Building a Reference Grade Media Room on a Budget - Part 2

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We saved our Room & Board Metro sofa from our previous house along with our leather ottoman and love seat. We picked up a pair of side tables from Urban Home for a little over a hundred dollars for the pair as well as two ladder style bookcases from Target for $119.99 apiece.

With my wife happy to have a comfortable and inviting living space again (remember, my previous media room was fabric walled and ultra modern) I set out to find an entertainment credenza to house my electronics. In my previous media room I used Middle Atlantic racks, which were tucked away in a custom closet. I did like my old Middle Atlantic setup; however our new home didn't have any closets nearby so I had to find another solution. I happened upon OmniMount's website and began to look over their vast product line before discovering Omni+, OmniMount's designer label, if you will.

I settled on Omni+'s Vent cabinet for its mid-century flare and teak finish, which complimented our newly purchased rug, drapes and décor beautifully, not to mention it was large enough to accommodate all my necessary two-channel and home theater gear. You can read more about the Omni+ Vent cabinet on Home Theater Review's AV Racks and Furniture page. The Vent cost me just under a thousand dollars, $999.95 to be exact, which may seem like a lot, given you can purchase racks for a few hundred dollars at most big box stores. Since I wasn't buying a lot of gear for my new media room I knew I had some wiggle room in my budget to get something that was a bit more lifestyle and décor friendly, which the Vent was.

All in all, we spent a total of $1,836.16 on décor and interior design for our new media room. If you include paint and electrical the total cost of the renovation, thus far, totals $2,100.00.

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Installation
With the walls painted, wires run, drapes hung and furniture in place, it was time to do the final installation on all of the various components beginning with my two motorized, drop-down projection screens from SI and Elite Screens. I offered a buddy of mine a case of beer and dinner if he agreed to help me mount my projection screens and Anthem D-ILA projector, to which he happily agreed. Since everything from the furniture to the AV equipment was already diagramed and roughed out in advance (it helps to have a plan), we knew where everything had to go, turning what could've been an all-day affair into a single evening install.

With the screens and projector in place I began moving my various components into the room piece-by-piece, wiring as I went, leaving the speakers for last. I roughed in my Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers, based on my conversation I had in the planning stages with GIK Acoustics' Bryan Pape, but didn't spike them down. Instead I opted to tape out an outline of their footprint so that I could hang my GIK Acoustic treatments along my front wall without having to navigate around a pair of costly speakers.

I began with the corners of the room, staking two pairs of GIK Tri-Traps in each corner of my front wall. Then I hung two GIK 242 acoustic panels behind where my left and right main speakers rest, which turned out to be precisely halfway between the inner edges of the Tri-Traps and the now covered window located dead center of the wall. Lastly, I mounted two GIK bass panels on my back wall between my two Target bookcases. While I'm sure some of you may be saying to yourself, what's the point of interior design if you're going to hang acoustic panels all over your walls? Well, because I had a plan and a color pallet in place prior to ordering my GIK acoustic panels, I was able to ensure that their finish complimented the décor - more importantly, blend in with my wife's chosen wall color in order to minimize their appearance in the room. To date, every guest to our home has yet to comment on the acoustic treatments; in fact, few actually notice them despite being mounted in plain view.

With the GIK panels in place, I positioned my Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamonds, connected them to my amp using my already acquired Transparent Reference speaker cables and presto - my new reference media room was complete. Total cost: $2,743.13, plus a case a beer and dinner for four.

Why so low? I was able to reign in costs by doing a lot of the work myself, having a plan and by simply understanding what my needs were and recycling equipment and furniture from previous systems and homes. The result? I've never had a better sounding or better-looking room, both in terms of décor as well as in video performance.

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Conclusion
While it may be easy to dismiss a lot of what I've based on the knowledge of type and/or quality of the gear described above and in my previous article, I would urge you not to, for all the high-end gear won't amount to a thing if you're trying to enjoy it in a room that isn't comfortable for you and doesn't account for acoustic anomalies that plague every system. Since I already had a lot of the gear I use as my reference in my possession I was able to save a lot of money; however you can still follow my lead and build a very respectable system and room for around the same budget I set for myself initially. As a matter of fact, as I write this, I'm listening to a $499 Onkyo receiver mated to a pair of affordable Aperion Audio loudspeakers and am amazed at how good and decidedly high-end the system still sounds, thanks in part to the effort put forth by me and my associates during the planning stages of my reference media room.

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