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post #1 of 28 Old 11-30-2014, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Room Layout Feedback Request

Hello all, long time lurker here.

I'm finally ready to begin working on a theater space in the basement. I'm on a budget, so I'm really mainly concerned with wiring the space and closing off the walls for now, not going too fancy just yet. This is the space I have to work with:



I currently have a projector mounted, with a 110 inch screen on the 13 foot north wall. I've been watching movies down here for a while, just finally getting around to closing things in, all of the walls you see are bare studs, and all are load-bearing walls, so they can't be moved.

Unfortunately, I'm stuck with the corner knock-out that you see in the southeast corner of the room. There is a load-bearing header there, as it aligns with the top of the staircase. Nothing I can do about that. I do want to close off the theater room for acoustic reasons, and use the second room (in the southwest part of this picture) to have my equipment rack and media storage, and maybe a countertop/dry bar. So, I have two options for closing things off.

The easiest option would be to close off the area in a straight line, this would also leave no odd leftover spaces:



However, I'm concerned about how the asymmetrical nature of this layout would affect acoustics. I am planning for a 7.1 setup, approximate speaker locations are shown. I'm afraid the right surround and rear might both have some odd reflections in this layout. So, the second option would be to have a second notched area, so make things symmetrical:



I'd still have my surrounds and rears sitting in some unfortunate corners, but at least everything would be symmetrical here. It's a few more drywall corners to deal with, and I would have an odd sort of area right by the entry door into the theater.

So I guess my main question is a question of symmetry. How important is symmetry in a case like this? Will I kick myself for making the straight wall down the road, and wish I did the symmetrical option? Or will the symmetrical option be terrible all around due to the surround and rear speakers being in corners?

Any other thoughts or suggestions are welcome as well. Thanks!
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post #2 of 28 Old 11-30-2014, 06:34 PM
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How about a 3' wide hallway, and put the av rack in the corner?
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post #3 of 28 Old 11-30-2014, 06:52 PM
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don't forget to wire for the center channel and potential locations for multiple subs.
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post #4 of 28 Old 11-30-2014, 10:25 PM
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I think I screwed up with the stairs layout, with my post above.....


Is there circulation space below the stairs, to the side room?
If so, you could plan for down the road with a layout such as this. Could become
a fairly high end room while still being budget. A friend did some speaker grill fabric
walls and they hide acoustical treatments, while looking very nice.


I think you have a rather nice space to work with, and you aren't trying to pack in too much.
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post #5 of 28 Old 12-01-2014, 05:50 AM
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Another option that depends on what the circulation space is like.


SeymourAV XD acoustically transparent screen. Something like this has
great potential to take the sound system stealth down the road. Things like
columns could be added and a soffit could hide conduit for speaker cabling.
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post #6 of 28 Old 12-01-2014, 06:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
don't forget to wire for the center channel and potential locations for multiple subs.
Absolutely. I am wiring for the center as well of course, I just missed that on the layout drawing.

Also wiring for 2 discrete subs in the front.
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post #7 of 28 Old 12-01-2014, 07:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
How about a 3' wide hallway, and put the av rack in the corner?
I like the idea, and would do it if I had a little more depth to the room... I'd like to squeeze a second row in someday if possible, and I think it might be pretty tough at that point.

There's also a utility room to the east of the theater space that I will need access to. I could go around the stairs to access it as well, but it would be nice to have that straight path through the theater.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
I think I screwed up with the stairs layout, with my post above.....


Is there circulation space below the stairs, to the side room?
If so, you could plan for down the road with a layout such as this. Could become
a fairly high end room while still being budget. A friend did some speaker grill fabric
walls and they hide acoustical treatments, while looking very nice.


I think you have a rather nice space to work with, and you aren't trying to pack in too much.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
Another option that depends on what the circulation space is like.


SeymourAV XD acoustically transparent screen. Something like this has
great potential to take the sound system stealth down the road. Things like
columns could be added and a soffit could hide conduit for speaker cabling.
These are nice options as well, and the AT screen would give that extra push of high-end feel, but I can't enter from the east side, that's an unfinished utility area (as is the rest of the basement that I haven't laid out.) I also don't mind having the speakers out visible in the room at all, I'd rather use all of the room space I have.

My main question is still about the symmetry. Is option 2 (the symmetrical option) in my original post going to be miles better than option 1?

Since we've started to talk about the AV rack and such things, and I mentioned 2 rows of seating in the future, I figured I'd throw those in the layout as well. The brown area is what I was thinking for my AV rack, while the white is cabinets for media storage, and/or countertop space.

Tedd, I greatly appreciate the thought you've put into the layout! I'm not trying to downplay your ideas in any way, I just would like to make use of as much of the space as possible.
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post #8 of 28 Old 12-01-2014, 09:07 AM
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I am not a fan of using a home theater as a pathway. It works much better
as a destination, but sometimes that isn't possible. I do like symmetry though.

Your rack location is one that I thought of, with that room acting as as an office/computer
space, was another layout I thought about. Could be handy for a dual use computer that
does double duty with the theater.


Big media collection?

Building code will dictate those doors swing into the theater. (Or perhaps just one of them will
do?)


I do have to wonder what that load bearing wall section looks like. And whether there's a
cost effective solution that could bring those rear corners into the theater space.
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post #9 of 28 Old 12-01-2014, 09:08 AM
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And you could just not sweat the symmetry issue.
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post #10 of 28 Old 12-01-2014, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
I am not a fan of using a home theater as a pathway. It works much better
as a destination, but sometimes that isn't possible. I do like symmetry though.

Your rack location is one that I thought of, with that room acting as as an office/computer
space, was another layout I thought about. Could be handy for a dual use computer that
does double duty with the theater.


Big media collection?

Building code will dictate those doors swing into the theater. (Or perhaps just one of them will
do?)


I do have to wonder what that load bearing wall section looks like. And whether there's a
cost effective solution that could bring those rear corners into the theater space.
The other room won't be a shared computer space, that's just a countertop / cabinet layout that I chose as a representation. There will be an HTPC, but that will be in the rack.

Yeah, my media collection is rather large, space-consuming anyway. I seem to have collected myself a large number of laserdiscs.

Really, the door must swing into the room? I wasn't aware of that.

There is a big header beam where the doorway is shown, extending under the top of the staircase and supporting it. There is a second staircase above this one serving the top floor. There really is no way to move that wall without some major expense, unfortunately.
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post #11 of 28 Old 12-02-2014, 04:11 AM
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One thing you could try is to rotate the room 90 degrees. Instead of adding later more seats and make the room too "full", you could have an extra seat right from the start. It's a small room, but I think it could work well.

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post #12 of 28 Old 12-02-2014, 05:27 AM
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I was wondering if there might be potential with a soffit, to hide a support beam, that would
carry the load outside of the room's foot print?


I believe the reason for a door to swing inwards, is debris can block a door from opening.
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post #13 of 28 Old 12-02-2014, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Adding that support beam means starting to talk about big money. To do it right, it means jacking up the upper level s l o w l y to take the load off the existing header, put the new engineered solution in place, and let it all down just as slowly. It also means that to be done right, it probably involves a structural contractor experienced with this, to avoid issues in the other two levels. Just not really something I want to dig into at all...

I might just choose to not worry about the asymmetry. It's not really that bad, and leaving the second corner square does really open things up a bit. I put some tape down last night where the wall would be if I made things symmetrical, and it is a bit cramped.

Audessey should be able to do a fairly good job at balancing out the issues. I know a lot of people have to deal with a lot worse as far as symmetry goes.
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post #14 of 28 Old 12-02-2014, 07:31 AM
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It needn't be huge money, but it wouldn't be dirt cheap either. (I do know exactly
what it would entail.) The real question is, is maybe an investment up front, worth it,
in terms of having a better overall space?
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post #15 of 28 Old 12-02-2014, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
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I hear ya. And as much as I like the idea of gaining that corner of the room back, it just isn't going to happen. The doorway in the southeast corner is where the load-bearing header is, running north-south. While the obvious solution would be to move it east a smidge, I'd then have to reinforce the stairs as well, it's just not going to be an option for me.

Besides, as much as it pains me to say it, runaway development in the area means that the house might not even be here in ten years. It's on a large lot in an area where developers are starting to gobble up the land, major structural improvements or changes really don't make that much sense at this point. I'm certainly going to do what I can to make this a great space for me, but it's not going to be a project that I can afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars on, it just doesn't make any sense. Maybe for a future build later on in another location.

In all reality, I'm probably going to end up with something like this, especially for the short term. This seating position is approximately THX recommended viewing distance, and should be a good listening experience for the people on the white couch. If I want to improve things later, I can throw up a riser and move the smaller couch behind the bigger one. As long as the symmetry isn't a huge concern, that's probably where my budget will lead me.
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post #16 of 28 Old 12-02-2014, 09:13 AM
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Gotcha. Makes perfect sense with all the additional information.


Your numbers are way of whack. This could be something as simple as studs and drywall with a simple fire coat
of mud, then speaker grill fabric walls with DIY acoustical treatments beneath. You could do a pretty hard
core dedicated space with that room, by using four stadium rocker style seats and pull it off inexpensively.


But that seating layout just screams Pocoloco to me, which says a really nice media room to me, not a dedicated
theater.


The Pocoloco Theater
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post #17 of 28 Old 12-02-2014, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Right, I know it will be quite affordable if I work at it. The structural changes are what would start adding up to a high cost.

I've never been a huge fan of stadium style seating, I'd rather have couches where I can squeeze in extra people if need be, or buddy up with that special someone. But you are right, two rows with a riser would probably be a much better option, regardless of the seating style.

I put a bit more thought into an AT setup. I can barely make it work if I do something like this, but it would be a rather cramped doorway, and I'm not sure how much I like the idea of having the entry door in front right next to the screen. I'd also have to find a new home for my AV rack... overall, I'm not sure how well it would work.

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post #18 of 28 Old 12-02-2014, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Alright. Played just a little bit more, I think I link this layout quite a bit. Doesn't eat up room and have the added expense of an AT setup, maintains my walking space to the room on the east side, and gives me a nice two rows. Would be a bit of creativity involved in the riser for the second row, but otherwise a good option I think. Black box next to the couch is just an end table to eat up the odd corner space with something useful, black box up front is a sub.

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post #19 of 28 Old 12-03-2014, 08:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Took a look at the actual space again last night, no way I'm getting a riser under the projector with a 7.5 foot ceiling, unless people want to really duck on their way in (I have a CRT...)

Also measured only 29 inches on either side of the screen, without drywall. So if I were to try the AT screen, I would literally have to do a 2 foot doorway, right at the edge of the screen, and have no room to move up to a larger screen. Either that, or I would have to bump the screen off center, and I just can't imagine that looking good.

Oh well, I think I'll still wire for this configuration, do some sort of 'L' arrangement of the furniture for now, and then worry about a riser and second row if/when I have to go digital with the projector some day.
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post #20 of 28 Old 12-03-2014, 09:51 AM
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Any other surprises, you holding back?




The fixed throw of the crt lenses are likely to plant the projector right over the front row seats, so
headroom might no be the problem you think it is.


I have been in one home theater, with a 6' 9" height, with a Sony 1292Q. KQ front row with
a couch on a 5" riser. 52x92" DIY Torus screen.


Was very odd looking, eye level to 9" crt lenses, but it was shocking just how well it actually worked
out, once the movie was on. Five minutes into the movie, it was all about the movie and not the
250 pound beast right over my head. I tried all seats and the sightlines were great, too.




I like that space best as a single row, with a crt projector. An "out there" rough idea I had, was stick with
three seats and build a custom angled door using heavy duty ball bearing hinges, to build a custom shaped
door. Never mated a crt pj with an AT screen but here's goes.....
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post #21 of 28 Old 12-03-2014, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I actually already have the projector hanging, have been watching it for months in the space already. So yes, two rows could be done, and I played with the couches I have in there now to mock that up, but in order to get the riser space behind the projector, I would have to move the couch way back nearly to the back wall, at which point the back row would be partially shielded from the surround speakers by the corner jutting out.

I'm not crazy about the custom door like that, I think that shape would be incredibly annoying.

This is the only way I could see AT working out, and I really think it would be very odd. It would give me much more seating space, but I feel that asymmetry in the front, with the door literally 3 inches or so away from the screen, would just look nasty, and there's no way to match that same angle on the right side.
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post #22 of 28 Old 12-03-2014, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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And just for kicks, one last layout that completely throws symmetry out the window.

Gives me more seating, un-crowds the door, but I can't help but think that the off-center speaker layout would be a huge compromise....

I'd have to find a completely different place for my AV rack too.
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post #23 of 28 Old 12-03-2014, 03:26 PM
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Make it two doors if you like. And there's no reason the door couldn't be given an angled profile, and the
opposite side of the room be given a symmetrical slope too. I'd be thinking fabric covered, to match fabric
cover walls.


The biggest upside to a single row three seat room, is the audio would be good You wouldn't end
up with seating on the center line of the room, and you wouldn't end up with seating on the walls, or almost
on the back walls. And how do you plan to set the surround channel volume levels when you have seating right
on top of the speaker?


And when you are packing the room with bodies, what's your plan to deal with the cooling (and air changes required)?


I think your first 2 drawings are much better solutions, if you place any sort of premium on audio performance.
I'd also value the gain of the screen, when we're talking crt so that layout also works.
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post #24 of 28 Old 12-03-2014, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess I'm a bit confused. Do you think the AT screen no longer makes sense, or is it the two rows of seating that you don't like in this space?

I realize that audio performance is only really going to be good in 2 or 3 seats, no matter what layout I choose. I think that's almost always the case in a room this size. 80% of the time, there will only be 1-3 people watching, but for that other 20%, it would be really nice to have seating for more people to come over and watch as well. Will they have ideal audio in their seating position? No, but at least they will be there, and most people won't care nearly as much as you or I, they'll just be wowed that there is sound coming from behind them. And I'd rather plan for an eventual 2 rows than a permanent 'L' shaped seating. You're right, it just wouldn't be the best way to do it.

HVAC isn't a big issue, the trunk lines are immediately on the east side of the wall with the joists running east/west, so I'll be able to add 2 supplies and a return, no sweat.

With the AT layout, I could put a slope on the opposite corner as well, but I'll never be able to get them to match each other because of the dimensions of the room, that's just an unfortunate fact.

Alright... Giving your post some thought, I'm trying to center the seating a little better. I've realized a few other things:

1) The couch models in the program I am using are extremely wide. I narrowed them down to more realistic dimensions.

2) I seem to have mis-measured the opening on the left, I finally have it right now.

Which leads me to two 'final' layout choices:

Standard layout, not worrying about the asymmetrical corner:




And now with the new corrected dimensions, there is indeed enough room for a door on the side, keeping things symmetrical, in an AT layout. I'd just have to find an alternate location for my AV rack:




So, given that I do want two rows, and I do have room for a side door, what are your thoughts? Thanks again for the help!
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post #25 of 28 Old 12-04-2014, 05:40 AM
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I like where you are headed now.

Are those side surrounds dipoles? If so they are properly positioned, if not,
then way not plant them at the end of the primary viewing row.


I am questioning the crt's brightness with an AT screen. I have no hands on
experience with this. The claims made for woven AT screens is marketing, not
science. I'm not sure how a sub 1 gain screen would pair up with a crt projector.
Might be an awesome match with a smaller screen, but I simply just don't know.


One issue is the first layout appears to have the front row ears on the
center of the room.


I know you are after more seating, but if that front row were two seats, you might get away
with a lower riser with the offset seating. Just tossing out a bunch of alternative ideas for you to
consider.
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post #26 of 28 Old 12-04-2014, 06:39 AM
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I've seen many CRT supporters who have seen the light and have changed to light cannons. Maybe this project is your opportunity (excuse) to follow.
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post #27 of 28 Old 12-04-2014, 07:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I do only have a blackout curtain screen right now, so I think the gain shouldn't be a big issue. A number of fellow CRT crazies are projecting onto Seymour XD with good results. I'll probably stick with CRT for a few more years, with power, HDMI a few CAT6 runs, and a conduit sitting in the rear ceiling for when the time comes for a digital.

Right now, I think I'm leaning toward the AT layout, now that I know it's more feasible. I think I could tuck my rack into the little cubbyhole area between the stairs and the entry door to the theater.
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post #28 of 28 Old 12-07-2014, 03:27 PM
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Well then there's no reason you shouldn't consider a sand filled platform to go with those
flat black SEOS speakers.


I wouldn't dismiss the masking so quickly either....
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