Liveoak Theater - My DIY Build - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 10:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello! I've made a few posts here but have spent much more time reading and researching. I think it's about time I consolidate into one build thread instead of asking individual questions. At this point, I'm just getting started and will need some help along the way. Please forgive me if this sounds like random rambling at first. It's hard to be completely coherent when i'm trying to describe everything running through my head for the last couple of months. I'm planning on a 120" screen, 7.1 surround sound, and usage maybe an equal mix of TV and movies with a little bit of video gaming and music listening thrown in.

The room is a typical "bonus" room or FROG with 5' high knee walls and an 8' ceiling. The room measures 13' by 23.5'. It is the only upstairs room in the house. Here is a picture:

room-before_zpsc21b7e69.jpg

The screen will be going on the wall with the window (blocked out, of course). I marked the corners with tape but I will probably raise the screen a little higher than what is shown. I've done a very basic copy-and-paste Photoshop job to show what I'm going for.

Black-and-Tan-Theme_zpse3e274da.jpg

This may be an overuse of black, but most people seem to think that is a good thing. The slanted ceilings are more ceiling than wall so I made them black as well. The only color comes from the knee wall and back wall, and I'm considering a cappuccino color for that.

As for seating, I'm planning on two rows of sofas with recliners, though traditional theater seating is tempting. Whichever the case, the second row would be on a riser. I'd like to leave an option to have a third row in the form of an eat-in bar.

In the picture, the two front panels would be sound absorbing and the square panels just picture framing trim. However, since I drew this up, I'm leaning more towards 2' by 2' absorbing panels (about the size of the square ones shown) and having four of them instead of two. This would give more absorption further back, and not shown in the drawing but would be an issue, are the AC vents on they wall. I would not be able to fit a 4' tall panel where the vents are. To give a better idea of this, I made a drawing showing reflection points.

HT-reflections_zpsc63fa7ea.jpg

I forgot to draw the door to the room, but you walk up the stairs along the back wall and the door opens into the cubby area at the bottom of the drawing. The rectangle at the very bottom is the niche (more on that later). Speakers are green, absorbing panels are red, reflections are blue. I want my money seat to be front and center, so I prioritized reflections based off color. Light blue is the money seat, blue are the left and right front seats, and dark blue is the back row. I tried to place panels evenly and in a way that would catch reflections the best.

One of the AC vents I mentioned is right where the second panel from the front is located, so this is why a 4' by 2' panel won't work here. Additional absorbers would be placed on the back wall, but I want to keep it symmetrical and the cubby area hinders that a little bit.

Speaking of audio, I drew in the Dolby recommended speaker wedges for placement in a 7.1 system. Here is what that looks like:

HT-speakers_zpscc77ea76.jpg

The front speakers will be on stands, side and surrounds will have to be in-wall. If I wall mount bookshelves on brackets, they will stick too far out and restrict access around the seating. This is one area I could really use some advice. Having the second row makes everything else a compromise for speaker placement, so I located the speakers as far back as possible in the wedges. I know this rule isn't set in stone, so I'm wondering if I may be better off going with a different arrangement. If I built it the way it is shown, I'd have some very heavy toe-in on the rear speakers to aim them back at the listener. I was wondering if it might be better (or at least not much of a compromise) to mount them on the back wall and forget about toe-in. Again, the cubby area would make them closer together than ideal, but I don't know how much of a trade-off this is.

The other thing regarding speakers is that I'm planning on going to Hsu's line of speakers, bookshelves for the front and either bookshelf or in-wall for the sides and rears. I know bookshelves in walls are not a common thing, but I asked about this on Hsu's forum and Dr. Hsu recommended sealing the ports on the bookshelves and mounting them in the wall instead of using the in-wall speakers. This would be possible if the speakers were all mounted on the side walls because that is attic space and I could fit an 8" deep speaker in there. I have read all about why this isn't recommended and problems with baffle step compensation, but when the designer of the speakers says I'll get better performance doing this than using his in-walls, I have to take his word for it. I'm open to suggestions on speakers, even though I really like the idea of a package deal with Hsu, and I'm planning on matching these speakers with the VTF-15H (the Hybrid 15 package). This comes out to around $2,000 shipped and I need to stay in this budget for speakers.

Lighting will be 4" recessed air-tight cans on the ceiling with some alternative lighting source on the walls. I was originally thinking of sconces as shown in the Photoshop mark-up, but I'm now leaning towards putting a light source behind the absorbing panels (spaced at least 2" out from the wall) for a glow effect. I'm not sure how to do this though, whether that be some kind of under-cabinet lighting mounted on the walls behind the panels, or a short loop of rope lighting behind each panel. Any suggestions on how to do this would be welcome. The ceiling recessed lights will all be dimmable LED. I'd like some kind of automated lighting, but for now I'm thinking about just going with Lutron Maestros for remote control.

The projector I'm planning on using is the BenQ W1070. 1080 is a must, and 3D is just about a must. Screen will be an Elite Screens 120".

The receiver will most likely be a Denon 2113 or something similar. I think that will cover me for a while.

The HVAC will have to be addressed at some point but I'll have to leave that for a later post.

That's about it for now. I'll try to fill in the details over time. Please feel free to offer any advice or suggestions. I'm not very far along with building and purchasing yet, so if there is something I can improve, let me know. Thanks! Looking forward to posting more!
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post #2 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
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The first project I took on was building a niche to house the AV equipment. I guess it was just a personal preference to do it this way versus a rackmount system, but also nothing I'm buying is rackmount-able.

My plan for the niche is to be 48" tall, 20" wide, and 24" deep. This ought to fit any future piece of equipment that I would want to add. Shelving will be glass with a recessed LED light at the top to shine through. The bottom shelf will actually be a false floor, extending the niche down another foot. This is where I plan to hide cabling. Each shelf will have a grommet so cables can be hidden and go wherever they need to go. The niche will have a dedicated 20 A circuit from the breaker box.

I've asked about heat build-up and I realize that is a potential concern, but my plan is to address that problem at a later time. Also recommended is to plan for access to the back of the niche (which is attic space) and I have an idea for that.

Here is the before picture showing the location of the niche:

IMG_1323_zps7b858592.jpg

The hole is cut:

IMG_1342_zps05fe7fcb.jpg

The walls of the niche were assembled separately in my workshop and then carried up and attached to each other in the attic space. This was my first time using a framing gun and it made things so easy.

IMG_1363_zps4bc76d31.jpg

Next I started on the drywall. This was my firs time with this, as well.

IMG_1386_zps3684dba4.jpg

Electrical run, light installed, trim added. Just some touch-up work to do now.

IMG_1421_zps9f1c0bef.jpg

I've been thinking about whether or not to texture the inside of the niche to match the rest of the drywall, but I think I like the smooth look more. It will look better once it's painted. Now for the networking!
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post #3 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 10:49 PM - Thread Starter
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My wife and I moved into this house about three months ago. We knew networking would need to be done at some point so we included it in the home theater project.

I don't have any pictures of the networking install, but my dad was very kind to help and we pulled 15 drops before running out of cable. I only had two drops left, so this wasn't a big deal. After spending a day in the attic, I was ready to stop.

This coat closet got sacrificed into being the networking closet. In Texas, you don't really have a need for a coat closet, or you don't use it as one. I plan on buying a 12U wall-mount enclosed server rack in the future, so this is just a temporary arrangement. The computer at the bottom is our server for files and media.

IMG_20130902_214159_zps4d74d60e.jpg

Seven of these drops go to the home theater niche. Here it is wired up with wall plates. I still have a missing F-pin connector to install.

IMG_20130905_003540_zps016a0532.jpg

There is a wireless access point in there for now to help boost our wireless signal in our house. The wireless router is on the other side of the house. Grommets will go below the wall plates as previously mentioned for routing the cables.
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post #4 of 21 Old 09-04-2013, 11:57 PM
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Are you planning the rear absorbers to be just absorbers? I'd try to make them do diffusion as well if I were you.

Under construction: the Larch theater
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post #5 of 21 Old 09-05-2013, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm open to suggestions on absorption + diffusion. I asked about this in the acoustic treatments master thread and the response I got was that a 4' by 4' QRD diffuser would be a relatively small size for this room, compared to the total surface area of the walls, floor, and ceiling. I've also looked into diffusers on the side walls in the back of the room behind the absorption panels. I'm interested in anything DIY.

Are you suggesting a panel that does both absorption and diffusion?

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post #6 of 21 Old 09-05-2013, 06:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatland2D View Post

Are you suggesting a panel that does both absorption and diffusion?

Precisely.

Under construction: the Larch theater
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post #7 of 21 Old 09-05-2013, 06:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Could you provide an example of this? An absorber that has both absorbing and diffusing areas, or covering the absorber in a partially acoustically transparent material?

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post #8 of 21 Old 09-05-2013, 10:39 AM
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http://www.rpgeurope.com/de/products/product/abffusor.html

Unless you build something yourself.

Under construction: the Larch theater
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post #9 of 21 Old 09-06-2013, 07:42 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll definitely be looking into the abffusers. Thanks.

I made a few drawings to explain my speaker situation. I could really use some advice on this. Unfortunately, it'll be a compromise one way or another.

Option #1: Rear speakers back and toed in
Speakers-toe-in_zps5a7c7f37.jpg

Theoretically, this should give best imaging for the front and center seat, while not completely ignoring the second row by moving the speakers further back. However, I have some concerns with how that would look and what the wall would do to influence the sound. The rear speakers would need more than 45 degrees of toe in, which would look weird to me, and also, wouldn't the wall have an effect on the sound wave?

Option #2 Rear speakers on back wall, side speakers 90 degrees to front row
Speakers-flush_zps8742aa65.jpg

This would be ideal for the front row for the side speakers (but to the detriment of the second row?), but moving the rear speakers to the back wall (in-wall, shallower depth) may effect rear imaging. They look like they may be too close together to get the surround effect. However, I'm limited in how far apart they can be because of the cubby area by the door and niche. The benefit here is that they can be mounted flush while still mostly pointing at the listener, whereas mounting flush that far back on the side wall wouldn't be pointing anywhere near the listener.

Option #3: Rear speakers on back wall, side speakers moved back and flush
Speakers-compromise_zpsd03fa582.jpg

This to me looks like the best option, or best compromise. Rear speakers on the rear wall might not be the best idea, but the side speakers can be moved back to somewhat split the difference between the first and second row.

Please let me know what option you all think would be best, or feel free to suggest something different all together. I'm looking forward to getting the placement nailed down!
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post #10 of 21 Old 09-07-2013, 04:12 AM
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Well, I'm rather alone one the site advocating it I've found out, but I'd recommend another set of side surrounds, placed a in front on each row and at heights so that the first row will have shorter distance to the one in front than the one behind.

( I don't have access to my simulation app as that's on a usb stick in my work comp at the moment.)

Under construction: the Larch theater
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post #11 of 21 Old 09-07-2013, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. Any input from you or other members regarding the rear surround speakers and putting them on the back wall?
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post #12 of 21 Old 09-08-2013, 01:39 AM
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Back wall is fine in my book. Both my setups have/will have that.

Under construction: the Larch theater
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post #13 of 21 Old 10-06-2013, 10:00 PM - Thread Starter
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It's been a while since my last update. Progress has been slow, but we got a few things accomplished.

First, we needed to cover up this window on the screen wall.

IMG_1527_zpsdf39a97f.jpg

I didn't want to do anything too permanent and decided to use 3/4" MDF with pipe foam insulation around the edges to seal out the light. It turned out really nice and totally blocks out the light. I remounted the blinds (on floor above) to the very front of the window to make room for the MDF board. The top MDF piece I sprayed painted black. From the outside it just looks like a dark room with the blinds closed.

IMG_1682_zps87858d4e.jpg

Next, there is this door that needs to be relocated to the back of the room because sound panels will go here and I don't want to hang them in front of the door. The door provides attic access to this side of the house so it couldn't be removed completely.

IMG_1528_zpse1aff3df.jpg

Door removed.

IMG_1605_zps1ba275ab.jpg

Added in framing.

IMG_1636_zps14fea233.jpg

Drywall cut and attached.

IMG_1640_zpsa266958b.jpg

Getting started with the mud. Ended up doing four coats to make an even surface.

IMG_1641_zpscc8f712b.jpg

Texture sprayed.

IMG_1675_zps9c3f5f39.jpg

Hole cut at the new door location.

IMG_1611_zps3594596d.jpg

Door mounted, trimmed, and caulked.

IMG_1679_zpsbceb9a8f.jpg

And lastly, this picture shows the relation to where the door was to where it was relocated.

IMG_1646_zpsbb27cdf2.jpg

This is getting pretty close to wrapping up the construction related jobs. Soon it will be on to installing the electronics and the fun stuff. Next up will be painting then installing the recessed lighting.
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post #14 of 21 Old 10-06-2013, 11:43 PM
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Could have been a good space for IB-subwoofers, that attic space.

Under construction: the Larch theater
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post #15 of 21 Old 10-07-2013, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, probably so, it just didn't come up in my limited research so I never really looked into it. It's now on my list of things to learn about, though.

My wife gave the approval for a dual VTF-15H setup which should be a substantial amount of bass for this size room, but I will have to deal with the size of those cabinets.

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post #16 of 21 Old 10-07-2013, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm beginning to look more closely at seating. My wife and I were undecided between sofas with built-in recliners or home theater seating. It's looking like home theater seating is the way we'll go now. I gave Roman a call today and had a pretty good discussion about my options. I'm still trying to decide what is important to me and what isn't. Also, putting down a big chunk of money for a total of six chairs without sitting in them first gives me anxiety. They will probably be the single biggest purchase I make for this project (speakers about the same or a close second). I've been trying to read all the reviews on his Fusion line on these forums. More research to do...

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post #17 of 21 Old 11-04-2013, 07:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Been a while again and time for another update. With the help of my wife and dad, we got the room painted in a weekend. There's still some touch-up work to do, but it looks so much better. Paint and lights (more below) totally transformed the room.

The color we ended up choosing (well, my wife did) was Longhorn orange made by Valspar. It just happens that we're University of Texas fans, but this orange is not "burnt" orange. It's not really "in your face" orange either, kind of a more subdued pumpkin orange. We wanted something unique and as easy as it sounds, it was difficult deciding on a color to go with all the black. We considered some blues, reds, grays, and purples even, but felt like orange really contrasted and popped.

The black was Sherwin Williams Pro Mar 400 flat black which gave a nice finish. I would not describe it as chalky though, which a lot of people go for (as was I) but this turned out to have the slightest sheen to it. It's still very flat and I would recommend it, but it's not chalky. Hopefully this will mean it will be easier to keep clean. Two coats was enough to make it completely black, but I went back and did a third coat myself using careful technique to eliminate roller strokes. It did end up making a difference.

We bought two white, 44" flush mount ceiling fans and spray painted them flat black. They look good and almost disappear into the ceiling (see pics below). With the fans on and blades spinning, they are even harder to see.

We were really looking forward to getting the light fixtures delivered because of the impact they would have on the room. I was able to find some 4" recessed new work fixtures, air tight and IC rated. I have access to the rafters above so even though they were new work, they were simple to install. I was so excited when they came in, I installed all ten of them after work one night. Working in the tight spaces of my attic made it a much more difficult job than it should have been, but it all came together. The lights are on a one-touch dimmer that slowly fades on and off, and can be adjusted manually. A controlled lighting system would be great someday, but for now I decided eliminate that from the budget and workload.

I bought four different kinds of LED bulbs to try out along with standard 45 W R20 halogen bulbs. I envision using the lights almost always in a dimmed state and wanted a very warm color temperature. Unfortunately, LEDs are not good at either of these. They were all labeled warm white, but only two of them came close to being like an incandescent. The other problem is that LEDs do not dim well in that dimmed all the way down, they are still on at about 20% brightness. I plan on using my lights in this lower band, so I had to rule them out even though the electrical engineer in me loves the LEDs bulbs and their efficiency. With some various connectors I was able to put my Kill-a-Watt meter inline with the 45 W halogen bulb and found out it only used 21 W at the brightest I could see running them, down to 8 W as low as it would go. This gives 210 W to 80 W for the entire room which I think I can put up with. The less heat I put in the room the better.

Just to put it out there for future builders, we ordered four different kinds of trims for the recessed fixtures. We got white baffle, black baffle, specular, and black specular. I ordered ten of the whites since that is what I thought I would end up liking and the others just to try. My wife and I agreed the black baffle trim looked slightly better than the white, but the specular and black specular did not look good in this application. Since I already had ordered ten of the whites, we decided to keep them even though the blacks were slightly better.

My wife and I have put a lot more thought into our seating options and have decided to go with home theater style seating, specifically Roman's Lagoons. I was able to visit another forum member's home (big thanks to alittletank!) to see the chairs first-hand and was impressed with their comfort. I was debating between the Lagoons and Tributes but I think Lagoons will meet our requirements and will shave a big chunk off our budget (at six chairs, the added cost of the Tributes goes up fast). We still have to decide between bonded and leather/vinyl but are leaning more towards bonded. Swatches are on their way to help decide. Also need to decide between black or brown. My wife really wants brown, but I'm more on the fence about it. Black is easy and goes with anything, but the brown feels like it would be harder to coordinate with. Would the brown look weird with our orange, or compliment it? In brown's favor, it does give the feel of being more warm and inviting than the black.

Here are the updated pics:

DSC01334_zps7c9a2d04.jpg

DSC01338_zps50f0eeb1.jpg

DSC01335_zps116343a3.jpg

And I've updated my drawing with slight changes I'm made along the way:

HT_11-4-13_zps1a88eb10.jpg
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post #18 of 21 Old 11-15-2013, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
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The chairs I ordered came in today. Went with six Fusion Lagoon's from Roman in brown leather. They look black in real life under my lighting, but that's fine with me. They are a very dark brown under bright lighting.

Here's a few pictures. I left some more comments about these chairs in the Lagoon thread.

IMG_1915_zps07306e0c.jpg

DSC01802_zpsd3b6cdfb.jpg

DSC01804_zps8fc30d9b.jpg

Next will be purchasing the screen and building a riser for the second row. The calculators I've used recommend a minimum height around 16.5". That sounds pretty tall to me. I have 8 foot ceilings with a flush mount ceiling fan above, so I'm going to have to play around with positioning a little bit, and maybe compromise an inch or two on the height. I'll probably wait until the screen is mounted to have an exact measurement for floor to bottom of screen. With the walls being angled, I can't shove the screen all the way up to the ceiling.
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post #19 of 21 Old 11-15-2013, 08:21 PM
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Since headroom might be an issue, don't forget about a mini-riser. You could build a main riser in the 12"-13" range and then a 3" mini-riser just under the footprint of the rear seats. This would give you the boost you need but allow you to walk around on a slightly lower riser. There is one in my build if you need a visual. I had similar numbers as you (12-3/4" main riser plus a 3" mini riser for a total boost of 15-3/4").

Also, check code in your area for max step height. At 16.5", you might be exceeding the height for two steps. If you had to go to three, they would be pretty short and might feel awkward.

What aspect ratio is your screen?
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post #20 of 21 Old 11-15-2013, 08:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestion about the mini riser. That sounds pretty doable. I haven't looked at many riser plans yet so I still have some learning to do there.

Screen aspect ratio will be 16:9.
Another compromise would be going down to a 110" screen instead of 120" so I could position it higher on the wall, but I don't want to go there yet.

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post #21 of 21 Old 12-18-2013, 12:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatland2D View Post

Thanks for the suggestion about the mini riser. That sounds pretty doable. I haven't looked at many riser plans yet so I still have some learning to do there.

Screen aspect ratio will be 16:9.
Another compromise would be going down to a 110" screen instead of 120" so I could position it higher on the wall, but I don't want to go there yet.

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