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Home (Theater) Improvement

I currently have an insanely complicated home theater setup that takes up half my closet, connected by a rat’s nest of cables that I dare not touch lest I inexplicably lose the left audio channel on my Blu-ray player. It’s ridiculous, it’s completely overkill for my needs, and did I mention it takes up half my closet? My tiny, Manhattan-sized closet?

Something’s got to give.

I won’t bore you with the details of my master plan (yet) but I find myself searching for a piece of hardware that I’m not sure exists. Perhaps you can help.

My home theater receiver is huge. Massive. It’s 10” tall, 20” deep, weighs 800 lbs, and probably draws more power than our air conditioner. Despite its long list of capabilities, it has but two jobs that are of any use to me: 1) switch between my various components, and 2) make things loud.

Now, since shifting to a Mac Mini home media server running Boxee, that first job is all but obsolete. And the second? Well, as I said, I live in a small apartment in the West Village. I’ve never come close to testing the amplification limits of this thing.

And so, I find myself looking for a replacement. Something small. Something elegant. Something that does what I need, and nothing more. Something that, ideally…

  • has a single, optical audio input,
  • will decode that audio input into surround sound channels,
  • will amplify those channels enough for me to enjoy television and movies at a reasonable volume,
  • and comes in a compact, visually appealing form factor with a simple user interface. Or, better yet, no user interface. Just a volume knob and an on/off switch.

Do you know of such a beast? Do you have one yourself? For the love of god, please tell me! Everything I see is pretty much the opposite of what I want: a giant monstrosity that has eighteen inputs, 500W of ground-shaking power, and an unholy mess of buttons, dials and knobs.

] 01/26/2011 16:41:00 : permalink

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