My Home Theatre Setup – The Story

One of many Pride & Joys.
Like many before me I’ve endeavoured to transform my home into more than just a place to sleep. Music, Movies & Games are all transported to the next step by phenomenal sound. Sound in every room should be a building requirement in my eyes.

The Budding Audiophile

And like all sons with fathers I was unavoidably shaped by him. My Dad is probably the root of many of my peeves, plights & pleasures. Some sort of AV setup has been present in my life for as long as I can remember. Starting with the first house I lived in. Under 4 years old and I recall a projector playing Toy Story larger than my bulging little eyes. A spark for fantastic visuals was born.

Star Wars. A bit of a divider, but the track is undeniably formidable. John Williams through a KEF & B&W surround setup backed up by a Sony SA-WX900 12″ 1000W Sub. A childhood memory I’ll never forget.
That subwoofer is truly something to behold and a real rarity to the point my father bought two… One as a spare.

The Beginning

Eventually on my 21st I asked for help with my first system. My Dad sourced a cheap used Yamaha RX-v673. A perfectly capable and robust AV Receiver for me to build a system around with plenty of inputs. After all I’d grown up a gamer. I wanted to connect everything to it consoles, old & new, my Gaming PC & my laptop!

He also found me a little Tannoy SFX 5.1 setup, perfect for my childhood bedroom. A speaker at each corner of the bed with the tv and centre at the front. It was like a dream come true. I cranked up Halo and let Martin O’ Donnell ring through my room with crackling Plasma and visceral roars filling the room. Gaming was forever changed.

The Awakening

It was in this small room that I discovered I desired more. Michael Bay could shake the room with his Transformers films but something was still missing. Was it depth or clarity? Bass or quality? And so I delved into the forums and review sites like What Hi-Fi and AVForums.

Here I absorbed as much information as possible picking up industry terms and perceptions on brands. Where makes the best equipment and why? The history of Bowers & Wilkins and how they compete. Which technologies were invented by who. Fascinated, I had a hunger for Shinier Brands, Deeper Cabinets and an Emptier Wallet!

The Build

Me and my partner moved out into a beautiful flat in town. Get this.. No adjoining walls.. That’s right no neighbours to bother with booming music and earth shattering bass. Freedom at last. It was here I started my search for affordable second hand bookshelf sets and free standers.

The TV

Quickly our living room evolved! The tall ceilings demanded a larger screen. 65″ 4k HDR10 SUHD Samsung TVs certainly weren’t affordable. It took a while but we managed to find one for a reasonable price. £850, a JS8500 with a beautiful curved screen.

The Speakers

An £80 set of Mordaunt Short 301s replaced the Tannoy’s and not long after a local was getting rid of a pair of Sony Floor Standers. Not the best quality but, only £25! Who could argue? These Floor standers were added to make a 7.1 setup! The room felt filled but still lacking a little and the bass was feeling a little lop sided towards the sub.

The Bass

I found a matching SFX sub from my old tannoy set and it felt much better having the balance across the room. A few months went by before I started to feel like I was missing out certain frequencies especially low end range. I looked up the frequency response of the Subwoofers. They went down to 45hz barely low enough to be considered a Subwoofer as opposed to a normal woofer.

So I spent a long time looking for a Sub I liked and couldn’t settle. So i got a new centre to give dialogue a little more definition. A HTM62 S1 arrived from Bowers & Wilkins. A brand I’ve trusted for a long time. A world of difference so I figured I’d start finding speakers to match it.

This lead me on another search for Subwoofers. But I didn’t feel like the matching B&W Subs were up to spec. This is where I discovered, in the depths of forums, BK Electronics a British manufacturer of Subs that make designs from REL. They make some astonishing equipment for their price bracket! For around £400 you can get their 12″ sealed XXLS400 fitted with a 400W amp. A perfect fit for someone who enjoys both music & movies.

That is the subwoofer I bought and it is thrilling. However the room still felt a little empty on one side. Partly because of the asymmetric layout and partly because of the corner it was sat in. Even with it’s port-less design it still excited the walls heavily meaning sound emanated from that corner of the room.

So what did you do? I hear you ask. Well I bought another one… obviously.. Thankfully my S.O is fine with them, she loves movies! Hallelujah! Oh boy did the bass feel complete and balanced. Just need to match up the rest of the speakers. The last thing at this point is a matching timbre and we’ll be in audio heaven.

Bowers & Wilkins 6 Series

So Bowers & Wilkins must hold the answer. The centre performs so well it needs matching fronts and rears. Thankfully the pair of fronts I settled on 683 S2s appeared on eBay just down the road from me. I put in an offer early and got a steal for £650 for the pair. Ideal, and he delivered them to me that day and they were in perfect condition. Beautifully rendered and commanding.

Again the sound was truly phenomenal on a whole other level to the cheap sony cabinets I’d been sporting. The older centre started to sound a little flat and hard to hear next to their newer fronts. It became obvious I needed to match the exact series. The HTM61 S2 (you can see how that can be confused with a HTM62 S1) was hard to find and very dear and it took me a long time to find one for a good price. Another eBay deal though!

Now perfect, the front of my living room is looking stunning. Just need the rears, to which I feel the slightly smaller 684 S2s held the answer. As the release of the 7 series was fast approaching. Audio stores were starting to move on their show pieces and I managed to get a single display unit 684 from two different stores to make a matching set. Cheap that’s what I like!

The Finish

Finally my living room is complete. All the films I had loved watching as a kid with my Dad I could now enjoy. Whenever I want I can enjoy a cinema like experience from the comfort of my reclining leather sofa and armchair.

What a life.

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