On this page I’ll give you an inside look of my Home Theater. I will keep this page up to date with every change or upgrade.
Media and Connectivity
I’ll start of with the backbone of my home theater, the NAS and network/internet connections which are serving the content.
In my home town (Amersfoort, the Netherlands) the internet provider XMSnet is offering internet connections on fiber, within the contract I’ve access to the internet with 100Mbit up and download. Besides that they are also serving a Usenet server at the same speed (so downloading a Full HD mkv will take about 30 minutes 😉 ).
Router / Access Point
For the connections between the computers/smartphones/tablets etc. I’ve placed a TP-Link TL-WR1043ND, this is a Wireless N class router with 4 Gigabit ethernet LAN ports and 1 Gigabit WAN port. I’ve chosen this appliance because the 1 Gbit WAN port and the ability to run the DD-WRT firmware, next to the features this router is extremely well priced (€ 40,- at the time of writing). The WR1043ND is out of the box well featured and good performing but because I wanted some extra functionality I’ve loaded the DD-WRT open firmware. Some extra features I’ve now available (and using) are PPTP VPN server and Dynamic DNS (XMSnet is providing dynamic IP’s). Click here for a full list of features within DD-WRT.
NAS and media server
For the storage of my media (audio, video and photo’s) I wanted a dedicated appliance which is able to store this and perform some additional tasks (like downloading TV series etc.). Next to this features it must also be able to place the disks in a RAID config and performing back-up’s of important data. The minimal capacity must be 4TB. With all of above taken into account I ordered a Synology DiskStation 410 with four 2TB SATA disks (6TB storage in RAID5).
The Synology is running the DSM 4.0 operating system which is able to serve media using the SMB file sharing protocol. Next to the default features of DSM the DS is able to run third party applications. There are several (third party) apps which I’m using;
- SABnzbd, usenet download client (available as Synology package in the superzebulon package repository)
- SickBeard, internet PVR (available as Synology package in the superzebulon package repository)
- Time Backup, backup software (available in the default Synology package repository)
- Audio Station, Music player (available in the default Synology package repository)
- Photo Station, On-line photo album (available in the default Synology package repository)
- Cloud Station, Sync files between your computer(s) and the DS (available in the default Synology package repository)
The living room
Ok, we now know how the media is served lets take a look how I access this in my living room.
To watch TV I’ve 2 options, satellite (primary) and cable (as backup during thunderstorms). The satellite dish (Triax 88cm) is placed on top of the roof and provided with 3 NLB’s (connected by a 4/1 DiSEqC 2.o switch) pointed to the following satellites;
For the decoding of the satellite signal I’m using a Dreambox HD800 PVR. This linux based Satellite box is running the OpenPLI image. I’ve added an internal 160GB SATA hdd to enable the PVR functionality. Because the Dreambox is based on (open-source) Linux there are many free plugins available like webinterfaces for streaming and nice themes the alter the interface.
I own a Microsoft XBOX 360 slim with a Kinect sensor and a 250GB Harddisk which doesn’t need an introduction 😉
For watching media (Movies, TV shows etc.) I’m using a Home Theater PC (HTPC). The HTPC is based on hardware from Zotac, the ZBOX AD02 to be precise. This AMD fusion powered nettop is running Microsoft Windows 7 (x64) with XBMC as media center software. XBMC is open-source media center software which is able to play almost everything (at least everything I own) and there are numerous add-on’s available to add extra functionality or change your media experience.
As said before, all my media is housed on the Synology DS and served to the HTPC by the SMB filesharing protocol. Next to the media also the XBMC Media Library is placed at the NAS (by using MySQL and pathsubstitution), in the past I wrote an article on how to do this. Within XBMC I’m using several plugins;
- Aeon Nox, Really great skin for XBMC eden (available in the XBMC.org Add-on repository)
- XBMC Subtitles, Search and download subtitles from multiple providers (available in the XBMC.org Add-on repository)
- Cinema Experience, Play trailers, slideshows, intro videos, outro videos to create a movie theater experience in the comfort of your home (Add-on available in the Nuka1195’s Unofficial Add-on Repository)
My primary display is a 42″ HD-ready (720p) Samsung Plasma TV (PS-42Q92H). I bought this TV back in 2007 and the specifications are not longer available at the Samsung website.
Ok, watching tv or series are fine on the 42″ Samsung TV but for the real home theater experience I recently added a HD projector to my setup. After spending a lot of time and research in the world of home cinema projectors I’ve decided to buy an Epson EH-TW3200 Full HD projector. But the projector is only half of what you need, the other half is the projectorscreen. I’ve chosen to go for a Celexon 100″ ceiling mounted 16:9 screen.
The screen slides down right before the Samsung TV. I’ve made a video of the opening scene of “James Bond – Quantum of Solace” to get an impression of the ultimate home cinema experience.
Ok, now I have 3 devices which are connected by HDMI but I want to be able to play on the TV or the projector without having to switch the cables manually. To solve this problem I placed a HDMI Matrix switch (Goobay AVS 45) with 4 inputs and 2 outputs. The switch automatically detects which device is powered on and connect these two.
The sound system
A good home theater is not only based on some nice video projection but finished of with a good sound system. The receiver I’m using is a Harman/Kardon AVR132. I’m using a 5.1 speaker setup with the following speakers;
- Klipsch Synergy F2 front speakers
- Klipsch Synergy C10 center speaker
- JBL sattelite surround speakers
- Klipsch KSW10 active subwoofer
The JBL sattelite speakers will be replaced by the Klipsch S10 surround speakers in the near future.
All sound producing appliances (Dreambox, HTPC and XBOX) are connected to the AVR by SPDIF optical cables.
Each of the above mentioned devices come with there own remote control. Using all of these remotes is a pain in the ass but it works… for me. My girlfriend doesn’t agree so I found the solution in a Logitec Harmony One universal remote, I was a little bit skeptical at first but it’s maybe the best part of a perfect home theater 🙂
Next to the IR remote I also using some iOS apps on my Apple iPhone and iPad to control some parts. The apps I’m using are;
For the Synology DS410;
- DS file, enables you to securely browse folder and files on DiskStation on you iPhone/iPad via WebDAV with HTTPS.
- DS photo+, allows you to easily browse photos and videos on Photo Station.
- DS audio, allows you to stream music stored on DiskStation with iPhone/iPad whenever Internet connection is available.
- Qouch, Manage SABnzbd, SickBeard and CouchPotato from your iPhone/iPad
For the Dreambox 800HD;
- DREAMBOX Live, Enjoy live TV directly on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch from your Dreambox, VU+ or any other compatible set-top-box within your home network.
For the HTPC (XBMC);
- XBMC Commander, Navigate and control you XBMC server over WLAN with style.
- Official XBMC Remote, Official XBMC Remote is a full-featured remote control for XBMC Media Center.
Finally 2 pictures of the complete set, one in ‘TV watching mode’ and on in ‘Home Theater mode’ 🙂