Rear Projection home theater Setup - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 05-02-2012, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey all - this is my first post on avsforum, and I need some input from you veterans. I'm setting up my first dedicated home theater, and had some major requirements from the other half. Her requirements were:
  • All the components are hidden (including projector, if needed)
  • the speakers included are either in-wall or hidden (including subwoofer)
  • the screen be bright enough to allow room lights to be on, and at least 80" diagonal (no windows in theater - it's in the basement)

Due to all of these requirements, I'm thinking that I need to do a rear-projection setup with a short throw projector in the a closet behind the screen. This is not an issue, as there is already a substantial closet there that isn't being used for anything else. Attached is a VERY rough mockup of what I'm thinking - not to scale by any stretch, but will give you an idea. I can include a link to my Amazon Wishlist for components once this thread has reached 3 posts, so you can get an idea of what equipment I'm thinking about. My budget at the moment (minus construction costs - talking components only) is around $3K. Any thoughts, suggestions, criticism? Thanks folks!

Edit: As a sidenote (since some may ask about the sub placement) I'm planning on using an Earthquake Sound CP8 "Couch Potato" sub to make sure it's easily concealed and for maximum impact on the seating area. The sectional sofa has a nice gap below it that will allow for 7" of clearance needed for the CP8.
LL
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post #2 of 32 Old 05-02-2012, 07:14 PM
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You are going to need to explain and defend the requirement to leave the lights on to this crowd if you want to get any respect.
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post #3 of 32 Old 05-02-2012, 07:33 PM
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Don't let Big scare you off Noob (welcome to the fourm).

You won't score a rear projection screen for $3k. Side surrounds are mandatory, rear's are optional if they'll work in your space (7.1 setup).

You need to set realistic constraints for the project. The other half is throwing up unreasonable barriers, perhaps in an attempt to derail the project. A dimensioned floor plan would help too.

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post #4 of 32 Old 05-02-2012, 07:38 PM
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I think that you should throw out the rear projection idea and instead go with front projection, an acoustically transparent screen and a false wall. Then all of your front speakers will be hidden.

For the surrounds you could hide the speakers in columns or go with in walls.

Place all the components outside the room with an ir repeater system.

If you REALLY need to have the projector hidden as well then you could look into concealing it within a soffit or hush box, but that raises multiple issues, particularly with ventilation so you don't cook it.

I'd scrap the under couch sub idea as well and go with one (or two) behind the false wall. Then you can get more tacticle feedback at the seats with bass shakers if you think that it is necessary.

And forget about the "keep the lights on" idea. It doesn't have to be pitch black all the time. You could do some rope lighting in crown molding or even some soffit lights dimmed low to provide a little bit of ambient light when it's necessary.

Check out the Bacon Race Theater for an excellent example of a false wall and surround speakers hidden in columns.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1350179

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post #5 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey everyone - this whole prospect is completely new to me, so I'm simply trying to take into account the limitations of this project. The wife isn't trying to derail the project, as she's the one who requested it.

A few extra details for clarification:

The lights are low level soffits, so we're not talking overhead fluorescents, but they're necessary because we foster special needs children, and a totally dark room would make it pretty dangerous for them to move around (tripping and falling - a few of them are none to coordinated). This is also the reason that the components are going to be hidden (small hands won't be fiddling with knobs and buttons if they're in a locked closet) - it's not just for aesthetics.

Rear projection isn't just to hide the projector, but also to allow for kids to play Wii on the screen without blocking the projection, and to eliminate fan noise, as the projector would be directly above the primary seating position if it was front-projection.

Here is my Amazon Wishlist - and I did find rear projection material there that I am going to stretch to fit a 90" (diagonal) hole in the screen wall. Anyone have any experience working with this stuff?
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post #6 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 09:54 AM
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Your throw distance -- the distance from the projector lens to the screen -- will be limited by the depth of the closet. How big an image the projector can produce is affected by throw distance. Have you figured out whether you have enough throw distance to get your desired 80"-90" image? The projector manufacturer's website and/or support line should be able to help you sort this out.

Taking a projector designed for front mounting and putting it behind the screen, instead, means you will be watching a mirror image of the movie or game. Text in title screens and menus will be backwards. I think some video processors can correct this electronically, but I doubt a projector in this price range has that ability. You'll have to decide whether that's a deal-breaker.

Having that big closet behind the screen wall would let you use a "normal" big box subwoofer and still keep it out of sight. Choose a front-firing sub, put it in the closet, and cut an opening in the wall for the sub to fire into the theater. Ideally, you would frame and drywall around the sub to seal the sub cubby-hole off from the closet.

With your limited budget, you might look seriously at used gear. This forum has a classifieds section where members sell used equipment. Then there's Craigslist, Audiogon, Videogon, etc. It's possible to pick up good gear at incredible prices.

I saw that your wish list includes an inexpensive Denon receiver. Denon's lower-end stuff is fine but I don't think it's anything special. At this price point, Onkyo might provide more value.

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post #7 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Dwight - The projector that I'm looking at is designed for short throw, and the measurement of the throw distance is how I originally came to the 90" screen (that's the max for the distance I've got). Almost all home theater projectors come with a "Rear Projection" setting as well that will flip the image so that it is not a "mirror" of the front projection counterpart. I've checked with Optoma, and this particular projector does have that option.

I've considered doing a sub install inside the closet and firing it into the room, but I know next to nothing about subs - would this be ideal? Using the method you describe, would it be better to use a ported or sealed subwoofer? For the time being, I've removed the CP8 from my list, added a Polk audio 12 incher and instead added a set of bass shakers and an amp as suggested above by aaustin.

Thanks for the suggestion on used equipment. Hadn't started looking yet, but will definitely start. I'll also take a look at Onkyo receivers - the Denon was recommended by a friend and has all the features I need at the moment. Thanks!
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post #8 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by designcouch View Post

I've considered doing a sub install inside the closet and firing it into the room, but I know next to nothing about subs - would this be ideal? Using the method you describe, would it be better to use a ported or sealed subwoofer? For the time being, I've removed the CP8 from my list, added a Polk audio 12 incher and instead added a set of bass shakers and an amp as suggested above by aaustin.

Ideally, a sub is positioned in the room where it will yield the flattest bass response at the listening location. In contrast, the location for a through-the-wall installation is normally chosen based on where the "dead space" in the adjacent room is located, and where a suitable opening in the wall can be created. I guess it's possible that the location you use for a through-the-wall installation would happen to produce a nice flat response, but it would be something of a coincidence. However, if you're constrained by the requirement that the sub not be visible in the room, then a through-the-wall installation using a full-size sub is likely to be better (closer to ideal) than something using an inexpensive compact sub shoved under the couch, IMHO.

In terms of ported vs. sealed, I don't think one is inherently better than the other for through-the-wall installation. If it's a ported sub, though, the port and the driver would all need to be front-firing.

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post #9 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 10:41 AM
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Costco is currently selling an 80" LCD set that probably costs about the same as what you are planning on spending. It would work better in ambient light and might be a better overall solution than the rear projector.

Just something to consider.
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post #10 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayn_j View Post

Costco is currently selling an 80" LCD set that probably costs about the same as what you are planning on spending. It would work better in ambient light and might be a better overall solution than the rear projector.

Just something to consider.

YES, THIS.

For that screen size I'd got with LCD too. Works great in ambient light, installs cleanly, you won't have the horrific geometric distortions that come from short-throw lenses, and it's brighter.

Someone else mentioned before (and they're right) that the price of an RP screen alone is a budget buster. Just wait until one of those kids draws on that screen with a marker! You can't clean a fabric screen, sure, but they're a lot cheaper to replace!
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post #11 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayn_j View Post

Costco is currently selling an 80" LCD set that probably costs about the same as what you are planning on spending. It would work better in ambient light and might be a better overall solution than the rear projector.

Just something to consider.

Mitsubishi still makes some huge rear-projection TV's, too. Taking a quick look at Amazon, the biggest I saw was 92". That one might be out of your budget, but something in the 80" range might be worth considering.

If you wanted to get creative, you could even recess the back of the rear-pro TV into the closet (similar to the through-the-wall sub installation we discussed above).

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post #12 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys - but my main issue is that 3k is my budget for all components, not just the screen and projector. Starting from scratch - and not looking for the best balls-to-the-wall ht out there. Just a good experience for the family. Does anyone have any experience with the Proscreens rear projection material listed on my wish list?
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post #13 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 12:00 PM
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I too would question the use of a PJ from the back.

For the costs you are looking to stay under, you will be hard pressed to justify a rear-PJ setup against the low cost options available with a front-PJ and DIY screen.

If it is a matter of not physically seeing the PJ, there are a number of ways to go about hiding the PJ behind hush boxes.

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post #14 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 12:09 PM
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seriously,
The following will give almost the same performance and leave you $1800 for the rest of the system.
http://www.amazon.com/Mitsubishi-WD-...068188&sr=1-12

Better still, go for 82" for $1650
http://www.amazon.com/Mitsubishi-WD-...6068606&sr=1-1

It is essentially what you are proposing, but already bundled. Simply cut a hole in the wall, position the set and build a frame around it. You will get better performance, as well as avoiding all the issues at a cost that is about the same as that epson plus screen plus mirror.
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post #15 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 12:17 PM
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Designcouch, your comments clarify a lot of things.

Dim lighting in soffits won't hurt the picture much, especially for wii gaming. Just try to keep light from hitting the screen. The rear projection closet will need to be painted black to prevent reflections from the screen from washing out the picture.

Monoprice has inexpensive in-wall speakers. Those might be worth a look.

I'd look at other Harmony models. You should be able to get a decent universal remote for $100 or so.

Look for some cheap yard sale shelving for your gear. Sturdy is better than pretty in your application.

Are the 3d glasses just for gaming or do you intend to try 3d bluray playback? Do you have a bluray player already?

You should probably use a ported sub as they are more efficient. I'd probably pass on the bass shakers. I think the money is better spent on speakers and subs.

I have no experience with the rear projection screen material you selected (or any other, for that matter). It looks pretty fragile though. Perhaps a pane of tempered safety glass directly in front of the rear projection material would be advisable. A shower door shop could do that for you.

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post #16 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Petew - definitely painting the closet black. I've already got a few gallons of matte black, and the whole thing (ceiling and walls) will be painted.

Good point about the shelving too.

The 3d will be mainly for movies (another request of the wife - I don't care, but the kids like 3d) and yes, I've already got a 3d bluray player. If I can save enough on other components, will probably upgrade to a better one.

As to the bass shakers vs. subs, I had a friend convince me today to forgo the bass shakers as well - he has experience with the 12" Polk that I'm looking at, and said it's more than sufficient for the room size.

Jayn_j - DEFINITELY worth looking into. Hadn't considered doing it that way but those sets look pretty nice, and setup would be fairly straight forward compared to the one I've been pondering. Thanks for the heads up. I've added this to my possible options.
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post #17 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 01:52 PM
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Gotta love all the naysayers about RP - IMO rear projection can look fantastic. You can use a First Surface mirror to increase the effective throw length, and it does well with some ambient light in the room.

Dazian will build you a grey 1.6 gain rear-projection screen for $7.95 sqft.
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post #18 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kromkamp View Post

Gotta love all the naysayers about RP - IMO rear projection can look fantastic. You can use a First Surface mirror to increase the effective throw length, and it does well with some ambient light in the room.

Dazian will build you a grey 1.6 gain rear-projection screen for $7.95 sqft.

Oh, I agree completely. Rear projection can be absolutely incredible... but not likely for under $3000 (and that's the total room budget). I challenge you to find a one or two bounce rig, projector, and RP material for that budget.
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post #19 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 06:36 PM
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I can't seem to find anything on the screen material you are looking at. I would be very cautious about the screen, and really good RP ones cost a ton of money. Honestly the recommendations for a RPTV seem like the best advice. I had a RPTV for many years and was very satisfied with it.

(And a big thanks to you and your wife for fostering special needs children)
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post #20 of 32 Old 05-03-2012, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdanforth View Post

Oh, I agree completely. Rear projection can be absolutely incredible... but not likely for under $3000 (and that's the total room budget). I challenge you to find a one or two bounce rig, projector, and RP material for that budget.

The first surface mirror (if needed - he may not need one) is $50-100 from any glass and mirror store, the dazian RP screen is probably $300-$400, the projector does not need to be specialized (as in, every single projector ever made has a horizontal and vertical flip function, you need it to ceiling mount) so pick whichever one fits the budget.

$3K is tight for any complete system - But RP does not really add any additional cost.
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post #21 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
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I can't believe how helpful the folks at this forum have been - you guys are seriously a godsend. You've given me a huge amount of ideas. I know the budget is tight, but this system will probably be getting incremental upgrades as I am able to sell the wife on their value.

To give you an idea of where I've come budget-wise: when this was first requested by my wife, it was because of how much the kids enjoyed it when I brought a work projector (ANCIENT Epson that we use for in-office powerpoint presentations) home and did movie night outside on a sheet with a set of stereo computer speakers. So she wanted to build the dedicated theater (seats and all) and then buy the cheapest projector, use my computer speakers and a blank white wall with no screen. I've been able to convince her that a dedicated home theater deserves a real system, but can't get her to budge beyond the $3K limit. Incremental upgrades after the fact will give me something to tinker with and lessen the initial financial sting for her.

As to the Dazian projector screen, I will absolutely look into that, as it appears that there is more user feedback on that product versus the one I found on amazon. Thanks again folks! Keep the suggestions coming if you have them, as this is definitely still in the planning phase and I'm pretty flexible at this point.
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post #22 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 07:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kromkamp View Post

The first surface mirror (if needed - he may not need one) is $50-100 from any glass and mirror store, the dazian RP screen is probably $300-$400, the projector does not need to be specialized (as in, every single projector ever made has a horizontal and vertical flip function, you need it to ceiling mount) so pick whichever one fits the budget.

$3K is tight for any complete system - But RP does not really add any additional cost.

I stand corrected! I tip my hat to you.
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post #23 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 07:41 AM
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I'd suggest you build the space as if you're putting in a rear projection system but start with a flat screen.

Yes, you can DIY a rear projection system with bits and pieces from here and there. Doing that can be a frustrating and time consuming process getting the angles right, mirror size correct, building the projector mount and the adjustable mirror mount and then being statisfied with the picture. You do the flat screen now (move it some other room, like the master bedroom later), you're kids and family can get more instant gratification while you "sell the wife on the upgrade" and get all your homework done on the other "stuff".

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post #24 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 07:42 AM
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Well, many (most) of the commercial RPTV sets have a fresnel lens built in to concentrate light into a smaller viewing area. This is a good and bad thing. The picture tends to be brighter in the sweet spot, but brightness drops off rapidly above the set

Designcouch, I think you have a good feel for the system and needs. I projected against a bare wall for about 4 months while investigating various screens. It isn't all that bad, especially for a once a week movie night. If that is where you are heading, just buy the projector and wait a bit on the screen.

I agree about the Wii though. My kids play XBox on the projector and have a blast, but can't make Kinect work because of blocking images. Rear projection is better for that, but I think the RPTV is better still.
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post #25 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 08:47 AM
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What I have done in the past, which was not RP but did involve one mirror to lengthen the FP throw distance, was simply to mount the projector on the wall pointing upwards, and then a single first surface mirror mounted on a stiff backing board (you don't want it to sag, so depending on the size of your mirror and the angle it is set at this could be 3/4" to 1.5" or more thick) with simple hinges one side and turnbuckles on the other to dial in the angle.

You can easily get up to 6' added throw distance that way (assuming 8'-9' ceilings). Admittedly there is a DIY component here but its not as finicky as you would think, especially if your projector has decent offset controls. The smaller you can make the mirror the easier life will be for you. I had one that was 4'x3' at one point - not ideal

One thing about first surface mirrors - make sure you get one that is coated for protection. The first one I purchased was not and the surface oxidized over time.

How deep is the closet behind the screen? if you have at least 10' then you could probably get a projector with a short enough throw you wouldn't even need to fold the optics.
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post #26 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 08:59 AM
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I have some experience with rear projection not specifically for home theater but my $.02 is that if you have the room and willing to compromise on PQ its a perfect fit for your needs. Your budget is kind of tight but if you go for used equipment and DIY screen is very doable.

A DIY spandex screen would do nicely for your first screen, once again, you would be compromising picture quality, but still very acceptable. With a rear projection projector setup, on a complete dark room (on the projector side), you can actually have the lights on on the room and have a minimal effect on the screen. Go to the DIY screen part of the forum and ask over there.

Very doable in my opinion and perfect for what you want to do.

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post #27 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
projector on the wall pointing upwards,

Lucky man. There are projectors which cannot be mounted that way, so you have to either get lucky or verify just how much off horizontal they can be mounted. This depends on the lamp and cooling method in the projector housing.

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post #28 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 10:34 AM
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Lucky man. There are projectors which cannot be mounted that way, so you have to either get lucky or verify just how much off horizontal they can be mounted. This depends on the lamp and cooling method in the projector housing.

Took the words right out of my mouth.
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post #29 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 10:55 AM
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Fair point - double check the instruction manual. I do think a lot of those concerns are CYA overblown, but that is strictly personal opinion

Otherwise, I suppose the next best way would be to ceiling mount (or floor mount) the projector in the closet facing away from the final screen surface, with a mirror on the far wall. You would want to make sure the projector has a decent amount of vertical lens shift in this case. (I have not tried this type of installation before though)
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post #30 of 32 Old 05-04-2012, 11:32 AM
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Overblown. Ah, perhaps. Voiding a warranty? Absolutely.

Dennis Erskine CFI, CFII, MEI
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