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post #1 of 15 Old 02-25-2020, 10:54 AM - Thread Starter
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New Theater Room Design

Hi everyone,

I have a room in my basement that I'd like to convert into my theater room. I already have a projector and 5.1 surround system that I've been using in a different space for a couple years now, so for now I'm just looking to create a more dedicated space. I've already torn up the old carpet and plan to begin insulation this week. I'm interested in how others might approach a room like this to have a decent space.

The room is 23' long, 13' wide, and 94" tall from slab to floor joist. Once insulated and framed, the room width will be closer to 12.5', and with the closet it makes the room basically 21 feet long. Should I use the closet as my media closet, or rip it out to gain the 2 extra feet of floor space? If I demo the closet I could create a cut out in the framed wall currently there and have the equipment sitting in the storage room on the other side, but I'm not sure that it's necessary.

Seating: Most of the time I'm using this by myself, but have a wife and 3 year old who occasionally join me. Plenty of space for a couch to seat 3, but what about 4-5? I feel like if I was to consider a 2nd row riser, I'd definitely need to demo the closet. I'm just not sure if it's worth the added time and expense for the few occasions I'd ever have more than 3-4 people.

Any ideas or input are greatly appreciated. I don't need to create anything too fancy, just a nice space that allows for a good picture and sound experience. I'm planning to move forward with perimeter wall framing in the next couple weeks.
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-25-2020, 02:16 PM
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For smoother frequency response (fewer/smaller peaks & dips), place the listeners' ears at 2/3 room length (around 15') from the front wall. That should leave you enough space for a second row whether you get rid of the closet or not (I would get rid of it).

Is your current screen acoustically transparent? Your long room is an opportunity for a false wall up front that hides the L/C/R speakers and subs behind the screen for a cleaner looking theatre.

Sanjay
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-25-2020, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your advice. I'm currently projecting onto a wall because I didn't want to put money into a screen until I had a more permanent location and knew the right size. Once I have my room figured out I'm going to DIY a screen, and AT has been a thought. What's the general depth requirement for that? 2-2.5 feet?
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-25-2020, 04:38 PM
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Yeah, couple feet from the front wall. Great for hiding room treatment as well.

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post #5 of 15 Old 02-26-2020, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogal9 View Post
Should I use the closet as my media closet, or rip it out to gain the 2 extra feet of floor space?
I'd definitely leave the closet for equipment and your media collection. Even if its narrow behind the seating, its always easier to have the equipment in the room, IMHO.

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Originally Posted by mfogal9 View Post
Seating: Most of the time I'm using this by myself, but have a wife and 3 year old who occasionally join me. Plenty of space for a couch to seat 3, but what about 4-5? I feel like if I was to consider a 2nd row riser, I'd definitely need to demo the closet. I'm just not sure if it's worth the added time and expense for the few occasions I'd ever have more than 3-4 people.
Completely contradicting my first comment, i'd consider the extra row. I have a 2 and 4 year old. While they are occasional visitors now, they'll be much more frequent visitors soon enough, and with friends. Just my two cents.

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post #6 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 06:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Completely contradicting my first comment, i'd consider the extra row. I have a 2 and 4 year old. While they are occasional visitors now, they'll be much more frequent visitors soon enough, and with friends. Just my two cents.
Trust me, I've gone back and forth on this a number of times which is why I was curious what other people think. I'm leaning towards taking the closet out and building a false wall at the front to do an AT setup because that is probably the best for long-term use. We have a 2nd baby due in August, so chances are in 3-4 years I'm going to wish I had the extra space. With the closet out, I could have a false wall 3 feet out to allow for rear access, and still have 20 feet of room to fit 2 rows of seating with a good sized screen. Thanks for your input!
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by mfogal9 View Post
Trust me, I've gone back and forth on this a number of times which is why I was curious what other people think. I'm leaning towards taking the closet out and building a false wall at the front to do an AT setup because that is probably the best for long-term use. We have a 2nd baby due in August, so chances are in 3-4 years I'm going to wish I had the extra space. With the closet out, I could have a false wall 3 feet out to allow for rear access, and still have 20 feet of room to fit 2 rows of seating with a good sized screen. Thanks for your input!
Just to challenge your thinking....if you want more space enough that you'd take out the closet, why would you want to build a false wall that is essentially the same depth (if not more) than the closet you'd be taking out? Sure, the equipment needs to go "somewhere" but that seems like taking from the left hand in putting it in the right.

If space is your primary concern, why not get rid of the closet and put the rack in the wall on the other side (as you mentioned earlier) and keep the 3 feet of space in the front, giving you plenty of room for a comfortable second row?

Also, one of the things we haven't discussed is how big a screen you are considering.

There's a few schools of thought about where the sweetspot should be, and they don't necessarily work together.

It was mentioned earlier that for audio, you should be at 2/3 of the room length for the best bass response. True, but sometimes we don't have the luxury of doing things the most ideal way. Rooms, needs, and priorities all factor in. Maybe your 2nd row is at 2/3rds of the way back. Maybe you just try to get close enough to it.

But video also plays a big part. Just like the 2/3 of the room audio recommendation, the video recommended distance is to sit roughly 1.5x the size of the screen. But THX and SMPTE have different recommendations anyway. For a 120" screen, their recommendations for viewing distance are 4' apart from each other! And thats a pretty reasonable screen size for most dedicated theaters. Take a look: http://thehometheaterbook.com/home-t...wing-distance/

Take a look at this post as well, which has very similar dimensions to yours. https://www.projectorcentral.com/pro...r&entry_id=784

Here's a great calculator for you to play with: https://www.projectorscreen.com/proj...en-calculators

All of this comes down to personal preference as well. I sit just about 12' away from a 110" 16:9 screen with 4k. For me, thats plenty close. For others, they want an even more 'immersive' experience. For my wife, she'd prefer to sit another foot or two back. Check the comments in that thread I shared. You'll see there's some pretty significant differences in what people prefer.

You need to do what is best for you, your room, and your family. Don't worry too much about being a few inches - or feet - off from an "industry standard" if it isn't feasible for your very-real-world use.

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post #8 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 10:11 AM
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Take top half of the closet out for the TV and keep the bottom half storage?
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckronengold View Post
Just to challenge your thinking....if you want more space enough that you'd take out the closet, why would you want to build a false wall that is essentially the same depth (if not more) than the closet you'd be taking out? Sure, the equipment needs to go "somewhere" but that seems like taking from the left hand in putting it in the right.
.
You bring up a valid point that I hadn't thought about, which is exactly why I came here for some advice from people who have experience with it. Originally I was thinking that by leaving the closet, I'd obviously have to leave room in front of it for access, which would use up valuable floor space in the rear of the room. Losing space in the front of the room didn't seem as big of a deal since the first several feet are unused anyway. This was with the original mindset that with nothing but a bare wall in the back, I'd be able to move seating closer to the rear wall. However, when considering that I should be leaving some space in the rear for a better sound experience I can see the flaws in my thinking.

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Originally Posted by ckronengold View Post
Also, one of the things we haven't discussed is how big a screen you are considering.
.
While originally planning this I had 144" diagonal in my head because that's about what I'm using right now at 15 feet in a different room. Following the website you provided that puts THX seating at 14.8-20.8. Maybe it'd be better (and less work) to just leave the closet and shrink the screen size a little to push the seating a little further up into the room. I'm going to play around with this some more.

For additional information, my projector is an Epson Home Cinema 2150. I bought it 2-3 years ago as my entry into the home theater world because it was on sale and reasonably priced to where I could convince my wife to let me buy it. I knew I'd be projecting on a plain wall for a while, so I didn't see the need to invest in 4K or anything too expensive yet. You've heard of "lifestyle creep," well with my wife I've been playing the "home theater creep" game. Got my intro projector, then got the green light for my intro 5.1 surround, now I'm working on the dedicated room, and then we'll start the cycle over again with equipment upgrades haha. She was very hesitant when I first started talking about projectors and surround sound, and even more when she saw the money spent for speakers. But once everything was hooked up and I cranked the sound for a movie, she turned to me and said, "Whoa, this is pretty cool!" She's still not as invested in it as I am, but enough that she lets me slowly chip away at it.
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogal9 View Post
With the closet out, I could have a false wall 3 feet out to allow for rear access, and still have 20 feet of room to fit 2 rows of seating with a good sized screen.
If you blow across an empty bottle, you can get the air in that small chamber to resonate (make that booooh sound). If you enlarge that small chamber to the size of your room, the air in there will still resonate (of course at different frequencies than the bottle).

Your 23' room length will result in resonances (room modes) at certain problem frequencies: 25Hz, 49Hz, 74Hz, 98Hz, 123Hz, 147Hz, etc. Each of those room modes will result in peaks & nulls along the length of your room. The graph below shows the first 4 length modes, with each problem frequency colour coded so you can see the locations of its peaks & nulls.



Notice that the worst place to sit is 1/2 way back, because the problem frequencies are either loud peaks or quiet nulls. All extremes, no moderation. Frequency response will look like a roller coaster.



By comparison, about 2/3 of the way back most of the problem frequencies are around the same level. Hence the recommendation to have the listeners' ears (not the seat backs) about 15' back from the front wall.



You mentioned having a false wall 3' out from the front wall, so that would put the viewers in the main row around 12' from the screen. At that viewing distance, a 120" wide screen would give you a 45° viewing angle (roughly the same viewing angle as you'd get from the sweet spot in a commercial movie theatre). A 135" wide screen would give you a more immersive 50° viewing angle. Once you know the seating location in the room and the distance to the screen, picking out a screen size comes down to how big a viewing angle you're comfortable with.

Sanjay
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post #11 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Vic_ View Post
Take top half of the closet out for the TV and keep the bottom half storage?
There won't be a TV in this room, just my projector. I was planning to project my image onto the 13 foot wall, where I'll be building a DIY screen once the room is finished. My seating would then be nearest the closet, and knowing I need to leave space to access the closet I was concerned that my seating might get too cramped with 2 rows. This was based on planning for a 144" diagonal screen, but I'm now thinking of shrinking it a little to allow me to move my seating further away from the closet. Leaving the closet would save me a little work, but not really all that much since it's just moving a light switch and ripping down a couple walls. I'm already invested in the build so I'm willing to do whatever gives me the best experience for the long run.
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post #12 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by mfogal9 View Post

You've heard of "lifestyle creep," well with my wife I've been playing the "home theater creep" game. Got my intro projector, then got the green light for my intro 5.1 surround, now I'm working on the dedicated room, and then we'll start the cycle over again with equipment upgrades haha. She was very hesitant when I first started talking about projectors and surround sound, and even more when she saw the money spent for speakers. But once everything was hooked up and I cranked the sound for a movie, she turned to me and said, "Whoa, this is pretty cool!" She's still not as invested in it as I am, but enough that she lets me slowly chip away at it.
I'm in the Epson family, too. In my previous house, I had the 5030 and was projecting onto a wall. I figured I'd start by trying the paint before investing in a screen. And I gotta say, I was plenty happy with the image. So I never bought a screen. I just built a frame around the painted area so it looked like there was a screen there, but it was just the wall.

I'm extremely familiar with the "creep" that comes from both the wife-side and my side. Having a partner that lets you chip away at your theater is fantastic. Although she's not as impressed with the 4k or the Atmos, she lets me chip away at it (read: I sneak a lot of stuff in). I added the 4k Panasonic ub420 without detection, and it was cheap enough not to raise any alarms. I also got the Amazon Fire Cube for the Superbowl because Roku hadn't worked out their issues with CBS or the NFL, and as of the day before, it wasn't clear you'd be able to get a 4k stream (or any stream) of the game. That may or may not have been returned on Monday. I'll never tell.

All kidding aside, despite being bombarded by $25k speakers and $50k projectors, there's plenty of enjoyment to be had in our hobby without blowing the bank (or even raising suspicion).

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post #13 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post
If you blow across an empty bottle, you can get the air in that small chamber to resonate (make that booooh sound). If you enlarge that small chamber to the size of your room, the air in there will still resonate (of course at different frequencies than the bottle).

Your 23' room length will result in resonances (room modes) at certain problem frequencies: 25Hz, 49Hz, 74Hz, 98Hz, 123Hz, 147Hz, etc. Each of those room modes will result in peaks & nulls along the length of your room. The graph below shows the first 4 length modes, with each problem frequency colour coded so you can see the locations of its peaks & nulls.



Notice that the worst place to sit is 1/2 way back, because the problem frequencies are either loud peaks or quiet nulls. All extremes, no moderation. Frequency response will look like a roller coaster.



By comparison, about 2/3 of the way back most of the problem frequencies are around the same level. Hence the recommendation to have the listeners' ears (not the seat backs) about 15' back from the front wall.



You mentioned having a false wall 3' out from the front wall, so that would put the viewers in the main row around 12' from the screen. At that viewing distance, a 120" wide screen would give you a 45° viewing angle (roughly the same viewing angle as you'd get from the sweet spot in a commercial movie theatre). A 135" wide screen would give you a more immersive 50° viewing angle. Once you know the seating location in the room and the distance to the screen, picking out a screen size comes down to how big a viewing angle you're comfortable with.
This is awesome information with a complexity I've never gotten into before. If you saw my current setup you'd either laugh, cry, or confiscate my equipment haha. I've been well aware I'm not getting anywhere close to the potential of my speakers, but due to a weird room layout I've been stuck with it. This room is my chance to make things a little better, and I've already learned a lot in the last 2 days on this site.

Now that I've got more information to digest for my screen size, seating arrangement, and speaker performance, do you have any input on trying to make this a comfortable space somewhat sound controlled to the floor above? I've done some reading on isolating walls, insulating, double layer of 5/8 drywall with green glue, etc. However, I also want to have a subfloor to insulate and add a little warmth to the floor. Given the fact that I'm starting with 94" of height, how much of that should I preserve so the room doesn't feel small? Any thoughts on what the best "bang for your buck/don't skip out on this" soundproofing treatments are if it's not possible to do ALL of the recommended actions that I'm reading about?
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post #14 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ckronengold View Post
I'm in the Epson family, too. In my previous house, I had the 5030 and was projecting onto a wall. I figured I'd start by trying the paint before investing in a screen. And I gotta say, I was plenty happy with the image. So I never bought a screen. I just built a frame around the painted area so it looked like there was a screen there, but it was just the wall.
This is how I've felt with my current setup. I know that if I had a side-by-side comparison of a quality screen projection next to my wall picture there would be an obvious difference, but with the lights off and no other reference the image has been perfectly fine. I do plan to eventually upgrade to an actual screen with this dedicated room, but for monetary reasons it might not be right away.
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post #15 of 15 Old 02-27-2020, 01:39 PM
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This is awesome information with a complexity I've never gotten into before.
I just wanted to show you with pictures WHY the 2/3 room length location is recommended. Hopefully it made sense. If you look at the first graph, you'll notice that all the nulls fall at even divisions (half, quarters, sixths) of room length. Avoiding them is easy: just place the seating at one of the odd divisions (thirds, fifths) of room length. Don't worry about peaks, they can be brought down with the room correction in your receiver.
Quote:
Now that I've got more information to digest for my screen size, seating arrangement, and speaker performance, do you have any input on trying to make this a comfortable space somewhat sound controlled to the floor above?
Unfortunately not. Know more about room treatments (shaping the sound in the room) than room isolation (soundproofing from other rooms).

Sanjay
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