First post here, but I've been haunting the forums for a few years now as this project has progressed (steady by jerks!). I really appreciate the wealth of knowledge and I've tried to incorporate best practices from here in a way to meet design needs and minimize compromises. Whether or not I've managed to execute the project in that way I can't yet say.
My father and I started construction on my house way back in spring of 2014. The theater was finally functional about a month ago. I have been collecting movies to watch "some day", so I now have a 2-year catalog of movies I wanted to see but didn't in anticipation of finishing this. Since then it has been a thrill-a-minute experience, but I recognize there is some room for improvement and was hoping for some sage advice/suggestions from this community. Thanks in advance!
When I did the drawings for the room back in 2014, the Atmos specification was pretty new and I decided on a 9.1.4 configuration that would be biased toward the 2nd row of seating. The space I had to work with was within the second level of the house, over a portion of the garage. I tried to follow the "golden rule" in dimensions, with the room coming in at 12Wx16Lx8H. The goal was to build something that has an authentic theater feel and didn't try to double as a lounge/living room. I have a rec room for general media use, this is mainly for movies. At the design time, I followed Dolby's guidelines for speaker placement as I planned to use all architectural speakers. I used some of the calculators on this forum to determine speaker/seat placement. The front row is compromised a bit as it is near the minimum distance from the screen, but I like occasionally viewing from the front row as it reminds me of that "big" feeling of sitting near the front row in a commercial theater. I've biased the sound field for the 2nd row of seating, but the front row is also good from my experience, but this is one reason I'm here. I'd like to understand how to balance the room better for both rows, but from what I can find the consensus is to create a most used "best spot" and accept the compromise elsewhere.
I have always liked how Klipsch speakers sound, so that part was an easy choice for me personally (I was thankful to be able to make a decision like this without too much consternation!). I hoped that AVRs would support this format by the time I was ready, but that didn't happen. I was surprised how long mid-level units even supported 11 channels. A 13.2 preamp and a pair of 7-channel amps was just not in the budget, and Denon released the x6300h the same month I installed speakers, so I settled on a 7.1.4 configuration until a mythical 13.2 AVR arrives (or I make the jump to preamp/amp setup).
The speakers are:
FR, FL, C - R-5502-W II
Front Wide, Surround - R-5650-W II
Rear Surround - R-5650-S II (wider sound field bi-directional horns)
Ceiling - CDT-5650-C II (Can pivot in the assembly, they are "aimed" ~45* to the listening position)
Sub - R-112SW (I also have an R-115SW that is in the rec room)
The AVR, as mentioned, is the Denon x6300h
(which, unfortunately has a date with Denon service). When is enabled I can hear a buzzing noise through all speakers at >-10db volume. I think I know what might be contributing this, but I will post a reply with the Audyssey curves later.
I settled on a 120" 16:9 Carada Criteron
screen and projection is from an Epson 5040ub
. I have nothing to compare these to, but I am continually impressed how good "enhanced" 1080p content looks and "downsampled" "faux-K" is excellent at my viewing distances (8' and 12'). Response time seems good for gaming, too.
For seating, I went back and forth between lounge type chairs and something more "authentic". I settled on Dolphin Star seats from Midwest Theater Seating. I've been very happy with them and people seem to like them as well. Every once in a while I get that authentic "this cushion is a little to hard" real theater feel! I've got some memory foam foot rests to add a little "lounging comfort", but overall I'm happy with these.
The original plan was to have rows of 4, but I felt it placed the end seats too close to the side surrounds. My family of 3 is the primary user and we have enough space to have some friends over, so capacity fits our needs.
Anyways, I could write a book on the machinations I went through to get to this point. The rest of the house has met my every expectation and I'm blessed to be able to have had the experience with my father and to enjoy a space designed exactly how I wanted it. Can't ask for much more in life.
Without further ado, I was hoping to get some feedback/critiques and some suggestions about how to:
Approach sound dampening
I really don't notice a lot of reflection/echo in the room. I found two spots where a clap makes a strong reflection and this is on either side of the room between the rows of seating. A clap if followed by a strong reflection/snap back. The rest of the room (walking around clapping like an idiot) doesn't produce any strong feedback. I also noticed that I have quite a bit of diagonal reflection from the front left/right channels in the opposite rear corners. When listening to pink noise from the front left or right, I get enough reflection from the opposite rear corner to make it sound like there is an active driver in the right or left rear corner, respectively...this can't be good.
Configure Unused Front Wide Channel as Side Surround for Front Row
I'd like to repurpose the unused front wide channel to act as a side surround for the front row of seating. I understand combing is an issue with driving these side surrounds in duplication. I have a 2-channel amp I can connect to the preout for this channel, but balancing the power between the AVR driven pair and the external amp pair would be difficult. Should I drive all four speakers using an external amp? What about running them in series or parallel from the AVR (assuming the resulting 4 or 16 ohm load doesn't cause issues)?
General Calibration Tips / Subwoofer Optimization
I knew placing the subwoofer in the wall would create some issues, and, overall, the bass is good, but I think there is some perceivable imaging to its location and it is much stronger in the rear left seat than any other seat. Would bass traps in rear corners help here? I am considering adding a second identical subwoofer to the left front. Any other ideas for bass management in this room? As mentioned above, I also have an R-115SW 15" sub that I could use, but I thought this might be a bit "big" for the room and a 12" driver (or 2) would be "tighter".
I see I'm asking a lot, firstly just to read the wall of text above, but I do appreciate the advice/experience here and look forward to a continuous improvement process until I hit a 95% good enough level (maybe 98%!).