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post #1 of 40 Old 01-21-2018, 10:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Santoro Family Cinema

I have been lurking here for many years and drooling over a lot of the theaters I see. For a while I had a no-fuss setup with Panasonic projector, midrange Onkyo 5.1 receiver and 110” screen in a 2-story den with a lot of ambient light. I am not really an audiophile but I really enjoy a clear, big picture with awesome surround. Our room was just ok, and as you can imagine the sound and image was really not great. We still enjoyed it a lot, but we would have liked better. Unfortunately, we had no space for anything dedicated.

We are now moving to a new builder house. It’s almost done, and we had a room set up for theater space in the finished basement. The room is 14.5 x 20’. Due to the already incurred new home expenses, I don’t have much budget so I will need to do a phased build. My ‘design principles’ are as follows:

• I would like a closed-in space that is dedicated for theater use
• The gear will not be high end, but not cheap crap either. I want most value for my dollar, not maximized performance or ‘the best’ brands. (Thinking about Epson\Onkyo\Denon at this point. I will use my Polk Monitor speakers to start and see how it goes. Future upgrades are likely.)
• The space will be decorated in a manner that evokes the cinema experience
• I do not intend on spending money to control sounds coming into and leaving the theater. This is just not gonna be in my budget in the next 5 years. We usually all watch movies together, so sound exiting the theater is not a huge issue, and our house isn’t usually noisy. The furnace is on the other end of the basement.
• Atmos is mandatory
• I will use DIY acoustic treatments to maximize sound quality.
• Largest screen that fits reasonably and meets industry standards for viewing distance, angle, etc. My preliminary rough calculations place this at a 140” 2.4:1
• I will need a riser for a 2nd row of seating

I have mocked up the room a little. I think this is close to final, but would love some feedback. 1st row money seat is at 10’, and the 2nd row is at 17’. It’s a closed room, the right wall is removed for visibility.

Any initial thoughts as i plan this thing?
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post #2 of 40 Old 01-22-2018, 11:55 AM
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The biggest thing that I would suggest giving serious consideration to is an acoustically transparent screen with the speakers behind it. Your center speaker is probably low enough that the heads of the people in front will block it from the people in the rear.

Something else to watch for... On your side columns, the speaker and wall sconce both stick out into the available walking space that is already narrowed by the column. Make sure that you allow for enough comfortable walking space to get through.

Don't forget about a wall on the right side and a roof. You can see all the way to the outside and that will detract from your viewing experience, especially when it is cold and rainy outside! (This is obviously just a joke. I get it that your rendering was left "open" for easy viewing.)
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post #3 of 40 Old 01-22-2018, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveClement View Post
The biggest thing that I would suggest giving serious consideration to is an acoustically transparent screen with the speakers behind it. Your center speaker is probably low enough that the heads of the people in front will block it from the people in the rear.

Something else to watch for... On your side columns, the speaker and wall sconce both stick out into the available walking space that is already narrowed by the column. Make sure that you allow for enough comfortable walking space to get through.

Don't forget about a wall on the right side and a roof. You can see all the way to the outside and that will detract from your viewing experience, especially when it is cold and rainy outside! (This is obviously just a joke. I get it that your rendering was left "open" for easy viewing.)
Great point on the center speaker. I had planned on the accousticly transparent screen at first but that would have made the screen less than 9 feet from row 1 and some of the calculators wanted it at 10 feet. But when I moved it back, I didn't consider that the center speaker might be blocked for the back row.

I will go look again at the calculations. It was a while ago and few things have changed since I ran them.

Thanks for the feedback!

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post #4 of 40 Old 01-23-2018, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Forgot to address your comment on the columns/speakers/sconces. The column is purely cosmetic, and I was planning on making them pretty shallow. I think I verified there was 2' of clear width between the speaker and the seats/riser.

I am still not sure I will include the column detail, but I do want to do something to break up the walls a bit. The rest of our house has sort of a hybrid craftsman / lodge vibe, so I would also love this type of look:


[Image Source]

but I have no idea how I would source Paper Birch logs for a reasonable price.

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post #5 of 40 Old 01-23-2018, 11:20 AM
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You don't want your front row at half the room length. All kinds of peaks and nulls at that point.
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post #6 of 40 Old 01-25-2018, 06:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I do recall seeing that on the HT Geeks "Acoustics 101." The measurements I gave are approximate, but I have been pondering how I might deal with this issue. Is there any sort of free/cheap acoustic modeling tool I can use for my specific circumstances?

Another question I have is about the odd ceiling profile caused by the HVAC serving the rest of the house. The "Bump-down" you see on the left of the room is in line with the walkway so won't block the screen for anyone. Is it likely to have profound negative impact on the room acoustics? My gut says no since it's essentially above the speakers, but I'd appreciate confirmation. I definitely don't have budget for reworking HVAC.
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post #7 of 40 Old 01-25-2018, 06:41 AM - Thread Starter
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A few other random questions I came up with for the group

1) I will only have 1 sub to start. Thoughts on the best place for it? I was thinking on the stage under the screen.
2) I was planning on setting the riser up as a bass trap. Is this overkill for lower end gear like mine? I am thinking not....
3) Does a stage serve purposes beyond aesthetics? I definitely want one for that reason, but I may choose to do that later.
4) I see 6.5' tossed about as the amount of space needed for a reclining seat. If I wanted to move my first row back 6 inches to avoid a null, I might need to make the riser only a hair deeper than that. Do you think I would I regret making it so 'tight?' Or would it be better to move the seats forward?
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post #8 of 40 Old 01-25-2018, 09:23 AM
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If only one sub, put it in a corner to reap the most boundary gain. Id make the second row seats non reclining so you can move the front row back.
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post #9 of 40 Old 01-25-2018, 07:54 PM
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Is the room drywalled already?
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post #10 of 40 Old 01-25-2018, 08:43 PM
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How tall is the room?



You also could simplify if four seats work for you. No riser, no stage, and for a budget room, the savings can be spent elsewhere.

That HVAC intrusion could be extended across the room, become the leading edge of a soffit, and a DIY acoustically transparent screen and wall
could be recess below.

Now the existing speakers are up to plating reference levels, and what doesn't go into seating and other features, can go into the projector budget.

That would be a totally different direction, but there's lots of reasons that less, might just be more. The AT space could hide large DIY subs, bass trapping, and
DIY Sound speakers as the upgrade path. Those speakers would also benefit from a simple flat black finish. You could plant the seating at 2/3rds room
length, for smooth audio, and give up 3' of room depth to the acoustically transparent space. Now with your seats at 11.5' out from the screen, pretty much
any speaker type can play reference levels at all seats, with a 12' throw distance. There's also a reduced cooling load, so maybe that can translate to a quieter
room.

What's going in that back alcove? A bar refrigerator will raise the room's noise floor, and a metal sink might introduce some audio issues, so less might also
be more, back there.
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post #11 of 40 Old 01-26-2018, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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@SteveCallas - From a budgetary view I like the idea of making the last row non-reclining, maybe even a sofa. 80% of the time there will only be 2-4 of us so this wouldn't be terrible...BUT my true hope is to make significant upgrades as time goes on so that (soundproofing aside) this room gets more and more awesome. If there is any way to have room for 2 rows of recliners without destroying the sound with nulls I hope to find it.

@Tedd - it is not yet drywalled, but it will be soon. Speakers and projector are wired so the room orientation is set. The house is being built and my builders pricing for one-off items is a bit of a rip-off, so I wasn't planning on asking him for any framing changes. I am pretty handy and was planning on making needed changes later on my own or with a contractor that I select. I do like where you are going however and I think I can find a compromise. I was aware that the space behind my screen was going to limit me a bit.

That back nook was going to be some sort of cabinets for AV media and gear - not a bar. It's 2.5 ' deep and follows the shape of the foundation. Notionally I can be flexible with that space, but in practicality all the wiring has been pulled there already. You guys have got me thinking however, if I am willing to accept 2 recliners in the back row one day, I could have them recline into that nook and get back some space. I may need to get a little creative here. Will give that some thought and I welcome ideas.

With regard to extending and using the HVAC intrusion has a soffit, I think that would put the screen too low, especially if I wanted a second row. The rise would need to be really high. It is also complicated by the window, which I have not discussed but is roughly portrayed in my renderings. I have attached some pics below.

[edit] Oh, and the ceiling height at the highest point is about 8.5'

I am now off to search the forum for more info about reference levels. If there is a go-to article that people generally use, I'd appreciate a pointer.
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post #12 of 40 Old 01-26-2018, 06:39 AM - Thread Starter
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In anticipation of the question, the room on the other side of the screen wall will be a workshop. The wall isn't load-bearing so one day if I got serious I could take that space, but I am not willing to make that compromise just yet. I will probably use the workshop as much or more than the theater and it's as narrow as I can deal with already. If there was some way to have only a few speaker box protrusions into it, that might work. Is this something that is ever done?
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post #13 of 40 Old 01-26-2018, 09:03 AM
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I know you said the room is already wired, but really nothing is set in stone yet. I'd give consideration to flipping the room end for end. The alcove there could be used to put your center and subs. You could then either put your L & R speakers on the floor or use inwalls and put all of the speakers behind your screen.
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-

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post #14 of 40 Old 01-26-2018, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
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I know you said the room is already wired, but really nothing is set in stone yet. I'd give consideration to flipping the room end for end. The alcove there could be used to put your center and subs. You could then either put your L & R speakers on the floor or use inwalls and put all of the speakers behind your screen.
I had modeled that a few times but couldn't make it work. With a 16" riser and the low soffits, anyone over 6" would smack their heads when on the riser in the 'new-back.' I also have the door that opens in and would hit a floor-standing speaker unless I reversed it.

That said I suppose without a soffit on the now-back wall, maybe the screen could be higher allowing a lower riser. Hmm. Why didn't I post this thread 2 months ago!?

I think that if in my current plan I steal some space for center speaker box in the workshop and put my screen right on the wall, I will get the same benefit with less rework and expense, no? [Edit] - except I would get a full-width rear row. Damn you guys! I need to look closer at this.

Thanks for the great feedback, keep it coming..
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post #15 of 40 Old 01-26-2018, 10:17 AM
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I wouldn't even ask them to drywall that space.

Your room's orientation needn't be set in stone because some wiring is in place. You could simply
do a modern treatment like fabric side walls, and run speaker wiring in behind the fabric.

Would something like this, give you everything you want? And here's a room with an overly deep soffit. The window could be plugged yet still removable, to let you air out the room occasionally.

Your shop area would be more linear, but that sump pump could have a flip top right over it, and be work bench.

Anyways, just throwing ideas at you, to explore...
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post #16 of 40 Old 01-26-2018, 10:34 AM
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Based on the pictures of the soffit, it looks like there is a lot of wasted space. My guess would be that you could reframe it and save a couple inches on height and several inches on the depth of both side and back soffit.

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post #17 of 40 Old 01-26-2018, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W2DHS View Post
I had modeled that a few times but couldn't make it work. With a 16" riser and the low soffits, anyone over 6" would smack their heads when on the riser in the 'new-back.' I also have the door that opens in and would hit a floor-standing speaker unless I reversed it.

That said I suppose without a soffit on the now-back wall, maybe the screen could be higher allowing a lower riser. Hmm. Why didn't I post this thread 2 months ago!?

I think that if in my current plan I steal some space for center speaker box in the workshop and put my screen right on the wall, I will get the same benefit with less rework and expense, no? [Edit] - except I would get a full-width rear row. Damn you guys! I need to look closer at this.

Thanks for the great feedback, keep it coming..
You don't really want to have all those near wall boundaries that a recessed front speaker would mean.

That full width rear row, looks better on a floor plan when you don't take in the physics of sound. You should have posted this thread a few months ago, but even now, you are getting
a lot of great advice, that comes from education, experience, and even previously made mistakes. You also are getting exposure to new ideas that you haven't considered.

The good news is that room is that space is far more then you gave us information-wise. And two rows of three seats could be a very nice layout, that won't impose much in the way
of compromise, so I'd be back thinking two rows.
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post #18 of 40 Old 01-26-2018, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's the dilemma, I have essentially prepaid the finished basement which includes drywall and carpet in the room. My plan was to add the riser myself and carpet it. Of course in retrospect this was simplistic, but my budget has been set accordingly already. Had I a bigger budget and not prepaid for drywall, I would certainly tell them just to skip the drywall and do something cool myself right after closing.

Combined with the fact that the workshop has to house a table saw, drill press, workbench, and various rolling tool storage, I really think I need to live with the setup that I have contracted for.

In that spirit - I think maybe I need to consider letting let go of my Polk speakers and use in-walls. That combined with a simple sofa in the third row should, I think, give me the 2-3 feet I need to move the front row back a bit. Any significant downsides to this approach?

I haven't given up on flipping the room as what @BllDo had suggested, but I need to play in sketchup over the weekend a bit. I need to pick a new location for the gear rack if i do that, and get the wiring changed quickly. I guess the best place for the rack in this scenario is the back corner?

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post #19 of 40 Old 01-26-2018, 03:37 PM
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Maybe you should just write off the labor and have them leave the materials uninstalled in the theater space?
You could hang your own drywall, and re-frame that soffit area so it doesn't waste as much space as it is currently
framed at.

I wouldn't even attempt to add a third row in 20'. (Did you mean a sofa in the second row?)

You could let go of your Polks, and do in walls. But that's money again, you don't need to be spending, with a new home
right off.

I personally would take a step back, and stop compounding issues that are already there, that you have gone as far as to
voice concern over. You're not quite happy with the plan but racing along, to save some money spent, while under deadline
pressure, is far form ideal to preventing mistakes, or even compounding them.

Why even put the av rack in the room?
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post #20 of 40 Old 01-27-2018, 06:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
Maybe you should just write off the labor and have them leave the materials uninstalled in the theater space?
You could hang your own drywall, and re-frame that soffit area so it doesn't waste as much space as it is currently
framed at.

I wouldn't even attempt to add a third row in 20'. (Did you mean a sofa in the second row?)

You could let go of your Polks, and do in walls. But that's money again, you don't need to be spending, with a new home
right off.

I personally would take a step back, and stop compounding issues that are already there, that you have gone as far as to
voice concern over. You're not quite happy with the plan but racing along, to save some money spent, while under deadline
pressure, is far form ideal to preventing mistakes, or even compounding them.

Why even put the av rack in the room?
Tedd et all - this is all amazing feedback and I am learning a ton. You have helped me avoid a major audio blunder.

I guess I need to update my design criteria a bit. Simplicity is very important to me as well, and I just don't want to rework the room itself. I have a 8-5 job plus two hours of commuting every day. With the new house, I will have 1-2 years worth of DIY work to do including landscaping, building a shed, sprinklers, etc. I honestly don't want to build a theater myself from the studs in. I want to take delivery of the finished room shape from my builder, add a riser, treatments, and gear, and then enjoy it. I am sorry I wasn't clear about this at the start. Everyone's efforts developing sketches to change the room are appreciated, but I won't do that. I know that is anathema to this place, I will turn in my man-card wherever directed.

So given that, i am now leaning toward the following 2 compromises. 1) AT screen in front of an in-wall center speaker that protrudes into the workshop, and 2) reduce seating from 8 to 6 in order to gain the extra depth needed to move the rear chairs into the alcove. this now puts the front row at 13.5'. See below

Are there any major issues with this setup?

I really do appreciate the feedback, keep it coming please.
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post #21 of 40 Old 01-27-2018, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
I wouldn't even attempt to add a third row in 20'. (Did you mean a sofa in the second row?)
Yep - I meant a sofa in the second row up above, but barring new issues, I like what I have proposed above better.

Quote:
Why even put the av rack in the room?
Simplicity, low cost. The only other place nearby I could put it would be under the stairs, which would require restructuring load bearing elements and require some sort of airflow management.

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post #22 of 40 Old 01-27-2018, 12:24 PM
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In order for Atmos to sound its best, you must have acoustic room treatments. Its not for keeping sound in or out but mostly for getting rid of room reflections. Reflections from untreated walls will destroy what you are trying to create with Atmos. Nothing sounds good in an echo chamber. I highly suggest you put something in your budget for acoustic room treatments. It wont cost that much and it will improve your sound more than audio component in your system.

7.2.4 Atmos consisting of :
LG 65" OLED, Marantz AV8802a, Emotiva A700, Emotiva A500,
ELAC Uni-Fi LCR, ELAC Debut surrounds, Boston Acoustic SoundWare for Atmos.
Sony X800 4k player, Dual SVS SB2000 subs, acoustic room treatments by GIK.
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post #23 of 40 Old 01-27-2018, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Yep, this was in the plan. I will be making absorbers for sure, and will probably toss in a couple of DIY diffusers shortly after that if the sound has any issues.
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post #24 of 40 Old 01-27-2018, 04:23 PM
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The issues:


The seating is off center in the room. The lowest seat in row one, (call it seat 1) is pretty close to the wall, but seat three looks to end up as a
very good seat audio-wise. That's your money seat.

The screen appears to be mounted too high, for the front row. If you end up elevating your head more then seven degrees from, then you can expect
this to become an ergonomics issue, with the result being a nagging stiff neck.

The back row is on room boundaries and how close are those surround speakers all going to be?

Sound pans across the fronts, won't be seamless, as your front three channels aren't timbre matched.
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post #25 of 40 Old 01-27-2018, 04:44 PM
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BTW, I actually like the direction that room is heading, despite the issues listed above.

You could extend the front soffit, to the opposite side of the room, and simply have a hinged panel below, for window access.
That could be done easily, inexpensively, and after the fact. You get a cleaner, more symmetrical look, and that window now won't
be bleeding light onto the screen, but it's still handy and accessible to air the room out.
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post #26 of 40 Old 01-27-2018, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.
  • With regard to timbre matching, I found a Polk in-wall center that looked of similar 'grade' to the monitor speakers. If I stick to a certain brand, do I have a better shot at getting a closer match?
  • Even if it winds up not matching at all, spending a little on 3 matching in-walls for my LCR might not be so bad considering all the room reconfiguration cost and effort I have saved.
  • The seats are all offset to the right of the room due to the 2' aisle on the left. The screen is also offset a little to the right. Thinking about this from an acoustics perspective, I guess that would really cause odd nulls, huh? I might be able to center them. I will play some more. Maybe I can make the aisle thinner
  • I kinda SWAGed the height of the screen. I need to do a graph paper model to see the ideal height, which might also necessarily change my riser height.
  • I guess I need to read some more about the seats being on room boundaries. Just how bad is that? As I have mentioned, that back row won't get a lot of use, so if it's something like a 20% degradation of sound quality, I can probably live with that.
  • The surrounds are tough. They will probably be 2-3 feet from the seats. Let's see where they wind up after I rework the centering of everything.

I was originally imagining a 140" 2.4:1 screen for this space but I think that is making my angles outside the THX suggested range according to the Carlton Bale calculator spreadsheet.
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post #27 of 40 Old 01-27-2018, 06:12 PM
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I think the better answer is three identical speakers, behind an AT screen. There's no guarantee that an in-wall center channel and
two towers will have any timbre match.

The issue seated close to the walls, is they tend to have a bump in bass, and it takes room for a surround field to properly develop.
Plus you risk the nearest surround speaker drawing undue attention to itself. Nulls are a different issue and they happen. The idea is to
place seating where audio is smoother and there's no peaks or nulls.

That screen size might work for you, but maybe isn't so great come guests or family. You also want to consider projector throw distance, and how a riser
and seating, and projector fit together regarding circulation on the riser and headroom. Another factor is the projector's ability to light a big screen, and still factor in
bulb degradation, so it continues to throw up adequate lumens on screen.

If you don't have your seats already, maybe the answer is as simple as to look at narrower seating.

The back row as occasional seating is a concept, but I point it out so it can be an informed decision.
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post #28 of 40 Old 02-01-2018, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Here is the latest. There is 2' between either side of the front row and the wall. Would moving the surrounds up or back help matters?

If not, narrower seating may be the ticket as you suggest. Or less seats
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post #29 of 40 Old 02-02-2018, 05:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W2DHS View Post
Here is the latest. There is 2' between either side of the front row and the wall. Would moving the surrounds up or back help matters?

If not, narrower seating may be the ticket as you suggest. Or less seats
I have read a bunch more and it seems like the best approach for me is to move the surrounds back a bit. That should be minimal expense.

Right now the height speaker wires are about 18" in front of the new front row location. I am thinking I need to move them back a bit too.

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post #30 of 40 Old 01-27-2019, 01:16 PM - Thread Starter
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So it's 11 months later, we have moved in. I decided to keep the wiring as is and adapt as needed. I have done a bit of work work so far:

* I built a 136" AT screen with Seymour Center Stage UF. I have he frame and wall behind painted matte black.
* My Polk monitor LCRs are behind it, and I recently installed Monoprice Alpha in-wall surrounds.
* I am using an older Pioneer 7.2 receiver so no Atmos yet.
* The projector is a new Epson Home Theater 2150.
* We are using old chairs for now, I will probably upgrade the front row this year and keep the two leather recliners for the back as mocked up above.
* I have the Polk sub on the front wall because that's where the wiring is, but I will be experimenting with possibly better locations soon.

So with no tweaking whatsoever, it sounds pretty damned good. My guests are mostly blown away by the sound, and the screen looks amazing. Even in the current half-done state, it is a great experience. The worst part is that the bass is really muddy.

Next up:
* Paint the ceiling and walls dark
* Fix sub placement
* Sound dampening on the lower part of the side walls
* Riser with bass trap

Some pics of the current state and construction of the screen attached.
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