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"Cheap Seats" HT - Low budget build

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 
My theater is named "Cheap Seats Cinema"... I am not looking for cheap theater seats. Sorry for the confusion!!

I sold my 1989 Mustang GT a few months ago. It was just sitting in the back yard, rusting, not generating any enjoyment whatsoever. So, a friend of the family decided to take it off my hands. I was sad to see it go, but saw an opportunity.

I had always wanted to have a huge screen in my house. I work in IT and as far back as 9 years ago, while attending presentations, thought a projector would be a perfect solution. So, one toy gone, time to buy others! I cleared it with my wife whose only stipulation was new carpet for the basement, which is also where the proposed theater was going to be.

A friend of mine has had a projection theater set up for a bit over a year. After sitting in his basement watching some demos, I was 110% convinced. Time for research. He pointed me to the AVS forums and I started reading... and reading....... and reading some more. Now, everyone has a budget, but mine was pretty low. Most folks spend more on a single plasma TV than what I spent on my whole theatre, including carpet!

Here's where I spent my money:
- BenQ W500 720p Projector
- DIY 100" screen (3/4" MDF, painted with S-I-L-V-E-R)
- Onkyo TX-SR605 AV Receiver
- Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 front stage
- Mach5 Audio IXL 18.4 (18") Sub (built into an Easy Button box)
- Behringer Europower 2500 pro-audio amp (for da sub)
- Denon up-converting DVD Player (model?)
- 3BM Smart Switch dimmer
- Logitec Harmony 720
- miles of 12 AWG speaker wire and a 20' HDMI cable

Everything got plugged into our basement in a room that's 26' X 22', but only 13' x 22' used for the theatre. There are currently no acoustical treatments, base traps, or other gizmos.

Now for finances... The total cost, including new carpet was around $6000 give or take a few hundred. Without the carpet, about $4300.

Here's some pics:

Temporary ugly test setup (the 'Before' picture). Love the carpet!

Building the sub box

Ripping out the bar

Bar's gone

Carpet is coming out... I hate rubber-back

Still ripping rubber. Check out the 'AV Rack'!

Rubber is gone. Brutal cracks in the floor

post #2 of 74
Thread Starter 
Continued from above.

Ahhh, pretty carpet

Making a screen frame

The "Cheap Seats"

Mission accomplished

I am in desperate need of speaker stands since my Ascends (which you can barely see in the pic) are standing on old speakers. I'm sure I need some acoustical treatments too, but that's more reading I don't have time for right now.

I welcome your comments and questions!
post #3 of 74
I feel your screen setup came out quite well. Looks really good. Amazing what you can do with a few bucks and a little imagination.

post #4 of 74
Lookin good buddy

I still have that 1 speaker stand for your center channel if you want it and know of someone that can cut it and weld it for you.

post #5 of 74
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by titch-- View Post

Lookin good buddy

I still have that 1 speaker stand for your center channel if you want it and know of someone that can cut it and weld it for you.


Thanks, Trev... I'll take you up on that. Got your laptop ready so we can check out how crappy the sound is in my basement?
post #6 of 74
Yeah man
post #7 of 74
Looks very nice. What did you use for masking the screen, velvet, felt?
post #8 of 74
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by eightninesuited View Post

Looks very nice. What did you use for masking the screen, velvet, felt?

Thank you.

It's flannel suiting material from wally-world for about $4/yard. Glued it onto some 1/8" MDF and velcro'd them onto the frame.
post #9 of 74
Looks nice, but took me forever to figure out that "Cheap Seats" is the name of your HT and not that you were asking where to find "Cheap Seats" for the HT...LOL!!!!!

I also built my room on a budget...probably smaller than yours. It turned out nice.

Is your room open on one side, since you said the theater wasn't using the entire width of the basement, or do have a wall and door to close off the room? I'm not sure how the treatments would work for the first reflections if one side of the room was open, so you may want to post that in the Treatment sticky. I recommend bass traps. I could only place them in my front two corners (4 inches of OC703 3pcf rigid boards covered with fabric), but it made a noticeable difference. Same for my 2" 703 boards at the first reflection points on the side walls.
post #10 of 74
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Tony. It's a crappy name, but it really doesn't have any other name so I figured it worked.

My room is open on one side, so it could be interresting. I'll take a look at the treatments sticky when it's time to start tuning. Here's the basement layout. That's one big room, no walls or dividers. There's about a 1 foot dropped section for duct work, and that's it.
post #11 of 74
I think you should build a wall right along the telepost.
post #12 of 74
Nice job!! I like the sub, I may need to research that one!!
post #13 of 74
very nice setup.
post #14 of 74
Very nice set up especially for the budget. You can definitely stretch your dollars when you need to. I was wondering if you were planning on some surrounds in the near future? Also....very nice work on your screen wall.
post #15 of 74
Very nice theater! May I suggest a basic and inexpensive riser for the 2nd row of seating. It would add quite a bit to the theater feel for a very modest amount of money.

I love the sub. How does it perform? I'm guessing your movie watchers get to go for a nice ride!
post #16 of 74
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the kind words folks.

jandawil - not sure what you mean. I do have surrounds (a 5.1 setup), but if you're asking about upgrading, then yes, I plan on doing that this year. As for a 6.1 or 7.1 setup, no plans as of yet though my AVR is capable.

Patrick - I was planning on building a riser, but ended up reconfiguring the seating and I just have one couch under the PJ and the other one is by the telepost (see the diagram up a few posts). 95% of the time it's just me and my wife anyway. For the odd sporting event a theater experience isn't needed anyway.
The sub performs pretty good. It does a great job of filling that huge area. I plan on building another to really get the house shaking, but I can already hear things rattling in the ceiling with just this one.
post #17 of 74
Originally Posted by DevonS View Post

Ripping out the bar

Words NO MAN should EVER utter!!!!!

Seriously, it looks very nice. Nice work. That sub looks awesome!
post #18 of 74
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by dondosae1 View Post

Words NO MAN should EVER utter!!!!!

Seriously, it looks very nice. Nice work. That sub looks awesome!

I guess I should have said "truncating the bar". It's still there, just waaaaaay smaller. But, I added a bar fridge, so my wobbly-pops are close at hand!
post #19 of 74
Thread Starter 
Small update:

I did in fact upgrade my surrounds. Picked up a pair of Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE's for a good deal. Still no sound treatments. Started reading the treatments sticky and felt retarded so I stopped. It seems there's never an easy answer.

I've been following a fellow AVS'ers (YW84U) build and plan to relocate my A/V equipment to the back wall above the bar in a setup much like this. But... summer is pretty much here so it may not start for a while.
post #20 of 74
I like your theater DevonS it looks very smart mate,It also took me A second to work out that the name of your cinema was cheap seats not that you were looking for cheap seats Ha Ha....
post #21 of 74
Thread Starter 
I've finally bit the bullet and started to hack up my wall to flush/rack mount the components. Here's progress so far:

Hole cut in the wall 21.5 inches wide, 40 inches tall

From the room behind:

Taking out ceiling tiles to run wire for speakers and IR repeater:

More tiles, toward the screen:

Hotlink IR thingy:

My new BFD. Ignore the cable box on top:

I also picked up a Tripp-Lite Omni 1000 LCD UPS from Costco.

Now for the fun of running speaker wire and cat5 wire. As you can see all my joists run perpendicular to the wire direction. Any suggestions on how to run the wires so I can avoid ripping out ceiling tiles again if I need to run other wire in the future? I an easily just wire-staple everything up, but makes it hard to pull anything thru later on.
post #22 of 74
pull down the crown molding and run wire behind it. Your crown looks real small so you may have to put up a larger size depending on the amount of wiring you need to pull. From behind the crown molding you can easily go down into the wall or into the ceiling.
post #23 of 74
1 1/2" holesaw, 1 1/2" smurf tube
post #24 of 74
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by antwon412 View Post

1 1/2" holesaw, 1 1/2" smurf tube

smurf tube... just what I was looking for when I wasn't sure what I was looking for. I feel queasy at the thought of punching a 1 1/2" hole into 20-some joists. So would HD have smurf tube? Off to search...
post #25 of 74
Thread Starter 
HD does have the smurf tube, but 3/4" is the biggest they have. I found a different solution. 1 1/4" sump-pump outflow tube. I picked up a 20' piece at Princess Auto for $6.99. Now to punch the holes. Fun.
post #26 of 74

How is the BenQ W500? I am thinking about going with this projector when I start my project. I am worried about how dark the room needs to be in order to enjoy the picture. I am all about viewing movies in a pitch black room, but what about watching a football game with some light in the room?

post #27 of 74
Thread Starter 

Usually, the only TV I watch with the W500 is football. I can have all my lights at full blast and the picture is still fine. As you get more ambient light the picture does wash out some, but that's true of any projector. Just avoid light directly on the screen and you'll be fine.

I'm completely satisfied with the W500. It's a great starter projector for the money. I've never re-thought my decision.
post #28 of 74
Lookin good!

If you need another set of hands just give me a call.

post #29 of 74
Thread Starter 
I just ordered a pile of stuff from monoprice. Banana plugs to clean up/simplify the back of the AVR, 15-foot power cord for the PJ, 3-foot and 6-foot 'sub' cables (for AVR -> BFD -> Amp) and 25 feet of Cat5 cable. All for about the same price shipped as a single 25-foot Cat5 cable I found at Rona!

Now, a question. My original setup had a 75ohm sub cable from the AVR to the amp and 12 awg speaker wire from the amp to the sub (about 5 feet or so). Now, my amp is in the 'rack' at the back of the room, 30-ish feet from the sub box. I was hoping to find some 10 awg cable and throw a couple runs in, but haven't had good luck finding that guage of wire. I'm starting to feel that 12 awg is good enough and save me the headache. I know titch's thoughs on this (go big or don't go at all). Thoughts?
post #30 of 74
Thread Starter 
Progress is really slow. Ordering stuff from MonoPrice, getting wire from HD, getting shelf brackets, returning shelf brackets, getting more shelf brackets...

One thing I'm starting to learn is that I can't save money anywhere. I try to get just what I need, like a certain length of wire to satisfy two runs, only to find out I needed 3 feet more. Should have just bought the 250 foot roll and be done with it.

Anyway, this is the hose run in the ceiling:

Stuff just sitting in the rack:

The back of the rack:

I'm chipping away 30 minutes at a time, here and there. Maybe I'll be done by Christmas
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