A Guide to Luxury Source Components

A Guide to Luxury Source Components
What is a Luxury Entertainment System?

Continuing our series on the basic building blocks of a luxury entertainment system, it’s time for us to discuss some of the less sexy decisions you need to make. That’s right, we’ve come to the electronics, and we’ll be breaking this broad category into two separate posts to make it a little easier to digest.


First up, we’ll be tackling source components, with sound processing and amplification covered in a future update. If you’re not familiar with the term “source components,” it basically covers all of the little black (or sometimes white) boxes you plug

into your home entertainment system to provide audio and video entertainment. Your satellite receiver is a source component. Your disc player is, too, if you’re still clinging to those things (which you may well be if you live in a remote area with unreliable network access or already have a gigantic collection of silver platters).


But if you’re building a modern luxury home-entertainment system in a reasonably well-connected locale, chances are good neither of those old standbys will find its way into your system. One source you’ll definitely want to add, though, is a good media streamer. And this is true even if you’ve decided on a TV that has smart streaming apps built in, because dedicated streamers do make a difference when it comes to video quality.


If you already have a preferred media-streaming platform of choice, you can, of course, opt for that one. Just know that not all of the various options are interchangeable, so it’s a good idea to decide which streaming apps you use the most and get the media streamer that best supports them. Want to watch Netflix with Dolby Atmos sound? Apple TV can do it; Chromecast can’t. Do you already have a pretty significant library of films in the Vudu app? Roku and Apple TV have an app for that; Amazon Fire TV doesn’t. Looking forward to the new Disney+ streaming service? You’ll be able to watch it via any dedicated media streamer or gaming console—except for Amazon Fire TV.


Of course, there are any number of reasons why you don’t want to rely on a media streamer as your sole source of video content. For one thing, only a handful of streaming 

apps out there at the moment—Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon, just to name a few of the few—deliver truly fantastic audio and video quality. Far too many streaming providers, though, are still stuck in 2016 when it comes to their delivery methods and their quality. And then, of course, there’s the fact that even a rock-solid and reliable internet 

connection can be counted on to occasionally drop out at the least convenient time.


That’s why you’ll also want to have a reference-quality video server in your system. Something like the Kaleidescape movie player (shown at the top of the page) will not only give you a truly reference-quality viewing and listening experience, since its collection of downloadable films and TV shows is much less compressed than what you’ll get from streaming (and sometimes

even less compressed than what you’ll get from discs); your collection is also there for the viewing anytime you want, since your internet connection is only used for the initial download. In other words, your entertainment is stored locally, on rock-solid, monitored hardware.


The other big benefit of the Kaleidescape ecosystem is its elegant user interface. And if you think that’s not a big deal, try something for me: Fire up Netflix or Vudu or Amazon or any of the otherwise great streaming services, and try to find something worth watching. It can be a bit frustrating, can’t it? Kaleidescape not only offers curated collections that help you hone your purchasing decisions, but it also offers a couple different ways to navigate the content you already own. If you know, for example, that you want to watch Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, you can simply peruse your library in alphabetical order, and there it is, right near the top.


If, on the other hand, you know you’re in the mood for something a little more classic, but you’re not quite sure what, you might prefer to browse your library by cover art instead. Taking this route is almost like scanning your shelves for a disc, assuming you could find a magical shelf that would rearrange your disc collection every time your eyes rested on one particular title for more than a few seconds. Gravitate to Lawrence of Arabia, for example, and your library will rearrange to surround it with titles like The Bridge on the River Kwai.


For movies and TV shows, that’s really all you need: A good media streamer for day-to-day viewing and a Kaleidescape for those treasured favorites that you return to time and 

again, and for anything you want to view in the best quality possible. If you’re a gamer, you’ll probably want to add a PlayStation 4 Pro, an Xbox One, or a Nintendo Switch—or perhaps all three. And if you’re an old-school audiophile or new-school analog audio enthusiast, you might also add a good turntable to this mix. If, on the other hand, you’re more of a hi-res digital hi-fi aficionado, you might want a Roon server.


But those are personal choices, of course. If we’re just talking the basics, two good sources are all you really need.

Dennis Burger

Dennis Burger is an avid Star Wars scholar, Tolkien fanatic, and Corvette enthusiast
who somehow also manages to find time for technological passions including high-
end audio, home automation, and video gaming. He lives in the armpit of 
Alabama with
his wife Bethany and their four-legged child Bruno, a 75-pound 
American Staffordshire
Terrier who thinks he’s a Pomeranian.

  • john bishop

    The CineLuxe name and its historic relationship with Theo Kalomirakis, the father of home theater, moves me to comment on this topic from a cinematic standpoint;
    One of the great cinema authors and movie critics David Thompson wrote a little book, ‘How to Watch a Movie’. In it he makes a useful point; ‘you only get one chance to see a movie for the first time’. Because movies are a true art form, the 7th Art, the experience matters.
    A TV in a living room cannot deliver the genuine article. TV viewing geometry is not cinematic, and the image character is not better than projection on a big screen, as has been suggested by some, it is worse. It is a caricature of the projected image in a reference exhibition theater. Dark scenes were not intended to be rendered in an oil slick, but rather within the charcoal blacks of DCI cinema projection on a low gain white screen. We have had discussions on this web site that considers which is better, projection or TV, with the pluses and minuses listed for each. That may be a home entertainment discussion, but it is not cinema. Again, no TV, none, can do what a cinema grade projector and screen can do.
    Protect your cinematic experience. At a fine art level, there is nothing like it!
    Best regards,
    John Bishop – President b/a/s/ bishop architectural-entertainment services
    Exec VP Mavericks Architectural Cinema div James Loudspeaker
    Director Cinema Experience Engineering RAYVA Theaters

    September 29, 2019 at 3:28 am
  • john bishop

    CineLuxe is a contraction of cinema and luxury.
    Cinema is a specific experience which is not what happens on a 65” TV viewed from 8 t0 15’ away (4H to 7H). But it can happen in a space that allows a 12’ wide scope image to be viewed from under 8’ to 15’ away (1.5H to 3H).
    At cinema standard viewing distances and with cinema grade projection and screen technology, the hierarchy of sources flips.
    By far, the most important source for the art of movies is playback from shiny discs, brd & UHD brd specifically. Image quality and perfect playback reliability trump the convenience of streaming. And analysis of streaming quality on a TV does not tell the cinema story at all.
    Movies are fine art, and taking the chance that a first viewing might be ruined by an ill timed hesitation of drop in image quality as streamers can do, means discs and bit for bit files from servers like Kaleidescape or Red Carpet Home Cinema are the only way to insure a cinematic experience. Next come cable and satellite movie channels and last come streamers, which will only reach their best quality level if 20 to 30mb/s is guaranteed, without traffic issues on the the LAN or the connection.
    David Thompson’s book, ‘How to Watch a Movie’ made the simple but powerful statement on this; ‘You only get one chance to experience a movie for the first time’.
    Protect the artistic experience by insuring the best technology available in the delivery system.

    Food for thought.
    John Bishop – President b/a/s/ bishop architectural-entertainment services
    Exec VP Mavericks Architectural Cinema div James Loudspeaker
    Director Cinema Experience Engineering RAYVA Theaters

    September 29, 2019 at 8:02 pm