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If you spend any time at all on AV forums, you’ll run into hundreds and hundreds of posts along the lines of “Help, I have x amounts of dollars to spend on a home theater, and I haven’t got the first idea of what I should buy.”

Leave it to Rapallo to set you on the road to what we consider a pretty decent middle of the range home theatre 5.1 system under $7,500. (Add a projector and a projector screen for under $12,000 all in.)

Sure, that is a decent amount of money but it should give you a fair range of options. It’s about making smart choices; going for products that punch well above their weight and excel in smart high quality design without whistles and bell and fancy designs you can easily do without.

Simply put, we’re out to build an excellent system for you that delivers big on sound, while remaining acceptable both within budget and in aesthetics for your other half. Yes, we can have it all.

 

Loudspeakers: Focal Chorus 716 floorstanders, Focal Chorus 705 bookshelves and Focal Chorus 700 center speaker

 

We’ve said it many times before: we admire Focal for their commitment to quality and innovation. The entire Chorus series borrows driver technologies developed for their amazing and lust-worthy world-class speakers like the Focal Utopia’s and more recently the Sopra’s, giving you high-end performance at a more budget friendly price.

The speaker drivers in every Chorus speaker are built in-house at Focal’s facilities in France, giving them control over every aspect of design, manufacture and quality control. You guessed it, they are actually used in a lot of other audiophile speaker brands.

Despite being Focal’s budget range, the Chorus 700 series uses its famous inverted tweeter design and their tweeter suspension material called PORON, borrowed from the much more expensive Utopia.

We find the Chorus range really suits a wide range of music, giving a very lifelike and consistent response and a very dynamic, open and smooth sound. We believe these speakers punch well above their price tag and are excellent value for money.

The fact that they look elegant and refined helped us settle on these speakers for our imaginary home theatre 5.1 set-up.

 

Alternative: KEF Q900 floorstanders (Q700 or Q500 for smaller spaces), KEF Q200c Centre Speaker, KEF Q100 bookshelves.

 

The KEF Q900 must be considered from a number of different aspects. Visually the speaker is unremarkable. KEF seems to have made many choices that take advantage of its historical strength in driver design, rather than encumber the bill of materials with costs related to appearance. The most important thing—or, for the true audiophile, the only thing—to consider is the Q900’s sound. That sound is wide-range, balanced, and spacious, and seems to neither favour nor disfavour any genre of music. We especially like the Q100’s for their even midrange coverage. Opt for the Q300’s over the smaller Q100’s if your room is on the large side.

 

 

Subwoofer: SVS SB2000 or PB2000

 

If you use the Internet to do research on subwoofers, you will unavoidably run into SVS. The company is the darling of nearly every audio and home theater-related publication in existence, and for good reason: SVS makes rocking, high-performance subs (and speakers too for that matter) at shockingly reasonable prices.

SVS scales back fancy features and aesthetic niceties, but stubbornly avoids compromising performance. Often, that puts SVS’ entry-level subs on par with or better than most of its competition’s mid-level to premium offerings. Our kind of sub!

The PB 2000 is a large, ported sub capable of delivering loud and deep bass in reasonably large rooms; the SB 2000 on the other hand is sealed and much more compact, with a form factor less likely to draw the wrath of décor-conscious home housemates if placed in anything other than a dedicated home theater space.

The SB 2000’s have a very tight, highly-articulated bass that makes the room rumble evenly and smoothly from top to bottom.

To quote one of the many online reviews: ‘The only thing better than owning a SVS subwoofer is owning two SVS subwoofers’. And with that, all is said.

 

AV receiver: Yamaha RX-V479 5.1 Channel Network

 

While we’re big fans of the Yamaha av receivers overall, the Yamaha RX-V479 demonstrates just how far affordable av receivers have become. Not only does it offer a complete suite of up-to-date features like YPAO (Yamaha’s excellent version of sound optimization for automatic speaker setup) and MusicCast (The Yamaha well-considered multiroom system), but first and foremost, the sound quality is top notch especially in a home theatre environment.

The 6th input supports HDCP 2.2 copy protection which means the 479 is pretty well equipped to handle 4K video if you decide to upgrade your TV.

‘Outstanding and affordable’ sums it up and more than fit the requirements to make it in our 5.1 home theatre set-up.

 

Blu-ray: Oppo BDP 103  

 

We’ve said it before; we’ll say it again: OPPO’s BDP-103 delivers a heck of a lot for not much coin. The BDP-103 is of course a Blu-ray player with the ability to upscale content to 4K, but that just scratches the surface. It can also play SACDs and DVD-A discs, allowing your theater to become a multi-channel music system. In addition, the BDP-103 features a network input for streaming A/V content, including Netflix and Pandora. Long story short: the OPPO has the capacity to be a one stop shop for all your media playback needs.

 

Do you want a projector and a projector screen with that?  

 

There is some fierce competition in this home theater projector price bracket and one could make an argument for one over the other quite easily.  We settled for the Epson TW9200 over its competitors because of its impressive 3D quality, the ease of set-up and the level of detail it provides.  Epson TW9200 is a 3D-capable home cinema LCD projector positioned in the mid range of Epson’s home theatre projector range. The impressive sounding numbers like 600,000:1 dynamic contrast and 2,400 Lumens brightness make this projector a great all rounder that we more than happily recommend.

 

In our ‘perfect’ mid-range home 5.1 home theatre set-up we pair this projector with our bestselling quality 100’’ motorized projector screen. The screen is made with high quality three-layer fabric with solid black fiberglass backing. The screen comes with a handy palm-size remote control. The special soft edge eliminates noise and impact when closing and installation couldn’t be easier. Are you impressed yet?

 

Obviously, this set-up is not a one size fits all solution and it might need some tweaking to suit your specific requirements. Which is why we would like to invite you to give us a call for what would work for you: different set-up, different budget, different favorites, a little demo… It’s only a phone call away. In the end: what you don’t ask for, you are not going to get. Right?

 

Happy dreaming, planning, building and… enjoying!

The Rapallo Team

 

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Auckland 2013
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