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Home Theater Aboard a Floating Home

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As one spends more and more time in the Caribbean, a couple small problems arise if you like going to the movies.  One is that the movie theaters are few and far between; second, if you do happen to find a theater, more likely than not, the sound system and screen will be lacking.  Missing the movies already?  No worries as today, cheap and easy solutions await your credit card.

Installing a home theater onboard your boat is quick and easy.  You can buy prepackaged components that will make your boat sound like your favorite theater minus the annoying couple talking two rows back.  The basic components include a display, receiver, and a DVD player.

The most important part of your setup in my mind is the display.  You will look at this day after day watching it or not.  I refer to it as a display simply because you may choose to use a computer monitor that does not have an internal TV tuner built into it.  These are available in multiple sizes and may fit smaller boat-based installations well.

First pick where your display will go, second start shopping for displays that will fit in the area.  Once you get your list of possible candidates a quick trip to a local store will let your eyes do the picking.  One can learn even more from the internet by searching for buying guides on the particular type of equipment you pick.  A great amount of diligence here can make the install very easy, as there are so many possibilities on the market today that an exact fit for almost any location can be found if you are not fixed on a single brand name.

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The core of the system, as your ears feel it, is the receiver.  Modern receivers can take 4 to 10 inputs and feed them all to the display and speakers on the output side of the receiver/amplifier.  Due to the small volume that we will rely on our receiver to fill with sound, many mid-tier receivers will provide more than enough sound pressure and quality to please the ears.  Some of the best receivers on the market today come from Yamaha in my opinion.  Their home theater-in-a-box sets that retail for around $600 US will make most ears purr aboard.  Choosing here, one needs to pay special attention to the sub woofer size and speaker size as these will need to find homes aboard that look acceptable and/or are hidden.

DVD players come from many manufactures today; the most important thing when picking the DVD player is understanding how it will talk with the receiver.  For maximum capability you will want a DVD player which outputs digital audio information to the receiver.  Make sure your DVD player and receiver combo will both process the latest in sound mixing technology such as THX or DTS.

Once the equipment is picked the installation begins.  Location of the receiver and DVD player can either be hidden or in open view.  If the equipment is hidden, one can use an IR repeater system to pipe the remote control signals to the hidden devices.  These are cheap and easy to install.  By using these, one can hide the equipment but still control it from the remote.  My personal favorite for simple installation is the xantech micro link kit which can be purchased online at www.smarthome.com.

So now we have our equipment purchased and installed.  It’s time to enjoy the movies—but what else can we do with our system?  If you are really addicted to information and need the latest news, soaps, and sports, a satellite TV receiver can be added.  Antennas are available from companies such as KVH and Seatel that are gyro stabilized allowing viewing underway or while swinging at anchor.  Currently, it seems the Seatel dishes operate better here in the Caribbean.   Some other toys that will hook directly to your new receiver and provide entertainment include an MP3 music source and a video game system such as the XBOX or play station.  Enjoy and keep the volume down!

Dustin Norlund is the owner of Latitude 18 Marine Electric based in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.  He can be reached via email at lat18marine@gmail.com. He and his wife Jacie are avid sailors living aboard their Hylas 49 Nadagato.

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So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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