Hello all. I thought I would start a thread for my theater build. It has been complete for over 6 years now, but I normally upgrade a few things each year and I am thinking about a total overhaul. So this thread will serve a few purposes:
1. Document my current room
2. Serve as a thread if I remodel the current room
3. Document upgrades:
DIY Screen with Masking System
Speaker Upgrade I
Speaker Upgrade II
Summary of the Build:
The build took about 4 months, from beginning to end (not including any of the upgrades). I was younger and had just bought the house when I started this theater so a tight budget was kept. The total construction and gear cost was done on a budget since I knew down the road I would be upgrading. I had a 5.1 AVR, DVD player, and CD player that I transfered into the theater.
So let’s get started. I purchased my house in 2004. The main selling point was the basement as I knew I could add some sort of media room or home theater setup down there. With the exception of the carpet, I did all the work myself with the weekend help from my father while hanging the drywall. The design of this room was pretty much done on the fly, but a lot of the idea came from this forum.
Photo of the basement prior to taking ownership:
Not much changed, but a photo of the basement right before I started construction:
A quick look in the "bonus" room that will become the front 3/4 of the theater:
Then in late 2005 the fun part began, demolition! There is always something fun about taking a sledgehammer to a wall.
The laundry and storage room in the basement share a wall with the future theater room and provide a perfect area to install the theater equipment rack. A picture before any demo in that room.
Next came a poor mans frame for an equipment rack.
After constructing the frame from the equipment rack, I sealed it up using some 3/4" partial board. I didn't need it to look nice since I was planning on blacking the interior matte black and wouldn't see the back of the rack from the room or basement.
To help move air inside the rack, I installed two 80mm PCU cooling fans. I also installed a 7.1 wall outlet. I wanted to be able to have all the speaker wires run directly from the AVR to the wall plate inside the equipment rack to allow me easy hookup in case I ever upgraded equipment.
At this point I started working on the interior of the theater. My idea for acoustic treatment inside the room was to line the walls with OC703 from the floor up to ear level. I also wanted to leave the walls fairly open to allow them to act as bass traps. To my ears and a few other local HT guys, we feel the in-wall bass traps work well. My idea was that the higher freq would be caught by the OC703 and the LFE would pass through the OC703 and be absorbed by the inwall insulation in the wall and between the studs.
I removed all the drywall from the existing room from 43" and below.
I began installing the OC703. I used 1-inch OC703 and attached it to the wall studs using screws. Not idea, but I figured since the OC703 would be covered by fabric and helped to be held in place by the fabric, this was fine. So far, 6 years later, no issues.
To even out the OC703 and the drywall on the upper half of the walls, I added a second layer of 5/8" drywall. The second layer of drywall also helped in sound isolation, keep the sound inside the room.
Once center, the door was marked and the wall was constructed. Since this was a new wall and I had thoughts of sound isolation, I constructed the rear wall with a staggered stud design.
In hind sight, any benefit from the staggered stud rear wall was set off by the window panes in the double door. Oh well. If I ever replace the door with something more solid and sound proof, I'll get benefits then.
Installation of the door:
Next can the color. I painted everything in the room dark shades and used matte finish to cut down on reflections. The colors were decided on after I found some acoustically transparent fabric at the local fabric store.
Next came the fabric. I attached the fabric to the wall using a electric staple gun and about 1000 staples. I wanted to make sure the fabric was snug and wasn't going to move.
After all the fabric was installed, I trimmed the fabric to size using a knife and scissors.
You may notice the fabric has gaps. Those area's were reserved for some columns. I install three columns on each side wall. They serve no purpose other than cosmetics. Each column was constructed from 1/2" MDF. To attach the columns to the wall I anchored 1x3 boards to the walls and then nailed the columns to the 1x3's. Here is a picture of the dry fit before attaching the columns to the walls.
Next came trim. I installed a chair rail to cover up the fabric to drywall transition and added some other trim around the equipment rack. Baseboards and crown molding were also installed. Installing the crown molding around all the columns was a PITA! The baseboards were painted to match the wall, while the crown molding painted a slightly darker shade of black than the ceiling.
At this point most of the audio equipment had already been installed since I had run the speaker wires through the walls. I made sure I had plenty of room for future expansion (external amps, HTPC). It was now time to hang the projector. Remember this room was first constructed back in 2005, so projectors under $2000 were in slim pickings. I found a Sharp at Sam's Clubs for $900. Very bright, decent contrast ratio, and the price was right.
Along with the projector I designed and built a 92" DIY screen. With the help of some empty speaker boxes, I was able to watch a few movie clips in 7.1 surround sound.
As many will state, hanging the project is the worst thing you can do when trying to complete your room. A few days later I moved in a sofa and the lack of carpet was not a big deal. To cover up the front white wall, I hung the same black cloth used on the columns arcoss the front wall.
For seating, I only had a sectional couch or sofa.
I started by painting the basement a warm shade of brown. I also stained the door leading into the theater and added a leather looking wallpaper to the theater exterior wall.
Next I decided to add some cabinets to allow for extra storage and a place to keep food and beverages during movie or game nights.
Final touches were a fridge, wall art/mirror, and a plant or two.
What theater would be complete without a candy stand? So I added one of those too. The candy stand it topped with two old film projectors and a custom made light box featuring the Old Woods Theater marquee.
My mother helped stitch a drape to help improve the look of the front wall. The room was finally complete. Total cost to this point was around $5000 which included all construction material and audio gear. But a lot of the gear I already had.
Next came the upgrades. Within a year I found a really good deal on some theater seating. Out went the sectional, in came theater seating.
A year after that, my first projector burnt out a bulb. At that time, 1080p projectors were just reaching the sub $2000 price tag. I decided that was the chance to upgrade to a new projector instead of sinking money into a new bulb for an older projector. I purchased a Sanyo PLV-Z2000. At first I had to set the new projector on the bar top since my mount wasn't compatible.
Before hanging the new projector, I decided to purchase a small Battery Backup to help reduce the risk of burning another bulb if the power every went out. So I added to my Monster Power surge and purchased a Monster Power UPS.
I also decided to move the projector 3 feet closer to the front wall since I would sometimes block the lower part of the projected image when I stood up and walked across the room.
I also added a few old movie themed art decorations to the room.
The following year I decided I wanted a bigger screen and thought about trying to design a DIY screen with a integrated masking system to help black out the gray bars on the top and bottom when watching cine-wide content.
The design and building process of that screen can be found at the following link:
When I redid the screen, I also modified the front wall design:
The next several upgrades were fairly small. I exchanged the Marantz AVR-7200 for the Denon AVR-2807. When the time was right, I upgraded my DVD players to HD-DVD and a PS3 for Blu-Ray. I added a Harmony One remote, upgraded some of the interconnects, and removed the coffee table from the room to allow for Wii.
Then I decided to upgrade my speakers. I did have the Paradigm Monitor 7's. A great speaker for the price, but I was noticing some breakup at loud levels when listening to the HD lossless audio. While researching which speaker to buy online, I stumbled across several links of people building their own speakers. Since I'm a DIY guy, I jumped in with both feet. I decided on building a pair of Statements. These speakers are a true full-range speaker featuring dual 9 inch woofer, dual 4-inch midrange, and a 3-inch ribbon tweeter. A build thread of my speakers can be found here:
Here are a few pictures of the speakers installed in the room and compared in size to the Paradigms:
I also built a matching center channel speaker not to long after.
Thanks for the kind comment. If you are handy and willing to try building your own speakers, I personally think DIY speakers are the best way to spend your speaker money.
I realized that I wasn't going to need as much room in my equipment rack as I thought. Even though I had upgrade to A Harmony One remote, I still had remotes laying around the room along with game controllers and room EQ measuring equipment. My idea, use some of the extra room in the equipment rack for two storage drawers.
With all the equipment out of the rack, I also took time to run in speaker wire through the wall so I could bi-amp my front channels. At this point, I also decided to try my hand at DIY cables. I'm not a believer that $200 speaker cables make my speakers sound better, but I do like the looks of the pricey cables. For not much money, I built my own.
Welcome in the Dynamic 4T and Dynamic 4CC. Roughly 12 inches shorter than the 60-inch tall statements, and much more thin.
The Dynamics have found 7-inch woofers, the same 4-inch midrange from the Statements, and a HDS dome tweeter. Again, these are bi-amped from speakers.
With a new matching CC, I designed a new CC stand with a out-of-sight place to put the Wii sensor bar.
The new speakers really deliver clean and tight bass. While I loved my Paradigm DPS-2100 sub, I began to wish for a little cleaner bass from a sealed cabinet (the Paradigm is ported). So I began designing a new sub to match the new speakers. Two days later, I had a 2 cubic foot sealed cabinet with a 500-watt amp and a 12-inch driver. This puppy really pounds and the bass is much more clean and to my liking.
really like the look and feel, also how did the bass traps work out as in walls?
Good eye. The window is still there. I cut a piece of plywood the same size as the window and covered it with the same fabric I used to line the walls. The fabric faces towards the ouside. On the backside of the plywood I stuffed the window with insulation and put another piece of wood over it. Everything is friction fit, so I could easily open the window up again if I needed to.
I think the bass traps in the walls worked out great. It hurts sound isolation measures, but since the one adjoining room is the laundry room and the other walls are exterior walls, I wasn't to concerned. I've had a few friends also into home theater over and they feel the bass trap walls also work wonderfully and one is even going to copy the design.
What are you driving them with now?
Comparing them to other speakers, the current pair might be my favorite. I've owned Paradigm Atoms, Titans, and Monitor 7's. I've heard Klipsch Reference series towers along with various B&W and Energy speakers, and then of course everything you find in Best Buy. This is just my opinion, and everyone has their own preference, but these easily blow away any of the commercial offerings that are less than $5K for the pair (not center channel included). I won't drone on and on using the same adjectives used in stereo review mags, but here are some facts I heard.
My Paradigm Monitor 7's were a great pair of speakers. I really liked them for the price. But when listening at high levels to The Dave Matthews at Radio City Music Hall Blu-Ray, there were some instances that the speakers almost sounded like they had blown drivers. There was distortion. With the new set of speakers, I have been pushing the limits. I've had concert discs turned up so loud I start to get scared, and the speakers output pure sound. Never harsh, never broken up. They have a much flatter response that most commercial speakers so I feel they are less fatiguing to listen to.
If you have the means, I HIGHLY suggest finding a pair or well designed DIY speakers and giving them a listen. I got hooked on them because I love DIY and I bought a kit through Madisound three years ago for $79 to build two bookshelf speakers. That $79 kit sounded as good or better than my pair of Paradigm Atoms a pair of B&W speakers, and a pair of Monitor Audio speakers. I knew if $79 sounded that good, then $300-$500 would sound even better. Here is a list of many of the speakers I have built for myself or friends starting with the $79 kit. I am also working on build a new pair right now for a friend.
Thanks for the detailed response. You have some skills and since we are friends now and you build for your friends, 2 LCRs and a matching center please
Anyways, nice job again!
You are welcome, and I will starting building tomorrow.
But seriously, if you have any questions about DIY speakers or want to try your hand at it. Feel free to ask me any questions.
I'll start by saying both teh Statements and Dynamics use the same midrange drivers, and I love them. The Scan Speak HDS tweeter used in the Dynamics is the same tweeter that I used in the 2-way bookshelf build and I fell in love with it at that time. Comparing the HDS dome with the ribbon, there is a noticeable sound difference. On most songs, I notice the difference but I can't tell which I like more. There are tracks where I miss the ribbons. I have some amazing reference recordings of choral and classical pieces. The ribbons had a more airy, light, and real sound. But with several of my jazz and rock recordings, I like the HDS dome better. More laid back but just as detailed.
The Statements are more of a full range speaker, but their size helps with that. The Dynamics have plenty of bass, but for HT use, you need a sub. You could almost get by without a sub when using the Statements.
So my final verdict? In my room, I like the Dynamics better. They sound great and they fit better with my setup. If I had a 2-channel only room, or an AT screen setup, the Statements would never have been replaced.
I'm not sure why I didn't do this sooner. I have often gone into the theater and wanted to cued something up on the PS3 or listen to a Blu-Ray concert disc but always hated turning on the projector just to see the menu's. So tonight I added a 24 inch LED TV to the side wall.
When not in use, it sets nearly flat against the side wall.
When I want to see what is on TV, or cue up a Blu-Ray, I can use only the TV.
I also have the option of running two different sources to each screen. Or of course the same source to both screens.
Now I just need to reprogram my Harmony 900 with some shortcuts for all the switching back and forth I will do.
I think it's mostly preference on the remote and cost. My first universal remote was the Harmony One. It was very easy to setup and the Activities were pretty helpful. I upgraded to the Harmony 900 because it was an RF remote and I got tired of pointing the remote to the side wall where my equipment was with the Harmony One. My only real complaint about either is it isn't truly customizable with very detailed macros. It's pretty flexible, but not completely. But for the price I paid for each of my Harmony remotes (about 50% retail), I'm satisfied.
The iPad looks to be a nice, large touch screen and is one of the main reasons I think Pronto and Crestron have discontinued their touch screen remotes. But I personally haven't seen or used any of the remote program apps for the iPad yet.