Originally Posted by vanuva
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.