New project - finally educated enough for advice (I think) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-31-2008, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
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First of all, I’d like to thank everyone here for helping create the most informative, useful resource I’ve come across during the design and construction of my new home theater. I’ve learned a ton, and am sure I still have infinitely more to learn – which is why I’m posting the following info and questions.

I am retrofitting an old house’s basement with no windows to become a new HT. The room is 14’ by 26’, with only 7’2” ceilings (very low, I know) I’ve decided to build my own screen (110” 16:9, not cinemascope), have a small curved stage and columns on the left and right of the screen, go with 7.1 surround sound and have 2 rows of seating 12’ and 19’ from the screen, with the back row on a 12” riser (resulting in very low headroom on the riser).

Here are my questions:
1. Front speaker placement: I was originally planning on putting either medium-range in-wall speakers or decent floorstanding (Polk) speakers in the front column walls, building a box around them to avoid sound escaping out the back of the columns (which leads into a crawlspace). If I use in-wall, I assume there’s no problem with my plan, but if I can find a better deal on good floorstanding speakers, is there a problem with using that type of speaker butted up against a AT fabric in the column wall? Have heard stories about them not performing well unless they’re out in the room.

2. Sub placement: must admit I haven’t done as much research on this issue, but the Tweeter guy who came out to my house said I could put the sub anywhere (which I’m now learning is not the case). Based on his advice, I had planned to build a box towards the middle of the long part of the room in the wall (under where the AV cabinet will go) and put the sub there. Bad idea? Also, I assume it would be better to be a front-firing sub instead of a bottom-firing sub if I’m putting it flush with the wall in a box, right?

3. projector: I have a 3 yr old BENQ 8220 projector (native 4:3 aspect ration) that I was hoping to squeeze some more life out of as my main projector in the HT. I’ve since heard that using a native 4:3 projector (even with good resolution like the 8220) is a very bad idea because of (among many other things) light leakage above and below the screen. With a total budget for the AV equipment in the HT approx $5K-$7K, and needing a Receiver, splitter (for whole-home Video, DIY screen, cables, 6 seats and the 7.1 speaker package, is it worth it to drop $2k-$3k on a new 1080p projector when I’ve got the 8220 which works fine for what it is?

4. rear surround speakers: I’m very tempted to use cheaper, different brand in-wall and in-ceiling speakers for the rear surround speakers (all 4). Not being an audiophile, but liking general good sound while trying to keep costs down, is it really that important to keep all the spkrs in the same family, especially the rear and side surrounds?

5. Soundproofing. Wife is very concerned with sound leaking to our daughter’s room above and behind where the HT will be (the area directly above is a rarely used living room. 2 of the walls (front and side) are brick foundation walls. One (the other side wall) is against unfinished basement space. The back wall incorporates the stairway leading upstairs. I had originally wanted a door at the bottom of the stairs (there’s already one at the top) to help cut down sound leakage through the wall and upstairs (my daughter’s bedroom wall doubles as the back side of the stairway wall. Other factors have made a doorway at the bottom of the stairs impractical, so I am now planning on double-sheetrocking the back wall of the HT (one wall of the stairway), and double-sheetrocking the other wall of the stairway as well. There will be a door-sized opening at the entrance to the stairway with no door. Is the sound going to bounce around in that stairway and cause big problems? I had also thought of putting a heavy curtain up over the doorway.

6. Lighing. for a 14'x26' room, what sort of lighting plan should I use? Definitely dimmer-controlled, probably 4" cans. Was thinking 8 would be enough (4 rows of 2). I'd like it bright and cheery enough when the projector's not on for my daughter to be able to play comfortably on her new stage, etc.

Any thoughts on any of the above are infinitely appreciated.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-01-2008, 07:24 AM
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If sound proofing is a concern, forget about in wall speakers. Given your room length, I would plan for a false screen wall and use an AT screen. Then just get bookcase speakers for your mains. Tower speakers are an absolute waste given that you will be cutting off their bass function since you have a separate sub. The sub can also go behind the front screen wall. You may need to shift it around to optimize the bass response for your specific seeting location.

For sound isolation the only real way to maximize it is by decoupling the walls and ceiling, going double drywall and green glue on ALL surfaces (ceiling and walls) and installing a solid-core well sealed door. Try to minimize the number of ceiling lights because they just provide a path for sound to escape. Think sconces and some lighting building into soffets. Otherwise sound will leak out like water through a hole in a fish tank.

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post #3 of 12 Old 06-01-2008, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanuva View Post

1. Front speaker placement: I was originally planning on putting either medium-range in-wall speakers or decent floorstanding (Polk) speakers in the front column walls, building a box around them to avoid sound escaping out the back of the columns (which leads into a crawlspace). If I use in-wall, I assume there’s no problem with my plan, but if I can find a better deal on good floorstanding speakers, is there a problem with using that type of speaker butted up against a AT fabric in the column wall? Have heard stories about them not performing well unless they’re out in the room.

Speakers being behind AT material is not an issue, putting free-standing speakers inside a small enclosure is - it will have an effect on the speaker. Also, in-wall speakers are designed to be inside a wall, in a stud bay. Some in-walls are enclosed with a box, some are not. Of the ones that are not, you really should have an enclosed stud bay with drywall (or something else) behind it for the speakers to perform their best. You mention a crawl space, so I don't know if that means that "in-wall" speakers would not really be "in-wall" in the traditional sense for your setup. Diagrams of your space would help a lot.

Quote:


2. Sub placement: must admit I haven’t done as much research on this issue, but the Tweeter guy who came out to my house said I could put the sub anywhere (which I’m now learning is not the case). Based on his advice, I had planned to build a box towards the middle of the long part of the room in the wall (under where the AV cabinet will go) and put the sub there. Bad idea? Also, I assume it would be better to be a front-firing sub instead of a bottom-firing sub if I’m putting it flush with the wall in a box, right?

Sub placement does matter, but most people don't have the option of putting a sub anywhere they want. The best location for your sub is going to depend on your specific room. Again, diagram would help - you say "towards the middle of the long part of the room in the wall" - I don't know what that means.

Quote:


3. projector: I have a 3 yr old BENQ 8220 projector (native 4:3 aspect ration) that I was hoping to squeeze some more life out of as my main projector in the HT. I’ve since heard that using a native 4:3 projector (even with good resolution like the 8220) is a very bad idea because of (among many other things) light leakage above and below the screen. With a total budget for the AV equipment in the HT approx $5K-$7K, and needing a Receiver, splitter (for whole-home Video, DIY screen, cables, 6 seats and the 7.1 speaker package, is it worth it to drop $2k-$3k on a new 1080p projector when I’ve got the 8220 which works fine for what it is?

You can use the old PJ for now if budget is an issue. One thing is to consider where you must mount your current PJ, and will that mounting point work well with a newer PJ or will you have to move your PJ mounting point when you upgrade.

Quote:


4. rear surround speakers: I’m very tempted to use cheaper, different brand in-wall and in-ceiling speakers for the rear surround speakers (all 4). Not being an audiophile, but liking general good sound while trying to keep costs down, is it really that important to keep all the spkrs in the same family, especially the rear and side surrounds?

Depends on your priorities. I would avoid in-ceiling speakers, but you might use them if your back row seating is directly against the back wall. Timber matching speakers is something that I notice in my theater (+ good), but you might not care. You can go cheapo to start and replace them later.

Quote:


5. Soundproofing. Wife is very concerned with sound leaking to our daughter’s room above and behind where the HT will be (the area directly above is a rarely used living room. 2 of the walls (front and side) are brick foundation walls. One (the other side wall) is against unfinished basement space. The back wall incorporates the stairway leading upstairs. I had originally wanted a door at the bottom of the stairs (there’s already one at the top) to help cut down sound leakage through the wall and upstairs (my daughter’s bedroom wall doubles as the back side of the stairway wall. Other factors have made a doorway at the bottom of the stairs impractical, so I am now planning on double-sheetrocking the back wall of the HT (one wall of the stairway), and double-sheetrocking the other wall of the stairway as well. There will be a door-sized opening at the entrance to the stairway with no door. Is the sound going to bounce around in that stairway and cause big problems? I had also thought of putting a heavy curtain up over the doorway.

Diagram please. It sounds like you might have some soundproofing issues. Common walls are a factor, and an open doorway is a big leak factor. A curtain is not going to stop low frequency sound.

Quote:


6. Lighing. for a 14'x26' room, what sort of lighting plan should I use? Definitely dimmer-controlled, probably 4" cans. Was thinking 8 would be enough (4 rows of 2). I'd like it bright and cheery enough when the projector's not on for my daughter to be able to play comfortably on her new stage, etc.

Cans are a sound leak path (can be mitigated, but takes work). Surface mount lighting helps on this issue (track on ceiling, scones on wall, etc).

As far as I can tell from your description, you have many sound transmission issues that will need careful thought and construction.

I have just scratched the surface on some of the apparent issues.
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post #4 of 12 Old 06-01-2008, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Diagram attached. Thanks for the input.

usualsuspects:
1. Was planning on framing boxes for the speakers (whether floorstanding or in-wall), and am happy to now rule out floorstanding unless we go with false front wall and AT screen. Kinda wanted to stay away from that option to maximize space in the room depth-wise (want to have room for a back table behind the back row of seats to fold out to a poker table). Will consider that option now, though, now that the floorstanding in a box is out. The crawl space i mention is explained a little better in the diagram. basically, there are openings on either side of the unused fireplace/chimney to get back into a crawlspace (sunroom above). would like to have access to the sunroom for emergencies, so was planning the columns to have a door-like effect.

2. Sub. see diagram for what I mean - sorry for the unclarity.

Re soundproofing, the only finished room in the basement will be the HT. All living space is on floor above. the only common wall will be the upper part of one stairway wall.

Re lighting, we're very limited due to the really low ceiling height (7'2") and the fact that we'll have a 12" riser for the back seats. can't do any soffits and track lighting would also become more of an issue headroom-wise.

Hope the diagram helps clarify my ramblings.

Thanks, guys!

 

Zeiler-HT-design.pdf 126.4384765625k . file
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post #5 of 12 Old 06-01-2008, 05:34 PM
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I second the front AT wall. Sub up front. You could do the front wall side panels hinged, for access to the sunroom crawlspace.
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post #6 of 12 Old 06-02-2008, 05:32 PM - Thread Starter
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OK, here's what I'm figuring now, thanks in large part to your advice. I'm going to split the difference between the false screen wall/AT screen option and my original idea of front mains in columns flanking the screen. I'm simply going to follow the lead of countless others on this forum (it seems), and create a frame left, right, and below the screen to house the speakers, covering it with GOM fabric. Was thinking of making a 45-degree angle for these side frames, with most of the speaker sitting 'in the room' and not embedded in a small enclosure.

I'll put the sub at the bottom of one of those GOM frames, which will be the corner of the room.

I'm still torn as to whether to use tower speakers or bookshelf speakers for the left and right mains - getting conflicting opinions on this. I'm also leaning towards ordering both from HTD.com and seeing which I like more, returning the others. Anybody have any negative issues with HTD?

Re lighting, I guess I'll forgo my idea for nice, bright halogen 4" cans in order to keep sound isolation a bit better, so I'll go with sconces on the sides and a couple of track lights (stage, wet bar, poker table, etc) where needed.

Am I on the right track?
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post #7 of 12 Old 06-02-2008, 06:55 PM
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Yep on track.

Not sure what someone would be telling you as to why to use towers. The only reason I can think of is if you plan on optimizing the room for music. In that case you would likely turn off the sub. But for movie watching you will have your speaker cross over point around 80 Hz. That means the sub portion of the towers would not be used. The audio design for a music optimized room will be very different from a movie optimized room.

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post #8 of 12 Old 06-02-2008, 07:31 PM
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Optimise for multichannel and movies, then use DPLII/DPLIIx for stereo sources.

You could build some back boxes for the 4" spots, if you really wanted the halogens. (I did. I suspect the back boxes shorten the PAR20 bulbs lifespan.)
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post #9 of 12 Old 06-03-2008, 11:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so here's a better layout version pdf of what i'm doing. Other than the assymetrical seating arrangements, which I'm still getting used to (we really want a loveseat), I think I'm almost there.

 

ZeilerHT-6-4-08.pdf 79.74609375k . file
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-04-2008, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Need some advice on this - I've attached 2 pdfs that are closeups of 2 versions of our screenwall, stage and front of the room in general. Basically, I need to decide whether to go with a round-front stage or an angled stage. Once I decide that, I need to decide whether to have the stage (whichever style) meet in the corner where the speaker wall meets the side wall, or meet halfway along the speaker walls. Hard to describe, but I think the pdfs will make it clearer.

I realize this is sort of personal preference, but was wondering if there were any technical speaker-related issues that would impact the decision. Also, I'm planning on putting the sub in the bottom right of the picture up on the sand-filled 6"-high stage. Any issue with the sub not being on the main floor level?

Also, regarding the stage style (round or angled), will round cause problems for the carpet installer? What about if we wanted a bull-nose lip on the rounded stage?

Thanks, guys.

 

ZeilerHT-screenwall1.pdf 11.935546875k . file

 

ZeilerHT-screenwall2.pdf 11.8955078125k . file
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post #11 of 12 Old 06-05-2008, 05:31 AM
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I like 2 better, from the top at least. That said, how does it interact with the side wall finish?

You will want a bullnose on the stage, and to build the edge up to a thicker profile. Thin exposed profiles scream "cheap" be they countertops, walls or stages.
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post #12 of 12 Old 10-21-2008, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys. I'm almost finished now. Figuring out paint and color schemes and need a little advice (both aesthetic and practical):

My plan was to have the walls and tray ceiling be the same shade of dark red, the main drop ceiling (including the part over the stage nearest the screen) be dark brown, and finish with some dark tan trim. Questions are as follows:

1. I know the ideal would be to have all the paint be flat finish as opposed to satin or certainly semi-gloss, but is it ever ok to use satin? Like on the walls or (more importantly) on the walls? I put up some samples of the dark brown in flat on the drop ceiling and it was really a different look from the satin. I'm worried that the walls (all samples so far in satin) will look worse in flat. what's the thinking on this? Also regarding trim - can't i go at least satin finish there without reflection issues for my screen image?

2. anybody have any creative thoughts on having the wall color the same as the tray ceiling color (the surrounding drop ceiling will be different, as will the trim.)?

Thanks!
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