Ames, IA media room remodel - Cinema 1858 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I originally posted this in the Dedicated Theater Builder forum, but have realized that they are a bit out of my league, and my true brethren are in this forum, so here it is, folks...

Well, after many many years of having a pretty kick-@$$ surround system in my living room, a couple years ago I was finally able to set up a dedicated, 9.5' x 17.5' room. I had bought a house that had a makeshift screen on one end, so I picked up a cheap Epson 720p HD projector on craigslist and moved my existing surround system into the room.

That has served me well for a couple years. I've made some equipment upgrades, including going with a Marantz SR5005 AVR and upgrading to an Optoma HD20 projector.

But now it's time to upgrade.

• The screen was originally mounted on the wall perpendicular to 3 large floor to ceiling windows - obviously not great for daytime viewing. I hung curtains, which did a nice job of blacking out the room, but I like to have a little bit of natural light in the room while watching football on a Sunday.

• The makeshift 96" screen (a solid piece of white linoleum) was starting to sag in places. Not terrible, but watching sports was starting to make me seasick on quick pans.

• One of the floorboards was also starting to weaken. This is also our workout room (Nike+ Xbox 360 Training - down 45 lbs. this year) and the floorboard had taken a bit of a beating.

So over the last month or so, I've been making plans and we started this past weekend. We're spinning the room 180º. There's a narrow space on the other end of the room, and we're going to have to blackout 2 windows (they never let in much light and have no view, as they're under a deck) and use the soffits for L-R speakers. In between the two windows was an old non-functioning wall furnace which we removed, and the hole that left behind will be utilized for the center channel speaker.

The 96" piece of linoleum will be replaced with a 115" DIY screen made with Seymour AV's Center Stage AT material. Seymour is located right in town and they've been supremely helpful with my planning. Great people at that place. Smart, friendly, and helpful. I've invited Chris over for a beer and a movie when it's complete. He offered to swing by and help if needed, as he lives just around the corner. I'm trying to save him from that offer, but I haven't ruled it out yet, either. smile.gif

I removed the built-in cabinet along one side of the room to free up more room for working out (hoping to drop another 10-15 by the holidays, even with tailgating season upon us). The components will be housed under the screen, some behind the false wall. I can dim/turn off all the front display lights, so they won't bother us during viewing.

For now the seating will just live at the other end of the room. Eventually I plan on purchasing a pair of theater-style recliners for a front-row (which will be in the actual 'sweet spot') and I'll build a platform in the end of the room to raise the couch for sight-line.

I'm hoping to be done with this project relatively quickly. We've already made great progress over the weekend.

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post #2 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Here are the "before" pictures.

This is what it looked like before we started. You can see the screen, the large windows, and the built-in equipment rack. The front speakers are NHT - VS-1's for LR and the center is an AC-1. The sub is a SW2Pi, the amp is inside the equipment rack. I picked these up back in the mid-90's when I lived in CA and can't justify upgrading them at this point - except perhaps the sub. The center channel sounds fantastic, and matches well with the LRs.

The surround speakers are Mission 77ds dipole speakers. There are currently only 2 mounted, but I've run cable to add in the other pair I have and upgrade to 7.1. Got them cheap, and they sound great in surround duty.

Also of note:

• Lighting has been moved away from the screen and placed on a dimmer (with remote, since the switch will be on the other side of the room).
• Extra light fixtures have been removed.
• The door to the backyard will be functional again, as it will no longer be blocked by a couch.
• All cabling has been run through the walls/ceilings and will no longer be visible.

This room was previously a theater, then a workshop. Before that it was outside. This room was hobbled together underneath a three season porch. The three season porch was upgraded to a full sunroom, and this was enclosed as a man cave, then repurposed into a workshop. I'm doing what I can to give it the modern/contemporary feel of the rest of the house.

I'm also on an extreme budget. So far I've spent $170 on speaker wire, a new dimmer switch, drywall, a new sheet of plywood for the floorboard, and a new hammer. Plus the cost of the screen and it's materials.














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post #3 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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First weekend progress.

Here are a couple photos of the progress we made over the weekend. We pulled out the wallboards and found a terrible mess of electrical wiring. It's a wonder the house hadn't burned down yet.

So we lost half a day deciphering what was coming and going where, pulled-out extra wiring, cleaned up and replaced the wiring we plan to use, and then ran the speaker cables, hdmi, etc.

Finally on Sunday we got half the drywall up. I'll post more photos during the week as we keep progressing. We're keeping the cedar on the back wall (oh yeah, there was a window behind the old screen), and the side walls will be drywalled, painted, and then "framed" with some of the cedar we took out to give it a pillared look, and to allow us to skip the mud/tape process - we're going to cover the seams with cedar.



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post #4 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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More progress...the rewiring of the electrical is done, half the drywall is up, light fixtures are moved, and 3 of the 4 surround speakers are mounted.

I also have the component shelves mostly built, ready to paint, but I don't have the photos of those yet, they're up in the garage.



The little Lutron remote control dimmer is pretty sweet! It will come in handy, since our seating is across the room from the switch. And we'll be able to program the functionality into our AV remotes? Not bad for $40!

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post #5 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, made good progress this weekend.

Friday night I got the windows behind the screen boarded up and sealed off, speaker shelves in and some foam placed.




Then on Saturday morning, it was go time. I reconfigured the studs back to somewhat normal --- they had been altered for the furnace I removed, so I basically put in a piece of 2x8 to recreate the original stud, and built the shelf for the center channel. Then I framed out the false wall.



Then I rolled the carpet back in and brought the couch in. The carpet needed to be in before adding the component shelves, because it protrudes out from under the screen and the front sits on the carpet.


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post #6 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
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At this point I was pretty excited to get it up and running and I realized I would be able to watch my football game if I kept moving, so I didn't take any progress photos of the component shelves going in or anything being connected. But I got all the electronics in, mounted the screen to the frame and turned on the game.




Had I known we were going to get pounded by Baylor 71-7, I might have taken more photos. frown.gif

Yesterday was a day of cleaning things up, I ran a preliminary Audessey setup with the Marantz and we actually watched the first movie last night - Gatsby. Meh. Looked pretty good, though I wish they hadn't shot it for 3D, sounded fantastic.

Over the next couple weeks I just have to hang a couple more sheets of drywall and paint them, finish cutting and mount the cedar framing pieces, install the facade around the screen, add another media shelf, and choose a location for the sub and the room will be pretty much complete! I have some velvet left over from the frame, so I'm going to just put that above and to the left/right of the screen. Under the screen, flanking the component shelves, I'm planning on using some more of the cedar planks. It will be a nice continuation of the left wall, which, due to the original foundation, already has a kickplate of 12" cedar planks all the way down it.

So, I'm pretty happy. Getting that original cabinet taken out of the room makes it feel enormous. Being able to sit by the windows makes it much more cozy. And the Seymour AV screen is a huge improvement over the previous makeshift screen I was using. I love having the front speakers behind the screen, it makes the room feel so much more clean and tidy, even though it's still a bit of a mess.

Also, my TiVo and the sub amp now live behind the front wall, since the sub amp is set and forget, and the TiVo has a remote IR receiver that I have mounted under the screen. The component shelves look nice, and there are fewer components on display.

I'll keep posting as I make more progress.
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post #7 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Got the rest of the drywall up and painted this weekend. Now to finish trimming everything out.

Found a set of 3 Berkline theater recliners for a couple hundred bucks last week on Craigslist. Cheap because the owner was a heavy smoker. Two are in great shape, one was torn up by a dog. Working on getting the smoke smell out of the two good ones. Have it most of the way gone, but if anyone has any tips...I've used a vinegar solution, febreeze up on the undersides, saddle soap on the leather. Going to try Orange TKO tonight. Even if I spend $100 on cleaning supplies and another $100 on new padding, they're still a steal. If not, having cleaned them up this much I'm pretty sure I'll still be able to get my money back out of them.

Took a photo from behind the couch without anything on the screen for a bit more detail. The couch will be moved back and raised onto a platform if/when the recliners are deemed fit to bring in.

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post #8 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
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This is where I had left off in the other thread. So this is the new stuff.

At some point shortly after the last post, I decided to upgrade my AVR. I picked up a new old stock Sony STR-DA5700ES to replace the Marantz. I had an older DA4300ES that I loved, and I wanted more HDMI inputs (was using an external switcher for the Marantz when I ran out) so I found a good deal on this and ordered it.

I think I liked the overall tonality of the Marantz a little better, but by no means do I not like the Sony, and I find the detail and surround steering/imaging to be finer.

I also found a couple Berkline leather theater recliners on craigslist for a couple hundred bucks. Physically they were in great shape, but the guy was a HEAVY smoker. And when I say HEAVY, I mean 2 people in a small house smoking 9 or 10 packs a day. I'm surprised U-Haul didn't ding me for the smell of the trailer when I returned it.

I used some saddle soap, leather cleaner, etc., and was about to tear out all the stuffing and completely rebuild them, but then I read about Orange TKO and thought I'd give it a try. After two applications of that, no more smoke smell. I can't recommend it enough. I just mixed it with water, sprayed it on, smoothed it around with a rag, then let it soak in. Two days later I did the same thing. The smell is completely gone.
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post #9 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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THE RISER

After a period of not getting more work done (catching up on life's other "projects), I realized I needed to get some things done before the Super Bowl big game. I had done a little bit here and there, adding trim to frame out the drywall and create that pillared feel. But now it was time to get down to business.

First thing I did was purchase some lumber and built the riser for the second row of seating.




I did not yet fill it with insulation. When I do that, I'm going to make the top layer a double thickness by adding another layer of plywood, for no other reason than I want it to feel very solid. When I order new carpet, I plan on trimming the edge with the same cedar we removed from the walls and used to create the pillared feel on the walls. I think that will give it a nice look.

Here are a few shots of the Wheel of Fortune from the 2nd row on the riser. I think it worked out real well.





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post #10 of 53 Old 02-04-2014, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Lighting

Now that the riser was built it was time to replace the lighting. I really liked the red pendant lights, but they obviously were not good for a theater. They created a red cast on the screen, even at the lowest setting. So I went to Lowe's and bought a couple track lighting kits. I liked the look of the kits, and the antiqued bronze matched the color scheme of the room pretty well, but here's the stupid thing. I wanted to add an 8-foot extension track to each one so I could spread the fixtures out and reach the shelves that hold the blurays and games, as well as getting some light up in the Kinect play area. But the extension pieces only came in black or white.

I got the black ones anyway, and I put a fixture right at the spot where the two pieces join, which distracts the eye from noticing they are different colors. And in typical lighting situations, you can't notice the difference even if you try, but it's still an annoyance that they don't sell add-ons that match the kits, and they don't sell all the pieces separate. :/

But I think the new lighting looks fantastic. The room is really starting to come together, and I'm very pleased with how it is coming out.

We had ten adults in here for the "big game" on Sunday - four on the couch, two in the recliners, two on ottomans, one on a gaming rocker chair, and me on the floor. No complaints, it's a cozy room, but it didn't seem crowded at all, and everyone had a clear view!

I'd love your feedback! I'm planning to keep posting as I finish things up, if there's anything you'd like to see in more detail let me know and I'll take some more photos.



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post #11 of 53 Old 02-05-2014, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Just ordered my new sub, the new SVS PB-2000. I've had this NHT sub for about 15 years, and it's been great, but it's time to upgrade.

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Looks like a great place to watch a flick. I like it smile.gif
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W00lly View Post

Looks like a great place to watch a flick. I like it smile.gif

Thanks! It has been great since I first moved gear in, and when I started this project and added the new screen and spun the room 180 it became noticeably better. But building the riser and changing out the lighting has really made it feel more like a theater and less like a room with a projector and screen in it. It's more cohesive now, less thrown together.

The greatest thing is, outside of upgrading the AVR, screen, sub, and the theater recliners, I have spent well under $1000 on all the materials for this remodel. All the wood I'm using for trim and highlights was originally in the room and is just being repurposed. This has been my first real remodel project, I've done everything myself (and with a couple friends lending a hand here and there) and it's gone relatively smooth.

I think the DIY nature makes it even more enjoyable. Quite a change from my first theater - a 20" RCA TV, a JVC Dolby ProLogic receiver and a $99 add-on KLH Center & Surround kit. biggrin.gif

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post #14 of 53 Old 02-06-2014, 09:13 AM
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I enjoyed reading through your thread! I got a SVS-1000 and it seems like a nice sub. I'm still learning about setting up that type of thing. Make no mistake, it's physically very big! eek.gif
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickTheGreat View Post

I enjoyed reading through your thread! I got a SVS-1000 and it seems like a nice sub. I'm still learning about setting up that type of thing. Make no mistake, it's physically very big! eek.gif

Did you use their Merlin online setup tool that gives you all the proper settings? When I talked to them they also said they would walk you through setup over the phone if you want. Really can't beat their customer service and return/upgrade policies, if you ask me.

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I did look at the Merlin stuff before. I really think my issue is the AVR settings. I just need to take the time to get back into it smile.gif
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thrillcat, nice job on your remodel. I really like the look of the natural wood and the drywall frame out. Well done. Enjoy!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjlewie View Post

thrillcat, nice job on your remodel. I really like the look of the natural wood and the drywall frame out. Well done. Enjoy!

Thanks! I'm definitely enjoying it, and I'm thrilled with how it's turning out. The remodel has been a great return on investment. I wish my room was wider and a bit taller, but I'm not going to be greedy - it's still extremely enjoyable.

Even just based on your thread photos, your projector looks very impressive. Once the new sub arrives, it will be down to getting the Oppo and eventually upgrading the projector for me, as far as equipment upgrades. I got such a steal on the Optoma, though, and it really does a great job. I've basically just kind of decided, though, that once the bulb goes I'm probably going to upgrade.

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The SVS PB-2000 sub arrived yesterday. It's large. smile.gif

I got it moved down to the theater last night. Added a few more screws to the kickplate under the screen, kind of a preemptive rattle lockdown. I knew they would need it, but I had run out of screws.

I connected the sub and placed it in the front right of the room, basically where the NHT had lived. Did a very quick configuration and roughed in the level by ear. It sounds fantastic. Not massively MORE bass than the NHT, but much better bass. Better definition, lower capabilities, and more of that punch in your chest.

After roughing it in, I ran the automated setup on the Sony. It came back pretty close to the levels I had used, but it told me the sub was out of phase. I adjusted the setting on the PB2K to 90º, ran it again, still out of phase. Put it at 180º, ran it again, came back good to go.

At that point I rolled a couple of the scenes I had watched (a couple scenes from Oblivion via Vudu) before the automated setup utility, and the bass seemed like it wasn't there. It didn't sound near as powerful as it had before. So I rolled the PB2K's phase back to 0º and played the scenes again and it was back.

Any ideas why the Sony would think it's out of phase? I'm pretty sure it was reading it wrong...not sure why.

I still need to put in a Bluray and see how it really sounds and do some more tweaking, but so far I'm pretty happy with it.

Oh, and I need a better projector mount. This thing is really shaking the projector. I just have a cheapo mount holding it up there now.

Looking at this one: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000TXNS6G/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=35BV5WI9H02LE&coliid=I2SJLNC15AQ8JH

Any thoughts/recommendations?

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post #20 of 53 Old 02-20-2014, 09:28 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been messing with minor tweaks with the new sub - settings & placement. I don't have a whole lot of room to move it. When they say "putting it in the corner will make it boomy", how far out of the corner is far enough? Tonight I laid it on its side (@NickTheGreat if you think the SB1000 is big, you should see THIS thing), as it was coming right to the bottom edge of my screen. That bought me a couple inches, so now it only comes to the bottom of the frame. I was also able to slide it about 6 inches away from the side wall, but that's literally as far as I can move it in.

Haven't actually had much time to sit in the theater this week, didn't even turn it on to listen after I turned it on its side. I'm hoping to watch Tron: Legacy tomorrow night, which should give me some good content for tweaks.

Bought that Peerless mount for the projector, hoping to get that installed this weekend as well. I think I'm settled on my lighting, so it's time to finish up the trim around the last drywall panel where the light switch is. I was putting that off until I decided whether or not I was going to add another switch and wire up a couple lights for the Kinect area, but it seems to be fine with the lights I've got going now, so I'm not going to bother.

Couple other ideas floating around in my head. Life keeps getting in the way of my movie viewing, not to mention the fact that I haven't watched this week's episode of The Following yet.

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I bet so! eek.gif

I got my theater "close enough" about 18 hours before the Superbowl. We've watched a lot of movies in it. But the progress sure has slowed down (halted)! I understand all the warnings of the others on here now eek.gif
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Yes, it's easily understandable, but I wouldn't change a thing, since I've changed several things. Does that make sense?

By getting things set up and using it for awhile, it gave me time to alter a few plans, add a few things and leave out a few things. By not having everything completed I was able to save myself some work and some money.

Now, quite frankly it's more a matter of waiting until it warms up a bit so I can set my saw up outside to finish cutting some things without messing up my garage anymore. Not many hours left once the weather gets decent.

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Had a soundproofing thought. @BIGmouthinDC, doing dual layers of drywall with GG, channels and clips isn't an option in the theater, but is it a possibility in the floor in the room above? 20' ceilings up there, plenty of room to go up when we eventually do new flooring.

Would this be doable? Advantageous? Channel and clips + dual layers of plywood w/GG in the flooring?

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post #24 of 53 Old 02-22-2014, 04:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Last weekend I got a nice chunk of Linacoustic that @twashade was kind enough to donate to the cause, so today I took a bit of time to create somewhat of a baffle wall with it. I don't have the full space that THX requires for certification - my space is really tight behind the screen. But for as little time as this took I would recommend it to anyone. It audibly evened out my frequency response. I heard less 'honk' in the upper midrange, which was confirmed with very rudimentary measurements taken with RTA Lite on my iPhone. The peak that was there in the 1K-2K range has now been brought down closer to the surrounding frequencies.

I also cut a small section and put it in the window at the back of the room, replacing the shade that was there. I still have a little bit of the Linacoustic left, I'm planning on making some frames to create a couple wall treatments once the weather allows me to set up the saws outside again.





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The Cinema 1858 Remodel Thread
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post #25 of 53 Old 02-22-2014, 06:25 PM
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Looks good! Glad it got put to good use...
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post #26 of 53 Old 02-23-2014, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Lots of progress this weekend. Yesterday I got the Linacoustic behind the screen, and today I swapped out the projector mounts.

The cheapo mount I had been using served me well for a couple years, until I got the SVS sub a couple weeks ago. It was also not mounted in the best way, but it was shaking anytime the sub warmed up. So I ordered a Peerless PRGUNV mount last week and got it swapped out today.

Instead of just screwing it into the cedar ceiling, I cut out a hole where it was going to live and bolted it directly to the joist above. The combo of this, the large plate that mounted to the joist, and the fact that it used two big bolts instead of a couple of wood screws make it a much more solid mount. Plus, the fact that it has set screws to make adjustments as opposed to tweaking it in and locking it down with an allen wrench is just flat out a better system that allows for more precision adjustments. It also allows the projector to hug a little closer to the ceiling.

Eventually I'm going to create a box to encase the projector. It's not very loud, so I can't really call it a 'hush box', but I think it will look nicer. Since I'm not trying to decrease volume, I'll probably just make a 3 sided box and cover the back side with some thin black fabric.






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The Cinema 1858 Remodel Thread
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post #27 of 53 Old 02-28-2014, 09:59 AM
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I like how your room looks! I can't believe the change from before to looking at the current pictures you have posted.

Have you been watching much basketball down there?
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post #28 of 53 Old 02-28-2014, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eecyclone View Post

I like how your room looks! I can't believe the change from before to looking at the current pictures you have posted.

Have you been watching much basketball down there?

Thanks! I'm pretty pleased with how it's turning out.

We have season tickets, so we're at Hilton for home games, but we've watched many of the road games in there, and it's fantastic!

I love my iPhone, but it will never replace my turntable.

The Cinema 1858 Remodel Thread
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post #29 of 53 Old 02-28-2014, 09:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Finally really gave the room a good run tonight. We popped some corn and watched Pacific Rim.

I must say, the recent changes REALLY made a difference. The SVS PB2000 sub sounded fantastic! My old NHT always sounded good, but never had the low end extension or the bass you can really just feel. The SVS is powerful. Really happy with that purchase.

The Peerless projector mount and change in mounting it straight to the joist was also flawless. The vibrations from the SVS are completely gone. Rock solid.

And adding the Linacoustic behind the screen made the entire front soundstage better. Everything was more coherent and the mid-bass is much improved. I still need LCRs with bigger drivers, but what a difference the Linacoistic made. No more honkiness from the front. Everything is smoothed out and blending in nicely at the crossover point with the sub.

Time to wrap up the finish and enjoy this sucker for awhile before upgraditis sets in again!

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The Cinema 1858 Remodel Thread
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post #30 of 53 Old 03-08-2014, 02:30 PM
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Really nice write up on the progression here. I will admit my stomach sank a little when you got set up in time to watch the game against Baylor. 

 

That was an awful....awful game.....

 

I have just started my remodel and was cruising the forums as usual. Glad to see others in the area with quality set ups. Enjoy! 

 

And let's go State!

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Pioneer Elite VSX-23TXH
Martin Logan Electromotion ESL front
Martin Logan Motion SLM surround and back
Martin Logan Dynamo 500
Polk Audio PSW505 (for a little extra boom)
Elite Screen 120"
Epson 8350
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