Building a new home and have a dedicated theatre. Input and suggestions requested :) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 08-28-2012, 06:10 AM - Thread Starter
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So after deciding we have outgrown our current home we decided to build custom and have all those things in a home we wish we had if given the opportunity. One of our requirements was a dedicated home theatre. I have attached a picture of what the theater room looks like from the CAD drawings.

The basics of the room:

1. It's on the top floor with an unfinished attic space above it so we were able to make the ceiling 11'

2. The dimension are 18' wide and 21' deep (approx 400 square feet)

3. The last 8' of the room will have a raised 2nd tier for seating of the 2nd row slightly above the first row.

4. Not shown on the plans but it will be 2 rows of 4 seats.

5. Along one side of the room will be a dedicated A/V equipment closet and wet bar.

6. The 2 windows in the rear might be removed. The builder is checking with the permit office if we are able to have them removed from the plans.


So..........................

The input I would solicit from the community here is suggestions on what would work best, what would be required, and what would be really great but not required.

For example, some of the questions I am curious about are:

1. are in wall speakers for the front (L, C, & R) able to produce the sound required for this setup that a floor standing speaker would? It has been some time since I have had this discussions so not sure if that technology is there yet.

2. How many and size of subs? 1 large? 2 med? 4 small? etc?

3. 7.2 setup?

4. Screen type?

5. Acoustic treatments (i.e., bass traps, etc.)?

Thanks for any input in advance! wink.gif




Cheers,
Ray Johnson
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post #2 of 30 Old 08-28-2012, 01:38 PM
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Are you soundproofing? The answer to that will dictate much of the initial construction

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post #3 of 30 Old 08-28-2012, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Ted, thanks for the reply. The room will be fully insulated to reduce the sound travel through the home but I'm not sure it would soundproof. I just told the builder we would like all walls floor and ceiling insulated (ie, batting)

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post #4 of 30 Old 08-28-2012, 03:29 PM
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Quick suggestion: Don't buy the screen yet. Have the builder smooth the wall where the screen would be and have them paint it with the sherwin williams paint listed here: http://www.projectorcentral.com/paint_perfect_screen_$100.htm. Then try different sizes before you lock yourself down (when they install the projector, have them install the mount on a sliding beam (I use superstrut in the ceiling, with drywall covering all but the black slit where the screws hang down) so you have throw distance flexibility. Once you've lived with it, then decide if you just want to box in a section of the wall with black fabric or curtains, or buy a screen later (and you won't notice a difference in quality between a screen and that paint if the drywall guy has done his job well).

Why? Because there is something incredibly cool about watching an MMA fight or pro football game in HD where the players/fighters are life sized. I remember after constructing my brother in laws theater, walking in the room for the first mma fight we bought and standing face to face with Anderson Silva. Granted, for some movies and tv you want to shrink it down, but when you buy a screen and fix its dimensions, you've limited your options. That's all well and good when you've seen the alternatives---but on this one, believe me, you will be really glad you waited the first time you see a 1080p picture that takes up the entire wall. I know a lot of folks may jump all over me on this one citing all the "visual quality" issues that are impacted by making an image too big. Don't listen to it...just try it. Here again, my priority is viewing the movie and immersion, not necessarily having a cool looking theater with the movie off (which would be my wife's priority).

Sound wise, in walls just won't ever sound as good as stand alones, especially for the fronts. If you aren't that particular, it won't matter. If you are particular, it will. It's less a matter of technology development and more a matter of basic physics that technology isn't likely to overcome even in the next ten years...if the resonance chamber is really thin, the speaker won't sound as good (i.e. the thin on-wall type speakers). If the resonance chamber is drywall...well...it'll sound like a speaker made out of drywall. One large sub together with a couple of substantial mains will be more than enough for that room (you can't localize a sub's sound anyway, so it isn't like placing them in two different areas will make that much of a difference in my opinion).

My two cents smile.gif
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post #5 of 30 Old 08-28-2012, 03:29 PM
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Roger that. You might ask what he'd charge to do a second layer of drywall instead. That would give much bigger results.

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post #6 of 30 Old 08-28-2012, 04:25 PM
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to answer your question about in-walls, yes they can be good if you have the money, Triad is one trusted brand.

About the overall room plan. With 21 ft of length to work with a wall mounted screen is a bland approach to theater design. You would benefit by researching false walls, stages and acoustically transparent screens
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post #7 of 30 Old 08-28-2012, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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HWM...interesting. Never quite heard that before but it seems to have some benefit.
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Roger that. You might ask what he'd charge to do a second layer of drywall instead. That would give much bigger results.
Interesting. So a second layer of drywall would provide and better sound barrier than insulation filled walls?
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to answer your question about in-walls, yes they can be good if you have the money, Triad is one trusted brand.
About the overall room plan. With 21 ft of length to work with a wall mounted screen is a bland approach to theater design. You would benefit by researching false walls, stages and acoustically transparent screens

Totally agree. I want to make sure it has a "presence" to it. Bland is not good smile.gif

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post #8 of 30 Old 08-28-2012, 08:12 PM
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Interesting. So a second layer of drywall would provide and better sound barrier than insulation filled walls?

much better

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post #9 of 30 Old 08-29-2012, 01:45 AM
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Cursory review....the entrance door location will be a problem given current orientation. If you follow anything Ted recommends, the windows and french doors will be too. Lopsided nature of the bar area will cause multiple modal problems and could cause a few aesthetic and placement issues with surround speakers depending on the decor. A/V closet looks to be too small at this time. With 11' ceilings, you will want the riser to be higher than 8". In addition, without a modal analysis, you won't know how deep the riser should be. Was this design done by your architect?

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post #10 of 30 Old 08-29-2012, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Shawn....thanks for the input.

re: entrance door.
-->that cannot be changed. That is where the entrance will be and cannot be relocated based on the rest of the layout of the floor surrounding it.

re: windows.
--> We are working with the permit authority to make sure we can delete those as I don't want any windows in the room. It's going to be a dedicated theater and therefore no windows will ever be needed.

re: lopsided bar area
--> Not quite sure what is meant by lopsided

re: riser of 8"
--> we didn't specify 8" rise in the second tier. The architect put that in himself (I assume he guessed?). Not to worry as we can specify any height with the builder. I was thinking 1'?

re: riser depth of 8'
-->The depth of the riser from the back wall of 8' was done based on distance needed for a row of seats to full recline without touching the back wall as well have clearance for those in the front row on the bottom level to not be interfered with if they recline.

re: A/V closet being too small
--> The closet is roughly 3' wide which should be plenty wide, no?


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it! Since we are in the "design" stage we have some time to still manipulate how the room should be built out as a finished product so I absolutely welcome any comments on how we could make this better.

Cheers,
Ray Johnson
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post #11 of 30 Old 08-29-2012, 07:40 AM
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Hi,

It isn't the door location per se, it is the orientation of the room in relation to the door location. Yes, the A/V closet looks to be too small in my opinion given the fact will likely end up with two racks of gear. Architects are not so good at this type of work, best suggestion is to ask him to just give you an empty space to work with "this big", and you will fill in the rest with time. smile.gif Or, hire architects or engineers who know and are certified to do this type of work and farm that work out to them to compliment your residential architect.

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post #12 of 30 Old 08-29-2012, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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So, best to just have a blank square room without any plans put in place and then after the home is completed, start from scratch with the bare room? Am I reading that correctly? I'd just like as much done as it is being built before moving in but I also don't want to screw it up as this is our "dream home" that we dont' ever plan to leave eek.gif

If that was your space, how would you orient it?

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post #13 of 30 Old 08-29-2012, 08:41 AM
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What stage are you at in the design phase? How close to permit? Can you give us a bit larger view showing adjacent rooms?

Things I'd consider:
  • How do you intend to use the space (Movies, sports, gaming)? If strictly movies I'd reconsider the bar inside the theater.
  • Seriously look into an acoustically transparent screen.
  • Consider proper sound proofing. Even if no one else is home when you're using the theater you want to keep outside noise out.
  • Consider AC loads. With a full theater your normal AC design will probably not be enough.
  • Consider moving the AV equipment out of the theater. Also provide easy access to the back of the equipment rack.
  • I second what SierraMikeBravo said...Hire a consultant to work with your artichoke.

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post #14 of 30 Old 08-29-2012, 08:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Sure thing. See attached.

1. We would mostly use the theatre for watching movies and recorded HD shows. We will watch the occasional sporting event (football and auto racing) but I have a feeling we will watch most of that in other parts of the home.

2. I'm a little familiar with the acoustic transparent screen but curious how it would be used in this situation. I'd assume I'd need a false wall and then place the floor standing C/L/R speakers behind?

3. I will make sure that the room will be on it's own dedicated circuit.

4. Definitely will have a rack built that provides access to the rear of the equipment.

5. Proper soundproofing seems to be subjective. What are you referring to? We plan to do insulation in the walls, double drywall, and fabric based walls rather than painted. Is there more to it than that?

Thanks for the input!


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Ray Johnson
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post #15 of 30 Old 08-29-2012, 10:56 PM
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A LOT MORE TO IT THAN THAT!!! smile.gif. People are often amazed at how big of Pandora's box they have just opened. I am not saying to leave the room blank while you build the rest. I am saying that you should consider hiring a consultant or architect that is familiar with this type of work while you are designing it. The theater will be the most highly engineered room, and I mean engineered room, in the house. Architects really aren't very good at this, and they will just do as you ask, instead of leading you down the correct path because, frankly, they don't know. If this is your dream house, why should the theater be treated any less? My two cents. smile.gif

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post #16 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 12:18 AM
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This is why when I build my house I"m getting Erskine to do the theater design first and the architect can figure out how to build it into the house. Or is this a bad idea to?
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post #17 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 03:50 AM
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I think getting professional input prior to the build of the house is an excellent idea. Even if your intent is to finish the theater after you move in, often overlooked considerations with respect to electrical, hvac, proper entry considerations, sound isolation ... things which could be expensive to correct or move later.

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post #18 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
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I am going to contact the home theatre company that we use locally to get their opinion if this is a job (design) they can do or if we need to hire it out to another outfit. They are really good with product selection and they carry all the proper lines, but I am not sure they also do design. We will definitely have that chat today. Thanks to all for the input. At the end of the day, y'all are right, we want this to be done right and when you build a dream home you should also build the dream theatre. Luckily the things can be changed with the builder. I'd just like to get him what he needs ASAP to make the appropriate arc design changes.

Cheers,
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post #19 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 07:25 AM
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Most local retailers don't do designs or do them well from our experience. This is a specialization.

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post #20 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
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I figured as much. They are very good at proper equipment selection, knowledge, install, calibration, etc.. But, I am pretty sure they don't do design. Any suggestions of designers that you know in the Raleigh area? A rec would be appreciated if you have any for this area.

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post #21 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 07:31 AM
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I'd recommend Dennis and company for the design. Have Big visit for the install oversight.

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post #22 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 07:59 AM
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Just some random feedback ...


2. I'm a little familiar with the acoustic transparent screen but curious how it would be used in this situation. I'd assume I'd need a false wall and then place the floor standing C/L/R speakers behind?
----That would be correct. You appear to want two rows of seating. The center channel must be in direct line of sight from both rows which demands the proper placement of that speaker be behind the screen.

3. I will make sure that the room will be on it's own dedicated circuit.
----Not exactly. You'll need more than one AND they all must be on the same leg or use one 240V30A circuit with a step down transformer. While you're thinking about the electrical service, consider that room is going to get toasty hot if you don't consider the HVAC load.


5. Proper soundproofing seems to be subjective. What are you referring to? We plan to do insulation in the walls, double drywall, and fabric based walls rather than painted. Is there more to it than that?
No, not subjective at all. It is certainly an individual choice; but, there is nothing subjective about it. The quietest sound recorded on a sound track is at 22dB. The average ambient background noise level in a quiet home is 33 to 35dB. So, if you want to hear the softest sounds, you'd need to increase the volume (amp output) by a factor of 6 to 8 times. Not a problem for soft sounds ... a big problem for normal dialog because the actors are now yelling at you.

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Quote:
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I'd recommend Dennis and company for the design. Have Big visit for the install oversight.

Do you have websites for them?

Cheers,
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post #24 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
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I'd recommend Dennis and company for the design. Have Big visit for the install oversight.

+1

If this is your dream home and you plan to stay for the long run, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldnt do what Ted suggested. You will not regret it.

Good luck!
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post #25 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 08:32 AM
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If the resonance chamber is drywall...well...it'll sound like a speaker made out of drywall.

Help me understand this...I don't know much about speaker design but gypsum is 2-3 times a dense as the MDF that many speakers are made of. If not for durability and weight, wouldn't drywall be fairly well suited for speaker construction?
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post #26 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
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Do you have websites for them?

The "Dennis" he refers to is the Dennis Erskine posting above. His company website is here http://www.erskine-group.com/

I went through the same process as you 2 years ago. After LOTS of research, I hired Dennis to design my room. I gave his final design to my architect and builder and said "this is what we are doing."

We are thrilled with how our room turned out. Both appearance and performance are better than I could have ever accomplished with a local company. Here is my thread: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1339780/another-erskine-designed-masterpiece-if-i-dont-screw-it-up.
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post #27 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Ah, makes more sense. I was baffled for a sec as I am not familiar with all the names and companies. Been a while since we have been even remotely close to this process.

Just don't understand who "Big" is for the install oversight?

Cheers,
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post #28 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
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Help me understand this...I don't know much about speaker design but gypsum is 2-3 times a dense as the MDF that many speakers are made of. If not for durability and weight, wouldn't drywall be fairly well suited for speaker construction?
My take? An in-wall speaker just can't be secured enough to be as solid as a freestanding speaker...even the best in walls out there end up transferring energy to the wall which usually affects the bass (i.e. the drywall will vibrate sucking energy away and there is no "rear" of the speaker for low frequencies to expand into...plus, remember, the drywall isn't glued to the studs, it is at best screwed every so many feet, at worst nailed--fine for holding it up, but you'd never construct a speaker that way). I'm no expert, and if you were really particular about how the drywall was applied (gluing in addition to screwing more often, etc) and somehow created a decent resonance chamber or at least compensated for the hit to the med and low end some other way...it might be ok I've just never seen drywall installed in a way that I'd trust it's accoustics. My two cents...
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post #29 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HWM View Post

My take? An in-wall speaker just can't be secured enough to be as solid as a freestanding speaker...even the best in walls out there end up transferring energy to the wall which usually affects the bass (i.e. the drywall will vibrate sucking energy away and there is no "rear" of the speaker for low frequencies to expand into...plus, remember, the drywall isn't glued to the studs, it is at best screwed every so many feet, at worst nailed--fine for holding it up, but you'd never construct a speaker that way). I'm no expert, and if you were really particular about how the drywall was applied (gluing in addition to screwing more often, etc) and somehow created a decent resonance chamber or at least compensated for the hit to the med and low end some other way...it might be ok I've just never seen drywall installed in a way that I'd trust it's accoustics. My two cents...

Hmmm...what if the inwall speaker was minimally attached to the drywall shell and not "cut" into the drywall? And, how low in bass are you referring? Screwed or glued...doesn't matter...it is rigidly attached.

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post #30 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 06:06 PM
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Just don't understand who "Big" is for the install oversight?

Big = Jeff Parkinson
Some of my project work is linked in my signature.
I am a Licensed contractor in VA and I only help homeowners build their theaters. I do travel out of state. I have frequently provided onsite training/supervision of local contractors who may be using certain soundproofing products and methods for the first time.
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