Layout Ideas for dedicated Theater - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 02-08-2013, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Im new to the AVS and just starting to plan out a dedicated basement home theater and thought I would ask for some input from you, the pros! Below are my ideas, but the area is unfinished and can be changed. The problem Im having is working around those stairs. How important is it to have tiered seating? It seems like a lot of extra time and money to accomplish this. Any layout help would be awesome! The only real requirements are having 3 rooms (playroom, storage and theater) and the stairs, HVAC and water heater must stay put. Thanks in advance~!

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post #2 of 27 Old 02-08-2013, 06:30 PM
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You need tiered seating so that folks in the 2nd row can see the screen... That can be accomplished in a number of ways. The easiest is a bar behind the first row with barstools for seating. Very common for basement theaters where ceiling height is a typical issue.

How high is the ceiling, do you have obstructions (HVAC, plumbing) to work around, and how many seats / rows are you thinking? You show two riser levels which would indicate three rows of seating. My room is also 22' deep and it's a tight fit - I used a bar for the third row (I have mine up on another riser but I have plenty of ceiling height).

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post #3 of 27 Old 02-08-2013, 06:40 PM
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What are you doing for sound?
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post #4 of 27 Old 02-08-2013, 07:18 PM
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Hello and welcome.

Couple of things. We need to know what your goals, and ideas are for the room and how are you going to use it. What is your budget and what are your thoughts on equipment. Also are you going to do any type of sound isolation/insulation (highly unlikely with the stairs like that) or not worry about that (sound transmission to the rest of the house).

If you have to go with either option you show I would start with #2. I personally would like the stairs coming into the room but would like it to come into the rear of the room not the front. Depending on the size of the other rooms I would actually look at the storage or play room as the theater room and make the theater room the play room.

Just my .02 worth.

Good luck and welcome to the madness!

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post #5 of 27 Old 02-08-2013, 07:26 PM
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Maybe something like this? :

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post #6 of 27 Old 02-08-2013, 09:08 PM
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^^^^^Much more better-er! Heading in the right direction!

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post #7 of 27 Old 02-08-2013, 09:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Awesome Ideas! Keep them coming. I would have never thought about the bar idea or the landing on the stairs. I could do an island landing if space permits and also thought about just extending the landing into the room as the riser. I agree about the stairs coming into the rear of the room instead of the screen wall. For some reason I just could not visualize the door placement with the risers and stairs in the way. I don't think I would have enough room in the playroom to do what I would like. The ceilings are about 8' 6", minus the HVAC issues here and there....

Basicly I am planning a classic dedicated theater room. Most important to me is that it look like an actual movie theater. I know close to nothing about the audio/visual equipment yet. I have learned alot surfing the forum. For the Screen wall I think I will frame the wall about 18" from the foundation to provide some room for inwall speakers. I wanted to have either 2 or 3 rows of 2 or 3 seats. Or two chairs up front and two love seats in the rear. In my mind I am guessing a row of chairs is 9 feet wide. That will give me a 3 and a half foot walkway. I want to keep the design somewhat simple, basic decorative wall moulding with movie posters inside, Crown moulding placed down on the wall a few inches with some rope lights behind that, etc...

Like I said I am no electronics expert, I will be lucky to get everything wired correctly. I am not overly concered with top quality electronics. Its more of a fun friends and family movie room. I figured a budget of $2 -3000 on a decent projector and audio system. Heck I would be happy with a 720 projector and a sony 5.1 from target LOL Any suggestions?
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post #8 of 27 Old 02-09-2013, 03:25 AM
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If you do a bar, don't make a hard front surface, better stuff it with insulation and have it help you with dampening the long modes in the room.

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post #9 of 27 Old 02-09-2013, 05:34 AM
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Usually, that hard surface on the face of the bar is covered with ..... the seats in front of it. Treating the bar in the manner noted will not help resolve issues with the length modes.

Bar seating is an excellent idea to provide a space to lay stuff down (snacks, BluRay cases) or provide for some "over flow" seating in a length constrained room. The flip side is most will not find it comfortable to be sitting in a bar stool for 1.5-2.0 hours.

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post #10 of 27 Old 02-09-2013, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

Usually, that hard surface on the face of the bar is covered with ..... the seats in front of it. Treating the bar in the manner noted will not help resolve issues with the length modes.

Didn't say resolve, said help. It will help, sound goes both around and through seats. Besides the hard surface has other issues of reflecting sound back towards the front seats too early, but I was focusing on the positive side.

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post #11 of 27 Old 02-09-2013, 08:06 AM
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If you are going to frame out 18" for inwall speakers, do yourself another favor. Either come out six more inches and do a AT (acoustically transparent) screen and put speakers and subs behind the screen, or just build out a couple of inches from the wall and do "regular" speakers. I discourage people NOT to do in wall speakers unless you ABSOLUTELY have to. In walls make too many compromises unless they are done just right.

You do have enough depth to do two rows as my theater is 13.5 X 20. My first row is three wide and the back is four wide. I don't think if you do the AT screen you will be able to do three rows seats and bar, but it could all depend on how close your front row is to the screen. I sit 10 feet from a 115" screen and I don't think it is too close.

You have come to the right place to been driven to the edge of madness. biggrin.gif

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post #12 of 27 Old 02-09-2013, 10:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Good points. As far as the speakers, by inwall i mean this: Building the wall out 18" from the foundation wall and basicly leaving the drywall out from the bottom 2 feet and making a screen panel to cover that opening. I can paint the wall black and have the bottom 2 feet black speaker screen or spandex of some sort to hide the speakers. Do you think this would work?
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post #13 of 27 Old 02-09-2013, 11:14 AM
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Sounds like a lazy man's approach to building a screen wall. Won't contain any sound in the room, Will be a negative selling point when the time comes, May not be code legal in your county, will be a weak link in the thermal shell of the room, And lastly deprives the room of 18 inches for future uses.

Do it right. Build a room to the maximum dimensions allowed by your foundation, Build the theater inside that room. If you want you could build pocket recesses for the speakers to slide them a few inches closer to the foundation.
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post #14 of 27 Old 02-09-2013, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Didn't say resolve, said help. It will help, sound goes both around and through seats. Besides the hard surface has other issues of reflecting sound back towards the front seats too early, but I was focusing on the positive side.
It won't help in any regard "damping the long [sic] modes in the room". Further, putting a "soft" surface on the front of the bar and filling the available space (typically, 4") will very likely not even provide a measureable difference in LF decay times (or even mid-range).

With the seats directly in front of the bar face, there will be no HF reflections back into a listening position ... for that matter MF or LF either.

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post #15 of 27 Old 02-09-2013, 04:27 PM
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Here's an example of a DIY AT screen: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1036161/the-pocoloco-theater
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post #16 of 27 Old 02-10-2013, 12:07 AM
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I'm a novice at this and just completed my first theater build. With that being said I do think I can give a bit of advise as I used a similar sized room and I like to stretch my dollar as far as it will go. Since I'm not a professional or theater "snob" I think I can also relate to what you will find important and what isn't that critical to the average person. That being said I think the most important advise is what BIGmouthinDC said, if you are going to do it, do it right. If you're going to take shortcuts you will either be unhappy with the results or future potential buyers of your house will be unhappy with your results. I recently purchased my new home and I either wanted things to be done the right way or I wanted them so that they didn't interfere with me using the space in a way I wanted to. If you start building 1/2 complete walls and such you are asking for problems down the road.
First thing I would recommend is that I would place your theater as you have in "option 2" but I would place the play room as in "option 1" much like Tedd has suggested. Do you really want to have friends over to watch a movie or ball game and have kids running through the theater to get to the playroom?
With the size you have dedicated to the theater you have a couple of limitations to both screen size and seating. With seating you will not want to go more than two rows, if you go more with that size room the front row will be the equivalent of sitting in the front row of a movie theater. This is assuming you do a seat riser and I would recommend you go that route for a theater room. The riser itself will need to be 6' to 8' in depth and 8" to 10" in height. It seems cool when you are 6 but who else wants to be 5' from a large screen? You will also be limited to about 3 seats on the front row and 4 seats on the back row (could go more seats on the back if you go with a bar setup but not with recliner type theater seats or a couch).
Your screen size is going to be somewhere between 110" and 140" and this will depend on your ceiling height and also your speaker selection and how much room to the side and bottom of the screen you need to dedicate to speakers. I know someone on an earlier reply mentioned doing speakers behind an acoustically transparent screen but that type of screen is more expensive and will eat up about $600 of your budget compared to $315 with a normal screen (for 120" screen if you shop around). In hindsight I wish I had spent the extra money and gone transparent but my budget was about $7000 which is more than double what you wish to spend. In your case this might make more since though which I will get to in a minute. You can get by cheaper if you purchase screen material off E-Bay and build your own but it will probably not be worth the extra work and lack in fit and finish as compared to buying a complete framed screen off Amazon.
Speakers: Someone earlier recommended against in wall speakers. I used to have the same mind set until I checked out a friend's theater and was satisfied with the sound he got from his (other than they were not properly set up). By the time I did my build, and considered my "limited" space in terms of theater design and I was committed to going in wall. I started out wanting to go cheap but came to the realization that if I was going to cut 7 large holes in my wall I needed to get decent speakers. With that being said either get good in wall speakers or don't do in wall at all. By good I mean you are going to spend at least $200 per speaker, not counting the sub-woofer (I have seen some speakers as low as $85 each that "might" be decent but I have not heard them in person). If you don't want to spend this kind of money I would recommend standard speakers in which case it might make more since to spend a bit more on the acoustically transparent screen to hide your speakers behind. If you wish to message me I will tell you what I recommend to get the best bang for the buck, speakers are subjective and if I list them here it will start a whole new debate.
My personal budget for what you are doing in your budget would be:
$315 for 120" framed screen.
$350 for surround receiver.
$500 riser.
$1000 for in wall speakers + sub (special deal I'll tell you about if you send message).
$150 speaker wire.
$600 projector
$40 projector mount
This would be in addition to any construction cost, seating, etc. If you are not picky at all the item you could save on would be the speakers in which case you could go to Wal-Mart and get a receiver + theater system for $300. This would knock $1050 off what I have listed above. This would take away from the "theater" experience but to each their own.
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post #17 of 27 Old 02-10-2013, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

filling the available space (typically, 4")

Four inches? It's not a railing. Try two feet.

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post #18 of 27 Old 02-10-2013, 07:20 AM
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A few ideas and features added.

option 2Ba.jpg 196k .jpg file

I personally would advoid in wall speakers. An AT screen can be in the "close to" the same dollar ballpark as BRnette's.
But you get a raised center channel speaker (important) and an AT screen could hide less then perfect looking speakers,
and offer ease of future speaker upgrades. You also advoid the clutter of three fronts speakers and sub, in a narrow room and
keep the LR mains out of the corners.
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post #19 of 27 Old 02-10-2013, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Yep that would work out great. I could do two row seating if they were a combo of chairs/loveseats. That might get me an extra seat or 2 in there. Also the bar is a great idea.
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post #20 of 27 Old 02-10-2013, 12:51 PM
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Four inches? It's not a railing. Try two feet.
This is the type of arrangement found behind the back row of many home theaters. There is not two feet available. This bar height counter is placed immediately behind the last row of seating and is used as overflow or a means to provide additional seating when the physical depth of the space will not allow another full row. BarSeating.pdf 17k .pdf file
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post #21 of 27 Old 02-10-2013, 01:46 PM
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One foot, six inches or two feet is hardly something to fuss about the difference. rolleyes.gif
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post #22 of 27 Old 02-11-2013, 04:40 AM
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If you want to fill the 18" to 24" under the bar counter with acoustic treatments, where do the legs/seats go? (this is getting way OT from the OP's original intent).

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post #23 of 27 Old 02-11-2013, 05:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

If you want to fill the 18" to 24" under the bar counter with acoustic treatments, where do the legs/seats go? (this is getting way OT from the OP's original intent).

I know, I'm quite happy to drop the subthread. The answer would be something like: Legs go on either side of the stool just like riding a horse. If there's not room for a stool behind the bar, then skip it and hang fold-down seats directly on the back wall. wink.gif

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post #24 of 27 Old 02-12-2013, 06:37 AM
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Being a budget room, I'd be asking if audio compromised, and comfort compromised, additional seating is where I want to spend money?

(My answer would be no.)

The entry door also needs to swing into the theater space also, for code. If you do go with a third row, I'd flip the room end for end, and build a small av
closet on the rear side stair wall.

A few expanded ideas for two rows:

option 2Ba1.jpg 199k .jpg file
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post #25 of 27 Old 02-18-2013, 05:32 PM
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Tedd,
A little off subject but what is the purpose of the stage in a home theater? I know a lot of people have them but I never did consider it in mine. Is it purely for looks or does it serve a functional purpose?
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post #26 of 27 Old 02-18-2013, 07:05 PM
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A properly built (dry) sand filled stage makes for a solid foundation for the front speakers and subwoofer/s, so the speakers transfer their energy to the air, and not the concrete
floor. And of course it is a design element that can add some drama to the room.

I threw one in since the room is 8.5' tall. Being a budget room, I was thinking more of it being a visual design feature, filled with insulation so it doesn't become a resonant box.
A dark stage can also be used to capture light coming off the screen. You don't want light coming off the screen and it being reflected
back on the screen, as it will damage the contrast ratio. (The same goes for the soffit/ceiling, and side walls...) The stage can also act as a break to change carpet.
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post #27 of 27 Old 02-18-2013, 10:59 PM
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BRnette - I was thinking the same as you a while ago. I've also come to the conclusion that if you're using floorstanding speakers like I will be, the stage can also have the function of averaging out the tweeter height inbetween front and rear row ear levels for more consistent sound between different seats. ( This of course may not be a benefit for all speakers, so take the thought for what it is. )

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