Please help with my Home Theater room design! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 04-06-2012, 09:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Total Noob here but I've been wanting to do a "real" home theater in either my living room or basement for a while. I don't need any suggestions on equipment, just the room layout, wiring, etc.

Here is what I've got to work with: My living room (main floor) is 12' x20' with (unfortunately) a 48"W x 60"H window on the south wall where I would like to hang an electric screen, and a regular sized (not at my house to measure) double-hung window on the north wall and the middle of the East wall. There is a doorway (no door) on the west end of the north wall as well as the south end of the West wall. The house was built in the late 1800's and the room has plaster and lath construction, which I intend to tear out and replace with sheetrock.

I just purchased an Optoma Pro350W projector and am looking at 100" to 106" motorized screens- having a hard time deciding between FAVI, Elite and Accuscreen in the budget sub-$200 range. I plan on ceiling mounting the projector and will be tearing down the existing ceiling, wiring outlets for the projector and screen, and installing recessed lighting. I will also use a tip I found here and run 2" PVC for cables/wires. I have a Pioneer VSX-1021 7.1 channel A/V receiver and Polk Audio speakers. The fronts are R300's, rears are R15s, center will likely be a CS1 or CS2 and the sub is a PSW10. I'm clearly not trying to build a high-end system, but want to do the room right and components can always be upgraded later.

I was going to run in-wall speaker wire with wall plates, but I'm also considering in-wall or in-ceiling speakers, at least for the surrounds. The room is currently painted a fairly dark gray/blue-gray which I like and will probably keep. I was not planning to use any kind of acoustic treatment. The floor is carpeted, but that will be torn out and I'm open to carpet, laminate or other flooring suggestions.

As an alternative possibility, I have a basement space which is roughly 13' x 34' which is already finished and has a pool table. I've currently got a 43" rear projection TV and much nicer speaker system and older but higher-end TEAC A/V receiver and DVD player.

I hope I'm not too vague in my request for help here. Having not done this before, I'm mainly concerned about the wiring- is it better to do wall plates or in-wall/in-ceiling speakers? Suggestions on screen choice and component placement (or anything else) are also appreciated.
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post #2 of 19 Old 04-07-2012, 05:46 AM
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Welcome Noob

Go with the basement subdivide it into a theater and bar area but don't do anything or buy anything until you have a plan and have read through some project threads. I don't see a need to tear down the lath and plaster upstairs unless it is falling down, Tear some holes in the downstairs walls/ceiling patch and add a second layer of wall material.

A decision like should I go with In-wall speakers is not based on which is better wiring.
Laminate is bad acoustically
Use the gray electrical conduit or smurf tubes not PVC (plumbing)
Go with a fixed screen, consider an acoustically transparent screen and consider a 2:35:1 setup.

Don't bother wasting money on good speakers, if you aren't prepared to do some acoustical treatments.

Your statement that you "want to do the room right" is inconsistent with your statement "I was not planning on any kind of acoustic treatment"

Then there is the issue of soundproofing....................................
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post #3 of 19 Old 04-07-2012, 07:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainHero View Post

I hope I'm not too vague in my request for help here. Having not done this before, I'm mainly concerned about the wiring- is it better to do wall plates or in-wall/in-ceiling speakers? Suggestions on screen choice and component placement (or anything else) are also appreciated.

You'll find that most here want a space that works like a commercial cinema - light control, sound control (a quiet room that doesn't bother the rest of the house), and a picture and sound that really stuns - you can do this with budget equipment, but you'll have to take Big's advice... If that's what you want, you don't want to use the upstairs living room. You can have a GREAT space in the basement with some planning. Or, you can have a "big screen" in the living room, with retractable screen and in-ceiling speakers and so forth, that doesn't interfere with the way you use the living room to host friends and read a magazine.

Both plans can give you "home theater" spaces you enjoy, but you need to determine your expectations and use first.

If you decide to go with the basement, you're in the right spot! You will need to do some reading and research - set a budget and timeline, being realistic about your abilities to do it yourself or you willingness to pay for professional help. There are lots of builds, currently ongoing as well as completed, that will share fundamentals with your space; so you can get lots of inspiration, regardless of your budget and skill set.

If you decide to go with the living room, there's still lots of help to be had (we're sluts for theaters of all sorts here, but pictures really help). The projector you've chosen seems like it's pretty well suited to dealing with the ambient light problems you'll encounter, and there are good screens to help you out. For that sort of space, the aesthetics play a larger role and in-ceiling speakers and the like make great compromises.

Whatever you decide, let us know. Helping with the layout is easy once we know what you want.

Fred
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post #4 of 19 Old 04-07-2012, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies guys!

I chose the living room because the entire space would be dedicated to movie or television viewing and I want to gut the living room and remodel it anyway, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to create a home theater. For me, the biggest downfall of the living room is the windows, which I have covered with black curtains, and the doorways which are not covered. I thought that laminate flooring would be bad for acoustics, but better for durability and cleaning. Perhaps I should look into cork- is that good for acoustics? The reasons I did not want to deal with acoustic treatments are two-fold, first, it's an entry-level project and I don't want to take on too much, and second, I want to keep costs down as much as possible. From what I've read so far, putting up cloth panels sounds complicated and expensive.

I am reluctant to use the basement for a few reasons, though the lighting is better- only a few small windows and there are already recessed lights on a dimmer. The walls are cinder block with a lacquer paint which means that it won't be good for acoustics and I won't be able to run the speaker wires in the walls unless I do furring strips or 2x4's and sheetrock it, which would make the room smaller and add to the cost. The ceiling is also finished, so mountng the projector and screen, as well as adding outlets and running cables would be more complicated. The way I currently have the basement set up the couch and TV are both along the long walls, giving a shorter viewing distance. I'm not sure if I would be able to take full advantage of the projector if I mounted the screen where the TV is now. The south wall would be ideal for a fixed screen, but the seating would divide the home theater area from the pool table area, which may not be a problem, but I need to make sure there is enough room to maneuver around the furniture. I want to leave enough room so as not to interfere with the pool table, though honestly I never use it and could get rid of it and dedicate the entire area to theater use and go with a larger screen and more seating.

I will take some pictures of both spaces when I can, along with accurate measurements of the room dimensions. I'm in an apartment at school until mid-May- haven't been living in my house for over 2 years. Sound control and the like are not issues because I live alone- there is nobody else there to disturb or be disturbed by. As far as speakers go, I just wanted to work with what I already had, unless in-wall or in-ceiling were clearly the way to go.
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post #5 of 19 Old 04-07-2012, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainHero View Post

As far as speakers go, I just wanted to work with what I already had, unless in-wall or in-ceiling were clearly the way to go.

Their advantages are limited to the aesthetic and space-saving aspects, in general. Going with what you already have sounds like a good choice.

Pictures will help.
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post #6 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Alright- I was home for the weekend and was able to take a couple of measurements and pictures. The living room is pretty close to 11'2" x 19'10".


I also pulled the trigger on the home theater seating. Ordered a 3-seat and a 4-seat straight Berkline 12011 in Brown leather/vinyl from Roman at Ultimate Home Entertainment. Not exactly what I wanted, but I got the package for $3500 with power recline and 5-year warranty. I'll probably do two rows of 3 seats and store the extra seat unless I end up putting the projector in the basement.

Pictures of the living room will follow.
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post #7 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
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post #8 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 09:04 PM
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Your room is very similar to what I am constructing right now. Here is what I laid out for 7.1 setup. The back of the room is 12'8", the front by the closet is 11'9".
LL

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post #9 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 09:06 PM
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For some reason that picture came out black. There is a 45" x 59" window on the wall the seats are facing. I plan on a 120" 16:9 screen.

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post #10 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 10:02 PM
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Your basement space is much more appealing than the upstairs room for the reasons Big mentioned earlier. I was pulling my hair out trying to fit everything in a 12-1/2' wide room and had to make quite a few compromises. Your upstairs space is almost 18" narrower than my space, so it will be a challenge, especially working around 2 windows and 2 doors. As you show in your floor plan, each row of seats will need to be shoved up against the left wall in order to have an access aisle on the right wall. Not only is this bad acoustically (even more so without acoustic treatments), but it will also put you off center from the screen.

My room is also 19' long and it would have been much better to have a few extra feet like you have in your basement. My 2nd row of seats is too close to the back wall and my front row is pretty close to the screen. I would have liked another 3' in room depth.

I would say that you have just as much work upstairs as you do downstairs if you plan on ripping down the plaster walls and replacing them with drywall. I wouldn't use that as a reason to avoid the basement. I would suggest sketching up your entire room with both rows of seats, gets your speakers positioned correctly, determine your screen size, give some more thought to basic acoustic treatments, and then post your ideas for some additional feedback. Once you get all of the requirements on paper, you can make a better determination as to which space will work the best for you. When evaluating both spaces, you should consider how easy (or difficult) it would be to modify/add air conditioning. You have an older home so you might not even have it, but you are going to need to address it if you plan on having 6 or 7 people in the room for an extended period of time.
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post #11 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Spaceman- you bring up some valid points.

The living room is going to be remodeled anyway, so if I don't do the theater there, I'll be doing the living room AND the basement, which will add considerable cost and time to finish. I also like the convenience of having the theater on the main floor for when I have guests over for a viewing party.

As for the air conditioning-- My central air unit went out in 2010, and the house lacks adequate ductwork to the second floor, which is something I was going to address with this project. I am planning to have a geothermal system installed this summer, and once I upgrade the ductwork that will provide adequate cooling. Most of the time I will only have 2-4 people in the room at once.

I forgot to mention earlier that I also ordered a 100" 16:9 FAVI electric screen. I debated between Accuscreen, Elite, FAVI and Focupix but couldn't find any definitive answers as to which one was the best in the price range. The reviews I found were all pretty good, and I feel I got the best deal at the time, paying $168 w/free shipping and no tax, plus getting 13% in rewards from the retailer and 1% cashback from my credit card.

I'll rework the living room sketch when I have time (not sure which program is best for floorplans) and work on one for the basement as well. I have to get the pictures of the basement uploaded and find my measurements. I've only got the Length, Width and Height for the basement, not the location or size of the pool table or doorway location. More details on the basement may have to wait until I'm home again in mid-May.

One thing I'm considering with the basement to keep the floorplan open and increase viewing distance is to hang the screen close to the south end of the pool table, then have my back row of seats against the south wall, which would allow me to have the full row of 4 (on a riser), with the row of 3 in front of those. The problem I have with that layout is speaker placement for the front and center speakers.

Here is one picture of the basement, taken from the North end:
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post #12 of 19 Old 04-18-2012, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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The rough measurements I have for the basement are 12'7" x 34'2".

If I stud it out with 2x4's I'll lose 8" of width, thus making it 11'9" finished with 1/2" sheetrock. If I were to put foamboard insulation behind the stud wall as others have suggested on the forum, I would lose more width.

One advantage the basement has is that I don't have to worry about the seating blocking a doorway, so I could use the entire 11'9" that would be available.

The south end of the pool table is 19'6" from the south wall. If I have the screen on the south end of the room and keep the pool table in place, the back of the back row of seats would have to be approximately 16'6" from the south wall to allow room to maneuver around the pool table. The Berkline 12011's are 68.5" deep when fully reclined. I'm not sure how much room to leave between the rows. Perhaps Roman would be a good source for that info. If I do a row of 4, it would be a hair under 11' wide, while the row of three is 8'4" wide. The pieces are not connected, they just slide into place next to one another, so it wouldn't be a problem to just leave one of the middle seats out.
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post #13 of 19 Old 04-18-2012, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainHero View Post

The rough measurements I have for the basement are 12'7" x 34'2".

If I stud it out with 2x4's I'll lose 8" of width, thus making it 11'9" finished with 1/2" sheetrock. If I were to put foamboard insulation behind the stud wall as others have suggested on the forum, I would lose more width.

One advantage the basement has is that I don't have to worry about the seating blocking a doorway, so I could use the entire 11'9" that would be available.

The south end of the pool table is 19'6" from the south wall. If I have the screen on the south end of the room and keep the pool table in place, the back of the back row of seats would have to be approximately 16'6" from the south wall to allow room to maneuver around the pool table. The Berkline 12011's are 68.5" deep when fully reclined. I'm not sure how much room to leave between the rows. Perhaps Roman would be a good source for that info. If I do a row of 4, it would be a hair under 11' wide, while the row of three is 8'4" wide. The pieces are not connected, they just slide into place next to one another, so it wouldn't be a problem to just leave one of the middle seats out.



Look at this and check out the Palliser Bullet or Blade models. You need some narrow seating. The set of 4 with a love seat and two singles in the straight version is 112" wide.

http://www.theaterseatstore.com/home-theater-seating

Lowell


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post #14 of 19 Old 04-18-2012, 06:05 PM
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Your basement dimensions get you two rows of seats - 3 in each row - unless you are ready to compromise by sitting against the side wall or move the pool table. See my thread (signature) for a discussion of plans for a similar sized space.
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post #15 of 19 Old 04-19-2012, 03:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Do you know what I don't like about A/V Science?

If you guessed "Science" you are absolutely correct!

I have many questions related to my home theater design and build, and I believe that all of the answers lie within the forum here- there are calculators for everything, it's just a matter of getting my brain to process and comprehend all of the information.

One thing that I'm wondering about now but haven't gotten to searching for yet (I've been looking through other peoples' build threads) is subwoofer placement. Back in the day when 5.1 systems for home use came out, it was advised that the subwoofer be placed behind the seating area. I've seen a few threads here where the subs are place in the screen wall. Is the new recommendation to put the sub(s) in front? What are the advantages/disadvantages to either placement?

I haven't made a final decision on where I'm going to build my theater- the consensus seems to be that the basement would be a better option, but what may happen is that I'll build two theaters. First one in the living room space- in-wall speaker wires w/wall plates, screen hung from the ceiling at one end of the room, projector mounted on the ceiling, recessed lights on a dimmer, 2 rows of 3 Berkline 12011's, the back row on a ~16" riser. Then, once this room is finished and I can watch movies in it, I'll learn what I don't like about it, and be able to make better decisions for building the basement theater. The work won't be wasted- I'm going to gut the living room anyway, and the wiring can be used for a 5.1 setup with my 46" Samsung LCD.

I came to the forum with a few questions, but found that the process of building a home theater (the right way) is much more complex than I had considered. So I'm left with a few thoughts- I don't want to get in over my head and try to do things I'm not confident in my abilities to do, or that don't fall within my budget, but I don't want to just hang a screen, mount the projector, throw in the Berklines and call it good either. I can continue to spend hours here reading posts and learning until I feel confident in how my project should be done, or I can do the best I can for now, knowing it won't be perfect, and learning from the experience.
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post #16 of 19 Old 04-19-2012, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainHero View Post

I can continue to spend hours here reading posts and learning until I feel confident in how my project should be done, or I can do the best I can for now, knowing it won't be perfect, and learning from the experience.

I vote for continuing to spend hours reading posts and learning until you feel confident in how your project should be done. You said you have a budget in mind. The quickest way to go over budget is to proceed without a plan. The research and design phase of my build took about 1 year, with many, many revisions (far too many to count). I had to step away from the project for an entire year due to money issues, but also because I just couldn't come up with a layout that I was happy with. I jumped the gun on a few construction items only to have to rip them out or make modifications. The more time you spend planning, the less time & money it will take to complete your project and the happier you will be.
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post #17 of 19 Old 04-19-2012, 06:04 PM
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Spaceman has a good point. But, as you suggested, there is a lot to be learned from trying it once and seeing for yourself what works for you. I'd say there's nothing wrong with doing the upstairs first and planning more for the basement, but I would discourage you from making any permanent changes to the living room, like a riser nailed to the floor. Also, I wouldn't want you to install in-wall speakers and then remove them in a year.

Do you have a firm idea how you will want to use the basement with a theater? By that I mean, will you want to have the pool table and theater in the same space? There might not be space for the theater you want as well as the pool table unless there's no wall between them.
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post #18 of 19 Old 04-19-2012, 11:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I've owned the house for 10 years, though I haven't lived in it for the past 2+, and in that time I've played about 3 games of pool. The primary use for the basement has been watching movies or TV, and I expect that to be the case moving forward. Relocating the pool table isn't an option because a) there is no good place to put it, and b) it cannot be taken out of the basement. It came in through a cellar door that no longer exists, and even if it did exist, the thing is ridiculously heavy and could not be lifted out. If it comes out, it does so in pieces. It's not a nice table, but it does have a 1-piece 8' long, 1" thick solid slate bed. While I realize that I don't use the pool table, it's still hard to let go- pack-rat mentality I guess. Anyway, folding up the legs and leaning the table against a wall in the corner is always an option, but I'm reluctant to build a dividing wall. I may get over this.

As for the riser in the living room, I was thinking I would do a moveable riser- not permanently attached to the floor. I would carpet the floor, carpet the riser, set the riser in place, then install the seats. It would still look finished, but would not require the carpet to be redone in the whole room if I decided to remove the riser.

For my budget, I haven't really set a number; I've got $32k at my disposal, but my 3-ton geothermal system has to come out of that first, then the living room, new flooring for two other rooms, and replacing some plumbing from when the pipes to one of my bathrooms froze and burst in January. Thankfully there was little or no water damage because the water was turned off before the pipes thawed. I pretty much have all my equipment purchased- Projector for $350, screen for $150, PJ ceiling mount for $35, A/V receiver for $300, powered sub for $90 (If I us the Polk- also have a 15" Infinity) and I already had the rest of my speakers. The one place I spent a big chunk was the seating, which was $3500. Originally I was going to get a set of 3 seats for $1635, but I ended up spending another $1865 for the row of four, because I anticipated wanting 2 rows of 3, and this was the only way to get matching seats- style and upholstery. Once the $32k is gone I better have a job, otherwise I'm living on $1503/month (with an $800 mortgage payment) and any projects requiring me to purchase materials come to a standstill. That is why I'm not keen on acoustic treatments. Sheetrock, insulation, wiring, lumber and carpet I can handle, but high-end screens and sound isolation get expensive.

I know- if the budget is an issue, all the more reason to do my homework and wait to start the project-- but I also want to take advantage of the time I'll have on my hands while I'm not working.
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post #19 of 19 Old 04-21-2012, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
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In an effort to keep my options open, I picked up a gallon of Sherwin-Williams ProClassic Smooth Enamel Satin White base as recommended by this article at Projector Central:
http://www.projectorcentral.com/paint_perfect_screen_$100.htm

SW had a 4-day 40% off sale on paint and 30% on supplies, so I was able to get a gallon of the paint, three 3/8" rollers and one 3/16" roller for $43.05 after tax and a $10 off $50 coupon.

If (when) I sheetrock the basement, I will be able to create a fixed screen in the size and ratio of my choice. I can do 16:9, 16:10 (which is my PJs native res.) or 2.35/2.40:1 as Bigmouth suggested. I also have another room upstairs that is roughly the same size as the living room, which has one end wall completely free of windows or doorways. Ceiling mounting the projector could be a problem and all speaker wires would have to run across the floor, but it could be a good place to try out a painted screen.

I know I'm buying things out of order, but there is no Sherwin Williams within 40 miles of my house (and I can't drive), but there is one 1.2 miles from the apartment I'm living in now, and that plus the sale and coupon made it make sense to buy now.
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