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post #1 of 48 Old 11-05-2018, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
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The Snow Bunker - Build Thread

Hi all,

I'm new to AVSforum and just beginning my own journey towards building my own dedicated theater. I got wife approval early this year for a proof of principle home theater in our existing basement, which surpassed expectations. Now I have approval for incorporating a dedicated theater in our new house addition coming next spring/summer.

We are in the planning phase with our architect and will be bidding the work out soon. The construction will be done for us and then I'll be finishing the framed-in space over the coming year(s). The space will be in the basement underneath an in-law suite, so eventually I'd like to consider sound control. For now, the primary goal was to have a very rough idea of what the space will be used for, what it'll look like, and any decisions we need to consider for the design and bidding.

The theater will be used for movies, TV, and video games mostly, but we are also thinking about using the far side of the space as a small gym area overlooking the theater (yet divided when using it solely as a theater). We live in an area that gets snow for a good chunk of the year, hence the working theater name: The Snow Bunker, a place to take refuge from the long winters. I am tentatively planning on a ~22' x 17' x 8' theater space (~30' long with gym area), a 7.2.4 system, and a 135" screen. I learned the basics of SketchUp Free and have modeled a basic setup of what I'm thinking, attached to this post.

My initial concerns:
1. Deep pour? Skimming the "what I'd do differently next time" thread, I found several mentions of doing a deep pour of their basement to enable taller ceilings. I believe the current plan is for this to be 8' ceilings, matching the existing basement areas. Any opinions on how seriously I should be pursuing this? Is it even possible with an existing pour depth to have a deeper section? I guess I don't understand why it makes that huge a difference. An extra 1' can add a lot of trouble in the construction I think? My wife and I are not very big, so we rarely notice lower ceilings anyway, but if we're going to do this theater, then I want to do it "right".

2. Sump pump? Related to the above, would a deep pour area require an additional sump pump? We live in an area that typically has dry basements, but after heavy rainfalls, we can have some wetness and our existing sump pump does a bit of work. If we go down further, would we need to add an additional sump pump just for this area, since it would be lower than the rest of the basement and might not drain correctly?

3. Room shape? I've read that the ideal for 8' ceiling is 12' x 20'. The current design is ~17x22x8. Is this likely to have weird sound resonance problems?

4. Chimney problems? On the side of the room, there will be an existing exterior chimney. We plan to frame/cover it up to make it look nicer. But this could be a problem with speaker placement?

5. Speaker placement? Does the speaker placement seem roughly feasible? I'm not very concerned with sound in the gym area, and mostly want to make sure sound is as close to ideal in the 2 rows of seating.

6. Seating and screen size? This current design has the front row with ~12' viewing and back row ~18' viewing distance with a 135" screen. This fits pretty close to the recommended THX viewing distance of 13.8-19.5'. Does this sound about reasonable? I'm currently using a viewing distance of 12' from a 110" screen and I wouldn't mind if it was slightly bigger.

7. Any other thoughts? Anything I'm missing??

Thanks for reading and any thoughts you can share!
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post #2 of 48 Old 11-05-2018, 10:40 PM - Thread Starter
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post #3 of 48 Old 11-05-2018, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
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post #4 of 48 Old 11-05-2018, 10:56 PM
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All of those shelves on the wall with the chimney will make acoustical treatments difficult to add.

The thin, hard (glass?) dividing wall between the theater and the fitness area will also potentially cause acoustical issues.

The side and rear surrounds should be down near ear level, especially if you want effective Atmos effects from your ceiling speakers. The rear surrounds should be aimed toward the main listening position, not perpendicular to the side walls.
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post #5 of 48 Old 07-29-2019, 11:55 PM - Thread Starter
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We've broken ground! It's actually happening!

A few design changes have happened since the previous tentative layout. I've updated with a new SketchUp layout.

Major changes:
1. 9 foot finished ceilings are planned! New tentative theater dimensions are 9'x~24'x~17.5' (at the widest).

2. Dedicated sump pump just for this area!

3. We had to move the location of the entrance to the opposite side of the chimney. I think this will work fine, since now the entrance will be at the full riser height and then step down to enter the seating areas.

4. We had to move a furnace/AC into the area, and now it requires its own miniature storage room behind the screen. I'm a little disappointed to lose the potential gym area (although it allowed us to add a mini bar/standing viewing area) and I'm concerned about the noise of the furnace. I'm tentatively thinking of building a small sound-deadening wall to enclose the mechanicals and try to reduce noise. Also thinking of changing the furnace to the Trane S9V2-VS, which is apparently a quieter option than what was initially planned.

5. Because of the storage area, there needs to be a door access to the side of the screen. I'm kinda bummed about this too because it will make it a bit less aesthetically pleasing.

6. Tentatively planning to maximize screen size. What's shown currently is ~170" diagonal at 2.35:1 which is ~135" at 16:9. I think this works okay for the viewing distances of ~9', 16', and 20'. (THX recommended 7.0-15.1' for 16:9 size and 9.3-20.1' for 2.35:1 size).

7. Removed all possible cabinetry for now. I'll probably add an A/V components rack to the side of the chimney.

Current concerns:
1. Furnace behind acoustically transparent screen. Too much noise? Able to deaden/control this? Is it okay to build that mini mechanical area to better control? The screen wall and mechanicals wall will be added at a later date when I actually start building stuff. For now, I need to figure out if there's any changes to the design to better optimize the space.

2. Where do subwoofers go? In-riser? Behind screen?

3. I forgot to fix the location and height of the surround speakers so they're weirdly floating in air haha. Also meant to lower them down to ear level and aim them better. To do!

Thanks for any thoughts!
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post #6 of 48 Old 07-30-2019, 05:10 AM
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All that glass will be a serious liability, in a multitude of ways.

Is there any flex to moving that door back. And then flipping the room 180?

Do you need all those seats? Will you fill them often enough to make the investment in seats worthy? Would three seats wide, with seats off the side wall, and seating centered
on the room, be a case of more being less?
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post #7 of 48 Old 07-30-2019, 05:48 AM
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It will be possible to build a sound containment room around your mechanicals behind the screen wall. HOWEVER, you need to be aware of the ventilation requirements for rooms that use natural gas for combustion, Basically you can't enclose them in an air-tight soundproof room. You will need to plan for fresh air make up either by incorporating duct work outside or connection with other parts of the basement. We might be able to offer more suggestions if you posted a diagram showing how this theater space relates to the rest of the basement. I'm also wondering where they plan on running the ductwork. hopefully not down the center of the ceiling in your planned theater.
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post #8 of 48 Old 07-30-2019, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
All that glass will be a serious liability, in a multitude of ways.

Is there any flex to moving that door back. And then flipping the room 180?

Do you need all those seats? Will you fill them often enough to make the investment in seats worthy? Would three seats wide, with seats off the side wall, and seating centered
on the room, be a case of more being less?
I think my SketchUp must not be clear. There's no glass in the room at the moment. It's a basement with no external light. I made the walls clear to more easily see what's going on in the diagram. Is there a better way to present that? Maybe walls that are transparent from one direction or something?

I don't think there's space to move the door back. I included a crappy diagram showing the other rooms that are adjacent. The other side of the chimney would MAYBE BARELY fit a 3' door and we'd rather have a better interior entrance instead of a weird-looking squashed in entrance.

I tried making a mock-up of flipping the room around. I don't think I'd be able to fit a false wall area to conceal speakers behind a screen with that arrangement. I love the look of concealing the speakers and just having a ginormous screen.

I agree that fewer seats would probably look nicer, but we like hosting a lot of people. Our nuclear family size is 5 currently and we frequently have at least 2 visitors. I'd like a minimum seating of 7 but would prefer easy flexible space to fit 10.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
It will be possible to build a sound containment room around your mechanicals behind the screen wall. HOWEVER, you need to be aware of the ventilation requirements for rooms that use natural gas for combustion, Basically you can't enclose them in an air-tight soundproof room. You will need to plan for fresh air make up either by incorporating duct work outside or connection with other parts of the basement. We might be able to offer more suggestions if you posted a diagram showing how this theater space relates to the rest of the basement. I'm also wondering where they plan on running the ductwork. hopefully not down the center of the ceiling in your planned theater.
Okay, for now I just need to know it's possible. I'll be actually building it in probably a year (or more...). I'm just trying to make sure I get all the steps done now that have to be done now and I'm not missing anything obvious.

For example, ductwork planning is a great point! I'm not sure exactly what is planned, but I think the ductwork is going to be run around the outside ceiling edge of the theater to make a soffit to frame the space. I'll need to make sure when that's happening.

I included an additional photo with crude layout of the other parts of the house, in case that helps with any thoughts.

Thanks again for your time and any thoughts you have!
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post #9 of 48 Old 07-30-2019, 02:24 PM
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What's stopping you from simply bringing in some in fill chairs? Three seats wide, and fit in two more seats in Bigmouth's BigA$$ style steps?
Fewer seats would look nice, center the room, give you a time aligned money seat, and improved audio in all seats.

Ante room, as in a small lobby? Is there any wiggle room between the finished family room and the ante room? Specifically, why isn't it slightly wider?

Is there a chance to host steps in the ante room? Or have the door swing outwards, into that space?
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post #10 of 48 Old 07-30-2019, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the additional thoughts!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
What's stopping you from simply bringing in some in fill chairs? Three seats wide, and fit in two more seats in Bigmouth's BigA$$ style steps?
Fewer seats would look nice, center the room, give you a time aligned money seat, and improved audio in all seats.

Ante room, as in a small lobby? Is there any wiggle room between the finished family room and the ante room? Specifically, why isn't it slightly wider?

Is there a chance to host steps in the ante room? Or have the door swing outwards, into that space?
I hadn't seen Bigmouth's BigA$$ style steps yet. This thread made by Bigmouth is the best example of these I've seen. I like that style a lot and will probably try to replicate something like that.

I agree with your points that it would look nicer, center the room, better optimal seat, improved audio. However, we use loveseats constantly while watching movies/TV/playing games and I think the centered loveseat is the best arrangement in that case. The seating could be a bit narrower, such as the Palliser Stereo 4 straight with loveseat is only 114 wide (a model I'm thinking about), giving ~6' to split between the two aisles. 3' would be pretty decent Bigmouth-ish style steps, I think?

The room right outside (the ante room) is currently a semi-finished storage space and we're thinking would be a really nice lobby. Maybe physical media is stored there and there's some fun displays of vintage theater/gaming stuff? Maybe a cute sign over the theater entrance door? Then keep the theater really clean looking.

There's a wall between the storage room and the family room and a low overhead due to HVAC ducts. The ceiling gets as low as 6'6'' right where the ideal theater entrance would be. I don't think we can knock that wall out easily and make a nice entrance, without changing a lot of HVAC ducts.

The existing basement foundation is a foot higher than the new construction basement, so no easy way to have steps down prior to entering the theater.
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post #11 of 48 Old 07-31-2019, 01:26 AM
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Do you have a 2d floorplan for me to mark up, with the entry door location in the lobby?

I do wonder about the furnace and it's exact service needs, but I could see where a large access panel, could let you push the front wall back, and allow you space for an AT screen. Again employing one of Big's ideas, the 2 goalpost, and cleat hung screen, could be something easily disassembled, for furnace access. The door would be kept also, for access, but swing inwards.


One idea I am doing for a small feature wall is a digital movie poster light box, from a 43" hdtv. I am leaning to hosting it in an inexpensive to DIY, section of feature wall. There are many versions of these around, but mine is rather simple as it is a piece of material to mask the hdtv, a 16G usb drive, and the hdtv and it's internal media player.

The media rack could be recessed and be a simple enough project, and make use of that space beneath the soffit, while not eating up any floor space. The av rack could also be recessed into some of that space.
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post #12 of 48 Old 07-31-2019, 05:28 AM
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I see the furnace room is landlocked and does not have a common wall with any other interior spaces other than the theater. In my county here is the building code.

Appliance access. Furnaces, water heaters and other appliances must be accessible without removing
permanent construction and shall meet the following minimum criteria.
• 30 inches x 30 inches clear floor space at front/control side.
• Doors to furnace rooms shall be 24 inches minimum and be of sufficient size to remove the largest
appliance.
Combustion air. Furnace rooms with fuel-fired appliances must be provided with two permanent openings to
adjacent spaces: one within 12 inches of the top and one within 12 inches from the bottom of the adjoining wall.
Each opening must have a minimum free area equal to 1 square inch per 1,000 Btu per hour input rating of all
appliances in the furnace room, but not less than 100 square inches. The openings are not required if a louvered
door is provided or the furnace room area is greater than 50 cubic feet per 1,000 Btu per hour input rating of all
appliances installed in the room.

If you were to follow that to the letter there would be two big openings into your theater and your theater would get a lot of noise. There is a work around that may be permissible in your jurisdiction and that is to vent the furnace room to the outside. Then the wall between the furnace and the theater can be built solid with sound isolation methods. Here is a good video on the alternative.

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post #13 of 48 Old 07-31-2019, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
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So I was told that the plan is to have the HVAC ducting run through the ceiling so there will be no soffits at all in the space. Getting a 2nd confirmation soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
Do you have a 2d floorplan for me to mark up, with the entry door location in the lobby?

I do wonder about the furnace and it's exact service needs, but I could see where a large access panel, could let you push the front wall back, and allow you space for an AT screen. Again employing one of Big's ideas, the 2 goalpost, and cleat hung screen, could be something easily disassembled, for furnace access. The door would be kept also, for access, but swing inwards.

One idea I am doing for a small feature wall is a digital movie poster light box, from a 43" hdtv. I am leaning to hosting it in an inexpensive to DIY, section of feature wall. There are many versions of these around, but mine is rather simple as it is a piece of material to mask the hdtv, a 16G usb drive, and the hdtv and it's internal media player.

The media rack could be recessed and be a simple enough project, and make use of that space beneath the soffit, while not eating up any floor space. The av rack could also be recessed into some of that space.
I've attached the preliminary plan to this post. Changes since then:
1) Furnace was going to be in the storage room and go through the wall, but now it is in the south-west corner of the new construction area.
2) The entrance door was going to be in the family room but now is through storage room.
3) Sump pump will be moved to south wall somewhere.
4) The original footings were a little wider than expected so the space will be a few inches smaller on the sides connecting to existing construction.

Open to any suggestions!!

I really like the HDTV-movie poster idea. That would look fantastic in the lobby. I'm not sure what you mean by the media rack location, but I agree that's probably a relatively simple project that could be fit somewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
I see the furnace room is landlocked and does not have a common wall with any other interior spaces other than the theater.
...
If you were to follow that to the letter there would be two big openings into your theater and your theater would get a lot of noise. There is a work around that may be permissible in your jurisdiction and that is to vent the furnace room to the outside. Then the wall between the furnace and the theater can be built solid with sound isolation methods. Here is a good video on the alternative.
In our area, an air to air exchanger is required for new construction, so that will be installed with this new furnace. Does that accomplish the same thing as that video alternative?

I began discussions with the builder how to minimize the furnace footprint and any requirements for building a sound-deadening enclosure. Should hear more soon.

Thanks again everybody!
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post #14 of 48 Old 07-31-2019, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowDad View Post
In our area, an air to air exchanger is required for new construction, so that will be installed with this new furnace. Does that accomplish the same thing as that video alternative?
Maybe hard to tell without knowing more about the details, discuss it with your local experts they will have a solution. Any solution they suggest that doesn't involve putting openings in the wall between the furnace and the theater space would be my goal.
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post #15 of 48 Old 07-31-2019, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Updates after discussions with builder:
- HVAC ducting should run through ceiling. No soffits in theater area.
- Furnace will require ~6x7' space for the unit and access. Okay to fully enclose that space with no dedicated air openings to neighboring rooms. Will have air to air exchanger and air intake.

New questions:
- Can I reuse ceiling drywall? The builder has to drywall the ceiling (per code) and was going to use 8' sheets that I won't be able to get in once the space is completed. No taping/mudding. I'd been planning on taking those down when I'm actually building the theater to install wire, lights, projector, etc, then put the drywall back up. I'm reading about sound isolation techniques and thinking of going with clips & furring channels instead of RC1 (which was what builder recommended). So initially it would be installed straight into the studs and later it would be reinstalled into clips & channels. Will that work?

- Do concrete floors and cinder block walls need special sound proofing treatment? This is a new construction basement with an in-law suite above it. The adjacent sides to my house are cinder block and the new exterior walls are cinder block. Do I need to worry about sound isolation on any surface besides the ceiling? If I understand correctly, the high mass of the concrete controls the sound well enough? So I wouldn't need to worry about sound traveling into the walls and up into the in-law suite?

- How much space is ideal for a speaker cavity behind the screen? I'm thinking of changing around the mechanicals area design to the new SketchUp attached. Since the mini mechanical room would need to be almost as big as the space anyway, how about just making the dividing wall much bigger and incorporating sound batting directly into the back, then place speakers in that cavity?

Thanks, again, for any insight!!
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post #16 of 48 Old 08-01-2019, 04:23 AM
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Concrete can be a pretty good conduit for bass. And any hole in the isolation shell, can undermine all your sound isolation efforts.
It's called flanking noise, and as Dennis Erskine used to say, think of it as a six sided aquarium, and any opening is going to leak.

If you don't have speakers already, is a baffle wall a shallow wall option?

I would reuse the drywall, if you can take it down, but maybe just not on the ceiling. You also could preload drywall in the basement. Or you could simply take a strip
of floor out, before the finished floor goes down, and drop drywall down to the theater, between floor joists.

Will the ceiling be seeing mud? It doesn't make much sense having drywall without a fire coat of mud since that won't stop fire walking around
the drywall.

The furnace location is finally starting to make sense now.

So after you have that noise isolated room, which should have a nice low noise floor, why is the av rack in the room? If it's actively cooled, then it's noise. It also is likely
to add some light pollution, and heat to the room. That lobby could host the av rack.

just a thought: I am guessing it's way too late to consider something like a furnace that could be vertically hung, and in the back of the room instead? If you don't have
speakers, a baffle wall can be pretty shallow, some as shallow as 8". And if the subs were in the side wall cavity, the room could be centered.
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post #17 of 48 Old 08-01-2019, 06:01 AM
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Design thoughts, usually a bar top and stools behind the second row of seating doesn't need to be elevated more than the second row riser height. But a second row of seating usually needs more than a 6 inch riser for an unobstructed view, Raise the seating riser.

A 5ft 2 deep riser will not accommodate reclining home theater seats, 6 1/2 will. 5'2" is OK for classic bolt down theater style theater seating.

an 8' 8" viewing distance for the front row is really close.
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post #18 of 48 Old 08-01-2019, 07:57 AM
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That last diagram was about squeezing the most depth out of the room, or preserving depth of the room, and includes some of what Big mentions.

You could also skip recliners entirely, or simply do two rows of five commercial recliners. Maybe not a popular option but they are designed to pack in seating,
both width and depth wise.

I like a pro/con list approach. Ten commercial theater style rocker seats, gets you the seat count, and doesn't eat up room depth. And you rid yourself of that bar top,
which is a liability with overhead speakers. Now you might get three rows in there, but your cooling needs for the room just went up.
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post #19 of 48 Old 08-01-2019, 09:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
Concrete can be a pretty good conduit for bass. And any hole in the isolation shell, can undermine all your sound isolation efforts.
It's called flanking noise, and as Dennis Erskine used to say, think of it as a six sided aquarium, and any opening is going to leak.

If you don't have speakers already, is a baffle wall a shallow wall option?

I would reuse the drywall, if you can take it down, but maybe just not on the ceiling. You also could preload drywall in the basement. Or you could simply take a strip
of floor out, before the finished floor goes down, and drop drywall down to the theater, between floor joists.

Will the ceiling be seeing mud? It doesn't make much sense having drywall without a fire coat of mud since that won't stop fire walking around
the drywall.

The furnace location is finally starting to make sense now.

So after you have that noise isolated room, which should have a nice low noise floor, why is the av rack in the room? If it's actively cooled, then it's noise. It also is likely
to add some light pollution, and heat to the room. That lobby could host the av rack.


just a thought: I am guessing it's way too late to consider something like a furnace that could be vertically hung, and in the back of the room instead? If you don't have
speakers, a baffle wall can be pretty shallow, some as shallow as 8". And if the subs were in the side wall cavity, the room could be centered.
Okay I'll do more reading about sound isolation to try to prep as much as possible. I'm hoping to load anything over 6' before closing up the space (drywall, plywood, lumber for studs and screen frame).

I didn't know what a baffle wall was, but it looks like an ideal application here. I've remade the SketchUp so the screen wall is about the size of a baffle wall (~1 foot cavity). I do already have speakers for a cheapish 5.1 set I got about a decade ago, but I'm planning on buying all new for this project.

They said they didn't need to mud the ceiling, so I'm not expecting it. I like reusing the drywall, so I'll probably aim to use it on walls or something.

Re: the AV rack. I hadn't thought much about it. To try out your squared off room idea, which I liked quite a lot, I initially made a SketchUp with just squaring off that whole chimney wall and placing the AV rack right next to the entrance door, but my wife HATED the entrance (too difficult for people to fluidly enter the space with the door swinging too close to the bar) so that got axed. Now I've tried doing the AV closet just after entering the theater. It could go in the lobby, but then wires would have to go even further, and I'm concerned about wireless controllers for video game systems transmitting through the cinder block or having to use a relay system. Will the mini closet location work okay even if it's just inside the theater? It should help with sound and light control a bit, at least.

I don't know a lot about furnaces. I had the model switched to the Trane S9V2-VS, which is their quietest model apparently. I thought it was going to be installed as a vertical furnace, but this is waaay outside my expertise so I could be way wrong?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
That last diagram was about squeezing the most depth out of the room, or preserving depth of the room, and includes some of what Big mentions.

You could also skip recliners entirely, or simply do two rows of five commercial recliners. Maybe not a popular option but they are designed to pack in seating,
both width and depth wise.

I like a pro/con list approach. Ten commercial theater style rocker seats, gets you the seat count, and doesn't eat up room depth. And you rid yourself of that bar top,
which is a liability with overhead speakers. Now you might get three rows in there, but your cooling needs for the room just went up.
We were hoping for storage space in the mechanicals area (since we're losing our dedicated storage room) so I think mechanicals in the back might not work. I'll need to try visualizing it a bit.

The two recliners I've been eyeing to get a sense of scale for the space are the Palliser Stereo 4 straight with loveseat (114" wide) or the Seatcraft Solstice row of 4 with Loveseat (122" wide). My wife would really like to have wider aisles, but I don't like commercial theater seats much. The ones I listed are the narrowest I've found that still look pretty comfy. Trying to balance conflicting goals: 7-10 seating goal, yet comfy seats, ideally a loveseat thrown in, centered perfectly in the theater, and somehow have wide aisles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
Design thoughts, usually a bar top and stools behind the second row of seating doesn't need to be elevated more than the second row riser height. But a second row of seating usually needs more than a 6 inch riser for an unobstructed view, Raise the seating riser.

A 5ft 2 deep riser will not accommodate reclining home theater seats, 6 1/2 will. 5'2" is OK for classic bolt down theater style theater seating.

an 8' 8" viewing distance for the front row is really close.
I tried incorporating all of these design thoughts into a new SketchUp.

Regarding viewing distance, I've been aiming for the THX recommended minimum and maximum for the biggest screen I can fit. For 160" 2.35:1 screen, that's 8.8-18.9'. The corresponding 16:9 (black bars on sides) would be ~130", and the THX recommended is 6.7-14.5'. Currently I've got distances of 9'9", 15'10", 20'8". For perspective, I'm currently using a 110" 16:9 screen and I typically sit at 12', but there are seats at 8-9' as well and I don't find that uncomfortable (note THX recommended would be 5.7-12.3', so apparently I don't mind medium to long THX recommended distance). I feel like those seats correspond to a reasonable "close and big", "not too close but still fills view", and "farther and not overwhelming". Is this mostly personal preference...?

Thanks again for the super useful thoughts!!
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post #20 of 48 Old 08-02-2019, 05:41 AM
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I like that a lot. One catch might be the permanent riser and how and when it is built. An inspector might want 36" wide aisles.
You also might want to watch how wide that av rack location is. Something like a Middle Atlantic Slim5 rack needs 20" of width.

Sitting 12' away from a 110" 16x9 screen is very conservative. What other factors that limit scree-size is projector brightness (and allowing for falling light
output as a bulb ages), seated head sight lines so every seat can see the bottom of the screen, over seated heads. Riser heights can play a role here, but the balance is
keeping seating off any overhead speakers, and not eating up room volume. There also are ergonomic comfort issues such as one's eyes being able to take in the entire
screen, and where the projector ends up, headroom-wise.

As for preferences, you have three rows to accommodate preferences.

Is the entry for the furnace room a 2' wide door? That access might be an issue come any building inspections. I would consider a cleat hung screen, and a removable lower
screen panel coupled with an access portal, on the front wall. Or one could simply host a door there, with mass, heavy duty hinges and seals.
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post #21 of 48 Old 08-02-2019, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
I like that a lot. One catch might be the permanent riser and how and when it is built. An inspector might want 36" wide aisles.
You also might want to watch how wide that av rack location is. Something like a Middle Atlantic Slim5 rack needs 20" of width.

Sitting 12' away from a 110" 16x9 screen is very conservative. What other factors that limit scree-size is projector brightness (and allowing for falling light
output as a bulb ages), seated head sight lines so every seat can see the bottom of the screen, over seated heads. Riser heights can play a role here, but the balance is
keeping seating off any overhead speakers, and not eating up room volume. There also are ergonomic comfort issues such as one's eyes being able to take in the entire
screen, and where the projector ends up, headroom-wise.

As for preferences, you have three rows to accommodate preferences.

Is the entry for the furnace room a 2' wide door? That access might be an issue come any building inspections. I would consider a cleat hung screen, and a removable lower
screen panel coupled with an access portal, on the front wall. Or one could simply host a door there, with mass, heavy duty hinges and seals.
The AV rack is in a 2' space, but the door is only 20" at the moment. Hopefully I can fit a 20" rack in without too much trouble.

I tried modifying a few things to account for this feedback.
- Adjusted seats to a 2x love seat arrangement with realistic dimensions (ala Octane Charger XS300). This shrunk the seats just enough to get 36" aisles now!
- Added small bump-ins of the walls near the screen to allow a better passageway behind the left acoustic panel (added a right acoustic panel for symmetry). This enables the mechanicals access walkway to be up to 2'10" (or less if I frame in a door). I added a wood beam appearance to dress up the column and make it look like a design decision.

Current concerns:
- Do the bump-ins work? Is the screen too close to the wall? The screen is 160" 2.35:1, the frame is 4", and the space between the frame and the wall is 4" on each side. Will there be an acoustic problem with walls so close and then expanding to the theater area?
- What is the minimum access required for the furnace? My wife really wanted 2'8" to easily access and get things into the storage. Access through the screen was too difficult. Will 2'8" be enough for code?
- There's no "best" seat anymore because it's love seats all the way down. Oh well...

Overall, I'm starting to feel good about the design. It's not a perfect rectangle theater, but that would have been tough with that chimney in the way and the other design challenges.

Concrete block walls have been placed, so I'll get to know final dimensions soon! Now I need to do a lot of reading about sound isolation techniques to understand all that, whew.
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post #22 of 48 Old 08-03-2019, 05:40 AM
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A Middle Atlantic Slim5 is a small foot print and is highly flexible.

I doubt a 28" hallway with meet any building code, but couldn't the storage shelving be better accommodated somewhere else in the basement?
I would expect a minimum 3' with for a hallway.

I have found with various remodels, sometimes it pays to watch the inches like a hawk, but sometimes giving some space is actually the smarter play.
A nice storage closet elsewhere, might be cheaper, and simpler overall. Easier access, simpler to build, and potentially cheaper might be reasons to maybe not
focus on the storage in the utility room. You also could frame it as a door in the front wall, and once inspections are done, do a hatch entry. I would suggest a daisy chained
smoke detector in that space, and maybe use that side area to do a high low vent in the family room.

As for the aisle and the riser not quite being code. Just put in a platform that covers the door swing, with steps as a temporary measure, and don't mention a riser with it's steps.


Some more thoughts:

Ever consider using that narrowed front and do a shadow boxed front, which will suck up light reflecting off of an AT screen? That will help max out your projector's contrast ratio.
and you could relax the color scheme back of that.

How do you plan to execute two pairs of side surrounds (to do that well)?

I would suggest the shortcut to a lot of this stuff, is to simply read through some of BigmouthinDC's builds, at the bottom of this posts. I also understand Big does paid consulting too.
And there's the AVS search function which can work well with enough of a tightly focused word search string.
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post #23 of 48 Old 08-03-2019, 06:13 AM
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Maybe a storage closet in the lobby could be stealth. A lower head room closet could be framed in, and maybe some floor to ceiling doors put in?

Not sure what you want to accomplish with the lobby entry, but it could be the answer to easier to access storage, and simplifying the front of the theater.
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post #24 of 48 Old 08-03-2019, 07:03 AM
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And that brings me around to that last layout, but basically flipped 180.... Enter at riser level with the wider back, and a door and some steps inside the furnace room.

If the furnace can be rotated, so the front service needs are exposed, then maybe you can shave some depth back there?
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post #25 of 48 Old 08-04-2019, 10:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the thoughts! Here's some directed responses:
- My state code says for a dwelling unit that 24" passageway is adequate access to a furnace in a basement. I'm going to try to confirm this because that would help a lot with the design.
- We want easy access to the mechanicals area in case something goes wrong (furnace problem, sump overflow, etc) and then we could also use the space for some bonus storage. We're not comfortable hiding the access behind a screen.
- I really like the shadow boxed front. Adding that.
- I'm unsure about how I'll do side surrounds yet. I wasn't even planning on building this for possibly over a year, haha. I was planning on slowly doing reading over the next several months before actually doing it. I didn't realize how many decisions I would need to make NOW, since the mechanicals are now in the space (boo) and it'll be 1000x easier to get the bulky materials in before sealing the floor. Trying to do a crash course on sound isolation techniques, framing methods, theater design, etc to figure out all the stuff that needs to go in within the next couple weeks... I think I don't need to worry about how the surrounds will actually work for a while, unless that impacts factors that I need to worry about right now too?
- We're going to use some of the "lobby" as storage, but I'd like to make it a cool entry area for guests instead of a bunch of shelves holding our crap.
- Unfortunately we won't be able to use the entry through the fireplace-joining wall so I've given up refining those designs.

I finally got time to read more about sound isolation techniques. I didn't realize quite how much space that would take off the walls to do it right. I don't have final dimensions yet (hopefully this week!) but I used the best measurements I've got and beefed up all of the interior walls to 8" to be safe (aiming for room within a room style since concrete wall acts as first wall, then 2" space and then second wall as 2x4 frame, drywall, green glue, drywall).

Losing that much from the width hurt. I tried shrinking one walkway to handle it, but the offset look of the theater bothered the hell out of me. So I did the following:
- Shrunk the aisles to 2'6" (hoping that'll be enough to satisfy code).
- Expanded the mechanicals access door to 3'2" opening (3' door).
- Changed the screen ratio to 16:9 since that fit the wall best now (no point shrinking down the screen for 2.35:1 if I'm width constrained now).
- Maxed out the screen to 150" (THX recommended viewing 7.8-16.8 and current viewing distances are 9'3", 15'8", 19'8").
- Added curtains to frame the screen (blocking the unsightly door access on the side).
- Added shadow box of 2'6".
- Rotated the location of the AV rack closet so it could still fit.

Current concerns:
- Confirm access requirements for state code!
- Read more about baffle walls. What size should I be aiming for? Will subs go in the baffle wall?
- Read more about infinite baffle subwoofers and in-riser subwoofers.
- Now that I look at the back surrounds, I'm really not sure where those could go since the AV closet is right where I'd put one. I'm trying to make the sound stage as good as possible for the front two rows. The back bar is okay to be sub-par. I'd assumed they'd be in-wall?

Thanks again!!
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post #26 of 48 Old 08-05-2019, 06:29 AM
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The shallowest Baffle wall I have seen, is 8". A sub or two, or could penetrate the wall and be accommodated by a framing in behind.

I was indeed aiming for a cool entry with that storage rack hosted here, instead of the furnace space. If you have media to store, it could be displayed in an
inexpensive manner that could look like finished furniture. The storage doors, could be floor to ceiling, to kind of make them disappear. One idea for a
small section for a small section of feature wall, is some movie quotes done in 3D plastic letters, and then spray it all out in once color. Basically thinking
a tone on tone, 3D effect. Or simply use stencil lettering, or decals. Wouldn't have the three dimensionality but it could still be something to make a statement.

And then there's the digital movie light box there. Tucked right where it can be seen, coming down the hallway. The media rack could even have two wide columns,
and even feature some unique lighting.

Anyways, it doesn't take all that much to radiate cool, judging by Theo K's idea of an entry module. According to Theo, it gets more interest then the theaters.

You don't even need curtains to hide the entry door. The door would be even more hidden, without the stepping, and black door hardware. Or it could simply be a hinged
fabric panel, in front of the access door.

I look at your Sketchups and always see a front row too close to the screen, and want to reach for more room depth. One way to do that could be really good in wall speakers, with
the access panel for furnace service, with the front wall pushed forward some. You could build an AT wall 6" out from in wall speakers, and the lower access hatch could simply
be a fabric covered velcro'ed panel. Basically, there's lot of access, but with storage accommodated in the lobby, then there's not much reason to go back there.
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post #27 of 48 Old 08-05-2019, 06:44 AM
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From a high end design perspective, the bar row is actually impacting on the room in many negative ways. Eating up room depth and pushing the front row
too close to the screen, putting seating on top of surround speakers, and adding a large reflective untreatable surface for the overhead speakers to bounce
sound off of.

All that I am suggesting, is to try to fit that seating in, in a better way, to improve the audio and ergonomics of the room. The simplest of that, was asking if
you even need the third row. Those seats if not used much, might just equate to elimination them and making the room simpler to build. Or it might equate to
three rows of fixed back seats, (which won't move ones eyes or ears).
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post #28 of 48 Old 08-05-2019, 11:08 AM
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Personally I like to have a center seat in the room that is directly in line with the center channel and the display. Depending on which row you plan to be in, you may want to do a row of 3 and a row of 4 chairs. This "money seat" will enjoy the best performance of the system from both an audio and video perspective. You will be directly on axis with the center channel and in the center of the viewing cone of the screen. You will also be equidistant from the side surrounds and the overhead speakers. Seats to either side will still be good, but if I am building it, I want to be in the best spot.
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Would I have stayed happy not knowing how good it could be? -- My first theater in print -- My first build- Mocha Theater Construction
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post #29 of 48 Old 08-05-2019, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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So apparently the supplies need to be dropped into the space later this week. I thought I had another week!

I’m going to try to do a full breakdown of the larger materials needed tonight, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

Mechanicals area:
- enough 2x4 lumber to frame space (10’ lengths for 9’ ceiling)
- single layer 5/8” drywall all of the walls

Theater room:
- enough 2x4 lumber to frame space (10’ lengths)
- double layer 5/8” drywall all of the walls
- double layer OSB or plywood for the floor (planning a rubber floating layer under)
- single layer OSB or plywood for the ceiling
- single layer 5/8” drywall for the ceiling
- large beams (???) to frame screen
- double layer OSB/plywood the riser floor

Questions:
- Am I missing anything bulky that would be hard to get down stairs? The stairwell isn’t terribly tight, but the lowest overhead is 6.5’ and there is a turn at the bottom. I think I can get something narrow and 10-11’ through without too much trouble, but 12+ feet long or wider than 6” might be real tight.
- Hat channel is sold in 6’ sections right? So I can get that down later.
- Is there a specific type of drywall I should be getting beyond 5/8”?
- They were planning on getting 12’ drywall sections to best cover the area. Is there a problem with that?
- What kind of framing around the screen? I’m trying to skim build threads to find details of how to build a screen support similar to my design but having trouble finding beginner level knowledge quickly, while taking care of 3 kids at home. I wish I’d realized how much knowledge I’d need to know so soon!

Thanks for any help!!!
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post #30 of 48 Old 08-05-2019, 12:55 PM
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The "large beam (???)" might simply be some metal stud wall and wood shorts, right out of Big's ht playbook.

Bigger sheets mean less seams. More weight but if you aren't the one slugging it....

Maybe some extra 2x4's, to cover for some framing oddities that can eat up lumber?

Can all this be dropped by a delivery boom, which could make life easier? Might save on the full body workout, if you're the muscle...
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