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Erskine Group not the best choice for a sub 100k home theatre... - Page 3

post #61 of 227
Interesting to hear. Back 2-3 years ago or so, I used EG for their HT layout service through AVS. This was their "economy" package, and I had multiple email exchanges with DE along with a phone conversation. The entire process was smooth, quick and I was extremely satisfied with the bang for my buck on the layout. I haven't done everything exactly how they spec'd, but the measurements and placement of everything has given me a very high performing HT (IMHO). I also have pics of the layout in my build thread. I edited them first to remove specifics about the Quest panels, but most of the measurements are still in there, just no proprietary info. I'm probably not in their target demographic anymore, but I was very happy with their layout service and recommended it to others as well.

Would love to see some drawings of your space as it sounds like it will be a great room for you. Looking forward to progress pics of the build!
post #62 of 227
I had a similar experience with the layout service. I started with that and added a couple of ~$200 charges to add a baffle wall design and some other items. Dennis probably answered 150 emails from me over the course of a few months and also two phone calls.

Edit: I went back into my saved folder and counted 225 emails from Dennis to me from 2/16/12 until 2/19/13 and then another 10 or so spread throughout this year. He was usually a man of few words, but the questions were answered.
Edited by hifiaudio2 - 12/19/13 at 1:37pm
post #63 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post

You paid $4k for drawings and can't post them?
I can't believe that.

When a person pays for professional photography work, it's clear in their contract they "own" the rights to the photo as COPYRIGHT holders and can do with them as they please.
What did your contract say? Did you sign away your right to your drawing?
That you can only share the plans with your builder but not post the general size/layout here?
That's not giving away trade secrets, where stuff is. I've seen many others post their EG layouts.
The trade secret is the size/spec/manuf method of the "stuff".

I've been a member here since 2007, and Dennis has helped so many people over the years, so I'm surprised at this.
I also realize there are 2 sides to every story, and a public forum is not the place to air it.

Mike,

Have you paid $4k+ for a set of plans from them? If not, then you can't judge by the free help they provide on the forum. Expectations are higher when you're paying someone thousands of dollars for their time.
post #64 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by KNKKNK View Post

Unrelated to the thread topic, but maybe related to your observation..... Ted White has also been uncharacteristically quiet over the last couple of months... HMMM....

I just talked to Ted today on the phone. He has been OUTSTANDING with answering questions and helping with the material list. Super nice guy as well.
post #65 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by auburnu008 View Post

I just talked to Ted today on the phone. He has been OUTSTANDING with answering questions and helping with the material list. Super nice guy as well.

Undoubtedly. Both him and John are top notch!!
post #66 of 227
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabident View Post

Mike,

Have you paid $4k+ for a set of plans from them? If not, then you can't judge by the free help they provide on the forum. Expectations are higher when you're paying someone thousands of dollars for their time.

I spent a lot of time filling out their required info sheets, i included my sketch plans/ideas, photos of the space, architects CAD plan of the area... and a lot of discussion with them (in fact Shawn Byrne was more helpful before we contracted than after). so the scope of our requirement and budget were as clear as they could be.

i paid $4k, and have had a design produced, and they have fulfilled that role, but have been unhelpful in any further assistance with the project. I have had more help and guidance from this forum for free than i have from Erskine group!
post #67 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by mads1 View Post

I spent a lot of time filling out their required info sheets..................

And so did I......................I even spelled out:


Triad Plats for LCR


But Triad Golds were spec-ed with acoustic treatment plan. Finally decided to follow plan.................BTW, Triad Golds work fine.
post #68 of 227
Ted was very helpfull too!
post #69 of 227
I have the Erskine Signature Plan, and my experience with Erskine Group has been excellent so far. I am just now beginning construction, and will use my general contractor to do most of the work. Dennis has been very responsive and helpful, so far.

When the cost of what you want exceeds the available resources, I don't think it's fair to blame that on the designer. On the other hand, it is up to the designer to listen to what his client wants.
post #70 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post

You paid $4k for drawings and can't post them?
I can't believe that.

When a person pays for professional photography work, it's clear in their contract they "own" the rights to the photo as COPYRIGHT holders and can do with them as they please.
What did your contract say? Did you sign away your right to your drawing?
That you can only share the plans with your builder but not post the general size/layout here?
That's not giving away trade secrets, where stuff is. I've seen many others post their EG layouts.
The trade secret is the size/spec/manuf method of the "stuff".

I've been a member here since 2007, and Dennis has helped so many people over the years, so I'm surprised at this.
I also realize there are 2 sides to every story, and a public forum is not the place to air it.

Moving on, this is a great DIY community.
I suggest you DIY as much as possible: Curved AT Screen (no need if not using an a-lens), Acoustic treatments, Subwoofers, heck even your mains/surrounds via DIY Sound Group offerings.

I am not surprised with the Erksine group wanting the drawings off. I've looked at a few of the drawings posted here where the legend was stripped, but also cross referenced that with postings / interviews from other acoustic experts and in m opinon, I have a pretty good idea what the legend would be. see post : http://www.avsforum.com/t/1413846/kinetic-river-cinema/570#post_23694836

I considered using them (Erskine) as well, but in the end, I'm following the Cinemar model but modifying it as I'm not as high, but otherwise I am. In the end, I didn't see the value in it for me after I got a feel for the following:
1) high cost for the design
2) extremely high cost for specific acoustic materials
3) concern about the strong push to not allow the design to be shared or posted.


I asked Jeff about working in Canada as well, but he told me that he was booked up for some time. I'd highly recommend him if you can wait. He appears to go amazing work; has experience with Erskine designes and is really good at getting value. (cost / benefit)
Edited by Jeff in Canada - 12/20/13 at 10:57am
post #71 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post


When a person pays for professional photography work, it's clear in their contract they "own" the rights to the photo as COPYRIGHT holders and can do with them as they please.
As a photographer, I could tell you that's not correct. The photographer will always own the copyright of that particular photo. When a company or an individual purchase a digital format of any particular photo, I/we will provide a License Release form for the magazine/company/individual to print/publish that image on their own (e.g. a wedding photo session), or a Copyright Release form if the company purchased the copyright of that image and do not want anyone else (included the photographer himself) to use it. When you purchased a print, you only buy "that" particular print, not the right to reproduce that print in any form.
post #72 of 227
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBon View Post

I have the Erskine Signature Plan, and my experience with Erskine Group has been excellent so far. I am just now beginning construction, and will use my general contractor to do most of the work. Dennis has been very responsive and helpful, so far.

When the cost of what you want exceeds the available resources, I don't think it's fair to blame that on the designer. On the other hand, it is up to the designer to listen to what his client wants.

I know lots of people have had a good experience with them, and maybe you had a much bigger budget than i, however that doesnt detract from the fact that they knew our budget expectations and we were very up front about the fact that if it couldnt be done for that, then we would just turn the are into a huge kids play area rather than a theatre and a separate smaller playroom.

We gave them the go - ahead, and they accepted it on the basis of our budget. I work with lots of consultants in real estate, and i agree that for the most part economics dictate that you are always trying to get more value, or work for your $ spent. However, the purpose of a consultant that is paid to assist, is to do exactly that - assist reaching your goals. If we had changed our goalposts halfway through the project, and wanted a theatre double the size or quality, then yes, i would be at fault and would have to accept the additional cost - as i am for example wiling to do in order to push the hushbox behind the back wall (and the extra cost of a projector that can work at that increased distance).
the only input i expected to give after the initial consultation was the cosmetic look of the theatre.
Bear in mind that when we started this with erskine we were speaking about doing an isolated room (which we were advised may be within our budget) and we dropped on the basis of cost.

We have not changed the fundamentals of what we have designed - my original sketches are very similar to the erskine design (in simple layout and size terms). The fact the only response from them about assistance with reducing the cost / down spec'ing the av equipment was that it was my choice to do that, but it was not their recommendation. pretty much that has been the only type of response i have had from them to any questions about changes.

I have never spoken with Dennis, he has never returned my calls, nor emails requesting to speak with him - and that started at the Concept design stage when we were already a month behind their promised schedule, and the concept was a 5 seater theatre bearing no resemblance to our project brief except the location within our home and the size of the screen!

I am sure that if i had offered to them to go ahead and spec the room for 250k, then it would have been a different story.
post #73 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by landshark1 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post


When a person pays for professional photography work, it's clear in their contract they "own" the rights to the photo as COPYRIGHT holders and can do with them as they please.
As a photographer, I could tell you that's not correct. The photographer will always own the copyright of that particular photo. When a company or an individual purchase a digital format of any particular photo, I/we will provide a License Release form for the magazine/company/individual to print/publish that image on their own (e.g. a wedding photo session), or a Copyright Release form if the company purchased the copyright of that image and do not want anyone else (included the photographer himself) to use it. When you purchased a print, you only buy "that" particular print, not the right to reproduce that print in any form.

Sorry for OT discussion mads1 ....
landshark1 - in general you are correct, my bad at quick post.
Strictly it does matter exactly to the contract between the client and photographer.
Copyright law definitely assigns to the person who presses the shutter, unless specified in the signed contract between client and photographer.
http://www.colum.edu/portfoliocenter/articles/10-facts-about-copyright.php
Of course this contract is written from the photog's best case viewpoint, like everything in life it's all about negotation and agreement for mutual win-win relationship.
http://asmp.org/tutorials/terms-and-conditions.html#.UrSc5WewXEo

without getting over wordy I was trying to get mads1 to simply re-read the signed contract fine print between him and EG and see what he owns outright vs has rights to share with others vs what he cannot share at all (except with builder), etc.
And also what he can take photos of during construction and post online vs what not, etc.....

If more photography talk let's take it into PM.
Fwiw, my NASA APOD Aug-5-2011 image and my Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomy photographer of the year - 2012 Highly commended image taught me real life lessons about copyright law, including going after people who stole and posted my images w/o consent nor payment.
So I am very sensitive to copyright law, ownership, etc.
(btw I shoot Canon, belong to local Photography Club here in SE Michigan, etc)
Edited by mtbdudex - 12/20/13 at 1:21pm
post #74 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBon View Post

I have the Erskine Signature Plan, and my experience with Erskine Group has been excellent so far. I am just now beginning construction, and will use my general contractor to do most of the work. Dennis has been very responsive and helpful, so far.

So, 2 possibilities:

1) There is variance in the quality of their work, or
2) Different people have different expectations.

It would be beneficial if people detailed what they were expecting and what they got. That would leave it to the reader to determine if they would be happy with the service or not. It was one of the things I hoped to cover when I opened the Owners Thread for Erskine Group Plans
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBon View Post

When the cost of what you want exceeds the available resources, I don't think it's fair to blame that on the designer. On the other hand, it is up to the designer to listen to what his client wants.

The design should be tailored to fit the clients budget. If that's not possible then the job (and client's money) should not be accepted.
post #75 of 227
I've seen first hand the sticker shock and frustration of design clients looking at the recommended equipment for their purchased designs. I've also been in a room with the equipment as specified (back in the Triad days) and it sounded fantastic.

I have one suggesion for those that can't pay the piper. And it comes from a person who hasn't bought a commercial speaker since 1969. Build your own. For less than the cost of one Procella subwoofer you can build an entire first class sound system WITHOUT any serious woodworking tools. If you can put IKEA furniture together you can assemble flat pack cabinets and insert and wire up the drivers. I'm talking about speakers with compression drivers and wave guides (instead of dome tweeters) and commercial grade woofers.

You shouldn't try to design one yourself though as it is a science that takes a while to understand. . There are published designs available with measurement data and reviews by peers. Stick with those designs. Just wander over to the DIYsoundgroup or PiSpeakers websites and look around.
post #76 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

I've also been in a room with the equipment as specified (back in the Triad days) and it sounded fantastic.

That was also using the "old" acoustic treatment plan that people like Jeff (thebland) and Art Sonneborn used for their theaters. Treatment was accomplished with standard insulation & batting, placed according to EG design. Now EG specs $8,000 worth of Quest acoustic panels which you have to buy from them. Were the room acoustics produced with EG's old designs that bad? If the room could sound fantastic with the old, inexpensive treatment plan, why use up so much of a client's budget on expensive premanufactured panels from a no name company?
Edited by rabident - 12/21/13 at 7:08am
post #77 of 227
Easy enough to solve in the future. Specify the equipment you will be using in the specification, and also specify a third party you like for panels. It should then be clear that they need to provide a design to your specifications. Then you have recourse. They could either choose not to take the job, or they could also provide a design with their product preferences as an alternative.

My personal opinion....and again this is my opinion, is that the designs I've seen are are visually pleasing but where the acoustic treatments are and what they are appears to be cookie cutter. Perhaps the rooms are so similar that it works out that way, but in my opinion that is how it appears.

It is also my opinion that with how insistent that the Erskine group is not to have the designs posted where people can see them (unless stripped down), they will likely want to settle with the OP. If it goes to court, even small claims court, it would seem likely that the design drawings would be entered as evidence. Perhaps someone here would then post a parody of the design or perhaps use it as a teaching tool.

Once it is in the public record, it would be available to see.
post #78 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

I've seen first hand the sticker shock and frustration of design clients looking at the recommended equipment for their purchased designs. I've also been in a room with the equipment as specified (back in the Triad days) and it sounded fantastic.

I have one suggesion for those that can't pay the piper. And it comes from a person who hasn't bought a commercial speaker since 1969. Build your own. For less than the cost of one Procella subwoofer you can build an entire first class sound system WITHOUT any serious woodworking tools. If you can put IKEA furniture together you can assemble flat pack cabinets and insert and wire up the drivers. I'm talking about speakers with compression drivers and wave guides (instead of dome tweeters) and commercial grade woofers.

You shouldn't try to design one yourself though as it is a science that takes a while to understand. . There are published designs available with measurement data and reviews by peers. Stick with those designs. Just wander over to the DIYsoundgroup or PiSpeakers websites and look around.

I have "old school" Triads.....................and they sound fantastic.

I've also taken your suggestion with regard to building speakers.................not because of budget, but due to wanting to learn the science behind the process while having something to do in my retirement! wink.gif

If all goes well, I might be doing more speaker building................
post #79 of 227
Off-topic posts removed. Please remain on-topic. Thanks.
post #80 of 227
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff in Canada View Post

Easy enough to solve in the future. Specify the equipment you will be using in the specification, and also specify a third party you like for panels. It should then be clear that they need to provide a design to your specifications. Then you have recourse. They could either choose not to take the job, or they could also provide a design with their product preferences as an alternative.

My personal opinion....and again this is my opinion, is that the designs I've seen are are visually pleasing but where the acoustic treatments are and what they are appears to be cookie cutter. Perhaps the rooms are so similar that it works out that way, but in my opinion that is how it appears.

It is also my opinion that with how insistent that the Erskine group is not to have the designs posted where people can see them (unless stripped down), they will likely want to settle with the OP. If it goes to court, even small claims court, it would seem likely that the design drawings would be entered as evidence. Perhaps someone here would then post a parody of the design or perhaps use it as a teaching tool.

Once it is in the public record, it would be available to see.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff in Canada View Post

Easy enough to solve in the future. Specify the equipment you will be using in the specification, and also specify a third party you like for panels. It should then be clear that they need to provide a design to your specifications. Then you have recourse. They could either choose not to take the job, or they could also provide a design with their product preferences as an alternative.

My personal opinion....and again this is my opinion, is that the designs I've seen are are visually pleasing but where the acoustic treatments are and what they are appears to be cookie cutter. Perhaps the rooms are so similar that it works out that way, but in my opinion that is how it appears.

It is also my opinion that with how insistent that the Erskine group is not to have the designs posted where people can see them (unless stripped down), they will likely want to settle with the OP. If it goes to court, even small claims court, it would seem likely that the design drawings would be entered as evidence. Perhaps someone here would then post a parody of the design or perhaps use it as a teaching tool.

Once it is in the public record, it would be available to see.

Jeff, that would require that you know about it in advance. I had no idea about the technology / design that goes into a theatre, hence contracting a supposedly independent consultant like Erskine Group to advise, design and taken us through the process. I am probably not the norm but they should have figured that out when Shawn did the initial consultations on the phone, and meeting us at our home.
As soon as Dennis emailed me about not displaying the plans on the forum, i took them of, however, i have the right to use the plans to get the theatre built, and frankly have had better support/advice and guidance from this forum than his organisation - hence only displaying the info in a forum within which the are active and seeking advice. If they had an issue with, or comment on the posting - then they could have either posted their remedy - that being the advice i was seeking, or contact me directly with that info.

I am just happy that this information about Erskine Group (also operating as Architectural Acoustics) is out in the public domain so that others like me can make a more informed decision on choosing a consultant to act on their behalf. Had i seem more info about peoples experience with EG then i would likely have chosen a different design route.

It is unlikely at this stage that i will get a set of plans from EG that i can post at this juncture.. even better EG could post them on this thread along with 'their side of the story'.. that would indeed be my pleasure to have put to public debate. Since it was within this forum that i was put in contact with them, and contacted by Dennis Erskine, it seems fit that my experiences are shared here too.

Really appreciate everyones interest in this project.
post #81 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by mads1 View Post

I know lots of people have had a good experience with them, and maybe you had a much bigger budget than i, however that doesn't detract from the fact that they knew our budget expectations and we were very up front about the fact that if it couldn't be done for that, then we would just turn the are into a huge kids play area rather than a theatre and a separate smaller playroom.

We gave them the go - ahead, and they accepted it on the basis of our budget. I work with lots of consultants in real estate, and i agree that for the most part economics dictate that you are always trying to get more value, or work for your $ spent. However, the purpose of a consultant that is paid to assist, is to do exactly that - assist reaching your goals. If we had changed our goalposts halfway through the project, and wanted a theatre double the size or quality, then yes, i would be at fault and would have to accept the additional cost - as i am for example wiling to do in order to push the hushbox behind the back wall (and the extra cost of a projector that can work at that increased distance).
the only input i expected to give after the initial consultation was the cosmetic look of the theatre.
Bear in mind that when we started this with Erskine we were speaking about doing an isolated room (which we were advised may be within our budget) and we dropped on the basis of cost.

We have not changed the fundamentals of what we have designed - my original sketches are very similar to the erskine design (in simple layout and size terms). The fact the only response from them about assistance with reducing the cost / down spec'ing the av equipment was that it was my choice to do that, but it was not their recommendation. pretty much that has been the only type of response i have had from them to any questions about changes.

I have never spoken with Dennis, he has never returned my calls, nor emails requesting to speak with him - and that started at the Concept design stage when we were already a month behind their promised schedule, and the concept was a 5 seater theatre bearing no resemblance to our project brief except the location within our home and the size of the screen!

I am sure that if i had offered to them to go ahead and spec the room for 250k, then it would have been a different story.

Hmm. I worked with Dennis and found him attentive and always available to talk to me or my architect at critical junctures. I used his recommended acoustics company for acoustical work - I think I paid $7-$8K but they were there hand placing the fabric all about the room for a week. I purchased some equipment through Dennis (screen, projector) and the rest I supplied (my current stuff at the time).

It's hard for me to reconcile your story but when I hear you say, "you knew nothing about design" and "getting lawyers involved" it seems that simply, on either part, expectations were not fully understood. When that's the case, this how things typically end. It may very well be nobody's fault or a little on both sides, but it happens.

Dennis also has a turn key operation for those who do not know (or care) about how a theater is built, but I would guess that most who use him here have a significant knowledge base and have him guide the project rather than create something that may (or may not) be fully fleshed out in the head of the buyer for a certain dollar amount. I mean, I knew I wanted Dennis's expertise on the build out and and if it ran over budget, so be it (meaning, I'd pay the premium for the room build out and simply downscale my equipment and/or decor). And that was Ok... (by him and me). In the end, it is about the room as better equipment can be added later as it comes and goes through the years of the room's use.

I've recently asked Dennis for copies of my old plans as I am working with another acoustics expert on updating my audio and room correction, and he got me everything I asked for fast. I've met him at CEDIA shows and dined with him, too. Great guy. I see you didn't talk to him but you did work with one of his staff designers. When I used him, he was the only designer.

BTW - I bought into all the QSC EQ equipment and it was been wonderful - though I am upgrading it now.

I needed a long throw projector, very, very similar to what you were trying to install (outside of the theater) and my SIM2 LUMIS/HOST was the cheapest, hi lumen model I could find with such a lens option and it stickered at $45,000. You need a lot of lumens to throw a long distance, particularly if your throw is at the long end of the lens.

Good luck.
post #82 of 227
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post


It's hard for me to reconcile your story but when I hear you say, "you knew nothing about design" and "getting lawyers involved" it seems that simply, on either part, expectations were not fully understood. When that's the case, this how things typically end. It may very well be nobody's fault or a little on both sides, but it happens.



Other than the advice i was given on this forum from my original post, i have no previous experience of a home theatre (or any kind or media room etc). I did build a public arts performance theatre in the UK, but we had architects, acoustics experts etc that consulted via our project management team and they did all of the design, together with input from the end user ( a public body arts theatre operator).. but i was in not involved with the design etc. I just contracted the construction co that built the venue and all the expertise was between the design team and builders.

For my home theatre i was not really interested in getting involved technically - of course i knew generally how i wanted the room layout but i just wanted a consultant (in this case erskine) that would design the room and specify the details including the av equip and then build it. Yes, I have an interest and curiosity in learning about it. We never did receive a price from their contractor Steve Kujala, even though it was promised over a month ago (before the situation flared up).

My resorting to the threat of legal action was simply a last resort (having already paid them in full) to getting no response to either phone calls or emails for nearly a week as i required clarifications on a number of items on their plans (and a full-size set of plans) for a local contractor that i had bidding for the work as well.

Clearly i'm not the only person to have experienced similar problems with the Erskine Group.

I would prefer if Erskine would step up to this forum and give their side of the story rather than you making assumption on their behalf. I am sure if i was the 'crazy' client then they would be defending their case as publicly as i am giving my side. This was after all the forum in which i was introduced to them.
I am sure Dennis would say/feel that this is beneath him and he need not stoop to my level in which case I am happy for each individual to come to their own conclusion on the 'erskine' experience.

I know many people no doubt have had a great experience with Erskine, i am just not one of those. I posted on here for advice, since it was not forthcoming from Erskine.
post #83 of 227
I have enjoyed Dennis' posts on AVS very much. I hope he is able/willing to continue to post in the future. I also hope he can come to a generous resolution with mads1 on this topic.

This has been an interesting thread, as it seems to confirm the reservations I had with the Erskine Group when I traded emails/calls with them 18 months ago. I think as theblans's post shows, if your budget is sufficient (in my mind...$100k+) the Erskine group is GREAT. If your budget is less, you maybe trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. (I don't think this was the case several years ago...less than $100k got Dennis' attention in the past) Success/growth can cause issues for the less profitable clients. That is not a negative just a reality....I see it in my personal business too...so not throwing stones here.

My budget was half that so I went a different route. But Dennis' use of Triad in the past helped move me to that product...I trust his choices......it's a very nice product. (but BIGs is right DIY can save alot and produce great sound)

Thanks mads1 (and everyone else) for sharing your experience on the forum. I look forward to following your build thread....I hope it goes well.
post #84 of 227
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yzfbossman View Post

I have enjoyed Dennis' posts on AVS very much. I hope he is able/willing to continue to post in the future. I also hope he can come to a generous resolution with mads1 on this topic.

This has been an interesting thread, as it seems to confirm the reservations I had with the Erskine Group when I traded emails/calls with them 18 months ago. I think as theblans's post shows, if your budget is sufficient (in my mind...$100k+) the Erskine group is GREAT. If your budget is less, you maybe trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. (I don't think this was the case several years ago...less than $100k got Dennis' attention in the past) Success/growth can cause issues for the less profitable clients. That is not a negative just a reality....I see it in my personal business too...so not throwing stones here.

My budget was half that so I went a different route. But Dennis' use of Triad in the past helped move me to that product...I trust his choices......it's a very nice product. (but BIGs is right DIY can save alot and produce great sound)

Thanks mads1 (and everyone else) for sharing your experience on the forum. I look forward to following your build thread....I hope it goes well.


Thanks, glad it has been of interest! I wish it could have been different too! this was supposed to be a fun project for me rather than a contentious one!

With hindsight i would agree with you, but i figured that with my more modest budget, the best money would be spent on a well designed room. I just had no idea that Erskine would design one outwith the budget. We directly asked them about it before we contracted them, and they confirmed the budget was ok for the room and what we wanted. I dont believe the "Select" service $4k fee would vary if it was a 50k theatre, or a 200k theatre based on how they structure their fees now. Again, Shawn made it clear he dealt with the under 100k rooms and Dennis did those over 100k. We paid the fee up front in good faith, not something i would normally do, but there reputation seemed very good so i felt justified to trust them.
Funnily enough if their business was selling equipment, then they didnt make that clear, when i asked shawn byrne for help with pricing of the av equipment, he directed me to another company (superior sound, in Topeka) for that pricing... which i also never received. They never offered to sell me anything, but i suspect it was because they knew it would make them look bad as the number would be so far beyond my budget!
If they are earning $4k for less than a weeks work then that is not a bad gig.. (Shawn Byrne told me he is actually a Meteorologist for his daytime job, so does the Erskine consulting in the evenings and weekends (hence you can usually only speak to him or get emails from him late evenings and weekends!)

I will start posting about the build as soon as i have made a meaningful start - really excited to see the end result!
post #85 of 227
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabident View Post

The bulk of the plans are cookie cutter.

My HVAC "design" was the standard generic paragraph that's often quoted on the forum. It was word for word identical to a post Dennis made a few years ago for a guy in Alaska, including the ability to operate down to -30F. They didn't even bother adjusting the lower end limit to something appropriate to my climate until I called them out on it. Pre-sales they talked about how residential HVAC contractors were incapable of designing a low noise system. I needed to have EG handle the design to make sure it was done right. I was expecting they would spec air handler models known to be quiet, duct layout, and silencer details. Instead it was just a generic paragraph. Even the soffit was just a generic, simplified version of Ted's free soffit guide with no measurements.

For the acoustic treatment plan, I of course got Quest panels, but only for 2 walls (back & side). That would be passable if the sides were mirror images of each other, but they're not. Similarly my front wall isn't a mirror image of the back wall. Plus I've read enough here to know that the front wall needs to be treated differently. The plan lists what size panels to order, but only offers a 2D picture showing the placement (with no measurements to indicate where).

Contract said speaker locations, seating locations, etc. I was expecting "location" to mean a measured amount from a reference point. i.e. how high should the speaker or tweeter be off the floor? How for back from the wall? Some sort of measurement that tells me where to put stuff and not just a 2D stencil drawing of a speaker on a wall, or chair on the floor. I know BigMouth says he scales from the prints with a ruler, but it's tedious, especially when accuracy matters. My design also says in all caps "Do not scale from prints!!!".

Other things like the stage are simply drawn with a note indicating the radius. Having paid for framing plans, I was expecting the math would be done upfront, detailing the length of each joist behind the curve and the angle to cut. Initially they didn't provide any detail for the molding or trim work. Just a 2D picture of columns on the wall with some molding drawn on them. No details how to build the columns, cut the trim, or put it together. Same for the coffered ceiling. Dotted lines show where the where the coffers go. That's it. After complaining, they sent router profiles for the molding, but I still don't know where to buy, how much I need, what type of wood, or how everything goes together.

Despite waiting 8 months, the plans seemed like they were rushed together. In cases that I could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the mistake was EG owned, they would begrudgingly rectify, but would go to the end of the earth to deny fault. For example, my top row of clips supporting the soffit collided with the ERV duct. Dennis explained that EG doesn't spec the model of clip to use, so they were not responsible for any conflicts due to the size of the clip itself. He said it was my responsibility to have taken the clip size into account. I had to remove 100' of channel, move the clips down 1 3/4" and then put it all back up again. The crew didn't mind because I was paying them by the hour, and ended up paying OT. I later discovered that Dennis mixed up the interior vs exterior ERV ducts sizes. The whole clip vs channel spacing thing was just an excuse to avoid admitting fault.

You may think, meh, mistakes happen. But because it wasn't their fault, it means they don't need to update the plans unless I want to pay $350/hr for modifications. My soffits will now be almost 2" lower. How does that impact the acoustics of the room, the acoustic panels that run up to the soffit, the projection window, screen mounting location, etc. It basically lowers everything 2" which all contractors need to make a mental note to take into account when referencing the plans. Plus alll of the "no stupids" checking the EG supposedly does to avoid "off by 1" types of mistakes no longer apply.

It got worse with drywall. One of things EG explains early on is that their designs will call for things that you may not understand, or your GC may question. But they say you have to trust that there is a reason behind it and to make sure the builder does it. So when it came to framing the walls, I assumed the lack of blocking depicted in the plan was part of the secret sauce - that EG wanted the walls to be flexible. There is some support for that - metal studs sound proof better because of their flexibility, and the channel for the drywall has to be the more flexible type. To be sure, I asked Dennis to review the pictures of the framing in my build thread. He didn't respond. I even asked if I could pay extra for him to fly someone from his team and inspect the site. Again no response. It wasn't until after drywall that he decided to respond by publicly declaring my room unsuitable for its intended purpose because of the extra flex in the walls caused by the lack of blocking. At the same time, he contacted me privately with a price for EG to finish my room and fix the flex problem. But the price was much higher than I had been led to believe, and would have consumed most of my budget on just the room itself (no equipment).

Finally, there were some items in the contract that were never fulfilled. I never got room dimensions, colors, fabric samples, equipment specs, or where to buy. Other items are arguable depending on one's definition of "design". In terms of the process, based on pre-sale discussions, I thought it would be like designing a custom home. Dennis said it takes hundreds of hours to design a room. I thought EG would guide me through selection of colors, sconces, the look of the room, equipment selection, etc.. I thought there would be some interactive discussion of pros and cons of the various options involved in building a HT. And I thought someone from EG would be there to provide a reasonable level of support when it came time to build the room. My fear was that I would just get a bunch of PDF slides and be on my own. Like putting a $1 in a coke machine, hitting vend, and you're done. Shawn offered to help, but wanted to be paid by the hour for his time. Having already spent $6500 with EG and seeing first hand how they operate, I wasn't willing to sink any more money into the company.


another happy Erskine customer!
Just picking myself up of the floor as fell of my chair laughing about this... pretty much the same issues i had (except my select plan didnt include the hvac stuff).. and since the 'legal' stuff Shawn offered to honour the 5 hrs 'free' consulting that was included in the contract, as i am sure they dont want to refund 5 x $350...
Based on the technical nature of the plans, i am now curious to speak with a copyright expert and unfold exactly what can be publicised. All the plans in my opinion are generic plans. I also had comments within the plans that referred to a details that were not even part of my design project.

I pulled together a brief list of questions raised by my contractor on the plans (this was before things went sour/legal) but give a flavour of the type of 'advice' they give. Heres the email chain..:

QUOTE

From: Dennis Erskine
To: Mads

The “C” prints (two sets) are being printed and will be sent to your address of record. The PDF files currently in your possession can be printed in “C” size if you have a printer capable of printing to that size.
You can move the projector, projector cabinet anywhere you so desire and assume the budgetary consequences which may, or may not, occur therefrom.
Over time, we have made modifications to the design based upon your requests. At each step of the way, we were aware of your budget constraints and attempted to provide advice which would keep costs in line. Substantially all the advice offered has been rejected and at this time you are not happy the cost of the space is exceeding your budget. (For example, wanting four duplex outlets at roughly $35.00 each for your for chairs when one outlet and a $10 plug strip would work.)

I have been informed by Shawn you have threatened legal action for the second time which is certainly within your rights. That being the case, there shall be no furtherr communication between you and Erskine Group, Inc. except that which is by and between your attorney and ours. Please provide his contact information so that communication can commence.

From: Mads Gisselbaek
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2013 10:11 AM
To: shawnbyrne
Cc: Dennis Erskine
Subject: Re: plans for Gisselbaek Theatre

Are you telling me i cant move the hush box back if i am willing to spend money on a better projector?

I am afraid that i am really confused as to Erskine Groups role in this process? Are you not consultants that advise clients such as us, how to achieve what we would like to achieve in terms of a home theatre?

Can you provide me with a full size, scaleable set of pdf plans (or CAD is also fine) that we can print? simple yes or no answer to that question will suffice as it has not yet been answered

Mads Gisselbaek

On 12 Dec 2013, at 14:50, wrote:


Mads,

If you intend to go against the plan and our recommendations, then we cannot guarantee results.

Shawn

____________________________
Erskine Group
www.erskine-group.com

HAA Level III Design Master Certified
THX Certified Professional




Original Message
Subject: Re: plans for Gisselbaek Theatre
From: Mads Gisselbaek
Date: Wed, December 11, 2013 9:34 pm
To:

thanks for the clarifications.
There is no need to re-draw the plans for the power outlets.

I managed to get hold of Gerry Lemay who has given us a contact for the local Quest dealer here so he will price it for us.

We are really keen to remove the hushbox from the back of the room for both aesthetic reasons and for clearing up the space to become useable at the rear of the room. I know the issue you had with the hush box interfering with the rear speakers, so removing the hush box will resolve that problem.

You may have specified equipment for the room, but outwith our budget, as i have repeatedly told you.

Finally, i still have not received the full scale plans that we can use? i assume the 4k fee included printable/scaleable plans?

On the projector - would the sony vw1000 projector work from the 26 ft throw distance? would it still need a long throw lens?


kind regards

Mads Gisselbaek

On 12 Dec 2013, at 03:52, wrote:


1) all the walls in the entire basement (incl the playroom) are in double skin drywall? assume only the theatre room really needs double layer, and preferable for the furnace room too. Single layer drywall.
2) you have specified putting insulation under the area at the back of the theatre (AV space and corridor to the furnace room) - is that necessary or there for a reason? Low frequency absorption. Nothing is there that does not have a purpose.
3) there is no insulation etc specified for under the stair that goes up to the kitchen at the rear of the theatre? should there be? Already answered.
4) No return vents for the HVAC
5) How is the centre (highest) part of the ceiling suspended? there appears to be insufficient bracing/support to carry a heavy MDF ceiling? (at least there is no detail in the plans) Your contractor needs to figure the load and build appropriately to support the weight. However, extending the ceiling joists via 2x4's or 2x6's should be quite easy.
6) Should the screen stage be carpeted? Yes
7) there are no power outlets for the seating? assume one outlet per seat? Ok...if you want me to correct it I can, but seems as though you already answered your question. Place a single gang outlet in the floor of the riser for each chair for the second row, and place a single gang outlet for each chair in the front of the riser for the front row. Let me know if you want this corrected.
8) looking at the plans - we feel like you will be entering the theatre and pretty much walking straight into (or at least obscured by) the hushbox for the projector? is it either possible to raise the height of the hushbox slightly - from the plan it looks to be slightly lower than the top of the screen. Alternative is that we push the projector back into the wall behind, and try to find a projector that can project the extra 2ft? I was looking online (ebay etc) for projectors and there seems to be some high end ones at sensible(ish) prices, but not sure they are suitable? example is: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=281210170954&ssPageName=ADME:X:RTQ:US:1123
would that one work? or is it obsolete? could you recommend projectors (model/brand etc) that would work, or that you know could be bought used or refurbed?
We have talked about this, and placing it in the back room. You have 5' 10" roughly underneath the hush box. Any higher and the first row will be craning their necks too much. You are free to do as you wish, but I would not recommend it. I have already specified the equipment that meets the reuirements of this room. $5k projector is not out of line with your budget in my opinion. It is the exact height of the top of the screen.

It looks like we will complete the 'building' work for about the 40k figure that we originally had budgeted - our contractor is having trouble getting any answer from Quest over the past 2 weeks, so hasnt been able to price their panels yet? can you help with that? Already talked with Quest about your project, but they will not sell directly to your contractor. Talk with Ed Cape about getting these ordered.

That leaves us about 25-30k for the AV equipment, so we need to try to get a working theatre. With that in mind, can you re-specify the equipment based on that budget? that preferably should include amps/speakers/receiver/subs/projector/screen etc.
I already have specified the equipment that will meet the requirements of this room.



____________________________
Erskine Group
www.erskine-group.com

HAA Level III Design Master Certified
THX Certified Professional




Original Message
Subject: Re: plans for Gisselbaek Theatre
From: Mads Gisselbaek
Date: Wed, December 11, 2013 4:30 pm
To: ""

There was a whole list of questions I sent on Saturday? Would be more helpful if you sent the full size plans to me?

Thanks


Mads Gisselbaek


On 11 Dec 2013, at 17:18, wrote:

Mads,

yes, I received your message. Lowering the ceiling is done by standard construction methods. 2x4 framing will be just fine. All you are doing is extending the ceiling joists to accomodate the drywall. Nothing more. Yes, fill the ceiling with loose bat insulation or blown cellulose.

I will send the PDF's to Dennis tonight.

Shawn

____________________________
Erskine Group
www.erskine-group.com

HAA Level III Design Master Certified
THX Certified Professional




Original Message
Subject: plans for Gisselbaek Theatre
From: Mads Gisselbaek
Date: Wed, December 11, 2013 12:55 pm
To: shawnbyrne

Dear Shawn,

i left a voicemail for you this morning.
We are about to start work on the theatre, and would appreciate if you could send us an unlocked version of the PDF plans that we can print to full scale? Currently it is locked to Letter size max.

I also sent some other questions that relate to the detail of the plans which i would appreciate if you could clarify.

Could i at least get a confirmation that you have received my messages?

thanks

Mads Gisselbaek

UNQUOTE:


Here is another one... :

From: Dennis Erskine
To: Mads

You may call if you wish. I see little point in further conversation.

Original Message
From: Mads Gisselbaek
Sent: Monday, December 09, 2013 5:17 PM
To: Dennis Erskine
Subject: Re: theatre

Would it be possible to speak with you in person?
I am on a uk cell so easier if you want me to call you? If so, what is a
good number to get you on?

Mads

Mads Gisselbaek


On 9 Dec 2013, at 15:29, "Dennis Erskine"
wrote:

We can supply Procella speakers and Quest products. Procella speakers
would be outside your budget constraints. You can contact Quest for a
dealer in your area.

We are not obligated to provide suggested equipment lists as a part of
our engagements. When we do so, they are budget agnostic and are based
entirely on the technical requirements which must be met based upon
room size and seating distances. Posting our plans on internet, is a
violation of our copyrights.

Original Message
From: Mads Gisselbaek
Sent: Monday, December 09, 2013 2:41 PM
To: shawnbyrne
Cc: Dennis Erskine
Subject: theatre

Shawn,

i am not sure if you are on holiday? i have not had a response yet
from you to my previous emails. I have been made aware that you
(erskine group) supply procella speaker, Denon receivers and Quest
products. Is there any reason you have not been able to price these
items for us? we so far have been unable to get any pricing from quest for
the panels you have specified.

I posted some details of the design on AVS to get suggestions for
equipment that can meet our budget - can you give any input to making
selections that do fit into our budget? i assume that this is part of
the service that we have paid for?

thanks

Mads Gisselbaek



Edited by mads1 - 1/9/14 at 8:34am
post #86 of 227
Wow.....................simply ........................

WOW!!!!


I can see why AVS cut ties with this outfit...............................ie. Pro Theater Layout service......................
post #87 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabident View Post

The bulk of the plans are cookie cutter.

My HVAC "design" was the standard generic paragraph that's often quoted on the forum. It was word for word identical to a post Dennis made a few years ago for a guy in Alaska, including the ability to operate down to -30F. They didn't even bother adjusting the lower end limit to something appropriate to my climate until I called them out on it. Pre-sales they talked about how residential HVAC contractors were incapable of designing a low noise system. I needed to have EG handle the design to make sure it was done right. I was expecting they would spec air handler models known to be quiet, duct layout, and silencer details. Instead it was just a generic paragraph. Even the soffit was just a generic, simplified version of Ted's free soffit guide with no measurements.

For the acoustic treatment plan, I of course got Quest panels, but only for 2 walls (back & side). That would be passable if the sides were mirror images of each other, but they're not. Similarly my front wall isn't a mirror image of the back wall. Plus I've read enough here to know that the front wall needs to be treated differently. The plan lists what size panels to order, but only offers a 2D picture showing the placement (with no measurements to indicate where).

Contract said speaker locations, seating locations, etc. I was expecting "location" to mean a measured amount from a reference point. i.e. how high should the speaker or tweeter be off the floor? How for back from the wall? Some sort of measurement that tells me where to put stuff and not just a 2D stencil drawing of a speaker on a wall, or chair on the floor. I know BigMouth says he scales from the prints with a ruler, but it's tedious, especially when accuracy matters. My design also says in all caps "Do not scale from prints!!!".

Other things like the stage are simply drawn with a note indicating the radius. Having paid for framing plans, I was expecting the math would be done upfront, detailing the length of each joist behind the curve and the angle to cut. Initially they didn't provide any detail for the molding or trim work. Just a 2D picture of columns on the wall with some molding drawn on them. No details how to build the columns, cut the trim, or put it together. Same for the coffered ceiling. Dotted lines show where the where the coffers go. That's it. After complaining, they sent router profiles for the molding, but I still don't know where to buy, how much I need, what type of wood, or how everything goes together.

Despite waiting 8 months, the plans seemed like they were rushed together. In cases that I could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the mistake was EG owned, they would begrudgingly rectify, but would go to the end of the earth to deny fault. For example, my top row of clips supporting the soffit collided with the ERV duct. Dennis explained that EG doesn't spec the model of clip to use, so they were not responsible for any conflicts due to the size of the clip itself. He said it was my responsibility to have taken the clip size into account. I had to remove 100' of channel, move the clips down 1 3/4" and then put it all back up again. The crew didn't mind because I was paying them by the hour, and ended up paying OT. I later discovered that Dennis mixed up the interior vs exterior ERV ducts sizes. The whole clip vs channel spacing thing was just an excuse to avoid admitting fault.

You may think, meh, mistakes happen. But because it wasn't their fault, it means they don't need to update the plans unless I want to pay $350/hr for modifications. My soffits will now be almost 2" lower. How does that impact the acoustics of the room, the acoustic panels that run up to the soffit, the projection window, screen mounting location, etc. It basically lowers everything 2" which all contractors need to make a mental note to take into account when referencing the plans. Plus alll of the "no stupids" checking the EG supposedly does to avoid "off by 1" types of mistakes no longer apply.

It got worse with drywall. One of things EG explains early on is that their designs will call for things that you may not understand, or your GC may question. But they say you have to trust that there is a reason behind it and to make sure the builder does it. So when it came to framing the walls, I assumed the lack of blocking depicted in the plan was part of the secret sauce - that EG wanted the walls to be flexible. There is some support for that - metal studs sound proof better because of their flexibility, and the channel for the drywall has to be the more flexible type. To be sure, I asked Dennis to review the pictures of the framing in my build thread. He didn't respond. I even asked if I could pay extra for him to fly someone from his team and inspect the site. Again no response. It wasn't until after drywall that he decided to respond by publicly declaring my room unsuitable for its intended purpose because of the extra flex in the walls caused by the lack of blocking. At the same time, he contacted me privately with a price for EG to finish my room and fix the flex problem. But the price was much higher than I had been led to believe, and would have consumed most of my budget on just the room itself (no equipment).

Finally, there were some items in the contract that were never fulfilled. I never got room dimensions, colors, fabric samples, equipment specs, or where to buy. Other items are arguable depending on one's definition of "design". In terms of the process, based on pre-sale discussions, I thought it would be like designing a custom home. Dennis said it takes hundreds of hours to design a room. I thought EG would guide me through selection of colors, sconces, the look of the room, equipment selection, etc.. I thought there would be some interactive discussion of pros and cons of the various options involved in building a HT. And I thought someone from EG would be there to provide a reasonable level of support when it came time to build the room. My fear was that I would just get a bunch of PDF slides and be on my own. Like putting a $1 in a coke machine, hitting vend, and you're done. Shawn offered to help, but wanted to be paid by the hour for his time. Having already spent $6500 with EG and seeing first hand how they operate, I wasn't willing to sink any more money into the company.

When I had talked to Dennis and told him about my equipment (McIntosh electronics and Monitor Audio Platinum speakers) I could not understand why he was discussing different speakers and equipement.That caused the gut feeling that made me go with Rives.

My experience with Rives has been much better than yours with EG. My framer did not follow the plans exactly and I did not chatch this until after the drywall was done. Rives allowed me to use their plans to as build the mistakes and discuss possible options. They did ask me not to post their plans.

I paid for an acoustic analysis of the room which has not been done yet since the room is not finished.

I had most of my electronics and I had wished that Rives had looked at the in wall speakers that I specified in the pillars since they are much bigger than the ones shown in the plan.

During the build I started to do more and more myself. This forum has been great!

I hope to be done the room in about a month.
Edited by wagnerc - 12/21/13 at 5:54pm
post #88 of 227
Quote:
Originally Posted by mads1 View Post


Jeff, that would require that you know about it in advance. I had no idea about the technology / design that goes into a theatre, hence contracting a supposedly independent consultant like Erskine Group to advise, design and taken us through the process. I am probably not the norm but they should have figured that out when Shawn did the initial consultations on the phone, and meeting us at our home.
As soon as Dennis emailed me about not displaying the plans on the forum, i took them of, however, i have the right to use the plans to get the theatre built, and frankly have had better support/advice and guidance from this forum than his organisation - hence only displaying the info in a forum within which the are active and seeking advice. If they had an issue with, or comment on the posting - then they could have either posted their remedy - that being the advice i was seeking, or contact me directly with that info.

I am just happy that this information about Erskine Group (also operating as Architectural Acoustics) is out in the public domain so that others like me can make a more informed decision on choosing a consultant to act on their behalf. Had i seem more info about peoples experience with EG then i would likely have chosen a different design route.

It is unlikely at this stage that i will get a set of plans from EG that i can post at this juncture.. even better EG could post them on this thread along with 'their side of the story'.. that would indeed be my pleasure to have put to public debate. Since it was within this forum that i was put in contact with them, and contacted by Dennis Erskine, it seems fit that my experiences are shared here too.

Really appreciate everyones interest in this project.

The easy enough in teh future reference was for others who contract them. i'm certian that your part with any consolutant is done for this project. You and I had sent PMs previously, so I didn't explain it better in the post.

It wasn't meant as a shot. I like that you are standing up and making this known.
post #89 of 227
How do I contact Rives? I was thinking about getting a design on where I am in in my theater for diffusion and absorbtion.
post #90 of 227
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff in Canada View Post

The easy enough in teh future reference was for others who contract them. i'm certian that your part with any consolutant is done for this project. You and I had sent PMs previously, so I didn't explain it better in the post.

It wasn't meant as a shot. I like that you are standing up and making this known.

Hi Jeff,
i completely agreed with what you said, and just wanted to make clear that was not the case in my situation!
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