New member, new basement HT build, guidance - AVS Forum
Dedicated Theater Design & Construction > New member, new basement HT build, guidance
WVU Mountaineers's Avatar WVU Mountaineers 01:54 PM 03-14-2012
Hello all. I have spent many, many hours perusing this forum and would like some guidance. CLEARLY this is the best HT forum I have read, and the experts here seem knowledgeable and friendly. Yes, I am a noob, so please be gentile.

I am currently finishing my basement (myself) and have framed out a dedicated 11.5 X 20.25 foot HT room. The drywalled ceiling will be 8.5 foot high from the screen wall to about 13.5 foot back, but will drop to 7.5 foot high for the rest for HVAC. The attached CAD photos cannot display the ceiling contour. The AV rack will be DIY in the side wall and under the stairs. The location is convenient for space, and will have a dedicated HVAC return for cooling. The HT room will have soffit lighting and cans. There are no windows to the room so lighting is controlled. There are also no neighbors for which to be concerned.

I am looking for guidance for the best equipment choices for the room. My budget for AV and sound equipment is about $5-6k, but can be adjusted accordingly to ensure a great overall theater experience (read: if I can show my wife why the additional money is necessary). After extensive reading here and other sites, along with friend's opinions, I am considering the purchase of an Onkyo NR-809 receiver, and an Epson 5010 PowerLite Home Cinema. I already have a 10" Klipsch KSW-150 powered sub and will give it a try as the HT sub. I have not read anything (yet) that definitively states there is a huge difference between in-wall or on-wall speakers, except that the mains should be on-wall or floor-standing. I would prefer in-wall due to room size, but am open to suggestions. As far as brands, the front-runners for me are currently Klipsch, Polk, or Definitive Technology (once again, I am open for suggestions). I would like it to be a 7.1 or 7.2 system though. I have not yet considered the world of screens yet. I have also pondered the purchase of a pre-amp (Marantz AV7005) or a HTiB (Onkyo HT-S9400). Ultimately, what would YOU put in YOUR 233 sq. ft. room?

Well, there it is. I have read as much as I can on HT, and am looking for your opinions on this size room. This is a labor of love, one which will be used for many years.

Ted White's Avatar Ted White 01:59 PM 03-14-2012
Welcome! I think you'll like the crowd.
HopefulFred's Avatar HopefulFred 02:19 PM 03-14-2012
It sounds like you're at a great point in the process to get some high quality feedback (but don't necessarily count on that from me ). My room is almost the same size, but I'm fortunate enough not to be doing the whole basement at once.

The speakers you mentioned are well regarded among the budget conscious crowd, so I'm sure they're quiet capable. I personally have decided to go with an internet-direct company, as I feel like I'll get more bang for my buck - especially higher sensitivity, which will mean better dynamics and clarity without big-budget speakers and amplifiers - meaning driving all seven of them to reference spl can be done with a run of the mill AVR.

I've considered the Epson 5010 as well and while I haven't seen it, I wouldn't try to argue you out of it either.

The only thing that jumps out at me as a potential problem is your floorplan showing three rows of seat. I see that you've limited them to three wide, which is appropriate for your room width. The third row has important implications, however. Especially where height becomes as issue in the rear of the room, it may not be practical. Plus, sound and video both suffer the more you push the audience to the margins. Check out my thread (link in my signature) for my complete thoughts on the matter. On the other hand, maybe you just dropped those seat images in the plan without really planning to install that much seating?

tlogan6797's Avatar tlogan6797 02:26 PM 03-14-2012

so please be gentile.

HEY! Let's not be so exclusionary. EVERYONE is welcome, gentiles AND non-gentiles alike.

There. A little friendly ribbing from your first post.

I think you are putting the cart before the horse in looking at equipment already. And you're likely to get better answers in the appropriate audio forums. Check them out for the latest on equipment.

As far the the room you are designing goes, NINE seats will be REALLY tight in there. My space is 17' long and I have ONE row. Do you REALLY think you'll need NINE seats? My one row is at about 12' back and I'm looking at 102" 2:35 screen (8' wide). Your first row would be at about 7' back and it will be like sitting in the front row at the theater. If you LIKE sitting there, then it will work for you. But your third row will be almost against the back wall. I think you need to do more research on the seating.

Are you really planning TWO doors into the theater? Doors tend to be the weak link in a home theater.

Have you considered sound proofing and acoustic treatments? You might want to look at Ted's (from post #2 above) site and read up.

There's a LOT more to building a home theater than just buying and installing equipment. Let us know what your goals for the room are and you'll get great help.

Good luck!

[edit] looks like Hopeful beat me to some of the points while I was typing! [edit]
aaustin's Avatar aaustin 02:54 PM 03-14-2012
I agree that nine seats will be VERY tight in that size room. Plus there will be a very low ceiling over your third row. A 20 inch or higher riser under a 7.5 foot ceiling...people will hit their heads. Consider two rows and bar seating in the back. That way you can move the first two rows back more so that they are not so close to the screen and you won't need a third riser since the tall bar stools will raise people up. It will provide some good overflow space when you need it and a spot to eat and watch a movie.

Also consider a false wall with your speakers behind an acoustically transparent screen and a stage in the front. As I'm sure you've seen in other builds it really makes the whole room look nice.

Have you considered soundproofing the room? Remember that you really only have one chance to build it. Speakers can be upgraded easily but it is very hard to go back and do things that should have been implemented while building, such as soundproofing.

Kudos to you for taking on this project. I'm sure it will be awesome.

Oh, and welcome to AVS!
Dennis Erskine's Avatar Dennis Erskine 03:10 PM 03-14-2012
Nine people in a small room =
---hot and stuffy
---4,500 BTU's/hr. of cooling (and, unless your spot in WV is colder than Adak Alaska, you'll need cooling in the winter.)
--- how many of those 9 people actually helped pay for the room?
WVU Mountaineers's Avatar WVU Mountaineers 03:34 PM 03-14-2012
I am honored with the quick responses from such esteemed experts.

Yes, although the plans indicate three rows of seats, I have been reconsidering. I would like to put in at least two rows, the first probably being a couch of some sort. I also don't really want to build a second riser. I have read about the hi-top bar tables and will probably go in that direction, if I even need a third row.

I haven't considered much in the line of sound-proofing the room. Although I have read about the extensive measures one can go though to do this, I don't know to what depth I will. Putting sand in the riser(s) and insulation is about it for now.

I have considered putting the center speaker behind the screen, but the added expense and loss of square footage is a concern. Plus acoustic screens appear to be very expensive. Thoughts?
aaustin's Avatar aaustin 04:03 PM 03-14-2012
Expert. I like the sound of that. Haha I'm just kidding. I wouldn't consider myself an expert. Thanks though!

I can't comment on which AT screen to get and how much they cost, but if you're trying to save space you could go with a good set of in-walls behind the screen. That way you wouldn't need much space at all and you'd save some square footage. Build a little two step stage in the front and you've got a pretty darned good looking screen wall.

If you do look at in-walls get ones with sealed backs. I can't give you anymore advice than that but I know that sealed enclosures are a must.

Soundproofing is a good idea. I am almost finished hanging the second layer of drywall in my room and I will say that it is amazing to walk in there and have it be so quiet. Not only does it allow you to crank the volume without disturbing others but when you're watching that climatic scene where the two main characters are whispering you don't have to hear a stampede of footsteps or the the dog barking upstairs.

Check out for some great information to get the basics. Then feel free to ask any questions here for more specifics. You've already got a comment from Ted so you're good to go.
dwightp's Avatar dwightp 04:24 PM 03-14-2012
Originally Posted by WVU Mountaineers View Post

I have considered putting the center speaker behind the screen, but the added expense and loss of square footage is a concern. Plus acoustic screens appear to be very expensive. Thoughts?

If you build the frame yourself, an AT screen can be fairly inexpensive. Check out Lots of folks here have used this screen material and have been happy with it.
AndreasMergner's Avatar AndreasMergner 04:38 PM 03-14-2012
You'll want a riser for the second row. Otherwise the 2nd row will not be able to see the bottom of the screen. You don't have it marked on the plans, but you might want to use the 7.5' section of the room for the front and the 8.5' section for the back so you can accommodate the riser. Another option regarding the riser is a "mini" riser just under the seating...but really you have enough height for a riser.

Seymour's Center XD screen is great, but I wouldn't sit any closer than 12' from it due to the weave (I own it). I also have the 5010. I would wait on equipment until you have your room built. The 5010's replacement will likely be around when you finish the room!

Along with sound proofing, think about sound treatment.
BIGmouthinDC's Avatar BIGmouthinDC 05:52 PM 03-14-2012
I would close off the rear door and make the rear seating riser wall to wall across the back. Otherwise the riser will be cramped and your rear seating limited.
cybrsage's Avatar cybrsage 10:08 PM 03-14-2012
Is the front row too close? The heads look to be 7 ft from a 7 foot wide screen.
JasonMiller1975's Avatar JasonMiller1975 09:15 AM 03-15-2012
Good luck WVU. Will follow your progress for sure. I just started my build a month ago. Definitely some great people on here to give advice along the way.
WVU Mountaineers's Avatar WVU Mountaineers 12:40 PM 03-16-2012
Aaustin, I've seen your work and you are light years ahead of other 18 year-olds I know. Keep up the great work.

I am considering the AT screen, and am doing research to see if it is feasible. However, I am building the WHOLE basement myself, so the thought of additional work on what appears to be such an important part of the HT experience is daunting. I am quite handy (IMHO), and all for saving a few dollars though.

Andreas, my initial plans called for the seating in reverse. However, that would mean dropping the PJ about 15 inches down from the ceiling to get under the beam. In that case, the PJ may possibly in the way of the rear-seated viewers. Thusly, I reversed the plan.

Will consider the omission of the rear door, but would like to keep it if at all possible.

I am reconsidering the soundproofing idea, especially as important it seems to be. The room is surrounded on two sides by cinder block walls. How effective would DD and green glue be?

This will be a huge project. I will post pics as I go, but only occasionally get permission to work in the basement. There are 2 and 4 year old "projects" my wife also wants me to work on. LOL
aaustin's Avatar aaustin 01:11 PM 03-16-2012
Thanks for the kind words. It's coming along nicely and I'm looking forward to getting more work done this weekend.

As far as soundproofing goes, DD and GG are just one part of the whole picture. You'll want to cover the four elements of soundproofing (decoupling, absorption, mass, and damping). Decoupling is so that there is no direct physical connection between the theater and adjoining rooms that sound can travel through. This is accomplished by building your stud wall an inch away from the foundation wall. On walls that don't have the foundation behind them you have a few options like double walls, isolation clips and channel, or a staggered stud wall to keep everything separated. Then to decouple the ceiling most use isolation clips and hat channel. Absorption is achieved through fiberglass insulation in all walls and ceiling. Mass is achieved through two layers of 5/8" drywall on all walls and ceiling. Green Glue provides the damping.

You'll also have to be sure to seal any penetrations in your drywall like lights and outlets and pay careful attention to how you implement your ventilation. Also a heavy solid core door is a must.
AndreasMergner's Avatar AndreasMergner 05:11 AM 03-17-2012
You have a bunch of compromises you need to make in your room. The 7.5' high ceiling in the back is not a deal breaker even with a PJ "hanging down". Not ideal, but not fatal. My WHOLE ceiling is at 80", however, I have my Pj at the back of my 19' long room (throw distance ~17.5'). I have a 135" screen. That is because I have seating distances at 11' and 17'. A small screen that you have planned means a very close seating distance for first row and a very close throw distance for the PJ. BTW, with an AT screen you can basically make the whole front wall a screen since your speakers can go behind it.

Sound isolation is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot involved and a mistake can mean all your work is for naught. Read up on the popular threads here and call Ted White's company for great advice and service (and price).

Also, consider replacing that beam with steel and recessing it up into the joist space (I'm making a lot of assumptions) and moving your HVAC. I did all that for my continuing build and it has been totally worth it.

Oh, and 2 rows is all you can fit in that room. If you want "overflow" seating for more guests you can put beanbags or those really low gaming chairs on the floor in front. 99% of the time you won't need the seats....if you really need more seating on a regular basis you should think of using a different space in the basement. Another option would be very narrow chairs or arm-less seating (couch) for 4 across.

Just ideas -- it is your room.
gamelover360's Avatar gamelover360 06:29 AM 03-17-2012
I would recommend buying a budget PJ for 1500-2000 dollars, because I think you will find the PQ more than good enough. I would get an internet direct value brand amplifier (like Emotiva as one example) and go ahead and invest in a Processor (look for a deal on last years model like the Integra 80.2). This will give you lots of options and functionality so you won't need to upgrade for a long time. The benefit of separate power amps is that you can always upgrade for more power in the future if you would feel the need (and keep your processor). Buy a PS3 for a Br player (comes with lots of great extra functionalities, and all Blu rays work great on it).

For speakers I would fight, kick and scratch for all the money the wife will allow. Come up with a good story about doing things right the fist time, no messy time consuming upgrades, a nice room deserves nice speakers, audio is 60% of the experience, I am worth it, We are worth it....whatever. Do your research and get the best you can afford. The sound is such an important and often overlooked part of HT for many first timers. Everyone is always initially into the picture, but over time the sound becomes more so.

DIY screen.

Spend the 600 bucks and use the HT layout service offered here on AVS. It will be the best 600 dollars you ever spend. They will get it all right for you, and even recommend Acoustic treatments. The stuff they do for you will make the single biggest difference in what you hear and see when the lights go out.

Good luck!

Edit: HTIB would be a big mistake.
AndreasMergner's Avatar AndreasMergner 08:01 AM 03-17-2012
I have a Denon 1911 and it does everything I need. You don't need big amps for fronts and surrounds if they are efficient. Check out the DIY speaker forum if you want high quality speakers for little money and are not afraid to build a box and solder a few wires.
petew's Avatar petew 08:14 AM 03-17-2012
I see you have a flat panel TV in the big open area of the basement. If you have a crowd over I'd guess that will get the most use.

I would build the theater to seat just the immediate family. Maybe only a big comfy couch for mom, dad and the 2 and 4 year old "projects". A small room will be uncomfortable with more than a few people, even with sufficient AC. I also think a dedicated theater is stifling for more relaxed viewing - sports. People want to interact and yell at the TV. That's hard when your seating is fixed and pointed at the screen.

I would also rotate the theater so the screen is at the "top". You could build a landing for the bottom of the stairs so the back of the theater is raised up two or three steps. That could work well for a bar in the back. The bar at normal table height (30") would work with comfy dining chairs instead of bar stools.

Kind of rambling here...

I'd recommend the soundproofing too. You want to be able to use the theater, even if the whole family isn't interested in watching a movie together.
WVU Mountaineers's Avatar WVU Mountaineers 07:38 PM 03-17-2012
HTiB is out. That much I'm sure.

Thanks for the advice on equipment. I will, and have been, visiting several forums since this project exploded. I am trying to balance what it would take to make a high-quality HT in my relatively small room space. Before reading this forum I thought the room I cut out was sizable. Was I wrong!

Andreas, I will definitely look into DIY speakers. Saving money is a plus, as long as the quality doesn't suffer.

Pete, you are thinking along my lines. My original plan was what you mentioned. If we host a crowd, then the game will be on in the bar area/social room. My thinking has changed to a more intimate HT room as you've suggested. I had even thought about the landing at the bottom of the stairs. I guess that idea is back in the "maybe" column.

One of the issues mentioned earlier was the beam and HVAC considerations in the ceiling. (Andreas, replacing the beam and moving the HVAC is not on the table. Just too much for me.) Starting nearest the stairs, the room goes 13.5 feet with the ceiling at 8.5 foot height. Then, at the beam, about 1 foot at 7.5 foot ceiling height. From there, the ceiling returns to 8.5 foot height for 3 feet, then drops down to 7.5 feet for the remaining 3 feet (see diagram). Therein lies my biggest issues.
aaustin's Avatar aaustin 09:21 PM 03-17-2012
I think that putting the screen on the end with the 7.5 foot ceiling and the riser on the other wall is a good idea with the landing at the bottom of the stairs at the same height as the riser.

Even better would be to look into replacing the beam as Andreas said and then incorporate the ductwork into the proscenium above your screen.
RTROSE's Avatar RTROSE 10:03 PM 03-17-2012
Hello and welcome to AVS. You have entered into a madding process. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Now that you are here though prepare to be educated (not by me of course far more intelligent people here than I) by all of our resident experts.

Don't underestimate the value of reading, planning, and asking questions before you dive head first into construction. I would continue to plan and bring those ideas here and have them vetted. Might just save you some headaches later on down the road.

I too would advocate you getting your design/space nailed down before you commit to purchasing equipment, as equipment changes all the time, but solid construction techniques never go out of style. I too would suggest as others have that you only have one entrance to the theater and limit you seating as well. Your space is the same depth as mine but two feet narrower. I decided not to go with an AT setup as it takes up valuable floor space. I would have really missed the 1 to 2 feet in length I would have lost doing so due to my room setup. With you being at 11.5 feet wide you will have to consider your seating carefully as well. My rear seats, four wide) are right at 11.5 in length.

It all boils down to how you are going to use your space. If you are planning on pretty much watching movies it is different that having a bunch of buddies over to watch the big game. In looking at your renderings I would normally suggest one to have the entrance to the theater in the back or towards the back of the room, but with your setup, width and riser I think you would run into major problems.

When you do get to the stage of purchasing equipment all of us here are really good at spending other peoples money! Lots of good advise on equipment here too.

Good luck and we all will be watching/lurking ready to spring into action when needed.


WVU Mountaineers's Avatar WVU Mountaineers 11:46 AM 03-27-2013
Whew. Its been a year since I've posted to this thread. Ended up purchasing a boat last year (2012) and taking the summer off from the basement. Well, since its tough to use a boat in the winter, the basement project has progressed greatly.

I decided to go with the riser, which begins at the bottom of the stairs and leads into the rear of the theater. The decision was also made to have a door to the front of the theater so there will be a flow throughout the basement for both foot traffic and HVAC. The toughest issues include the design, which includes lighting.

R30 insulation in ceiling and R19 in the walls. Not going to DD nor GG. Just too much for this project, and money is flying out my door. I'll be happy when Lowe's isn't on the receiving end. cool.gif

Please let me know any thoughts on the following setup ideas:

- Onkyo 818 or 809 for the receiver (7.1 system)
- Monoprice 7604 in-walls for LCR and surrounds
- Klipsch 12 inch sub
- Panny PTA8000U PJ

Pics and more to follow...
GWCR's Avatar GWCR 11:59 AM 03-27-2013
Originally Posted by WVU Mountaineers View Post

Whew. Its been a year since I've posted to this thread. Ended up purchasing a boat last year (2012) and taking the summer off from the basement. Well, since its tough to use a boat in the winter, the basement project has progressed greatly.

I decided to go with the riser, which begins at the bottom of the stairs and leads into the rear of the theater. The decision was also made to have a door to the front of the theater so there will be a flow throughout the basement for both foot traffic and HVAC. The toughest issues include the design, which includes lighting.

R30 insulation in ceiling and R19 in the walls. Not going to DD nor GG. Just too much for this project, and money is flying out my door. I'll be happy when Lowe's isn't on the receiving end. cool.gif

Please let me know any thoughts on the following setup ideas:

- Onkyo 818 or 809 for the receiver (7.1 system)
- Monoprice 7604 in-walls for LCR and surrounds
- Klipsch 12 inch sub
- Panny PTA8000U PJ

Pics and more to follow...
Welcome back!

DD+GG may not add as much $ to the project as you might think (compared to the overall project total). The best time to do that would be up front. You only get one chance to make the room right. You can always upgrade equipment later, but it is difficult to change the room construction down the road. I'm sure Ted or John at the Soundproofing Company could give you a quote, and more importantly the most bang for your buck.

For the equipment, I can definitely recommend the Onkyo 809 as I have that AVR. Very happy with it so far, and haven't done any real audio calibration yet. Can't comment on the Monoprice speakers, but their cables are great. Also, the Panny 8000u is a great projector IMO. I have about 60 hours on mine, and couldn't be happier.

That said, I would definitely put more thought/time/$ into the initial room construction before getting too far down the line with the equipment.
WVU Mountaineers's Avatar WVU Mountaineers 12:01 PM 03-27-2013
Its a 11.5 by 20 foot dedicated HT. Cozy.

WVU Mountaineers's Avatar WVU Mountaineers 12:03 PM 03-27-2013
And a couple obligatory pics of what caused the year delay in progress:

HopefulFred's Avatar HopefulFred 12:12 PM 03-27-2013
Going to the trouble to build a room, I'd hate to see you lock yourself into a position to only have one sub. Wire is cheap, so wire for 4 or more, and use as many as becomes practical. I understand the budget issues, and even if you stick with the decision to skip the sound isolation, just don't paint yourself into a corner with equipment - leave yourself an upgrade path for speakers and such.

Boat looks nice!
WVU Mountaineers's Avatar WVU Mountaineers 11:35 AM 03-28-2013
I will definitely put in wiring for an extra sub, but four would prob be overkill for a small room.

Here are the most recent CAD drawings for the room.

RTROSE's Avatar RTROSE 06:31 AM 03-30-2013
There is no such thing as "too many subs" to talk otherwise is heresy. biggrin.gif

In all seriousness though I have 4 or 5 sub runs around the room. Do I intend to have that many subs, realistically no. What it did/does do is give you placement flexibility if you need it. I can tell you that were I had originally planned on putting the sub was not the best location acoustically, so I moved it to another location. If I had not run several cables to different locations around the room, it would have been much more difficult to locate the sub where it is now. Just food for thought. Render looks nice, you will just have to watch your depth at 20 with the three rows you have. Might be a tight squeeze, unless your front row viewing distance is say a seven feet or so.

Oh, and nice boat, very sharp. Having never owned a boat but knowing several boat owners I do know the two happiest days in a boat owners life. The happiest day is the day he buys it, the second happiest day is the day he sells it. In some cases that might even be reversed. tongue.gif


WVU Mountaineers's Avatar WVU Mountaineers 09:19 AM 04-02-2014
Its been a while, but the basement is almost finished. All that's left is the ~450 sq ft of tile, baseboard, and carpet. The carpet for the HT is especially nice.

Mobile  Desktop