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post #1 of 34 Old 06-18-2019, 10:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Theater Layout - dig the basement deeper?

We are currently building a new home and I have one corner of the basement dedicated for a home theater. I have attached a picture of the planned layout . Unfortunately, the position of the entrance door is fixed, as is the room's perimeter footprint. The ceiling will be 9' high in the front of the theater, but the back section needs an HVAC bulkhead, so it will be dropped to 8'.

Three questions :

1) Will the ceilings be too low at the back (i.e. if the riser is 1' high, the ceiling will be only 7' above it) ?
2) If the riser does not span the whole width of the room, will that make the acoustics problematic ? With this layout, an aisle is needed.

The house if framed but the basement slab is not poured yet. Therefore..

3) Should I ask the builder to excavate the front of the room 1' deeper, so it drops down (eliminating the need to build a riser for the 2nd row)?

THANKS for any advice!
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post #2 of 34 Old 06-18-2019, 11:17 PM
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Hi Blake.

I'm no expert, just an on-looker but maybe you could flip the room & disguise the "Bulkhead" by building it into your risers, (that's if the bulkhead is the same depth as your risers) & you have enough room at the front for your screen speakers
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post #3 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 02:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Luddy. I would prefer to keep the room oriented as is , so the door is not adjacent to the front speakers (not good for acoustics). The HVAC bulkhead has to be a drop ceiling where the ducts run.


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post #4 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 04:16 AM
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I dug down deeper. 10' is standard and I added 2 more feet. Not too costly either.


12' basement Wall



Finished Theater - able to get good, high placement of ceiling speakers.
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post #5 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 04:47 AM
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If the otter walls are deep enough to the footings that you could go a 1' deeper I would do it now. They may have to put in a drain tile in that area and tie it in to your sump pump to pull water away from it. Ask @chirpie about removing concrete, dirt and rock out of a basement to get the first row lower. Better to do it now than later.

Also how big is the bulk head? Will you be able to do 7.x.4 Atmos? Make sure your back row is off the back wall some.

You could go with seats like this for the back row.

https://4seating.com/home-theater-se...heater-chairs/

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post #6 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 05:02 AM
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7' at the second row is enough height, but if you want luxury, the answer is to drop the front section. That might reveal the footings and you might need to bench the
front wall and side wall.

You could simply rise the entry door and extend a landing outside the room, and have steps out there to the landing/riser height.

So what is exactly outside the room, in terms of space and usage? (This might simply be a nice design opportunity.)
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post #7 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 05:03 AM
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Could you gain height by having wider/shallower HVAC sheet metal? Or simply routing it to the back wall?
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post #8 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 05:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blake View Post
The HVAC bulkhead has to be a drop ceiling where the ducts run.
This is a true statement only if your county has some weird building codes, Usually you can use drywall and if you use minimal head loss framing techniques you don't to lose too much. 1 1/2 inches for a double layer of drywall and an air gap. One vote for digging down if your builder doesn't inflate the bid unreasonably.

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post #9 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 05:23 AM
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A few ideas, showing the potential option of extending the riser out past the theater.

I bet one could gain 5'6" of riser headroom with wider/shallower HVAC in that area, and careful framing.
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post #10 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 06:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blake View Post
We are currently building a new home and I have one corner of the basement dedicated for a home theater. I have attached a picture of the planned layout . Unfortunately, the position of the entrance door is fixed, as is the room's perimeter footprint. The ceiling will be 9' high in the front of the theater, but the back section needs an HVAC bulkhead, so it will be dropped to 8'.

Three questions :

1) Will the ceilings be too low at the back (i.e. if the riser is 1' high, the ceiling will be only 7' above it) ?
2) If the riser does not span the whole width of the room, will that make the acoustics problematic ? With this layout, an aisle is needed.

The house if framed but the basement slab is not poured yet. Therefore..

3) Should I ask the builder to excavate the front of the room 1' deeper, so it drops down (eliminating the need to build a riser for the 2nd row)?

THANKS for any advice!
The problem you may have with going deeper, especially if you're already framed up, is your foundation wall and footers. I would also imagine local codes and authorities may require you to have an engineer stamp that type of plan change.
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post #11 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mntneer View Post
The problem you may have with going deeper, especially if you're already framed up, is your foundation wall and footers. I would also imagine local codes and authorities may require you to have an engineer stamp that type of plan change.
Yeah, digging deeper after the footers are poured is probably already too late for what the builder will want to put up with and what the cost will be. Doesn't hurt to ask though. The issue is dealing with disturbed soil vs undisturbed soil near the footer (naturally compacted) as well as an engineer signing off on it if the digging is too close to the footer. I had the chance to add 2 extra feet to my ceiling for an additional $4,000 for a room under the garage. It would've taken them from 12 foot walls to 14 foot walls. I passed because not only was the estimated cost 4K more, it would've delayed the start of building on the house by a few months because the plans would have had to go back to the city.

Unfortunately I foolishly thought I was getting 12 foot CEILINGS finished. What I got were 12' WALLS. Under a garage though, once the spancrete was craned in and the top pour happened, that finished out to an actual 10' 6" instead. Now I'm retroactively redoing a section to sink it 16" lower for the first row (Of three). I'm doing it all myself so far (Credit where credit is due, the wife chips in!), and it's really, really hard work due to how hard it is to get the concrete and soil out of the basement (All in buckets) as well as the soil type. (Clay/shale) And even with me doing almost all the work myself, it's still going to cost at least that $4,000 initial price.

If I could go back in time, I would've told myself "Dude, just live in your current house 3 more months. It will be worth it!" ^_^ But hindsight is hindsight, and the rest of us live in reality.

I will say this, when I step down to the lowest part of the unfinished room, the extra ceiling height already really helps with the proportionate feel of the room. Already feels better. :-)

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post #12 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to all who replied.

The builder came back and said digging deeper is NOT recommended because it would under mine the footing, leading to the strip footing not bearing as it was designed to. And drainage issues as weeping tile surrounding the basement would be higher than the lowered slab (although as posted here, tying in additional drainage tile into the sump pit should be easy). They are uncomfortable with unforeseen circumstances that may come about. I suppose I could push the issue but they already mentioned cost could be upward of $10k. Not being an engineer - I thought if you dug below the footing, the footings would remain intact since you are pouring concrete slab right adjacent to it ?

Tedd - on the modified drawing you attached, are the two square boxes (beside the couch) a the step down? Is there a problem building the riser narrower, so the step-UP is within the room as I drew it (acoustic issue?). We probably could put the step-up outside the room as you drew.

I will check with the HVAC subs if they could make a wider/shallower ceiling bulkhead, or perhaps run the bulkhead in a cavity at the back of the room as Tedd suggests. The problem is I will probably need acoustic treatment on the ceiling above the riser, making the ceiling height even lower.

Should i close off the upper right section on the theater (the shaded red part on the original drawing), so it is a rectangle to improve room acoustics?
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post #13 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blake View Post
Should i close off the upper right section on the theater (the shaded red part on the original drawing), so it is a rectangle to improve room acoustics?

Looking at your plans I'm going to assume that 95% of daily room use will be in the front row. The further you can space the side surrounds from the sectional the better the surround sound audio performance. I'd try to see if you can make the layout work with keeping the front part of the room at the maximum width available.

Now how you address the side surround for the rear row is another issue.
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post #14 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 05:08 PM
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@blake , is the back row more for overflow or will it get used a lot? If overflow, you could just add a back bar with nice bar stools, keep the front room wide and make it the money row. That's what I am thinking of doing now since it will mostly be my wife Kid and a friend or two watching movies or just a few friends except for Super Bowl parties. You could also put a row of commercial theater seats in the second row on like a 7" riser to see over the front. That's something Tedd has should me before.

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post #15 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 05:23 PM
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You could put the step in the room, as you drew, but you are limited to an 8.5" high riser, without a step by building codes.

Now that may or may not work, with regards to the second row being able to see the bottom of the screen. For that, you could draw the room out to scale, from a side view perspective.
If you have the seating, then you can measure exactly where eyes are, and then put heads in the front row and see what height the screens needs to be at. Draw in your projector, with it's
throw distance, and you also see if there's any riser clearance issues. With all that, you are not guessing if it all works together.

Why will you need acoustical treatment on the riser ceiling? You usually treat the first reflection point for the front row. I would suggest you don't overly deaden the room with excessive acoustical
treatment.

Why give up the extra width and volume? As Big mentions, getting the side surrounds further off the seating is a nice plus. I expected you would be in an underpinning/benching situation at this point.
Hence I didn't really touch on that side wall previously, because that area could have been used for benching, and a 'stage" be the front bench. What I suggested was more about being able to take the
riser full width, while bringing those steps outside the room, for safety. (The two boxes are indeed wide steps, and all about the nice luxourious looks of Big's "BigA$$" steps. They are also about meeting code
and having the riser tall enough to enable proper screen sightlines.)

So what exactly is outside the theater entry? I myself like the idea of a feature wall, and some inexpensive detailing right outside the room. In my case, it is about being able to introduce some wow factor
for my next room, which is to be a black cave.
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post #16 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 05:37 PM
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luddy111dog + Ladeback a layout as such. The room flip does put your ATMOS speakers where the head room. But the door location means a baffle wall, which might not work with
existing speakers.
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post #17 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 05:42 PM
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Heh Jeff, what does the entry area look like? Just curious...
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If you can move the door then you also might use angled wing walls to hide the L/R speakers and gain maybe 9 inches to effective room length


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post #19 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 07:31 PM
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Just a guess....but I reckon there maybe stairs around that area Jeff.
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post #20 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 07:54 PM
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There's definitely some winder stairs on thebland's entry, but I was curious about that area, what was done visually, and how the av closet relates to it.

And there's an extreme version that could eliminate much of the dropped ceiling by eliminating the second row. Instead of seat count, it is about
putting money and space into other features instead, such as a nice big sub, below the hush box, that fires out into the theater.
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post #21 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 08:52 PM
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I just did the exact same thing Tedd...but 90 degrees to the right.
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post #22 of 34 Old 06-19-2019, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Theater Layout - dig the basement deeper?

Some creative suggestions - thanks! - but I do need to maintain 2 rows of traditional full size seating (for total 6-7 people).



There are indeed stairs by the entrance, but they land on the left side. See attached.



For acoustic reasons, is it necessary to run the riser the entire width of the room? If so, as was suggested I could raise the door a bit and put the step outside the room.



I agree that keeping the front side-surround speakers maximal distance from the front row is ideal, but isn't it even more important to keep the entire room RECTANGULAR to improve the acoustics (i.e. by closing the 2' space along the right - maybe put the AV rack in that area)? Or is this a myth?
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post #23 of 34 Old 06-20-2019, 03:20 AM
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I didn't even post this one, because I felt the seating was getting too minimal for most. But that's something I am seriously thinking about.

Another out there option, for a wide/shallow layout, is to simply turn to some nice commercial theater seats, for their narrow foot print.
The JBL demo room is a cutting edge ATMOS room with high end gear, with an unusual approach to seating, but one might fit in more seats in
a single row.
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post #24 of 34 Old 06-20-2019, 03:54 AM
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A feature wall that matches the rest of the décor, an embedded digital movie poster light box, and maybe a bit of standoff lettering, would allow you to
enter at riser level.

Or, if that entry door could be moved to the other side of the support post, the under stair area would make for a nice av rack location... I know you said fixed door,
but I'm not really seeing anything that rules that out, if that was a direction I wanted to take.

You could make some argument that a full width riser might be a bit safer, and you also now have the potential of using the riser as a broadband bass trap.
You also get the illusion of entering in a sheltered space, which makes the rest of the room look taller. And that has a certain wow factor on it's own, with first
visitors entering the theater.
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Rectangular makes the room easier to model, but it comes with no guarantee of better audio. An argument might be made for the extra width gets the side surrounds further off the seating,
and the extra volume might just come with smoother bass response.

Why have the av rack in the room at all? Why have electronics' displays visible in the room at all? Why have any fan noise of an actively cooled rack, or the extra heat load on the room,
if you could host it outside the room? This is about designing from a high end perspective here, where one start to eliminate all kinds of small to medium details, that impact negatively
on a room.

My first goal would be all about driving the room's noise floor as low as I can get it, to preserve dynamic range of both video and audio. You're also going to have to deal with how hot and
stuffy a 6-7 person home theater could get, without adequate air changes and cooling. The av rack outside the theater, just makes life a wee bit easier there.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
There's definitely some winder stairs on thebland's entry, but I was curious about that area, what was done visually, and how the av closet relates to it.

And there's an extreme version that could eliminate much of the dropped ceiling by eliminating the second row. Instead of seat count, it is about
putting money and space into other features instead, such as a nice big sub, below the hush box, that fires out into the theater.
Ironically, the ebntry is being paintedtoday (very last thing to be done). I'll post pics later tonight. My entry / foyer layout and equipment room is very similar in lay out to the poster's.

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post #27 of 34 Old 06-20-2019, 07:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blake View Post
Thanks to all who replied.

The builder came back and said digging deeper is NOT recommended because it would under mine the footing, leading to the strip footing not bearing as it was designed to. And drainage issues as weeping tile surrounding the basement would be higher than the lowered slab (although as posted here, tying in additional drainage tile into the sump pit should be easy). They are uncomfortable with unforeseen circumstances that may come about. I suppose I could push the issue but they already mentioned cost could be upward of $10k. Not being an engineer - I thought if you dug below the footing, the footings would remain intact since you are pouring concrete slab right adjacent to it ?

Tedd - on the modified drawing you attached, are the two square boxes (beside the couch) a the step down? Is there a problem building the riser narrower, so the step-UP is within the room as I drew it (acoustic issue?). We probably could put the step-up outside the room as you drew.

I will check with the HVAC subs if they could make a wider/shallower ceiling bulkhead, or perhaps run the bulkhead in a cavity at the back of the room as Tedd suggests. The problem is I will probably need acoustic treatment on the ceiling above the riser, making the ceiling height even lower.

Should i close off the upper right section on the theater (the shaded red part on the original drawing), so it is a rectangle to improve room acoustics?
If the floor hasn't been poured yet there IS still hope. Most people don't do this because it causes the room to be more narrow (what you actually want) but if you dig at a 45 degree angle from the footers and then poor the concrete; the attachment is an engineer approved way to lower your basement. For you, it only needs to be done on the perimeter walls, narrowing your room, what you want for acoustics of course. But just an FYI, if you need to make it deeper, if you haven't put down the concrete and if your room is too wide and you don't mind adding some cost to it...it can be done (and you will still keep your spacial placement of the speakers- and may help with sound isolation of the walls). The main down side is it will cost some and your room may be slightly shorter- but the shorter length may not even apply as you will be setting your speakers more than 2' above the concrete floor, I hope, and the concrete bench that would be on one perimeter wall length would only be for the two 1st feet of your wall--Allows for AT screen, speaker placement etc...

I would push the issue now, or I would regret it for years to come... would almost sound... if I had more..., I only I had...

Just a though.

Aaron
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post #28 of 34 Old 06-20-2019, 08:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
Rectangular makes the room easier to model, but it comes with no guarantee of better audio. An argument might be made for the extra width gets the side surrounds further off the seating,
and the extra volume might just come with smoother bass response.
I thought square rooms were bad for theaters? I haven't been keeping up on my room dimensions so am probably wrong, since Tedd knows his stuff- and I also love having the seating far away for the walls for spacial confluent surround sound- wish my room was wider.

Aaron

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Last edited by A.T.M.; 06-20-2019 at 09:00 AM.
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post #29 of 34 Old 06-20-2019, 09:04 AM
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If the riser does not span the whole width of the room, will that make the acoustics problematic ?
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Is there a problem building the riser narrower, so the step-UP is within the room as I drew it (acoustic issue?).
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For acoustic reasons, is it necessary to run the riser the entire width of the room?
No acoustical problems with the riser in your initial drawing; doesn't need to run the entire width of the room. (Sorry you had to ask the same question three times.)
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Will the ceilings be too low at the back (i.e. if the riser is 1' high, the ceiling will be only 7' above it) ?
Not unless your guests are taller than 7 feet.
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Should i close off the upper right section on the theater (the shaded red part on the original drawing), so it is a rectangle to improve room acoustics?
No, keep the full width of the room (can probably seat 5 across), but otherwise stick to your original plan.

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post #30 of 34 Old 06-20-2019, 04:07 PM
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The benching could be a "stage" and the other exterior wall bench could be hidden by the making the room rectangular. I doubt it would be inexpensive to have that done, at this point.

Square rooms make for more challenges, but unless I missed some dimensions, I haven't suggested any square floor plans.

You might need to watch where the projector ends up, with 7' on the riser, but that is an issue however that riser is introduced. Then again flipping the room end for end, puts the riser where there is
additional height.
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