UPDATE FOR 2013: I sold this house in 2011, and am now working on Hobbit 2.0 in my new home!
Some of the photos in the first half of the thread are missing now, but there are quite a few construction shots starting on page 2.
After lurking for many months, being inspired by the incredible projects in this forum, and dreaming about one day having my own (semi-) dedicated theater space, I'm finally ready to start treading this well-worn path.
This is probably one of the smallest dedicated builds on AVS: the theater itself is approximately 8' wide by 15' long, with an average ceiling height of 6'9" to the joists - 6'7" after finishing with drywall, subfloor and carpet.
WHEN I SOLD IT:
It's showtime! But the room is still missing furniture, a little decor, and perhaps some sidewall treatment.
My wife and I live downtown where new construction is very rare. So our home is a 20-foot wide, 100 year-old house that is full of character, but also pretty challenging for home theater. The basement is the only location available, and it's barely more than a crawlspace by today's standards - thin, uneven concrete slab, less than 7' of headroom to the joists (by code, too low to legally build in), a maximum open width of 8', decades of plumbing, electrical and carpentry hack jobs messing everything up, and nothing plumb, level or straight. Add to this a limited budget due to the necessity of renovating the -rest- of the old house, and it makes for an interesting build. The estimated cost for the entire basement, including materials, construction, tools, and missing equipment, is about $10,000-12,000.
My ultimate goal is to try and have as many dedicated home theater features as is practical given the space and budget, and then see how it all pans out. Because the house is so small, although I consider the main viewing area from the seating area forwards to be a dedicated HT, it will actually share the physical room with a more multipurpose space immediately behind it.
THE ORIGINAL PLAN
No choice for location here. It's going into what was euphemistically labelled the "Rec Room" in the real estate listing. Basically an 8-foot wide unfinished space with a bit more than 6 1/2 feet of headroom - as illustrated in this photo taken before we took possession of the house:
The screen will be against the far wall, and given the decent length of the room, I plan to use the maximum width and height available for an 84" wide (96" diagonal) 16:9 screen. Primary seating will be approximately 11-12' back for a 30-37 degree viewing angle, with some room in front for "overflow seating" (i.e. more than three people!) at a THX recommended 9'-10' distance.
Given the project budget, size of the house, open nature of the basement, and the need to preserve every inch of available space, I won't be using any specialized soundproofing techniques such as double drywall, channels or clips. Since it's impractical to close off the space, any noise would simply flank up the stairs to the main floor. However, I will use some basic insulation such as Roxul in the ceiling joists in an attempt to reduce cavity resonance, and deaden contact transmission to and from the floor above.
Update: After testing it seems that, thanks to the intrinsic mass and nature of old-style construction (plaster, lath and thick, heavy beams), sound at an acceptable volume downstairs (not reference levels, but perfectly enjoyable for most movies and music) is barely noticeable on the second floor. Super.
One nice thing about a hobbit-sized space is that it's not demanding on equipment! Other than the projector, I'll be using mostly existing gear from a previous media setup, which should be very capable of achieving reference levels in a room of this size.
NAD T762 7.1 AV receiver
NAD T531 DVD/CD transport
Paradigm Atom monitor fronts/CC-170 center/ADP-70 bipole-dipole surrounds
Paradigm PDR-10 10" subwoofer
Apple Airport Express w/ optical bitstream for wireless iTunes connectivity (#1 - theater source)
Added during build: Scientific Atlanta 8300HD high-definition PVR
Added during build: Sony Playstation 3 console/Blu-Ray player
Added during build: Optoma HD-7100 720P HD front projector
Added during build: 96" DIY framed Da-Lite High Contrast Cinema Vision (Grey/1.2 gain) screen
Added during build: Belkin PureAV PF60 power conditioner console
Added during build: Logitech Harmony 880 universal remote
Integration with whole-house system (ABUS):
Channel Vision single-source ABUS distribution network
Scientific Atlanta 3250HD high-definition cable box
Added during build: Apple Airport Express w/ optical bitstream for wireless iTunes connectivity (#2 - ABUS source)
Added during build: JVC RXD-205 AV receiver to switch and drive ABUS system
When the walls were open upstairs I ran CAT5e in a home-run configuration to ABUS (audio and IR over ethernet) panels in each room, plus component cabling to plasma locations in the kitchen and bedroom, terminating at a Leviton Structured Wiring panel located just behind what will become the main HT rack. This will allow me to distribute the HT sources plus an additional dedicated Scientific Atlanta 3500HD box throughout the house.
I picked up a great deal on the 720P Optoma HD7100 projector about halfway through the project for about $900 after rebate - 6 months prior it was in the $2K range! It has a very short lens which can throw the necessary 84" in less than 11 feet, which is perfect for my situation. Unlike cheaper models that I originally considered (HD70), it also has zero vertical offset which is a huge bonus for any low-headroom build. I will build a niche into the joist space at the projector location so that the mount assembly can partially recess into the ceiling, maximizing headroom. This should place the lens itself at the ceiling line, and with the top of the screen at this level anyway, it will be ideal for the final projected image.
I started this thread about six months into the project, after a winter of prep work involving demolition of the original finishes, relocating and rewiring all of the basement electrical circuits and moving a lot of old plumbing out of the way. This post takes off where the new construction and dedicated HT stuff is about to begin. Enjoy!
Edited by snowkarver - 10/4/13 at 12:03pm