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post #1 of 102 Old 08-07-2015, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
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HT of the Month: The Black Hole



This nearly invisible home theater removes all visual and sonic distractions so viewers can focus their full attention where it belongs.

When AVS Forum member SOWK decided to build a home theater in his basement, he wanted to make sure the world did not intrude. "My primary goal was to create a room where all outside distractions would be minimized while enjoying a truly immersive experience both audibly and visually as the directors intended." Laudable goals, indeed, but easier said than done.

After three years of planning, SOWK hired a contractor to build the shell of the room, splitting the basement in half. "My sound-isolation efforts where focused on keeping sound from entering the theater by building a 2x6 staggered-stud wall between the theater room and the other half of the basement, which houses all the utilities—washer, dryer, furnace, water heater, etc. I have achieved my goal of keeping outside sounds out, but I'm sure my wife would tell you I didn't do such a great job keeping the sound in!"


The theater occupies half of the basement, with a staggered-stud wall separating it from home's noisy machines.


Once the framing was up, fiberglass insulation was installed and covered with 5/8" drywall.

Unfortunately, the contractor turned out to be less careful than SOWK wanted. "I have a bit of OCD when it comes to details, and I had them redo some of the work because it was outside my tolerance for error." In addition, the contractor was less than up-front. "They wanted to charge me for little things I had already paid for. For example, I paid in advance to have all the electrical done—bad decision, I know! But when it came time to install the electrical outlets, they wanted to charge me $20 for each one, so I called it quits with them and did the rest myself."


The room looked like this when SOWK decided to cut the contractor loose and do the rest of the work himself.

Even before his contractor woes, SOWK had to settle on a screen size. "That affects the whole design for room length, projector-throw distance, seating distance, riser height, speaker placement, acoustic-panel placement to match the speaker placement, and other factors. I played around with layouts for different screen sizes and aspect ratios and ended up with a 2.35:1, 150-inch-wide screen."


A 2.35:1, 150-inch-wide screen is mighty big, as illustrated by two of SOWK's 6-foot-tall friends.

"I settled on the size and aspect ratio for a number of reasons. One was the ability to have all three front LCR speakers behind the screen with little interaction and reflection from the screen borders. Also, my main seating distance is 14.5 feet, which creates a full field-of-view immersive experience." A little back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals that the viewing angle subtended by the screen at the main seating position is 46.6°, which is more than most recommendations specify.

SOWK recognizes the problem here. "It's quite amazing to have such a large screen, but there are two major drawbacks. First is the pixel density of 1080p, which doesn't always produce the 'looking through a window' effect as it can on a smaller screen. Once Ultra HD Blu-ray is released, this will be a non-issue. The second problem of a large, low-gain screen is the light-output requirement for the projector. Only high-brightness projectors need apply." In fact, a veritable parade of projectors has passed through SOWK's theater in his quest for the best possible image; good thing he built a shelf at the back of the room so projectors can be easily swapped in and out.


The screen is a Seymour-Screen Excellence Center Stage XD, which consists of a woven, acoustically transparent material with a gain of 1.2.

Another factor in optimizing the image quality is the viewing environment. "The aesthetics of the room are minimalistic and black/dark gray in color to keep the viewer's attention on the image, which really pops with no visual distractions. This also helps people focus on music, even when there's no picture on the screen."

In addition to his emphasis on keeping unwanted sound out of the theater, SOWK gave considerable thought to acoustic treatments in the room. "I have 17 absorbers and two diffusers from GIK Acoustics and seven absorbers from Acoustimac. I installed ten absorber panels behind the screen to help deaden any front-wall and floor reflections. I have additional absorber panels at the first and some of the second reflection points on the ceiling, floor, and side walls. I use the two diffusion panels in the rear of the theater."


SOWK placed absorbers at the first- and second-reflection points, which happened to include the door into the theater.

As SOWK said about the screen, he wanted to be able to put all three front speakers behind it without worrying about acoustic interactions with the screen borders. He also left a lot of room back there so he could try different speaker placements. He started with a set of Vandersteen speakers, and the left and right towers were fairly close together. But AVS member and industry expert Roger Dressler (whose own home theater was featured as HToM) recommended placing them farther apart for better stereo separation, which SOWK did. He then replaced the Vandersteens with JTR speakers all around in a 9.2 configuration with "wide" speakers on either side of the screen. "I plan to expand to a 9.2.4 system once DTS:X and Dolby Atmos have matured for about a year or so."


SOWK now has three JTR 212HTR speakers and two Seaton SubMersive HP subwoofers behind the screen. Notice the acoustic absorbers on the wall and floor.

After a year of construction and about $60,000, SOWK's theater is complete—at least for now. "I am satisfied with my current build, but I still have plans to enhance the experience as new technology and new techniques become available." Of course, as all AV geeks know, a home theater is never really complete, but SOWK's black-hole room provides an exceptional backdrop for whatever the Next Big Thing might be.


Seven Berkline 12000 powered recliners provide the ultimate in comfort, and the three front-row seats are equipped with Crowson tactile transducers that enhance the extreme low frequencies and recreate the feel of a suspended wooden floor on his basement's concrete slab during intense LFE scenes.

For much more detail about how SOWK's home theater came together, including many videos, check out the build thread here.

If you'd like your home theater considered for HT of the Month, PM me with the details and a link to your build thread if available.

EQUIPMENT LIST

Sources

Oppo BPD-103D Blu-ray player
Synology DS1512+ movie/music server (15 TB)

AV Electronics

Denon AVR-4311CI AVR
Emotiva XPA-5 Gen2 power amplifier
Crowson D-501 tactile motion amplifier

Projector

Sony VPL-HW40ES

Screen

Seymour-Screen Excellence Center Stage XD (150" wide, 2.35:1, 1.2 gain, acoustically transparent/woven, fixed frame)

Speakers

JTR 212HTR (3, front LCR)
JTR 212HT (2, LR wide)
JTR Slanted 8HT (4, LR side surround, LR rear surround)
Seaton SubMersive HP subwoofers (2)

Cables

SignalCable MagicPower AC power, digital audio, analog video
SignalCable Silver Resolution analog interconnects
SignalCable Ultra speaker
Monoprice 12 AWG speaker
Monoprice 22 AWG HDMI

Control

iPhone and iPad apps for Oppo, Denon, lighting

Power Conditioning

PS Audio Soloist CI (4)
PS Audio Ultimate Outlet

Seating

Berkline 12000 powered recliners (3 in front row, 4 in second row))
Crowson tactile transducers in front 3 seats

Room Dimensions

32' (L) x 8' (H) x 16.5' (W at front) to 13.5' (W at back)

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post #2 of 102 Old 08-07-2015, 09:36 PM
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another great build. I love these HT's of the month.
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post #3 of 102 Old 08-07-2015, 09:53 PM
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Congratulations! I like those no frills, all black rooms!
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post #4 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 12:00 AM
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Black is my favorite color for a movie theater.
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post #5 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 01:41 AM
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Nice project. I bet those JTRs were a HUGE upgrade to the Vandersteens, especially in that kind of environment.

Two questions came to mind, though - Why did you (@SWOK) leave so much space behind your screen? It appears to be a good 8 to 10 feet deep. Second, how are you handling the second set of side channels with that Denon receiver and no external DSP? I assume the front sound stage is on the Emotiva and the rest of the amplification is on the Denon, correct?

Congratulations on HTOM!
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post #6 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 03:53 AM
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Congrats and awesome room!
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post #7 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 04:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMcG View Post
Nice project. I bet those JTRs were a HUGE upgrade to the Vandersteens, especially in that kind of environment.

Two questions came to mind, though - Why did you (@SWOK) leave so much space behind your screen? It appears to be a good 8 to 10 feet deep. Second, how are you handling the second set of side channels with that Denon receiver and no external DSP? I assume the front sound stage is on the Emotiva and the rest of the amplification is on the Denon, correct?

Congratulations on HTOM!
Space behind the screen is about 7.5' deep so I can have the speakers off the front wall and put my equipment back there with no need to have them seen in my room at all.

If you look at the pictures you will notice the equipment rack is no where to be seen. (it's behind the center channel)

I personally believe having the speakers off the front wall allows speakers to "breath" more and image better front to back and gain a small improvement side to side. (Could be all placebo) But I usually do get comments like... "I have never heard speakers image so well" "Are you sure your wides are not on?" "This scene sounds much larger then your room!" So I feel it was worth it.

As for DSP, the Denon does my Audyssey Pro calibrations on up to 11.2 speakers. It doesn't have amplification for all 11 channels, but does have DSP for all 11.2

I'm not sure what you mean by second set of side channels, but I have the typical 9.2 channel layout at the moment. L/C/R/WR/SR/BR/BL/SL/WL/SUB/SUB


As you said, I power the fronts via the Emotiva and the rears via the Denon.
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post #8 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 05:10 AM
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Hi SOWK, love your HT by the way.
I just watched your youtube video of your HT, it shows that you have/had the Sony VPL-VW600ES.
Why did you downgrade to Sony VPL-HW40ES and how would you compare the two?

Thanks
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post #9 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 05:16 AM
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Congratulations! Another long time favorite gets official recognition.
Well deserved.
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post #10 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 05:25 AM
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Nicely constructed. I'll be it sounds great

Mike O
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post #11 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 06:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by femi View Post
Hi SOWK, love your HT by the way.
I just watched your youtube video of HT, it shows that you have/had the Sony VPL-VW600ES.
Why did you downgrade to Sony VPL-HW40ES and how would you compare the two?

Thanks
Femi
I decided to sell the Sony 600ES and go with a low cost 1080P projector till 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray comes out.

I put the money into my audio equipment while I wait.

For ~$2000 the Sony 40ES is an amazing projector.

Sure it won't compair to the more "film" like image of the 600ES but it should not at its price. But I will say the picture quality you get from the Sony 40ES for the money is out of this world.
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post #12 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 06:18 AM
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What I find the most interesting about this room, is the gaming aspect, with a scaler involved.


https://www.avsforum.com/forum/117-2-...d-lumagen.html


Must be one intense gaming experience, with sound system, and the huge screen.


And I do like how the room was widened, by enclosing that support post up front.
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post #13 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 06:24 AM
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
What I find the most interesting about this room, is the gaming aspect, with a scaler involved.


https://www.avsforum.com/forum/117-2-...d-lumagen.html


Must be one intense gaming experience, with sound system, and the huge screen.


And I do like how the room was widened, by enclosing that support post up front.

Just as an update to that...

You do not need a scaler anymore to do that.

ATI and Nvidia allow you to make custom resolutions now.

Just make a custom resolution of 1920X822 and you're done. Select the resolution in the game and bam!!!

If you run 4K make a custom resolution of 3840X1645 and you're done.

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post #14 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 06:33 AM
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I fully understand that, and it's worthy of pointing it out....

Coming from the crt projection world, Powerstrip was the tool of choice there.
We ran all kinds of oddball resolutions, including MC Maniac's dual pc based blending
system for upscaling dvds, where we used 90+% of dual Sony 1292Q raster.
Then Bluray hit, and a JVC's RS1 could adequately light a 12' wide screen.


I also like the thin stage look of that room.


So what video card does one run, with 4K, these days? I am thinking it's a little
premature video card-wise for 4K, as a whole htpc solution. (I am thinking I need
to explore a HD-SDI video card. )
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post #15 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 06:35 AM
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If I were to ever build a dedicated theater , this would be it !
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post #16 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post
I fully understand that, and it's worthy of pointing it out....

Coming from the crt projection world, Powerstrip was the tool of choice there.
We ran all kinds of oddball resolutions, including MC Maniac's dual pc based blending
system for upscaling dvds, where we used 90+% of dual Sony 1292Q raster.
Then Bluray hit, and a JVC's RS1 could adequately light a 12' wide screen.


I also like the thin stage look of that room.


So what video card does one run, with 4K, these days? I am thinking it's a little
premature video card-wise for 4K, as a whole htpc solution. (I am thinking I need
to explore a HD-SDI video card. )
I run dual Tiatn X gpus in SLI, so I am 4K ready.

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post #17 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 07:59 AM
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Congratulations on building a supreme home theater!
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post #18 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 08:02 AM
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Love the no visual frills look. So many home theaters turn out not to be the optimal viewing environment due to design (read wife factor ) decisions. This theater has a simple but not utilitarian design focused on the sight and sound of movies and gaming.
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I find your lack of schadenfreude disturbing.
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post #19 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 08:37 AM
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Definitely one of the sharpest builds I've seen. Great job!
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post #20 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 09:01 AM
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Congrats on an awesome room.

I love the dark look!

Are you using the zoom method? I also had a 150" screen in my last theater(home just sold Monday, so I will be going thru HT withdrawals until starting my 2nd theater in Feb 2016). I used a 5030UB and zoomed it and it worked well(It will probably not work well with my next screen at 180+)

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BENQ LK970, 180" Wide curved Seymour 2.37:1 XD W/UH480 lens/Marantz 8802A/Outlaw Amps 7900/5000, 7.2.4 set up 3 Seaton Catalyst 12c's / 8 - MT110SR's / Dual T-18's/HTPC/MadVR
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post #21 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 09:12 AM
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Very straight forward build. I really like the minimalist approach and resulting look. Great job!!!!!!


.
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post #22 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 11:38 AM
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Bravo! Very well thought out and executed.

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post #23 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 01:47 PM
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Excellent room.

I have the JTR and Seaton combo as well.

Must sound brilliant.
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post #24 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 02:52 PM
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Home theater of the month? Oh hell yeah! I have been a long fan of your build and noted such in my build. Your build was one of the first to inspire me here to go "yes, that is the look I am going for". Congratulation on HTOM and finishing....... well for now, right

Oh, and Game On
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post #25 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 03:48 PM
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Very sharp looking room SWOK. The JTR and Seaton combo delivers nothing short of a top tier audio experience. I've heard a couple theaters with similar audio setups and it just doesn't get much (if any) better IMO. I noticed you stated the JTR have a big wide sound in your and your guest's observations. I agree whole heartedly. The 212HT speakers and their equivalent JTR sibling speakers 215RT, etc) produce just a full front wall sound that I really appreciate.
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Archaea's 9.12.4 Home Theater Room
(13) JBL CBT 70j-1 | Denon x7200wa | Sherbourn PA 7-350 amplifier | (8) Ultimax 18" sealed subwoofers | (4) iNuke DSP 6000 amplifiers | (4) MB Quart 12" subwoofers mounted direct mounted to Berkline theater chairs BOSS style | Epson 5040UB Projector | Jamestown 144" acoustic transparent 2.35:1 screen w/ Seymour XD fabric

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post #26 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J View Post
If I were to ever build a dedicated theater , this would be it !
+1
Very clean, I really like the all black motif.
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post #27 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 04:22 PM
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Congratulations on August-2015 HToM, your room looks amazing, including a mighty Huge screen!
Quote:
A 2.35:1, 150-inch-wide screen is mighty big, as illustrated by two of SOWK's 6-foot-tall friends.
and holy smokes that's a big room also, now it's clear why you have such a big screen
Quote:
32' (L) x 8' (H) x 16.5' (W at front) to 13.5' (W at back)
+1 on this also
Quote:
"I plan to expand to a 9.2.4 system once DTS:X and Dolby Atmos have matured for about a year or so."
I'm trying to see a plan view to grasp your layout better, can you post it here?
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post #28 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveFred View Post
Congrats on an awesome room.

I love the dark look!

Are you using the zoom method? I also had a 150" screen in my last theater(home just sold Monday, so I will be going thru HT withdrawals until starting my 2nd theater in Feb 2016). I used a 5030UB and zoomed it and it worked well(It will probably not work well with my next screen at 180+)

Steve
Currently use the zoom method, as that is my preferred method.

I personally don't like the small disadvantages of an A lens.

But at my screen size and greater it certainly can benifit too... Lol.

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post #29 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOWK View Post
Currently use the zoom method, as that is my preferred method.

I personally don't like the small disadvantages of an A lens.

But at my screen size and greater it certainly can benifit too... Lol.
tony congrats on HTOM. This is an amazing dedicated theater and I have had the pleasure experiencing it. Completely immersive in everyway. Excellent decision quality and execution. OCD can be a pain but it sure does pay off too! . Now when can I bring my NIN blu ray over. I missed that concert but this is my chance to go back in time!
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post #30 of 102 Old 08-08-2015, 06:18 PM
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Congratulations...That is a very nice looking attention to detail theater. Nice job.
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"The Boy has no patience" Yoda
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My attempt living room build The Story Time Theater
3 DIY HTM-12 LCR 10 M&K S-100B, 2 Servodrive Contrabass. 2 SVS PB12/2 Plus(ForSale). 2 V.B.S.S., 2 Adire Tempest Side Columns Near field Fun all in one room.
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