3 Row Home Theater - Need Design Input - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-20-2014, 12:50 AM - Thread Starter
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3 Row Home Theater - Need Design Input

Hello All!

I am in the process of designing my home theater room and am having some (understatement) trouble in planning everything so that it all is as workable as possible. I’ve chosen a rather difficult setup that I am 99% sure is not ideal nor acceptable to most of you that have put many years into designing your own person home theaters. Despite that, I am coming for aid and hope that you all can provide me some information on how I can work with the space I have with the design concepts I want to implement.

Please note that it is a relatively long read.

Here we go…

Room Information
The room is 14 feet long by 28 feet wide (it was a spare room, I have read that I do not want proportional dimensions, but oh well). The ceiling is 9 feet from the ground. The room is located in a corner of the basement.

When facing the wall with the screen (front wall) – I provided as much detail as I can about what obstacles there are that I have to plan around when it comes to placing speakers.

Right Wall – There are 4 doors located on this wall. The first door is the entry door. The second is a door to a closet, which will be turned into the A/V equipment room. The third door leads to the bathroom. The fourth door leads to a Utility room. I am going to do my best to try and block sound coming in and out of the doors, but that is a project I will take care of later.
The entry door is 9” from the front. The Second door is 32” from the end of the first door. The Third door is 46.5” from the second door. The 4th door is 14” from the third door. All doors are 3 feet wide with 3.5 inch framing (standard doors I believe).

Rear Wall – There is a double door located 9” from the right wall leading to the outside.

Left Wall – There is a window 137” from the front wall, 39” wide.

The front, right, and left walls have a small accent frame border that circles the room at about 3 feet from the floor, about 3.5” high. It is not included in the drawing as I did not thinking something at 3 feet would interfere with speaker placement, of course I could be wrong.

Overall Setup
I am setting the room to accommodate 3 rows of seating. I will be using a front facing projector with a wall mounted screen along with a 7.1 speaker system.
Everything else in this post will be questions or information that I feel are important to help me configure the room for this setup. I am set on 3 rows of seating and will be doing the best I can to have the best possible, but reasonably affordable, viewing and listening experience for the 3 rows. I understand that there will be compromises to quality to achieve this, and I am ok with that.

Seating (and riser information)
Since I am looking at 3 rows of seating (12 seats total), I definitely need to build or purchase a set of risers. I will need to have aisles on both sides of the risers. I have measured these to be 20”. Since the room is 14’, 168”, that leaves me with 128” for risers.

The second row riser, currently based off of my measurements, will be 128” in width, 7’ in depth (to accommodate HT seating), and 10” height (I assume I need a step for this high of a riser).

The third row riser will be the same width and depth but 20” in height (I assume I need at least 2 steps for this high of a riser).

With 28’ of room lengthwise, I have measured this to be so that the first row of seats (that is, the back/end of the seat) sits at around 10’ from the front wall where the screen is located. The second row will be 17’, and the third row 24’. These distances are why I have estimated needing 10” and 20” risers. I tried using the riser calculators available in the internet but I could have used them incorrectly.
The placing of these seats can be changed to accommodate where I need the speakers located (more on this later).

Ideally, I wil be purchasing these seats : http://4seating.com/seatcraft-theate...er-seating.htm

A row of 4 ends at about 127”, perfect for the riser. In any case, the seats will measure less than 128” wide, which pretty much eliminates any possibility of a curved settings.

Summary :
Row 1 – 10’ from screen
Row 2 – 17’ from screen on 10” riser
Row 3 – 24’ from screen on 20” riser

Picture
Because I have a 9’ ceiling, and because the internets tells me to base my projector screen size off of my ceiling, the screen will be between 5’-6’ high. I am going to stick with a 16:9 screen BECAUSE this room will also be used to watch sports/play the occasional console game. I am ok with black bars when watching movies. That leaves me with a screen width between 8.9’ and 10.68’.

I have been told by the internets that I should leave 1 foot from the top of the ceiling to the projection screen and 3 feet from the bottom. That gives me exactly 5’ of height for the screen. This would give me a 122” screen. If I go 2.5 feet from the bottom, leaving me with 5’5 screen height, that gives me a 134” screen. I would like to have my screen around this size because it is bigger and makes me happy.
The room is pitch black at night. If you walked in with your eyes closed, and then opened them, you would not even realize it. Imagine a room painted with hex code #000000 . In the day time, it is still pretty dark, but that would be because I have curtains placed on every door (except the entry door) and the window.

Since ambient light isn’t an issue, unless my understanding of ambient light is wrong, I don’t think my choice of projector is going to be too difficult. I have looked at the Panasonic PTAE8000U and think it should be good for my purposes. I would like to keep the cost of this component under $2,000 and luckily this one can be had for $1,800 on a good day.

The projector would ideally be located behind the third row (in my opinion) but the internets is telling me that it is impossible given my screen size and what they call the throw ratio of most of the projectors I have tried on http://www.projectorcentral.com/proj...calculator.cfm. So I am assuming I am going to be placing it just above the second row seating, which I do not know if that is a problem for viewing by the third row. I have read that it should be mounted at the same height as the top of the projector screen, so that means it will be mounting 1’ below the ceiling, about 6’4” from the top of the third row seating. So if it is placed above the third row, you’d have to be pretty tall to bump into it.

The screen material I am looking at is CineWhite (whatever that means) because the internets tells me that if the projector I am looking at has a contrast ratio of more than 2000:1, get that material. So I will unless that is stupid.

Summary:
Projector Screen Size : Ideally 134”
Material : CineWhite (http://www.projectorscreenstore.com/...WH1-69776.html)
Projector : Panasonic PT-AE8000U
Projector Distance from Screen - ~17-19’
Projector Distance from Ceiling – 1’
Screen distance from Ceiling – 1’

Audio
So here is the part that messes me up. I can not have perfect audio for all three rows. I have the option of optimizing it for 1 row, or compromising for all 3. I have chosen the latter.

The system is a 7.1 set up. Because of the multiple rows, and the hours of googling I have done, a multi row set up with 3+ rows has a high chance of needing multiple surround speakers. That said, I have no idea how much I should get. Some websites say 1 for each row, some say 1 between each set of rows. Apparently it all depends on whether I get monopole, dipole, or bipole speakers. I have done as much research as I can, and I can’t get a straight answer because obviously there really isn’t a correct one. What I think gives me the best compromise is 2 sets of bipole surrounds running in parallel between each row. That is, one set between the first and second row, and one between the second and third row. I think these are supposed to be ear level but I don’t know how that is possible with different height seating so I am going to pick 7’ from the ground because 7 is a lucky number. That would also make me have to adjust my seats a bit so that I can fit set behind the second row (it would be between the third and fourth door on the right wall). It is going to obviously require more work than that because of where that window is on the left wall. This is definitely something I need a lot of input on. The internets has also told me to run these in parallel. Why? I have no clue, but people have suggested it on various forums so hey, why not.

As for the front set up, I have no clue what to do either. The center speaker, since the screen is wall mounted, would have to be placed above the screen. I have allocated 1 foot of space for this. It would be tilted downward. I cannot do anything else because I do not have the option to get an AT screen and place the speaker behind it. I do not know what to do with the front because I have read that they need to be around the same height as the center speaker. I wanted to get floor standing speakers but if that height requirement is true, I don’t know how that would work without creating either a very large stand or using a super mount.

The rear surround speakers should be easy. The back row isn’t against the wall, I have 4’ of space so I am just going to put them up. However, because of where that door is, I will likely have them placed at the top of the door. I do not know if they should be angled at all.

I would like to allocate close to $2,000 for the speakers and receiver. I suspect I need more, but would like to start off with this, even if it means living with 1 set of surrounds for a time being. Please advise on any other equipment I might need.

Summary:
7.1 speaker set up
Front speakers – Wanted floor standing but not sure what to do about height.
Center Speaker – Needs to be mounted above screen, angled downward. No other option.
Surround Speaker – No idea what to do but thought of 2 sets of bipole speakers connected parallel, one between each set of rows.
Surround Back Speakers – Would have to be placed above the door, so close to 7’ from the ground.
Subwoofer – Wherever I feel it sounds best

OVERALL SUMMARY
If you haven’t read everything else, here is what I need help with:
1. Riser height for 3 row seating and distance from a screen about 134” diagonal in a room 28’ long.
2. Speaker placement that would be ideal for this set up that is a compromise for all 3 rows
3. Projector placement to get the image I need.
Thank you all for the help. I know that was long and pretty boring but I am hoping someone else can also learn from your suggestions and answers.

Thanks!
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Last edited by tilani; 06-20-2014 at 12:53 AM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-20-2014, 07:32 AM
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I'm going to take a practical approach to this, and make some assumptions. Given what I perceive to be your constraints and priorities, here's what I'd do:

Choose the third row riser height based on what you can tolerate for overhead clearance. Split the difference for the second row height. Your distances seem pretty good. With that information, make the screen as large and low as will fit and maintain clear sight lines and 1' from the ceiling.

The side surround issue is tough. Given what I am feeling from you in terms of budget and willingness to compromise, I'd put one set of direct radiators with the widest dispersion possible to the side of the second row, or slightly in front of it.

Projector placement is easy. Just use one of the calculators at projector central or similar. Put the projector close to the screen - that will maximize brightness and hopefully keep it from being in the way of third row viewers who stand.

(Hope that helps. I may have missed something reading from my phone)
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-20-2014, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response!


I was pretty happy with my riser height calculation so I think I might just stick with that. I will definitely keep the screen and projector 1' from the ceiling. As for the size of the screen, I think it would be best to go as large as possible, with clear line of sight, but also make sure that the third row seating faces as close to the middle of the screen as possible. I read somewhere that it is much more uncomfortable to view a screen with your head angled a bit downward than upward. Let me know what you think.


I have never heard of the term direct radiators before but I will definitely look into it. Since you suggested a single set, do you think it would be pointless to put in wiring in the future? Do you think that is the best setup I could achieve?


Would the projector at all be a distraction to viewers in the third row since it will be mounted at the same height as the screen? I feel like that would definitely be something you would notice. Do you think my choice of projector is good then?


Thanks again!
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-20-2014, 02:56 PM
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We're on the same page about screen size and position. Directly ahead or down is great, but just not feasible in homes in most cases. The Panasonic is a good choice, an you'll see that there is some vertical offset from the lens to the screen - an that's adjustable. Vertical lens shift allows the projector to be higher than the top of the screen (though this can complicate things if you decide to use a 'scope screen and the projector's memory zoom functions).

"Direct radiator" refers to most loudspeaker designs. Bipolar and dipolar designs are not direct radiators. My preference for direct radiators is somewhat philosophical. That is to say, others disagree, and that's okay. I think that most modern surround mixes benefit from direct sound over the more "diffuse" sound presented by other designs. I think this will be even more important with future sound mixes.

In terms of the projector being a nuisance to viewers in the rear row(s): maybe... But I think the large screen size benefits from as much light as you can get.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-21-2014, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again!
Do you have any recommendations for direct radiator speakers? If you have the time, do you think you could point me to an entire 7.1 speaker system you recommend? I was looking at some klipsch systems but they appear to be bipole and I am not sure if having floor front speakers would work if my center speaker is above the screen.

Last edited by tilani; 06-21-2014 at 08:04 PM.
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-22-2014, 12:14 PM
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When shopping for speakers, the traditional (and very good) advice is to try them out. That means getting them into your space, not just listening on a showroom floor. Speaker voicing can be a very personal thing - so someone else's favorite may be totally horrible to you.

Despite the personal preferences that some have, there are some rules of thumb that can be applied here.

Especially for home theater applications, sensitivity is a very important specification. When the speaker is designed, it's generally impossible to get high sensitivity (a good thing), low frequency output, and a reasonably small cabinet. You're going to need a reasonably small cabinet; so among the other two variables there, you want sensitivity. There is no need for your speakers to be able to put out high SPL below the subwoofer crossover. The higher the sensitivity, the less power it takes for the speaker to deliver loud sound effects without distortion. The blaring sound you often associate with really loud music or movies is usually the result of some distortion in the playback - with high sensitivity designs and adequate power (which shouldn't need to be very high in many cases), the loud parts come through cleanly and the dynamics are preserved. The crash or gunshot is dramatic and fits the scene, and your ears don't scream from the distortion. I'd say sensitivity in the low 90dB range is good. In general, the higher the better.

Again in home theater settings, the placement of the speakers and the way they interact with the boundaries is important. This is a complex topic, but as a rule I would recommend "controlled directivity" designs. Generally that means speakers with wave guides (horns - though technically not really horns). The wave guide helps to keep sound off the walls, so that more of what you hear from your seat is direct sound from the loudspeaker, and less of the reflected sound.

My personal choice for speakers that meet these goals are the DIY designs from the DIYSoundgroup that use SEOS wave guides. I built three Cheap Thrills (no longer available) for my front soundstage. I'm also planning on building several of the Volt series (coaxial designs) for surrounds. The coaxial designs have the added benefit of slightly wider dispersion (100 degrees instead of 90) as well as being "point source" designs, which can make sitting close to them less objectionable; a good thing in a narrow room. If you were interested in building your own you could build 4 Volts for around $600-$700 all in, and three others for the front for probably slightly more. Then a common receiver would have enough power to drive the speakers to deliver an awesome sound experience, IMO. This is truly the value leader in home theater if you have the time, tools, and patience to build them yourself.

Among commercial offerings, there's not a whole lot in your budget; but some things to consider. HSU research sells totally respectable "small" bookshelf speakers with reasonably good sensitivity and controlled directivity. Their package deals are within your budget, and represent real value, IMO. Chane Music and Cinema sells Theater Ten monitors that have good sensitivity and reasonably controlled directivity; they're a little pricey for your stated budget, but will pack a punch. Something else to consider might be Ascend Acoustics - they get a lot of positive reviews for their sound, but may fall a little short on my criteria. You can get a package from them well within your budget.


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post #7 of 8 Old 06-22-2014, 12:35 PM
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I want to raise a couple other points that you may be (probably are) already aware of - you seem to have done a lot of research ...but just in case.

More subwoofers! Modal interactions will totally dominate the frequency response of bass in your (or anyone's really) normal sized room. As you noted, placement of the sub(s) is very important. The trouble here is that with one sub and three rows of seats, you can never make all three rows get good bass using only one sub. I'll go ahead and say it's impossible. The more subs you have, the more you can use them to work against each other in stimulating modal ringing. This will go farther than anything else to make the bass response similar at all the seats (though bass trapping is always going to be a good thing). Once the response is similar, the signal can be equalized to the frequency response you're after (headroom and processing pending).

Go ahead and wire for multiple surrounds (side arrays) but be aware of the costs. High end calibrators would recommend powerful processing to manipulate the signals for the surround channels to avoid comb filtering. Some people have been very happy with less sophisticated approaches, but you should familiarize yourself with the benefits and costs of the various approaches. Here's a good place to start reading (though perhaps you have already) Processing for Multiple Surrounds


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post #8 of 8 Old 06-25-2014, 06:44 AM
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Regarding speaker placement and room acoustics, I recommend you watch the 2 videos below. Great stuff here.




Good luck, and thanks for all the summarizing you did in the first post.
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