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post #1 of 54 Old 02-13-2011, 05:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi All,

(Feel free to move me to the 'general media room' if this doesn't make the grade for 'dedicated'!)

We moved into a new (to us - we are the third owners) home late last summer. The house is equipped with a 'dedicated' theater room which was a nice novelty for people used to apartment living.

Now, it is clear (as you can see from the photos) that this is a project that one of the previous owners had left unfinished - that said, it is perfectly serviceable as a room for watching films and playing some Xbox/PS3. Having spent a lot of time marveling at some of the construction in these threads, I am sure one and all will agree that, as a dedicated theater room, there is serious room for improvement.

Here are some photos (excuse the amateurish camera work)





The room is 158" wide by 286". The rear riser is 74" deep, and the stage is 36" deep. The current screen is 4:3 and 84" wide. The recess in which it sits is 100" wide. As far as I can tell there have been no acoustic treatments.

So - what to do? I need some creative help to get this theater to completion - which is tricky as I have no idea why some things are the way they are, or what the end game was for the previous owner. It is a strange mix - it has a riser and a stage and custom carpet which says they were at least taking it semi-seriously...but some fairly crude shelves for equipment, and some poor finish on the paintwork.

I am not an audiophile - I enjoy films and playing console games and want to get the best experience I can without going crazy. Ripping this room out and starting again is not really an option.

So - appreciate any feedback on the room in general (dimensions etc) and steps to improve it. Off the top of my head
  • New screen - constrained to 100" wide. Considering bringing it forward slightly and going AT?
  • New speaker system - rear surrounds are just bookshelf sat in the cutouts of the columns. Front speakers don't even bear describing
  • Rack options? Getting access to the rear of the equipment is nigh-on impossible right now
  • The room has a regular window with blackout curtain - drywall over it?
  • Additional speaker in the other columns (challenge: the columns on the left and right of the room do not line up with each other exactly due to the window
  • Sofits, cans?
  • Cable management - right now there are some trailing wires for the light rope that runs under the edge of the stage and riser
  • The stage and screen are draped in fairly tacky, loose curtain fabric. Needs some GOM. Bad. On the left is a set of shelves for media, the right side houses the equipment shelves.
  • Acoustic treatments - without anything drastic like ripping down drywall

All sounds very vague - I know. I guess at this stage I am just trying to get some thoughts and feedback. It would be easier with a blank canvas!

Any help appreciated - thanks in advance
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post #2 of 54 Old 02-13-2011, 06:05 PM
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First, welcome you are in the right space. you really need to do some exploring on that front. Is there a reason for the recess like pipes or columns that are hidden on the left or right? If it were my space I would simply rebuild the front wall if there aren't any obstacles. Pull back the curtains and take another picture so we can see what you are working with.

You could also consider getting a screen that bridges the gap and is wider than 100 inches. I agree you should consider an acoustically transparent screen and stick at least the center speaker in the recess.
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post #3 of 54 Old 02-13-2011, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
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BIGmouthinDC - thank you for the warm welcome. I will post some more pics in the morning, but to answer your question - the left corner is cut at 45 deg behind the curtain (similar to the rear columns). The right corner is a regular square corner.

Currently the left has a shallow (DVD depth) set of shelves over the angled corner. The right has a set of equipment shelves.

Under the screen, the curtain hides a pair of speakers and a consumer sub. It is clear under there all the way to the back wall.

I read that screen width shouldn't exceed 85% room width (rule of thumb)? That goes to 130" or so...but would obscure the (current) equipment location. Could go beneath the screen...but I can't recall ever seeing that layout before in a dedicated theatre?

Pics will follow...to clarify my ramblings!
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post #4 of 54 Old 02-13-2011, 08:37 PM - Thread Starter
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I should add - this is on the second floor. Attic space above...living area below. No shared walls with other rooms - two external, two internal (galleried).
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post #5 of 54 Old 02-14-2011, 04:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noelep View Post

It would be easier with a blank canvas!

You are just a weekend away from having a blank canvas.

Couple of thoughts I really want to see if minor surgery can fix any of the 3 angled corners. If not it might make sense to flip the room 180 degrees and use the one full corner for your gear, at the rear of the theater.

Position the screen out in front of the angled corners. Rebuild the stage and riser. You might be able to reuse the carpet but only if you have a complementary color scheme in mind.
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post #6 of 54 Old 02-14-2011, 06:15 AM
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I guess it depends on how far you want to take it. To my eye, the major eyesore is the stage design and especially those awful curtains.

I kind of like the idea of building the false wall flat, adding the 120-130" screen and placing good speakers behind. Find matching in-walls for the rear columns and live with it for awhile.

The guy did a lot of good stuff, but it looks budget limited and possibly rushed so it could be sold.

I am also assuming that since it is a 4:3 screen, that the projector is dated as well. You are likely looking at $3-5k of equuipment upgrades plus the cost of the screen and false wall at another $2-4k. If you start ripping it all out and starting over, you likely won't have anything usable for several years and will spend considerably more.

How much more? I belong to the MG Car Club. One evening one of the newer members came in with a laptop and proudly announced that he had set up a spreadsheet to accurately monitor and project costs for his latest project. Jaws dropped and our most experienced member exclaimed "Why would anyone possibly want to do that!"

Some things are best left unknown, and actual cost of this hobby is one of those things.
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post #7 of 54 Old 02-14-2011, 06:25 AM
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How much money do you plan to sink into it?

Personally, i will say you are off to a really great start; firstly and most importantly, that screen stage has to go, its too high. Unless of course there is a structural reason its there, if that is the case then you should make a false wallover it and put up a 1.87:1 or 2.32:1 screen in its place.

You should also be looking into getting a new projector (since you said nothing abt what kinda PJ is already there I am gonna assume that you met it there), you can get really good 1080p projectors right now fr under $1000. If you had to make a false wall if you couldn't do away with the screen stage, then that may mean you may have to push your projector back a bit.

[Edit: removed due to a misunderstanding and to avoid confusion lol]

Long and short of it is that your primary focus should be on the screen area and generally upgrading your equipment. The colors look great as it is.

How much access do you have to the room, cause you need to consider where your rack would go or is there already one around the room? If not and all you have to work with is that space, I could give you some really great ideas on hw to make your rack invisible even within that space.

And while some may say you should flip things around I believe that with what you already have you should be looking on spending the barest minimum possible and making the most of your available space.

Try and take those curtains off and take more pics to give everyone abetter idea of what you really are working on.
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post #8 of 54 Old 02-14-2011, 07:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorddeff07 View Post

Personally I won't go with a AT screen, though that is a personal preference thing. I feel AT screeen should only be used if you plan on having a TV there too. But If not, then go with a fixed frame screen in stead.

AT is fixed frame. AT = Acoustically Transparent
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post #9 of 54 Old 02-14-2011, 08:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Lee View Post

AT is fixed frame. AT = Acoustically Transparent


lol, my bad... for some reason I was thinking he was referring to an automatic screen.

If thats the case, then thats completely awesome and would be perfect.
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post #10 of 54 Old 02-14-2011, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Lee View Post

AT is fixed frame. AT = Acoustically Transparent

AT screens can either be fixed frame or retractable.
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post #11 of 54 Old 02-14-2011, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, here we go:

From the front - with the lovely curtains removed


Scary speaker. Looks like it was bought at auction...labelled as a 'suspension' speaker. Gotta go...


Left hand side - you can see the 45 degree angle the wall is taking. I can only assume there are some works going on behind it.


The construction of the current stage.


The right hand side - MDF shelving


Regarding the PJ - yes, the existing one was a very old Sharp 4:3 projector that was more for business/laptop use. I interim replaced it with a consumer Sony projector - works fine for 720p - but I have no emotional attachment to it
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post #12 of 54 Old 02-14-2011, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayn_j View Post

How much more? I belong to the MG Car Club. One evening one of the newer members came in with a laptop and proudly announced that he had set up a spreadsheet to accurately monitor and project costs for his latest project. Jaws dropped and our most experienced member exclaimed "Why would anyone possibly want to do that!"

I owned a 1980 MGB Roadster when I lived in the UK - and had it fully restored with the Sebring racing kit. I still wake up in cold sweats when I remember how much money I sank into that thing.
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post #13 of 54 Old 02-14-2011, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorddeff07 View Post

How much access do you have to the room, cause you need to consider where your rack would go or is there already one around the room? If not and all you have to work with is that space, I could give you some really great ideas on hw to make your rack invisible even within that space.

I have access to the roof space above without much problem. I am intrigued by any ideas you have for equipment in a similar location...as I just can't see many other options other than relocating it all to a closet somewhere else on the same floor (which is tricky - as I would definitely want to keep a games console in there).

Give me everything you have got!
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post #14 of 54 Old 02-19-2011, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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I spent some time sat in the room this morning - with all the curtains removed to let plenty of light in. First time I have been able to take a good look in 'the cold light of day'.

Here is my thinking right now. Rip out all the construction at the screen end of the room - apart from the low stage piece. Then build a new AT fabric screen out from the back wall using as much width as is appropriate given my seating distances.

The question is regarding the equipment location. Do I go with a MA slim rack on the right hand side and leave a similar width on the left (20" or so) and have the screen centered....or, go wider with the screen and have the equipment underneath?

Appreciate any bright ideas on the equipment. Locating it at the back of the room is a no go given the room's location.
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post #15 of 54 Old 12-03-2011, 09:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow. Time flies.

While I have been pondering the theater I have managed to do a bathroom remodel...but that is about it. Oh, and a nursery as we are expecting our first child (which I know could likely destroy any chance of starting let alone completing this project)

The main question at the moment is 'how far'. Do I do a surface remodel - or strip it back to stud and do a more complete job. I appreciate this is my question to answer...but i would appreciate some input.

This room is on the second floor of a standard 2001 construction house. While I understand by reading the forum what the options are for decoupling the walls and ceiling (GG, Double drywall, clips etc)...what are the options for the floor on a second storey?

Almost every theater I see is first floor or basement. My (limited) understanding of sound 'insulation' is that the benefits are only truly reaped from a 100% job. Is there any point in trying to achieve isolation on a second floor - without 'room in a room'?

appreciate any guidance examples of this being done?

Fall back options are to accept this and carry on with a 'lite' remodel, or delay for a future room addition that is more conducive.

Thanks guys
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post #16 of 54 Old 12-04-2011, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noelep View Post

Wow. Time flies.....Fall back options are to accept this and carry on with a 'lite' remodel, or delay for a future room addition that is more conducive......

Thanks guys

I think a light remodel makes sense. The room isn't bad except for the awful screen wall. I'd tear out everything including the stage. Have a carpet installer come in and square off that end of the carpet. Then build a screen wall with equipment underneath.

I'd bring the screen wall far enough out to be in front of the 45* angled wall on the left side. Cut the crown moulding so it butts into the new screen wall.

High Desert Theater - work in progress
Building Bass - Subs

Surrounds - Easy as Pi

Storage - unRAID unDELL

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post #17 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 01:03 PM
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Thoughts.

I'd be tempted to punch some holes in the sheetrock & see just what is behind those 45's in the corners. They are taking up an awful lot of usable space if it's just an aesthetics thing(a poor one at that IMHO).

Sound proofing will be pretty tough since you really can't decouple the floor.

That size room with two rows should be 7.1. You'll need to figure out how to run the wire for 2 more surround speakers.

All this leads up to my final thought. I'd rip all the drywall off the walls & see just what is behind it. The drywall finishing in the first picture you posted looks poor at best anyway. That will give you the flexibility to position the surrounds properly using conduit for the wire runs Then you can move the rack to the back to give you room on the front wall for a proper soundstage.

-Dave
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post #18 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 01:09 PM
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Something else I just noticed. The door leading into the room swings out to clear the seating. I don't have a problem with that. What I do have problem with is the location of the wall switches. They should be on the knob side of the wall, not the hinge side. $20 says the PO used the existing door, which used to swing into the room, & just flipped it around.

-Dave
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post #19 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 01:12 PM
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I agree with at least pulling off some drywall for the sake of running proper wiring.

From the last picture it looks like the rear speaker wire travels up into the ceiling from the receiver? If so that's not rated to be behind drywall.

Does the projector have an HDMI run to it? If it's a 4:3 projector I wouldn't be surprised if it was just fed by a composite/Svideo/RCA cable.

Grab a sledge hammer and a Sawzall and make a day out of it!
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post #20 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 01:34 PM
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The fact that the two angled corners at the back of the room are different suggests to me that there is probably something behind them. Since tearing those out would probably mean replacing the carpet and other expenses, I would be inclined to leave it until you are ready to take it all the way and go full out on a complete remodel. The front stage could easily be changed without affecting much else so I would start there.

The speakers look to me like they took the good ones with them when they sold and replaced them with whatever they could find at the local thrift store.
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post #21 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petew View Post


I think a light remodel makes sense. The room isn't bad except for the awful screen wall. I'd tear out everything including the stage. Have a carpet installer come in and square off that end of the carpet. Then build a screen wall with equipment underneath.

I'd bring the screen wall far enough out to be in front of the 45* angled wall on the left side. Cut the crown moulding so it butts into the new screen wall.

Petew - this is definitely my current line of thinking. I think the lower 'stage' can stay - it is maybe 5" high - but clearly the higher platform needs to go.

Ripping it down to the stud is probably more than I am willing to take on right now...!

Thanks for your feedback - much appreciated
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post #22 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveHolland View Post

Thoughts.

I'd be tempted to punch some holes in the sheetrock & see just what is behind those 45's in the corners. They are taking up an awful lot of usable space if it's just an aesthetics thing(a poor one at that IMHO).

Sound proofing will be pretty tough since you really can't decouple the floor.

That size room with two rows should be 7.1. You'll need to figure out how to run the wire for 2 more surround speakers.

All this leads up to my final thought. I'd rip all the drywall off the walls & see just what is behind it. The drywall finishing in the first picture you posted looks poor at best anyway. That will give you the flexibility to position the surrounds properly using conduit for the wire runs Then you can move the rack to the back to give you room on the front wall for a proper soundstage.

-Dave

I have definitely seen better drywall finish - it is not helped by the paint not being as flat as it could be.

Agreed on 7.1 - I have pretty good access to the loft space above - but am mindful of the comments regarding running cable through the columns.

The 45' in the rear right is a result of the design of the house - I am pretty sure the rear
left is aesthetic just to make it match. As the front corners don't match I can only assume that it angled for a reason. I might be able to go on a reconnaissance mission in the loft to see if I can see why.
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post #23 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Something else I just noticed. The door leading into the room swings out to clear the seating. I don't have a problem with that. What I do have problem with is the location of the wall switches. They should be on the knob side of the wall, not the hinge side. $20 says the PO used the existing door, which used to swing into the room, & just flipped it around.

-Dave

Well spotted! The room in the original design of the house was an open gallery to the first floor - the open landing has been filled in and a door put in. The evidence points to it having been done post-construction though...the switch placement looks to just be the closest place to where the original switch was pre-door (there is a blanking plate on the other side rather than patched drywall!)
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post #24 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
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I agree with at least pulling off some drywall for the sake of running proper wiring.

From the last picture it looks like the rear speaker wire travels up into the ceiling from the receiver? If so that's not rated to be behind drywall.

Does the projector have an HDMI run to it? If it's a 4:3 projector I wouldn't be surprised if it was just fed by a composite/Svideo/RCA cable.

Grab a sledge hammer and a Sawzall and make a day out of it!

Yes, the speaker wire runs (conduit-less) up into the attic then down the columns. The PJ was indeed just hanging off a s-video cable - I pulled a HDMI through in the same fashion as a stop gap.

As there is no wire behind dry wall (in so much as not 'sandwiched' between dry wall) am I right in thinking that I can run conduit in the attic and be more comfortable with the situation?
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post #25 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by stockmonkey2000 View Post

The fact that the two angled corners at the back of the room are different suggests to me that there is probably something behind them. Since tearing those out would probably mean replacing the carpet and other expenses, I would be inclined to leave it until you are ready to take it all the way and go full out on a complete remodel. The front stage could easily be changed without affecting much else so I would start there.

The speakers look to me like they took the good ones with them when they sold and replaced them with whatever they could find at the local thrift store.

Yep, yep, yep!

I think the next task (after the holidays...and if I ever finish the Nursery!) is to get going on tearing down the screen/shelves/stage area and getting a good look at it. I am sold on a DIY 2.4:1 acoustically transparent screen. As I have no existing PJ investment, I am happy to go as big as I can and get a model that will adequately light it.

Really appreciate all the comments guys - once I get going I will have a ton of more specific questions...especially about screen construction, masking etc. I will post more pictures and accurate measurements once I clean the screen end out.
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post #26 of 54 Old 12-13-2011, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noelep View Post

Yes, the speaker wire runs (conduit-less) up into the attic then down the columns. The PJ was indeed just hanging off a s-video cable - I pulled a HDMI through in the same fashion as a stop gap.

As there is no wire behind dry wall (in so much as not 'sandwiched' between dry wall) am I right in thinking that I can run conduit in the attic and be more comfortable with the situation?

Doh. I forgot your room is on the second floor and you have attic access. Lucky! I'm so used to thinking along the lines of having concreate below and joist space above.

Running wires is clearly not a problem. Personally, I wouldn't even bother with conduit. I'd just pick up some CL2 rated cable and run it. Conduit is usually installed to pull a wire later on when seal up the wall(at least smurf tube is; EMT is good at protecting too). Plus conduit + regular wire < CL2 12awg wire.
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post #27 of 54 Old 12-14-2011, 06:47 AM
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The AT screen and minimal front wall is a no brainer. Have you explored constant area and four way masking?

The walls could be furred out 1" to accomodate acoustical treatments. The fabric would then hide the covered over window and drywall plus add some texture to the room.

I'd ebay a Lutron Grafic Eye 3102 and a single button entry controller for the hall side to deal with the light switch. The 3102 would require a 4 gang box transplant of the 2 gang box currently there. The lighting controller would then be tied into your programmable remote. Scene 1 of the GE would be an entry program so a push of the 1S would be entry lighting/off. Not as cheap as rewiring the switches but a pretty nice bang for the expense.
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post #28 of 54 Old 12-14-2011, 07:50 AM
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If you haven't read this for the screen wall, do so.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=837848

I think sound proofing while desirable with a baby on the way is probably a bridge too far. Consider adding some buttkickers or aura shakers if you need to turn down the sub for the baby/wife. How is your sub? If it doesn't pack a punch, make sure that is on the eventual upgrade list. Way more important that 7.1 in my opinion.

Finally, paint the door and white trim black. Paint or replace all the white wall plates for switches/power plugs, etc.

If you don't want to do a rack you could just get a low-boy cabinet and put that in the front. Its not as clean, but an easy switch. Find a way to cover up the flashing lights. Speaker cloth, perforated metal, frost glass, something like that.

If you hate the crappy drywall job you could eventually do acoustic treatments on the wall and cover them with fabric. Then you'd be getting pretty elite.
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post #29 of 54 Old 01-08-2012, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone for their feedback. I am under no illusions that this is going to be a quick process - but as of today I have at least started.

Began by starting to remove the existing screen wall and shelving.



Attachment 233494

The construction of the wall and stage seems pretty good to be honest...and it came out pretty cleanly. Only other thing of interest at this stage is the back corner - given the little 'cubby' cut out I think it is pretty likely there is some pipe work or something tucked back there...



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post #30 of 54 Old 01-08-2012, 12:42 PM
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Maybe a former wife, anyway you've reclaimed a bunch of usable space. You can now easily do a side wall to side wall screen wall. But for the sake of knowing at least poke a hole and take a look.
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