Home Theater of the Month: Vikgrao's Fortress of Solitude - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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When AVS member Vikram Rao (vikgrao) and his wife Vasu, both physicians living near Indianapolis, IN, decided to build their dream home theater, they looked at many examples here on AVS Forum for ideas. Vikram wanted a modern look, and Vasu was partial to a color scheme with red, black, blue, and a bit of gray, hinting at the theme that was to emerge as the project progressed. But most important was sound isolation—Vasu is an emergency-room doctor who returns home at odd hours after a 12- or 24-hour shift and needs to sleep, even if Vikram is blasting the audio at reference levels or beyond.

 

The entrance to Vikram's home theater hints at the theme that eventually emerged.

 

To integrate these requirements, Vikram turned to installer and fellow AVS member Jeff Parkinson (BIGmouthinDC), who knows a thing or two about building and acoustical isolation. Starting with a basement room measuring 28 x 14 x 9 feet with 12-inch-thick concrete walls on three sides, Parkinson specified double-stud walls and ceiling along with three layers of 5/8-inch drywall separated by Green Glue noise-damping compound, all of which is decoupled from the studs using whisper clips and hat channels. The walls and ceiling are further insulated with R19 and R25 material, and the floor consists of OSB (oriented stranded board) and acoustical rubber matting on a concrete foundation. After all that, the theater now measures 22 x 12.8 x 7.8 feet with a 2.75-inch-thick soundproof door.

 

Double-stud walls help keep the theater sound in and external sounds out.

 

The next step was building a stage for the front speakers and a riser for the second row of seats. Aside from providing unobstructed sightlines for the second row, the riser also serves as a bass trap designed by Dennis Erskine of The Erskine Group, a custom-design company that helped with the installation. The stage was filled with sand to stabilize it no matter how loud the speakers might get.

 

Vikram lugged over a ton of sand into the theater.

 

In keeping with a modern look, Vikram wanted curves everywhere, which presented Parkinson with additional challenges. For example, he found himself crawling under sheets of OSB to mark the curves of the platforms.

 

Parkinson marks the curves of the front stage on OSB that will form the top layer.

 

The soffits in the ceiling also had to be super strong to withstand the shaking that was to come from the finished audio system.

 

Parkinson demonstrates the strength of the soffits above the stage. I wonder if he used Crazy Glue?

 

Speaking of the audio system, Vikram decided to use three Seaton Catalyst 12C self-powered speakers for the front left, center, and right channels, each of which is triamped with a total of 2000 watts. Also placed in front is a JTR Orbit Shifter LFU subwoofer with an 18" driver, 14-foot folded horn, and 4000 watts of its own amplification.

 

Parkinson stands like da Vinci's Vitruvian Man between the left and center Seaton Catalyst 12C self-powered speakers. A JTR Orbit Shifter LFU subwoofer stands between the center and right speakers.

 

The front speakers would soon be hidden behind a fixed Seymour AV Center Stage XD acoustically transparent (woven fabric) screen measuring 140 inches wide with a 2.37:1 aspect ratio and a gain of 1.2. In addition, the screen exhibits a slight concave curve, just like a commercial cinema and in perfect sync with the curvaceous design elements throughout the rest of the room.

 

Vikram, Vasu, and their son Rishi sit on the unfinished stage after the screen has been installed.

 

For the surrounds, Vikram settled on six Procella Audio P6Vs, though only four are being used as of this writing until he can install a QSC Q-Sys Core 250i DSP. The surrounds are powered by a Denon AVR-4520CI receiver, which also serves as the preamp/processor for the system. It has nine channels of amplification, so all six speakers could be used now, but according to Dennis Erskine and Shawn Byrne of The Erskine Group, the multiple side surrounds wouldn't sound right without the DSP, which will be used to control all speakers and the sub.

 

Six Procella Audio P6V speakers are mounted in the walls, hidden by acoustically transparent cloth after this photo was taken.

 

Vikram chose the Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 6020UB for his projector. To accommodate the 2.37:1 screen, he installed a Panamorph UH480 anamorphic lens on a motorized sled so it can move into the light path for widescreen movies and out of the way for 16:9 HDTV.

 

The Epson 6020 is ceiling mounted with a motorized sled for the Panamorph anamorphic lens.

 

Once the theater was complete with blue accent lighting and red carpeting, a theme naturally emerged. What superhero dresses in those colors? The Man of Steel, of course. And there can be no better symbol of this theater's power, especially when you consider that its audio system delivers a total peak output of 15,000 watts.

 

The color scheme of Vikram's theater naturally suggested a Superman theme, which is entirely appropriate given the superpowers of this amazing room.

 

The price tag was equally impressive—right around $100,000. But thanks to the skill and dedication of Jeff Parkinson, calibrator Jeff Meir of AccuCal, The Soundproofing Company, and The Erskine Group, Vikram Rao has his Fortress of Solitude, in which he can play movies at ear-splitting levels while his wife slumbers peacefully or joins him for family movie night in one of the best home theaters for many miles around.

 

Six black-leather Fusion Jive 1013 seats let Vikram and his family and friends enjoy movies in the lap of luxury.

 

For much more detail about how Vikram Rao's home theater came together, check out the build thread here.

 

EQUIPMENT LIST

 

Sources

 

Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player

Sony PS3 game console/Blu-ray player

Microsoft Xbox 360 game console

Dish Network satellite receiver

Popcorn Hour A400 media streamer

 

AV Electronics

 

Denon AVR-4520CI receiver

Darbee DVP 5000 Darblet video processor

 

Projector

 

Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 6020UB

Panamorph UH480 anamorphic lens

 

Screen

 

Seymour AV Center Stage XD (140" wide, 2.37:1, 1.2 gain, acoustically transparent, curved)

 

Speakers

 

Seaton Catalyst 12C LCR (internally triamplifed, 2000 watts each)

Procella Audio P6V surrounds (6 in place, currently operating 4 since DSP gear not yet purchased, powered by AVR-4520CI)

JTR Orbit Shifter LFU subwoofer (4000W RMS, 7200W peak internal amplification)

 

Cables

 

Canare L-4E6S Star-Quad balanced XLR cable with Neutrix connectors (LCR, subwoofer)

Monoprice 12AWG CL2-rated speaker wire (surrounds)

Monoprice HDMI etc.

 

Control

 

Insteon ISY994i with dual band PLM & IRule Pro module

Global Cache WF2IR WiFi-to-IR adaptor

Global Cache IP2IR IP-to-IR adaptor

 

Power Conditioning

 

Monster HTS 5100 MK2 (2)

Monster HTUPS 3700

 

Network

 

Netgear N900 gigabit Ethernet router

 

Seating

 

Fusion Jive 1013 (6)

 

Planning to Add

 

QSC Q-Sys Core 250i DSP

 

 

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post #2 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 02:26 PM
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Gorgeous no doubt, but for $100k it should be! I'd have gone for at least two subs with that budget but the LFU is no slouch. A bit of a contrast to Popalocks system in terms of cost and personal effort. I can only imagine what it might be like for Rishi growing up with that kind of system to play with....

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post #3 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 02:53 PM
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Not a fan of the red carpet. Looks great with lights on but would drive me nuts with lights off. I had red carpet and it would light up during bright scenes drawing attention from the screen.
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post #4 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 03:10 PM
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Now that looks like a well designed cinema! Nice Job!

Out of sheer curiosity how well were you able to keep the sound from escaping? ie can people outside or in other parts of the house know that a movie is even playing at reference or is it completely inaudible/vibration proof?
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post #5 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 03:13 PM
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Scott thank you for selecting one of my projects. This theater will go down in my memory for all the curves involved. One little clarification. When the project started I flew out for a day of discussion with a couple of local guys who did the framing and drywall. They thought we were crazy when we talked about isolating the drywall on a clips and channel system and passing all the wires into the theater with small holes, no outlet boxes allowed. Ted White even got on the speaker phone to answer some technical questions regarding the weight handling design particularly channel and clip spacing for three layers of drywall. Once Vik had his bunker I returned and worked with Vik for a few weeks to put the interior together. After I left a local AVS brother RTROSE stepped up to the plate and helped with some remaining items and then there is the night they locked themselves in the room but you'll have to read the thread for the details.
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post #6 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 04:48 PM
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Amazing theater Vikram! Totally awesome.


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Family Room: Sharp LC-80uq17u + Denon 3808ci + Oppo 93, Speakers: C: Polk CSi-A6, F(L+R): Polk Rti-A7, S(R+RS) Polk TC60i, Sub: HSU – VTF3-MK4
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post #7 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 05:00 PM
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I've heard the Seaton Catalysts play way above reference, and that inclusion alone puts this theater into rarified territory.

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post #8 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

Gorgeous no doubt, but for $100k it should be! I'd have gone for at least two subs with that budget but the LFU is no slouch. A bit of a contrast to Popalocks system in terms of cost and personal effort. I can only imagine what it might be like for Rishi growing up with that kind of system to play with....

Don't forget, that is a folded horn sub which probably equals 4 or more of Popalock's sealed 18's. On top, there are 6 12" woofers spread across the front stage, from those Catalyst 12c's. People have claimed that those speakers are on par with the high end subwoofers. One of the GTG meetups had comments such as "Full range speakers should not be able to play this low."

So, depending on how the setup is crossed over, he could be benefitting from the same concepts as multiple sub placement, especially if he is using those LCR's as full range. As for the "high" pricetag: When you want to soundproof a room correctly without cutting corners, it's going to cost a lot of money. Popalock has posted pictures of his stairs and hallways cracking. I suspect that will not be happening with this setup. Those Seaton speakers are also on another level over the Klipsch RF7's.

Basically, Apples and Oranges. Popalock's might be better bang for the buck, while Vikgrao's house will still be standing this time next year.
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post #9 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathanc View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

Gorgeous no doubt, but for $100k it should be! I'd have gone for at least two subs with that budget but the LFU is no slouch. A bit of a contrast to Popalocks system in terms of cost and personal effort. I can only imagine what it might be like for Rishi growing up with that kind of system to play with....

Don't forget, that is a folded horn sub which probably equals 4 or more of Popalock's sealed 18's. On top, there are 6 12" woofers spread across the front stage, from those Catalyst 12c's. People have claimed that those speakers are on par with the high end subwoofers. One of the GTG meetups had comments such as "Full range speakers should not be able to play this low."

So, depending on how the setup is crossed over, he could be benefitting from the same concepts as multiple sub placement, especially if he is using those LCR's as full range. As for the "high" pricetag: When you want to soundproof a room correctly without cutting corners, it's going to cost a lot of money. Popalock has posted pictures of his stairs and hallways cracking. I suspect that will not be happening with this setup. Those Seaton speakers are also on another level over the Klipsch RF7's.

Basically, Apples and Oranges. Popalock's might be better bang for the buck, while Vikgrao's house will still be standing this time next year.

True, I wasn't factoring in the 12c's as much as I should, altho that does depend on how implemented too. I guess I'm just basically jealous smile.gif

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post #10 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 05:20 PM
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Congratulations on the amazing home theater! Jeff, looks amazing man! May have to have you come down to Richmond one day to do some work for us!

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post #11 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 05:21 PM
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Looks like a great room to hold a local GTG. I'll have to read up on the original thread.


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Epson 8350 on a 100" Visual Apex screen, Pioneer VSX-53, Polk RTi A5(x2) CSi 5 RTi A1 (x2) RTi 4(x2), Outlaw Audio LFM-1 EX, PS3, XBox 360 with HD-DVD add-on.
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post #12 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
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True, I wasn't factoring in the 12c's as much as I should, altho that does depend on how implemented too. I guess I'm just basically jealous smile.gif

Jealousy is a very wasteful emotion. Everyone gets dealt different cards in life, all you can do is make the most of what you're given. My happiest memories in life so far involved a bicycle and a ski hill. Some of my worst memories involve the pursuit of financial gain and things to purchase in the hopes they would provide happiness. Sorry for sounding preachy, I just really try my best to feel good about other people's accomplishments that are greater than my own, because I don't have time for the alternative.
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post #13 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 05:34 PM
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Awesome theater! You can't compare as one is DIY and the other is purchased professionals.

On a side note, this theater has 7.2 liters of displacement for under 20hz. POP's has 72 liters. Under 20hz won't be close! Above 20hz this theater will be about 1/4 th of pops, maybe a little more.

Again, this theater was done correctly as build and design is concerned, I would have reinforced the bottom end but this is a good reason it stays isolated as well. Love the theme! Great speaker selections.
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post #14 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 05:41 PM
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I love that in a $100,000 system, Monoprice cables still make sense smile.gif

Setups:

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post #15 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 05:54 PM
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Nice Home-theater, nice review.
My question here is: They put 12 inch concrete walls and 2 years average income worth of insulation in there, but only a 2.75 inch door? WTF? Most of the insulation is useless, if that were really the case. I believe that those 2.75 inches are a misunderstanding?
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post #16 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 06:05 PM
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Beautiful, beautiful theater, Vikram, and all involved. I love the modern high-end feel.
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post #17 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathanc View Post

Don't forget, that is a folded horn sub which probably equals 4 or more of Popalock's sealed 18's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MKtheater View Post

Above 20hz this theater will be about 1/4 th of pops, maybe a little more.

I don't know about that. I have the same subs as Popalock and I think an Orbit Shifter has more output than 4 of my subs above 20hz. I have had an OS in my room and I would say that 8 of my subs has a bit more output than a single OS but not by much.

Of course that's going on audio memory and we know how reliable that is.

At any rate, this is an incredible room and a great choice for HT of the month. smile.gif
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post #18 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 06:27 PM
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It is simple, OS equals 4 cap sealed drivers above 20hz. 4 cap sealed drivers have little more output than 4 sealed SI drivers, 23 mm vs 30 mm. So maybe 2-3 dBs, pop has 16. Measurements are key as subjective feel may not add up and be placebo.

Again, very nice theater.
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post #19 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 06:54 PM
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But there is still 6000 real watts going into 6 12" high excursion drivers as well (Minus whatever the tweeter needs, which isn't too much). While not on par with Pop's below 20hz, I could see it within 3db above 20hz, and this one might have a room gain advantage. Above the sub crossover, this should leave Pop's behind.

MKTheater I assume you have had Cat12c's in your room ? Or was that JTR's ?
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post #20 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 07:23 PM
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One of my favorite theaters on AVS!

Jeff Parkinson is an artist and an absolute perfectionist.

I've seriously considered quitting my job and working with Jeff for free just to attempt to soak up 1/10 of his knowledge...
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post #21 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Scott thank you for selecting one of my projects. This theater will go down in my memory for all the curves involved. One little clarification. When the project started I flew out for a day of discussion with a couple of local guys who did the framing and drywall. They thought we were crazy when we talked about isolating the drywall on a clips and channel system and passing all the wires into the theater with small holes, no outlet boxes allowed. Ted White even got on the speaker phone to answer some technical questions regarding the weight handling design particularly channel and clip spacing for three layers of drywall. Once Vik had his bunker I returned and worked with Vik for a few weeks to put the interior together. After I left a local AVS brother RTROSE stepped up to the plate and helped with some remaining items and then there is the night they locked themselves in the room but you'll have to read the thread for the details.

You're most welcome; it's a great build! I changed the number of drywall layers to three and changed one other word: instead of saying you "installed" the studs and drywall, I now say you "specified" them, which corrects the slight misinformation, I think.


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post #22 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 09:02 PM
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A home theater for champions!
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post #23 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 09:36 PM
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It depends on how he is using bass management. If running full range than the OS is only on the LFE channel and the system will only have dual sealed 12's when one speaker is being utilized and 6 12's when the front stage is active and add the OS is the front stage and LFE are active at once. You can't compare that to 16 18's active below 80hz full time for any bass. I love the capability above the crossover though!
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post #24 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 09:48 PM
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Thanks Scott for featuring this, and thanks everyone for the comments and wishes so far. All Credit goes to " BigmouthinDC" (Jeff Parkinson) in making the build come to fruition along with all the professionals from Erskine group and soundproofing company mentioned in the article and my calibrator Jeff Meir , Also thanks to everyone on this forum, especially members in the dedicated theater build section and members of the official JTR thread and Catalyst thread on AVS.

I was also lucky to get good input and help regularly from fellow members RTrose and TmcG and everyone else who posted on my build thread on AVS. I am not an expert nor qualified to fend most of the technical questions which arise here so everyone familiar with the build and equipment used in my theater please do chime in on my behalf.

Regarding the build itself lots of answers to the questions which may arise are already answered in the build thread.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1437336/fall-frenzy-curve-frenzy-man-of-steel-theater-you-pick-bigmouthindc-hits-the-road-again-destination-columbus-indiana


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post #25 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by boguspomp View Post

Nice Home-theater, nice review.
My question here is: They put 12 inch concrete walls and 2 years average income worth of insulation in there, but only a 2.75 inch door? WTF? Most of the insulation is useless, if that were really the case. I believe that those 2.75 inches are a misunderstanding?

Its not just insulation for the room walls and ceiling, but insulation coupled with the principles decoupling using clips, Green glue and and adding mass using layers of drywall. i knew going more thicker on the door wont completely solve any leaking problems which may arise.

We had some issues with doing double doors with air gap at that time. The current door is 2.75 inches but does have zero international seals all around the perimeter along with automatic door bottom seal to prevent leakage. Also the 1/2 inch mdf layers in the door with green glue really help in absorbing the sound along with the treatment covering the door from inside.

When the door is closed and i am playing at reference levels there is hardly any sound escaping out. Also with the door closed no matter how noisy the outside of the theater was I do not hear anything inside and my Calibrator Jeff meier recently measured a NR of 18 inside the theater.

Still I am planning this year on building a entryway/booth to the theater in front of the original theater door and add a second door plus seals.


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post #26 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 10:22 PM
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Not a fan of the red carpet. Looks great with lights on but would drive me nuts with lights off. I had red carpet and it would light up during bright scenes drawing attention from the screen.

Totally agree, Red is not everyone's cup of tea, but those pics were taken by a regular point and shoot camera without adjusting any settings and with all the room lights at 100 percent along with extra external lights, and do not represent the true color. In reality the the carpet is not so bright and much darker and does not light up at all during the bright scenes. Same with the blue led's they don't look washed out or distracting like in the pics. I will be uploading some professionally taken pics to the theater build thread soon with screen shots of the room during bright movie scenes.


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post #27 of 113 Old 09-04-2013, 11:02 PM
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Now that looks like a well designed cinema! Nice Job!

Out of sheer curiosity how well were you able to keep the sound from escaping? ie can people outside or in other parts of the house know that a movie is even playing at reference or is it completely inaudible/vibration proof?

Hi, all sounds are completely inaudible to the rest of the house at max volume, and that was my goal. Coming to vibrations from the Sub, at around reference levels when my ribs were rattling inside the theater during various bass scenes with sub running hot, I repeatedly stepped out of the theater and noticed there is no vibration in the room surrounding the theater, but there is a very faint vibration like your mobile phone vibrating in your pocket kind of feeling directly above the theater in the living room in a particular area. the only way to feel it though is to stand in that area, otherwise no one in the living room notices it.

Also inside the theater like i said above, my body and the raiser built as a bass trap are the only things vibrating. I was not feeling vibration on any of the walls, ceiling, screen wall or screen. there was also no rattling of any kind from the hvac grills, can lights cup holders, projector etc.
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post #28 of 113 Old 09-05-2013, 02:53 AM
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I love that in a $100,000 system, Monoprice cables still make sense smile.gif

When I see something like that....I to smiled. Shows a real understanding of putting money where it matters. Quite amazing...very.

I must be guilty because people say I am guilty because they chose to call me guilty because they refuse to see the truth. Much easier to be part of the mob..
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post #29 of 113 Old 09-05-2013, 04:04 AM
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Beautiful theater, congrats!
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post #30 of 113 Old 09-05-2013, 05:10 AM
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Congrats Vik! Final product looks great and I'm sure sounds even better!
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