The Salt Mine - A Dedicated Family Theater
ROOM DIMENSIONS & MEASUREMENTS
SOUND ABSORPTION / DIFFUSION
Finally, finally, finally... I'm starting my very own dedicated theater thread. I say finally because I'm waaaay overdue. I've been lurking for a few years and have spent more than a few nights and weekend days reading threads from start to finish (or nearly finished in most cases).
This will be a DIY and DIFM build. I suggested DIY. My wife laughed. Her friends laughed. They all said, "Be realistic." They weren't laughing at my capabilities. I can find my way around. But, a DIY theater would take me 5 years or more.
I plan to use this thread to document the build and ask a lot of questions. Absolutely, no reason to reinvent the wheel.
So, what's my deal?
My home is about 6 years old. We have a finished dedicated theater in the basement. The dimensions are 16'8" x 12' 2" -- relatively small. The builder built and had the theater wired before we bought the house. If I had never found this site, I would have had the builder's A/V guy complete the theater as soon as we moved in. But, thanks to many of you, I knew enough to realize that I wouldn't be satisfied.
The extent of the soundproffing is R-13 insulation in the most of the walls. That's not nearly enough since our nanny's bedroom shares a wall with the theater. Can you imagine, I get the kids to bed, then head to the basement to grab a beer, put a blueray in the player and sit in the money seat. Two seconds after the first car crash, there would be a knock on the theater room door. "Could you turn that down?!!?"
So six years in, the theater has never been used. Well it hasn't been used to watch movies. Let's say that it has become nothing more than a random storage area.
Criminal, I know. I've seen how much time and money have been spent by people in this forum to create a theater space.
This is the layout of our basement.
We want a dedicated family theater with a hidden door entrance. The kids are pretty excited about the hidden door. After much deliberation and conversations with my wife, we decided against theater seats. We're going with a contemporary but comfortable sectional where the family can lounge. No riser.
Here are a couple theaters that peaked our interest.
Contemporary Media Room by London Architects & Designers Hill Mitchell Berry Architects
Contemporary Media Room by Birmingham Interior Designers & Decorators Jeffrey King Interiors
Yes - planning to put the screen on the long wall. I haven't seen much of that on AVS. We'll install a stage. There are way too many beautiful stages on AVS to not build one.
We're planning on DD/GG with hat channel, probably on all walls and ceiling. Given the small space I have to work with, no staggered walls. I'd like to build dead vents for positive and negative air flow - may not need both.
I'm starting with a clean slate on equipment. Very dangerous, I know. I'm leaning towards a 7.1 or 7.2 system. The equipment rack will be outside the theater likely installing it under the stairs which is adjacent to the theater. The projector will be 3D capable. I want the screen to be at least 110". Given the space, the screen will not be AT - don't want to waste the space to put speakers behind the screen.
Thinking about 4 lighting zones - 1) Sconces, 2) small cans in the soffits along the side and back walls, 3) small cans to light the screen, 4) Hidden LEDs / rope to light the tray ceiling.
This first post is long enough... I'll post a few questions below.
Progress pictures as of April 2016
Base LEDs on right wall:
Base LEDs on left wall and dyed oak stage:
Seating and rear wall graphic:
Carpet close up:
Rec room / theater lobby area with wine bar:
After a few conversations with theater pros. I've ditched the idea of putting the screen on one of the long walls. That option would have created a few major issues:
1) Reduce the ideal screen size based on THX guidelines
2) Limit projector options since the max throw would have been 10-11 feet
3) Complicate surround speaker placement - with seating against the back wall to maximize viewing distance, could not realistically have side and back surround speakers
With the screen on the short wall, I have 16' 8" to play with. Allows me to consider an AT screen, but would need very shallow LCR speakers.
I've also decided to go the DIFM route on the theater design. The Erskine layout service option was too hard to pass up. My theater layout is #3 in the queue.
I decided to burn the bridge last weekend - no turning back
Here's what my theater room looked like around 7pm on Saturday after I removed all of the valuable family possessions (in other words, random stuff we haven't used for years) stored in the theater.
Let the demo begin. I started by removing trim from the opening that the builder created for the equipment rack. I also removed trim around the theater entrance.
Then the real work started. Tearing out drywall was pretty fun. I even had the kids (5 and 7) come downstairs to take a few swings at the wall. They really got into it.
The room got pretty warm with the door closed to prevent drywall dust from drifting into the basement. I'll have to increase airflow into and out of the room.
About 3 1/2 hours later...
At this point, I had a decision to make. Go upstairs, grab a beer and call it a night. Or, I could carry that pile of drywall upstairs to the garage - ouch my back
I sucked it up. How bad could it be carrying a few contractor bags up one flight of stairs and over to the garage?
Two hours and 20 contractor bags of drywall later, my back was killing me, but the room looked like this:
Wall adjacent to the bedroom. You can see three white wires hanging. These were installed by the builder for the LCR speakers. You can see some big gaps in insulation in the soffit.
Wall adjacent to the foundation and wall adjacent to rec room
Wall adjacent to the rec room. You can see two white wires hanging. These were for the rear surround speakers
Wall adjacent to the stairs and wall adjacent to rec room. The right side surround wire is hanging just right of the opening for the rack.
Wall adjacent to the stairs and wall adjacent to bedroom
A bit painful, but I was happy with how much got done.
A few issues that I will have to figure out...
Two fire sprinklers pipes will need to be extended to accommodate the resilient channel and double dry wall. Here's a picture of one:
There are five, yes five, HVAC ducts running above the theater. One feeds the theater. Four feed rooms on the main floor upstairs. One joist cavity with a duct is poorly insulated:
Insulation between the rest of the joists wasn't bad. I could stuff a bit more beside some of the HVAC ducts
Below is a picture of the area that the builder wired for the projector. Not a bad starting point.
Next task: figure out how many clips and how much resilient channel I need.
Ahhhh, a fresh start! Such a glorious thing.
So are you going to put the projector on the opposite wall from the adjacent to the bedroom?
Looks like you're off to a great start!
Quote:Originally Posted by Mr. Electric Wiz https://www.avsforum.com/img/forum/go_quote.gif
So are you going to put the projector on the opposite wall from the adjacent to the bedroom?
No great solution, honestly. Yes, I'm leaning towards putting the projector near the wall adjacent to the family room. The screen would be near the wall adjacent to the bedroom.
If I do that, the door has to be moved to make space for the stage. Also, I don't want to enter the room at the front. The only other place where I can put the door is the wall adjacent to the rec room.
The room could look something like this:
One major downside is that the LCR and maybe the sub would be very close to the bedroom. The big positive is that we could easily move between the theater and family room where I'll have a refrigerator, popcorn maker, etc.
What do you think?
I like this one ... I wonder how a pocket door would work
Contemporary Media Room by London Architects & Designers Hill Mitchell Berry Architects
I'm still planning to have a hidden door to the theater similar to dlbeck's Savoy theater:
Our showroom is roughly that size room - 12'x17' before sound isolation.
If you use Procella Audio speakers then you only lose 8" to a baffle / false wall.
Your main issue is going to be fitting the seats in, not sure how many people you want to fit, but that would be the first thing I would look at. Fortress do sectional style couches that incorporate recliners. Take a look at this post - home theater seating layout.
VERY IMPORTANT!!! Pay close attention to acoustic design. In small sound isolated rooms standing waves are a real issue. You can't just do the standard AVS 1" Linacoustic or 2" Quest panels and think it will work out great. Speaking from experience, if you want it to sound very good, you'll need to build in some proper bass traps (which is hard in small rooms, because most bass traps take up a lot of space and aren't that effective - we used four RPG Modex Plates), use multiple subwoofers and equalization to get the bass right. We specialize in acoustical consulting work (check out the Savoy which we did the acoustics for), and getting our showroom to sound good was challenging, 'nuff said.
Shawn with Erksine Design is doing my theater layout. I'm waiting to receive the design before moving forward with my build. I expect he will spec at least 2 subs. They are supposed to spec acoustical treatments. I notice that you offer similar services. Are the two services complementary?
I saw in your theater design documentation that the demo room has a baffle wall. I had not thought about a baffle wall for mine.. Truthfully, I don't know what the functional benefits are. Could you tell me why you designed that into your demo room?
Given the space and young kids, we decided not to buy HT recliners. I like the Fortress sectional couch. Something like that could work pretty well for the family if I can find one that fits in the room with adequate aisle space.
As to the baffle wall, see this blog article for baffle wall benefits.
I'm not sure what goes into an Erskine layout. To me layout is only one part of the whole performance design. There are five pieces:
And that's just the basics excluding noise isolation, electrical, HVAC, etc.
Getting some help
I've made some progress over the last month, but the update pictures won't show as much progress as I'd like. First, I've had a lot of help...
Layout is done
I received my Erskine layout from SierraMikeBravo a couple weeks ago. The entire process was pretty easy with one exception. I was ready to see my layout about an hour after I emailed my room measurements and pictures. But, it was worth the wait. Now, I have one less excuse to not make progress.
I'm getting some help to get the build done right
I'm lucky that BIGmouthinDC lives close by. BIG stopped by for a couple hours to share some wisdom and answer what felt like a hundred questions about the room, build techniques, equipment options, lighting control, room orientation, and more. Great stuff. He will save me a ton of time and I hope to avoid a ton of first timer mistakes.
Our electrician (my wife's cousin) came by on Saturday. We spent an hour figuring out how to run two new circuits from the circuit breaker panels in the garage. We'll have to rip into drywall in the garage and the kids playroom to get the romex down to the basement and over to the home theater. The HT has one 15A circuit. We'll add one 20A and one 15A. I'm thinking the existing 15A will be for lighting, the 20A for the rack, and the 15A for the projector. I have to figure out which circuit to put the 2 Fantech fans on.
I also talked to Ted White last week. He gave me some tips and he's pulling together the list of sound proofing materials. I hope to get my order in this week.
A few update pictures from this weekend
Saturday's task list started with some more demo to create an opening for the new door to the theater. The door will be in the back wall of the theater. Here is the before picture from the Rec Room. The theater is on the other side of the wall:
A couple hours later, I had opened the wall, removed and capped the hot and cold water pipes that fed the wet bar, and capped the drain. Next weekend, I'll reroute the existing electrical and frame the rough opening for the new door
There was a mishap. While cutting the CPVC, I drew first blood
A bit of progress
On Sunday, I had to do some unscheduled prep work. My wife asked me to cover the stair treads that I was starting to beat up with countless trips up and down the stairs. I bought some Ramboard from Big Orange, cut the pieces to size, taped them together with duct tap and taped them in place with some scotch blue tape (for hardwood floors.
That detour took about two hours including an unexpected run to Big Orange to buy more blue tape.
Then, it was back into the theater to do some real work. My 5 year-old son asked me if he could help me in the theater. He made me smile. We put on his work gloves, and I showed him how to remove a drywall nail from a stud. Then, we got to work. He got the hang of it pretty quickly. He pulled nails from the bottom 3-4 feet of the wall. I took care of the top half, the ceiling and all of the dry wall screws.
After the nail pulling, I took all of the R-13 insulation out of the room to make it easier to see the wiring
You'll see that I demo'd the old soffit around the A/C duct. When BIG visited, he showed me how to build a smaller soffit that will be connected to the clips and channel. More on that design later. You'll see the fire sprinkler connected to the orange PVC. I need to have a plumber move that fire sprinkler about 2 inches closer to the duct and extend it down about 2 1/2 inches.
Next weekend, I plan to rewire the high voltage wiring in the room. I will move this existing switch from near the old door opening to the back wall of the theater.
The work will continue later this week
Clip and channel plan - feedback please
Did some thinking tonight about how I will install clips and channel. I created a few diagrams to layout the clip locations. I'll also use this to confirm the materials that I will order from Ted (IB-1 clips) and Allied (25 gauge hat channel)
All studs and joists are 16 inches on center. For the walls, I'm planning to install channels 24" OC with clips 48" on center. This should be adequate for OSB/GG/DW on the walls. For the ceiling, I'm planning to install channels 16" OC with clips 48" on center. That will provide a bit more holding capacity for soffits and lighting that will hang from the ceiling.
I'd love feedback from the expert theater builders. Do you see any issues with these diagrams?
Right wall clips and channel diagram
Rear wall clips and channel diagram. Does this approach work for a wall with a door? Do I have too many clips to the right of the door opening?
Ceiling clips and channel diagram
For the room, I've calculated ~160 IB-1 clips. Does that sound right?
My wallet is a a bit thinner this week..
I had sent Ted and John my layout last week. On Monday, John from The Soundproofing Company sent my estimate. We had a short conversation, he took my information and a couple days later this showed up:
Two 5 gallon pails of green glue
6 tubes of acuostical caulk
170 IB-1 clips
12 IB 3 brackets (for dead vents)
Zero Automatic Door bottom
Zero adjustable jamb system
My wife said the UPS guy had a big frown on his face because of the 40lb green glue pails. I still have quite a bit of supplies and equipment to buy. I hope UPS doesn't start to misplace future deliveries.
Thanks to John and Ted at The Soundproofing Company for the excellent customer service and speedy delivery.
Preparing for dead vent construction
After a lot of AVS research - that's what I call it when I spend 3 or 4 hours searching for information on a specific thing but end up reading build threads from beginning to end. I digress. After researching and talking to BIG, I've decided to build two dead vents for circulation.
The first dead vent will be a supply. Air will be pulled from the hallway under the stairs and into the front of the theater. The second dead vent will be a return. Air will be exhausted from the back of the room into the adjacent rec room. Both dead vents will be connected to inline fans, i.e., push-pull.
My basement and hallway should have enough fresh, conditioned air to keep the theater temperature comfortable. The theater is about 200 square feet. The rec room and hallway are over 700 square feet.
This post was very helpful to figure out the calculations
I went with the Fantech FG6 inline fan which is rated at 303 CFM at 0" static pressure. I should be able to run the fan at 60-75% speed and achieve the targeted 6-8 air exchanges per hour.
Later, I'll figure out how big the vents should be to minimize air speed and therefore air noise in the theater.
Also, starting to think about my color scheme
My wife and the interior designer who has been helping us with other areas of the house will have MAJOR input on this one. So, even though I'm weeks (maybe a couple months) away from paint and frames, I've started the color negotiations.
The starting point isthe colors that we had in the basement of our previous house. The floor was slate colored ceramic tile. The walls were a light grey (mineral ice) and we had an accent wall painted eggplant. I requested several samples from GOM. My wife and I picked three that we like from GOM's Anchorage line. 1) Aubergine, 2) Graphite and 3) Asteroid. Aubergine would be used for the upper panels. The lower panels would be Asteroid and the paint would be Graphite. Speaker grills would be black.
Here's a not so great picture of Aubergine, Graphite and Asteroid:
Comments welcome as always
Glad I could help
Glad I could be of some help! In the end I decided not to bother with venting my space due to several reasons, if it gets stuffy, I'll just open the door...
I hope yours works out well for you. Given the information you've found on AVS and your build progress, I'm sure you're aware of the dead vent construction methods so I won't go into that. If you want some help though just toss me a PM and I can share with you the details and info. that I gathered during my research.
In looking at your clip layout diagrams and pictures I figured I'd mention to keep an air space around that column. Be sure not to let the drywall or any part of the wall/ceiling framing touch it or all your hard earned time and money in sound isolation will be lost due to flanking of vibrations into the structure. I've read (not by experience) that sound isolation construction methods are all or nothing. You touch any part of your HT room against the structure and you excite the structure (vibrations travel from your HT into the rest of the home through the structure), a condition you do not want!
Not sure if you've found a good source for fabric, but I highly recommend Magna Fabrics. The owner is knowledgeable and they have great prices (the best I've found).
I'll check out Magna for GOM too.
New door framed
I spent some time in the theater on Sunday afternoon working on framing for the new theater entrance on the back wall. I had hoped the framing would take an hour or two at the most. Bad estimate.
I'm blaming the slow work on the electrical re-wiring that I had to do - even though most of the existing HV wiring will be removed in a couple weeks. Worth the effort, I think. I'm happy to have a couple weeks of lighting before I have to disconnect the electrical and move to a work light.
Here is a pic of the framing for the door:
Framing for next weekend: Close the old entrance and the equipment rack opening after the electrician pulls new 20A and 15A circuits into the closet / HT equipment room.
Supply Dead Vent - Construction day 1
Next, I started building the supply dead vent. I'm planning to pull air from the basement hallway under the stairs and into the theater on the right side.
The dead vent will go in this space under the stairs:
Air will enter the theater at the front right column. I haven't decided whether I'll put the supply vent in the bottom of the column or maybe I'll run the duct up to the soffit and install a vent there. Would it be strange to have one column look different than the rest?
See the 6 inch hole in the drywall where the supply will enter the room.
I started by creating a wood frame for the dead vent:
Then I did a test fit to figure out how to snake the 6" flex duct inside the dead vent without restricting air flow too much.
The test fit helped me figure out where to install insulated staples which I'll use to hold the duct in place inside the dead vent. You'll see some of the white insulated romex staples. I also added a bit of bracing.
Public Service Announcement: Thanks to my wife who helped me carry 12 sheets of 5/8 inch drywall from the garage around the house and downstairs into the basement!
Next, I worked on the first layer of drywall. Here is the much, much heavier box with one layer of drywall on all sides except the front. I'm leaving the front open to install the flexduct and the inline fan.
I was about to start installing the second layer of drywall with green glue in between when I realized that I made another beginner's mistake:
You can see the HD caulk gun is dwarfed by the 28oz Green Glue tube. Another wasted trip to Big Orange.
I found local building supply store that had 1/4 gallon caulk guns. 45 minutes later, I had what I needed.
Then, I was out of time. My first encounter with green glue will have to wait until I'm back from this week's work trips.
Next up: Complete the second layer of drywall and green glue. Build a base with pressure treated wood. Move dead vent to location under the stairs. Install flex duct and in-line fan.
Weekly progress update...
Made a bit of progress since the last post...
First, the under stairs "supply" dead vent is installed and connected to power. I still have to install DD/GG and an access door on the front.
After adding two layers of drywall with green glue to the dead vent frame, I moved the incredibly heavy box to its final resting place under the stairs.
I installed a 6-inch vent connector on right side of the box. Then I snaked the insulated flex duct in the dead vent. I was worried about crimping the flex duct which would restrict airflow. To avoid that, I had installed Romex staples in the box. I fed zip ties through the romex staples and then around the flex duct to hold it place.
Next, I built a mount for the Fantech inline fan. I used DC-03 clips on the mount to isolate the dead vent from fan vibrations.
The next project was to create an air intake in the basement hallway. This took waaaaaaay longer than expected. Big Orange did not have an intake that worked, so I built one from pieces that HD stocks. Basically I used a 6"x10" register boot and a couple pieces of sheet metal to create a 10"x10 "air intake box. That box is connected to the 6x10 register boot. The boot is connected to the 6" vent connector on the right side of the dead vent. Here is a picture of the 10"x10" intake box installed in the basement hallway.
I wasted about an hour wiring up the Fantech and installing a temporary switch so I could make sure the fan works. The picture below shows where air is discharged in the theater. The front right column will eventually hide the duct.
Power to the equipment closet and some more demo
Much of Sunday was spent running three new circuits from the power panel in the garage to the equipment closet. The distance is over 100 feet. We found a path that minimized drywall damage. We had to run romex up from the panel to the attic above the garage, then down a wall in the garage through the bottom plate into the basement utility room. From the utility room, the three circuits were run alongside an AC duct and into the front of the theater.
I don't have pictures of the electrical in progress, but I took a shot of the final product:
Since I had to remove drywall to install the two circuits and outlets, I ripped out existing drywall where the theater equipment rack will be installed. I have about 60" from floor to ceiling assuming that the rack is 23-24" wide.
I need to decide which rack to buy within the next week so that I can complete the framing.
Beginning the joist mufflers...
Last but not least, I was able to complete DD/GG for one of the 2 1/2 joist mufflers that have to be built. I didn't mind the green glue. I did mind the number of drywall cuts that I had to do to cover the top of the joist and the two sides.
Next, I will remove about half of the existing steel duct that is to the left of the joist muffler. I'll build a 9 foot joist muffler in that joist cavity.
The new flex duct will travel from the end of the steel duct through the 9 foot joist muffler to the back of the room. Then the flext duct will make a U-turn down and back up into the joist muffler pictured above. The flex duct will then run from the back of the theater to roughly 4' shy of the front wall. I will install the supply vent there.
That allows me to have both air supplies in the front of the room. And the supply connected to the HVAC will have roughly 20' of flex duct to help absorb sound before reaching the main HVAC duct.
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