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post #1 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 05:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Guys! I am currently having a house built that includes an unfinished basement. I am tentatively reserving a 23' x 15' x 9' high room for a home movie theater. I am looking for pretty much a decent theater that is acoustically correct, one 10" platform for a second row of seating, a big SMX screen, sound behind the screen, accent lighting, bass stoppers, and possibly a vaulted ceiling with star lighting.
My question is since I am already having a house built what would be the most cost effective way to go about this project. Should I have the builder partially finish this room with my intentions in mind? Should I not have him touch it and turn it into a year long project? Or should I just have him do everything. I am asking the forum because I do not yet know how knowledgeable he is on building home theater rooms.

Ruben's theater would be a dream but I just don't have those mad skills.
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post #2 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 05:46 AM
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If your builder is knowledgeable about building theater and you have the money I say to go with him but more than likely he does not. If you have done enough research and you can guide him in what you want then you may get good results from that also. It's all your preference and how much you have to spend.

Be sure to make sure your room has good sound isolation and also is not a bad size. I had a builder look at my room when I needed some construction done at the beginning and he acted like he knew what he was doing but since I had done my research on the forums I knew he didnt. He just wanted to throw my money at the situation and hope that it would make me happy.

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post #3 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:34 AM
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Is he framing the basement? Have you considered sound isolation? If so, at the least, I would have him go ahead and frame with staggered studs.

More than likely, he will have very little expereince of doing this the right way. Many builders say that they can build a theater, but spend some time on this site and 95% is DIY. A hell of a lot cheaper too.
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post #4 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:39 AM
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You may even want to consider going above the step of staggered walls. You need to decide how fanatical you want to get and how much you want to spend. If the walls are load bearing you need to make decisions before they are built.

DIY is very easy to tell day by day if you are doing it right but there is nothing wrong with hiring a qualified builder and directing them on what to do as long as you keep a close eye on them and know what you are looking for. DO A LOT OF RESEARCH. You dont want to have to redo it!!!

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post #5 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:41 AM
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If you have the builder frame the theater room have him attach the framed walls with RSIC 04 clips to the joists above. This will reduce sound transmitted via mechanical vibration of the walls to the rooms above.

When you ask he will probably give you a look like you are talking a foreign language. That is why so many of the better builds bring in a specialist for the theater (like the Erskine group) or do the research and DIY.
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post #6 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottpw25 View Post

and possibly a vaulted ceiling with star lighting.

I suspect you meant a ceiling with a soffit around the perimeter of the room and a flat star ceiling in the middle. I would not call it a vaulted ceiling.
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post #7 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:58 AM
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Chances are you builder won't be able to build the room properly. Personally I would just have him leave it bare studs.
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post #8 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 07:23 AM
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If I were in this situation, I'd be inclined to have the builder take it to drywall stage for you at least. That's assuming you don't have either the time, skills or patience to complete it on your own down the road. Money aspect as well (if your tight on it) easier to amortize the cost over a 30 year loan than having someone come in and do it later.

That suggestion is contingent on you knowing exactly what you want from design, sound isolation, etc. perspective so you can make sure it gets done correctly. Nothing worse than poor planning and having to throw more money at it later to fix, so I wouldn't pull the trigger on it if you're not ready.

Also, I wouldn't assume your builder has the construction techniques recommended here in the forum down, so you'd probably have to be very specific with them and mother it along. Of course, that's assuming YOUR construction knowledge is where it needs to be.
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post #9 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 07:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

If you have the builder frame the theater room have him attach the framed walls with RSIC 04 clips to the joists above. This will reduce sound transmitted via mechanical vibration of the walls to the rooms above.

When you ask he will probably give you a look like you are talking a foreign language. That is why so many of the better builds bring in a specialist for the theater (like the Erskine group) or do the research and DIY.

Seconded.

You're builder will not be able to help. In fact, if you haven't broken ground yet, get someone like Dennis Erskine to design your theater before you start. Then you'll have a complete plan and be able to build an idea room. If you're working from an existing space, like most of us, you start off with compromises.

If you have that plan in hand and your builder is willing to build to that precise spec, then terrific, but be warned, they often want to cut corners and won't understand why you'd want to build a room that way.

Randy

Visit Cinema Murray

 

Check out a video of my theater here

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post #10 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys, thanks for all the replies. The builder has not yet broken ground (poured cement) yet on the house. I am still waiting to see how experienced he is in this area. Is there a good book or guide to follow when building a home theater? I want to do it the right way but have limited experience myself.
My builder will either finish the basement or frame/drywall the room at my request, along with wiring for surround sound, etc. Can someone tell me what the benefit of staggered studs are?
As for load bearing wall, not sure. The theater will be in a walkout basement most likely under the living room. One end of the room could have windows if I so choose (which I know is bad for a theater). But it will be the lower floor of a three-floor house.
I'm trying to gauge the cost-effectiveness of doing this myself (with limited experience) in my spare time vs having the builder do it (the reason I don't have this info from him yet is because I am deployed with the air force right now and am 15 hours ahead of central standard time which takes forever to get an email back). Basically the main floor and second floor of this house (about 2500 square feet worth) has been quoted at about $280,000 to complete. He gave me a quote for the basement of $30/square foot which came out to about another $30,000 (1000 sq ft finished basement). I countered with having everything finished for an even $300,000 to which he accepted. So basically I can get a finished basement for $20,000 which is a good deal (this guy is a good builder too). I am thinking to have him at least frame, drywall, do some columns as bass stoppers, the stage, etc and I can take care of the rest.
Where can I read about what RSIC 04 clips are?
As for the ceiling, I was hoping for something along the lines of what Sandman has in his theater (Ruben).
Since I have the benefit of not being limited to existing space yet, it sounds like I should have it at least partially finished. The only problem is getting a spec plan to how I want it now. That I am guessing is something to turn to a pro for? I saw that Dennis Erskine was recommended.
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post #11 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 05:08 PM
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I'm afraid you've fallen in with a bad crowd here.

Here's my advice - leave here and don't log in again

Seriously. We're all maniacs. The advice you'll get here will not make your wife happy. It will cause you to spend much more than you though you'd ever spend.

I mean it. Log off. Have the builder run you some wires, drywall the room, and you can get a nice projector, maybe some new speakers at Best Buy.

There's no other way to put this: we're serious geeks about this. That means that no home builder will meet our standards and understand our obsession. We represent a very small niche market. And as I said, we're all pretty much nuts.

But if you really want to dig into it, you'll find some very nice, extremely helpful people here. We'll help you empty your bank account, too! We are the holders of some very interesting secrets, but as I said, learning about them will be expensive.

I spent over six months just planning, asking questions, and talking with people here online, then another eight months building. My wife doesn't want to know what I spent (it's a good thing she doesn't). And our family is very happy with our theater. It's an amazing space and we love to entertain and to use it ourselves almost every day. There's nothing like experiencing a movie in a well designed and executed home theater.

I'm sorry, but your builder can't do it. Even if he says he can. He just won't have the experience or the knowledge to design and build a proper acoustic environment. It's not as simple as putting up some drywall.

Most people are very happy with their simple home theaters without going to the lengths that we go to. But if you ever get a chance to visit one of our theaters, you'll know why we've gone slightly off kilter about the subject.

Good luck to you!

Randy

Visit Cinema Murray

 

Check out a video of my theater here

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post #12 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 05:25 PM
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You need to ask yourself a few questions:

How "serious" do you want this room to be? By that I mean the comments posted here about the "fanatics" here. I just had the Erskine group build mine and there is NO way a normal builder would have anywhere near the knowledge/expertise to do it that "seriously". Now that comes at a price mind you but if you were a fanatic it is worth it. If you just want a nice basement area with some seats and screen on the wall bigger than a run of the mill plasma/lcd and dont care about sound isolation, go for it with your builder. The $30/sqft you were quoted is for a basic build of any basement room, ie studs, wiring, drywall and carpet. Period. And remember since you are starting from scratch (a luxury many here wish they had) you can future-proof to your hearts content. Re-doing the room later b/c you skimped out now is quite costly.

People here will tell you that many builders will say "we do theaters all the time" but they do not mean the same thing the "fanatics" here are talking about.

List what you want.
Figure out what your willing to pay.
If you cant/wont get a pro like Erskine or someone to do the actual build at least have them do the design and consult on it. It will be money WELL spent.
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post #13 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:16 PM
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Typical home Builder built:

You can hear the theater at night in the bedrooms and get a good massage laying on the floor directly above the theater.

It gets too hot in the summer because HVAC was not planned properly.

The money you invest the audio gear doesn't wow you or your friends because the room hasn't been acoustically planned, built, tested and fine tuned nor the equipment matched to the room.

The screen is too big/small and you can't see/hear it properly from the rear row of seating.

Pro built or Fanatic DIY with consultant advice and calibration assistance: None of the above.
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post #14 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:22 PM
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Post some more info about where your room is in your house, and a diagram. You will get some great ideas about what you would do, or a professional should do.
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post #15 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

If you have the builder frame the theater room have him attach the framed walls with RSIC 04 clips to the joists above. This will reduce sound transmitted via mechanical vibration of the walls to the rooms above.

How does one fireblock when using RSIC-04 clips?
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post #16 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:39 PM
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You can build a theater room in your house by simply asking questions on here. For me, I wanted a room that had nice equipment, a big screen, and a movie theater feel. Mine came out all right. I had 0 construction expirience and learned as I went, asking plenty of questions along the way. You dont need to go nuts with all of the RSIC 04 clips and all that jazz. Can you use them? sure why not, but you dont have too.

For good sound proofing use staggered studs for the theater walls only. This is easy to do. Use 2"x6"s for the top and bottom plate, and use 2"x4"s for the vertical studs. Simply stagger them at 8" on center to each other. This will create an air cavity and will minimize sound vibrations to other rooms as well. This is very inexpensive to do.

You can then use 2 layers of drywall. At $5.00/sheet, this as well isnt very expensive.

If you want to go all out, use green glue between layers. This can be expensive but people swear by it. I havent seen or heard a room with it used before.

Insultate all walls and ceiling, and you will have a well soundproofed room.
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post #17 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DIYHomeTheater View Post

How does one fireblock when using RSIC-04 clips?

In our jurisdiction the gaps could be stuffed with Roxul insulation.
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post #18 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll post more about the diagram when I get the actual specs of the basement. Our builder just got the actual home plan. I can show a rough plan though.

http://www.frankbetz.com/homeplans/p...l?pn=3860&vw=3

Click on that link to see the plan for the main floor. The walk out basement below it will have a similar floor plan. I am envisioning the theater room below the living room (there won't be a bathroom underneath that first floor bathroom). So add the 18x15 space under the family room with the bathroom space next to the closet.
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post #19 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 07:55 PM - Thread Starter
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are the two layers of dry wall both against each other or is one between the staggered studs?
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post #20 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 09:15 PM
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It would be a good idea to read some of the articles in the library of soundproofingcompany.com.

when we talk about two layers we are referring to two layers stacked against each other. Even better is to put a layer of a damping agent between the two layers like Green Glue. Is is possible to even use two layers on both sides of a staggered stud wall.
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post #21 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
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So here's what I am thinking about doing..you guys let me know if it sounds logical. First off know that I have limited construction experience. I am a movie fanatic and feel that this will add to our house and provide for enjoyment, though I am not made of money.
I think I need to research the right way to do the room, i.e staggered studs, green glue, the stage, double drywall, bass stoppers, the ceiling, lighting, etc..and have the builder frame with staggered studs, double-layer drywall with green glue, the right insulation on the ceiling and drywall (with recessed ceiling look and accent lighting), the 10" platform for the second row of seating, and carpet it. I don't know if putting the platform and carpeting down is a good idea before I do other DIY aspects and know exactly how far the seating should be.. what do you guys think?
After that part was done I would just take over as a DIY. That being said I have not thought about wiring, the a/v closet, and other aspects.
Either way I have much research to do. Thank you guys for all the advice so far..I know I have found the right place to come for help.
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post #22 of 67 Old 03-29-2010, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Here is a question I have not thought to ask. Is the sound isolating/proofing mainly for the purpose of not disturbing other people in the household? It it predominately for better sound quality within?
I only ask before the though occurred to me that all of the bedrooms of this house will be two floors above the theater room. Directly above the theater will be the main level which consists of the family room, kitchen, etc..but no bedrooms.
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post #23 of 67 Old 03-30-2010, 01:11 AM - Thread Starter
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The soundproofingcompany.com site is a goldmine of information..thanks for that link BGmouthinDC. In reading about the "dead vent" it mentions that if you theater is located in the basement, which is the case for me, then all I would need to do is exchange the cool air from the rest of the basement with the air in the theater.
First, is there a good guide for exactly how to do this? Second, how to do it while being acoustically sound? Is it just talking about a vent in the wall where air escapes?
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post #24 of 67 Old 03-30-2010, 01:20 AM
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Hi scottpw25

Just my advice and opinion, but you will likely not move anywhere near enough air to mitigate the amount of body heat and equipment exhaust that you pour into the room with a dead vent. Your best bet is to consider a dedicated HVAC zone to the theater.

The dead vent IS acoustically sound...hence the meaning of the word "dead". Best wishes!

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The original Pro Theater Layout
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post #25 of 67 Old 03-30-2010, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottpw25 View Post

Here is a question I have not thought to ask. Is the sound isolating/proofing mainly for the purpose of not disturbing other people in the household?

Nope. Although it does work both ways. Your goal from this point of view is not to exceed +3 dB outside the room, but given the wavelength and energy of low frequency waves, a wall, even a damped one, doesn't stop it entirely...and those frequencies are the biggest offenders. The +3 dB is the goal, not necessarily the result.

Quote:


It it predominately for better sound quality within?

BINGO!

Quote:


I only ask before the though occurred to me that all of the bedrooms of this house will be two floors above the theater room. Directly above the theater will be the main level which consists of the family room, kitchen, etc..but no bedrooms.

A concrete foundation is an amazing transmitter of sound...of which the whole house is affixed. Two floors will make a dent, but they will still hear it without isolation. Best wishes!

Shawn Byrne
Erskine Group
HAA Design Certified -THX Certified Professional

Design-Video & Audio Calibration Information

The original Pro Theater Layout
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post #26 of 67 Old 03-30-2010, 01:39 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm only anticipating one, maybe two walls of that room to be concrete. The standard stud and single-layer drywall against the concrete part is not enough from what I am reading. It appears I might need to do the "room within a room" thing when it comes to the concrete walls, or would the staggered stud right up against the concrete wall work? The de-coupling would seem sufficient..just double-layer dry wall it with green glue on the inside portion. For the interior walls, staggered stud with double-layer again. For the ceiling, RSIC clips or floating joints? For the floor?

Last, this HVAC things seems difficult..any tutorials or walkthroughs?
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post #27 of 67 Old 03-30-2010, 03:17 AM
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The "HVAC thing" is not difficult providing the requirements have been adequately specified for the HVAC contractor.

Sound isolation is to reduce the ambient noise level in the room (typical ambient in a quiet home is in the 32 to 35dB range). The softest sound recorded on a sound track is 22dB. In simple terms, that means you will not hear whispers, spatial cues, and surround effects since they will all be lost in the background (ambient) noise in the room (alot of which comes from the HVAC system and equipment in the room). To solve the problem, you turn up the volume. The problem is the volume control is not selective and normal dialog and loud scenes become too loud, uncomfortable and can easily drive speakers and amps to distortion. In effect, all that dynamic range the salesperson said your equipment has, is now gone, dialog cannot be understood, the room is uncomfortable and you don't use it any more.

Dennis Erskine CFI, CFII, MEI
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post #28 of 67 Old 03-30-2010, 04:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraMikeBravo View Post

Just my advice and opinion, but you will likely not move anywhere near enough air to mitigate the amount of body heat and equipment exhaust that you pour into the room with a dead vent. Your best bet is to consider a dedicated HVAC zone to the theater.

The dead vent IS acoustically sound...hence the meaning of the word "dead". Best wishes!

I'm not sure how you are estimating this. A pair of dead vents will be able to move just as much air as an HVAC system with one feed and one return.
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post #29 of 67 Old 03-30-2010, 05:55 AM
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Just a note, If venting the theater room to the rest of the basement is your HVAC plan, the vents need to be powered. You build them, using techniques to minimize sound transfer both in and out.

Personally I would want a separate zone with dedicated supplies and returns for the theater room. Use true acoustical duct to hook up the room. See product 6b on the FlexmasterUSA.com

http://www.flexmasterusa.com/Product...7/Default.aspx
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post #30 of 67 Old 03-30-2010, 06:10 AM
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You should have ran when Randy warned you!

If you are hard core, you have a lot of reading to do. I'd ask your builder to frame your room with staggered studs on the common walls and regular ones facing concrete then leave it bare. Make sure he keeps HVAC trunk lines, plumbing, electrical panels, sump pits, columns, beams, furnaces, water heaters, shut offs, etc out of that space.

Then spend the next six months reading here, and come home with a real plan. Link 4 in my sig has some advice as to how to make that plan.
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