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post #1 of 19 Old 01-13-2010, 09:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I have just finished many, many years of school, and we are getting our first house after a bit of saving. We are currently having the basement finished, and it is going to have a great media room (21x21 rectangular room with a ceiling height of about 10'-12'). Our plan is to put a pool table in the back and a media area with projector up front.

I have been reading these forums for a couple days now, and we meet with the media room expert soon (We will pay someone to set this up for us. I want to make sure that the room is set up properly, and I will likely take over the maintenance and upgrades after its initial setup). Before getting a cost estimate from him, I thought I would seek advice here. I would like to get opinions as to what some ideal setups would be for a low ($10k), mid ($15k-$20k), and high budget (for me, $25k).

I have seen that much of the new electronic media room equipment will be priced high, and then it will sale for a much cheaper price in a couple of years. I will likely look into getting top of the line 2007 or 2008 equipment and then retool every few (or more) years. I'd also like to save money by buying used equipment if possible. We will pre-wire for some things though to save on costs down the road (e.g., prewire for 7.1 sound while using 5.1 initially).

We will be installing stadium seating for about 10-14 people probably. I saw a media room in a house that had a 12'x20' basement, and they comfortably could fit 8-10. We'll watch sports 60%, TV 30%, movies 5%, and games 5%. I have many questions.

Projector: Out of the sub $3500 pricepoint, many seem to like and favor the Panasonic AE4000. Are there comparable single chip DLP projectors that would give better performance? Is there a DLP projector in the sub $3500 price range that is quiet and does not show the rainbow effect (I've read about this effect and have no idea how I would handle it. I don't want it)? I think $2,000 to $3,500 should give us a fine projector (I'd rather keep closer to $2,000 and the Panasonic fits the bill). I really don't know if I favor LCD or DLP, and I'm sure that this debate could go on for a while. I've read good and bad traits of both. For our setup, are there specific factors that could help me decide?

Subwoofer: The room has about 4400+ cu. ft. It would seem that most seem to think that a dual setup is needed? What kind of amp will I need? What would be the estimated cost? I would think that $1k per subwoofer is ok? If I move up a little in price, do I get a lot more for the money?

Speaker setup: What kind of budget should I allocate for speakers? I think 6.1 is necessary for this size of room, but will 7.1 make a big difference? Any specific suggestions? I was thinking about allocating $3,500 here, but I'm not sure if that is enough.

Projector screen: What do I need here? I'm lost. I think a $2,500 budget for a 100" (or so) screen should be ok, but is this enough or too much? I don't need the perfect picture, but I want it to be HD for sports and movies.

The most that we'd want to spend is $25k. If we can get out of this for under $20k that would be great too. Does anyone have any comments on how the room should be laid out? The room has no windows, and it has a single door to enter from the far center of one wall. We were thinking about putting an aisle down the left and an aisle in the front.

Thanks in advance to any advice or suggestions that you may have!
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post #2 of 19 Old 01-13-2010, 10:47 PM
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Wow...that's a whole lot of questions. I'll give you my 2cents on some and I'm sure others will chime in. Did I said that's a lot of questions?

Is your space finished? drywall etc... Are you using a professional HT company to set up your place?

It's really difficult for anyone to give you an example set up of all the price ranges you listed since I assume that you will be using a pro company.
IMO. I would allocate more funds toward the sound set up vs. the electronics. Like you said, "It will be much cheaper in a couple of years."
Since you'll be watching mostly sports on your projector. I suggest you search the forum for that particular type of projector. i.e "best projector for tv viewing". Definitely go with a 1080p over 720p projector.
$2,500 for a 100" screen is VERY good. I'm not sure about spending more money on a screen than on a projector.
Definitely pre-wire for 7.1 even if you're not going to use it right now. It'll come in handy if you chose use it in the future.

I don't think reading this forum for couple of days will be enough. Try reading/searching for couple of weeks if not months before you make your final decision. I suggest that you narrow down your equipments first (projector,screen,speakers, etc...) to get a rough estimate of the total cost before moving forward.

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post #3 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

I have just finished many, many years of school, and we are getting our first house after a bit of saving.

Congrats on the perseverance and patience of getting to where you are now. I'm sure it feels good to have accomplished what you have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

I have been reading these forums for a couple days now, and we meet with the media room expert soon (We will pay someone to set this up for us. I want to make sure that the room is set up properly, and I will likely take over the maintenance and upgrades after its initial setup). Before getting a cost estimate from him, I thought I would seek advice here. I would like to get opinions as to what some ideal setups would be for a low ($10k), mid ($15k-$20k), and high budget (for me, $25k).

I'm going to echo a couple of things from the first response. A couple days here is NOTHING. What was your HT background/interest level before coming here? What handyman skills do you have and how comfortable are you in yourself being able to do *some* of the work?

A budget could be all over the board, based on level of equipment choices. I made very modest choices, shopped some on Craigslist, used gift cards when possible, and still spent around $15K on my build, doing all the work myself. There are most definitely things that you will not think of up front, that will add cost to this in the middle. Also, when factoring in the budget, don't spend it all on the HT, you have a big room to fill, furniture to be purchased, accessories, etc...

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Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

We will be installing stadium seating for about 10-14 people probably. I saw a media room in a house that had a 12'x20' basement, and they comfortably could fit 8-10. We'll watch sports 60%, TV 30%, movies 5%, and games 5%. I have many questions.

Wow, that's cool that you will have so much seating and that many people to use it sometimes. I would encourage you to keep in mind how it will be used 80% of the time though. If it's mostly you and your wife watching a movie on Friday night, make sure and account for maximum enjoyment for that scenario first.

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Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

Projector: Out of the sub $3500 pricepoint, many seem to like and favor the Panasonic AE4000. Are there comparable single chip DLP projectors that would give better performance? Is there a DLP projector in the sub $3500 price range that is quiet and does not show the rainbow effect (I've read about this effect and have no idea how I would handle it. I don't want it)? I think $2,000 to $3,500 should give us a fine projector (I'd rather keep closer to $2,000 and the Panasonic fits the bill). I really don't know if I favor LCD or DLP, and I'm sure that this debate could go on for a while. I've read good and bad traits of both. For our setup, are there specific factors that could help me decide?

Have you looked at DLP and LCD displays before? Have you, or your wife, ever seen the rainbow effect? Do you prefer one over the other? These questions will help you decide. If you prefer one or the other in a store setting, you will probably tend to like that one more at home. If you have never seen the rainbow effect on a display, then you will probably not have a problem with it. There are a lot of things to worry about, much like stepping up to a golf ball before you hit, but in both cases, what comes naturally is probably going to best for you. Don't over think it...just go with what looks/sounds good to you.

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Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

Subwoofer: The room has about 4400+ cu. ft. It would seem that most seem to think that a dual setup is needed? What kind of amp will I need? What would be the estimated cost? I would think that $1k per subwoofer is ok? If I move up a little in price, do I get a lot more for the money?

Why stop at 2? With that big of a room, put in 3 or 4, why not. It seems like with subs, the more, and better dispersed they are, the more even and smooth response you will get without having to crank it up in the settings. I would rather have 3 or 4 small to midsized subs, than 1 big one.

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Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

Speaker setup: What kind of budget should I allocate for speakers? I think 6.1 is necessary for this size of room, but will 7.1 make a big difference? Any specific suggestions? I was thinking about allocating $3,500 here, but I'm not sure if that is enough.

Trying to allocate a $ amount here at this point is a fruitless endeavor for anything but some random target amount to shoot for. You have several decisions to make before then, like in-wall or boxed, going behind a stage and acoustically transparent screen, or out front of the screen, going to be all be matched or using different speakers for around the room, etc... There's hundreds of speaker manufacturers and decisions within manufacturers.

Having said that, once you have really assessed your whole budget and what part is important to you, then you can start allocating %s of your budget to certain things. Are you an audiophile? Can you tell the difference between a $100 speaker and a $1000 speaker, a $500 speaker and a $1000 speaker? I'm definitely not, so good midrange speakers worked out great for me. I didn't have anyone to impress with what the speaker grill said. Having said that, it's nothing against people who that is important to, or have a more sophisticated standard for audio.

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Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

Projector screen: What do I need here? I'm lost. I think a $2,500 budget for a 100" (or so) screen should be ok, but is this enough or too much? I don't need the perfect picture, but I want it to be HD for sports and movies.

Tons of options and DIY options can look very nice. Again, do you need acoustically transparent (AT) because you are doing a stage with the speakers behind it? I'm guessing it will be fixed frame instead of drop down. Personally, I think you could spend some of that budget elsewhere...I don't think you *need* to spend $2,500 for a screen...but you can spend that much for sure. I was very happy with the Dalite screen that I had in my last setup, and that was less than $1000.

Quote:
Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

The most that we'd want to spend is $25k. If we can get out of this for under $20k that would be great too. Does anyone have any comments on how the room should be laid out? The room has no windows, and it has a single door to enter from the far center of one wall. We were thinking about putting an aisle down the left and an aisle in the front.

Just make sure and not blow your wad on all the equipment. Do the things that you can't change very easily well, and then get equipment that matches with your enjoyment and remaining budget. For instance, structural items, lighting, power, wire runs, etc... These are things that will cost you a ton to change down the road...equipment is easy to upgrade.

Post some pictures of the room and a floorplan if possible. This will help start narrowing down a good orientation for your setup.

-------------------------------------------------------

I don't mean to sound harsh or anything in my response, but my best advice is to slooooowwwww dooooowwwwwnnn. Otherwise, you are going to be on here saying "My home theater installer talked me into such and such and now this is what I have...how hard will it be to change it?"

You put in the time and effort and patience to get to where you are now. Don't forsake what got you here.

The above is merely one person's opinion and is probably worth as much as you paid for it.
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post #4 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 06:45 AM
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Is that budget for room construction and equipment, or equipment alone?

You are getting good initial feedback, even though it may not be what you want to hear. So many people want to jump right to the equipment selection phase without giving anywhere near enough thought to the room design and construction.

Does whoever you have hired to build the room have real experience designing and building home theaters? There are many, many builders/renovators who just want to apply the typical build strategies to HTs, and most never even realize what they don't know. It would be a real shame to budget $30K or so for equipment but end up with a HT that leaks sound throughout the house, or has poor room acoustics or layout, including in your case the acoustic challenges of having a perfectly square room. Otherwise you might end up with beautiful frosting on a half baked cake.

Post your floor plan and some photos, and elaborate on your vision for what you want to achieve with the room. You might be surprised at the helpful feedback you get.

You can do this fast, cheap or right ... but not all three. Take enough time to do it right the first time. You'll be glad you did!

Good luck - and buckle your seat belt ... you're in for a great ride!!

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post #5 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 08:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow! Thank you for all your comments.

The builder that we have does a great job, but it would have been his first media room. Our realtor has suggested a media room professional who apparently is very good at what he does (his sole job is high end media rooms). I probably come in at the lower end of his clientele. Right now, the room is just a big 21'x21' room that is empty. The drywall isn't even up yet. The room is in a poured concrete basement, and the builder reinforced the poured concrete with more steel. I will try and get a picture, but just think of a big 21'x21' room that has poured concrete walls with no windows.

Our plan is to have the builder build the media room with the professional HT guy's input. A lot of the structural items should be included in the price of the home already, so we would be paying for installation and wiring alone (I think).

Before I forget, our budget is for the audio/visual equipment alone.

After reading all of your comments, I will concentrate on the equipment that is not easy to replace. I don't want a VERY good screen. A decent screen is fine. No one seemed to object to $1k for a screen, so I'll look at those. Our screen will be framed on the wall. Because of the higher ceiling (10'-12'), I don't think placement should be an issue.

For the projector, I'm going to go to Best Buy or somewhere to check out DLP vs. LCD. I'm not even sure if I've ever seen DLP . It does sound neat though.

We were looking at installing the speakers into the walls around the room. I like the comment about going with smaller but more subwoofers instead of one or two larger ones. That makes sense. I'll have to read up on the speakers.

I'll get the pics on here soon. I am even open to ideas on how to structure the room. We are starting from a blank slate. I am, unfortunately, not a great DIY or handy guy. However, I do understand electronics and whatnot, and I believe that I can maintain and upgrade after the initial installation.

I hate to be in a hurry, but the builder has to finish the basement by our set closing date. I will use all of this input as we evaluate how to continue on from this point. I meet with the media room guy tonight.
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post #6 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

Our plan is to have the builder build the media room with the professional HT guy's input. A lot of the structural items should be included in the price of the home already, so we would be paying for installation and wiring alone (I think).

Oh oh.

My friend - and I mean this with all due respect - if you really want a HT or decent Media room, you have a lot of reading to do here quickly. There is a big difference in construction techniques between what the builder would expect to provide for a typical finished basement and what many people would want in a HT - especially when it comes to sound management.

Here is a good thread to start with, as it is a bunch of people sharing what they would do differently next time if they had it to do over. This may at least open your eyes quickly to some of the common issues - I know it did for me. Also check out this Where to Begin thread. Don't even think about projector or speaker types right now - you have plenty of time for that! Instead, quickly learn about double drywall, green glue, RISC clips, and decoupling walls and such. If your media room expert can't elaborate well on that stuff, you aren't dealing with an expert. Try to quickly read a few articles from the library at this site too.



Quote:
Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

I hate to be in a hurry, but the builder has to finish the basement by our set closing date.

You only have one chance to do it right the first time. Just some food for thought ...




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post #7 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by hanesian View Post

You can do this fast, cheap or right ... but not all three.

I always heard you get to pick 2 of the 3.

The above is merely one person's opinion and is probably worth as much as you paid for it.
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post #8 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

I will try and get a picture, but just think of a big 21'x21' room that has poured concrete walls with no windows.

While we can imagine that - it is not what you are going to start with. If this is in the basement like you said, then there are other things in that space.

Assuming that your house is bigger than 21x21, so this just is the finished space in the basement - which means that some of those walls will be framed, not concrete. And I'll bet that space includes a set of stairs leading to the first floor. If you are going to spend that kind of money on sound equipment you'll want a space that can use it, which means at a minimum sound proofing should be a concern. Check out the links Hanes posted for a good start on that issue.

[EDIT]My bad - I see from your first past that their is a door leading into this space, so no stairs. Sorry about that. But still - soundproofing is a concern that you need to be aware of.

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post #9 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by jpdeuce View Post

I always heard you get to pick 2 of the 3.

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post #10 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

We will be installing stadium seating for about 10-14 people probably. I saw a media room in a house that had a 12'x20' basement, and they comfortably could fit 8-10.

If you want a pool table in there you can't do two rows of seating with a riser (I think that is what you mean by "stadium seating"). Here is why:

If you want two rows of seating with a riser then you have to allow ~6.5 feet of depth for the riser and seating. That would be your second row of seating so assuming your first row is at a viewing distance of at least 10' (a minimum based on your suggested screen size) your two rows of seating would take up ~16.5 feet from the screen. That's assuming your screen is on the wall. That leaves 4 feet of space for your pool table.


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post #11 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

I have been reading these forums for a couple days now, and we meet with the media room expert soon (We will pay someone to set this up for us. I want to make sure that the room is set up properly, and I will likely take over the maintenance and upgrades after its initial setup).

If you are paying someone to set this up for you, that person will almost certainly dictate the equipment that you get. I'll bet you this "media room expert" will have a short list of equipment that you can pick from for your room based on a specific budget.

You have to realize that this person is responsible for making sure everything works together properly, so they have to have a set of equipment that they know very well. They can't be an expert on all the equipment out there and can't take the chance of something not working (which would cost them time and money), so they have to be restrictive in their choices.

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post #12 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 11:27 AM
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100" is too small for that room

Current Projects:
IN PROGRESS (80%) - Building 3D Theater room.
IN PROGRESS (30%) - Building Lounge/Hallway Area.
IN PROGRESS (15%) - Building Home LAN (4 PCs).
ON HOLD - Building Home Gym.
ON HOLD - Building Simulation Room (Eyefinity).
ON HOLD - Building Theater room (Sim2 HT380, 2.35 14ft wide).
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post #13 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 11:32 AM
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All the advise you have gotten so far is right on spot. I will add a little bit that I see is important. Think priority!!!
1 - Since drywall is not up yet, concentrate on pre-wiring everything. Once the drywall is up it becomes a major pain to run wires. Use conduit where you can to run speaker wires and projector cabling. This way if you need to run something new in the future you can pull the new thru the conduit.
2- Do you want your room to be sound proof and acoustically correct? Certain building techniques will be used to isolate the sound just to that room if you want it sound proof. Same thing for the room acoustics, certain things can be done during construction to make the room sound better.
3 - Think about where you want electrical plug ins and lighting.
4 - Speaker location will need to be decided on before drywall so you can run the wires to those locations.
5 - IMO, components can be chosen after the fact. But if you do not get a good solid room to put them in it doesn't matter how much you spend on the equipment.

As others have said, spend some time reviewing other build threads. You will learn a lot and you might just see something that you would really like to have in your room. Oh and keep the questions coming.

I like this place!!!
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post #14 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huddleup View Post

I have just finished many, many years of school, and we are getting our first house after a bit of saving. We are currently having the basement finished, and it is going to have a great media room (21x21 rectangular room with a ceiling height of about 10'-12'). Our plan is to put a pool table in the back and a media area with projector up front.
..........................................................

Thanks in advance to any advice or suggestions that you may have!

1st Piece of advice.........21'x21' = square

2nd Piece of advice, listen to jpdeuce, he was right on all points.

3rd piece of advice, which ever great piece of electronics you think is a good deal on sale now will be much cheaper when everything is ready to install. Used is always a good option as well.

Good luck and the last piece of advice for now......POST SOME PICS/DRAWINGS ETC.
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post #15 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all very much for your advice. I'm still learning as I go. We met with the media guy tonight, and he was very helpful. The best part of the meeting is that we realized we were headed in the wrong direction. Because we are going to be using the room mainly for sports, we will likely change its design (enter in from the side instead of the back -- better for entertaining and sports than for home theatre), and this "sports centric" design will drive what we do. We realized after this design decision that we would get much more use out of the room, and we would like it better as well.

Everything that was talked about here was pretty much echoed by him. I read all the posts here and then used that information to help me ask better questions. I'm going to get another price quote (once I have this guy's) and ask for hardware recommendations. Once I know what that hardware is, I can do some more research on that too. For now, I'm going to be reading those threads on what people would have done differently and getting started.

The basement is really shaping up. We decided to wire the entire basement for audio (including the porch). Now, anyone watching a game can go into the basement kitchen or back patio to the grill without having to miss a play. We did have to scrap the idea for the pool table. We don't have enough room with the current layout.

Thank you all for the help as I learn. I'll be doing much more research tomorrow after work! I'll will post pics soon, but I have to go get some sleep for work tomorrow!
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post #16 of 19 Old 01-14-2010, 10:18 PM
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HT1 said it, but based on your last post I am going to repeat it.

The equipment is not the focus right now. Panasonic or JVC projector, Denon or Pioneer receiver doesn't matter right now.

What you need from the HT professional is a layout, wiring diagram and then you need a layout of the full basement. You bring that back here - post it and there will be fantastic feedback and comments that you may choose to incorporate or not. You take that back to your HT professional and builder and get them to price based on that.

The choices now needs to be focused on things like the items below (some of this is stated above)

In-wall speakers or floorstanding? (mix of both for up-front and rears)

Behind the screen or speakers in front of the screen?

Second zone over the pool-table?

Are you doing a media closet in the basement with wiring going to other floors (is this to late?)

Also ask the HT company if they will lock you in on equipment if you go with them or are you ok buying these items yourself.

I understand that you are in a rush, but here are a few more thoughts

1) Getting the drawing etc is needed anyways - you can post it here and have answers within 24hours. Maybe not all answers, but some

2) Possible to get a "credit" with the builder for additional work and do the closing. Would be in your interest as the basement would be inspected unfinished and lower the tax value on the home and then you get the space done right

Conduit - run it and make sure it is big enough for HDMI connectors. Also make sure the plans includes runs of cat6 for "future proofing"
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post #17 of 19 Old 01-15-2010, 05:14 AM
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Dear JP,



Sincerely yours,

Da Hanesmeister


Man, if I had a dollar for everytime somebody told me that.

The above is merely one person's opinion and is probably worth as much as you paid for it.
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post #18 of 19 Old 01-15-2010, 06:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hanesian View Post

Dear JP,



Sincerely yours,

Da Hanesmeister


Quote:
Originally Posted by jpdeuce View Post

Man, if I had a dollar for everytime somebody told me that.

You'd have a dollar, right?

Chris

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--Despair, Inc. "Regret"

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post #19 of 19 Old 01-23-2010, 04:30 AM
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Progress update for your virtual peeps?

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