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post #1 of 7 Old 07-29-2013, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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First off I want to thank this forum for providing so much great information. I've been reading theater builds and equipment reviews here for years. Hopefully I'll be able to start my own build thread and give back sometime soon.

For years i've wanted a dedicated space for a home theater, but being in college and renting places doesn't lend itself well to hanging screens or acoustic panels. Although I have seen some threads here with people doing awesome things in tiny spaces. My current setup is pictured below. I have a set of EmpTek speakers, only 5.1, but I have a pair of old Miller Kreisel bookshelfs I'm currently using as a TV stand to get above my center channel. Sorry for the poorly exposed cellphone pics, I can't find the ones I took on my DSLR.

Yes, that's an AC unit directly above the couch. Old michigan houses often don't have central AC. The new house will.
Projector doesn't look too great with theater mode and lots of ambient light. This was also before we got things leveled out and zoomed in correctly.
The screen is definitely a little wide, but I don't have a table saw or anything to get nice edges with, so I kept the stock lengths on everything which just happened to fit. You might notice the weird angles too, it's not an optical illusion. I think we measured it to be 19 degrees from perpendicular to the floor. It's okay though because once you recline it's pretty easy viewing.



  • Receiver: Pioneer 1021k
  • HDMI: 40 Ft Redmere from Monoprice via Monoprice powered hdmi splitter.
  • HTPC: Old AMD small form factor HP with GT520 running XBMC and myth plugin. 7TB of local storage
  • MythBuntu backend on Revo1600 using HDHR Prime with Charter Cable
  • Router: Just bought a piece of junk Netgear WNDR3700 - V3. Only connecting at 20mbps at less than 20'. Apparently there were some issues with wireless range dropping out. I plan to do gigabit to everything I can in the house so I just want a solid cheap N router or AP even it it's from 2010. Any suggestions?
  • TV: 55" Samsung LED - don't remember model but it has in my opinion, terrible flashlighting in the corners.
  • Screen: DIY spandexworld white milliskin over grey milliskin with simple wood frame. I think it's 4'x10'
  • Projector: Epson 8500UB


The setup has been pretty great for the past few months. The seats recline just enough to make watching the screen up above quite comfortable. The only complaint is the screen is probably a little too close; you can't make out pixel structure or SDE, but it feels a little close. When I measured things I made sure I could project at my distance to fill the screen, but I only thought of 16:9 content. I can zoom a little bit for 2.4 content but it doesn't completely fill the screen height.

Now that the introduction is out of the way... I've finally bought a house. The one requirement I had was a basement of some sort that would work as a theater. I spent a lot of time on these forums reading before I knew what to look for. I actually gave up on a realtor when she got mad that I wouldn't accept a 6'10" basement height. Anyways, trying to find a place within my meager budget and living in a state where basements seem to be practically non-existant...I had to make some compromises. So since i've already compromised on the space my initial plans for the theater are going to be relatively limited. I should mention I'm a single guy with one roommate who tends to be watching TV/movies the same time I am. The theater is in the basement, bedrooms on the second floor. I'm not worried about noise getting out of the theater and anything will be an improvement over the current noise floor we're dealing with.

The first phase is to use the space completely as is and see what I can live with and what I'll have to fix. I'll setup the projector and speakers for a few months to evaluate acoustics and seating distances. Currently the room has dark blue carpet with relatively thick padding. I don't imagine i'll change it unless/until I decide to go full force dedicated theater. It also has ugly wood paneling all the way around and a white popcorn ceiling.

It's hard to say what phase two will be considering i'm going to give it a few months to decide, but I imagine I am going to paint over the wood panels, paint the ceiling black, hang acoustic panels, build a false wall, hang the projector permanently, and make a riser in the back of the room just on top of the existing carpet.

If everything goes smoothly I should take possesion August 9th, so the dream is getting much closer to reality. I've been reading and thinking things through on my own for so long I figured it was time to make an account and start asking questions. I took measurements when I was at the house for the inspection. They may not be exact but it gave me something let me try my hand at using Sketchup.
The doorway on the left side in the back isn't really a doorway, it's just an open space to the stairs and the office area on the other side of the stairs.


The dimensioning is kinda hard to see but hopefully you'll get the idea. The main thing in my mind that I need to deal with is the HVAC supply/return dropping my height to 6'10". One end wall is 10'3" and the other is 11'3". So the only two options that I see are putting the screen on one end or the other. Any opinions on which way to orient things?

I've played around in sketchup and I think I prefer putting the screen on the wider wall and the riser up against the rear wall. That puts the stairs feeding into the back of the riser. I think i'd build a wall over that entrance and force you to come through the office, soon to be ticket room/marquee/AV equipment room.




There's no door on this entrance either, but I think it might be framed for one IIRC. My thoughts for projecting onto the wider wall are that I can fit a bigger screen without taking up the entire wall. And if i put up a false wall it will hide the weird drywalled block sticking out from the top corner. My initial impressions also lean to the wide wall dealing with the HVAC drop down better since seating wouldn't be directly under it. Also note the soffits don't exist, I was got carried away with sketchup.

For equipment, I thought it would be pretty easy to run the HDMI and wiring through the HVAC ductwork and into the space below the stairs and put my rack in there, out of the way. I'd also like to do an IB manifold setup in that space, directing into the theater.

Looking forward to any feedback! biggrin.gif
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post #2 of 7 Old 11-20-2013, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Well I've moved in and have the theater set up. There's no acoustic treatments or riser built yet, I've been pretty busy with other projects in the house. Since the theater works well enough (besides the terrible slapback acoustic problems) i've been putting off any projects for it. I think the best orientation is how i modeled it. It wouldn't work well with the screen at the other end of the room.

So on to my next question. I asked in the DIY speaker forum but I think I may get a better response here. I'm looking into buying subs...any recommendations on type of sub for my room? I was considering an infinite baffle on the left wall, but that I have the couches in the room i'm worried how close the manifold will be to the listener and that I'll be able to localize the bass to the left side. So i started looking at sonosubs and THT and other options so I could place them behind the screen wall and optimize their location for best response. The DIY Speaker guys pointed me to a thread where MKtheater made the space behind his screen wall into a baffle wall for 8xIB318s. I don't think I want to tackle such a large project with all of the bracing needed; a manifold setup seems much easier.

I was thinking instead of putting the manifold on the left wall, maybe it could fire into the hallway. But i imagine that would create some crazy acoustics since there's a parallel wall just a few feet away?
Added hallway

Any suggestions? Budget is under $1000 for drivers,materials, and amp. Content is probably 90% movies, 10% music.
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-21-2014, 11:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Finally some updates. I decided since my space wasn't ideal (like most), that I would just treat this as a learning exercise. So I tried to keep the costs fairly low but still do things to a level I could be proud of.

I had a friend visit a few weeks ago and he stayed until Monday. We got quite a bit accomplished, but due to a rather nasty meeting between his truck and a guardrail, we lost a few days. There were lots of little projects I had to put on hold so that we could finish the important things like the riser and acoustic treatments. I've got some work left to do, but overall i'm really impressed with where it stands now and what the final product should look like.

We started with a rather ugly room covered in wood paneling with the rear couch sitting on cement blocks. Sorry for the blurry shots, I still haven't pulled out the DSLR to take some proper pictures.




First objective was the riser. We built it on top of the carpet. I didn't really want to replace carpet, and I was worried pulling it up for the riser would lead to it coming up in the rest of the room. Plus this way it didn't need the roofing felt.



We also got the wood paneling and trim removed. Didn't have enough space to put the couches elsewhere, so they just moved around with plastic to somewhere less in the way. Put up 2x3 furring strips around the top, middle, and bottom of the room. The 2x3s were big enough to hide 1" OC703 behind on the bottom, and gave a decent amount of room for stapling fabric to. We framed out the back corners for bass traps too.





The shortest section of wall got our first attempt at fabric. The fabric was Dazian Janus black and "graphite". We had some issues with wrinkling the first try, you can see it on the black towards the bottom staples. Either the tips from some threads in here were a huge help, or using 4 times as many staples really made a difference. Either way, we started getting the hang of it. The top corner going around my stupid HVAC soffit was the biggest challenge. Also notice the flat black ceiling paint on top of the knock-down texture. The texture must have been applied by the previous homeowners, it was so thick that it kept breaking off into the paint and leaving white specs as i rolled the flat black on.





Moved to the back wall between the bass traps, and then the longest of the two side walls. We used some closed cell foam in the window wells to block out light, we had it cut and ready, but kinda forgot to install it until it was almost too late.




Finally, all walls finished. Just need frames to go over the corner bass traps and trim.



We managed to get trim up, but I didn't buy enough because I knew we'd have to go back to Home Depot before we were done. Turned out we had our hands full with finishing other projects and didn't have time to get back to the store before my buddy had to leave. I'll have to finish up the trim as soon as I get motivated to finish things. And I either need to paint the riser or find an area rug for it.


Overall, I think things turned out pretty good.


I guess I don't have any pictures of the screen wall. It's not covered in fabric yet, but I plan on using the black Dazian and mounting the screen on top of that. There is a good 2" of OC703 on the whole front wall though.

I tried to pay attention to dimensions and basic rules of thumb on seating distance and projection distance and heights and whatnot, but we mounted the shelf for the projector a little too high. Currently it cannot project to the top of the screen because the soffit gets in the way. I can't move the shelf because we mounted a 2x8 behind the fabric and the shelf is already mounted as low as it can go on the 2x8, i could hang the projector from the mount instead though,but then it's too low and heads from the rear seats might interfere. I think my only option is to drop the screen 4 inches and have the rear seats suffer through losing a bit of the bottom to front row heads when reclined. I could add another layer of 3/4" OSB to the riser to help a bit, but I doubt that would be enough.

I took acoustic measurements with a UMIK1 and REW before any room treatments. The room definitely sounds better now, but clapping or snapping while on the riser still produces a bad echo. Experimenting with placement of extra 703 seemed to show that some on the ceiling might help that problem. I would also like to treat the corner caused by the soffit, I imagine it's causing some issues.

Lastly, I have a LilWrecker all cut out and marked up, ready to be assembled. I am just waiting on some free time to glue it all together. I have a balanced miniDSP that I'd planned on using with my Pioneer, but currently I have been unable to get any input to register on the software RMS meters. I've tried both the LFE out and a 1000hz tone from my laptop's headphone out. Although there's voltage on the minidsp's inputs, the meters don't read anything and the outputs don't show a correlation to changes in volume. Hopefully their forums will help me figure that one out so I can make the most out of my 15" alpine.
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post #4 of 7 Old 05-07-2014, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
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So the last picture from the front of the room shows how far out my surrounds extend into the room. I had to position the front seat off to the side to give enough clearance for stepping up onto the riser. Over the past few weeks using the theater, i've been paranoid someone is going to walk into the surround when they come back from the bathroom with the lights off. I've considered maybe installing a small LED somewhere and putting a tiny bit of light on the front side of the speaker so people walking would see it. I also considered glow in the dark tape, but I don't really like either option. Well last weekend someone finally walked right into the speaker. He was fine, as was the speaker, but it made me a little more eager to fix the problem.

I've been considering trying my hand at some DIY speakers for up front. Research before the theater build had even started pointed me towards a set of SEOS for LCR duty. Originally I figured the surrounds weren't too important and they could just stay the same, but between blending issues and now my current depth problem, i'd like to find a solution that gets the speakers a little closer to the wall. If i could get rid of the monoprice adjustable mounts, and simply mount directly to the wall, i could make up a few inches. Or maybe there's a way in walls could work? The mounts are currently screwed into a 2x8 or 2x12 directly under the fabric. So I don't have much flexibility in where I could mount new speakers as there is nothing directly behind the rest of the fabric. I'm assuming they should be pointed down slightly, as that's what I normally see. They're so close to the listening position though i'm sure it's already far from ideal.

I'll move this question to the DIY speakers forum if necessary but...

Any good suggestions for shallow surrounds that I could mount in the same position, and would match a set of SEOS? DIY or not. Or...any good solutions on keeping guests from walking into my current speakers?
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post #5 of 7 Old 05-08-2014, 05:49 AM
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Why not some dipole speakers for the side surrounds, something recesses into the wall?
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post #6 of 7 Old 05-08-2014, 02:47 PM
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Regarding the surrounds - I am planning on using the triad on wall series of dipoles for my side surrounds for a similar reason. Narrow room width and therefore narrow aisles for access egress. They are something just over 4" in depth with the grille on.
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-09-2014, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PApilgrim View Post

Regarding the surrounds - I am planning on using the triad on wall series of dipoles for my side surrounds for a similar reason. Narrow room width and therefore narrow aisles for access egress. They are something just over 4" in depth with the grille on.

I had considered dipoles before looking into the DIY route. Would you be pairing them with horns, or are you doing triads all around? What height are you planning on mounting them? I'm also concerned how limited my placement options are vertically, they are way above ear level. I might try readjusting the speakers tonight so they point straight out instead of angling downward, just to see how much it bothers me.
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