Well, I've been planning on posting this thread for the best part of 13 years. I'd say that's pretty patient by today's "I want everything now" culture! I've been reading AVS and dreaming of my own dedicated theatre since 2000. I can happily say, I'm finally able and ready and post my own 'build thread'. It's a very happy day.
This is an Australian build. I'm located near Sydney on the Central Coast (grew up in Sydney) and recently moved to the CC 6 months ago. As a fully fledged home owner, I now have a dedicated space for an HT. I also have a very supportive wife on the project, and expect the WAF considerations to not attract the normal challenges some of our brethren face.
So why "MKIII"? - well, there have been some prior Transcendiums, although nothing close to a dedicated room. I'm sure there's some photo's somewhere, but nothing digital, of the original Transcendium. Built circa 2003 in my parents house, it featured a classic model Sanyo Z1 "Quarter HD" projector and DBDynamics 6.1 speaker system (an Aussie brand that popped up for a while and then disappeared, may have been re-badged wharfedales from memory), 10" sub and Onkyo receiver. A DIY 100" projector screen with the timeless '3-way blockout' curtain material and painted black timber frame. I created tiered seating using wooden pallet crates to elevate the second row, plonking a couch on top. The room was hard tiles, windows and brick walls, terrible acoustics no doubt, but I loved it, because it was the best I could do at the time with my limited uni-student means and other constraints (namely, not my house to modify!), but something was better than nothing. Many memorable movie nights and watching sporting fixtures with all my friends.
Where did the "Transcendium" name come from? All I can recall is, I derived it from the word "Transcendence" and combined it with "stadium". Perhaps I should consider "Transcendeum" to make it a combo with "Coliseum"? It's meant to imply, a place where you will have a transcendent experience - which I think, watching a movie can induce - movie 'magic' so to speak, to transport you to another time and place.
Transcendium MKII was a more appropriate fit-out for most of my 20's and apartment-based living. It was a Pioneer Kuro 60" (some may argue a 60" screen is not appropriate for an apartment ... I disagree with them ... although constantly hearing "Oh Tim, it's so big" from visitors never got old!), Dali Ikon speakers, 12" sub (constantly turned down as I am a considerate neighbour who liked to maintain viable relations with those in the apartment block!), Pioneer receiver and blu-ray player. Whilst the Pio was a great TV at the time, I always longed for the impact of the much larger projector screen. The Pio is now retired to being a sensible lounge room TV in our house.
So ... moved house 6 months ago ... settled in ... daughter is now 1 year old .... the time has come to construct "The Transcendium MKIII".
What are we working with here? This is the floor plan of the space, basically 5100mm length by 3700mm wide, including existing studs.
I'd call it a 'modest' space. Would I liked it to have been larger, say 6m x 4m, or even 7x5? Absolutely, but one can't have everything. The house we found ticked so many other boxes, including have the HT space, that it was the one for us. In any case, it's enough space to make an impact, and get 2 rows of 3 seats in. The back row won't recline, due to having the front row an optimal distance from the screen size.
I bought the HTBook from http://thehometheaterbook.com/ (service as sticky'ed on AVS); read through it during morning and evening train rides and was exceptionally impressed with the wealth of knowledge and relatively straight forward manner all the info was laid out in. Warren has written and provided an amazing summary resource for the community, not to mention all the bonus materials - hours and hours of audio and video interviews with many experts.
Thus, when Warren of HTBook launched his 'DIY' design service, I felt it was a perfect match for my approach (to DIY as much as possible), whilst ensuring I had a sensible layout and calculated location of speakers etc, all at a price point relative to my budget, from a very knowledgeable person. Warren was great to work with, through initial email and Skype calls and 3 design iterations. Here is a lower resolution overall view of the top-down view provided for my room:
I was provided with many schematic images for all areas of the room, including recommended acoustic panel placement. I am in two minds about doing panels, vs. the old fashioned "absorption up to ear level" and "diffusion above" method all around the room. It is a 'small' room so I am interested in folk's thoughts about doing 100% absorption (as I think is recommend by Ethan Winer). I will also do triangular bass traps in the back corners of the room, as I should have space for this with only 3 seats across the back row. The plan is for 2 subwoofers to achieve bass balance (not just volume, as I reassure my wife). Warren also provided a number of 3D renders, to help visualise the room.
What did the room look like when we moved in?
Hrm, can anyone see an issue here? Yep, you picked it, it's an 'open' home theatre. Now I can understand why the original builder did this, for mass-market appeal, but of course this won't do for a dedicated HT. So the plan is to frame out the open wall, gyprock (drywall) it, and put a door on the left hand side. The screen wall will be this (currently) open wall, as you can see from the design plan above.
Demolition day was 4/1/2014, and the room now looks like this:
Thanks to my father-in-law and a mate for their help, we knocked over the 'gutting' stage in less than a day. Lot's of nice 'fluffy yellow stuff' already present.
So, where to from here?
- I think this project will be at least 12 months minimum.
- Budget approx $30-$50k.
- Very welcoming as to the communities thoughts and inputs on the project, particularly from my learned Australian friends who've been through this journey themselves and have the inside local knowledge on suppliers/tips/tricks.
- Theme/colours? Have tossed up so many different ideas over the years, it's really hard to land on any one thing. I was hugely fond of the BaconRace theatre colour scheme (it matched the black and red leather colour scheme of my long-gone Mazda RX-8), however lately Vik's 'curve frenzy / fortress of solitude' theatre has really caught my eye - and I showed it to my wife and she absolutely loves the red carpet colour and overall colour scheme - this may well be the design inspiration going forward, I think it's an absolutely stunning home theatre.
- Equipment - particularly for electronics, not even close to settled. I am avoiding the trap of running out and buying speakers and projector until we're much further down the track. Everything's up for grabs here, but if I was to spec current equipment, it would be something like the PannyAE8000, Epson9200 or JVCX35 (maybe 55 at a pinch?) for the projector. OzTheatrescreens for the screen, maybe a masking system from the guys in melbourne (am going 2.35:1) and found this provider for seats (but am yet to visit their showroom) - http://www.loungeincomfort.com.au/home-theatre-lounges.html. Speakers - a tight, timbre-matched, HT specific set - I am very fond of the M&K S150 THX range (having heard them in person) but also think the Klipsch THX could do the trick. Well down the track.
- Equipment location - not much to work with in the immediate space. I had been contemplating building equipment racks into the screen frame wall, but Warren advised against this for a number of reasons (access, heat, vibrations from speakers etc). My wife has agreed to giving me the cupboard under the stairs, where I can easily fit a half-height 24RU rack, which should be plenty. Take's some heat issues out of the room and provides a nice solution. I just have to build some more shelves or something in the laundry first...
- Immediate next steps - quotes from carpenter for framing, electrician for electrical rough-in, gyprocker and also the air conditioning company - as you can see from the photo, there is a central duct in the room. Funny story, on my initial chat with A/C consultant (from the company that supplied/installed original system for the house), he advised me I'd "need a return air path if closing the room - you need to leave a decent gap under the door". I politely explained why this wouldn't be possible, for overall sound isolation reasons. Anyway, far from being offended, he understood, and we've started discussing alternative options, probably revolving around a stand-alone system for this room (Which may have other benefits, as might want to cool to a certain temperature in this room, but that might make the rest of the house too cool if going off the central system).
- Next building steps - the framing for the currently open wall, then electrical rough in, then ordering materials - furring channel, clips, gyprock (am going with 2 layers 16mm fyrcheck with Green glue in between, on the inside of the theatre. The outside of the theatre would love to have 2 layers of 16mm again, but there are some challenges with this I'll go into in a later post). Might have that done all done by June?
Anyhoo....that's it for the '1st' post. Any input, suggestions, comments, questions, highly welcome. Am very excited to be on this journey with you all.