After many years of wanting one, I'm finally getting a proper home theater. Eleven years ago I built my current house however due to limitations in my budget I had to settle with something that had a nice loft space which has worked well but never allowed me to do everything I wanted. Now I'm building a new house with a dedicated theater in it. One of the main problems I've had when looking at existing homes or new construction is that as a single guy I don't want to get too big of a house, and it's hard to find something with my size and budget constraints that can accommodate a dedicated theater. Last year I actually started this process with a different builder but backed out after the house was framed and certain things weren't working out the way I wanted and couldn't be fixed (long story). This year I found a different builder and the house I'm building is a tweaked version of one of their standard plans in which I combined the living and dining rooms into a theater. It's a single story plan with about 2300sq.ft. total. I have drawings below and while I haven't gotten blueprints yet that reflect my modifications the drawings should close and I'm estimating the theater at being 18'6" x 11'10 with a 10' ceiling. My primary seating will be about 12' and I plan to have a riser in the rear of the room for a second row of seating indicated by the dotted line. I expect completion early next year, probably in February.
Here are some of the constraints I'm working with:
- The builder has their own subs and are mass producing houses in the area. So I have no control of that.
- I will have little say in the construction techniques used, so little will be done about soundproofing.
- Technically I'm not supposed to go in there and do anything myself.
- The guys running all the A/V wiring insist on putting a box in for each speaker location.
- There's a window. I could probably eliminate it but I think it's better for resale to leave it and cover it completely.
- The size is pretty well fixed. I don't want to move any walls that will encroach on the kitchen or family room.
There are several positives though:
- I'm single, so the noise isn't a concern.
- I'll have wonderful attic access to most locations in the room. Only the right rear corner will be trouble.
- The A/V guys will use my wire. I already have 12-gauge Monoprice wire and CAT6 that I purchased for use in the aborted house last year.
- Total light control once the window is blacked out.
- Nice roomy closet for all my gear and then some.
- The cost of the house plus what I should sell my current place for along with my savings leaves me a pretty good budget for gear.
My existing receiver, amps, sources, and subs will be incorporated into this new theater. Speakers are up in the air at the moment, as well as the display. Some of my existing speakers and perhaps some of the other gear will be moved into a system in the family room. I plan to go with a projection setup in this room, although when I initially move in I may use my 82" DLP RPTV for a while. For speakers I currently have quite a mix, and I plan to fix that with the new location. I'm running Onix mini-stratas, a GoldenEar SS60C center, Emotiva on-wall surrounds, and Onix Ref-1 bookshelves in the rear. The GoldenEar speakers actually match the mini-stratas quite nicely. I got stuck with this because I got caught up in the AV123 hype, and was promised matching center and surrounds which never materialized. For subs I have a pair of SVS CS16-46+ with a Behringer EP2500 amp.
Now for my dilemma, and what I'm hoping to get some input on. Here are the two different ideas I have:Option 1
Use my existing floor standing speakers and center channel which limits the screen size as I'll need space on either side. I figure a 106" to 120" screen will work depending on the final dimensions of the room. With this arrangement I'm considering an Epson 5020UB and perhaps one of the multi-format screens from Monoprice or some other 16x9 screen that can be masked. If I go this route I will buy either more GoldenEar SS60 speakers for surround duty, or some of their in-walls.Pros:
- Cost. I can reuse my current front soundstage. Screens in that size are relatively cheap too.
- Ease of setup.
- Confidence in the sound. I'll be reusing some of my current speakers and I'm quite pleased with their sound.
Use something like the SeymourAV Premier 2.37:1 curved AT screen and go with one nearly the full width of the room. I'm thinking a Panasonic PTAE8000U would be good for this kind of setup. If I do this I will have to go with in-walls, as I don't want to build a false wall and sacrifice all that space. I don't have the skills, tools or patience to do this myself, and I don't want to take the time and spend the money necessary for a good contractor to come in and do that kind of work once I get into the house. I'm considering something like the Klipsch KL-7800-THX speaker or something comparable in price. I haven't researched many options when it comes to in-walls yet.Pros:
- How awesome would a curved screen that is nearly 11' wide be?
- In-walls can give a really elegant look.
- Klipsch has plenty of speakers that could work for height channels or other future surround channels that come along.
- Cost. This option is significantly more than the above.
- In-walls, just how good are they? A good audition is difficult to do.
The more I think about it, the more I like option 2. This room will be used mostly for TV and Movies, I'll probably be more apt to use whatever I put in the family room for music.
As for the more decorative aspects of the room I have a few ideas and will get more info on this once I visit the builder's design center. I'm hoping to have the room painted in some flat, dark color, perhaps a burgundy or maroon so I can reuse my existing acoustic panels. Of course those can be recovered. I'd like to have the ceiling and screen wall done in flat black if my builder is willing to do two colors in there. I will likely have to paint the lights, outlets, wall plates, etc., myself. I'll be choosing some appropriately dark carpet to match the paint. If they don't offer options that suit me for paint or carpet that is something I may consider having done prior to moving in. I plan on getting three theater style motorized recliners for the front row, and since the second row will be used on very rare occasions I may just get a couch in the same leather that will accommodate three or four people. I will probably just have recessed lighting in the room although I may add sconces but I feel those will be difficult to place with the windows, doors, and surround speakers where they are. I may add a ceiling fan, I'm not sure yet.
For electrical I plan on having 2 20AMP circuits feeding the closet, each with a couple of outlets. Definite overkill, but it's cheap enough to do up-front, so why not? I also budgeted for a third circuit feeding three outlets on the front wall for powered speakers, but if I go with option 2 that will not be necessary. All the speaker and projector wiring will be run there also. In addition I plan to have all my ethernet and coax homerun to that closet and my server/HTPC will reside in there. I'm going to be talking with the builder about A/C and ventilation options that they have. I have a good A/C guy I trust who I can have come and tweak things after I move in.
So if anyone has any feedback they'd like to offer, I'm all ears.