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!