I'm hijacking my first post to say this theater wrapped in December of 2018. If you want to see its final state, you can skip ahead to post 75
. Otherwise, grab some popcorn and take a 3 year journey through this thread and see how I built my second story budget theater
-----------Original First Post Below-----------
! I’ve seriously spent over a week trying to formulate this post to be as direct and no-nonsense as possible, but I’m cursed with being an engineer so please bear with me if I start to ramble. With that being said:
I’m simply looking for advice on how to best spend my money converting a room to a home theater. I can take criticism. This isn’t a thread where I’m going to get mad at anyone for not telling me what I want to hear. I may clarify my position and reasons for planning a certain way, BUT I am here to learn so in the end, my ears are open and my predispositions are managed.
My family and I have just moved into a new-to-us home that includes a finished upstairs 22’-10” x 14’-11” x 8’ - 6” rec room
. It has been my intention from when I first set eyes on it that it would be my new dedicated home theater.
Here are some pictures:
Seating / Riser Area:
Above Ceiling Access:
Limited Under Floor Access:
As you can see, I’m not kidding when I said we just moved in. The furniture and 65” Panny in the room have only just been roughly placed here. Incidentally, I’m not planning on using any of it.
Some easy observations you can take away from the pictures:
1. It has laminate flooring and wood ceilings so it will most likely ring like a bell as-is
2. It’s on the second floor
3. It’s light controlled
4. It’s finished and has HVAC plumbed
5. It’s contained within a house that makes extensive use of spray foam insulation bringing the attic envelope up to the roofline (and coincidentally creating a climate controlled attic). Great for access and possible projector ventilation, not so great for soundproofing.
I’ve been into building cars for 15 years now and frequent a lot of automotive forums. Whenever we have a newbie join us asking for help building a car we like them to state their goals so that we can help them better. I’m guessing that type of info is helpful here as well so here we go:
1. 16:9 Projector based using a false front wall and AT screen with viewing purposes tending towards 80% watching movies and 20% watching TV/Sports.
2. Two seating rows - 6-7 Seats with a raised rear row.
3. 7.1 Surround Sound
4. Simple IR Dimmed Lights
5. In Closet AV Rack
6. Acoustically Treated
7. Bass shakers!
8. Minimal Construction <= 6 Month Build Time *
9. Keep costs under $10k for the room not including electronics **
10. Projector hush / ventilation box (if I have money left in the budget)
I’m no stranger to long expensive personal projects. My latest is a 6 year car restoration that I’m just now wrapping up. This project in particular has taught me how dangerous scope creep can be. I’ve also learned that extending a project over a 6 year timeline can cause you to truly hate the process. I’m finished, but my love for the car I’ve built only slightly outweighs my hatred for it. After reading through some of the long builds here I know there are people here that can relate to that feeling.
I know this is going to be tough. This stems from a lot of reasons:
1. I’m an electrical / mechanical guy. I can do some construction, but it’s not where my talents lie
2. This is a finished second story rec room. This house was a hard sell in this area and was on the market for 8 months before my wife and I picked it up. I’d love to say we’ll never move, but I’m not that naive. On that topic, I’m very hesitant to take on a large construction project that limits the uses of the room, or lowers the resale value.
3. I’ve got other hobbies and the AVSforum sickness hasn’t fully caught me yet (for proof see my “what I’m working with” section later), so financially I can’t afford to support a fully decked out home theater.
4. I’m young and just starting a family so my family time is high priority. I can see myself taking a swing at building a house a high dollar theater from scratch once the kids are out of the house and I’m at the edge of retirement, but at this point in my life I don’t have that kind of time or money.
Things I’m willing to sacrifice in the name of my $10k budget:
1. Soundproofing. This is a biggie, but after a month of consideration I’m ready to axe it. It’s not that I don’t believe in it. I’ve read everything over at soundproofingcompany.com and buy into it all! But, despite people saying it’s ‘cheap’ I disagree. It’s expensive up front and it’s expensive from a time standpoint. This room is also upstairs so I won’t have the footsteps over my head. Finally, I’m on a 6 acre lot and my nearest neighbor is 1k ft away. This room DOES share walls with adjacent bedrooms and I fully expect the ceiling to leak sound like a sieve, but in order to meet my budget I’m willing to make the ultimate compromise and switch over to headphones for late night viewing. An option that my wife is firmly behind vs the cost / time involved with soundproofing.
5. Fancy Lighting. I’m happy with the existing cans and a dimmer I can control from my Harmony 900.
6. Premium AV equipment. #1 Has me making the compromise for no soundproofing and headphones so I definitely am not concerned with volume above reference or a sub that can hit 16Hz.
7. Popcorn machine / Bar / Fridge
8. 2.4:1 and CIH via zoom memory or anamorphic lens (unless I find a projector that I’m happy with that includes zoom memory as a feature (something I haven’t had any luck with))
Decisions / Work I think I can handle on my own with references on this forum (BUT welcome recommendations):
1. Electronics / Wiring / Automation / HTPC
2. AV Calibration
3. Projector Selection (Although I’d be happy to hear recommendations for a ~$1.5k 90% 2D 10% 3D projector)
4. Screen Wall (following BIGmouth’s minimalist approach)
5. Speaker Placement
6. Seating selection
Decision / Work I could very much use help on:
1. General best-bang-for-buck advise relating to the goals above and my restrictive budget
2. Advice on room acoustic treatments *
3. Screen size / type recommendations based on my room size. On the same subject, seating position related to recommended screen size.
4. Riser construction. A simple approach, I’m not trying to make a bass trap. Also, ideas for making it something I can rip / saw out without destroying the room if I have to sell my house down the road.
5. Any other advice that you can offer. I’m all ears! Also feel free to address anything I’ve left out or comment on any plans I’m making that you think are a bad idea. I’d also dig pointers to similar
I’m hoping to have a pretty decent size chunk of my budget for this. I like offerings from gikacoustics.com and would like to have money to buy panels / traps from them vs DIY, but DIY is still an option. That being said, I’m really lost on what to do for the floor / ceiling. I don’t know if a cloud type of treatment on the ceiling will be enough or if I need to look into other options. Similarly, while I’m not putting my foot down on redoing the floor, I’d like to avoid axing the laminate completely if a thick rug will do.
What I’m working with
1. Onkyo HT-S6100 HTIB from 2008:
Other than the various input sources like my HTPC, DVR, etc and my Harmony 900 RF remote that’s pretty much it. It’s a modest setup for sure, but I’ve been very happy with it since I bought it and it has a rudimentary Audyssey tuning feature. I’m willing to explore upgrading this, or even just starting out with slightly upgraded speakers (considering built-ins for the surrounds) but for now I think this will do to get started with.
Any advice is greatly appreciated!