Back in 2000, when I moved into my new house, I had my family room pre-wired for 5.1 sound, with small in-wall and ceiling speakers, and I bought a Yamaha HTR-5280 AV Receiver. That unit has done yeoman service for casual listening and movie watching, but I recently decided it was time for a new unit. I am a pretty loyal Yamaha customer, so I looked at their 2007 line and settled on the Yamaha RX-V461 as an inexpensive 5.1 replacement. So far, I am very happy with the new unit.
I also paired it with a new DVD, DVD Audio, SACD player, a Yamaha DVD-S657, which does a great job playing regular DVD movies (with Progressive Scan) and also sounds great playing DVD Audio and SACD discs. The total cost for both these units was about $400.
Back in 2003, I had my basement finished, using most of the space for a dedicated home theater for more serious movie watching. The basement theater has a front projection InFocus ScreenPlay 7200 DLP 720p projector, shooting against a fixed 110" 16×9 screen with an 8.1 sound system. The AV receiver for the basement is a Yamaha RX-V3300, which is a 6.1 unit with two extra "presence" channels;hence the 8.1 designation. I have been very happy with the 3300, but now I am looking at the new Yamaha RX-V3800, which is due out in September. It has HDMI 1.3a support and an Ethernet port, so you can stream Internet radio or play ripped CD’s off of your computer network.
Another important part of a home theater is a home theater PC (HTPC), which you can use to play games, surf the net or watch ripped DVD movies using the rest of your home theater system. Recently, I picked up a Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player, which is the entry level, 2nd generation HD-DVD player that only has 1080i support, on sale at Circuit City for less than $250. I was very pleasantly surprised at the picture quality with my now, four year old DLP projector, even over component video cables.
At some point in the next year, I will hopefully upgrade the old ScreenPlay 7200 to a new 1080p projector, along with a 1080p capable HD-DVD player, such as the upcoming Toshiba HD-A30 3rd generation player.
I am planning on taking a couple of days off in September to attend the CEDIA Expo 2007 at the Denver Convention Center September 5-9.