev's new series, Share Your Setup, we have professional sound guy (and High-Def Digest reader) Chris Martin sharing his garage turned dedicated home theatre space.  Chris is hugely passionate, and geektastic, home audio and cinema enthusiast, who is running 9.1 channels of surround sound and displaying his wares on a 12-foot projector screen.

Personally, what I love about Chris' space is how it combines high end gear with the type of regular joe setup many of us have.  Also, I love his toys, key art, and prominently displayed Blu-ray collections.  This guy loves HD!  Here's Chris in his own words:

AUDIOPHILE, VIDEO/CINEPHILE, OR BOTH?

I would say both.  

Audiophile:  I love live music.  I am a professional sound guy for small shows of up to 16 inputs.  I use a Mackie Onyx mixer that has a nice firewire output on the back that allows me to record shows that I run sound for.  Those recording sound very good coming out at 24-bit, 96Khz.  Plus, the energy that you get in a live performance gives the music that additional special feel.

Video/Cinephile: In addition to the sound, I also have a camera.  I've been shooting short instructional and recruiting videos for several years now.  But I like to take the HD camera and make video slide shows of events and trips.  This is fun to show family and friends.  So I really like to examine movies for cinematography and technical complexities of shots.  I have maintained a home theater in or form or another since about 1995.  HD source material has moved this into a whole new realm of home cinema enjoyment.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CURRENT SETUP!

Let's start off with the receiver, an Integra DTR-80.1.  It is capable of 9.2, but I am only running 9.1 currently.  I don't have the resources to get that second subwoofer yet.  And speaking of subs, my point-one is the JL Audio Fathom f113.  This piece is my favorite of the system.  If you need to know why, then you have no idea what this unit does.  Simply put, it's a 130 lbs. earthquake machine.  While we are on the subject of sound, the front speakers are Vandersteen Model 1's , the surrounds are Vandersteen Model 3's (both circa 1980's), rears are Monitor Audio Silver RS 8's, front wide or high are Bose AM-5's, and finally the center is Monitor Audio Silver RS Center channel. 

Now on to the sources.  We'll start with the Sony MDP-600 multi-format laser disc player, yes, I still watch some of my laser discs.  I have close to 100 of them lined up in milk crates.  Moving along in the disc formats, a Venture HD-DVD player and a Samsung Bluray.  Finishing it of with a nice new Mac Mini with the built-in HDMI output.  Attached to the Mac Mini is a self assembled RAID5 drive with 12 TB's for all my HD video creations.  All this sends images to the Sanyo PLV-Z2000.  The screen is a 12', 16x9, finely finished and painted, raised drywall surface.

Chris Martin's Setup

This picture is a bit dated and still shows my Monitor Audio RS8's up front.  Those are now moved to the back and replaced with the Vandersteens.  I live in a barn (studio style).  The Theatre was a garage for about 5 days.  It quickly evolved into another room which was immediately setup as the theatre.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO BUILD, OR HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN COLLECTING AND TWEAKING FOR THIS CURRENT SETUP?

As mentioned above, I have had a big, front projection home theatre for over 15 years.  This iteration has been in the making for the past 5 years.  The tweaking is still ongoing.  Many things would change with proper funding.  Calibration is done with the help of the Audyssey that is built-in the Integra receiver.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF GEAR, AND WHY?

Also mentioned above, the JL Fathom f113.  The bass is nothing short of awesome (I'm sure the neighbors that aren't watching the movie with me don't think so).

HOW AND WHEN DID YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH AUDIO/VIDEO?

Audio: This was when I was about 15.  I had a cassette/receiver that I think was from Radio Shack.  I made some good money during a summer job, and bought upgrades for my stereo.  First was a CD player.  That lead me to enjoying some newly recorded classical music.  In particular, the Telarc recording of Tchaikovsky 1812 overture.   You know, the one with real canon blasts at the right spots.  That showed me how inadequate my speakers were, or at least that's what I believed.  So I bought my first set of Bose AM-5's.  As you can guess, that didn't have full increase in volume that I expected.  So what did I need?  More power!  Next came a Carver 1.0t power amp along with some cheap Sansui preamp.  This had a dramatic impact on what that CD of the 1812 sounded like.  Now I was getting somewhere.  I was the goto party guy during high school.  That was the start of my being a sound guy.

Video: This really stemmed from my watching Star Trek.  Finding the best way to view these and other SciFi movies.

Chris Martin's Starfleet

 


WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST SETUP?

The first home theatre was with a Sony VPH-1040Q that I bought from a computer store that went out of business.  I quickly learned that VHS tapes didn't have a strong enough signal to sync with the projector, that was the turning point for laser disc collecting.  The laser disc signal was plenty strong for the old three tube projector.  At that point, I had collected a few more Bose AM-5 systems to use as the surround sound speakers.  Those were connected to my faithful Denon receiver with Dolby Pro Logic 2.  I decided that the three sets of Bose AM-5's didn't have the needed bass impact, so I added a Definitive Audio 15", 300 watt sub. I converted an out building that had a washer and dryer in it to a dedicated theatre.  I remember jamming 20 or so people in there when Akira finally came out on DVD.  Speaking of DVD, my first DVD was Backdraft.  The one that came in a CD case because they still didn't know what they were doing with the DVD format yet.

WHAT'S YOUR DREAM SETUP?

This will get a bit geeky here.  Lets start with the sound.  For the uprights, Focal Utopia series.  The bass, a pair of JL Gotham f213's augmented with a TRW-17 rotary utra-sub.  That will bring the lows down to 1 Hz.  The projector should be something like the JVC DLA-RS60.  But, I find the resolution lacking.  So maybe the JVC DLA-RS4000U (that's the 4096x2400 one).  That way I can watch the video I shoot on my Red camera (don't actually have one, yet).  Now to the heart, the Krell Evolution 707.  Match this with a round of Krell Evolution 900e power amps for all the moving cones.  Might as well stick with Krell for the Evolution 555 Bluray player.  Don't forget to add in my Mac Mini for all the other digital needs.  Now, move on to the environment.  All the seating would be on teared platforms with the theme park Butt-kicker transducers under each level.  The screen should be nothing short of IMAX proportions from the seating distance.  My plan is about 19' wide.

WHAT GEAR ARE YOU GETTING NEXT?

JVC projector with lots of contrast.

FAVORITE DEMO DISCS:

The first 5 or so minutes of 'Cars' .  Good music, impressive surround, and crazy clear images.  I also like the BBC documentaries 'Planet Earth' , 'Life' , and 'Human Planet' .  The picture and footage is just phenomenal.

HOW MANY BLU-RAYS/DVDS/CDS/LASERDISCS, VHS TAPES, VIDEO GAMES DO YOU OWN?

  • Blurays: 325
  • HD-DVD's: 79
  • DVD's: 537
  • CD's: 465
  • Laser Discs: 103
  • VHS: zero
  • Video Games: 61
Chris Martin's Blu-ray Collection

Thanks again to Chris for participating in this week's Share Your Setup!  Interesting in participating, contact us at questions@avrev.com!





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