ElementML's compact dedicated build: 120" + 7.2.2 theatre & wet bar packed into 200sf - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 49 Old 04-17-2016, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
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ElementML's compact dedicated build: 120" + 7.2.2 theatre & wet bar packed into 200sf

Well, this has been a long time coming -- according to my registration date, I've been lurking on AVS for almost eight years (!!!) and this is my first post. I've had various incarnations of systems over the past 15 years or so, but this will be my first stab at building a dedicated room so I thought a build thread was warranted. AVS has been an huge source of knowledge and inspiration for me over the years - I'd love feedback from the community on my build and would be more than happy to answer any questions along the way.

Forgive me for spreading the rest of this background info out over a handful of posts - apparently I need a minimum of five in order to post images, and everyone knows this thread is worthless without pics!

Goals & Priorities

Our home is work-in-progress new construction, and the media room will be mostly finished when we take possession. As a result, this build won't be nearly as DIY as many of the theatres on AVS. That said, our builder is great to work with and I largely have control over the framing, wiring, finishes, etc. The only real limitations I need to work within are the major features of the floor plan (e.g. location of load-bearing beams, stairs, overall size of the basement) and the placement of HVAC ducting.

To frame up my thinking for the build, my priorities (in no particular order) are as follows:
  • A fully dedicated room
  • Complete light control
  • Separate equipment closet
  • Upgrade my current 84" screen to 100"+
  • Upgrade my current 2.0 audio to 7.1+
  • Decent acoustic treatment (no soundproofing on this one)
  • Listening and viewing positions optimized for me but comfortable for the rest of the family
  • Wet bar w/ beer fridge, popcorn maker, snacks, etc.

I'll definitely be the primary user, with roughly a 40/40/15/5 split between movies, television, music and gaming. The wife isn't as enthusiastic () about my hobby as I am, but she'll hang out and watch a movie or two with me. We also have an 8-month old now and are planning on a couple more kids, so while I'll be optimizing based on my preferences and a single "sweet spot", I also want the room to be very comfortable for family movie nights down the road. I've had some form of home theatre setup for years and have very rarely had visitors over for a screening, so I'm not concerned with having a bunch of "just in case" seating available.

While I don't plan on hosting any parties in the room, I do plan on stocking enough stout and single-malt to do so should the need suddenly arise. I'm planning on a small wet bar (~6' long) with a sink, beer fridge, and a pair of wall-mounted shelves for liquor bottles and glassware. I'm also hoping to have room on the counter for a popcorn machine to lure the wife into the basement a little more often.

As for budget, the basic construction of the room, flooring, paint, etc. is already included in the overall budget for the house. Wiring and infrastructure upgrades will cost extra, as will the plumbing and millwork for the bar - I expect about $5K total for both of these. I'm also planning for roughly $10K in equipment upgrades spread out over the next year or so. I can get things up and running for about half of that, and the rest are nice-to-haves can be added later. I've not yet budgeted for acoustic treatments and light control - I have some early ideas about what might be required, but I've definitely got more research to do. Hoping to stay in the <$1K range here if possible.

More coming...
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post #2 of 49 Old 04-17-2016, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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The Room

Did I mention, the media room is a bit... cozy? While I had carte blanche from the wife over the configuration of the basement, I did need to fit my home office and a full bath, plus the mechanical room and some storage, so the media room isn't huge. The final layout puts the room at roughly 200 square feet, 15'7" x 14', with 9' ceilings.

Here is the standard basement layout for our floor plan:


I ended up flipping the layout so that the bedroom (will be used as the office) is in the northwest corner and the media room is in the southwest corner. While the NW corner would have allowed for an extra few feet of length, I preferred the SW corner for a couple of reasons. First, it placed the media room adjacent to the storage area under the stairs, which is an ideal location for my equipment closet. Second, I knew I wanted to remove the windows from the media room, and the window in the NW corner had a view of the backyard while the window in the SW corner was facing the neighbour's house. This gives me better natural light in the office, and total light control in the media room. Finally, I added a door to the media room to fully enclose the space.

The final plans with my modifications:


And the media room only, with dimensions:
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post #3 of 49 Old 04-17-2016, 10:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Wiring & Infrastructure

Head End
I decided early on that I wanted the house to have a centralized head-end where all of the structured cabling would terminate, including audio, video, voice and data. As mentioned in the previous post, I was able to place the head-end adjacent to the media room, allowing the media room gear to be controlled from inside the room and the wiring to be accessible via the closet.

I'll be racking my gear in a Middle Atlantic Slim 5 (20" 21 RU configuration). The builder has framed in an opening about 36" off the floor to expose the front of the rack in the media room. The opening will be finished with the same trim as the rest of the house, and I've also ordered the anodized trim kits from Middle Atlantic and custom anodized faceplates for non-rackable components. The sides and rear of the rack will remain open. The voice and data panel will be flush mounted adjacent to the rack, and I'll rack my network gear on the top of the rack using the back posts.

Media Room
The media room will be pre-wired for 7.2.2 audio, plus HDMI, Cat5e and electrical at the projector. For future-proofing, I'm also running 1 1/4" flexible conduit to the projector.

Great Room TV
In the great room, we're having a recess built into our fireplace buildout to facilitate flush mounting a 50"-class panel (probably a Vizio P50). I'll provide more detail on this installation later in case anyone is interested, but from a wiring perspective, the recess will have HDMI, Cat5e and conduit home runs to the head end.

Whole Home Audio
We're also pre-wiring for three other audio zones: great room / dining room / kitchen, master / ensuite, and back yard. These will mostly be used for background music, so we're just planning on two in-ceiling single stereo speakers in each of the two indoor zones, and a pair of standard outdoor speakers wall-mounted over the deck.
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post #4 of 49 Old 04-17-2016, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Equipment

Tentative Equipment List:
  • Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 8350
  • Darbee DVP-5000S (?)
  • Carada Criterion 104" 16:9
  • Denon AVR-3311CI
  • Emotiva XPA-2 Gen2 (?)
  • Emotiva XPA-5 Gen2 (?)
  • 2x Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v5
  • 1x Paradigm Reference Studio CC-690 v5 (?)
  • 4x Paradigm Reference Studio ADP-590 v5
  • 2x SVS SB-1000 (?)
  • Oppo Digital BDP-103D (?)
  • Sony PlayStation 3
  • 3x Sonos Connect:Amp

Video
Out of the gate, I'll be using my existing projector, an Epson 8350. I've been pretty satisfied with the PQ from the Epson, and I think I can squeeze another year or two out of it until native 4K projectors start shipping at the <$2K price point. I'm hoping that the light control measures in my new space will improve perceived black levels, and I'm considering adding a Darbee into the mix to ensure that I'm getting the most out of the Epson's performance.

I'm currently using up an 84" Carada Criterion 16:9 screen, which has been excellent, but will be too small for the new room. I've listed it for sale, and am planning to pick up a new 104" or 106" fixed frame screen. I'll have to do some research on this, but it's quite possible I'll just buy another Carada.

Audio
For audio, I'll be expanding my existing 2.0 setup to 7.2 (and eventually 7.2.2). My previous system consisted of a pair of Paradigm Studio 20 v5's driven by a Denon AVR-3311CI. When I purchased these speakers initially, my plan was to eventually buy a matching pair of Studio 100's and a CC-690 centre, and move the 20's to surround duty. Unfortunately, that plan didn't quite materialize quickly enough, and Paradigm discontinued the Studio line before I was able to pull the trigger. So, I'm now keeping my eye on the second-hand market to complete my system.

I was able pick up four used ADP-590s in mint condition at a great price, and will use those for side and rear surrounds. My priority now is to find a CC-690, which is proving somewhat difficult, particularly with the Piano Black finish to match my 20's. If I do find one, I'll likely stick with the 20's up front and fill in the low end with smallish dual subs. If I don't find one, plan B is to go with a new Prestige 55C and hope that it pairs reasonably well with the 20s (...or bite the bullet and replace the 20s with a pair of Prestige 75F towers ).

As for the subwoofers, my current thinking is a pair of SVS SB1000's. I don't particularly care about chest-thumping lows - I just want clean, smooth bass that isn't too boomy and doesn't overpower the rest of the soundtrack. I also don't want huge enclosures that dominate the aesthetics of the front of the room. Given these goals and the small size of the room the SB1000's seem like a good fit, but I'm definitely open to recommendations.

While I'll be pre-wiring for two Atmos channels, these won't be utilized immediately, as the 3311CI doesn't decode Atmos. I'll need to upgrade the receiver (or move to a separate pre-pro) in a year or two to support a 4K projector, so I'll most likely hold off and deploy Atmos speakers at the same time.

I had originally been planning on adding an Emotiva XPA-2 and XPA-5 for amplification, though I may need to reevaluate this plan. For one thing, it looks like I might have missed the boat on the Gen2 XPA models, and the Gen3 gear is significantly more expensive. Additionally, my decision to pre-wire for Atmos introduces a new twist: if I do go with a separate pre-pro, I'll need amplification for an additional two channels - an XPA-2/XPA-7 combo might be a better fit, or perhaps two XPA-5's. In any case, the 3311CI can drive 7.2 well enough to get me by for now, so this isn't a huge short-term priority.

Sources
Currently, I'm using network streaming (AirPlay and Chromecast) exclusively for audio and video transport from both local sources (Plex Media Server) and Internet sources (Netflix etc). I quite like this setup, but I'll need to beef things up a bit to take advantage of the upgraded audio, since AirPlay and Chromecast don't support 7.1 or any of the HD Audio codecs. I also want the option to play physical BluRay discs again until there is a streaming service available (in Canada) that can reliably deliver high bitrate content with HD Audio at a reasonable price. I'm thinking about three potential options:
  • Build a lightweight HTPC with a chipset that can bitstream all of the HD Audio codecs (e.g. a Skylake NUC) and run Plex Media Player or Kodi as the front-end. Put a standalone Darbee DVP-5000S inline to handle video processing for all sources.
  • Buy an Oppo BDP-103D with the integrated Darbee processor. Use the Oppo to play BluRay, stream Netflix directly and use the DLNA client to stream other content from Plex Media Server. I'm not sure how well this will work - I'm sure the user experience for the DLNA client won't be nearly as nice as Plex or Kodi, and I'll have to do some research regarding streaming quality/reliability.
  • Do both. Use the Oppo to play BluRay media and use the HTPC to play all other sources. Pipe the HTPC video through the Oppo's HDMI input to get the Darbee processing. I think this route offers the most flexibility, but is also the most expensive. I'm also not sure whether the Oppo's HDMI input will pass through HD Audio streams unmolested.

I clearly have some additional research to do on this front before making a decision.

For WHA, I'm currently leaning toward a Sonos system. I like the simplicity of this system and the fact that my wife and other visitors can easily control it via smartphone or tablet. I'll likely go with a Connect:Amp unit for each zone, and drive two 8 ohm stereo speakers in parallel from each unit. Will make a decision on this later, and WHA probably won't be in place for several months after we close.
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post #5 of 49 Old 04-17-2016, 10:58 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm planning to lay the room out like so:



This rendering is pretty much drawn to scale.

The room will essentially be divided into two zones (for lack of a better word):
  • The theatre zone, comprising the 10' x 15'7" area on the left.
  • The bar zone, comprising the 4' x 8'4" area on the right.

The two zones will be distinguished visually through both framing and finishes. The laminate flooring from the rest of the basement will carry through the doorway and into the bar zone (facilitating easier cleanup of spilled drinks or water splashing from the sink), while the theatre zone will be carpeted with thick, charcoal coloured carpet. The ceiling heights will also vary: the theatre zone will get the full 9' ceiling, while the bar area will drop to 8' to accommodate duct work. I'm mulling over the idea of putting in a tray ceiling in the theatre zone, roughly 1' wide by 6" high - this would be purely aesthetic though, so I'm not sure if it's worth the bother.

The alcove created by the entry door forms a natural proscenium, and that location therefore seems like an obvious choice for the screen wall. At this point, I'm planning on wall mounting the screen in order to get the projector throw and viewing distance I need for a 104" screen, but a false wall + AT setup could also work nicely here in the future. With the wall-mounted setup, I plan to turn the alcove into a black hole by wrapping the interior walls and ceiling with light-sucking black velvet.

Speaker placements are somewhat rough at this point, and may move a few inches one way or another before the wiring goes in. I'd love input on the locations of the side, rear and height channels relative to the seating, if anyone has any opinions! The side speakers in particular will be the most challenging due to the uneven distances to the listening position - I'll have to let Audyssey try to work some magic and correct the levels as best possible.

For seating, I'll initially be using the large sectional as depicted in the rendering - I may replace this with a row of slim recliners later, but for the time being it's comfortable and will fit the entire family without problems. I tried to get as far off the back wall as possible while maintaining the optimal viewing distance to the screen. Obviously I don't have much room to move laterally - I need to leave enough of an aisle to easily access the bar.

Finally, you can see the rack location adjacent to the bar. I've left the area in front of the rack as open as possible to give plenty of space when working with the equipment.
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post #6 of 49 Old 04-19-2016, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
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A few snapshots of the room shortly after it was framed:

Screen wall


Back wall


Side wall with the rack opening framed in


Equipment closet
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post #7 of 49 Old 04-20-2016, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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The electrical and low-voltage wiring started today, so I had to finalize speaker and lighting locations. The diagram below is where I landed:



The blue rings are pot lights. I pulled the two pots closest to the screen wall back a bit further just in case I decide to go A/T in the future. Also, as previously mentioned I may still decide to add a 1' wide soffit to form a tray ceiling in the theatre zone, so I made sure to leave enough room for that beside the Atmos speakers and pots. It's possible the HVAC bulkhead may mess with my desired lighting locations over the bar - I expect to find out in the next day or two if the installers run into any issues.
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post #8 of 49 Old 04-28-2016, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElementML View Post
The alcove created by the entry door forms a natural proscenium, and that location therefore seems like an obvious choice for the screen wall. At this point, I'm planning on wall mounting the screen in order to get the projector throw and viewing distance I need for a 104" screen, but a false wall + AT setup could also work nicely here in the future. With the wall-mounted setup, I plan to turn the alcove into a black hole by wrapping the interior walls and ceiling with light-sucking black velvet.
So, I've been thinking more about going with an AT setup. I know many on AVS consider it to be far superior, and I can definitely see a few potential wins:
  • More placement flexibility for my mains, getting them off the side walls and able to optimize for the best soundstage
  • I would have the option of adding a third Studio 20 for my centre, which might be more practical since I'm not having much luck tracking down a matching CC-690
  • I could fit a larger screen - in the 120" range
  • Eliminate any possibility of projector light reflecting off the piano black finish on my speakers

Initially, I was worried about throw distance and viewing distance. Building out the screen wall with enough depth for my speakers would carve off at minimum 18" from my room length, and maybe more like 24".

This would reduce the viewing distance from about 12' to 10-10.5'. Assuming a 120" diagonal 16:9 screen, I'd be in the range of 1.15-1.21x screen width. I think this would create an immersive experience without being overwhelmingly close, but it's hard to say. I'll probably have to fire up my projector for some tests and see how I feel about it.

The other issue is that the throw distance for the projector would be in the range of 11'9" to 12'3". According to the Projector Central calculator, the closest I can get for a 120" is 11'10". Obviously this is right at the edge of my projectors capabilities - I'd prefer a bit more breathing room for mounting etc. The other factor is that the Epson has a relatively flexible zoom, and it also has a smaller footprint than many other projectors. While this setup could work today, I'm a bit afraid that I'll back myself into a corner when it comes time to upgrade. For example, the JVC X500 has a minimum throw of 12'3", and the unit is 3" deeper than the Epson - those extra 8" could mean not being able to light up my entire screen. Maybe the solution is simply to go with a 116" screen instead to give myself a bit more breathing room.

Anyway, thoughts and advice more than welcome...
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post #9 of 49 Old 05-15-2016, 06:29 AM - Thread Starter
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*tap tap* Is this thing on? I feel a bit like I'm talking to myself here, but I'll keep posting updates for a while longer in case anyone is following along.

I've decided to go AT. I found a guy selling a single Studio 20 in mint condition and for a reasonable price, so I pulled the trigger - it should arrive in the next couple of days. I won't be drowning in power with three bookshelf speakers up front, but volume was never one of my goals. I'm fairly confident that the two subs will fill out the bottom end nicely, and I'm hoping that the SQ benefits of placing the LCRs behind the screen with proper vertical alignment will outweigh the lack of raw output -- especially given my small room size.

I'm planning on imitating Big's minimalist false wall design, and leaning toward a DIY screen with Seymour Center Stage UF material. Since the LCRs will all easily fit behind the screen, I'll likely wrap my fabric frames with Fidelio velvet - my understanding is that the subs can sit behind this material without any issues.

The room is otherwise coming along nicely - drywall is up and taping and mudding should be done in the next day or so. There was too much happening during our last visit to get any photos, but I'm hoping to snap some progress shots shortly.
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post #10 of 49 Old 07-07-2016, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Things are cruising right along with construction, and barring any unforeseen craziness, we'll be in the house by the end of July. I visited this morning to put together the equipment rack and dry fit it so the builder could determine exactly how to trim in the wall opening. I grabbed a few quick photos on my phone:

Screen wall with audio plates for LCR and dual subs. The false wall will consume about half of the depth of the nook, leaving a couple feet free below the dimmer switches. I may do a stage out to the corner at some point.


Entry door and rack location.


Rough-in for the wetbar and speaker wire drop for the side surround above.


Equipment closet. All of the network cabling terminates inside the panel, and I'll probably remove the door to so that the cable bundle can be routed up to the switch at the top of the rack. Speaker wire for the media room and WHA locations drop in above the rack, alongside brush plates for the great room and media room conduit. To secure the rack, we'll probably bolt it to the 2x4 blocking at top and bottom, and support the base with an MDF shelf attached to the studs.


You can also see the carpet and laminate in the photos. The carpet looks quite a bit darker in person. Paint colours are not final - the builder's painter wanted to charge more to do the dark gray (apparently it would have required additional coats, which is debatable, but in any case...) so I had them paint it with the same colour scheme as the office. I'll choose the final paint colour and finish the job myself after we move in. At this point, I'm planning on Iron Mountain from Benjamin Moore for the walls, trim, door and the ceiling under the soffit, and then black for the rest of the ceiling.

In other updates, I picked up a Vizio P50-C1 for the great room, but it's staying in the box until we move - painful!
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post #11 of 49 Old 09-15-2016, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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We are moved into the house and after dealing with unpacking and other priorities, I was finally able to make some progress in the theatre.

Screen wall with LCR speakers. I still need to pick up a third Paradigm J-29 stand, hopefully on the second-hand market, and order my subs.


Seating, side and rear surrounds installed, projector hung (more on that in a second).



Rack trimmed in, Denon 3311 racked up and looking pretty lonely... Need to fill that puppy up with some gear ASAP


For the projector install, I picked up a Chief RPMAU mount, and was planning on bolting it flush to the ceiling into blocking under the drywall. Unfortunately, it turns out the wiring guys didn't install the blocking before the drywall went in. The nearest ceiling joist was too far forward given the limited depth of my room, so I moved on to Plan B.

Initially I picked up some beefy SnapTogglers, and my initial plan was to just hang straight from the drywall. I figured dropping the projector would just give me an excuse to pick up a shiny new one, but I couldn't stomach the possibility of it falling on someone's head during movie time, so I chickened out.

For Plan C (pictured), I picked up a sheet of 3/4" MDF and cut an 18x12" panel as the structural support, plus two small "wings" to aesthetically tie the panel into the wall and obscure the view of the conduit brush plate and electrical outlet. I bevelled the sides at 30 degrees with my mitre saw. The wings were attached with pocket screws using my Kreg jig. I then bolted the entire piece to the ceiling with six 1/4" lag bolts - the two front bolts are into the nearest joist, and the other four into strapping. The whole thing, including the bolts, will be painted flat black at the same time as the ceiling - I'm hoping it will pretty much disappear once painted.




This setup works pretty well structurally, but I'm not 100% happy with the placement. The projector is still a bit too far forward - it's tough to tell from the photo, but there is roughly an 8" gap from the back of the projector to the wall. I think I can get away with 4" and still have enough breathing room for cabling or a larger projector in the future. I'm planning to take a second crack at the mounting panel. For the next iteration, I'll construct the whole thing from a single piece of MDF that goes all the way back to the wall. I'll pick up a jigsaw to cut out two form-fitting holes for the conduit and electrical plates, and bolt the mount ~4" closer to the wall. I'd also like to countersink the lag bolts and try to find some black anodized bolts to keep the look as clean as possible.

Finally, I finished running and terminating all of the cabling. I picked up a 25' active HDMI cable from Monoprice and cut a 25' length of Cat5e to run to the projector. The wiring guys also neglected to leave a pull string in the conduit, so I was concerned that pulling the cables was going to be a pain in the ass. I taped the bundle together with electrical tape and tapered the tip, and tried pushing the bundle through the conduit from the projector end. Luckily, the HDMI cable was fairly stiff and the bundle went through after a couple of attempts. I terminated all of the speaker cables with banana plugs (also Monoprice) and hooked up the receiver. The theatre is now functional with bare bones audio and video (breaking the golden rule of theatre construction, I know...)

Next up - deciding on a final screen size and starting construction of the false screen wall.
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post #12 of 49 Old 09-15-2016, 07:29 PM
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You can get right angle hdmi adapters and right angle power cords to connect to the back of the projector if you need extra room to move pj back (monoprice carries them). Room looks great!
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post #13 of 49 Old 09-15-2016, 07:52 PM
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Nice room. I'm surprised you didn't have any feedback before. I just found this thread today and I'm posting so you'll know somebody is reading what you wrote.
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post #14 of 49 Old 01-26-2017, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmhug View Post
You can get right angle hdmi adapters and right angle power cords to connect to the back of the projector if you need extra room to move pj back (monoprice carries them). Room looks great!
Thanks for the tip! I'm redoing the projector mount now and will definitely look into the right angle connectors.
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post #15 of 49 Old 01-26-2017, 06:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Nice room. I'm surprised you didn't have any feedback before. I just found this thread today and I'm posting so you'll know somebody is reading what you wrote.
Thanks markelbat - appreciate the response, I'll definitely keep posting.
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post #16 of 49 Old 01-26-2017, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
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It's been way too long since the last update - my room IS still progressing, albeit slowly. My ambitions have definitely grown as well, which has necessitated a fair bit of additional research.

Stage construction
I ultimately decided to go ahead and build a stage, and it's structurally complete at this point but without finishings. I went with a simple rectangular design, 3' deep by 10' wide by 7" high. Though the design was very straightforward, I ended up going through two iterations of construction before settling on the third approach.

Before building, I had to do some minor demo work to make room for the stage. The wall-to-wall measurement was 120.5", and I wanted to leave at least a 1/4" air gap between the stage frame and the walls. I needed to remove the existing baseboard to accomplish this, but wanted to keep the baseboard in good shape so I could reuse it to finish the front edge of the stage. I scored the caulk with a painter's multi-tool, used a flush cut saw to cut the baseboard, pulled it from the wall with a trim pry bar, and removed the nails with a pair of end-cutting pliers.

Next, I rolled back 3' of carpet and removed the existing tack strips from the concrete pad. I cut the carpet and the underlay such that it would just clear the frame of the stage and tuck cleanly under the repurposed baseboard. I purchased new tack strips and a 22 oz framing hammer, and secured the tack strips to the concrete in the new location. This was a lot harder than I expected, as you really have to swing the hammer fairly hard and make perfect contact with the concrete nail in order to drive it in cleanly - the concrete crumbled very easily on any mis-hits. After numerous attempts, I got enough nails in to hold the tack strips securely. I didn't bother renting a knee-kicker to stretch the carpet over the new tacks. I figured that since the carpet had already been stretched during the initial install and all of the existing tack strips on the sides of the room were still intact, I could just pull it as tight as I could manually over the new tacks. It feels secure and doesn't look any different than the rest of the room. If I see any trouble with it as construction progresses, I'll stretch and re-secure it properly. Since I wasn't going to use treated lumber for the stage, I laid a layer of roofing felt on the concrete pad.

Initially, I built the frame with 2x4 stock and had planned to add multiple layers of OSB decking to get it up to the desired height. When I went to buy the OSB, the thickest I could find without tongue and groove was only 1/2", so it was going to take 7 layers. At three 4x8 sheets required to cover two layers of decking, the cost and hassle added up quickly and I went back to the drawing board.

For the second attempt, I rebuilt the frame with 2x6s so that I could get by with half as much decking. This worked much better from a height perspective, since I could use just 3 layers of 1/2" OSB. However, the stage rocked considerably from side to side. I bought the straightest lumber I could find, and also messed around with using shims to try and level the box, but I still wasn't satisfied. At that point I realized that the concrete pad itself wasn't level -- I should have anticipated this from the beginning!

So, for the third and final attempt, I ended up building two separate boxes that are fastened at at the centre. I still used 2x6's for the frame, but I replaced the inside "joists" with 2x4s hung on joist hangers, reducing the number of possibly problematic contact points with the concrete pad. Each box slopes very slightly down from the middle of the room to the sides, but the rocking problem is gone.

I had originally intended to fill the stage with sand, but after reading through the conclusions found in this thread, I decided to just stuff it with fiberglass insulation and call it a day. I bought some cheap R20 batts designed for 2x6 walls, cut them down to size with a jab saw and filled the joist cavities. I stapled down a layer of roofing felt to the frame members to keep the insulation in place and moved on to the decking.

As stated above, I used three layers of 1/2" OSB. The edge of the first layer sits flush with the front frame member, while the next two layers overhang by 3/4". I laid roofing felt between each of the layers to minimize squeaking, and then used an impact driver to sink 3 1/2" decking screws down through all three layers into the joists and frame.

Here is how things stand after the above steps:


The screen wall will sit 18" from the back wall, leaving about 18" of the stage exposed in the room that needs to be finished. The baseboard I pulled off previously will be cleaned up and nailed into the front of the frame under the decking overhang. This aligns vertically with the existing baseboard, and will tie the front of the stage seamlessly in with the sidewalls. All of the trim will be painted a dark gray. I'm planning to have a local hardwood stair manufacturer mill a custom 18" deep and 1 3/4" high false tread that will sit flush with the top of the trim and cover the decking with a 3/4" lip. The tread will be stained to match the walnut style laminate in the bar area of the room. The bottom fabric panel will slot into the 3/4" gap remaining between the back edge of the tread and the screen wall framing. For the portion of the stage behind the screen wall, I plan to trim and lay down the leftover carpet and underlay, providing a cushioned surface for the speakers and subwoofers to sit on.

That's it for now. Next post, I'll cover my plans for the ceiling (soffits, tray lighting, projector mount, etc.) and current thinking re: screen size and screen wall construction.
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Last edited by ElementML; 01-26-2017 at 10:15 AM.
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post #17 of 49 Old 09-06-2017, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Aaaaand eight months later, here we are... I realize now why some of the build threads here are multi-year sagas!

Analysis paralysis got the best of me for probably 5-6 months while I waffled back and forth on various approaches to building the screen wall and trying to decide whether to do anything fun with the ceiling or just keep things simple. I ultimately pulled the trigger on building out soffits to add some visual interest with LED accent lighting and an integrated enclosure for the projector.


DIY Screen

First, I had to decide on a target screen size. I'm limited both by the 10' width of my screen wall and the maximum throw distance afforded by the length of the room (max 12' after deducting the 18" lost to the false wall and roughly 24" from the back wall to the projector lens). I knew I wanted 16x9 in order to maximize screen area given the limited width. I landed on a 120" diagonal screen, which I think is realistically the largest screen I can fit in my room. I toyed with going all the way up to 130" -- this could in theory have worked with my Epson 8350 since it has very flexible zoom and shift capabilities, but it would have been operating at the very limits of the projector's range and I was too worried about backing myself into a corner with respect to future projector upgrades. Even at 120" I'm anticipating that a significant number of projector options won't be viable, and I may need to stick with Epson moving forward to make it work.

I went DIY for my screen this time around. While I loved the fit and finish of my aluminum Carada Criterion screen, the bang for the buck of DIY made too much sense in this case to justify spending the extra cash on a commercial screen. I ordered Center Stage UF material from Seymour AV, as well as their Baritone velvet to wrap the frame and surrounding wall panels. After striking out at all the big box stores, I ended up sourcing some nice 7/8" poplar boards from a local hardwood speciality store for the screen frame and surrounding fabric panels. I used 3.5" boards for the screen frame, and had the supplier chamfer the interior edge for me in their shop. After measuring and re-measuring about 85 times, I cut the boards to length and mitred the corners myself. I followed these instructions from Seymour pretty closely (without the the fancy biscuit joints) to wrap and assemble the frame. I've not yet attached the screen material itself, as I don't really have anywhere to store the finished screen during construction. I'm going to wait until drywall and the other messy stuff is done before finishing it off.


Screen wall construction

I had originally intended to follow BIGmouthinDC's minimalist approach for the screen wall, but ended up deviating a bit for a few reasons. I did construct two "goal posts" with a crossbar to hang the screen frame from, but mounted the goal posts flush with the side walls rather than freestanding toward the interior of the stage like BIG usually does. This made more sense in my case because including the frame, the 120" screen would occupy 112" of the available 120" width of the screen wall, leaving 4" on either side to be filled with fabric panels - I wanted the goal posts to support both the frame and panels and not to interfere at all with placement of speakers behind the screen fabric. Additionally, I wanted the screen wall to support much of the load of the soffit above the stage rather than simply hanging the soffit frame off the ceiling joists, which called for beefier construction than the 5/4" pine boards BIG recommends.

I ended up with 6.5" wide goal posts consisting of sistered 2x4 studs with spacers in between. The outside studs run floor to ceiling, and the inside studs are 13.5" shorter to support a flat 2x4 header running between the posts. The sole plates of the posts are screwed into the stage decking, and the outside studs are screwed into the adjacent walls. I employed steel channel on the ceiling simply to keep everything aligned and screwed the channel into strapping boards in the ceiling.

I then attached a 2x4 "railing" to the studs in the back wall with 4" framing nails, at the same height as the header. I cantilevered 2x4 crossbeams 16" on center across the top of the railing and the header to form the bottom of the soffit, and added 2x4 uprights secured to the ceiling with the steel channel. The soffit is 12" high to match the existing soffit that conceals the duct work above the bar area, and 36" deep (of which 18" will be visible in the room). The uprights are set back 6" from the front edge, creating a tray for the lighting strips.

This design seems to have worked out pretty well, with the exception that levelling the soffit was a huge pain in the ass -- I put the crossbeams up and ripped them down probably three times before getting it straight. I finally picked up a cross-line laser level and mounted it to a camera tripod stacked on top of a bunch of storage containers in order to beam a line across the face of the crossbeams. I then cut a ton of shims of varying widths from scrap 2x4, and sandwiched the shims between the crossbeams and the header to bring all of the crossbeams into alignment. This was tedious as hell but the end product turned out okay (I think...).

Here's a photo of the screen wall and soffit before the crossbar was installed:


For the crossbar, I face-mounted a 2x4 to the goal posts using low profile joist hangers. The crossbar is set back 3/4" from the front surface of the goal posts in order to fit the french cleat (cut from a 6' length of pine 1x4) while allowing the screen frame to lay flush against the goal posts. I glued and screwed the other half of the french cleat to the top member of the screen frame.

Here's a photo of the screen frame hanging on the crossbar:


I used the same 7/8" poplar to construct fabric panels for the remainder of the screen wall. I used 2.5" boards for the frames above and below the screen. These panels are 10' wide, so I added two 4" mid-span supports. I secured the corners with steel L- brackets and the mid-span supports with steel T-brackets. For the left and right panels, I simply cut solid 4" wide boards to length. I wrapped everything in the same Baritone velvet that I used for the screen frame. The frames were designed to friction fit and they stay in place very well without any fasteners. I may still add a bit of velcro to play it safe.

One annoying mistake I made here was to make the top and bottom panels the full width of the screen wall. While I did leave 1/8" clearance when cutting the frames to accomodate the velvet, and the fit is great once the panels are in place, getting them into place is pretty painful. I have to try to line the panels up and maneouver them straight back more than 3', which is tough for one person given the 10' width of the panel. The fact that the drywall isn't perfectly straight exacerbates the problem and I have to apply a bit of force to push past the imperfections, which scuffs up the walls a bit. Not a big deal during construction, but once the final paint is applied to those walls it's certainly going to be annoying and I'll likely avoid removing these frames unless absolutely necessary. If I did it again, I would make the top and bottom panels the same width as the screen frame, and run the left and right panels from stage to soffit. In hindsight, this approach would have made it a lot easier to move the panels around without damaging the walls. But, I'm out of velvet, so it's not going to change now.

Here's a photo with all of the fabric panels in place around the screen frame:


The velvet really does it's job inhaling the light, making it tough to get a good picture -- this one almost looks photoshopped. I can't wait to see it with the screen fabric in place and the lights off.


Rear soffit construction

I then turned my attention to the rear wall, where I planned to build a similar soffit, 12" high and 24" deep with the same 6" lighting tray. I also wanted to integrate an enclosure / poor-man's hush box for the projector. I started by ripping down the projector mount and mounting plate shown in my previous posts, and cutting a sizeable hole in the ceiling drywall to determine the location of ceiling joists to secure the soffit to.

At this point, I was still planning on using my Chief RPMAU mount inside the enclosure, as I felt it would be superior to shelf mounting with respect to being able to accurately dial in the roll, pitch and yaw of the projector. So, before closing up the ceiling, I installed additional blocking between the joists, moved some less than ideally located electrical lines out of the way as much of possible and fashioned a new mounting plate out of 1/2" plywood that would sit flush with the surrounding drywall. I started with a 24x24" sheet and used a jigsaw to cut holes for the conduit and electrical outlets. I screwed the plate into the new blocking, giving me a nice uniform surface to attach the mount to, with confidence that it could easily support the weight of the projector. It turned out that this work was all for naught in the end -- even flush mounted to the new plate, the RPMAU still dropped the projector too far from the ceiling to fit nicely within the soffit enclosure. My Epson 8350 would have barely fit (maybe 1/2" to spare), but after researching some of the popular 4K projectors and finding that they were all 1-2" taller than my 8350, I realized that I needed to decide between using the Chief mount or doing the soffit enclosure. I chose the latter, and now need to find a buyer to offload my virtually unused RPMAU.

Moving on to the soffit itself, the first thing I did was nail another 10' long 2x4 railing to the wall studs. Then, I cut two 4' lengths of 2x6 and secured these with 3.5" lag bolts to the one ceiling joist that fell within the interior dimensions of the soffit. I would have preferred to use 2x4 here, but the location of the joist was such that I needed the additional 2" to span the gap between the joist and the desired location of the front of the soffit. Otherwise, the soffit would have been 22" deep rather than 24", and I wanted the full 24" to ensure that a deeper projector would easily fit within the enclosure. I used 2x4s for the uprights and crossbeams, and secured these to the railings using 3x3" steel corner brackets. I used 2x6 crossbeams at the edges of the projector enclosure, providing a 2" lip for the projector shelf to sit on. I also used beefier 5x5" corner brackets to secure these crossbeams and their respective uprights. Finally, I cut interior walls and a shelf for the enclosure out of 1/2" ply. Levelling this soffit was much more straight forward with the laser level and corner brackets, no shims or other hacks necessary.

I popped the projector into the enclosure temporarily and fired it up to ensure that the throw distance and vertical shift calculations I had done were reliable -- all systems go!




Sidewall soffit construction

With the front and rear soffits in place, I moved on to the sidewalls. My plan here was to extend the 6" lighting tray to create visual symmetry around the perimeter of the theater area. Unfortunately, this plan fell apart relatively quickly and I'm still figuring out how to proceed.

The exterior wall was relatively straight forward - I nailed another 2x4 railing into the studs, and attached stubby 2x4 beams to the railing with the same 3x3" corner brackets. I used the laser level to ensure alignment with the crossbeams on the front and rear soffits.



I was going to attach a 2x2 nailer at the top of the wall and then install drywall or fabric frames on the vertical surface above the tray, to match the treatment of the front and rear. Before finishing this off, I started working on the other side of the room, which is where the plan fell apart. On this side, I needed to attach the lighting tray to the vertical surface of the existing soffit rather than to a full wall. I had stupidly assumed that the soffit was framed conventionally with wood the same as the rest of the house, but when I broke out my studfinder to locate the uprights to attach my 2x4 railing to, I couldn't find a thing. After many profanities, I cut a hole in the drywall to figure out what the heck was going on. As it turned out, there WERE no uprights! The builder had used steel channel and studs like so:



I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with this method given the intended purpose of the soffit, but it certainly makes my life more difficult because I don't have anything of substance to carry the load of the railing plus nine 2x4 beams to support the tray. I would have been okay punching some beefy toggle anchors through steel uprights, but there aren't any -- the only thing behind the railing location is 1/2" drywall.

I'm still kicking myself because I should have anticipated this much earlier in the build and confirmed what was there before getting everything else done. I thought briefly about tearing out the soffit entirely and reframing it with wood, but all of that extra work for a minor aesthetic improvement was pretty damn unappealing. I also didn't know if I would need to pull a permit to do it because the soffit houses a couple of LED potlights. Instead, I rage quit and tore down the tray I had just installed on the other side of the room.

Back to the drawing board. I'm still thinking of alternative approaches to extend my tray around the sidewalls, with a low enough load that I can feel confident attaching a ~12' run to a single piece of steel channel that is only supported vertically by a sheet of drywall. If anyone has any suggestions on this front, I would be very open to hearing them! If I can't figure anything out here that feels right, I'm going to scrap the tray on the sides and just stick with two independent lighting strips in the front and rear, which sucks, but I suppose won't be the end of the world.


Next steps

In my next post, I'll detail my plans for:
  • Finishing the projector enclosure (including active temperature control)
  • Finishing the lighting tray and soffit surfaces
  • Acoustic treatments for the soffits and screen wall
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post #18 of 49 Old 09-06-2017, 12:07 PM
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Is that a custom couch?? I'm dealing with a small theater space as well (about 180sq ft) and that couch would work wonders!
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post #19 of 49 Old 09-07-2017, 06:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by reazsal View Post
Is that a custom couch?? I'm dealing with a small theater space as well (about 180sq ft) and that couch would work wonders!
Nope - we picked it up from a local furniture store that is no longer in business. They called it the "Troy" sectional with ottoman, and it was from a line called "Loft". Ours is white-labelled with the name of the store and there aren't any other manufacturer details on it, but I'm fairly certain it's a mass produced piece as I've seen it (or something very close anywhere) elsewhere.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElementML View Post
The velvet really does it's job inhaling the light, making it tough to get a good picture -- this one almost looks photoshopped. I can't wait to see it with the screen fabric in place and the lights off.
Be careful with the velvet. If you put too much up, you're going to want to do the entire room in it.

The room is looking great! Please keep us updated.
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Originally Posted by Spyderturbo007 View Post
Be careful with the velvet. If you put too much up, you're going to want to do the entire room in it.
You weren't kidding -- I've already decided to do more! Now planning to build out the shadow box by 12" with additional coverage on the walls, soffit bottom and stage.
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Progress has continued, albeit slowly over the past few months with the arrival of our twin baby girls in August -- time is scarce to say the least, but they are in enough of a routine now that I've been able to sneak in 2-3 hours per week after everyone else goes to bed.

Since the last update, I completed the insulation work, including acoustic treatments for the screen wall and a bass trap in the rear soffit.

After struggling for a long while to source the materials that most others use (OC703, Linacoustic), I bit the bullet and purchased alternative products from two different local insulation suppliers. I bought two cases of 2" Roxul ProRox SL 930 NA (previously marketed as RHT 40) and a single case of 1" Knauf Atmosphere duct liner. The Roxul product is 4lb mineral wool in an unfaced, semi-rigid panel -- I used this as an alternative to OC703. The Knauf duct liner is basically the same product as Linacoustic RC, but sold in 2"x4" panels rather than a continuos roll. Buying this stuff locally was much more cost efficient (~50% cheaper) than ordering OC or Linacoustic from the US and getting killed by the exchange rate, shipping fees and customs duties. I plan to use the higher density version of the ProRox panels for acoustic panels later on.

For the screen wall, I attempted to emulate some of the popular builds as much as possible, with some concessions due to limited depth behind my screen wall. I incorporated as much LFE absorption as possible with DIY SuperChunks in the corners and leveraging the soffit cavity for additional bass trapping. The soffit cavity contains about 25 cubic feet of low density absorptive material. I lined the perimeters with the ProRox panels for stability, and filled the remainder of the cavity with batts of pink fluffy.

For the SuperChunks, I cut the ProRox into triangles with a 6" "flange" such that I could sandwich them perfectly between the goal posts and the wall. The traps extend 18" from the side wall, and the diagonal face is roughly 20". Each 2x4' panel of ProRox produced exactly six layers for the SuperChunk without any scrap. Worth noting that a $10 insulation saw was money very well spent, it cut the panels like a hot knife through butter! I had originally planned to run the SuperChunks all the way from the stage to the soffit, but the placement of speaker wire terminations and electrical outlets interfered. I investigated moving these, but it was simply too much work in exchange for an extra 12" of absorption. Instead, I built shelves out of scrap plywood and 1x4 and installed these 12" off the stage for the SuperChunks to sit on, clearing all of the outlets.

Here is a photo of one of the SuperChunks installed:



With all of the insulation in place, I moved on to blacking out all of the materials to eliminate light reflections from the projector. First, I painted all of the exposed framing and wall surfaces with factory flat black paint from Dulux - this is the same stuff I plan to use on the ceiling, so it was a good trial run. I then picked up inexpensive black burlap material from a local fabric store to cover up the exposed insulation. For the bottom soffit face, I simply cut the fabric to fit and stapled it in place along the soffit framing. The SuperChunks were more complicated -- while I could simply staple the fabric into the back of the goal posts on one side, I needed to devise a suitable method for stapling the other side while keeping the fabric nice and taut. I ended up cutting four lengths of pine 1x4 to the same height as the trap, and bevelled one edge of each board to 26 degrees such that it would butt up perfectly against the diagonal edge of the insulation. I removed the insulation, stapled the fabric to the goal post, and then put the insulation back in. I then fastened the first 1x4 to the wall using drywall anchors such that the bevelled edge butted up against the insulation to hold it in place. I pulled the fabric tight across the face of the insulation, and sandwiched it between this first 1x4 and a second 1x4, which was also positioned such that the bevelled edge was flush with the face of the insulation. This left the outer ~1/2" of the face of the first 1x4 exposed, and I stapled the fabric to this face. Finally, I screwed the second 1x4 into the first, keeping everything nice and tight. I trimmed the excess fabric to fit, and wrapped the bottom edge around the lip of the shelf before stapling it in place. Since the cheap burlap material is not fire-rated like the (much more expensive) GOM, I treated it all with a fire retardant spray to be on the safe side.

Two-face! Half of the screen wall painted and wrapped. You can also see one of the duct liner panels leaning against the wall.



After finishing the traps, I moved on to the remaining area of exposed front wall. While the current recommendation is to apply 4" or more of absorption to the front wall, I simply didn't have enough real estate to do this without putting my speakers too close to the screen material or sacrificing the option of placing my subwoofers behind the screen. I opted for the outdated method instead, employing two layers of the 1" duct liner with a sheet of 6 mil poly sandwiched in between.

One challenge I had with the duct liner is that I bought exactly enough of it to cover the front wall with two layers -- there was no room for error here, so I needed to be very careful about calculating my cuts to the panels. At $140 per case, the additional caution to get it right was worth the budget savings compared to buying extra. I measured three times, cut once, and it all worked out pretty damn well. The area around the outlets in the middle was the trickiest part, as I had to leverage the excess trimmed off the larger panels to fill this area in. I think in the end it took at least 5 separate pieces of duct liner fit together like a puzzle to make it happen.

To secure the duct liner in place, I used 2 1/2" self-stick insulation hangers -- these are essentially a nail attached to a little metal square with an adhesive backing. They come with washers that slide over the nail, and then you cut or bend the excess portion of the nail once the washer is in place. I stuck the hangers directly to the drywall, very carefully impaled the duct liner on the hangers, and spray painted the washers flat black so they would disappear against the black face of the duct liner. Note that the washers weren't yet installed when I took the photo below.

Here is a shot of the finished front wall with all of the paint, fabric and duct liner installed. I'm pretty proud of how this turned out -- even though I'll probably be the only one that ever sees behind the screen, knowing that things are in good order back there is strangely satisfying.



Since the rear soffit is really just there for aesthetic reasons, the cavities to left and right of the projector enclosure were empty and therefore offered another great opportunity for hidden LFE absorption. Using the same approach as the front soffit, I lined the bottom of the cavity with the remaining ProRox panels for stability, and then filled the rest of the space with more pink fluffy. In total, there is roughly 8 cubic feet of insulation in the soffit.

I plan to finish the vertical face of the soffit with drywall, and cover the bottom face with velvet-wrapped frames -- my thinking is that the velvet will be transparent enough to transmit low frequencies while reflecting some of the higher frequencies. I could also add a layer of 6 mil poly between the insulation and the fabric frame for additional reflection if necessary - I'll likely measure with and without it before making a decision.

Here is a photo of the soffit with insulation installed. Also pictured are the new holes in the ceiling for the Atmos speakers to be installed at a later date.



As for other acoustic treatments, my plan is to pick up a UMIK-1 and measure the room with REW after hanging drywall and moving the big sectional back into the listening position in order to determine what I need in the way of additional absorption and/or diffusion. I anticipate that at minimum I'll be building and installing acoustic panels at the first reflection points on walls and ceiling, as well as treating the back wall.

Finally, a couple of updates on equipment selections. For the Atmos speakers in my 7.2.2 setup, I ordered a pair of 8" carbon fiber speakers from Monoprice. They were incredibly inexpensive, appear to be solidly constructed, and have received good reviews from buyers on the site. I'm going to give them a shot and see how they sound -- worst case scenario I'll use them elsewhere in the house and spend more on a pair from Paradigm that more closely matches my existing Paradigm Studio gear.

I also pulled the trigger on a pair of SVS SB12-NSD subwoofers during the Black Friday sale. I had originally been considering a pair of SB-1000's, but with the Black Friday pricing on the SB12-NSD it was still less expensive to bring these in from the US directly from SVS than to buy the SB-1000's from a Canadian dealer. My understanding is that the performance of the SB12-NSD approaches that of the SB-2000, which would have run me an extra $800 CAD for a pair. This is my first real foray into high quality subwoofers, and while I'm sure they are wildly inferior to the gear a lot of you are running I'm cautiously optimistic that they'll do my small room justice. I can't wait to get them hooked up and find out!



That's all for now, more updates and questions coming soonish....
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post #23 of 49 Old 12-20-2017, 11:05 AM
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Great job detailing the build. I’m at a similar stage with a small space so your screen wall build detail was quite helpful.

Have you fired up the projector and screen yet?
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post #24 of 49 Old 12-20-2017, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Great job detailing the build. I’m at a similar stage with a small space so your screen wall build detail was quite helpful.
Cool, glad someone found it useful! Let me know if you have any questions about the details that I didn't cover in my posts.

Quote:
Have you fired up the projector and screen yet?
I wish... I still haven't attached the screen fabric to the frame - I've been holding off until the screen wall is "final" in case I have to make adjustments to mounting location, the surrounding fabric panels, etc. I don't think I'd be able to get the screen on and off the mounting cleat by myself once the fabric is in place.

I had the projector in place temporarily, aimed at a sheet just to double check that I could achieve the 120" diagonal image with my throw distance constraints. I did also use this projector in a living room setup for a few years, so there shouldn't be many surprises there. I'm cautiously optimistic that the image will be bit better due to the much better light control in this new space.
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post #25 of 49 Old 01-04-2018, 08:31 AM
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Hi ElementML,

Hope you and your family enjoyed the festive holidays. Did you manage to sneak in a few hours to work on the HT?

It's a nice build you've got going there! Seems like you are making good use of the space available. I feel sorry that you had to pull down your side soffit again. It's always annoying when you have to take a few steps back, losing precious hours in the process.

Looking forward to seeing your continued progress (subscribed). Make sure to keep the pictures coming

My Small Home Theater Build
JVC RS400 / 110" 2.40:1 Curved DIY AT Screen w. Masking / Prismasonic A-Lens / Marantz SR7011 / Emotiva XPA-5 / Behringer EP4000 / Oppo UDP-203 / PS4 Pro / Apple TV 4K / 7.2.2 Surround / DIY LCR's / 4xFI IB3 15" IB Sub
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post #26 of 49 Old 01-04-2018, 09:13 AM
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Lovely looking setup.

I may have missed it but how are you handling HVAC? Assuming this is a closed off space, you'll probably need more airflow, and especially more AC, than a normal room would require. (I found this out the hard way.)

Also, the height of your surround and back speakers are not ideal for ATMOS. One usually wants to keep those speakers to no more than 1 feet about seated ear height, to differentiate them from the overhead speakers.

What are the plans for acoustic treatment?
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post #27 of 49 Old 01-05-2018, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Chris View Post
Hi ElementML,

Hope you and your family enjoyed the festive holidays. Did you manage to sneak in a few hours to work on the HT?

It's a nice build you've got going there! Seems like you are making good use of the space available. I feel sorry that you had to pull down your side soffit again. It's always annoying when you have to take a few steps back, losing precious hours in the process.

Looking forward to seeing your continued progress (subscribed). Make sure to keep the pictures coming
Thanks Little Chris -- appreciate the kind words and encouragement!

The holidays were nuts, not much time to spare for the theatre, but I did find an hour or two to reinstall the carpet on the stage. Will snap some photos and include those in my next update.

Yeah, the side soffit was certainly a pain in the ass. I do have a revised design in mind that I think will work with the constraints of the existing soffit framing, and I'll be giving that a go over the next week or so. Hopefully it pans out this time, as I really want to get the drywall work done by the end of the month. I feel like that's the last major hurdle to getting things up and running.
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post #28 of 49 Old 01-05-2018, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nathan_h View Post
I may have missed it but how are you handling HVAC? Assuming this is a closed off space, you'll probably need more airflow, and especially more AC, than a normal room would require. (I found this out the hard way.)
I have two supplies from my ducted heat pump (AC) in the ceiling, but no return in the room -- the nearest is just outside the entry door in the hallway. Soundproofing was not a goal for this build, so the room is not tightly sealed (e.g. there is a gap under the entry door), but I am still somewhat concerned about the impact on air circulation of not having a return in the room. I actually started another thread soliciting input on this topic a couple of weeks ago -- it's here if you're interested. I think where I stand today is that I need to do some testing with the gear running to determine what will really be necessary, and go from there.

Quote:
Also, the height of your surround and back speakers are not ideal for ATMOS. One usually wants to keep those speakers to no more than 1 feet about seated ear height, to differentiate them from the overhead speakers.
When I had the prewire done, I followed Paradigm's installation specs which called for the surrounds to be mounted at about 6', which is why they're so high. This was a mistake, as the speakers (and thus the installation recommendations) came out before Atmos was really a consideration, and therefore the specs were based on a 7.1 configuration without any height channels. I'm planning to move them down before the rest of the drywall work is done.

Quote:
What are the plans for acoustic treatment?
Aside from the SuperChunks etc as detailed in the last post, I've not yet finalized this. I know I'll need more absorption, and perhaps some diffusion, on the walls and ceiling. Once the drywall work is done and I can move the furniture back into the room, I plan to measure with REW to help determine exactly what I need. I expect I'll be at least building DIY panels for the first reflection points (walls, ceiling) and the back wall, just not sure of the details (location, thickness, air gaps, etc). Any suggestions in this area would certainly be very welcome!
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post #29 of 49 Old 01-05-2018, 01:18 PM
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Good yes, for comfort you will want an air return in the room, as far away from the air supply as possible.
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post #30 of 49 Old 01-15-2018, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
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My son brought home an absolutely brutal flu from daycare shortly after my last post and managed to infect the rest of the family, so we've all been pretty miserable for the past two weeks. As a result, I haven't made any more progress at this point. Feeling better today, and anxious to get back to work on the theatre this week.

I did promise a couple of (very poor, apparently -- sorry) photos of the carpeted the stage. This was pretty straight forward: I cut and nailed down some tack strips around the perimeter of the stage, cut and laid down the carpet pad inside the tack strips, cut the carpet to accommodate the screen goal posts and then laid the carpet down on the strips. I didn't bother with a knee kicker or anything, so the carpet isn't super tight, but I don't think it'll be an issue given the non-existent traffic in that area.





As mentioned previously the thread, I plan to contract a local hardwood stair installer to mill a custom nosing to finish the lip. The nosing will be stained to match the walnut laminate in the bar area of the room, and will extend back about 6" from the edge of the stage.

I'll also dig into the archives for update material by revisiting my post from back in April 2016, in which I outlined a few different options for audio/video sources that I was considering:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElementML View Post
Currently, I'm using network streaming (AirPlay and Chromecast) exclusively for audio and video transport from both local sources (Plex Media Server) and Internet sources (Netflix etc). I quite like this setup, but I'll need to beef things up a bit to take advantage of the upgraded audio, since AirPlay and Chromecast don't support 7.1 or any of the HD Audio codecs. I also want the option to play physical BluRay discs again until there is a streaming service available (in Canada) that can reliably deliver high bitrate content with HD Audio at a reasonable price. I'm thinking about three potential options:
  • Build a lightweight HTPC with a chipset that can bitstream all of the HD Audio codecs (e.g. a Skylake NUC) and run Plex Media Player or Kodi as the front-end. Put a standalone Darbee DVP-5000S inline to handle video processing for all sources.
  • Buy an Oppo BDP-103D with the integrated Darbee processor. Use the Oppo to play BluRay, stream Netflix directly and use the DLNA client to stream other content from Plex Media Server. I'm not sure how well this will work - I'm sure the user experience for the DLNA client won't be nearly as nice as Plex or Kodi, and I'll have to do some research regarding streaming quality/reliability.
  • Do both. Use the Oppo to play BluRay media and use the HTPC to play all other sources. Pipe the HTPC video through the Oppo's HDMI input to get the Darbee processing. I think this route offers the most flexibility, but is also the most expensive. I'm also not sure whether the Oppo's HDMI input will pass through HD Audio streams unmolested.
I did end up building an HTPC / media server back in March. Currently, it's being used primarily as a Plex Media Server back-end, streaming content to our Chromecast equipped TVs in the great room and master bedroom, as well as a backup target for our other machines. The machine will also serve as the front-end in the theatre using either Kodi or Plex Media Player as the primary user interface. I also have it connected to the great room TV via a long HDMI run through conduit in order to direct play native 4K material without worrying about streaming hiccups. In practice, this hasn't been necessary as the Chromecast receiver built into our Vizio P55-C1 has been rock solid.



Specs for the machine are as follows:
  • Ubuntu 17.04
  • Fractal Design Node 605 HTPC chassis
  • Intel Core i5-7500 Kaby Lake 3.4 GHz processor
  • ASRock H270 Pro4 motherboard
  • 16GB G.SKILL Aegis DDR4 2400 memory
  • Samsung 850 EVO 256GB SSD
  • 2x HGST Deskstar NAS 8TB 7200RPM HDD (ZFS mirror)
  • EVGA SuperNova 650 G1 PSU

I'll pick up a dedicated video card once I upgrade the rest of my gear to 4K; in the meantime the Kaby Lake / H270 combo should handle my 1080P video and lossless audio without a problem. I also need to order a custom rack shelf for the Node 605 from Middle Atlantic and get the machine off of my office desk.

Finally, I can still see myself reluctantly adding a 4K Oppo player into the mix later on, since it seems that Blu-Ray will continue to offer a significant edge on audio and video performance for the foreseeable future. At $30 per title and virtually no options for renting locally, I'd really love to be rid of physical discs forever. Alas, it doesn't seem like the streaming companies are going to step up with a truly high fidelity offering in Canada anytime soon.
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