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Anhydro ("No Sweat") Theater Build... The Musings of an Armchair Quarterback

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
In the beginning, there was abundant confusion coupled with a great desire to learn and build. The battle of ignorance and imagination fulfilled looms ahead... and I, for one, can't wait to see which one rules in the end. I also look forward to the input and wisdom of those who have traveled down this road before.

Where to start... well, I guess with a few of the basics.

The Room: My room is approximately 17'W X 20'D X 9'H, with a hallway and closet off to one side. (See pics and drawings below.) The room is in the walkout basement of my new home construction. Two walls of the home theater (HT) are made of ICF (Insulating Concrete Form... concrete Legos with foam on the outside), which is great for certain kinds of sound isolation, but not low frequencies.... more about this later. The other two walls are framed lumber... 2 X 6 and 2 X 4. The 2 X 6 wall has a drain pipe in the middle of it... another challenge.

Knowledge Acquisition: My builder is an Amish guy who, in my view, is the best builder in town... but knows very little about home theater. I began by reading a few build threads on the AVS site, but, frankly, a lot of it was over my head... and I'm not a handyman. I did, however, start to understand a few basics. I then stumbled upon "The Home Theater Book" by Warren Peterson (The Book), a virtual gold mine of information for the Newbie or Semi-Newbie. I wish I would have found this book a couple of months earlier... but such is life.

Sound Isolation: This is a big subject and you'll find plenty of great information on this site, The Book and, in my case, from the folks at The Sound Proofing Company. Sound insulation is quite different from sound treatments and acoustics. I decided to "decouple" (add space and reduce connection to other material) all four walls and the ceiling with sound isolation clips and furring/Hat channel... and to use two layers of 5/8ths inch drywall with Green Glue, a viscoelastic compound which is not green or glue, in between. This is called "DD GG"... double drywall and Green Glue. Sound isolation keeps the sound in your home theater. Good sound islotion is often measured by an STC rating (Sound Transmission Class)... the higher the rating, the better the sound insulation. However, STC really doesn't take into account low frequencies or bass... thus, decoupling the walls and the ceiling allows them to flex a bit to hlep reduce the bass noise from traveling to other parts of your home. If you're serious about sound, you'll also need to concern yourself with every orifice in the room, including doors, electrical outlets and such. And windows... well, fortunately, my room has none to battle.

The Screen: This is another big decision that's not quite as easy as it seems. I've decided to go with an acoustically transparent (AT) screen with a 2.37:1 aspect ratio (most modern movies are in this format, while your HDTV is in a 16:9 ratio)... a constant image height (CIH). Acoustically transparent means you can place your speakers right behind the screen (well, at least 6" behind the screen). AT screens are, for me, the way to go. The voices sound like they are coming straight out of the mouths of the people on the screen. In fact, all three of my speakers will be behind the AT screen. Some will say, probably correctly so, that my 120"W X 50.6"H and 130.2" diagonal (D) screen is too small to place all the LCR (left, center, right) speakers behind the screen since it's on a 17' wall. (I may even move to a 130" W screen in the end.)

While watching content in a 16:9 format, the picture will be 90"W X 50.6"H... and 103.2"D. There will be black bars on the left and right sides of the screen while watching in this format. See below for the screen drawn on graph paper. (For some reason, my scanner isn't working right today, so I had to take a picture with my iPad.)

I am planning to go with the Enlightor 4K as my AT screen. For those of you trying to decide between solid screens and AT screens, the solid screens generally have a better picture quality (PQ). Here's a report on screen materials that I thought was particularly helpful.... http://accucalhd.com/documents/accucal_front_projection_screen_report.pdf

For those of you trying to decide on screen size and aspect ratio, I recommend the following articles from Projector Central... Choosing the Right Screen Size http://www.projectorcentral.com/build_home_theater_screen_size.htm and Selecting Aspect Ratio http://www.projectorcentral.com/build_home_theater_screen_aspect_ratio.htm These articles really brought clarity to what were, for me, very difficult decisions... and there is no "correct answer." I choose the 2.4:1 aspect, while most people have gone with the 16:9 ratio.

One more issue before leaving the topic of screens... screen gain. Here's an article that helps demistify this confusing topic.... http://hdliving.com/learning-center/2011/07/01/home-theater-tech-screen-gain-explained Here are are a couple of big picture thoughts... Screen gain and projector performance are joined at the hip. Also, I refer, once again, to the projection screen material report above... screen gains are nearly always lower than advertised... and "off axis" viewing (not sitting front and center) measurements are important. If you are sitting in the "money seat" (the front and center seat from which audio and visual measurements are done) and no one else is in the room, you don't have to worry about this issue... however, this is an important issue if mulitple people are in the HT room.

As you will no doubt note, my screen is not centered on the wall... it's centered on the seating area. This lack of symmetry can present design and audio challenges. I have a friend/interior designer who has plans to fix the visual design issue... so people won't walk into the room and immediately think, "Your room is off center."

Here's my proposed screen location on the wall using graph paper. The screen will sit 24" off of the floor. The dashed lines show the 16:9 format on top of the wide screen format... and the little rectanges inside show where my speakers will go... you want to aim the tweeters at ear height... in the case of two rows of seating, I split the difference between ear heights.

There is a pesky drain pipe running right through the ceiling and one wall of my room. Although I plan to have a sound insulated soffit built around the drain, I wasn't comfortable that this would be enough... so I used Dynamat to wrap the 3 1/2" PVC pipe... it's not cheap, but I'd rather correct this potential big sound problem now before the drywall goes up.

You will notice masking tape on the future screen wall. It's 110"W and in a 16:9 format in this picture. I sat in a chair one day and stared at the wall from several positions. I came back another day and stood in several positions...and finally decided to go with a 120" W 2.37:1 format.... at least for now. I plan to repeat the exercise later when I have a projector and electricity.

Here's the hallway I mentioned earlier... and not in my graph paper drawings. It's about 9'+ wide... and will have a closet/equipment room on one side. I'm still thinking about what to put on the other side.

Edited by Anhydro - 8/25/12 at 8:48pm
post #2 of 33
Thread Starter 
Projectors and Screens: Just adding another good resource foreasy future retrieval... Projector and Screen Room Design Calculator... http://carltonbale.com/home-theater/home-theater-calculator/

Looks like the screen I've chosen and the projector I'm leaning towards (the Panasonic AE7000) barely get the job done with a small amount of ambient light. Definitely no Eco mode use. Hmmm....

Here's another nice tool from Projector Central that allows for several variables including screen size and aspect ratio, while allowing you to choose a particular projector... http://www.projectorcentral.com/Panasonic-PT-AE7000-projection-calculator-pro.htm

Here's an interesting, short exchange on AVS that puts an excellent perspective and practical orientation to calculators. Bottom line... calculators are good tools but keep some other factors in mind... http://www.avsforum.com/t/1322762/throw-distance
Edited by Anhydro - 8/27/12 at 6:06pm
post #3 of 33
From one armchair QB to another, it looks like you've learned a lot between here and the book, and are well on your way to a great room. A few things came to mind on your plan...

I know you have the screen off-center on purpose, but you appear to have enough room to work with to center the screen, seats and speakers without too much problem. I think the results will be far more satisfying.

Your screen wall is quite wide - don't feel the need to place your left and right speakers behind the screen. You'll presumably be building a false wall to mount the screen say 2' or more into the room, so the left and right speakers could still be behind that false wall, but to the sides of the screen. Just get yourself some acoustically transparent material like GOM or similar. As you currently have pillars beside the screen in your design, you could probably even house the speakers within these columns, depending on the size of the speakers, etc. The one you really want behind the screen is the center.

It sounds like your screen may be a little close to the floor at 24" but that will be dictated by sight lines of the second row and personal preferences. In my plan, I'm finding a need to keep raising my screen up higher to satisfy the needs of a second row, and my 7' ceiling is far more problematic. With stools in the back row you may have no sight line issues so you can go with what's comfortable.

Check out JVC projectors like the X30/RS45. Unlike the Panasonic, they can be mounted higher, even outside the screen area by something like 20-30 degrees if memory serves. The Panasonic would need to be mounted quite low in your current setup to use its zoom feature as I imagine you are planning with the CIH setup. That could start becoming a sight line issue of its own for your rear row.

Fortunately it sounds like your PVC drain is strictly behind the false wall so hopefully that won't be too tough to address.

Your entry area (the rear right hallway) seems to have more than enough room for a concession counter for popcorn, drinks and snacks, or whatever else you can dream up.

Best of luck with it.
- Jason
post #4 of 33
Could you explain more about why you designed the screen offset? While I agree with Jason that centered would be better, I'm guessing there i a good reason for it not to be centered.

Also, since you are going AT on the screen, how deep will the screen be? From the pictures it looks like you are not doing the whole wall, just the screen. Is that correct and if so, why?
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
Re-Design of Room to Center the Screen:
Originally Posted by BeerParty View Post

Could you explain more about why you designed the screen offset? While I agree with Jason that centered would be better, I'm guessing there i a good reason for it not to be centered.
Also, since you are going AT on the screen, how deep will the screen be? From the pictures it looks like you are not doing the whole wall, just the screen. Is that correct and if so, why?

Thanks Jason and BP. I've taken another crack at the design, which centers the screen on the wall. I will be using the desk on the riser quite a bit for "work and watching", so I'd like a good view from a point where I will be spending a good chunk of time (in the back corner of the room)... but, after drawing it out, I don't think I will sacrficifice much, if anything, by centering the screen. (See new drawing below.)

I have an ICF wall (see pics in opening post) and plan to place a 2 X 4 wall there with Paradigm in-wall SA-LCR "reference" speakers. The screen will be designed to sit at least 6" from the wall and the front of the speakers (any closer and I will have timbre shift issues, as I understand it... still not sure how close the left and right speakers can be to the edge of the false wall???), with cherry wood around it and columns... see pic below for design, but not color. So, yeah, only part of the wall will be false... I like the clean look of the pic. The large L-shaped desk will match the cherry wood around the columns and areas above and below the screen as will the baseboard and crown molding. I also plan to put a couple of square coffee tables with pull out ottomans/storage... see pic below.

The room, in my view is a bit challenged length-wise, so I'd like to keep from using up too much space in the front and I really like the Paradigm in-walls, so I'm satifsying my audio and aesthetic tastes. I don't want the front row to be much closer to the screen.

Any further comments would much appreciated. Thanks again!

Click on the link below to see the new 2D drawing on graph paper. I hope to get it on 3D soon.
Home Theater Take 2 08 28 2012.docx 188k .docx file

Here's the sample coffee table.

Edited by Anhydro - 8/28/12 at 7:58am
post #6 of 33
Thread Starter 
Cables, Speaker Wires, and Such: As part of my new home construction and having multiple media areas, I ordered 1000 feet of CAT6 cable, 1000 feet of RG6 cable, 500 feet of speaker wire. I also purchased various wall plates, HDMI cable, RCA Subwoofer cable, and two RedMere Technology High Speed HDMI cables (which are 4K ready), all from Monoprice.

I will run 2 CAT 6 cables to the projector, an HDMI cable, and 2" PVC pipe for possible future use.

Edited by Anhydro - 9/1/12 at 10:10am
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
Riser and Bass Trap Combo: According the theater riser calculator, my riser should be about 7.5" high. The riser is also 14'W X 6.5L and will be used as a bass trap. The riser is adjacent to the back wall and one side wall. I will, of course, need to ensure the room has sufficient bass trapping capability after the riser/bass trap has been installed... I can always add more bass trap later. Here's how I plan to convert the riser to construct a bass trap:
  • Construct the riser using 2' X 6' on 16" centers, but leave 1/8" gap between the riser and the walls for decoupling.
  • Fill, without packing too tight, with standard R-13 insulation
  • Deck the platform, then use a chalk line, mark out a grid on the decking with 3" spacing in both directions, then drill 1/2" holes where the lines intersect... and carpet as usual

Acoustic Panels: I plan to use 24"W X 36"H X 2"D acoustic panels along both sides of the room that will cover the first 12' to 13' feet of the room, placed with the tops at ear height (46") and covering first reflective areas. I plan to choose my own background on the panels... I'm using ATS to get my acoustic art panels... http://www.atsacoustics.com/art-acoustic-panels.html I've spent a good amount of time looking through stock photos, which are linked on the ATS site, and am in the process of narrowing down my selections.
Edited by Anhydro - 9/1/12 at 12:55pm
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
Speaker Selection: I ordered three in-wall Paradigm SA-LCR speakers.... http://www.paradigm.com/products/archives/paradigm-reference/sa-series/sa-lcr-3. I own Paradigm Studio line speakers in my current setup and listened to these reference level speakers behind a Stewart micro-perforated screen in a home theater that had not yet been treated for sound... and they still sounded great.

Acoustic Panels: I decided on nine 24" X 48" acoustic panels for my room. I selected images from Shutterstock to place on the face of the panels, which allowed me to serve form and function.

Moore Acoustic Panels 09 02 2012.pdf 393k .pdf file

Sound and Visual Treatment behind the Acoustically Transparent Screen: The speakers will be in-wall as noted above and inside a 2X4 wall filled with R-13 insulation and covered by drywall. I will add Linacoustic RC 1" to the front of the drywall... and will put Royalty 3 Velvet from JoAnn Fabrics (40% off coupon on-line) on top of the Linacoustic to absorb any light for the AT screen. The speakers will be about 6" behind the screen... and the left and right will be about 4" to 6" from the edge of the screen frame. This placement, as I understand it, is sufficient to avoid any "timbre shift" or audio issues..

Door Treatment: I also ordered a door drop bottom, a door stop set (for the side and top of the door), and an acoustic threshold.
Edited by Anhydro - 9/3/12 at 2:53pm
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
Furniture, Fabrics, Wall Sconces and Wall Color Selections:

Here's a more detailed look at specific choices, including room design... in PDF format.

Moore Theater Final by Charissa 09 05 2012.pdf 1429k .pdf file
Edited by Anhydro - 9/12/12 at 3:38pm
post #10 of 33
Originally Posted by Anhydro View Post

Acoustic Panels: I decided on nine 24" X 48" acoustic panels for my room. I selected images from Shutterstock to place on the face of the panels, which allowed me to serve form and function.
Moore Acoustic Panels 09 02 2012.pdf 393k .pdf file

Those pictures would look great on panels - and will compliment your choice of colors and fabrics nicely. Excited to see how the final project will look!
post #11 of 33
Thread Starter 
The art acoustic panels came in today... here's a pic of several of them. I really like the way they turned out, even with the plastic wrap still on. It's nice to see form and function meet. smile.gif

post #12 of 33
Your screen wall makes a lot more sense now, thanks for the update/details.

Since you are planning a acoustically transparent screen wall, make sure you review Big's build if you haven't already done so. Big provides excellent documentation on how to build a minimal AT screen wall.
post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
Not Part of Dedicated Home Theater (Multi-Function Living Room Project):

Just some thoughts on how to design an entertainment center in Family Room, which is in addition to dedicated HT Room


I've sketched out on paper the look I'm going for with the Entertainment Center in the Family Room.... still a work in progress. I will construct for A/V furntiure purposes, including cable management, hidden side entry panel for equipment access, adequate venting, cooling fans, etc. The Family Room will have DD GG walls and ceiling, door bottoms and seals for French doors, and two high STC rated windows. I'm planning to install acoustic fabric over Lincacoustic RC on the 10' boxed beam ceiling.

Edited by Anhydro - 9/22/12 at 1:24pm
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
Changed Speaker Selection: I decided to upgrade my speakers to Paradigm Sig-LCR 5's. The back boxes are huge.

Had to move the studs out on the decoupled wall...

Projector Prep: Preparing for installation of various components... added some conduit for future use in addition to HDMI cable and CAT6 to the projector spot. This is also a shot of the sound isolation clips that surround the room... with drywall going up at the end of this week.

The Green Glue and SilenSeal arrived last week...

Edited by Anhydro - 10/13/12 at 2:34pm
post #15 of 33
Thread Starter 
Prepped and Ready for Dywall: It's starting to look more like a theater room.

The area for the equipment closet is more visible. It will be covered by a 2' X4' acoustic panel.

The back boxes are about to be installed on the screen wall.

The sound isolation clips and the hat channel are up and ready for the drywallers.

Boxes for speaker wires, CAT6, a quad electric outlet, etc.

Measuring out...

Edited by Anhydro - 11/24/12 at 10:04am
post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 
The Drywall is Installed! Double drywall and Green Glue (DDGG) with sound isolation clips all around and SilenSeal in the seems

Finally, the soffit has been covered with DDGG. You can also see the backer boxes for the Paradigm Signature LCRs.

The small rectangle will open into the equipment closet and will be covered with an art acoustic panel (see above for pics of the acoustic panels)... so it operates as a hidden door to the equipment

Edited by Anhydro - 11/24/12 at 10:03am
post #17 of 33
Is the equipment room behind the opening for the equipment also soundproofed? If not it will be a gaping hole in your isolation.

The room is looking great!
post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by aaustin View Post

Is the equipment room behind the opening for the equipment also soundproofed? If not it will be a gaping hole in your isolation.
The room is looking great!

Thanks aaustin! Yes, the equipment room is fully soundproofed (DDGG and sound isolation clips)... as is the entire small entry way. The door, just outside the entry way, will also have seals on three sides and a drop bottom.
post #19 of 33
That's great! Just checking to make sure everything is perfect. wink.gif

Keep up the good work!
post #20 of 33
Thread Starter 
PROJECTOR MOUNTING: I ran into an issue with the number of holes in the soundproofed ceiling (DDGG and sound isolation clips). BIGmouthinDC provided me with a solution that allows three holes to feed into one (the LV box with CAT ^, the electrical wire to provide power to the projector and a 2 inch PVC for HDMI and future proofing. I've provide a link below with BIG's solution in case you're interested.


"ALL my wires come down the down rod of my Chief Mount. There is a way to do it code legal and then there are shortcuts. Code legal would involve a hidden recess in the ceiling with an outlet side by side with the LV box. You cover that recess with a REMOVABLE plywood hatch that the projector mount is attached to and bring all the wires down the tube."

Also, here's picture of my ceiling before the solution. I will post an after shot when it's complete.

Here's the projector and projector mount I chose, with some help from the folks on the Panasonic PT-AE8000 thread.

Edited by Anhydro - 11/24/12 at 9:57am
post #21 of 33
Thread Starter 
My home theater is nearing completion... in about 2 to 3 weeks!

Here's a modified version of Big's box for my projector wiring and cables. There will be crown moulding attached to the removable box, which will be anchored by four screws.

post #22 of 33
Thread Starter 
Finally got around to ordering my surrounds and subs today!

I will have 4 Atlantic Technology IWTS-30SR-P THX Ultra Dipole/Bipole Surround Speakers



I will have 2 SVS SB-13 Ultra subs placed in opposite corners.


post #23 of 33
Thread Starter 
I orderd my receiver today, the Denon 4520CI... got a nice deal from the folks at AVS.
post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 
The HT project is moving along quickly as we approach the move in date to our new home.

post #25 of 33
Thread Starter 

post #26 of 33
Great looking space and coming together nicely
post #27 of 33
+1. Things are coming along very well here!
post #28 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys! The screen cabinet and equipment should be up next week... I'll post some more pics and add some commentary.
post #29 of 33
Thread Starter 
The finish line is near...

The frame for the screen is about to go up... here's a look from the back side...

Here's one of two SVS subs...

Here's the front view of the equipment closet... a false door consisting of an art acoustic panel will be placed over the opening...

Here's a view from inside the closet looking out... still some items left, but you get the picture...

Cord management readiness smile.gif

Here's the Panasonic projector... I had to order a 6" extension for the Peerless mount... oops, the wrong light fixture was installed (soon to be remedied)...

I tested the sound both before and after installation of the door seal... makes quite a difference
I can't tell you what a gratifying feeling it is to have all the sound isolation effort actually work (see above for detail)... plus my daughter can practice her trumpet in here smile.gif
The aluminum seals still need painting...

I ordered an extra thick Safe-n-Sound door.... we needed to install some extra long screws to support the weight...

Edited by Anhydro - 5/5/13 at 8:05pm
post #30 of 33
Thread Starter 
Armchair Quarterback is Near the End Zone!!! smile.gif

Before the theater wall is up...

The entrance with door seal on all sides and bottom of door...

The entry hall way... still needs decorating...

The equipment closet, with easy access to equipment and a false door/acoustic panel art acting as the door...

The equipment and cables...

Storage portion of the closet...

The acoustic panel door closed, using a simple hinge and magnet...

The door open for front access to equipment...

The built-in desk at the back of the room, with quarter sawn oak and a 27" Dell All-In-One high definition touch screen monitor... designed for work and play...

The wall sconces and more acoustic panels (with European theme and places I've visited)....

The theater wall with corner bass traps...

Wall sconces and acoustic panels on the other side of the room...

The projector, which still needs adjusting, and Big's box design for projector and lighting...

Paradigm Signature Series In-Wall speakers... acoustically transparent screen (Enlightor 4K) ready for install...

Atlantech in-wall THX certified bipole dipole switchable speakers (a 7.2 system, with 2 SVS Ultra Subs)... and the two rear acoustic panels...

The platform for the desk, which is also a bass trap, and has built-in electrical outlets and USB port... Hooker Bellagio Keats leather chairs (4 of them for seating on the platform)... still waiting on the Palliser Elite theater seats...

A Monoprice Access Point installed in equipment closet to ensure connectivity in double drywall and concrete wall surroundings...

The theater wall is attached with wall screws and four wood blocks, offering stability and semi-easy removal...

Edited by Anhydro - 6/9/13 at 6:19pm
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