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-   -   Nathan's Theater in Search of... (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/19-dedicated-theater-design-construction/782601-nathan-s-theater-search.html)

nathan_h 01-07-2007 10:35 AM

The current look, still a work in progress.

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/attach...p;d=1408585256

http://www.avsforum.com/forum/attach...p;d=1408585360


Current gear:
  • JVC RS20 projector calibrated by AccuCal (previously a Sony Pearl, previously a Sanyo LCD)
  • Triad bronze in room LCR for L, C and R behind a (previously Thiel, Magnepan, Paradigm, Mackie, Usher, B&W)
  • Seymour EN4K acoustic screen (8 feet wide, not diag) 2.37:1 (previously a Stewart ultramatte 200)
  • Triad on wall silver surround x 2 (previously others matching different mains)
  • Triad in corner silver onmi's, aka, bronze's x 2 for surround backs
  • Yamaha 1010 receiver (previously Denon 4311, Onkyo pre-pro, Emotiva, Nuforce pre-pro, etc)
  • Proceed three channel amp for LCR (previously Parasound 5 channel amp, etc)
  • 2 Rythmik 15 inch sealed high power subs with Anti-Mode 8033 Cinema EQ (previously, Thiel sub, JL Audio, HSU, Triad with EQ provided by SVS AS EQ1, Audyssey XT32)
  • 50/50 absorption/diffusion panels covering about 30% of the walls (GIK and DIY)
  • Sources: Oppo 103D, DISH Hopper, Roku, Chromecast, Musical Hall 5.1 turntable, Sonos Connect (previously too many to list)

Gotta love craigslist, ebay, audiogon, vendor b-stock and the avs classifieds. Most of this was purchased second hand and each item replaced is sold to subsidize the next used item purchased.
----


This is how it started. A detached garage on a 1920's house. There was no way we were going to drive a modern car to the back of the lot and into this cramped garage on a daily basis. On the other hand, it was perfectly isolated by a very large infinite air space from the rest of the living space -- and the neighbors!

http://www.hometheatershack.com/foru...1-crw_5358.jpg

It started with some sketches in the space...


http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14704





Yank out the cabinets, and (important!) had the old concrete slab replaced.

LESSON #1 : A traditional garage concrete floor is sloped for run off. YOU DONT WANT THAT in a home theater (or, really, any domestic room). But I wasn't smart enough to know that's how they would pour the floor, so I wasn't smart enough to tell them not to.

In the end, the building itself was so unsquare (80+ years of settling will do that) that it wasn't a complete disaster since everything had to be custom measured and plumb was never the same as what gravity wanted, but it was a miss, and a lesson learned --

-- and it would have made the whole "room within a room" easier to keep level, plumb and square.


The good news is that redwood lasts a long time so things were structurally okay -- as in not falling over or down or rotting.

But the electrical was not ideal (it would all have to be replaced). There were plants growing through one wall, due a neighbor's untended vines. There was some nasty insulation, ravaged by time and rodents. Etc. Etc.

Drywall out, and then some framing work. Get by with a little help from friends in these situations....

Killed one of the garage doors and made it a people door.



http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14732

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14733



The general concept was "a room within a room".

It got a little complicated in some places, notably with the cross beams in the rafters of the garage. If we had simply made the roof lower than them, we would have had a room that was under 7 feet in height. NO GOOD.

So we went with a modified concept, where we built around them -- and the end result was that it looks like beams running through the roof of the room. Not bad. Rather proud of that solution, in fact.

Less clearly a win: Instead of just using the max space in the garage, which would have resulted in an essentially square room about 16' on each side, we carved out a space about 12' x 16' to get some rectangular-ness to the space -- thinking it would help with acoustics, and that the space outside the theater space would be a nice ante-rooom -- at first for a little exercise space, and the gear, and later (much later) for a lobby. I call this not clearly a win because I do feel a little space challenged into the room.

Not a win at all: The internal door. Well, the position is not too bad. But I made two follow on mistakes: I did not put the screen wall near the door -- which means the door is near the seats -- which means we that valuable space that could have been used for seats was needed for walking space. And the other mistake with the door: It opens INTO the theater space. Doh! The other direction, while non standard perhaps, would be far more space friendly inside it.

(Follow on lesson learned from earlier: The sloped nature of the concrete slab meant that the door could NOT be hung plumb because it would run into the sloped floor. Ugh! Of course, having it open the other direction would have solved that, too.)

Did I mention this was a dumb way to do the doors. Sure they don't collide and I can move in and out large things. But..... the theater door should open OUT into the foyer.

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14754






Some more framing. And other stuff, including painting the old walls (exterior walls) with primer, adding spray foam to seal things, using flashing vapor barrier under the framing, padding places where metal met metal (like the simpson strong ties), etc.

The spray foam was overkill. Later, I added ventilation -- both between the room and foyer and foyer and outdoors. Spray foam sealant was because I thought I'd need to keep it air tight to be sound tight. Turns out, "convoluted path" was just as effective....

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14745

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14757


And then those pesky ceiling beams. You can see where I would have liked to have put the ceiling.

And that I ran the main ceiling joists at that level.

I need to dig up the photos of what ACTUALLY worked -- to build something almost "around" the old structure, and not touch the new one at all. The contractor I hired to teach me framing and do a significant amount of the heaving lifting and work at this stage thought I was CRAZY at first, but gradually understood to the point where he has great ideas about how to achieve the decoupled goals in this odd situation.

You may wonder why I bothered to try to do it this way, given that I wasn't attached to a living space or sleeping space nor sharing a wall with a neighbor. But my goal was isolation from the outside, in addition to keeping sound from escaping. It mostly worked: Even at full tilt, if you are outside the garage, it just sounds like something faint in the distance. And when inside, if you have nothing playing, you'll not hear the outside world unless something is running a combustion engine very loud and very close.

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14753

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14752

running wires.

I wanted to achieve a few things:

Future proof as much as possible. So this meant running five or six separate 20amp circuits in the room. That way, I could separate things like the projector from the subwoofer from the space heater from the power recline chair from the electric screen from the lights on a fader from the lights not on a fader from the blah blah blah. No, I didn't plan to have all that stuff in there, but why the not spend an extra 100 bucks to run separate lines from the subpanel in order have options down the road?

I also ran lots of low voltage wire. And I am learning now I should have run even more. I ran drops for 7 locations. In each location I ran thick speaker wire, two coax, one XLR. This means I could run all active speakers in the room. And seven subwoofers. Or all passive speakers. Etc. I ended up using stuff in creative ways, such as I have had a turntable in the room, but I needed to get the line level out from the turntable pre-amp, to the speaker amp in the equipment rack outside the room. Well, there come a couple of XLR drops to the rescue -- balanced turntable audio safely attended to. Or, no matter where a sub should be placed, there's a coax/RCA or XLR output within a few feet.

What else should I have run? Probably twice as much high level speaker cable. It's relatively cheap, and there have been a few times where it would have been interesting to biamp or experiment with ab/ing between speakers, etc. But for the most part, is has worked out well.

There is an "escape valve" in that I have an open attic space above the room, and could run more cables up there and fish them down into the walls without major surgery. But I haven't resorted to that, yet.

And, of course, whenever possible (which was almost everywhere) I ran power and audio in separate places. Typically the power is run around the room laterally, and audio was run in the rafters and then down the wall. That didn't work perfectly with the overhead lights, but I think I managed to have only one 90 degree intersection and that has not proved problematic.

I ran two lighting circuits to two different switches. So far I have just used the can lights with spots in them, and the others remain unused. That's okay. There are also outlets in the ceiling. Definitely one circuit just for the projector. And some near the screen wall -- which would have been useful if I ever wanted a retractable screen -- or moved the projector to another location.

About the projector "circuit". It's actually got a male inlet plug in the equipment area outside the room, that lets me run the projector off a AV grade UPS device. In addition to the obvious benefit of being able to power down the projector nicely if the power to the house goes out, it also regulates the voltage -- which I believe keeps sensitive or finiky gear (read "JVC projector") happier. It may be a placebo.

(Aside: Having the AV grade UPS in there is nice too for firmware updates or not losing recordings on the DVR due to a power hiccup.)

LESSONS LEARNED HERE? Well, for one, run more speaker level wire. Other than that, don't be afraid to terminate! I bought nice face plates etc for the wires, and then told myself "all those extra terminations and connection points are just additional potential points of failure, and might impact the signal a little". What I really should have said is: I'm too lazy to do this part cleanly, now -- and in the future, so I'll forever have slightly ugly wiring....

Well, we'll get to that part of the story, later, as I am embarking on version 2.0 for this room.

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14782


http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14801

And then we started in on the insulation. Didn't go with the pink stuff because I had the impression (probably just marketing) that this stuff was slightly less toxic but the same price. Who knows.

Don't forget the simple things like can lights that can be put up against insulation, etc, otherwise at this stage you are taking a couple days to build boxes around your cans -- no fun.

While there were several earlier milestones (new floor, ripping the old garage apart, framing the build, putting in wires) once the insulation went up, the feeling and sound of the space changed in a dramatic way.


http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14807

Okay, so you remember those structural beams in the outter structure, the garage, that got in the way of having a nice regular height room?

They turned into good places to run wire.

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14814

And frame around them.

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14822



Drywall is another big milestone. And putting blue tape on the walls and temporary chairs on the floor really gives you your first taste of the space. Yes, it does not sound right yet, and look right yet, but still, it's a glimpse.

Maybe I took it too far by hooking up some powered monitors! At least I resisted putting the projector in there (NOOOOOO, not among all that construction dust!!!).

If you can, hire an expert for the drywall. Yes, if you are being a stickler, you will have to educate them about how to hang it and how to mud it, for acoustic perfection. But, especially at the mudding stage, an expert is going to get much better results super fast.

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14825

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14861

And then the paint.

Black seems like the hardcore, perfect choice.

After having lived with it for some time, I am not so sure! I didn't get the ultimate perfect, flat black. I just got the flat black that was easy to get at the local hardware store. So I may not be getting the full effect of a flat black room.

And don't get me wrong, it is very dark!

But I think were I to do things over again, I might do dark gray on the walls, and save black for the ceiling and screen wall -- and trim/panels in black or gray, depending on location.

In fact, in "theater 2.0" (tm) that may be where I go. Not sure yet.

---

ANOTHER LESSON LEARNED: In addition to perhaps not going ALL BLACK throughout the room -- which sort of goes against conventional wisdom for a hardcore space -- I will say I have to agree with another conventional wisdom idea that I did NOT follow: Carpet.

Everyone does wall to wall low pile carpet with the biggest thicket pad under it that they can stand. I figured I would be classy and do a hardwood floor and use area rugs. FAIL. Well, I mean, it has worked and does work but is pretty much a waste and is lost to the eye since I have worked so hard to cover it with area rugs.

I don't know that I will install wall to wall carpet as part of theater 2.0, but if I were starting from scratch on a dedicated room in the future, I would not choose to add hardwood! I would spend the money on good carpeting instead.


http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14870



While all this is going on inside the theater, outside the theater in the anteroom, the equipment rack was coming together. Yes, could have done the clean and cool thing and gotten a traditional rack from one of the big vendors.

But I didn't. At this point in the process, my budget was getting stretched, and for a fraction of the price of a mid atlantic kind of rack, I could get a double tall wire rack at a kitchen store -- which had great ventilation, adjustable shelves, wheels on the bottom, and fit most gear very well.

Funny to look at this now! HD-DVD, HTPC, a traditional DVD player! Blu-ray didn't exist at the time. My how things have changed.

--

The other end of the anteroom was, for a time, a workout space, with a treadmill facing an old tube TV on the wall. Later it became the DVD and blu-ray library, and storage. (Freakin TUBE TV over the treadmill. Old school.)

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14873

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14874


And then the money shot.... hanging the screen, hooking up a few speakers and the sub, throwing some panels around to tame the room a little, pulling in some furniture from elsewhere in the house for temp seating.

Okay okay, it's all super ugly! And you can see I was already making notes with painter's tape about where I needed to mask the screen. It was a 10 foot wide 2.35:1 stewart screen and while that seemed really cool for a 12 foot wide room, it was actually too big -- at least, in terms of fitting speakers on that wall, too.

In theater 2.0, I am adding a AT screen, that is 8 feet wide, on a false wall, and I have got the Stewart screen up for sale. Strangely, I guess it must be too big for most other people, too, since no one has bought it yet!

Yes, the eagle eyes among you will note that the projector is the classic Sony Pearl, awesome bang for buck in its day.

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14876

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14880

Adding the riser was a cool step (no pun intended). You'll notice that the room is built, and the riser it getting added into a fully built room.

You might think this was because it's easier (maybe for me it is, but that's another topic). You may think it was because it was an afterthought (it wasn't). But the real reason is that while I was building a room within a room and the building shares no common walls with anything, I still wanted to seal in the sound and seal out the outside world as much as possible, and building interior pieces into a completed room helped maintain those features of isolation.

Adding all the insulation to the riser helped keep it from becoming a drum.

LESSONS LEARNED: I should have researched how to make the riser into a bass trap. That would have been an almost free (other than effort) nice big bonus! I should have probably made it a bit taller, even though it was already a little close to the ceiling for tall people. And I should have made the riser one foot deeper (minimum) than the four I allowed. Reasons:

1. A basic theater recliner seat needs 5 feet for the user to raise their legs and have at least a foot rest, if not recline fully.
2. It turns out, after much more acoustic theory learning, my front row (head location) should be at 55% of the room for the least standing waves (68% is also an option but then there would have been no second row). For more about why this is, see Anthony Grimani's interviews on HT Geeks. If the back row riser had been another foot in size, my front row would have been in the PERFECT position! Yes, I can pull the front row seats forward, but that's a bit low-rent looking.

Speaking of things looking "low rent": PLEASE excuse the random furniture! I was working with what we had in the house that could be spared

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14917

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14918

http://www.hometheatershack.com/gall...le.php?n=14923



Time to add some acoustic panels from GIK. They guys there were helpful with advice and recommendations.

LESSONS LEARNED: Even though a basic diffuser is twice the price of a absorbing panel, getting a similar amount of wall space covered in each type is ideal. I should have cut back on my absorption factor a bit in order to buy diffusion, even if it meant less overall coverage for while as the budget built back up.




And after a few seating upgrades and speaker upgrades, Version 1.5 looked like this for several years:




http://cdn.avsforum.com/3/35/525x525...ach238888.jpeg






http://cdn.avsforum.com/a/a4/525x525...ach238889.jpeg




http://cdn.avsforum.com/7/74/525x525...ach238890.jpeg

nathan_h 01-07-2007 11:34 AM

The Beginning

The house we bought is a 1920s era cottage, with a detached garage. The detached garage will be the home theater.

Two rolling doors on the front are the only access (other than a window) right now.

There is a window at the left side of the right wall (ie, towards the back of the garage).

I'll start a second post with some more information, that leads to some ideas I have, and some questions...

UPDATED DESIGN LAYOUT: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...chmentid=82761http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/attac...chmentid=82761



Details: The Space

The space is almost exactly 17' x 17' inside.

This is not great acoustically (square). And I'm thinking I'd prefer to have a little space outside the theater space proper for the equipment rack, and possibly for some storage of non theater stuff (a couple of bikes, perhaps). So I've been thinking of ways to make use of an internal wall. Here is a sketch.

http://preview.nathanh.photosite.com...8193617000.jpg

The front garage doors are at the bottom of this sketch. The man-door on the lower right does not yet exist. (Quote for that is $480.) The window in the upper right is the existing window which I think I will black out but not remove (for fire safety). The wall the separates the entrance area from the theater proper does not exist yet (no quote yet) but may be problematic if it is too close to where the current garage doors slide to when open. On the other hand, I don't want to make the theater too small, and right now it's sketched out to barely fit three seats wide in the rear area. That's enough seating in terms of how many people fit (95% of the time) but maybe not enough space to allow space for the speakers in the "rear" (I prefer 5 matched speakers, direct radiating, rather than diffuse surround speakers). And I'm thinking the walls will be covered with thin black velvet somewhat transparent curtains, with acoustic treatments behind them, and cables run behind them, so I need a few inches on each side and back for that, as well.

One question becomes: Make the garage doors in-operable by removing the tracks they slide onto? We're not planning to ever use it as a garage, but the spouse wants it to still look like a garage (and I like the "low pro[file]" nature of leaving the look the same). If we disable the doors, we could remove tracks and gain space inside and maybe make the storage area smaller.

(Note that the second set of seats will be on a riser.)

I am NOT wed to this layout, but it's the best I could come up with that means the following needs:

1. Seats at least 4 people
2. One seat is in the perfect sweet spot
3. The equipment can be out of the room (except for a discrete piece that faces inward).
4 . There is a little storage outside of the theater space itself.
5. The left wall and the back wall of the garage a not suitable for the man-door, because they abut neighbor's fences -- and the front cannot accommodate a man door, given the presence of the two garage doors, though I could consider modifying that if it really made a lot of sense.


The Floor

The concrete floor is badly cracked, and no longer level.

The quote I got the replace the concrete floor with a new one, 4 inches deep, is $1854. I think I need to make sure that includes rebar, to help prevent the cracking and unleveling from re-occurring.

The height from the floor to where the cross beams for the ceilings begins needs to be measured again. My notes got misplaced. But I think it was 8 feet, which is not ideal. I cannot really raise the roof (though I am thinking about ways to make use of the open ceiling) but perhaps repouring the floor presents an opportunity to dig down 6 inches and increase the effective height of the space?



The Ceiling and Walls

Here's the good news: The roof itself is pretty good.

The ceiling has a skylight which will be blocked. The big question right now is do we drywall the ceiling as a cathedral style? The quote for doing it that way, and for drywalling the walls (pulling off the old stuff and putting on something new) is $4950.

I was thinking of removing the window, but I now think we block it out, but make it a removable block (from the inside) for fire safety.



The Electricity

There appears to be at least one 15 amp circuit dedicated to the garage, but more investigation is needed. What is sure, the wires from the house to the garage are hung from the room or each structure and run through the yard at about 6feet off the ground, through a few trees, which is totally crazy. So we need to put some conduit in the ground, and re-run the power. I'm thinking we should run two conduits: One for power, and one for everything else (2 coax RG6, 2 CAT6, phone, possibly HDMI and/or Component Video but more about that, later). Comments on the conduit and what is in it?

The contractor I've talked with about burying the cables has quoted a price of $2450 to do that. There is a 4 foot wide concrete walkway in the the path of the wire that will need to be torn up (but not replaced), but otherwise the path between the buildings is just 40 feet of dirt.

The power for the house is iffy. Most of the knob and tube that was once in the basement (crawl space) appears to have been replaced with romex over the years, but nothing in the main house appears grounded and I wonder whether there is knob and tube wiring in the walls. Luckily, we got avoid the house wiring and go straight out to the garage for the theater gear.

I'm thinking 2 15 amp and 1 20 amp circuit, dedicated for the garage, would be good. I want to estimate high, because I'd like to have the yard dug up before we move it -- but we won't be ready to complete all the garage work -> theater space by then. I think I definitely need to get the main panel (circuit breaker) for the house upgraded, since it's a 100 amp unit:

http://preview.nathanh.photosite.com...8190248000.jpg

The garage itself will need to be rewired with the new power. The guy I've been getting quotes from recommended a subpanel at the garage. The cost of putting this in, and wiring outlets, is $1450.


Climate Control

Once it is insulated, heating it with an electric radiant heater could work okay. But cooling is another issue. I don't mind the ideal of a window-style air conditioner but placement and noise are a concern. Gotta think this one through, more.


Sound control, Aesthetics, Gear, etc

I'm not too worried (maybe I should be) about noise leakage. It's a detached structure, and once new insulation and drywall is in place, a couple of good doors, and that new internal wall, I think it'll be okay. Maybe some use of green glue for the new drywalling is a good idea, too....

But internally, I'll do acoustic treatments. Right now, I'm using some auralex absorbers on the ceiling of my living room theater --which has book shelves along the walls for diffusion, thick carpeting, and furniture. The new theater will need more dedicated treatment (I see Real Traps in my future)....

But, this gets into the realm of the mechanics, look and design of the internals, which I'll leave till later (a later post, and maybe a later phase of work). I just want to make sure, for now, that I don't paint myself into a corner with the first batch of structural changes to the space. Am I?

I also anticipate a few gear changes. My system now is built around a Sony Pearl, Matte White screen, HTPCs, HD-DVD, HD Dish PVR, Parasound amplification, Outlaw controller, and Magnepan speakers. The main changes are probably the controller, the screen (may got larger than my current 92 inch diag, may go for 2.35:1, and will definitely get a fixed wall screen instead of the retractable I have now) and possibly speakers (love the Maggies but may not be what I want in the new pace and may use a couple of them in the main house for two channel.) But more about gear, later.
http://cdn.avsforum.com/8/8c/525x525...tach87008.jpeg
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goobenet 01-07-2007 02:22 PM

A few observations. Looks like you have a good handle on what you've got in mind, which is a good starting point. I see you're getting quotes to do some things here, which again, is good, now go to home depot and do it yourself. Ripping out the current wallboard, adding a new door, burying conduit, etc. All things you can do yourself. As for electricity, i would investigate adding a sub-panel to the garage. One good amplifier will eat a 20A breaker alive (remember, 20A is set to trip at 16A realistically). As for the floor, how badly unlevel is it? If it's only 1/2 inch or so, just put a false floor in, looks like you have the room for such. I would do the cathederal style myself, just because i think it looks good, but it's ultimately up to you. (good place to hide speaker wires, mounts, projectors, etc.)

As for A/C, look into one of those "remote" A/C units. They're moderately cheap, unit outside, and this little box sits just up on the wall. AFAIK, you can put ductwork in attached to these as well, but don't hold me to that.

This is the route i'd go, personally. I would most definately try to do as much as you can by yourself. It's a good excuse to buy tools, sit in the garage with some friends drinking some cold drinks. You can even pre-hang all the wiring boxes yourself, that'll cut down quite a bit on the money.

nathan_h 01-07-2007 05:18 PM

Thanks for the observations. As you can surmise from the fact that I've been a renter until now, all this planning is based on what I have read and been told, rather than any experience with this stuff. I've managed to cobble together decent setups in spaces where I cannot make significant modifications but putting together the structure almost from scratch is a whole new ball game.

Question about sub-panels: Let's say I put in a 100 amp sub panel in the garage, that means I need to increase the capacity of my main panel by 100 amps, right, because it runs via that? Or does the subpanel bypass the main panel at the house? I'm hoping that latter is the case, because then I could avoid replacing the panel on the house.... the 100 amps the house has will be enough, since the big draw will be the home theater and a couple of media servers, our in the garage.
LL

nathan_h 01-07-2007 05:24 PM

PS: By "remote AC" you do *not* mean something like this, right?

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1142290461796

nathan_h 01-07-2007 08:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by goobenet View Post

As for the floor, how badly unlevel is it? If it's only 1/2 inch or so, just put a false floor in, looks like you have the room for such.

It's hard to see from the photos, but there are cracks in the middle running in a few directions, sometimes creating a ledge of a few inches from one part of the floor to another, in addition to tilting. One key concern I'd have with a false floor is loosing more height but also I'd worry about what happens when the floor moves more....

Quote:
Originally Posted by goobenet View Post

I would do the cathederal style myself, just because i think it looks good, but it's ultimately up to you. (good place to hide speaker wires, mounts, projectors, etc.)

This was roughly what I was thinking, but then I started to wonder whether the beams going across would look dumb. I don't think I can remove them, for structural reasons, though maybe the new interior wall could handle the structural stuff. But the more height I can garner, the better, I think.

----------

Doing the work myself: I'm sure I'll do a lot but there are some things I'd like to have assistance with.... both to make sure it goes right, and to get it into a condition where I can start to use it, even before it's finished, since I won't have a place for the projector and surround set up in the new house at all..... so I'll be without home theater until this place is minimally together!

----------

I'm also wondering whether I've got the best layout and use of space, given the size of the building. What do you think? Would you cram more seats in there? (For example.) Or make other changes to the approach?

nathan_h 01-08-2007 09:34 AM

Did some more measuring and it appears that while the items I put in my diagram will fit, the direct radiating speakers for the surround/rear will be literally inches from the ears of those in the left or right seat in the back row.

That's not so good.

I'm thinking that I cannot move the rows forward, since the front row is already about 1.25 screen widths from the screen (assuming a 92 inch diag 16x9 screen). So the options are:

Option A:

Move the side walls apart (ie, make the theater wider), and/or

Option B:

Use smaller chairs in row #2 (similar in effect to option "A" but also probably increases the space to the back wall as well -- a good thing).

Of course, option "B" means that those seats stop being luxury home theater seats and end of up being a row of more conventional movie theater seats like one sees in a local cineplex: Not recliners, no foot rest. (I'll try to post pictures of what I mean, later today, in case that's not a clear description.) This creates two classes of viewers (not great) though being the host that I am, the little lady and I would relegate ourselves to the back row when guests join us.... mostly

nathan_h 01-08-2007 07:54 PM

So, here are examples of the seats I'm thinking about for the second row, due to space limitations. Am I crazy? Should I be making the space larger, instead?



For reference, here is what will be in the front row, one of these chairs, and one of the chaise version:



(You can see the chaise version in the downloadable PDF from the la-z-boy web site.)

tat2boy 01-08-2007 09:16 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by nathan_h View Post

You can see the chaise version in the downloadable PDF from the la-z-boy web site

Those chaise versions look pretty good. Do you know how much they sell'em for? Couldn't find pricing online.

nathan_h 01-08-2007 09:21 PM

I don't know, yet, but I plan to make a trip to la-z-boy soon and see. Definitely need to have one in the theater, since the little lady has a bad back and needs to recline fully when watching a movie.

nathan_h 01-09-2007 12:41 AM

Found a review of the la-z-boy seats that spoke in general about their MSRP:

"The suggested retail price of the dividing furniture pieces (including the wedge and console) ranges from $299 in fabric to $799 in leather. Prices for the seating furniture pieces (including the one- and two-arm recliners) range from $599 in fabric to $1,899 in leather with the power reclining option."

Brad Horstkotte 01-09-2007 05:31 PM

Nice to see another garage converter, there aren't too many of us - I'm converting 1/2 of a 4 car garage for my HT.

[quote=nathan_hThe contractor I've talked with about burying the cables has quoted a price of $2450 to do that. There is a 4 foot wide concrete walkway in the the path of the wire that will need to be torn up (but not replaced), but otherwise the path between the buildings is just 40 feet of dirt.[/QUOTE]

Sounds pretty steep to me - also, I would think you could burrow under that walkway and run the conduit under it if you wanted to keep it - I did that when running PVC for sprinklers under our sidewalk before - attach a thick length of PVC pipe to a garden hose, and use water pressure to "drill" a path under the walkway, then lay your pipe (conduit) into that path.

Quote:
Originally Posted by goobenet View Post

As for A/C, look into one of those "remote" A/C units.

I think goobenet is referring to a "split A/C" unit - search Google, you'll find a number of options - basically the compressor part is separate and installed outside, the rest (fan and what not - the quieter part) is mounted inside. That's what I'm planning on using for my HT as well.

As far as layout, what I'm doing is using the "back wall" of the garage for my screen wall - about 2 feet away from the back wall, there will be a false wall with the screen and stage, front speakers, etc. - the garage door will be removed, framed in, and replaced with double entry doors. Maybe you could do something similar, this would get you to non-square, and you could hide the gear behind / alongside the screen.

tat2boy 01-09-2007 09:32 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by nathan_h View Post

Found a review of the la-z-boy seats that spoke in general about their MSRP:
"The suggested retail price of the dividing furniture pieces (including the wedge and console) ranges from $299 in fabric to $799 in leather. Prices for the seating furniture pieces (including the one- and two-arm recliners) range from $599 in fabric to $1,899 in leather with the power reclining option."

Let me know what you find out when you check'em out. I'm still in the market for some seating and these look very comfortable. I would go with cloth since I have dogs and don't want them tearing up expensive leather.

nathan_h 01-09-2007 09:35 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Horstkotte View Post

Nice to see another garage converter, there aren't too many of us - I'm converting 1/2 of a 4 car garage for my HT.



Sounds pretty steep to me - also, I would think you could burrow under that walkway and run the conduit under it if you wanted to keep it - I did that when running PVC for sprinklers under our sidewalk before - attach a thick length of PVC pipe to a garden hose, and use water pressure to "drill" a path under the walkway, then lay your pipe (conduit) into that path.



I think goobenet is referring to a "split A/C" unit - search Google, you'll find a number of options - basically the compressor part is separate and installed outside, the rest (fan and what not - the quieter part) is mounted inside. That's what I'm planning on using for my HT as well.

As far as layout, what I'm doing is using the "back wall" of the garage for my screen wall - about 2 feet away from the back wall, there will be a false wall with the screen and stage, front speakers, etc. - the garage door will be removed, framed in, and replaced with double entry doors. Maybe you could do something similar, this would get you to non-square, and you could hide the gear behind / alongside the screen.

Cool. Thanks for the tip about the split A/C unit. I was able to find some online and they do sound like a good solution -- and many can do heat as well as cooling. Very nice.

---

I need to get more clarity from the contractor about what I get for the $2450. If it really is only the digging and burying (and removal of the concrete walkway that we don't want, anyway) then I think he has to give us a better price. But we did talk about replacing the main circuit breaker panel to the house, which requires several more steps, and I'm beginning to think he is including that, as well as dealing with the hanging wires, etc.

----

Wow, you did those diagrams of your theater in your thread with SKETCH UP? I used that program once, to diagram some speaker stands. Gotta bust it out again for this!

nathan_h 01-09-2007 09:37 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by tat2boy View Post

Let me know what you find out when you check'em out. I'm still in the market for some seating and these look very comfortable. I would go with cloth since I have dogs and don't want them tearing up expensive leather.

I shall.

nathan_h 01-14-2007 11:26 AM

Wow, it looks like the contractor I found has suddenly been able to move me up in his schedule for drywalling to THIS WEEK!

Trouble is, I still am unsure of the final layout of the theater.

I'm pretty sure about the internal wall, and door location. Screen location seems unlikely to change but I'm not 100% sure. I don't think I'll be using in-wall speakers, but will start out using my existing Magnepans.

But the usual approach for these things is to know where conduit should be run, to get the speaker cable and video cable and power in the walls in the right places. And I'm not sure I know that yet, or that it might not change!

So, what's my best bet for creating something I won't have to rip apart?

I'm thinking I confirm that we'll have 3 circuits for the space (2x15 and 1x20 amp), and that I should have an outlet on each wall, perhaps two -- one towards each end, with the 20amp outlets on the new wall, facing both into the theater and into the entry room?

And I'm thinking that I make a best guess about conduit for speaker and video cabling, and have him put that into the walls? Or perhaps I assume that I'll be hanging fabric, perhaps curtains, on the walls over the acoustic treatment, so speaking cabling can run around the floor edges, covered by that fabric, leaving me with flexibility?

Hmmm. A lot to decide quickly! (I don't want to delay him though, because that could move things out a few months -- and as soon as I move in February I won't have a place to watch movies until this garage is at least mostly converted into a room.)

nathan_h 01-16-2007 08:49 AM

Managed to get a short reprieve from the drywalling step! Should be enough time to allow the Green Glue to arrive. I won't be using the Green Glue to do a second layer of drywall. Rather, we'll use it to run along the edges of the framing, prior to putting the drywall up.

nathan_h 01-16-2007 08:05 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by goobenet View Post

As for the floor, how badly unlevel is it? If it's only 1/2 inch or so, just put a false floor in, looks like you have the room for such.

Mea culpa. Looks like this might be the better route. I've been reading about Dricore and it could work well. and be perhaps half the cost of new concrete -- plus it will be nicer to walk and cover than concrete. Still a bit pricey, though. Assuming I can wait for a sale or use a discount voucher, I'm figuring about $5/sq ft.

nathan_h 01-17-2007 12:02 PM

Today's question is, What kind of insulation to put behind the drywall?

DLilley 01-17-2007 03:12 PM

Just ran across your thread and if you go cathedral ceiling I would take out the "beams" across the ceiling they are not load bearing and it would clean it up a bunch. The only thing they are for is storage from the look of things.
Doug

nathan_h 01-17-2007 05:07 PM

Yeah, I'd LOVE to get rid of those beams, but assumed they were load bearing. How can I tell?

DLilley 01-18-2007 03:11 PM

Show the picture to a structural engineer and ask his opinion. The way the roof is done looks like a ridge beam that the ceiling joists are attached to and the support for the beam is inside the two end walls underneath the drywall if that makes any sense. Dont take my word as the gospel but thats what it appears to be from the pictures you've posted. The beams you want to take out are only 2x4 and couldn't hold any weight of significance. A load supprting beam usually needs to be 1" per foot of span so you said the width of th garage is 17' so that would mean you need a 17" beam to support the weight of the roof. This is how headers above doors and windows are figured out.
I hope that helps.
Doug

DLilley 01-18-2007 03:18 PM

My other suggestion for you would be to make the garage doors inoperable by removing the tracks like you mentioned but the other thing I would do is make the window into a dooor and have that as the entrance to the theater. That way you dont have a door on the exixting garage doors, which never looks quite right, and the entrance would be in the back of the room which is usually preferable.
Just my $ .02 worth.
Doug

nathan_h 01-18-2007 04:31 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DLilley View Post

My other suggestion for you would be to make the garage doors inoperable by removing the tracks like you mentioned but the other thing I would do is make the window into a dooor and have that as the entrance to the theater. That way you dont have a door on the exixting garage doors, which never looks quite right, and the entrance would be in the back of the room which is usually preferable.
Just my $ .02 worth.
Doug

I was thinking we'd cut a new door on the same wall as the window, but at the other end of that wall. I like having a window (that will be well covered) as a fire safety thing. The door would actually open into an "ante-room", and then there'd be a second door into the main theater. (The drawing may not make this clear.)

(The only hesitation I have about removing the tracks for the big doors is that I would then have to secure those doors some other way -- and converting back to a garage, when we move out in 5 or 10 years might be a hassle. But I don't think this will stop me .)

nathan_h 01-18-2007 04:33 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DLilley View Post

Show the picture to a structural engineer and ask his opinion. The way the roof is done looks like a ridge beam that the ceiling joists are attached to and the support for the beam is inside the two end walls underneath the drywall if that makes any sense. Dont take my word as the gospel but thats what it appears to be from the pictures you've posted. The beams you want to take out are only 2x4 and couldn't hold any weight of significance. A load supprting beam usually needs to be 1" per foot of span so you said the width of th garage is 17' so that would mean you need a 17" beam to support the weight of the roof. This is how headers above doors and windows are figured out.
I hope that helps.
Doug


Hmm.. The main beams running across are like 2x8s or something, so probably not load-bearing. I was thinking though whether they keep things square.

I've got a renovations expert coming to consult on the whole house (not that we can afford to follow his advice yet!) and I'll ask him about it.

Nasty N8 01-18-2007 04:42 PM

They are to keep things square but you can raise them higher up the A frame they do not need to be at the wall level.

Nate

nathan_h 01-18-2007 06:13 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nasty N8 View Post

They are to keep things square but you can raise them higher up the A frame they do not need to be at the wall level.

Nate

Good to know! Just raising them up midday, assuming they still do their job, would be really nice for the space. Heck, I might even drywall under them, then, and not have any silly beams in the room itself.

nathan_h 01-19-2007 10:21 PM

Had a consultation today with a general contractor who specializes in restoring pre-WWII homes (like ours). Had him also take a look at the garage, to get his take on a few things. (Told him we'd pay him for a consultation, but that we already had a contractor on the hook for the work, to make sure the recommendations were not directed towards creating business.)

His recommendation was to not move the cross beams higher because then we'd want to re-enforce the ceiling beams that they are keeping square and that they are tensioned by. And he strongly encouraged me to not rip out the drywall (but to re-do the electrical), and to remove the tracks for the doors -- and just screw the doors to the jambs.

He take on the drywall was that it was in no worse shape that newly hung drywall (except for a few obvious places these needed repairing) before it has been finished. And that since there is already insulation blown into the walls, and I'm strongly considering a second later of drywall (with green glue) to just minimally fix it up, and then get going on the second batch.

About the cement, he thought it should be at the least re-poured, and he recommended re-doing the foundation.... but getting rid of the tree in the neighbor's yard, first, since the problem appears to be a root from the giant eucalyptus there.

mchristopher89 01-19-2007 11:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by nathan_h View Post

Had a consultation today with a general contractor who specializes in restoring pre-WWII homes (like ours). Had him also take a look at the garage, to get his take on a few things. (Told him we'd pay him for a consultation, but that we already had a contractor on the hook for the work, to make sure the recommendations were not directed towards creating business.)

His recommendation was to not move the cross beams higher because then we'd want to re-enforce the ceiling beams that they are keeping square and that they are tensioned by. And he strongly encouraged me to not rip out the drywall (but to re-do the electrical), and to remove the tracks for the doors -- and just screw the doors to the jambs.

...elided...

About the cement, he thought it should be at the least re-poured, and he recommended re-doing the foundation.... but getting rid of the tree in the neighbor's yard, first, since the problem appears to be a root from the giant eucalyptus there.

As your contractor pointed out, you can't remove those beams. They are called collar ties if you want to look them up. They are under tension and serve to keep the roof from falling flat.

The dricore is expensive, but it is comfortable and goes down quickly. Before you did that, you would need to fill the cracks in the concrete at the very least. You would get backing rod (round foam - comes in various sizes) and put in the cracks, and the fill with a flexible concrete crack sealer. Read the labels, most have limitations for how wide or how deep a crack they can fill. The other option would be hydraulic cement.

Why did the concrete crack? Was it frost heave? If so, you might want to consider the drainage around the garage, so make sure it won't happen again!

One thing to keep in mind, if you redo the foundation for the building as suggested, you might be able to raise it up a foot or so... (Doesn't sound cheap though.)

nathan_h 01-20-2007 01:09 AM

"collar ties" yes, thanks! that was the phrase he used. They are staying put and I'll work with them.


-----

The likely cause of the concrete trouble is the very LARGE eucalyptus tree about one feet away from the back side of the garage, in the neighbor's yard. There's probably a root very near the surface. Similar in concept to what some trees do to a sidewalk.....

So I hesitate to put a floor over the concrete, or even pour new concrete, until that root is taken care of. But going to the neighbor's house an saying "Hi I just moved in and your tree is ruining my garage floor" is not a conversation I want to have. Actually, it's not clear that the tree isn't on my property, but that it has ended up being considered their yard.

So my next step is to learn where the property line is.

However, if it's a choice of using lawyers, or getting on bad terms with the neighbors, it may be better to work around the issue (but the root?, build a false floor with room for the concrete to continue it's cracking?).


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