Setting the Parameters
Having determined that I wanted a new home theater system that was as good for audio as it was for video, I had to make a few decisions. First, I wanted to store my entire CD collection digitally, which meant adding a Media Center PC with a big hard drive. I was sold on the WMA Lossless format, but that still meant allocating between 250–300MB per CD, and with about 1,000 CDs (and factoring in enough spare capacity to handle future purchase), that dictated hard drive storage in the 400GB range. Second, my focus on audio meant I needed audiophile-quality components (separates as opposed to a receiver) and speakers (no wimpy bookshelf models); components designed solely for video use wouldn't be good enough.
I considered buying a DVD jukebox for my burgeoning DVD collection (no way was I going to spring for multiple terabytes for hard disk storage), but the only decent model on the market is a Sony that gets horrible reviews. For the time being, I'll live with popping each disc in manually, but the new system needed a new, higher-end DVD player—preferably one that can also handle the high-res SACD and DVD-Audio audio formats. Not a $100 player, in other words, but something in keeping with the quality and performance of the other new components.
Television-wise, I wanted big but not too big—55–60 inches would do the trick in my particular living room. HDTV, naturally, but which technology? I'll go into more detail in the second article of this series, but I finally opted for LCD rear projection for a number of different reasons.
So which components did I choose? Jump to the next page to find out.