My 2nd house and media room, a budget build with questions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 05-07-2013, 10:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello folks! I've in need of any thoughtful ideas or experience you can shed on what I hope are easy questions. I'm on a fairly modest budget of about $1000 per year, give or take. So here is what I have:

A new house due to be finished in June with a dedicated media room. It's a good builder (Highland Homes) so they did some things right in setup, but nothing completely serious compared to some of the build threads I drool over on here! The room is mostly square, with maybe 18' x 20' size. It is an upstairs room so the 3 walls have a vaulted angle. It is prewired for 7.1 with the surround back channels ready for in wall speakers in the vaulted part of wall.

Equipment I currently own:
  • Sony STR-DH820 Receiver
  • Panasonic PT-AE3000U Projector
  • Elite EZ Screen 120" Fixed 16:9 CineWhite
  • Center - Polk Audio CS20
  • Front - Polk Audio TSI500
  • Sub - Polk Audio DSW Pro 600
  • 500 GB Slim PS3

Unfortunately I had to leave behind four Polk RC65i in my previous house.

Hope that sets the stage, and I'll have pics soon enough, but here are my questions:
  1. I definitely need to buy rear surround speakers. Pre wire is for 7.1, but I am contemplating a 5.1 installation initially. I was very pleased with my former Polk RC65's but am leaning towards the RC85s this time.
  2. My receiver in 5.1 configuration supports bi-amping my front speakers. Which is something I know my TSI500s desperately want and need, but can someone recommend a better option for me? I am trying to plan the future, but have never ventured past a single A/V Receiver install. These speakers are rated for 20-275 watts. UPDATE - I will plan to upgrade my receiver for one with pre-outs and also an Emotiva XPA-3 amplifier.
  3. My projector's bulb is running on borrowed time! I have reset the warning twice, so it's somewhere around 3500-4000 hours. Trying to debate paying 200 for a potential knock off or 400+ for an authentic replacement, or completely blowing my budget with a new projector. Think I'll just go the safe route for a new lamp for now, unless there is something under 2k worth looking into but this will break my budget for a couple years because I also need... UPDATE - Found an official bulb for 300 bucks. Will order that after we move in
  4. Seating! Not looking for recommendations on this yet but just wanted to make that a known future need. I may finagle a deal with the wife that she gets new downstairs furniture, I get the current leather couches and maybe a projector? Maybe?
  5. Last is the media closet. I have an open closet / nook that is pre wired and have planned an open shelving wooden rack space. I have decent carpentry skills so it will be 100% DIY. Will not be enclosed, will have wooden shelving and will try to help cooling as best as possible (open rear spaces in shelves with generous spacing.) That's why I'm needing to plan any future amplifiers.
  6. Power conditioners? I think they are out of my budget and class of media room. True statement?

Sorry for the huge post and loads of questions! Feel free to point out any dumb questions as I'm here to learn in any fashion possible! smile.gif

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post #2 of 16 Old 05-08-2013, 05:27 AM
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What is the builder providing in terms of electrical? You will want to look at at least one (possibly more) dedicated 20A circuits in the equipment area, especially if you are planning for multiple amps in the future.

Are you planning on putting the screen on the 18' dimension and letting the room be 20' deep? 2 rows of seats? Is the builder putting in the riser or are you doing that later?

I didn't see any mention of acoustic treatments, but I think you will be very happy if you can squeeze those into the budget. Lots of money on amps and surrounds will be wasted if you haven't addressed the room's acoustics. Delaying a new pj purchase (going with a new bulb instead) might allow you to move acoustic treatments up the priority list.

What is the builder providing in terms of HVAC in this space? A single supply isn't going to cut it.

You have a nice size space to work with. My guess is some of your initial spending will be room-related instead of equipment-related, which is fine. Upgrading equipment is fairly easy, assuming you have the cash smile.gif. Making sure you have sufficient electrical and HVAC is a little trickier, but just as important. Good luck.
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post #3 of 16 Old 05-16-2013, 12:29 AM - Thread Starter
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I will have to check on electrical. Luckily the upstairs game/media room has ample access for adding wiring or circuits- .

Seats will likely be one row couch with a chase and recliners of course. Final decision on that is a ways off as we will use existing leather couches.

But what do you mean by acoustic treatments? I plan on adding black out curtains and similar fabric to cut down on reflective walls, but not sure what all you could mean.

Ac has two supplies and one return in the room.

I did order the RC85s for the rear. But I think I'm out of luck to biamp the front speakers unless I run a 2nd set of speaker wires to the speaker. It didn't look like it wanted it in series to biamp, only parallel.

Will try for good pictures soon enough.

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post #4 of 16 Old 05-30-2013, 10:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Correction, it's a 16 x 18 foot room. Challenges are a large window on one 18' run, and a double door on the other side. Not shown is the 4 columns on the 18' wall. They are roughly 6" out and 12" wide and will have a lighting sconce installed on each one. Doesn't affect much except my side channel speaker placement.

Now a floor plan pic and other random photos of construction. Unfortunately this is the builder's construction, not me being able to do the full blown media room build out seen in other threads.



Screen wall.


Windows and columns.


Wiring "closet". It will be dry walled, but I do not plan to enclose it.


Rear wall/ceiling. You can see the wiring in the vaulted wall for rear channel speakers.

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post #5 of 16 Old 05-30-2013, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Drywall phase

Screen wall


Rear wall, Showing off the future wet bar, A/V area and side wall with entrance.


Trim arriving adding definition to columns and other features


Painting has started, but not done. It's a very dark hunter green, and the phone or bright white trim door is throwing it off some. I know I will need to do something to cover the trim color after we move in.




So just a reminder that this is a new home build in progress. Really wish I had the budget and time to do it all from scratch, but I think it's coming along fine for a builder media room. Posting these as a record and to also invite any tips for the future. We're currently finishing out the electrical install, then the next month has all the trades returning to finish whatever got missed the first time. Move in date is July 8th!

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post #6 of 16 Old 11-30-2013, 10:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Gang!

It took me way too long to get all the little projects associated from moving into a new house done and I am finally in my home stretch to get my home theater room up and running. The only thing that is left is:
1. Build shelving for A/V rack.
2. Hang screen
3. Final cleanup
4. Media furniture (Couch with 4 recliners and a couple bean bags up front)


Here's my back wall. To the left is the future wet minibar, and the middle is the A/V rack.





My plan for the A/V rack is to build and stain shelving for a built in bookcase look. The area is 27" deep, 26" wide and over 7 foot tall. From top to bottom, shelving will be:
1. Projector ~16-18" shelf height airspace
2. Uverse Receiver / Future PS4 ~ 12" airspace
3. PS3 ~ 12" airspace
4. A/V Receiver ~ 16" airspace
5. Future Emotiva AMP or 2nd Receiver ~ 16"
6. Future Power line conditioner / UPS ~ whatever is left

Looking for advice here:

I will keep a 4-6" open gap in the back of the shelving for airflow and wiring. I may add a few fans in the back to encourage airflow too if needed, but I'm mostly concerned about the shelving airspace and planning for the future. Think I've got enough or too little/much planned? The emotiva AMP I want is 7 3/4" so I think 16" is over generous. But could I need another component in the future? I do have loads of attic space behind my rear wall for anything that could safely operate out of sight...







And just for reference, here is my entry/side wall:


And the screen wall:

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post #7 of 16 Old 12-23-2013, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm almost done with the AV shelving in the rear (
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1503502/critique-my-custom-a-v-rack-book-shelf#post_24110115) but I messed up. Expect big delays in the future as I hung my projector! smile.gif

Crappy cell phone pic....



I also measured and think I can easily fit a 150" screen (have 120" now). But that will have to wait because I need to get rid of the front cabinet first. I will build out a shelf tied into the wall just below the screen.

Been contemplating upgrading the center channel, but not quite able to afford to replace other speakers at this time. Plus I'm completely voice matched now, But would welcome any ideas or opinions.

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post #8 of 16 Old 05-24-2014, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Now I'm working on building a new shelf for the speaker channel up front. That will let me get rid of the cabinet up front.

Warning: I make a lot of mistakes but occasionally I learn from them!
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-16-2014, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Built a floating shelf for my center channel. Exterior box is red oak stained in Minwax dark walnut. Frame supports are two 2x6 attached to the back side of the studs behind the wall. The bracing I used in behind the wall was pretty hardcore it should be strong enough to sit on (but I'm not going to).

The overall size is 14.5" deep, 3.5" tall and 46" wide. Hoping that is big enough for any thing I throw up there in the future.




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post #10 of 16 Old 08-17-2014, 06:39 AM
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Very nice floating shelf
Now, about those white wall plates.........

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post #11 of 16 Old 08-30-2014, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by weaselfest View Post
Very nice floating shelf
Now, about those white wall plates.........

Thanks! The white plates may be next, but I'm not sure what to do about them. I have a dark green wall paint, and painting the plates always looks tacky. I guess the next option is just getting dark (black/brown) plates?

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post #12 of 16 Old 08-31-2014, 05:39 AM
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You've taken the room this far, see it through. Black wall plates aren't nearly as hard to find as they used to be. Monoprice and Amazon have a wide variety and most of the big box home improvement stores are stocking black plates, switches and receptacles.
zigzag metal "cinema" sign on top of your projector from Hobby Lobby? I have the same one over the door to my basement.

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post #13 of 16 Old 09-03-2014, 07:41 AM
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Hi Johnny,

Do you remember which plan you went with when building your Highland home? We are looking to build one as well, eyeing the 293 or 296 plan which allows the media room offset right next to the kitchen. We currently have everything prewired in our living room, but would like to move it all to a dedicated media room as you have.

Highland has told us that they wire everything to the front of the room, which requires you to have all of the components on a piece of media furniture where all of the lights can distract your eyes from the screen. How did you get the media closet built in the back and everything wired to that location?

I currently have two huge Polk Floor channel speakers for the front left and right, an Infinity for the center channel (currently sits in media furniture), two Bose speakers for the Front Heights (prewired in family room) and two Bose speakers for the Surround Speakers (also prewired). My subwoofer sits to the right of the media station, didn't see yours in the photos.

I am trying to figure out how I would run everything if we build either of these plans. I haven't done too much research, but I dont think I can hide any of these speakers inside the walls, and I don't think Highland will deviate from the plan to build the media closet.
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post #14 of 16 Old 09-03-2014, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
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My house is the 921 floorplan with Highland, with the optional upstairs game room and bath. We signed the contract when the house was in early framing stage so I was able to get Highland to convert the Game Room into a full dedicated media room. That got them to add double doors, full insulation around media room, 4 pillars with sconces, 7.1 wiring, and an A/C return.

My A/V Closet is reclaimed dead space on the floor plan. When I looked at the floorplan I saw a square that was just not used so I asked if we could get that framed into the room instead of into the attic. It would be a little more drywall, carpet and square footage, but I think it cost no more than 200 bucks to do. Totally worth it! I love how that space is centrally located so my PJ is on the top shelf. Allows me to have a lower ceiling fan to keep things cooler in the Summer.

I also got to pick out all wiring locations for speakers locations, wiring returns, PJ electric and conduit, etc. That should not have any impact to their cost to put stuff where you want, provided they haven't already installed it the default way first. So catch them early on and it shouldn't be a problem that a change order can't solve for. We had a good construction manager who was a pleasure to work with, but you can also get a lot of free stuff done under the table if you show up at the right time with a cooler full of Coronas.


P.S. The one thing I forgot was to install electrical outlets in the floor for motorized chairs.

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post #15 of 16 Old 09-04-2014, 09:11 AM
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I really dig your room. You put a 120" screen on the 16' wall right? Whats the distance from seat to screen like?
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post #16 of 16 Old 09-04-2014, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruzer79 View Post
I really dig your room. You put a 120" screen on the 16' wall right? Whats the distance from seat to screen like?
Thanks Man!

The screen is about 13 feet from viewing position, and offers a great viewing angle for the entire picture. I'm toying with the idea of something a bit larger too, but not my top priority. I should be able to fit a 135" screen as the height is my limiting factor with a vaulted ceiling. But I would rather upgrade my receiver/amplifier first.


The next few items I want to get done are:
1. Black out curtains for windows.
2. Install backsplash to wet bar.
3. Install pendant lighting to wet bar.

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