Moroccan Tent Theme - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Dedicated Theater Design & Construction > Moroccan Tent Theme
kstirman's Avatar kstirman 11:54 AM 10-07-2007
Final Shots:

Final Equipment:
SMX curved 126" 2.35 screen
Lumagen HDP
Denon 3808 (processor only + rear speakers)
Audio Refinement Multi-5
Mackie M1200 (sub amp)
SVS CS-Ultra (2) behind screen
Tannoy DC-12 (3) behind screen
Triad Silver dipole (4) surrounds + rears
PS3 for BluRay
Wii for games
Comcast HD unit
AppleTV wirelessly streaming 200+ movies from Drobo upstairs
Control4 lights + control of all equipment
Beringer FD for sub EQ

My first theater project was back in 2000. It was similar to the current project in that it was in a basement, but that's about it. Here's about the only picture I still have of that project:

The final room had hand-stained trim and crown molding, and GOM fabric on all walls. With an HTPC @1080p, LT150, ISCO II, High Power, 2.35 constant height, Lexicon, SVS CS-Ultra, and ProAc/NHT speakers, we achieved a movie watching experience that was absolutely amazing. It is still the best audio/video quality I have experienced, but I'm sure things can be better these days.

Why am I mentioning all this? Well, on the theme of "what would I do differently next time", I was never crazy about the room itself. It felt like a big office cube with the GOM, and while the acoustics were very, very good, the room wasn't all that inviting.

New Project:
Two houses later, there's a room in the basement of this new construction home that is begging to become a theater. I was on the fences about starting a project until the idea of a Moroccan tent theme hit me earlier this year. After many months of thinking, we started planning in earnest about two months ago. Here are a couple of examples:

I'm not crazy about those colors and textures, and they're not Moroccan at all. I do think they give an idea of the "feel" of the room that we're going for.

Here's something more typically Moroccan:

I'll be going to Marrakech at the end of October to buy textiles, furniture, and light fixtures, perhaps a door as well. So, for now, these are just ideas - the final feel of the room won't be determined for another month or so.

I'm a mix of many things, mostly Irish, but all western European, so my ideas on Moroccan style are very unreliable. Apologies in advance if I am incorrect on any of my assertions.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 12:07 PM 10-07-2007
The room is a basement under a garage. All walls are concrete filled cinder block. The ceiling is comprised of i-beams supporting coregated steel which in turn is supporting several inches of concrete for the garage floor. Basically, its a big bunker.

Unfinished dimensions are approximately 14' wide, 8' high to the bottom of the i-beams, and 23' long. Very nice sized room, though I would like an extra foot or two for the ceiling.

Here are some shots of the room before construction began.


Side/door wall (that's a wine cellar door in the hall way, my project last winter)

Front wall corner Fire sprinklers are required in 4 floor homes here, and they are a major pain for the project . . . . more later on this topic.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 12:12 PM 10-07-2007
Here's a somewhat inaccurate sketchup of the room:

Now that the drywall is up, I need to refine the measurements, but hopefully you get the idea. The idea of the rear of the room is a projection booth for all the gear and the projector, but that is currently a topic that is up for debate.

The front wall will have a 2.4 constant height, AT screen. I'm hoping to do a curved screen, but only if I don't run out of enthusiasm for the project. I have SMX material.

Projector decision is being made as late as possible, but one of the likely 1080p suspects. Speakers are under consideration, but I'm liking the new Tannoy line that was announced at CEDIA.

-ISCO II lens
-Lexicon processor
-Audio Refinement 5 channel amp
-Parasound 2 channel amp
-Mackie M1200 sub amp + Rane EQ
-HTPC (maybe not if I can avoid it)
kstirman's Avatar kstirman 12:43 PM 10-07-2007
Week one was wednesday - friday. Here's what was completed:

-dricore subfloor laid
-HVAC design completed, parts ordered
-holes made for HVAC ducts
-many trips to Lowes (don't like my local HD)
-HVAC partially installed

Some pictures

No dynamite please! Chiseling through the 15 inches of concrete-filled cinder block was a nightmare. Total time for these two holes was about 22 man hours. It was starting to look like The Great Escape. Real tools were used, in case you doubt it was actually kryptonite, as we finally concluded.

HVAC mainly there The great HVAC guy I found (PM me if you want to know some of the absurd price quotes I got) wanted to work evenings to get this job done. The design we settled on was:
-separate zone with thermostat on 3 ton HVAC for house
-supply and return are 10" x 14" ducts, about 12 feet to the blower
-two ceiling supplies: 7" flex lines
-one ceiling return, center rear, 20" x 20" opening with filter, connects to two 8" flex lines, which connect to 3.5" x 14" returns on each side.

Here's a shot of the big return in the ceiling, at the back of the room.

Here's the supply line with the two flex lines:

The good news is that when we hooked it up my first reaction was "oh no, there's too much air!" So, I had the guys install a manual damper in addition to the electronic damper that's in the duct. Here's a picture of an electric damper if you've never seen one:

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 01:14 PM 10-07-2007
Week two was monday - thursday. Here's what was completed:

-metal stud walls installed with RSIC clips
-insulation in all walls installed (R19)
-exterior 1/2" mold-resistant drywall installed
-interior 5/8" regular drywall installed
-materials for ceiling moved to room, ready for installation

Metal track the walls are framed to about an inch below the i-beams. Unfortunately, this meant trimming about an inch off the bottom of every stud, but that's what it was. The ceiling joists will sit on top of the walls rather than attach to the i-beams. Accordingly, we did 16" studs on the sides, and 24" for the short walls (front and rear).

RSIC clips these were surprisingly easy to work with. By constructing a "room within a room", and only attaching to the exterior with these clips, the chances of noise moving throughout the rest of the house are substantially reduced. No green glue for this project - seemed like overkill for a room that's a cement bunker and two floors from the kitchen/living room, and at least three floors from the bedrooms (on 3rd and 4th floor).

Working around the block footings a few times along both side walls, the cinder block sticks out about 3.5 inches. Rather than frame inside, we lined up the track so that the drywall would be just an inch off the block wall. The rest of the wall gives us around 5 inches depth, so perfect fit for R19.

On the other side of the room, the footings weren't as deep, so we notched out the metal track.

Fire sprinker pipe not only does every room have to have sprinklers installed, but the front of the house has to provide a hook up for the fire department (never mind the hydrant on the corner, 20 feet from the house). This is 2" CPVC that runs across the front of the room. We decided to frame the room square, and have the pipe drop into the room, then leave again, so two holes into the room. We will seal carefully around these holes. This is the screen wall, so we aren't worried about being able to see the pipe.

CPVC is rated for 180F, so the pipe wont melt before the sprinklers can go off. Finding someone to come reroute these pipes has proven to be a major hassle, and they want a fortune for it.

Insulation up R19 on all the walls, R30 in the ceilings between the i-beams.

Drywall The outer layer is mold resistant. I wanted to make sure that if there's ever moisture in the basement we aren't completely vulnerable. Between the sump pump, dricore, metal studs, and mold-resistant drywall, I hope that does the trick.

Duct dampening tin ducts are very noisy. They ring like crazy if you knock on them. We ran out of time to get the duct liner ordered and installed, but between the right hand turns and s-curved flex lines, I'm hoping its quiet enough.

To damp the ringing of the metal, I wanted something like Dynamat, a product mainly for cars, but didn't want to spend the $10+ per sq foot of that product. I found this all purpose flashing material at Lowes that doesn't have the same mass as Dynamat, but is otherwise pretty similar. Its about $0.50 per sq foot, which is more in line with my budget.

greg_mitch's Avatar greg_mitch 01:41 PM 10-07-2007
Your room has to be sprinkled but you are going to cover the entire thing in fabric?! Is this going to be fire treated fabric?

4 - story house! I need pictures!

Love the idea...definitely not like everyone else. Looks great.
kstirman's Avatar kstirman 05:58 PM 10-07-2007
Our home's footprint is about 35' x 25', around 3000 sq feet total. Most people think 4 floors = gigantic, and while this is a large home by downtown Philadelphia standards, its not as you might think.

On the sprinkler question, I actually care less about whether the fabric is fire retardant with the sprinklers in there. I would rather not have them in the house at all (no breaks for fire insurance), but its not my choice. Basically, people want at least $1000 to come in and move the sprinkler heads into a soffit - its a two day job, in their minds, because they have to drain the system, re-run the pipes, apply a vacuum to the system to test for leaks for 24 hours, then recharge the system. I can do everything except recharge the system, but I haven't found a store that will sell me the supplies.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 11:13 AM 10-09-2007
Guys, I would appreciate some feedback on a design option that I need to determine in the next week or two.

My theater (13'4" wide x 7'9" high x 22' long) does not have an adjacent room to house equipment, so it needs to fit in the room somewhere. I had envisioned a rear projection booth where the projector, lens, and equipment would reside. However, now that the room is coming together, I'm concerned the rear row will be too close to the rear wall.

So, another option would be to put a closet in the corder for all the gear, and another in the opposite corner for symmetry/acoustics.


(Sorry, still getting used to Sketchup)

Projection booth:

Corner Closets:

usualsuspects's Avatar usualsuspects 01:15 PM 10-09-2007
Are you sure the equipment can't go outside somewhere? What is the rest of the basement layout like? How about up front - you lose a bass trap corner - but might be worth it?
kstirman's Avatar kstirman 01:46 PM 10-09-2007
As you can see from the pictures above, the walls are more than a foot of concrete-filled cinder block, and on one side is a wine cellar, the other is a gym. Its possible to put inside the gym, but I'd rather not.

Up front is another consideration - what have others done?

Tnilsson's Avatar Tnilsson 02:10 PM 10-09-2007
Really cool design idea. But how are you going to deal with the loose fabric hanging from the ceiling and the walls and the air blowing from your HVAC system (and the projector which I assume will also be hanging from the ceiling)? I am worried your room is too narrow to maintain that airy tent-like look with all that fabric, but I am eager to see your finished room as it could look really cool.
kstirman's Avatar kstirman 03:01 PM 10-09-2007
Here's another picture that captures some of the idea. I really like the curved seating area. We hope to do something similar for the first row, with more random seating in the second row.

Fine questions on the HVAC, and for the moment I don't have a good answer.

I think we can get some sort of slope in the ceiling without a pole.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 03:05 PM 10-11-2007
Week Three was Tuesday through Thursday.

Here's what was completed:

-ceiling joists installed
-ceiling insulated
-electrical, sump pump plumbing, and fire sprinkler pipes removed
-60 amp electrical run into room
-1/2" mold resistant drywall exterior installed
-5/8" normal drywall interior installed
-HVAC ready for in-room ducts for return (soffits will be built later)

Ceiling joists we couldn't fit 14' joists down the stairs, so these are 8' 2 x 6 held together by 4' of 2 x 6. Each sits on the top of the side walls, which were framed on 16" centers to support the additional weight. Those grey beams are the large i-beams supporting the garage floor. None of the ceiling joists touch the i-beams.

Supply lines there are two supply lines, each 7" flex.

Return that's a 20" x 20" return that will have a filter insert.

Return soffit this is the entrace from the ceiling into the soffit that will run along both sides of the room to the front, where it exits the room next to the supply.

Electrical entrance the 60 amp wire enters with the sump pump 1 1/2" pipe. This hole will be filled, like all the other holes, with foam, and will be behind a soffit.

At this point, all the drywall is up. Next week we will finish the ceiling and inside corners, and start on the stage and risers. Starting to be exciting!
kstirman's Avatar kstirman 08:34 PM 10-14-2007
Got a call this morning (Sunday, Eagles playing) from the HVAC guys:

"Would it be ok if we come by this afternoon to work? Things are heating up, and if we don't wrap up your basement today, we're worried we will get behind."

Me: "Sure, no problem!"

So, they showed up around 2PM, stayed till 7PM. Probably would have saved them an hour or two if we hadn't used two layers of drywall on the ceiling - the vents mounted with a spring clip behind the drywall, and what we have was too thick.

Looking to the screen wall the ducts were silicone glued to the ceilings along with standard brackets for additional support. These will be covered with the flashing material that acts as a poor man's Dynamat.

Over the entrance the sprinkler will go just underneath, for a total soffit depth of around 9" by 18" wide.

Supply vents two of these up front, a few feet in front of the screen. Each has its own damper. That means there are three dampers between the blower and the vent - one manual nearest the blower, one electronic, then another manual in the room. There's a lot of supply, so hopefully this gives adequate control. Some noise once we hooked it up, but hard to tell if it was coming from the blower closet, which is about 12 feet away with no doors between us.

Front of room return soffit you can see where the side wall meets the front of the room. The sprinkler pipe will be behind its own soffit, and this end of the room will be behind the screen.

Rear with return vent this is 20" x 20". Super quiet - couldn't even get a response from the tissue test until we opened up the grill and reached into the flex lines, where there was plenty of pull.

What happens to good adjacent rooms . . . . seems like there should be a thread with pictures of adjacent rooms during a theater build. Here's our gym. You can't see the 1000+ cd's and 150+ dvd's, not to mention audio gear, wires, and other gadgets stacked in this room that is next door to the theater.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 08:47 AM 10-20-2007
Week 4 was Tues - Fri. Here's what was completed:

-materials for stage and riser delivered and moved to the basement
-riser built, filled with blow in insulation, one layer of 3/4" T&G plywood (don't know if we will do a second)
-steps for risers complete
-stage framed and partially filled with sand (a lot of sand goes a little way)
-back bench framed
-MDF for soffits ripped

Riser in progress hard to see exactly, but we are going for a curve of a 14' radius for the sage front, and a parallel curve on the risers. Here you can see the riser. These are made of 2" x 12" that are notched on the ends to make room for the steps, and they are cut on an angle to accomodate the curve.

Another angle of the riser

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 08:25 AM 10-21-2007
Here you can see the curve and steps coming together. I'm pretty happy with the final result, though I would do it with 10" planks instead of 12" if I could do it all over again.

From the front

We ran lines for the step lights.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 08:29 AM 10-21-2007
We used blown in insulation. Was a lot cheaper than fiberglass, easier to work with (in some ways), is recycled, made of cotton (I grew up on a cotton farm), and has greater fire resistance. What's not to like? The dust was substantial, and we didn't rent a machine, so we had do to the fluffing ourselves.

From the back of the riser

From the side

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 08:32 AM 10-21-2007
One layer or two? We have one layer of 3/4" tongue & groove plywood. It feels very solid. How do you know if you need two?

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 08:40 AM 10-21-2007
Stage underway The design calls for a 14' radius curve parallel to that of the riser. Here you can see the 2" x 10" planks that are used for the stage. Just as we did for the riser, we notched out the ends of the planks to give us the step. Much stronger this way than using separate pieces. We also cut the ends of the plank on an angle to form the curve for the front of the step.

Getting the curveThe way we did this was to using a measuring tape anchored to a nail at the front wall, go out 14', then carefully draw the curve on the subfloor with a pencil while rotating the tape from wall to wall. Once we had the curve, the riser came together.

The plywood for the riser served the purpose of both the riser and the stage. That is, the curve is the same, so we oriented the sheets so that we could cut the plywood for the riser, then use the other parts of the sheets for the curve for the stage.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 08:43 AM 10-21-2007
Argh!! I can't believe that 75 50lb bags of sand wasn't nearly enough. I think we will throw in a bunch of scrap lumber to take up some of the space, and put in a divider in front of the steps. We can then use insulation for the steps, and sand for the rest.

Does anyone see a problem with using scraps of pressure treated lumber in with the sand?

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 08:50 AM 10-21-2007
The carpenter called it a "courtesy cut" For both the front of the riser and the front of the stage, we used 1" x 12" and 1" x 10" 14' pieces of pine respectively. I really didn't believe it would bend so nicely, but it did. And, its VERY strong. We started with lauan, but even with two layers, it just seemed too fragile.

Inside the front of the step

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 09:07 AM 10-21-2007

Ed B. 1979's Avatar Ed B. 1979 11:08 PM 10-21-2007
All that in less than a month! Looks awesome, I like the curves on the riser and stage.
kstirman's Avatar kstirman 07:03 PM 10-25-2007
Thanks for the feedback! I love the curves too.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 07:13 PM 10-25-2007
Week 5 was Tues/Wed:

Here's what was completed:

-MDF covers for HVAC ducts, frame out soffits on both sides
-rear soffit frames
-stage completed
-proscenium framed
-rear bench framed
-rear corners framed
-screen wall framed

Stage with screen wall framed out The front of the stage is on a 14' radius, and the screen is on a 30' radius. The screen is 2.35, 126" wide. Not sure how I'm going to frame the screen, but that's a project for November.

Proscenium This will have 5 3" cans in it, shining down at the screen.

Shot of screen/proscenium/stage from entrance Its a number of different curves, but they all *work* together. Difficult to photgraph.

Rear of theater This is a wide bench that will have a cushion on top and will act as a casual third row of seating. Its about 30" deep, so almost wide enough to be a single bed for a VERY tall person. Equipment will go under the bench, and the projector will go in the soffit above.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 07:18 PM 10-25-2007
I was going to build a projection booth, but then the room seemed too small.

Next idea was corner closets, but we were concerned about the acoustics.

So, we decided on under the bench, which will have an access panel on top.

Here's the line of thinking:

1) equipment rack wound be around $1000.
2) while I will access the rack from time to time, its ok if the equipment is a little tricky to work with
3) there aren't that many pieces of gear (1 5 channel amp, 1 2 channel amp, 1 sub amp, processor, dvd player, dvr, eq)
4) having two "stacks" of gear under the bench means cooling a lot easier than a tall stack of gear in a small enclosure
5) only the sub amp has a fan, and I may switch that to something else if its too loud, or put it behind the screen if the sub ends up there


kstirman's Avatar kstirman 07:19 PM 10-25-2007
What do most people do for surge supression/power filtering. I know middle atlantic offers products for this purpose, as does Monster, and then you've got the high end offerings.

But what are most of you doing?

bpape's Avatar bpape 06:33 AM 10-29-2007
Unless your power is absolutely horrible, skip the filtering. For suppression, I'd recommend a whole house unit so you're protecting everything including PC's, audio/video, etc.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 06:11 PM 11-04-2007
This week was a major slow down due to materials and people's schedules. So, only half a day on electrical and a few odds and ends.

Here's what was completed:
-80% of all electrical installed
-screen soffit lights installed
-screen wall painted black
-major clean up
-curved screen frame idea tested out (temporary materials)
-some acoustic materials installed

Cutting the 703 fiberglass insulation: if you've never worked with this stuff, its super easy to cut with a knife, but takes several cuts to get through. Working with fiberglass is a pain the in the a$$. The next morning my face looked like I had spilled some biological agent in the basement.

The process is pretty simple: draw a line to separate in half along the longer dimension, then divide into 4 equal triangles. Do this enough times and you can fill up the corners behind the front screen.

This stuff is freakish in its ability to absorb sound! Put your head next to it to simulate loss of hearing in one ear.

The knife: I got through about 10 sheets of this stuff with the first blade.

Screen wall painted black just in case any of the light from the projector reflects off the wood, best to paint it all black. You can see the lights in the soffit above shining down on where the screen will be.

Lights shining on screen - from riser Its hard to see, but the lights are shining on where the screen will be. The most exciting thing that's happened in a while!

Also got a temporary screen up to test the idea I had for framing, and it looks good with the cotton material, but those pictures will come later.

I'm leaving the country tomorrow for 10 days, but the good news is a long weekend in Marrakech to shop for materials for the theater. Can't wait - it will be my first time.

Also, this week I got the electronics ordered and hope to have those in by the time I get back. Having things functional by Thanksgiving doesn't seem impossible, but it will be tight.

kstirman's Avatar kstirman 06:30 PM 11-04-2007
I finally settled on gear (edit: the final list changed for processor, rear/sides, and projector, see later in thread):

Lexicon DC1 w/ all upgrades - already own it, and despite all the new formats, still the best sounding algorithm for surround, IMHO, is Logic7. Perhaps other things sound better when properly encoded, but on the whole, Logic7 makes just about any sound track sound better. OTOH, I am very attracted to the new Denon with the Audyssey Pro eq that normalizes the EQ depending on the volume. HDMI switching is also very attractive. :-)

Audio Refinement Multi5 - already own it, and a great sounding solid state amp from YBA. I think its 175 watts per channel.

Parasound - don't recall the model number, but affordable two channel amp for rears or sides.

Mackie MC1200 - sub amp, 1200 watts bridged, or 2x 600 watts

Tannoy DC12i - this is my big risk, but I am going to give them a shot. More expensive than the THX Ultra2, but also horn loaded. I think it will be cool to have 3 12" drivers for the L/C/R, plus the sub, all behind the screen.

HSU Research HB-1 - rears. I don't understand why people would spend as much or more on rears/sides as their L/C/R. Given a fixed budget, I like to spend in proportion to where the (meaningful) sound is encoded.

Mirage FRx - sides. Already own them, nothing special.

SVS CS Ultra sub. Already own it. Have a Rane eq to go with it and the Mackie. Great sub, but I might get a second sub for the rear (different unit).

Panasonic AX100U projector. I came very close to buying an RS1 for $3800, a VW60 for about the same, and a few other 1080p units. Given the volatility of the market, it is just crazy to spend that much right now, so for $750 I figure I can wait 6 months or a year and spend the money on other things. I am 110% sure the same money will buy me more in a few months. Another unbelievable option is a Runco VX-5000ci, which was over $26K retail a few years ago. That can also be had for under $1000, but I just couldn't make it fit in my room. PM me if you are interested in the unit - I can't imagine anything else having as good of an image.

Control4 HC-300 for a little more than the Grafik Eye, you get a lot more, and the basis for whole home automation. I'll do this unit and as many dimmable zones + switches as I want. Handles all kinds of other things. I know I could do all this on an HTPC, but I am working VERY hard to not have one in this theater, though it is tempting.

You'll notice I don't have any sources, and that's something I'm still working on. I would like to rip all my DVD's to storage, and play them through the system. If anyone knows a way to do that without an HTPC, please let me know. Doesn't seem like you can do it through Control4.

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