Wednesday, 28 March 2012


An Early HT Iteration
So, we need to start somewhere and I guess the beginning is as good a place as any: 2000 was a significant year. 

Recently married, my wife and I were moving from a city suburb to our more remote hometown where we had purchased a 1930s house and were embarking on an extensive remodeling. 

We had always been big movie fans but there was no cinema in town and the closest was a 20km drive. With a child on the way we knew our movie-going days would be limited so the idea of a home cinema was born.
The planning stages of the build happily coincided to a trip to New York where we happened across the Sony Store in Manhattan. At that time, the basement of the store was configured as a cosy home cinema with a state of the art digital projector and lots of plush furnishings. We agreed we had to find space for something similar and so a decade-long obsession began.

Of course there were budget limitations. 

As part of the rebuild, we cabled at least 2x Cat5e runs to every room, ran speaker wire everywhere and installed network and a/v patch panels as well as programmable alarm / home control system (comfort). This was before WiFi was ubiquitous and HDMI was a glint in an engineers eye but we had structured cabling that's held up pretty well and serves as a good foundation infrastructure.

The a/v hardware was budget restricted but we've ended up with a home cinema that has;

  • Sony VPH 1272 CRT Projector
  • 110" 16:9 DIY projection screen
  • Pioner VSX-D2011-S 7.1 A/V Receiver
  • B&W Speaker system (2x CDM-1NT, 1x CDM-CNT, 2x DS6, 2X DM601)
  • Velodyne CHT15 Subwoofer

So, what's missing from that list? You got it, any source devices.

2004 vintage HTPC
I've always been a computer nut. From my first donated Apple IIe through a commodore 64, commodore 128, Apple Mac LCII and too many subsequent macs to even list, I ended up as a programmer of sorts (multimedia, web, that kind of thing) and with wife being a graphic designer, computers tend to sprout up around the house.

I also love building computers and derive great pleasure from powering up my latest creation for the first time. Kind of a Dr. Frankenstein feeling.

So, in attempting to put together a semi-decent home theatre on a budget, I decided to combine my computer hobby with my new found home theatre hobby and my adventures in HTPCs commenced.

Suffice it to say, in the intervening years, it's not been limited to one computer. I've built systems around DVD playback, blu-ray playback, home automation, whole-house audio and PVR and all kinds of combinations.

I've been through multiple HTPC front ends and software including a liaison with SageTV and a long-term love affair with TheaterTek.

But I never quite got a system I've been completely happy with. Plus new hardware keeps getting invented and I've just got to try it out.

The MediaServer8 project is the next evolution.

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