Columns and Rack Area Framing
The other big design element I wanted were columns on the sides of the room to house in-wall surround speakers and sconce lights. At this point I was expecting to use a fabric wall system, covering the 3 walls, so the columns would be the only exposed drywall. My biggest pet peeve in home theater is surround channels being too loud and point-sourced, due to the speaker being too close to the seating location. So I'd try to get some distance, and double them up for better coverage at a lower volume level. Now, what about the back?
Edited by jautor - 6/6/12 at 5:27pm
MISTAKE: Plan all your speaker locations before the room shell is constructed. When I built the house, I had a space in the back for a pull-out rack, so rack access wasn't going to be a problem. And I made the rack area large enough for a small countertop - likely for a popcorn machine. But I didn't think about where the rear speakers needed to be. Turned out one of them really needed to be in the middle of that cabinet area. If I placed the speaker column inside of the cabinet location, the two rear speakers would be only 4' apart. Nope, speaker placement wins, cabinet goes away. In hindsight, that cabinet was unnecessary. Popcorn machine is hot, noisy and smelly (all in a good way!) - and is therefore better off outside the theater. I had a lot of U space in my rack, so I added a drawer there for remote/accessory storage, which works great.
IF I DID IT OVER: The rack area will later be drywalled with everything else. But the AX-S pull-out rack is intended to be used with "millwork". I should have finished the rack recess area with a site-built cabinetry box. The small, drywall covered space isn't perfectly square/flush, so when I pull the rack out, it tends to rub on one corner, which makes me get out the touch-up paint. A cabinet could have been made easily to the proper dimensions, and slipped into place. I purchased the Gasket/Guide kit for the rack to fill any gaps - turns out I don't have any gaps, it's too tight a fit even for the guides!
Here's a wide shot of the rack area, along with two essential tools: high powered work lamps and a box fan. And note, all the crap has been removed from the room! (Don't worry, it'll show up in other pictures as it was all thrown into the newly-decked attic space off to the right.)
MISTAKE: (This is the big one, which is great, because it didn't really impact the final outcome) aka:
IF I DID IT OVER: The columns, all 6 of them, were then framed out to be covered in drywall. This meant that the interior of the column is outside the treated theater space, and therefore all the things penetrating it are creating holes in the theater. Little things like the step and sconce light electrical boxes. And, um, that in-wall 6"x12" speaker. D'oh.
In hindsight, those columns should have been built post-drywall, with only small holes for electrical and low-volt. Thenn the speakers would have been enclosed within the room. The result is that as they are, a lot of surround sound can be heard in the attic space on one side of the theater, and it's also transmitted from the rears to the stairwell behind the room. The good news is that because the theater is placed away from bedrooms, and it's only the 'surround' channels, it had no real negative consequences for me. I may box in the side columns from the attic side to reduce transmission there, but it's only a nitpick for me. But your milage would definitely vary...
The same is true, to a lesser extent, of the ceiling framing. The can lights also penetrate the room shell, not a post-sheetrock soffit. But again, this is a second floor, the attic above is filled with blown insulation, and is geographically isolated from the rest of the house. In the end, with music playing at high volume from all channels, I can barely hear the transmission outside, and not from the bedrooms. Most of the sound that does make it into the adjacent gameroom is coming through the solid-core theater door (you can feel it vibrate).
MISTAKE: I bought a solid-core door, when I should have specified a "solid wood" door. Not sure how much difference it would have made, but the door is certainly the weakest link.
Next up, media shelf and a really good idea...