The Spartan Theater!
After eleven years of living in our home, which we had built in 2006, we finally decided to pull the trigger and finish our basement. It was always part of the master plan, but life just happened, and finances weren’t really in place to allow us to proceed. But with our two sons in high school now, my wife and I felt it was important to finish the “recreation space” of our home so our guys can enjoy it as well before college.
As part of the finish, we’ve always wanted to have a dedicated room, designed and built for us to enjoy movies as a family, something we love to do. So in our very simple design, we’ve carved out the space and are already moving forward in the build process.
A couple of notes about me…First, yes, I'm a Michigan State alumni and fan...hence the name. The overall theme in our basement will be a sports theme, highlighting the MSU Spartans. Not sure about the theater colors, but there will no doubt be some influence in there too. Second, I’ve done some basic building with a few friends, but I’m not an expert in any way, and am limited in my experience. So if you’re like me, and wondering if you can do it, hopefully this thread can help give you some encouragement. I’ve learned so much from the other builds on the forum, and the great members found here as well as great online content across the web related to construction technique. So I hope my process might help others. But, all that said, I am going to need insight as I go, so I welcome feedback! Third, while my budget is very modest, I want to do it right so we can enjoy the room for years to come! My main inspiration is the “"Better Late Than Never" Build”, which matches our room size pretty closely, and I just love the look of his theater.
Here are some of the basic specs…
16’ 2” wide
20’ 10” long
Our ceilings are a bit of a challenge due to the layout of the ducts in our basement. The front 1/3 of the room (the screen wall) unfortunately, is only going to be about 7’7” high when finished. While we poured 9' walls for our build, the soffit I have to build to surround my home’s duct work is just going to have to be that low. The rear 2/3 will be about 8’ 10”. This difference will be incorporated into my soffit design, and is what it is!
Equipment List (updated 9/22/19)
Projector – Sony VPL-VW385ES 4K SXRD Home Cinema Projector
Screen – Silver Ticket 125", 2.35 scope screen
AVR – Integra DRX-R1 run in 7.2.4
AMP - Emotiva A-700 7 Channel Amp for LCR & 4 Side Surrounds
Front R,C,L – 1099s DIYSG (Originally were HTM-12s)
Surround R&L – 4x Volt 6 Coaxial DIYSG
Rear R&L – 2x Volt 6 Coaxial DIYSG
Atmos – 4x Volt 6 Coaxial DIYSG
Front Subs – 4x Cyclops 18 Subs (2x Dayton Audio RSS460HO-4 18" drivers, 2x Dayton Audio UM18-22 18" drivers) all powered by an HDC10000Q 4/ch amp
Rear Subs – 2x Custom Subs (2x Dayton Audio UM18-22 18" drivers) powered by a Behringer iNuke NU6000DSP amp
BOSS Platforms - 7x JBL CX1200 12" subs (1 per chair) powered by a Behringer NX3000D amp
Bass Transducers - AuraSound AST-2B-4 Pro Bass Shakers (1 per chair) powered by a Behringer iNuke NU1000DSP amp
Streaming Devices - Nvidia Shield (Plex/VUDU/Tidal/YouTubeTV player), XBox One S (Secondary)
Plex Media Server - IBM Thinkpad W530 Laptop with an i7 using an 8TB USB WD Drive
BD Player - Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player
Remote – iRule on iOS (iPad Mini)
Lighting Control - Lutron Caseta Pro Equipment
Seating - 7 Palliser Flicks Chairs
LED Lights - Hitlights Luma10 RGB strips
HVAC - Zoned System (ZoneFirst Dampers) with Honeywell Wifi Thermostat (Control in iRule)
So here we go!
Here is the space...
Subscribed! Looking forward to watching!
The Space & Initial Framing
Here are a few older photos (hopefully showing correctly) of the preliminary framing. I started this process in January of 2016, and was hit with lymphoma about 1 week into the build. As a result, life kinda came to a halt as did the build. I'm grateful to share that I'm cancer free and feel great. As a result, we dug back just before Christmas. Father/Son bonding! :)
My wall prep was a coat of Drylok paint (latex version), then 2" XPS foam around the entire perimeter, with anywhere between a 1/4" to 1" gap between the 2x4 framing and foam. Walls are framed with 2x4's, 16" OC with a double wall planned between the theater and main living space. I'm going insulate (either fiberglass or recycle cotton) in the ceiling and walls. I also insulated under the concrete before it was poured when the house was built.
I will be using materials to sound "proof" the room, but am ok if there are few things that aren't perfect. I just want to minimize sound transfer and I think have realistic expectations.
This is looking from the side towards the theater and music room in the background. You'll notice the walls go all the way to the joists. I have realized that was a mistake and will be cutting those shorter so I can place IB-3 clips between. You'll see in other photos that I made that mistake around the entire room. Oops! Fortunately, the two side walls are attached to blocks between the joists, so I can easily raise those up and use IB-3 clips for decoupling, without having to shorten the walls.
This is looking from the rear, towards the screen wall. You can see the ducts and beam I have to deal with. I debated on rotating the theater 90 degrees, but I didn't want the pole to be in the way, and it would have created a much narrower space. I think with a 2.35 screen, the height issue will be ok. Hoping so!
This is from the front left corner of the theater room, looking toward the main living area.
So that brings us to where things stand right now...I've built the soffits in the room, but have decided I'm going to take the the three soffits in the rear part of the room down, and instead will place them inside the drywall as done by others. Fortunately only one soffit has the cross pieces, so the "ladders" are all I have to take down on two of them. The front soffit is set and will remain and will be clip and channeled, as will the whole ceiling.
You might wonder why there are blocks between the studs in the middle and bottom. After things sat for a year, I had many studs twisting and warping terribly in the walls. The blocks allowed me to correct things and know they won't do it again. The blocks at the base are because I plan to use Dricore flooring tiles (which add about 5/8" of height to the floor) and I wanted plenty of backing for attaching base board around the walls. I also switched to screwing almost everything rather than nailing. Maybe overkill, but figured it can't hurt.
Looks great so far!
How much space do you have between the doors and the front wall? I was curious if some of your first reflection points would end up on those doors. If so, and assuming you plan on treating the room, you might have to place some treatments on those doors.
Were you thinking of putting your equipment in the music room closet? I have seen some neat equipment cabinets built into the wall. Seems like that might be an option with your layout. Or maybe an IB sub arrangement, which could be cool. :)
Oh, and reading your theme plan made me remember something. My wife is a big disney fan. I had planned to have an aluminum cutout (1/4" thick) made of mickey mouse (brushed steel look) as a surprise. I had planned to mount it an inch or so off an acoustic panel with LED strip lighting behind it. You have probably seen similar effects where lighting from behind makes a shape stand out. Obviously, I ended up not using the idea, but if you were to put a spartan in your room (like your avatar) that might look neat. :)
I also ordered a sample pack from Acoustimac which should be there by Friday. Figure that will be good to have so I can pick a fabric color and match the rest of the paint and decor to it. I've read good things about their fabrics.
Nothing real exciting to report, however I am proceeding forward....by taking a few steps backwards. I thought I'd share this just in hopes that maybe someone else might learn from my "mistake."
I had built the walls and the soffits, before fully understanding sound proofing techniques. As a result, my walls all went up to the joists, as did the soffits. After reading many other build threads, and talking with Ted and John at the Soundproofing Company, I decided to do it right. That meant using IB-3 clips to decouple the walls from the joists, IB-1 clips to clip and channel the ceiling, and the main soffit under the ducts, and Green Glue and sealant for the drywall. So I pulled the trigger, ordered it all, and it all arrived in two days!
So my first step was to remove three of my soffits. I'm going to put those back up once the drywall is in place, but am going to use MDF for the face and bottom instead of drywall.
Then I cut all of the studs down by 1"
Then I dropped the top plate down and put the IB-3 clips in place. My side walls were a bit easier as the top plates connected to blocks between the joists. So I just removed those and were able to place the IB-3 clips sideways to decouple the walls.
Here is the rear wall done! With a reciprocating saw it really was a pretty easy process. I'm glad I did it, and now have the walls decoupled from the joists.
So my lesson learned is to plan, plan, plan! Had I done more planning in the first place, I could have saved this extra step. And I knew that I only have one chance to do it right. While I debated back and forth on just living with it, I really want my room to be right and figured the extra effort and cost was worth it!
While playing around, I put some tape up to get a feel for screen size. I'm going to go 2.35 I think, and either 120" or 130" wide. The tape on the wall is between the two. I'm leaning toward 130", figuring I can always mask it if I don't want that big after all. We'll see.
I also ordered a sample pack from Acoustimac, just to begin to think of a color scheme. Don't know if their fabric is what I'll choose, but it's great to see all their different options and how they make panels.
Back to work! :)
Rework is a pain, but I think you will be glad you did it.
Everything is looking good!
Have you laid out your clip pattern yet?
I was also wondering about the HVAC supply pictured in the rear wall photo. Will that be the final penetration point? Do you have any plans to add mufflers?
I haven't laid out the IB-1 clip pattern yet. I've read the docs from TSC pretty close, so I hope to get those installed in the next week. I'm also hoping to start on some electrical this week. The other part of my project is work on the other parts of my basement finish, so I may have to pause on the theater to finish framing in the rest of the basement. I just need more hours in a day. :-)
As far as the HVAC, at this point, I'm thinking I may disconnect that duct all together and instead, go with a mini-split system for the room, as well as the main area of the basement. I just think that solution will give me the complete temperature control I want. I haven't sought a quote for it yet however, so maybe it will be cost prohibitive. I need to determine that soon though so I know what I'm doing before drywall. I'm waiting on a quote from a drywall contractor as well. Hoping to have that this week so I can decide on that and get it scheduled.
Wish you lived a bit closer. I'd love to come see your room. Looks great!
4-16-2017 - Brief Update
Just thought I'd drop in and do a quick update. I have most of the rough framing/insulation/HVAC/electrical/plumbing work done, and am ready for drywall, which I hope to have done this week. I decided to hire it done as I want to get it done quickly and know a pro can do it better than me. Plus I'm finishing my whole basement (about 1300 sq ft), with a bathroom, and felt it was more than I wanted to tackle.
First, I had an HVAC company come and zone my existing system into two zones...upstairs and downstairs. They used Zone First equipment, which is really slick and straighforward in its design. They also moved several ducts, including installing two feeds and one return for the theater space. I can tell that once the room is complete, I'll have plenty of ability to control the temp and fresh air in theater, as well as the whole lower level of my home...separate from the upstairs. I went this way vs a mini-split primarily because I wanted to ensure enough fresh air when the room is occupied and sealed up during a movie.
I'm using Roxul insulation in all of the exterior walls, and also the ceiling of the theater space. I did use fiberglass in the soffit below the ducts simply because I was able to run it perpendicular to the soffit cross members, and faced rolls were much easier to use.
Here are a few photos as the room sits..
I have to finish the clip and channel on the face and under the soffit. The walls are all decoupled and will have the 2 layers of 5/8" drywall attached directly.
The open cavities are where the backer boxes will be mounted which are almost done as well, and hope to place those up today. They are for my 4 Atmos speakers and are 7/16" OSB with 1/4" cement board lining them, secured with green glue and sealed with acoustic sealant. They will be hung with IB-3 clips. The design is what the Soundproofing Co suggested, and I'm pleased with how they turned out. I've decided to simply place the Volt 6 Atmos DIY speakers into the boxes once I get to that point in the build. I'm also going to use Volt 6 speakers for the rear and sides, so having everything match makes a lot of sense, especially with all the great reviews I've read about those speakers.
I've also installed a TrippLite rack in an adjoining closet, which will house all of the equipment. I'm going to put a bathroom fan in the ceiling above it on a thermostat, to draw air out if it gets too warm. I am also going to put the theater light control in the box to the left.
Finally, I got a few goodies to give a little incentive to keep pushing! We've taken delivery of 7 Palliser Flicks chairs! While way early, they were having a great sale and I was able to secure a good deal I couldn't pass up. For now, we get to enjoy 4 of them in our living room, where we currently watch movies and hang out. They're great!
I also received the Integra DRX-R1 receiver! Again, early, but had a chance to get a great deal on it. It's a beast and I'm excited to hear it run the 7.2.4 system I'm putting in.
I also have purchased iRule and have put together a remote for my upstairs system, in prep for using it down in my theater as well. Coming from a Marantz RC5200, iRule is a great choice and I've found it quite straight forward in its design. So far I'm very happy with it!
So that's a brief update of where things stand. Hoping drywall happens in the next two weeks and we can begin the process of building the soffit, as well as the stage, riser, and columns. Anxious to start putting the actual theater elements together! :)
Very nice update! Looking really good.
wow, big update. looks great!
so are you planning hat channel below the soffit on the screen side of the room? I was wondering how much clearance you have above the doorways. hoping it works out well with channel and 2 5/8 sheets of drywall and the casing above the door.
one aspect of my build that frustrates me is the insteon hub & simple control integration. simple control is great, and it seems utterly reliable controlling all my other equipment. however, there is often a 3 or 4 second delay controlling the lights via the insteon hub, and sometimes it doesn't work at all. what is your lighting control plan? have you tried controlling any lights with irule? I will have to do some reading. it looks pretty slick.
I like your rack too. I would like to put one of those in some day, and cleanup my equipment room.
good luck with drywall! hide the long screws until the 1st layer is on the ceiling! :)
Thanks! I'm anxious to get the drywall done so we can begin to build the theater elements.
I did put clip and channel under the soffit. Here are the final photos before drywall..
Drywall contractor started last week. I helped with the board in the theater to ensure the green glue went on ok. In this photo you can see how the height of that soffit compares to his height. It is definitely lower than I wish, but I think when it's all done (which both layers are on now), and the flooring is in place, I'll be ok, especially with a 2.35 screen. Definitely wish I had a bit more height, but I couldn't do anything about it.
I'm hoping drywall gets done this week. He has just a bit more to hang, then figures a few days to finish it all.
I actually ordered an Insteon starter kit and played around with it a bit. It integrated with iRule pretty easily and worked well. I did experience a bit of a delay, but I don't think with iRule it would have caused issues. However, I did end up returning it because I want to do more home automation in the future and read about issues with Insteon reliability, especially in in-wall switches. So I'm going with Lutron Caseta stuff. The Lutron Smart Bridge Pro interfaces with iRule, and that line of equipment seems to get solid reviews. I just wanted a strong platform. I also picked up a Honeywell WiFi thermostat, which also works with iRule. With the zoning in my basement, I can then control the temp in the theater from my remote. Works great.
I've also received my 8 Volt 6 speakers (4 for surrounds and 4 for Atmos) and built two just hear them. Wow! They are great as you well know. Can't wait to get all 8 in place down the road as the theater comes together.
Definitely coming along! Thanks for the encouragement. Your project is definitely my main inspiration!
Drywall is done! Let the real fun begin!
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I have always loved looking at bare drywall... probably something to do with blank slates & possibilities...
I don't miss that drywall dust though. :)
Riser, Stage & Soffit
Made some good progress the past week or so!
Riser is coming together! I decided to go a bit higher since I have to lower the screen down a bit from what others have, due to the lower ceiling height above it. So I put a 2x12 as a base around the perimeter, then a 2x6 on top, which will be covered by 2 layers of 3/4" OSB. This will give an overall height of 18". However, I will be putting DriCore panels down on the floor between the stage and riser, which will bring the floor up about 1", so the actual height will be about 17" from the floor. As we tested possible front row obstruction, that allowed for clear sight lines. The interior is 2x10's so I should be set to use it as a bass trap.
Here are a few riser pics...
I routed two lengths of 1" blue conduit from the front of the riser, through the step and directly through the wall into the equipment closet, which houses the rack. I also ran 2 12/2 runs to the front of the riser for lighting and the seats. Finally, I ran a 4 wire 14 gauge speaker wire in case I want to do something with low voltage or additional speakers like butt kickers or something. Again, I have conduit for future upgrades too if need be.
Finally put R-19 insulation in and glued and screwed the first layer of OSB on. You can also see the soffit framing in the second photo. I ripped 2x4's in half and glued and screwed them into the walls and ceiling (where I had put channel in preparation for it.) Also, the steps are square, the photo is a bit off due to my camera's weak wide angle ability. :)
Finally, I had to try the chairs out on the riser. Can't wait to put them there permanently!
For the stage, I used 2x10's for the main height. Then I ripped a 2x10 in half for the front step, and created the curved face with 2 layers of 1/8" plywood, screwed and glued together.
So that's where things stand right now. Hoping to get the stage and soffit done in the next week so I can begin to work on the columns! I also need to get the doors ordered. Coming along!
Looking really good!
Decisions, decisions. You have any thoughts on that? I'm anxious to meet some of you at the GTG's coming up, and definitely would love to come see your room sometime soon too. Sent you a PM a while back with a few follow up questions about your availability. Trying to soak it all in as I go!
I have seen that thread. I think I would personally skip the sand and just make it very sturdy.
I have been meaning to respond to your email but I have been really busy. Plus my theater is a little torn up because I am moving my surround speakers.
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Coming along nicely.
Worked on a few things today!
First, I started the soffit and have the face and main supports in place. Basically, I'm following some of the soffit building techniques I've seen around the forum. I'm ripping 2x4's in half for the cross pieces, as well as the main pieces along the base of the 1/2" MDF. Before I put the MDF up, I used BIN Primer (spray version) to seal the edges. I also put small boards behind each butt joint to help keep the seams tight. I am using small head trim screws for the MDF, and pilot drilling each to minimize damage and subsequent repairs before finishing the soffit. With this approach, I honestly won't have much drywall mud to put on, and I'm pretty confident the MDF will finish up nicely. I also worked on cutting the 1st layer of OSB for the top of the stage.
I'll work on the underside of the soffit and second layer of OSB soon.
While working on the soffit, I decided to bring my current projector (Epson 3500) down to run a few tests and ensure my screen size will work. I also wanted to see if I might be able to build a hush box and put the projector in the soffit. After setting it up on a ladder, and running several tests, my wife and I decided a 120" 2.35 screen is the right size. While I'd love to put in a 130" screen, it's a bit too big for the front row, which is only about 10' from the screen. Plus a 120" gives me a bit more room to play with vertically. I also have decided to build a hush box in the soffit for the projector. With my lower ceiling height, I think that will work great. I also tested two of Seymour AV's screen materials after ordering samples. While I'm not 100% sure, I'm likely going to build my own screen using their Center Stage XD material. I'm also ordering some Falcon Screen Falcon Vision HD material to compare the two.
I also discovered why it's suggested you don't hang your projector till your done. :) I spent about an hour or so, just playing clips and imagining how cool the room will be when done!
I did my soffits with 1/2" mdf as well. I also used stringers at the butt joints and it turned out good. I didn't use drywall compound. I used this product READY PATCH . That's all I use now on any build with MDF. I have had some serious bass levels going in my theater and there are zero cracks.
10' may be too close to the screen for the XD material. Have you considered the UF? There is also a new "V6" material available from the AVS store that is supposed to be really good. I haven't seen a sample but I want to get one if I decide to DIY a new screen. Definitely try to check out another AT setup before you commit. @hd0823 is using the XD material but his seats are further back. That Falcon Vision will be a little better but probably similar to the Silver Ticket which I am using now. I am at 10' and although I cannot make out the weave pattern, the image quality is noticeably better from the back row at 15'. It may just be the pixels. It also may have audio issues but that's another story.
Generally, 12' and closer, people seem to suggest the UF or another higher end material. Screen Innovations supposedly has a new one out that's supposed to be the best ever.
While not a great image, you can clearly see how the UF on the left, with the XD on the right, softens the edges. I know that Seymour recommends "angle cutting" the XD, which puts the weave at a diagonal of the image. The 2x2 sample they sent is cut that way, and neither my wife or I could see the weave at 10'. I definitely would love to see the Silver Ticket though as it's a lot less than either the Seymour or Falcon screens. I definitely don't want to purchase the wrong screen! I 'll have to check out the V6 material too.
And thanks for the lead on the MDF finishing using Ready Patch. That's great to know. Definitely have seen a lot of issues for many people who used drywall compound. I won't have much to use it on, but if that is a better option, I'll go that route.
Just measured my screen to eye to screen it is 12 foot from a 165 in screen. I've never noticed the weave at all during a movie . I can see it faintly from 12 foot with all the lights on. The thing I like about the xd material was it felt so durable it really is some thick material
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Yes I have it "tilted cut" definitely worth the small charge they do it for. Yeah I had a bunch of diffrent screen materials and just felt like the xd would hold up the best.Even at 10 foot I don't think there would be any visible pattern I'll check later my front edge of my seats are at ten foot so It will be easy
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This looks amazing! Can't wait to see the finished room.
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