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post #1 of 94 Old 05-23-2007, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
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As a long-time lurker I have finally gotten to the point of formally planning my HT, which is part of an overall basement finishing project. I've worked out a plan that has been massaged over several months based on lots of reading.

Rather than start by posting construction pictures, I have a general layout. I'm probably still about 4 weeks away from framing and figured this was a good time to start posting information and asking for feedback before anything permanent has been started.

Some general information that will help in evaluating my plan:
- 110" 2.35:1 screen (probably AT)
- 7.2 audio system (probably free-standing, but in-wall is a possibility)
- 1080p projector

The shell will be built by the contractor doing the rest of the work in the basement and I will probably do most of the finish work.

The most time-critical feedback relates to the shell, outer wall construction, overall room layout, etc. Here are some of the questions that I have, based on my reading. A lot of them probably don't have definitive answers, so I'm soliciting feedback for discussion as much as I'm looking for any clear direction or answer.

SCREEN WALL: My original plan was to end the room at the dotted line due to the geometry of the existing structure, but then I got the idea that I could build a screen wall there and encroach on the mechanical room a bit. Is there any construction advice I need to give the contractor building the screen wall? What is the recommended method for attaching acoustic panels and finished fabric panels to the screen wall, such that it facilitates easy removal and replacement for future service requirements? Is it worth going through the trouble to shadowbox the screen?

WALL CONSTRUCTION: The outer walls are concrete and will be standard 2x4 framing. The two inner walls will be 2x6, staggered stud and DD and GG on the inside. Is there anything I can do now to set these up optimally for acoustic treatment? I don't have a lot of space so I'm reluctant to build out of each finished wall another 4" or more to hide acoustic treatment. Is there some alternative I can use other than attaching cloth-covered panels as needed?

CEILING: I definitely want to do a starfield and already have an illuminator. Given my relatively low ceiling height, what is the best plan for this? My initial thought was to drywall the ceiling and attach the fiber optic panels to it directly. I think in the end this will give me better acoustic performance and preserve my ceiling height better than going with a drop ceiling and using fiber optics tiles. Thoughts?

PROJECTOR PLACEMENT: It doesn't seem popular in many of the designs I've seen, but it would seem like a good idea to flip the room around and place the projector at the mechanical room and have it project through a window. This will eliminate any heat and noise concerns and make wiring somewhat easier. Why isn't this a popular design choice? Am I missing something?

SOFFITS: I'm going to leave these until after the room is built, but I was wondering how these are typically finished. It would seem advantageous to leave them open/accessible by using some sort of panel closure system so that additional wiring can be run in the future. However, most soffits seem to be drywall. Are there any innovative solutions to designing future-accessible soffits?

LIGHTING: In addition to the starfield, I was planning on 4 sconces, rope lighting on the soffit, rope lighting on the riser step and probably 6-8 recessed lights on the soffit. Do most people find this sufficient or is there need for additional "traditional" recessed lights in the center of the room? This is going to be a dedicated theater and won't be used for other activities. I do like to tinker, though, and want to make sure there is sufficient lighting for any rewiring, equipment changes, etc.

RENDERINGS: I've seen great-looking renderings in a lot of threads. What tools are people using to create these?

COLUMNS: I should probably go with 4 columns to conceal the side speakers and wiring and maintain the acoustic integrity of the shell, but I haven't really thought too much about them yet. The design and construction of them seem like a daunting task.

SEATING: My requirement is to seat at least 6. I will have an 8" riser. I selected 3 curved seats in the front and 4 straight in the back to offset the two rows, though the back it tight. I would prefer curved over straight for the second row, but that barely fits in the space. Am I causing unnecessary problems for myself? With the 8" riser do I even need to worry about offsetting the second row? Also, is the second row too close to the rear wall to make the rear channels effective?

EQUIPMENT RACK: My plan is to use space in a strange triangle-shaped alcove created by the existing structure and new HT wall. The question is whether I should attempt to soundproof this whole area and associated door or if I should keep it separate, with the equipment inaccessible from inside the HT room. I know I'll require an RF control system, but has anyone ever really regretted not having direct access to source components?

I'm sure I'll come up with many more questions through discussion, but these should be enough to get started.

Of course, I welcome any other comments or suggestions anyone may have.

I plan to take many pictures and will start documenting as soon as there's something to show!

Thanks!
- Dave



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post #2 of 94 Old 05-24-2007, 06:08 AM
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Ceiling: I have the same issue with the ceiling height. I am finishing up my starfield ceiling now. I actually attached the panels directly to the drywall above using liquid nails and some finish nails (just to hold them up until the glue dried). My original plan was to use velcro and finish screws, but that did not work out so well. Some advice, if you are going to build panels and put them up, put up furring strips first, then attach the panels to the strips. this will make your life easier.

Lighting: I did something similar to you. I did not do a soffet, I built a light tray around the edges. There are 8 can lights in the tray (50w halogen 3" cans). there is rope light above the tray. I also have 2 can lights above the stage. There is definitely enough light for general use, but while I am working in there, sometimes I would like a little more.

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post #3 of 94 Old 05-24-2007, 06:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dth122 View Post

RENDERINGS: I've seen great-looking renderings in a lot of threads. What tools are people using to create these?

A lot of people use Google Sketch-up. It is free and has a quick learning curve. For more extreme, photo-like renderings, there are a couple of people within this forum that will do them for you. Reaper is one of them. Some people use Visio, but I am completely unfamiliar with it and it's pros and cons.

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post #4 of 94 Old 05-24-2007, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbgonzomd View Post

A lot of people use Google Sketch-up. It is free and has a quick learning curve. For more extreme, photo-like renderings, there are a couple of people within this forum that will do them for you. Reaper is one of them. Some people use Visio, but I am completely unfamiliar with it and it's pros and cons.

To the best of my knowledge, Viseo only does 2-D. It's fine to make a floor plan and for things like electrical circuits. Sketch-Up will help you visualize how everything with fit together in 3-D.

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post #5 of 94 Old 05-24-2007, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback on the starfield panels. Firring strips are definitely the way to go. What material did you use the make the panels themselves?

I'm going to take a look at Google Sktech-Up. I'm not much of an artist, but I might be able to get it to work for me.

No takers on my question about installing the projector outside the HT room and shooting through a window? This is the major question I need to have answered prior to proceeding.

Thanks.
- Dave
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post #6 of 94 Old 05-25-2007, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dth122 View Post

Thanks for the feedback on the starfield panels. Firring strips are definitely the way to go. What material did you use the make the panels themselves?

I'm going to take a look at Google Sktech-Up. I'm not much of an artist, but I might be able to get it to work for me.

No takers on my question about installing the projector outside the HT room and shooting through a window? This is the major question I need to have answered prior to proceeding.

Thanks.
- Dave


I built the panels out of hardboard, with 1x2's around the edges. I did the panels at 47" x 47", as those fit exactly in my room to cover the whole ceiling. I built the frames, drilled the holes (I used a template), covered them in Dazian Celtic cloth. Then I backed some of them with linacoustic (duct liner) but I do not know if this will do any good, sinse the hardboard is a reflective surface, but I have plenty of it, and figured I might try it out for the first reflections...

See SandmanX's thread for lots of details on the starfield panels, I basically copied his method, except I didn't use furring strips.

The biggest problem I see with installing the projector outside of the room will be that you have to punch a hole in your "isolated" theater room, so now sound will leak out through that hole...

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post #7 of 94 Old 09-11-2007, 09:14 PM - Thread Starter
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It's hard to believe it's been over three months since I started this thread, but work has been progressing despite my lack of posting.

The overall outer structure has been built with staggered studs, GG, DD and RSIC clips. Door is Safe N Sound with exterior frame and magnetic drop seals.

Soffits, columns, riser and stage have been built. HVAC has been installed. Paint has been applied. Power is run, but I still have to install the low voltage wiring.

Performing some unscientific tests seem to indicate the isolation is more than enough to keep external noises from getting in and most of the inside noise from getting out. I'll do more analysis once I have a set of speakers ready.

I'm planning to go with the Encore Home Theater Electric Avenue seats. I tried them out and they seem to have a nice balance of comfort and support. Plus, the tilting headrest seems like a nice feature. Has anyone used these before?

Some of the things I'm debating and could use some advice/direction on:
  • Wall finish and treatment - fully upholstered or on-wall treatments.
  • Column finish and treatment (fully fabric-covered, painted, veneer, etc.)
  • Proscenium - should I have one? should I plan for a curtain? Do I have the depth to do this? (the total depth of the wall prior to the angled section is about 2' 9")

Next steps:
  • screen wall (pending decision on proscenium above)
  • equipment rack (this is an a separate adjacent closet)
  • install Insteon dimmers

All thoughts and comments welcome!
- Dave







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post #8 of 94 Old 09-24-2007, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm planning to build the screen wall this weekend and have been reading/reviewing all the other threads that cover this in detail. However, I still have a few items that I need to finalize before I begin construction.

My biggest question has to do with masking and speaker placement. I'm planning on using a 2.35 AT screen in a CIH setup. I want to use some sort of masking for 1.85, which can be simple "manual" panels for now. My concern is with the AT screen - is there a good masking system that will work if I have my LCRs all behind the screen? If I use the black velvet that seems to be popular for masking, this is obviously going to affect dispersion.

Another option would be to only put the center behind the screen and build a proscenium that houses the L & R speakers outside and in front of the screen. I would imagine the masking would still affect the center, but to a lesser extent. And I'm not a fan of having the L & R on one plane and the center further back.

Should I use GOM instead of velvet for the masking and not worry about the acoustic affects?

Has anyone solved this successfully?
- Dave
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post #9 of 94 Old 09-25-2007, 06:49 AM
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This is always a difficult thing. Velvet would absolutely kill the high end of any speakers behind it. GOM will allow the sound through relatively unharmed but for the same reasonse, it will also not be a terribly good masking material as there will be light passage in both directions.

Having the L and R in a different horizontal plane than the mains can easily be remedied in the speaker setup of the processor if you choose to go that way.

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post #10 of 94 Old 09-25-2007, 07:37 AM
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I just asked the same exact thing. I think I am going to use black GOM for my AT masking panels.It may not block all the light, but for the most part I am just trying to make the grey bars look more black. If I have a little bit of the image shine on the panels, I think I can live with it. We will see.

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post #11 of 94 Old 09-25-2007, 09:15 AM
 
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Personally, I wouldn't worry about masking panels. With a 2.35 screen, the black bars land in your peripheral vision (at least from the sweet spot). I've found that I don't even notice them, let alone find them bothersome. It's much different, perceptually, from the black bars associated with 2.35 movies on a 16:9 screen, that seem to be the main cause of frustration. I would at least test out the 2.35 screen with 16:9 movies, thoroughly, before I committed to the compromises you're suggesting when it comes to your masking decision. You may find that the masking is completely unnecessary.
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post #12 of 94 Old 09-25-2007, 07:55 PM - Thread Starter
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These are all good points, but before I want to throw one more idea out there before making a decision...

What about using a large 1.85 screen and masking the top and bottom for 2.35? I guess you would call this a CIW setup. I can still use an anamorphic lens to get the benefits of of the projector resolution and brightness in the 2.35 instance, plus it moves the masking panels out of the way of the speakers.

The only problem I can think of would be one of projection geometry and not being able to get a projector that can fill a large 1.85 screen and work with an anamorphic lens to fill the width.
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post #13 of 94 Old 09-27-2007, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Based on a number of 2.35 theaters I've seen in the past week, I think I'm going to shoot for that and try to overcome the acoustic problems the best I can.

That being said, the next hurdle is picking a screen size, which is much more difficult than I anticipated. Maybe there's something odd about my room geometry, but I don't think so.

My seating locations are at 13' and 18' from the screen. I'm planning on a 1080P PJ and will watch a mix of 16:9 and 2.35, mostly movies.

My initial idea was a 120" wide screen. This would give 42 and 31 degree viewing angles for the first and second rows when watching 2.35 and 33.7 and 24.7 when watching 16:9. This should result in a pretty good scenario all the way around, but assuming that I'd like to optimize the front row, 42 degrees seems like it might be a little too wide.

The alternative is a 110" wide screen, which gives 2.35 angles of 38.8 and 28.6, which are still good. However, in 16:9 the angles are 31 and 22.7. I don't know if I'll be happy with that for the last row.

Does anyone have any comments or thoughts? I've taped out the sizes on the wall, but without watching a movie it's very difficult to make a decision.

Thanks.
- Dave
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post #14 of 94 Old 10-02-2007, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
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I think I'm going to go with a 120" wide screen. In mocking up my screen wall, I could use some advice on how to position the speakers and/or how to hide them.

Here's what I've put together so far...



(the extra depth around the screen is going to be an 8" deep shadowbox)

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I'm planning on masking down to 1.85.

I have come up with three alternatives:

1. Use the placement as drawn above and figure out a nice way to hide the speakers with some GOM panels that match the rest of the screen wall.

2. Move the speakers back behind the screen wall, use a "loose/flexible" masking system on a track, and hope that when retracting, the masking material bunches up small enough that it fits in the space provided.

3. Put the speakers behind the edges of the screen, use an AT masking material and hope that it doesn't muffle the sound too bad during 1.85 viewing.

Any comments or thoughts? I'm sure there's an elegant solution that I'm missing.
- Dave
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post #15 of 94 Old 10-13-2007, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dth122 View Post

I think I'm going to go with a 120" wide screen. In mocking up my screen wall, I could use some advice on how to position the speakers and/or how to hide them.

Here's what I've put together so far...



(the extra depth around the screen is going to be an 8" deep shadowbox)

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I'm planning on masking down to 1.85.

I have come up with three alternatives:

1. Use the placement as drawn above and figure out a nice way to hide the speakers with some GOM panels that match the rest of the screen wall.

2. Move the speakers back behind the screen wall, use a "loose/flexible" masking system on a track, and hope that when retracting, the masking material bunches up small enough that it fits in the space provided.

3. Put the speakers behind the edges of the screen, use an AT masking material and hope that it doesn't muffle the sound too bad during 1.85 viewing.

Any comments or thoughts? I'm sure there's an elegant solution that I'm missing.
- Dave

Hey Dave, I think you said that you were planning on buying an SMX 2:35 screen. If that were the case, you wouldn't need to worry about the 1:85 masking blocking the speakers as that fabric is ALSO transparent. It doesn't adversely effect the sound any more than the screen material itself.

As one who has experienced theaters with the speakers visible in the room and speakers hidden behind the screen, dude, it's so much cooler with all the sound coming from the image. It totally completes it.

Number 3 for the win!
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post #16 of 94 Old 10-13-2007, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
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That's an interesting note.

I guess I should have mentioned that I have the SMX screen material, but I'm planning to build my own screen and masking.

Do you know of SMX sells the AT masking material separately? That would save me a lot of headaches!
- Dave
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post #17 of 94 Old 10-14-2007, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dth122 View Post

That's an interesting note.

I guess I should have mentioned that I have the SMX screen material, but I'm planning to build my own screen and masking.

Do you know of SMX sells the AT masking material separately? That would save me a lot of headaches!
- Dave

Well thanks a lot man, you got me there! ^_^ I'm sure there has to be masking materials with acoustically transparent properties. What was the one you were considering currently?
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post #18 of 94 Old 10-14-2007, 10:58 PM
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OK, here's a few renders I've passed to Dave.

These first three here are when he was considering some kind of ornamental sound absorbing pannels...







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post #19 of 94 Old 10-14-2007, 11:01 PM
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The next few are with using pannels all around instead with an interupting color in the middle of the blue with a black fabric at the top.





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post #20 of 94 Old 10-14-2007, 11:04 PM
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Then of course I need to make Dave's life difficult...


He sent me the top pic what had been built... and then I had an idea on how to make the room more symetrical so the seating doesn't all have to shift to one side of the room.

It's just an idea. There might be lots of reasons why it won't work. That's cool. This is just a 'process'.







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post #21 of 94 Old 10-15-2007, 08:41 AM
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Another question for you Dave... (I know, I always just ask questions...)

What speaker brands had you looked into for the room?
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post #22 of 94 Old 10-15-2007, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
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I've narrowed it down to the B&W 600 series (683 fronts, HTM61 center, DS3 sides and 685 rears) or the Klipsch THX Ultra 2 system.

Any comments on either of these?
- Dave
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post #23 of 94 Old 10-15-2007, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dth122 View Post

I've narrowed it down to the B&W 600 series (683 fronts, HTM61 center, DS3 sides and 685 rears) or the Klipsch THX Ultra 2 system.

Any comments on either of these?
- Dave

Yes, go for the Klipsch. (And this comes from someone who bought 3 pairs of the previous 600 series)

I love B&W's sound but Klipsch gets the big placement advantage in how much room it needs from the front wall. (In fact, as I'm sure you know, they can be mounted directly to the wall even) It's also a better speaker for dynamic movie soundtracks. (Higher sensitivity too...)

The B&W's have a great 'warm' sound to them, but that's a more traditional enviroment of 3 feet to spare from the front wall in a living room environment. They get 'chesty' when you put them anywhere near room boundaries. They also compress faster under dynamic circumstances. (I'm assuming you'll play this system loud from time to time...)
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post #24 of 94 Old 10-15-2007, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chirpie View Post

Yes, go for the Klipsch. (And this comes from someone who bought 3 pairs of the previous 600 series)

I love B&W's sound but Klipsch gets the big placement advantage in how much room it needs from the front wall. (In fact, as I'm sure you know, they can be mounted directly to the wall even) It's also a better speaker for dynamic movie soundtracks. (Higher sensitivity too...)

The B&W's have a great 'warm' sound to them, but that's a more traditional enviroment of 3 feet to spare from the front wall in a living room environment. They get 'chesty' when you put them anywhere near room boundaries. They also compress faster under dynamic circumstances. (I'm assuming you'll play this system loud from time to time...)

The Klipsch are also more money, but I guess that's how it always works out. If I told you the room was for 75% movies and 25% music, would that change your recommendation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chirpie View Post

He sent me the top pic what had been built... and then I had an idea on how to make the room more symetrical so the seating doesn't all have to shift to one side of the room.

It's just an idea. There might be lots of reasons why it won't work. That's cool. This is just a 'process'.

I like the idea quite a bit and don't think the construction aspects of it would be too difficult. However, there is one problem: masking.

With the screen in the current configuration, I have 12" on either side to hide my masking (which I acknowledge isn't enough, so I would have to go with some type of drapery or bunching method when in 2.35). If I push the screen all the way over to the right I lose my space there to store the masking material.

I like the idea though and hopefully I can figure out a way to overcome that problem.

I guess I could always build masking panels and put them on manually from the front.
- Dave
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post #25 of 94 Old 10-20-2007, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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After considerable debate (about a lot of issues), I've decided to keep the room as is, even though I like the idea of have the room more visually symmetrical. Here's the logic...

I thought it was a great idea until I spoke with bpape. He brought up the good point that you don't want to sit exactly in the center of the room, due to room modes. With that in mind, I wouldn't be able to center the screen on the two angled walls anyway.

Moving this far over also puts the right speaker very close to the right wall, which is less ideal than the current scenario where both speakers are spaced the same from the side walls.

I'm sure some people will have comments and other opinions, but for now I'm going to stick with the current plan, for acoustic reasons.
- Dave
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post #26 of 94 Old 10-21-2007, 07:50 AM
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I installed the Klipsch Ultra II's about 9 months ago and still blow me away everytime I watch a movie.

Are you planning 5.2 or 7.2? Where are you thinking about sub placement? I placed my subs together in front of the screen as Klipsch suggests and they really make the room rumble!
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post #27 of 94 Old 10-21-2007, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I got the 7.2 system. Not sure about sub placement. (I haven't received the speakers yet).

I figure I'll start with their recommendation and go from there. It doesn't seem that loading up the front wall with subs would be the best for even coverage and room modes, but I guess we'll see.
- Dave
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post #28 of 94 Old 10-23-2007, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess I'm due for a weekend update...

The first major issue that I think I have solved is masking. I'm going to go with a system on cabinet tracks, but recess the tracks to the front of the screen wall, with only the 1/2" vertical connected strip outside the wall. When I build my fabric panels for the wall, I'll leave a little extra gap at the top for the bar to slide. This keeps the opening 6" (the depth of the shadowbox) away from the screen, which I'm hoping will be almost unnoticeable. It should work out very nicely. I'm quite happy with the way it's turned out so far.

Here are pictures of the raw setup, in 2.35 and 1.85 mode:





I put stops in to make sure the rail was kept at the proper location and held perfectly vertical. I may remove them once I motorize everything.

Here are the shots with the masking material. This is just some cheap cotton fabric I had around and not the material I plan on using. In the final implementation, I'll wrap the inner piece with velvet and use an AT masking material for the "body" of the mask.





I was worried about the fabric bunching behind the side panels, but I don't think this will be a problem. It isn't too much material and stapling it at the top for extra support kept everything nice and straight when stretched for 1.85.

I have the actuators I'm going to use to motorize the masking and a few thoughts of how the linkages will work out given the small amount of room I have on the sides. I probably won't get to testing that out until the weekend.

In other news, I cut the wood for my fabric frames and built my first complete one. I didn't have any GOM on hand, so I used some speaker box covering which is considerably thicker than GOM, but close enough to get an idea that the construction will work. I used a modified version of GPowers method.



With the wood cut, I guess I need to make a final decision on fabric for the panels. I have a bunch of GOM samples and from what I have, I've narrowed it down to the following two choices. Opinions welcomed! Note the wall and trim color. Since I'm planning to panel the whole room, the only place the wall color will be visible in on the ceiling where the star ceiling isn't covering. The trim will be visible around the crown molding, baseboard, column trim, etc.

The flash makes everything look lighter in the pictures than in reality, but anyway, here they are...





If these two color combinations don't work, I'll be looking at other GOM materials. These are the best blues and grays that I could find in the FR701/2100 series.

Finally... I got started on the star ceiling. It's a lot of work and very time consuming drilling all the holes. I'm using a true sky view and will have separate outlines indicating all of the constellations, as well as animated shooting star and comet effects. There is a ton of setup and careful planning involved, but it should all work out in the end.

Here are some shots of the prep and two panels that have been drilled and marked - ready for GOM and fiber.



For anyone who has built a star ceiling and used a section of it for acoustic treatment, requiring fiber to be run through 703 or some other material, how difficult was it to keep everything straight? I will have a number of constellation outlines that need to run through 703 and I'm concerned that I won't be able to keep the lines straight all the way through. For a random starfield it wouldn't make much difference, but in this case it may be a problem. I'd like to hear anyone's feedback.

That's all for now...
- Dave
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post #29 of 94 Old 10-24-2007, 07:49 AM
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The biggest problem I had putting the starfield panels up was failing to take into account of the GOM material's width! The panels were very difficult to fit back into place and ended up with some seams that did not lay flat. I would keep some room on the edge of the ceiling, maybe an inch around, if could be hidden by soffits.
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post #30 of 94 Old 10-24-2007, 09:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkemme View Post

The biggest problem I had putting the starfield panels up was failing to take into account of the GOM material's width! The panels were very difficult to fit back into place and ended up with some seams that did not lay flat. I would keep some room on the edge of the ceiling, maybe an inch around, if could be hidden by soffits.

That's a good point. My plan is to leave a few inches of painted ceiling all the way around to allow room for the rope light to shine on the ceiling instead of the GOM. That should give me enough flexibility. I was just going to butt the ceiling panels up as close together as I could get them. Once they were all up, I was going to trim around the outside edge.

Any ideas for trim material? I'm going to have a total height of 1.75" to cover once everything is mounted. I probably won't find molding that exact size. Any ideas on what I might be able to use? I'll probably just trim it out in plywood and add a piece of quarter-round unless I can come up with a more attractive idea.
- Dave
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