How big is a big theater ? Is there such a thing as too big ? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 05:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm designing and tweaking my plan for dedicated construction remodel (as soon as these twins are born) which includes a bonus room above a garage in plan to make my dedicated theater. Since it's new construction I can control dimensions, either go a bit bigger, or make it smaller with double studs/walls full room inside room type effect.

I'd like a huge screen (10 foot walls and ceiling going up to 12ft in the center) and a bar at the back.

The problem is I've never been in a home theater as large as I think I want. Any advice or concerns I should watch out for ?

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post #2 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 06:08 AM
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noone ever complained about a theater too big, but the prices rise exponentially as you go up in size for everything, to getting the extra volume from the system, to the projector, the screen, and the absorption all need to be increased.


Good luck.
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post #3 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by roccoleach View Post

noone ever complained about a theater too big, but the prices rise exponentially as you go up in size for everything, to getting the extra volume from the system, to the projector, the screen, and the absorption all need to be increased.


Good luck.

I have considered this- more materials - More GG, More Sheet rock, more lumber, etc.. etc.. At first I'll run it off the same furnace and AC - but I am going to run it all so that a dedicated AC and second furnace may be added in the future. It's on my long list of wants but not on the budget yet- that can be a worth upgrade years into the future. Everyone says a second zone is best but I can't afford it out of the gate- but I can plan for it.

I've considered what you are saying and I'm totally ok running only an existing AVR and skimping on the equipment first- like a cheaper home video light cannon projector that's $1200 (think Epson or the higher powered optoma) that can light my huge screen but with reduced contrast and black levels for a couple years too - I can chase this hobby for decades and no doubt equipment will change but the room never can. I want the best room I can get and I can figure out the rest later is kind of my idea- I'm very budget limited so the choices I am making are the ones that I can't go back and redo easily or cheap I want to get it right out of the gate- and the ones I can upgrade or improve later on I can go cheaper with for now and compromise knowing I can always improve later. This is kind of the way I am approaching it - I want a really nice theater but I have a very small budget compared to my dreams. I'll need to be strategic in my quest.

Thanks for the reply and the good luck!

I just was wondering if "too big" is a concern from sound or picture or user experience perspective. I've never been in a home theater as large as I am planning.

Right now I think it's going to be 34 long by 24 wide ( it can change ) and I will probably adjust the baffle wall and width/length a tad after framing to make sure I don't have dimensions that are highly undesirable as the end result.

Does a big room that's really sound damped feel strange or bad ?

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post #4 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 08:30 AM
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It'll sound good once you get it treated properly. Most people say they rarely use the extra seats. How many are in your household?
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post #5 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by roccoleach View Post

It'll sound good once you get it treated properly. Most people say they rarely use the extra seats. How many are in your household?

My wife and I. Twins are due in the next couple weeks biggrin.gif But I have some great friends, neighbors and family (both brother and his wife, son live down street and so does my inlaws, brother/sister in laws, and both my parents all same town) that would enjoy it with me. We are big football family so certainly every sunday in the fall and winter at the very least biggrin.gif But I already host movie night now- this would increase with a proper theater.

I'm planning on probably 4 theater seats in arc in the first row and a full size couch flanked by two more seats either side in the second row. I think I want the ability to lay down late a night and doze off for non critical viewing. I had toyed with the idea of a third short row of normal folder style cinema chairs for large amount of seating- but instead I think bar stools and a counter top overlooking the second row makes more sense, with the wet bar behind that against the back wall.

I had toyed with the idea of a pull across curtain behind the second row in critical viewing to prevent refraction and bounce of sound off the bar area (all those bottles, I was planning mirrors on the back walls of the shelves with LED, plus finished wood with lots of clear gloss on it) and maintain great sound for the times when I don't need the bar and entertainment area but want the theater. IDK... just an idea. It would be easy enough to pull across a curtain, which would help with the sound (and the contrast) and then pull it back and even store it inside the wall when entertaining or I wanted the full area. The one aspect is the 7.1 part of the back speakers. I plan two sets of sides in columns- but for the back speakers IDK ? With the bar in the back it gets challenging with placement- one idea was perhaps in the counter that overlooks the back row ? But that might be too close....

Not sure about all that yet though... I will have to work through all this.

There will definitely be times the theater is used as entertainment area as well- but I listed to people like Jeff Parkinson when he says he originally built the entertainment area but really could get by with a smaller theater and a few seats for personal use most of the time. I'm trying to figure out the best way to balance these two aspects - but I am still unsure. That is one of the areas that made me ask this thread question as I work through all this in my head.

Keep the feedback coming.

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post #6 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 09:58 AM
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You could check out my build. My room is 15' wide by 22' long with a window in back for extra seating at a counter with bar stools. I think a room this big is very "do-able" as far as equipment, but comfortable to entertain 12-15 people.
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post #7 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 10:05 AM
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I would plan to shrink the room, in a game setting theater dynamics don't matter as much, get a row of those theater style seats, and a bar, throw some beanbags for the kids, and can easily hold 20 people in a 20x24 room. Just what I would do had I been in your situation
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post #8 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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I am building a garage under the theater- and a secondary factor is I want a bigger garage. Since the theater is above they are somewhat related. A normal 2 car would get filled with crap and toys and tools and I would never have any room for my actual car ! eek.gif I want to actually fit my car in the garage (at least one of them) and still have some room in it for what DIY people end up doing with garages in addition to putting cars in them. Growing up at my dads there was never a car in either bay of his garage- it was always a toy or project or tools or whatever.

34 long seemed long, but if I put the bar at the back and do a good sized baffle wall or area behind the screen to fit monster sub boxes then it's really not. I'm still confused on the actual amount of space stuff like seating really takes. I've seen the horror stories of how you can't recline the front row and whatnot. I don't want that.

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post #9 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 10:25 AM
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How big is the bonus room you're planning? That is exactly what I have - a theater in a bonus room above a 2 car garage. It works quite well, although I wish it was bigger and over a 3 car garage. I did eat up some room building a projector closet, but I never ever have to worry about how loud a projector is. You also don't really need to sound proof a bonus room over a garage much, except for isolating it from the rest of the house. I did zero sound proofing. So far, the parked cars in the garage have never complained ! smile.gif

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post #10 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 10:51 AM
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Realistically the bigger the room the more it's going to cost to build it out. 34'x24' is not that huge; I've done rooms that size before, but acoustic treatment costs are based on surface area, bigger rooms = more surface area.

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post #11 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Nyal Mellor View Post

Realistically the bigger the room the more it's going to cost to build it out. 34'x24' is not that huge; I've done rooms that size before, but acoustic treatment costs are based on surface area, bigger rooms = more surface area.

So you think 34' x 24' is a good option ? Should I go wider ? or longer? Or smaller ? Will that dimension work for two rows seating, big screen - and a bar at the back ?

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post #12 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 11:29 AM
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So you think 34' x 24' is a good option ? Should I go wider ? or longer? Or smaller ? Will that dimension work for two rows seating, big screen - and a bar at the back ?

You need to think about layout! If the room dimensions are open start from the seating layout and work outwards to get to finished room dimensions. See my blog here on home theater seating layout for a usable approach and hints / tips.

Don't forget about the effect of seating placement on room mode interaction; ideally you'd ensure that seats were placed away from major axial nulls and in locations that interact similarly to room modes. You need to understand some acoustics to do this, or get some help from someone who does.

Don't forget to add in allowance for sound isolation and acoustic treatment at the perimeter of the room.

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post #13 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Nyal Mellor View Post

You need to think about layout! If the room dimensions are open start from the seating layout and work outwards to get to finished room dimensions. See my blog here on home theater seating layout for a usable approach and hints / tips.

Don't forget about the effect of seating placement on room mode interaction; ideally you'd ensure that seats were placed away from major axial nulls and in locations that interact similarly to room modes. You need to understand some acoustics to do this, or get some help from someone who does.

Don't forget to add in allowance for sound isolation and acoustic treatment at the perimeter of the room.

Thanks for the advice. I had thought about some of that, the problem is while I've thought about it it makes me no less sure about it tongue.gif

I have definetely thought about the wall construction (staggered stud vs double wall, clips on ceiling etc) and also the space I'd lose not just from that but from fabric panels and sound absorption materials. The space I'd lose for a false screen wall or baffle wall, and all that. These are just concepts I am trying to balance and understand but this will be the first time building a theater so it's hard to know what you really know or not. I appreaciate the guidance. Your link and webpage looks pretty fantastic BTW... biggrin.gif

Some of me is a do-er and not a planner. I'm the type that if I needed to get somewhere my first step would be get in the car and start driving that direction, figuring out the rest on the way. It seems like the most efficient and fastest path there. My wife is opposite, she would never leave the house until she had a printed out mapquest or google maps and the entire route figured out. My way is better anytime anything does not go exactly to plan because my strengths are I am adaptable easy and flexible to modify what I need to get the desired result... Wifey would work 90% of the time there was no detour or construction traffic but if anything did not follow the plan exactly it's a total disaster. Where am I going with this ? I guess at this point I need to make certain the dimensions since that is the first step for the concrete pour- I won't be in the room building the theater for some time after that so I have plenty of time to figure all the rest out as it comes taking one step at a time.

I don't think I know enough what I am doing to just sit down and draw and entire plan and follow it to the letter without detour. I'll probably make up for that in my willingness to seek guidance at times I need it, and if needed I'll redo something twice to get it right. At this point I am just playing with ideas, but I'll get a firm plan in place soon enough. smile.gif Room layout is an area of concern but I feel like until I am standing inside the room I'l have a hard time accurately imagining layout so I am shooting for an idea that can be tweaked when I hit that point.

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post #14 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 12:58 PM
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Mfusick check my build it is over the garage but I designed it with the builder and his architect. I did a few things to get around the standard knee walls you find in most "bonus Rooms" i.e. story and a half and 3 bay 25' deep garage with one bay being work shop walled off with lower ceiling than the other 2 bays. This gave me a 19' wide x 23' long space with built in riser. I have 7’ knee walls in front with 10’ ceiling and 6’ knee walls on riser with 9’ ceiling. I left room for 14' x 25' billiard room and my media closet in the area above the garage which opens to the rest of the second floor but this could have just as easily have been a longer theater. 23’ is perfect for 2 rows with a 24” AT screen wall. My first row is 10’6” from a 126” wide screen the second row 17’ but if you wanted to add a bar I would say no shorter than 30'. 2nd floor bonus rooms are unique do a search and you will not find too many.
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post #15 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
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I was thinking full height walls. I want high ceilings and big screen.

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post #16 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

My wife and I. Twins are due in the next couple weeks biggrin.gif But I have some great friends, neighbors and family (both brother and his wife, son live down street and so does my inlaws, brother/sister in laws, and both my parents all same town) that would enjoy it with me. We are big football family so certainly every sunday in the fall and winter at the very least biggrin.gif But I already host movie night now- this would increase with a proper theater.

I host movie nights about once a month, and it's very rare that I fill up my 12-seat theater (inviting ~20-25 folks). Super Bowl party is one good exception, but there's lots going on then. One of the things about watching ANYTHING in the dedicated theater is that you're NOT doing other things. The seating in rows is also a very different experience for watching sports as opposed to everyone sitting around a big TV on sofa / chairs.

I had originally planned on a 15-seat theater, and I'm glad I didn't do that - for all the practical / cost reasons that forced me down, and now in hindsight, I'd hardly ever use that extra capacity.
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I'm planning on probably 4 theater seats in arc in the first row and a full size couch flanked by two more seats either side in the second row. I think I want the ability to lay down late a night and doze off for non critical viewing.

Be VERY careful there in the planning. If you want to lie down on the couch, your head will be very low in the second row, and it's highly unlikely you'll be able to see the screen without a 18"+ riser. If anything, the couch should go in the front row so you don't have any viewing angle problems.
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I had toyed with the idea of a third short row of normal folder style cinema chairs for large amount of seating- but instead I think bar stools and a counter top overlooking the second row makes more sense, with the wet bar behind that against the back wall.

The bar table behind the 2nd row works great. I would move your wet bar out of the theater. Is there a game room in your floor plan or is the theater "it"? My theater is over the garage bays adjacent to my game room / bar...
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I had toyed with the idea of a pull across curtain behind the second row in critical viewing to prevent refraction and bounce of sound off the bar area (all those bottles, I was planning mirrors on the back walls of the shelves with LED, plus finished wood with lots of clear gloss on it) and maintain great sound for the times when I don't need the bar and entertainment area but want the theater.

Here's the problem with having a nice bar setup in the theater - it's going to be hidden and hardly ever seen... And it adds to the noise / complexity of the room. If you can shrink the theater, and reclaim space for a bar area outside - that will get used a lot more.
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There will definitely be times the theater is used as entertainment area as well- but I listed to people like Jeff Parkinson when he says he originally built the entertainment area but really could get by with a smaller theater and a few seats for personal use most of the time. I'm trying to figure out the best way to balance these two aspects - but I am still unsure. That is one of the areas that made me ask this thread question as I work through all this in my head.

THIS! biggrin.gif


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post #17 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 04:33 PM
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Waiting for this build thread to start! Big theaters are always awesome. Go as big as you can and as high as you can with the ceilings! biggrin.gif You need it for the new object based tech soon to enter the HT market or if you want to change it to a large size screen in the future. If the cost of treatments and audio to fill the room becomes expensive then you can upfront ask your big football family to help you DIY the acoustic treatments, speakers etc. I am sure you can save costs by taking their help during the build too! But if you plan to expand the theater later after its over its going to be very expensive and not practical!
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post #18 of 102 Old 04-25-2014, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Waiting for this build thread to start! Big theaters are always awesome. Go as big as you can and as high as you can with the ceilings! biggrin.gif You need it for the new object based tech soon to enter the HT market or if you want to change it to a large size screen in the future. If the cost of treatments and audio to fill the room becomes expensive then you can upfront ask your big football family to help you DIY the acoustic treatments, speakers etc. I am sure you can save costs by taking their help during the build too! But if you plan to expand the theater later after its over its going to be very expensive and not practical!

I am considering going 10 feet walls and then a peak ceiling, which could allow me 12 feet tall in the center of the room. I won't use the peak in the room because cathedral style peaks suck for sound- but I could just make the center a little taller. The two issues I have is my house is not that big, and it would look funny if the garage is a full 10 foot second floor and the house is 8 foot. Going 10 foot for the entire house would add a lot of extra cost to the project and I am already way over budget.


But I can go 10 feet tall if I need to do it.

It would kind of be like a double soffit effect though, so I am not sure how that would look ? My idea was go up a little in the center then drop it back down with an LED star ceiling based on sound absorbing panels or black cloth - possibly with coffer-ed over the top of the star ceiling to make it look like sky lights ? Just some ideas I had. It would be nice to have a high ceiling in a big room I think.

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post #19 of 102 Old 04-26-2014, 06:40 AM
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That makes sense. Do a google sketchup or any other software render and adjust the design untill you are satisfied.
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post #20 of 102 Old 04-26-2014, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
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I suck at sketch up; I tried lol.

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post #21 of 102 Old 04-26-2014, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
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It might be easier for me sketch IRL then scan?

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post #22 of 102 Old 04-26-2014, 01:28 PM
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I suck at google sketch too. IMHO Whatever you do hope you do not plan as you go through the build. The amount of money savings and peace of mind you can get if you have a proper design which includes sound isolation/acoustic/hvac/electrical layout from the beginning cant be stressed enough. It will save a ton of headaches later. I Wish i had spent atleast $3000-5000 for my total layout.
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post #23 of 102 Old 04-28-2014, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

I am considering going 10 feet walls and then a peak ceiling, which could allow me 12 feet tall in the center of the room. I won't use the peak in the room because cathedral style peaks suck for sound- but I could just make the center a little taller. The two issues I have is my house is not that big, and it would look funny if the garage is a full 10 foot second floor and the house is 8 foot. Going 10 foot for the entire house would add a lot of extra cost to the project and I am already way over budget.


But I can go 10 feet tall if I need to do it.

It would kind of be like a double soffit effect though, so I am not sure how that would look ? My idea was go up a little in the center then drop it back down with an LED star ceiling based on sound absorbing panels or black cloth - possibly with coffer-ed over the top of the star ceiling to make it look like sky lights ? Just some ideas I had. It would be nice to have a high ceiling in a big room I think.
We only went up a few feet on the second floor above the garage so about 1 1/3rd story on that side. It looks ok and gives you more space. My floor plans are in the first few posts as well as the during construction and finished pics of the exterior of my house. The knee walls help with the width, without them I would have a 13' wide room vise my 19' wide. Just saying biggrin.gif
Garage and theater on left



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post #24 of 102 Old 04-28-2014, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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WOW! Thanks for the pictures biggrin.gif

I am considering a full 8 foot vs a full 10foot wall going up before the roof starts on my build. I am replacing the second floor on my home now (it's a cape) to go up and add full walls and gain space upstairs too during the project so the considerations I have is how will this massive garage blend into the house and how will it look from the street.

I don't want this tiny house and massively huge garage. I could do 10 foot walls on the second floor of the house too - and match. But the cost is higher. Or I could just go 8 foot walls on the garage and then claim some extra space in the center to raise the ceiling in the theater thanks to the peak roof design (kind of like you did).

Almost like building a soffit into the room design and ceiling. but I would still need a soffit.

Something like this:


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post #25 of 102 Old 04-28-2014, 09:39 AM
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I think that you have to consider your screen size because a super huge screen with a long throw will require a very expensive projector! Something that might help out with that is an A-lens. That too is not cheap.

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post #26 of 102 Old 04-28-2014, 10:21 AM
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If wanting a system that can do clean reference levels, then speaker costs and especially sub costs are going to be considerably higher.

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post #27 of 102 Old 04-28-2014, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pain Infliction View Post

I think that you have to consider your screen size because a super huge screen with a long throw will require a very expensive projector! Something that might help out with that is an A-lens. That too is not cheap.

True but there's always a product out there that will get it done. My dad has an Epson in his living room he got at bestbuy under $1600 and it's stupidly bright with an 18foot throw. I'm two years from a projector upgrade I think, I'd like the room to be ready for it and I buy the projector for the room.

I never understood why everyone buys the projector before the room. I've had a projector since 2000 when I started on an infocus x1 480p model off DVD. I guess I'm numb to that itch (thank god )
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If wanting a system that can do clean reference levels, then speaker costs and especially sub costs are going to be considerably higher.

I'll probably do a DIY speaker build so that makes the challenge a little easier. Ideally I'd like something like a SEOS project with dual 12" and 4 18" subs. That should get me started. This is as much a hobby as it is a desire to have a theater so I'll look forward to advancing as time goes by, but the room I need to get right the first time, even if it means I'll wear headphones and use my existing projector that's doesn't throw enough light smile.gif I'm not going to consider and AV equipment until the carpet is installed smile.gif

I've made this oath to myself.

Getting back on track of the size thing,

As far as the room the height of the ceiling effects directly the screen size right ?

So what's the biggest screen I could do with 8 feet? How's that improve with 10 feet walls ? That was my biggest fear was with 8 foot wall height I'd be too limited in screen size with a good height riser.

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post #28 of 102 Old 04-28-2014, 01:07 PM
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With my 19' wide 10' tall room (in front) I have a 126"x64" DIY 2.0:1 constant image area screen. (137" Dia regardless of format) with plenty of room to spare. I hit it from 16'6" with my Panasonic AE-8000. No issue lighting it up.
20131229_145539.jpg

Since this is new construction have you considered built in riser? I had a 3 car garage and had them build a work shop on the end with a ceiling that was 12” lower than the main garage.
From screen wall before

after

Here you can see the floor joist of the work shop is a 2x12 lower than the garage. They framed the work shop and put a 2x12 on and framed the garage.

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post #29 of 102 Old 04-28-2014, 08:52 PM
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My room is 32' x 21' x 12' so very comparable in size. It's also over a double garage. Lots of photos in my build thread.

There's something about being well away from all the surfaces that makes a big room very special.

Cheers,
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter M View Post

My room is 32' x 21' x 12' so very comparable in size. It's also over a double garage. Lots of photos in my build thread.

There's something about being well away from all the surfaces that makes a big room very special.

Cheers,

I agree. I just checked it out and asked how high it was in the thread, but upon returning here I see the answer is 12 feet. It looks high in the pictures. That is nice. I think I want to try to get as much height as I can.

One of the ideas I had was something like this:




I am just wondering if I can do a soffit that from the room looks level and square/rectangle with 90 degree edges, but internally have it shaped like a triangle due to roof line ?? I guess if I just place the lights out enough into the room for proper clearance it should not be a problem right ? I was also considering having the ceiling sheet rocked like a peak with a single layer then making a second internal ceiling that was flat, but it seemed overly complicated so I scratched that. The idea originally being like a double wall effect but on the ceiling. Now I think a double layer + GG makes the most sense. Since it's the second floor I would like to capture some additional height in the center of the room, rather than losing height to a soffit like a basement build.

If my soffits started at the 8 foot mark, that might allow me to get by with only 8 foot walls. I could make the soffits in the rectangle style and then after the soffit I could go up with the ceiling. The bigger the soffit the more space I could gain in the center height.

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