Epson Ensemble HD – Installation Finished – Excellent!

Greetings all, Sorry I’m late!

The installation of the complete Epson Ensemble HD system was finished on schedule, the second day. The two man installation team put in about five hours in day one, but before I go further, let me recap, and explain more of the plan. The Epson Ensemble HD is a very complete almost “instant projection based home theater in a box (or 8). The motorized screen has left, center and right front speakers in the screen housing. The housing for the projector – the Epson Home Cinema 1080 – holds the rear left and right speakers, and the cabinet has a built in subwoofer, the Console that controls everything and has a built in DVD player and FM tuner. The package also comes with wiring channels so you don’t have to open walls to run wiring. Also included is all the necessary cabling.

OK, the easy way to install the Epson Ensemble HD, is to use the wiring channels, which can be run along the wall and ceiling. For my installation, however, I requested an in wall wiring job. The channels are obviously much faster to install, and there aren’t surprises. I figure that the in wall, is tougher, and if it was fast and affordable, then the channels would be even more so.

So, back to the installation. The first day, they cut all the holes to run wire, and ran the wiring. (More detail in the full review next week.) After that was done, they patched the holes and did the drywalling. It needed to dry, so that was the end of day one.

Day two, the guys touched up the ceiling and wall paint, over all the drywalling, and while letting it dry, got the equipment ready.

They installed the bracket for the screen and the projector, set up the cabinet and console, and finally mounted the screen to the bracket, and the projector enclosure to its bracket. Next was plugging in the wiring, and finally, pressing the Power button on the universal remote control, which, with just one button – powered up the Console, lowered the screen, and powered up the projector. We popped in a DVD, and voila’ a beautiful picture. Note, we reviewed the Home Cinema 1080 in the spring of 2007, and the review is, of course, easily accessible. It’s not as spectacular a performer as the newer Home Cinema 1080 UB, but still a competent projector. it took barely 4 hours on day two until all work was done, and it was time to fire it up.

I started with the standard DVD of Hell Freezes Over, the Eagles music DVD. The sound filled the small room (about 9×18). The room was a builders conversion (option) for what otherwise would have been the 3rd car garage. The sound isn’t pure audiophile, but Atlantic technology did a good job. There was plenty of volume, very good sound quality, and the subwoofer was most competent. The bongos Hotel California were spectacular… I’ll go more into my thoughts on the sound quality in the review. (I used to manage some “esoteric” high end stereo stores in my youth.) Picture quality was exactly as expected, with the Epson bright and vibrant, but lacking the really deep blacks of the newer UB.

BTW in the image above, the screens behind the projector are the ones I use in this room, which is the “office and testing room”.

Next I popped in Lord of the Rings briefly, again, very good image (no, I hadn’t calibrated it yet), and great, room filling sound.

I couldn’t wait any longer, so I took advantage of the two extra HDMI inputs and hooked up my Sony PS3, and popped in Men In Black – Blu-ray edition. Wow! (BTW, it was daytime, you can see some light leaking in, through the blinds on the window sticking below the screen. The room wasn’t completely dark, but the image was bright enough, so that the room appears black.)

And all this, for $6999, plus a reasonable installation. There’s so much more to tell, so look for the review around August 15th.

Let’s just say Epson has made it easy and practical for people to have a really nice, 101″ diagonal home theater system. It is one that can be installed (with channels) in well less than a day, and a few hours more if you want in wall wiring.

I have only one real complaint. Even though most folks will be thrilled with the included Epson Home Cinema 1080 projector, those really into picture quality will be disappointed that Epson isn’t offering the Home Cinema 1080 UB as standard, or at least as an option. I suspect some folks will end up negotiating a trade up to the UB, when they buy the projector. Again, more about that, in the review!

This shows the control Console of the Ensemble HD, sitting on the included black cabinet, the sub-woofer is just below, but not visible in this image.

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