Formerly the "I suck at naming things" build thread.
OK, so now that things are moving along, I am editing this first post. After consideration (discussed below and over several months), I came down to two names I liked for the theater. The first is the uninspired but rather catchy "Island View Theater". The street where I built the house is called Island View Drive, and although there is no tropical islands around here for a few thousand miles, it sounds like a nice getaway. The other option is "The Rabbit Hole". This name actually fits the situation perfectly, and is a bit catchy as well. Read my You guys ruined me
thread in the DIY section for my path from a small subwoofer upgrade to building a house around a desired theater space. The problem with the name is it requires the back story to understand. The only rabbit I ever bought for my kids lasted less than a year before it died from neglect, and rabbits in my city are like rats in New York - a plague that is getting out of control, lol. So it takes a few steps to get someone to connect the dots from rabbits to a theater room. So to keep it simple, I will be welcoming people to the "Island View Theater".
I've recently built a new house. When deciding to build, I came up with a list of priorities based on previous renovations, purchases, and lifestyle choices. I've added game rooms, pool tables, arcade machines, nice kitchens, reading nooks, outdoor spaces, gas fire pits, hot tubs, dedicated computer rooms, etc. and I found I never utilized them after the first few months. The only two things I found myself using year after year were the shop and the theater. So those were at the top of the list. Finding an existing house with accommodation for those two things was difficult at best, even with a healthy budget. So building became the goal, and building it around those two things became fundamental.
For the theater, I wanted 9 foot ceilings with no obstructions. That meant a trussed ceiling. I wanted it big, for two reasons: sound quality and to accommodate guests. My last theater was small and perfect for just me and my girlfriend, but really once you added a third, it was cramped and nobody else got a good seat after that, so having friends over to watch a movie was always a pain. I also want "wow factor", and let's face it, like cars, there is no replacement for displacement.
The final room, without the clips, hat channel, or double drywall comes in at 26' deep, 17' 2.5" wide, 9' high. Plenty of room for two rows of 4 seats and even a bar at the back (just in case). 95% of the time it will be me and the girlfriend, but why go through the trouble of building a whole new house if you aren't going to start planning for all the little things, like super bowl parties and movie nights with friends?
Audio and Video
I am stepping up the audio system, because in my mind I can always go to a commercial theater and see a really big screen, but great audio is rare outside of the home. I don't even go to the theater unless the movie is playing on the Imax, and frankly I am even starting to feel the sound there isn't as good as it should be. This is crazy because I fell down the rabbit hole based on seeing the new Star Wars Ep 7 at the brand new Imax about 2 years ago, and now I am not just trying to get that good of sound, I am wanting to make it better. However, I am not rich, and while I am spending what I feel is "stupid amounts of money" on this theater (and on the house in general), I can't just spring for the best of the best.
So here is the plan:
using a (soon to be) modified Emotiva XMC-1
. The two pieces I kept from my old theater were the XMC-1 and the XPA5, and everything else went to the new homeowner for a ridiculously low price. He is happy though, and I sold my house in 3 hours, so I guess I am happy too.
Emotiva is being Emotiva and taking forever to release this update, but hopefully it will be released in q2 of 2018, which still works for my schedule, otherwise I will have to rethink this part.
Update: Now Emotiva says late summer, which really means Q4 at the earliest, so I am shopping other options, leaning toward a Marantz 7703, which I can use until the Emotiva update comes out, then once upgraded, sell for most of what it costs. Win-Win (I think).
Like I said, I have one XPA5
, and I was planning to get a shiny new XPA7
to go with it, but after shopping around, I settled on adding another XPA5 and an XPA3, which saved a bit of money over the XPA7 and even gives me two more channels in case I decide to go with front wides some day.
For subs and speakers I am going pure DIY
. Front stage will be Titan LX's
. Surrounds will be Volt 10lx
all the way around, including the Atmos speakers. All this is purchased and sitting in my shop waiting to be built.
Subs will be 6 of the UM18's
. I had 2 in my last system and loved it but wanted more. These were on backorder for like 6 months, but I ordered them before I even started this thread and finally got them in December. I hope they are all good, they are backordered again, so if any are bad I could be down some subs for a while. I decided to go ported, where I had sealed before. I went back and forth on amps and even asked for help picking, but I can't help but see the bang for the buck with three inuke 6000dsp's
. I pulled the trigger on these in February so I am locked in.
Projector was going to be the JVC 640
, but brightness considerations made this unrealistic. I would love a laser, but short of blowing my budget on one piece, that just isn't an option. That being said, I grew tired of my "puny" 120" screen in the old theater, and want a little more real estate, so I will be casting it onto a ~150" wide 2.35:1 screen
. For now I will use zoom to get the scope format and I might make some panels for masking, but this isn't a big concern for me. I have lived with bars on top and bottom of the screen for years, now I will just deal with bars on the side. I am still up in the air on the screen choice. For HDR I need brightness, and even with an Epson 5040 uncalibrated, I need gain to get the requisite 30fL needed for HDR to look halfway decent. Finding an AT screen with gain that doesn't cost more than a car is kind of a challenge. The screen wall will sit 30" from the front wall, giving me ample space for my speakers, subs, and a little room to breathe.
When I add it all up, even already owning the base XMC-1 and one amp, I am finding myself somewhere in the $20-24k range for electronics……. Ugh. But I am not discouraged.
The room is, as I alluded to earlier, going to start with a nice clean soundproof shell. Double 5/8" drywall with GG over hat channel and clips.
I will probably do some kind of mat over the concrete and put a layer of ¾" OSB over that.
Carpet will go on the concrete with just a nice thick memory foam pad. Riser for the back row of course, and a stage that probably will not be anything original. Ceiling will be coffered, but to save space, I will build out faux beams and use backer boxes for lighting and atmos speakers to be recessed into the ceiling. I only pray I have the room after all mechanicals are up there. Placement may have to be fudged to get it all to fit.
I did a little consulting on a theater a while back, and his drywallers did what seems to be something common and skimped a bit on the Green Glue. The result is he had 2 full 5 gallon buckets left and one half bucket. He gave them to me, and while at the time I had no idea what to do with them, now I am looking at some savings!! Cha-Ching!! I ended up adding 2 more 5 gallon buckets to this, and I hope I have enough. I used over a bucket and a half on drywalling the floor in between the trusses and in building HVAC vents and backer boxes.
The plan is twofold on the HVAC – a mini-split for cooling the room and a way to circulate air from the rest of the house to keep it fresh.
The mini-split is to simplify air handling in the room, as well as have an avenue for air conditioning in the harsh Montana winters. You can't turn on a regular AC system when it is -20*F outside, so we needed a better solution. If you don't think so, you have never been in a soundproof (and mostly air tight) room with 8 people (or 12 or more) after an hour. I don't care if it is 20 below outside, it's gonna get hot in there, and I need to cool it down.
I had picked out a unit that was capable of running down to -14*F outside. Then the HVAC contractor had a brilliant plan. Put the outside unit in the garage. That way the "outside air" will never be below about 50*F (the garages are heated), and in the winter, when I run the AC in the theater it will heat the garage and save some cost on the gas bill. In the summer it will get hot, so we added an exhaust fan directly above the unit on a thermostat. I only intend to have cars and some shelves in there, so who cares if it gets too warm in the summer. Plus it will only get hot in there when I am in the theater room and need to get it cooled down. The minisplit is roughed in with power, the copper lines, and a drain for condensation.
But AC alone won't keep it fresh in there. Someone is gonna fart. In my last theater I set up an air circulation system that helped, but even at over 200 CFM, it couldn't keep up with even 3 people in there with the door closed. Granted it was only about 40% of the size of the new theater room, but I know this is a problem and I needed to address it.
So that is where the HRV system comes in. I was originally doing the HRV for just the theater room, but decided to go with a bigger HRV for the whole house, and then set up a way to exchange air from the theater to the rest of the house. Doing this with soundproofing is a bit of a challenge.
I am finishing the entire basement myself, so I had the electrician run a 100a sub panel downstairs. The house will only have 200a service, but it's a pretty efficient house, so it should be more than enough. I had him move the box into the equipment room instead of the mechanical room, so I can pull a few 15A 220V runs for the amps and a few 20A 110V runs for the rest of the equipment very easily. This ended up being 5 20a 110v and 3 20a 220v for the rack, and another 6 20a breakers for the rest of the basement electrical and lighting.
Not much else to say here since I have all that power right there and can use it as I need.
I was leaning toward Caseta for lighting control, but I hate the switches. I am already doing a ton of automation in the rest of the house, but not going nuts with lighting. My number 1 concern is being able to dim it down to 1-2%. I like a tiny bit of ambient light in the room, and I have yet to find an LED that can do what I want, so it will be most likely be primarily incandescent lights. I settled on 4" cans for downlighting in the faux beams of the coffered ceiling, and warm white LED strips in the coffers behind some crown molding. I will prewire for RGBW for future upgrades, but the cost of ~400 feet of RGBW with a controller to make it all work was just too much for now, so I settled. I've done RGB before and I found it was a cool gimmick but I never used it outside of showing off once in a while.
Last summer I took a road trip to California under the guise of visiting the girlfriends parents. The real reason to go was to stop off at the showroom for 4Seating. We spent about 5 hours there trying out every model. We settled on the Palliser Media in the 2500 leather. I was planning to buy a row of 3 for my old theater, and thankfully I failed to get it done earlier this year. Now I want to go 2 rows of 4. With the 2500 leather, these are around $1500 per seat…….. Ugh. That's gonna eat into the budget, so I will re-evaluate as I get closer to completion. ROAD TRIP! I have since looked at others but am still undecided. Chances are row 2 will not be as high of grade as the front row.
Update: Now looking at Fusion seating due to the low cost and good reviews. The only place to sit in them is in New Jersey (not happening) or find someone who owns them (unlikely anywhere near where I live) so this is a tough one for me. I hate the idea of spending thousands of dollars and not being comfortable. Thinking I will order one row of 4 and if I don't like them, put them in the back row, lol.
Acoustic treatment, hush box, air exchange design, and a thousand other details are still undecided, although I am slowly putting a picture together in my head. I was leaning toward getting a professional acoustic design and have already been in touch with Shawn at QuestAI (Erskine Group referred me to them for something this small). The cost is reasonable and considering the total investment, it is a worthy investment. Time and money have more or less dictated that this is not going to become a reality though, so while I am still considering it, at this point I am just going to plan to do all the acoustic design myself.
On to the Pictures!
I don't have much at this time, but I will continue to post stuff as it comes up.
Here is the basement floor plan. Pretty much all focused around the theater and rec room, with one spare bedroom and a bathroom thrown in for the hell of it.
This is from a few weeks before I started this thread. The red outlines the theater room. Doesn't look to big from up here.
A lot of trusses! Can you see the theater hiding underneath it all?
The house was completed on the 3rd week of December and we moved in on the 22nd. I spent a couple weeks building the shop and then started working on the theater space.