Small Budget Home Theater Build- Start to Finish - AVS Forum
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Old 06-12-2014, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Small Budget Home Theater Build- Start to Finish

I have really enjoyed seeing other people post their home theater builds and watching their progress, so I thought I would share mine.

Unlike some of the people on here, I do not have lots of money to throw at a home theater. So I would consider mine a "Budget build". To save money, I did 95% of the work myself. Also during the last few months purchased most of the audio/video equipment off either ebay or Craigslist. My home theater is small, the room size is 12' Wide x 14' Deep. Here is my current equipment list:

Optoma HD25E projector
Pioneer Elite VSX92-THX
Samsung BD-F5900 3D Wi-Fi Blu-ray Disc Player
Monster Power Reference Power Center HTS 1600
Martin Logan Montage - Front Mains
Martin Logan Fresco I - Center channel
Martin Logan Vignette - Surrounds
Martin Logan Depth I subwoofer
Sony PS3
Screen - DIY using Carl's Blackout Cloth
HDMI & RCA Cables- Mediabridge Ultra Series

Now, before you point out that for a budget home theater I am using $6000 in speakers, I found all of them on Craigslist and got them for an incredible deal. This also goes for the Pioneer Elite Receiver, which may not stay due to the fact it only has 3 HDMI connections and they cannot pass a 3D signal.

The attached images are my attempt to layout the theater in Sketchup to help give an idea of what I am attempting to accomplish.

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Old 06-12-2014, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Wood Delivered!

Wood has been delivered and a pic of the basement before construction. The home theater is going in the corner where the ping pong table is.

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Old 06-12-2014, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Wall Construction

The first walls are going up. My new favorite tool is a pneumatic framing nailer! Love that tool. The last couple pictures are of the equipment closet being framed.

I tried posting the pictures in the body of the message without much luck. So for now they will be added as attachments.
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Old 06-12-2014, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Tray Ceiling

Construction of the tray ceiling has begun. I plan on running rope light around the inside perimeter and plugging them into a switched outlet. Since the room is small its hard to get a large overall image so this is the best I can do. These pictures were taken on 4/11/14.
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Old 06-12-2014, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Entry Door Hung

Finished installing the entry door into the theater. The adjacent room will be a storage closet. First time hanging a door, with help from my brother it went pretty smoothly.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Speaker wiring has begun...

The room will be wired for 7.1, a total of 10 speaker jacks. I only plan on running 5.1 since the room is so small, but I figured while I am doing all of this I might as well run wiring for 7.1. The room is also wired for (3) subwoofers. Not that I will be using (3) but it gives me some flexibility on the location of the subwoofer. It is wired for two subwoofers below the screen and wiring for another one is in the back left corner of the room (next to the couch). These pictures were taken on 5/15/14.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
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The attached picture is of the screen wall. I am planning for a 105" diagonal screen size. The outlet and speaker wiring for the left and right mains, left and right subwoofers, and center channel. The electrical tape shown in the picture is the outline of the screen. I will be building the screen later using Blackout Cloth purchased on Amazon. I am also wiring an outlet and HDMI connection behind the screen in case someday someone would want to use an LCD screen instead of a projector.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:13 PM
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Looks like you're off to a great start!
Please keep posting pictures of the progress.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Electrical Wiring...

Electrical wiring is now completed. I have wired 4 dedicated circuits. The three switches control the recessed lights around the tray ceiling (remote control dimmer switch), Rope lighting (dimmer switch), and (4) recessed lights in the ceiling, for a total of (12) 3" recessed lights. These were taken around 5/17/14.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Drywall time...

Let me first say... I... Hate.... Drywall. OK, had to get that out of my system. A Dremel tool does wonders for cutting out outlet boxes etc. I don't know how I would have done this without this wonderful tool! I have done all of the drywall by myself. I have never hung drywall before. Gotta love YouTube videos!
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
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We have power and lights!

Finally we got power to the room so I don't have to run extension cords across the basement. Drywall is moving along... slowly... but getting done. Did I say I Hate Drywall? The things I do to save money.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Projector location

The projector is going to be located at the back wall under the tray ceiling. I have ran (2) HDMI cables, a VGA cable, and power to this location.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric-G View Post
Wood has been delivered and a pic of the basement before construction. The home theater is going in the corner where the ping pong table is.

you need a shuffle board
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Dry wall mudding...

Man, and I thought hanging drywall was bad... Nope, mudding drywall is worse! I watched lots of YouTube videos for this also.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Equipment Area

The equipment closet is shown in the pictures. In case you are wondering what the square hole is that's located below the equipment shelf. I have purchased a 20" x 20" return air grate to cover this hole. The grate door is hinged, so I plan on locating my Media PC inside this cubby hole to get it out of the way. A plug has also been wired down there to power the PC. Since I'm not sure how solid a wireless signal I will get in the basement, I have also wired CAT6 Ethernet cable from the router located upstairs to the equipment closet. These pictures were taken on 6/9/14.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sting82465 View Post
you need a shuffle board
Great idea, I will be sure to add this to my "Stuff I need for the basement" list.
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Old 06-12-2014, 02:00 PM
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Nice project you got going there. Yes keeping the Pioneer Elite VSX92-THX AVR and still have 3D video is possible but would be a wiring headache. You could use a dual HDMI out blue-ray player, HDMI switch and make use of the Toslink(optical) connections on the Elite. There will be no sound quality loss versus HDMI, and you would not have the expensive of a new AVR purchase. Toslink will do 7.1 and DTS with no problems. I own a Pioneer Elite VSX92-THX myself and love the flexibility it offers and would not trade it for anything!

Yes Carl has made a believer of me. He has a great selection and quality of screen material for the DIY crowd. I do not know if you plan to hide your front and center speakers behind the screen or not. He sales perforated screen material. My favorite is his SilverScreen material. You will not be disappointed if you go the silver route here it is worth the extra few bucks over the regular blackout material. Send Carl a email, he is very knowledgeable and will answer your questions honestly and quickly.
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Old 06-12-2014, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CinemaAndy View Post
Nice project you got going there. Yes keeping the Pioneer Elite VSX92-THX AVR and still have 3D video is possible but would be a wiring headache. You could use a dual HDMI out blue-ray player, HDMI switch and make use of the Toslink(optical) connections on the Elite. There will be no sound quality loss versus HDMI, and you would not have the expensive of a new AVR purchase. Toslink will do 7.1 and DTS with no problems. I own a Pioneer Elite VSX92-THX myself and love the flexibility it offers and would not trade it for anything!

Yes Carl has made a believer of me. He has a great selection and quality of screen material for the DIY crowd. I do not know if you plan to hide your front and center speakers behind the screen or not. He sales perforated screen material. My favorite is his SilverScreen material. You will not be disappointed if you go the silver route here it is worth the extra few bucks over the regular blackout material. Send Carl a email, he is very knowledgeable and will answer your questions honestly and quickly.
My thought about using the VSX92-THX with 3D was this... The Optoma HD25E projector has two HDMI connections. I was going to use one of those HDMI connections to go directly to the Samsung BD-F5900 Blu Ray player then run an Optical cable from the Blu Ray player to the VSX92-THX. So I'd essentially be running only the audio through the receiver. The other HDMI from the projector would go to the receiver for the Satellite, PC and PS3. That should work right? I already have an Onkyo TX NR515 for our TV in our living room. I thought about switching it around and putting the Pioneer upstairs and the Onkyo in the Home Theater. But if I can get the 3D to work with the Pioneer I'd much rather have that in the Theater. Thoughts?
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Old 06-12-2014, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric-G View Post
My thought about using the VSX92-THX with 3D was this... The Optoma HD25E projector has two HDMI connections. I was going to use one of those HDMI connections to go directly to the Samsung BD-F5900 Blu Ray player then run an Optical cable from the Blu Ray player to the VSX92-THX. So I'd essentially be running only the audio through the receiver. The other HDMI from the projector would go to the receiver for the Satellite, PC and PS3. That should work right? I already have an Onkyo TX NR515 for our TV in our living room. I thought about switching it around and putting the Pioneer upstairs and the Onkyo in the Home Theater. But if I can get the 3D to work with the Pioneer I'd much rather have that in the Theater. Thoughts?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but using an optical cable will not allow you to receive the DTS-HDMA & Dolby TrueHD lossless audio formats...
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Old 06-12-2014, 03:38 PM
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but using an optical cable will not allow you to receive the DTS-HDMA & Dolby TrueHD lossless audio formats...
You are correct there and also you would loose the Ethernet part of the HDMI 1.4-A as well. This only applies to certain devices right now.

That is why i mentioned a HDMI switch. They are cheap, reliable and remote controlled, so no going into the closet to change from one input to the other to the other. All the newer HDMI switches support 3D and 4K. I have a 1x3 HDMI switch i use on my system and it has worked very well.

Like he stated, the Optoma has two HDMI inputs. I would use input 1 for Blue ray, ps3/4 3D, input 2 from AVR for 2D content.

With a dual HDMI out player 1 to projector, 2 to AVR=Full sound range.

The hang up is the PS3/4 that would have to have the HDMI going to the HDMI switch and Toslink to the AVR if you wanted 3D games. I do not know of any DTS-HD console games. Correct me if i am wrong there.

Simply like he stated he wanted to keep the Pioneer Elite. And i don't blame him there. The problem is working around the Elite's inability to pass thru 3D video, and at the same time keep all the audio functions it delivers.
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Old 06-12-2014, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric-G View Post
My thought about using the VSX92-THX with 3D was this... The Optoma HD25E projector has two HDMI connections. I was going to use one of those HDMI connections to go directly to the Samsung BD-F5900 Blu Ray player then run an Optical cable from the Blu Ray player to the VSX92-THX. So I'd essentially be running only the audio through the receiver. The other HDMI from the projector would go to the receiver for the Satellite, PC and PS3. That should work right? I already have an Onkyo TX NR515 for our TV in our living room. I thought about switching it around and putting the Pioneer upstairs and the Onkyo in the Home Theater. But if I can get the 3D to work with the Pioneer I'd much rather have that in the Theater. Thoughts?
Like Thrillcat pointed out, lossless versions of DTS-HDMA and Dolby TrueHD are not supported over toslink. Living with out those two is something you have to decide.

The other way around this, is the purchase of a dual HDMI out Blu-ray player. 1 HDMI to the projector, 2 HDMI to the Elite. This leaves the PS3 in the cold. But i'm not sure if they make DTS-HDMA console games. And if you want to enjoy 3D games on the PS3 then you would have to "switch" that signal to the projector via a HDMI switch since the Elite will not pass 3D thru.

I recommend that you try out both toslink and HDMI and go with what your ears like.

I have tracked down one or two things that my own Pioneer Elite will not let a 3D signal pass thru. Doesn't understand 120 hertz or/both HDCP can not get the hand shake. I have tried everything on my system and just use toslink for audio and HDMI for video. Works for me.

When i fell like replacing a perfectly good AVR, i will make sure it does 4K, 240 hertz and 3D pass thru.
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Old 06-12-2014, 04:25 PM
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A Bluray player like the new Oppos would allow not only dual hdmi outputs, but an hdmi input for the PS3 as well.

But they start at $500, so not necessarily budget...
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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A Bluray player like the new Oppos would allow not only dual hdmi outputs, but an hdmi input for the PS3 as well.

But they start at $500, so not necessarily budget...
I looked at the Oppos Blu Ray a while back... just to expensive. I might just swap out the Onkyo TX NR515 from my livingroom with the Pioneer Elite receiver. That should solve the 3D and audio issue. Would using the Pioneer in the theater add many benefit's over the Onkyo receiver?
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Paint!

Painting has begun. Got all the walls and ceiling primed, now time for some color. Glad to finally be through the dry-walling stage. My wife picked out the colors... I am really happy with them.





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Old 06-23-2014, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Getting Closer!

Painting is about finished, now adding wall plates etc. I painted the equipment area black, I will be adding shelves tomorrow.



I got the tray ceiling lights installed... love the look. We have both red lights and white lights. We decided to go with the red lights... more dramatic.





This was a last minute add before I finished the drywall. I have a Paradigm passive subwoofer that I decided I wanted to also use in theater along with the Martin Logan Depth I. So while I was adding speaker level inputs in the back corner of the room, I figured I might as well run another RCA jack, and an Ethernet jack.



This is the speaker and subwoofer RCA connections for the front left.

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Old 06-24-2014, 01:37 PM
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I'm also staring down the barrel of a 12' wide theater and love to see how people are tackling it.

I'm also struggling with the decision to build it myself or farm out the work.

how much previous experience did you have framing walls or doing electric?

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Old 06-25-2014, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ckronengold View Post
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I'm also staring down the barrel of a 12' wide theater and love to see how people are tackling it.

I'm also struggling with the decision to build it myself or farm out the work.

how much previous experience did you have framing walls or doing electric?
ckronengold- I am happy with the theater only being 12' wide. Its just perfect for my needs and layout. I would not want to go any narrower than that though. My screen width is 103" which leaves enough room for my ML tower speakers to sit on either side.

I have never built anything like this before. I work in engineering so I am very good with CAD and 3D modeling, so I was able to do all the layout work myself. I watched lots and lots of "how to" videos on YouTube. They were such a great resource. I did 95% of the work by myself so the build went very slow... especially the drywall phase. But I am on the home stretch now, just some trim work, touch ups and then install the electronics and speakers. As far as the electrical, once again more YouTube videos. I also have a friend who is an electrician. So I ran all the wiring for the outlets lights etc. then he came over and showed me how to hook everything up. Its all pretty simple, but I had him wire the 4 circuits up to the fuse box. If you end up framing the walls yourself, you definitely need to purchase a pneumatic framing nailer... its an awesome tool to have! I don't know how much I saved doing all the work myself, but I'm sure its quite a bit. If I had to do it all over again I would only pay someone to mud and sand the drywall.

Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:13 PM
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Did you have much HVAC to deal with? Thats not something I think I'm prepared to tackle on my own.

Here's what the current basement looks like, and what i was thinking about doing with it.
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Carpet, Projector, and Screen

Carpet being installed:



Here is a picture of the screen frame being fitted to the wall. I then wrapped the screen in Carl's backout cloth. I am very pleased with the image qaulity it is excellent. Plus I saved a chunk of mony building the screen myself.



I got the projector mounted and tested. I found the Optoma HD25e brand new unopened on ebay for only $600! Super pleased with this purchase.

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Old 06-25-2014, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Room Pictures...

Room almost complete!



My wife and I found this couch at a local furniture store, it was half price since it was a display model. Has dual power recliners too! The center seat back folds down and has two cup holders and a small tray.



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