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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Lights Out Theater!

Ok Gents, the time has finally come. My home construction is complete, the dust has settled and my HT construction can begin! The design was originally for a 100% sub surface room with steel beams and decking, along with a poured top, which would house the outdoor kitchen/patio once complete. Long story short, for the cost of the "bunker" alone, I can complete and addition/wing on the house, with full basement (8ft to be use for storage etc.) and the outdoor kitchen in it's entirety. I loved the idea of the isolated bunker for the HT, but I'm coming around to the HT wing on the main level and the financial benefits are undeniable. It will be a wing off of the existing family room area, with a foyer/lobby between the two. I think this makes for a nice flow on gameday, fight night, etc. Folks can hang in the family room, lobby/bar and theater openly and it feels much more social.

The Plan: The official start date is 2 months away (concrete cost here goes down about $15/yd on April 15th so that's the day I've slated the site contractor to begin) I am strongly considering using SierraMikeBravo and his select plan for design. It's costly, but I fear I'll mess something up along the way if I have no professional guidance. Although I think I have a good grasp, I'm sure I'll miss something that's second nature to some of you. I was initially in convesation with Keith Yates, but our timelines seperated and that drove cost too high for me.

This is the current plan, on my own:
The addition will be gross area of 25x42 externally, and will have 12'5" ceiling once finished with DD(5/8). I will frame an outside room 2x6 construction and single drywall it(5/8), leaving 24' x 41' remaining to build the room, within that room. Leaving a 6" air gap on every wall, taking me down to 23x40 internally. Once again, the "inside room" walls will be 2x6 with DD 5/8 and GG, as will the ceiling. The result will be a gross acoustical space of 21'10 1/2" x 38'10 1/2", with 12'5" ceiling.

My original idea is for a false front with 2'8 1/2" behind it for l/c/r subs, etc. (taking into account that with framing width, it will take up 3' total of the available 38' 10 1/2". I will have to attach a sketch for you guys to get the idea of placement and entry. With 3 rows being the goal, I will begin the front of the 1st row at 11' and each subsequent row 7' from there. The result is the back of the last (3rd) row at 28'. My first dilema becomes should I use the entire remaining 10' 10 1/2" for lobby space or leave a few feet behind the last row and bring lobby to say 8ft. I know it's desirable for the last row occupants to have a few feet ( I think 5 optimally) between the rear speakers and them, but don't want the entry to be a closet sized space. The only other use of the lobby will be the equipment room...the gross area of the "lobby" will be split in two so it has an access door to the gear room. (again, sketch tomorrow so you can visualize)

I plan to use Romans Tributes, 3 rows of 5. The width of a curved row of 5 is 14ft, leaving 3' 11 1/4" on either side of the row for passing. I will also have the columns there beside each row, so ultimately there will be 3ft to pass at the narrowest points.

My plan as of now is to do a 200-210 wide scope. I want to go as big as is possible and although the front row eyes (at 13ft from screen) are a bit close for that size, the second row yields a ratio that I've experimented with and love (you guessed it, I'll in row 2 :D ). I've also mached up the size and first row distance, and it's actually more managable than one would think.

The plan is full Atmos setup.

Marantz 8802 pre/pro

LCR- JBL 3732 bi amped with Crown Dsi4000s (one amp per main)

JBL SCS8 for all surrounds, rear, atmos channels etc. At this point, I think 4 overheads, 2 rears and 4 total side surrounds is the plan. I've looked at doing the front heights and wides too, but not sure anything out there is capable of running that many channels. These will be powerd with one Crown DSi1000 per pair.

Subs: ugh, I only have two SI24z left and not keen on buying more of those, so I'll likely sell. At this point I am considering 16SI HT18s (8 d/o enclosures at the 1/4 points of front wall) and an additional 4 18s in each rows riser for nearfield. Amps TBD based on final config.

Screen will likely be Seymour XD, although I'm considering the en4k if I can fit a pj in the budget to light it up with it's much lower gain.

Projector:TBD as well. I've learned my lesson on that, already bought and sold a DPI Dvision 30XC. I'll wait until the construction is just about done to make the final pj and screen move.

Love my Oppo 103D in the fam room, so I'll grab a second.

My initial thoughts on color scheme are very dark gray and black. I'm concerned first with picture and sound, so I'd like to keep it dark. Ben Moore makes a gray called temptation that I have in the family room and love. I'll likely mix that with blacks and complmenting grays.

As for treatments, this is where get confused. I'd like to incorporate the treatments into the design so they look natural, but I'm sure I'll be budget limited at this point. This is where I think the Erskin group will come in handy with planning, though it will have to be done outside of the typically recommended Quest products I'm sure, due to cost.

I'm sure I've left some things out that we'll address, but that gives you all a good idea of what I'm trying to accomplish. I'll get some pics up by tomorrow so you guys can visualize.
 

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Nice man.

My advise would be to involve who ever needs to do it right! I wanted to have plans drawn and I wish now I would have. Cost and the time to wait to get them is what deterred me. I was in such a rush to get done that I winded up waiting anyway. I know next time I am going to do it a whole lot different. Hopefully building a new home in 3 years in a new location. Best of luck with your new journey.
 

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Nice man.

My advise would be to involve who ever needs to do it right! I wanted to have plans drawn and I wish now I would have. Cost and the time to wait to get them is what deterred me. I was in such a rush to get done that I winded up waiting anyway. I know next time I am going to do it a whole lot different. Hopefully building a new home in 3 years in a new location. Best of luck with your new journey.
This is good advice. You'll see this is repeated advice in this forum as well. Most who build a theater often say this after the fact. I think a lot of people just want to get going and/or save the costs but there is a lot of steps to building a theater and understanding and planning them out in advance does have the advantage of not learning on the fly.

The best builds I have seen around here seem to have either one of two things driving them:

#1 . Professional design and planning with dimensions, room treatments, size of things, where they go etc...
or
#2 . A high performance DIY person leading the charge, learning on the fly, and not afraid to try things, ask a lot of questions, and if needed even RE-DO mistakes before it is too late.

I'd reccomend looking at those two things and decide which one you are- or want to be. That helps decide the right course of action. Otherwise the build becomes one of the other million average ones that floats to the bottom forgotten by time. Anyone can hang a screen in a basement and paint a room, add some theater chairs and focus the rest of their energy on audio/video gear. Few people actually put it all together in a way the sum of the parts is greater in a synergistic way.
 

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Sub'd. This thing is gonna be a monster it looks like.

If you're looking for a guy that can design an acoustic treatment plan, @Nyal Mellor designed the Savoy theater using materials that were easily accessible to the average guy. I'm not sure what his pricing structure is but if you want to stay away from pricier treatments like Quest, then he may be an option for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nice man.

My advise would be to involve who ever needs to do it right! I wanted to have plans drawn and I wish now I would have. Cost and the time to wait to get them is what deterred me. I was in such a rush to get done that I winded up waiting anyway. I know next time I am going to do it a whole lot different. Hopefully building a new home in 3 years in a new location. Best of luck with your new journey.
Thanks Dave! I appreciate the candid account of your experience. I will more than likely use Shawn, I'm just coming to terms with the desgin costing more than my sub system :D. Even with that in mind, I imagine the difference in the end result will be noticable. I have also downloaded a great skyline diffuser calculator, so the cost of treatments will be next to nothing vs commercially bought. For example, I can make a 2x2 skyline for about $70 and retail is like $450. I could never use the correct amount of diffusion at retail, but to make enough to cover the appropriate areas at 70 each, I'll be good to go for like 60ft2 worth of coverage. From all the reading I've been doing on treating the area behind the listener and so forth, that should be plenty and make a huge difference. Point of that rant, I can use that savings to fund the plans. My wife may hate me after making 20 of them, which require 144 individual cuts each, but we're saving money :D

Oh good God...
LOL, you forgot the nearfield subs in your quote :D . Problem for me is that I've been in spaces like Popalock's..that with 16 18s, still left me wanting moar bass. Ive actually re drawn the front wall and will probably do 12 d/o enclosures and get 12 1/4 point placements....moar output, better response and a cost of only about $2k for the 8 extra subs and amps to power them. I know for 80% of my time in there it's overkill, I just don't ever want to hit the gas and run out of speed.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sub'd. This thing is gonna be a monster it looks like.

If you're looking for a guy that can design an acoustic treatment plan, @Nyal Mellor designed the Savoy theater using materials that were easily accessible to the average guy. I'm not sure what his pricing structure is but if you want to stay away from pricier treatments like Quest, then he may be an option for you.
Thanks JVoth! I may look into that as well. I know Shawn is super knowledgable, and I should probably use him, but based on my plans already, I feel like I have a lot of things covered. The architect is spec'ing his plan based on room within room cited above, my specific heights given based on desired ceiling height at each tier etc. I feel like I've covered so much of it, save for the treatments. One thing that I love about the plan Shawn offers is that it will detail the hvac spec. I think some folks forget how much noise the system can make just moving air...In a quiet passage that's pretty annoying and I think takes from the experience.

My head is spinning :D
 

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Ok Gents, the time has finally come. My home construction is complete, the dust has settled and my HT construction can begin! The design was originally for a 100% sub surface room with steel beams and decking, along with a poured top, which would house the outdoor kitchen/patio once complete. Long story short, for the cost of the "bunker" alone, I can complete and addition/wing on the house, with full basement (8ft to be use for storage etc.) and the outdoor kitchen in it's entirety. I loved the idea of the isolated bunker for the HT, but I'm coming around to the HT wing on the main level and the financial benefits are undeniable. It will be a wing off of the existing family room area, with a foyer/lobby between the two. I think this makes for a nice flow on gameday, fight night, etc. Folks can hang in the family room, lobby/bar and theater openly and it feels much more social.
Ok so I got a little more time to digest this and I like the idea. You will like having the entrance in a main location. Adding a room between also helps distance yourself which can aid in sound proofing- especially when it’s a new wing or construction that doesn’t share common attic space, duct work, or walls. I mention this because I assume the reason you wanted to make a bunker was for bass performance and to isolate the sound from the rest of the house.

The Plan: The official start date is 2 months away (concrete cost here goes down about $15/yd on April 15th so that's the day I've slated the site contractor to begin) I am strongly considering using SierraMikeBravo and his select plan for design. It's costly, but I fear I'll mess something up along the way if I have no professional guidance. Although I think I have a good grasp, I'm sure I'll miss something that's second nature to some of you. I was initially in convesation with Keith Yates, but our timelines seperated and that drove cost too high for me.
Concrete is indeed expensive. Do you mind if I ask what was the total quote or cost of the project?

I would recommend Shawn Byne ( @SierraMikeBravo ) and the pro layout service for a few reasons I think might help you in your specific case. First- you’ll get a solid plan to start with, and that alone has value. You’ll know where things go, how much space you have etc… And major design problems should become apparent in this process, which you can deal with up front which is a lot easier than later. If there is a serious problem he will likely point it out right away. Without a solid plan it’s really hard for people to help you do that. You also get a little technical support with the plan- a basic lifeline to get your questions answered. It’s nice to have someone you can call or email and ask a specific question and get a solid easy answer. Shawn handles the design and acoustical theory questions, and Jeff (BigmouthinDC) handles the actual construction questions. The support is not unlimited (you’ll pay for extra time or extensive support) but just having the basic line of support available to you has a value just in case you need it. You sell insurance so you get that concept even if you don’t use it, it’s nice to have just in case.

This is the current plan, on my own:
The addition will be gross area of 25x42 externally, and will have 12'5" ceiling once finished with DD(5/8). I will frame an outside room 2x6 construction and single drywall it(5/8), leaving 24' x 41' remaining to build the room, within that room. Leaving a 6" air gap on every wall, taking me down to 23x40 internally. Once again, the "inside room" walls will be 2x6 with DD 5/8 and GG, as will the ceiling. The result will be a gross acoustical space of 21'10 1/2" x 38'10 1/2", with 12'5" ceiling.
You go all the way huh? I freakin’ love you style…
So couple questions on costs and stuff:

First- I assume you say 2x6 because local code is a certain R value for the insulation ? Because typical framing can use 2x4 and be a lot cheaper. You might consider changing that depending on costs- I know most times you can use 2x4 (cheaper) and just throw up that 2” sheets of insulation on the outside under the siding (your home sided?) and still hit code requirements with the 2x4 wall thickness. I’m, just asking… thinking out loud here.

You certainly don’t need an additional 2x6 for the inside wall. You might at least consider stepping down to 2x4 for the room that is inside the room.

From a sound proof perspective the room inside the room is the best. It’s better than a staggered stud wall, and it’s better than a single wall. The energy is lost when it must travel the gap between walls- and having two walls is the best possible way to decouple them. You really only need to pay attention to where the walls and studs are connected to the floor and ceiling. Think of those kids telephones we played with as kids with a soup can on each end attached by a string- one person yells in his can and the other person hears it on the other end. What happens when you cut the string? Basically a room inside a room cuts the string.

Depending on your sound proofing goals your initial design might be overkill. Although knowing you this probably is not so much. I would think that from the perspective of needing to keep the noise floor low inside the room- it’s way more than enough. But from the perspective of you keeping sound in- probably not. I assume your priority is the later?

Double walls with 2x6 and room inside a room is big balls bro. But it’s not cheap from a materials and cost perspective so you have a little room to wiggle if you get tight on budget. I am not an expert but I could see a normal interior 2x4 inside wall working just fine, and with double walls and insulation I doubt the R value or efficiencies will be of any serious consequence. Just make sure you do a dedicated HVAC zone or a dedicated slim unit for heat and AC in that room.

My original idea is for a false front with 2'8 1/2" behind it for l/c/r subs, etc. (taking into account that with framing width, it will take up 3' total of the available 38' 10 1/2". I will have to attach a sketch for you guys to get the idea of placement and entry. With 3 rows being the goal, I will begin the front of the 1st row at 11' and each subsequent row 7' from there. The result is the back of the last (3rd) row at 28'. My first dilema becomes should I use the entire remaining 10' 10 1/2" for lobby space or leave a few feet behind the last row and bring lobby to say 8ft. I know it's desirable for the last row occupants to have a few feet ( I think 5 optimally) between the rear speakers and them, but don't want the entry to be a closet sized space. The only other use of the lobby will be the equipment room...the gross area of the "lobby" will be split in two so it has an access door to the gear room. (again, sketch tomorrow so you can visualize)
You seem about on point - 11 feet first row is ok considering 3 rows and I assume the money seat in the second row?

Yes you are right the back row will not have as good sound or bass if it is too close to the back wall. But- with three rows how important is that? Will you be sitting back there? Or anyone for critical viewing? I would imagine guests will still get adequate picture and sound, for UFC and NFL type events the room is often not totally dark anyways- nor is that critical viewing. I would not sweat the back row too much- focus on the money seats and the few seats that will get used often. You could even do a third row of commercial style folding seats if you end up needing to save space, or want more capacity. Are you doing a back bar area countertop behind the last row ?

I’m with you on the entrance- but if you have a hall way or something leading to the theater I don’t think it needs to be huge either.


My plan as of now is to do a 200-210 wide scope. I want to go as big as is possible and although the front row eyes (at 13ft from screen) are a bit close for that size, the second row yields a ratio that I've experimented with and love (you guessed it, I'll in row 2 :D ). I've also matched up the size and first row distance, and it's actually more manageable than one would think.
Yeah I get this part. Front row a tad too close- but hey that can be cool from the “wow factor” angle, and the money seat is actually in the second row and more ideal. You seem like you want to side on the area of larger or too large rather than too small. That’s cool! But it’s also really expensive- you’ll want to consider the amount of light you need and the projector costs to do it right. I’ve seen 200” screens, they are huge in residential homes and normal rooms. 180” is probably “enough” but I get the desire for MOAR! Just doing 3D, or watching sports with some ambient light becomes the trade off there- you give up a little on those two things for the mega size. I’d cap it at 200” if I was you.

The plan is full Atmos setup.
Marantz 8802 pre/pro
LCR- JBL 3732 bi amped with Crown Dsi4000s (one amp per main)
JBL SCS8 for all surrounds, rear, atmos channels etc. At this point, I think 4 overheads, 2 rears and 4 total side surrounds is the plan. I've looked at doing the front heights and wides too, but not sure anything out there is capable of running that many channels. These will be powerd with one Crown DSi1000 per pair.

Subs: ugh, I only have two SI24z left and not keen on buying more of those, so I'll likely sell. At this point I am considering 16SI HT18s (8 d/o enclosures at the 1/4 points of front wall) and an additional 4 18s in each rows riser for nearfield. Amps TBD based on final config.

Screen will likely be Seymour XD, although I'm considering the en4k if I can fit a pj in the budget to light it up with it's much lower gain. Projector:TBD as well. I've learned my lesson on that, already bought and sold a DPI Dvision 30XC. I'll wait until the construction is just about done to make the final pj and screen move.

Love my Oppo 103D in the fam room, so I'll grab a second.
I would not even worry about the gear until the room is ready for it to be installed. That is the #1 mistake I see made around here time and time again. Almost every time people change their mind or get a hot spot for something else, or they blow huge loads of cash on stuff just to have it sit around in boxes for way too long. Besides it’s way more fun to order gear and wait for it to arrive- unbox and it use it. You’ll appreciate the money you spent on it a lot more in that scenario then if you order it and store it in boxes, and look at the stack of gear for months while your room gets done.

The only thing you need to know is what kind of speaker you want so you can get the design and acoustical treatment plan done properly. The AVR, projector and all the other gear does not matter. Don’t even waste time thinking about it. But this is hard to do because the gear is the hot spot for so many around here. But the actual performance of your theater both audio and video will matter a lot more on the intelligent design of the room. Start there.

The JBL pro stuff comes with some design help from JBL. You can sent them blueprints or whatever plans you have and they will spec you a system in a good/better/best config. It’s free. If you need more info on this- let me know. Also- available on request is the speaker information you’ll want that is not available in the brochure. Harman tests the crap out of their stuff, they have it. You might want to reasonably know the behavior of the speaker or the kind of speaker you will use because setting up the room matters on that. If you think you might change your mind or want to leave it open- look for a design with a thick and plentiful space under the fabric frames on the side walls so moving or changing a treatment later on becomes easy enough. A real pro theater is not just absorption everywhere… like the amateurs like to do. You’ll learn that if you hire a pro. There is a method to the madness.

My initial thoughts on color scheme are very dark gray and black. I'm concerned first with picture and sound, so I'd like to keep it dark. Ben Moore makes a gray called temptation that I have in the family room and love. I'll likely mix that with blacks and complementing grays.
Your design reminds me of this one:


















He had a great build thread ^ and also was HT of the month. I too always likes that color scheme, it’s one of the two options I am considering myself.

As for treatments, this is where get confused. I'd like to incorporate the treatments into the design so they look natural, but I'm sure I'll be budget limited at this point. This is where I think the Erskine group will come in handy with planning, though it will have to be done outside of the typically recommended Quest products I'm sure, due to cost.
You don’t have to be budget limited. Based on the excess in other areas of your theater the treatment plan is pennies on the dollar (or can be). Usually when you talk to someone like Shawn and he designs your theater they will spec a really high quality turn key treatment like a quest panel. Nice stuff. But not nice on the wallet. A lot of people have a big budget and they just want optimal performance- people don’t want to DIY treatments and all that. But if you want to try to save some cost you can easily DIY your treatments. Sometimes if you request are part of the design service you can get a DIY treatment plan or instructions how to make them. Just keep it private I think, as it’s proprietary. Otherwise get someone local like @Ellebob that’s been through HAA training, Erksine Class, Cedia, THX and all that. He could get you or advise you the raw materials for the DIY panels or treatments or at least guide you through the process and concepts. It’s often not worth it for a pro calibrator to DIY their own panels- it takes too much work and time. It’s easier to just spec MFG made ones. But if you want to do some heavy lifting on your own DIY panels can work and you can capitalize on your own sweat equity to offset the costs.

The one area you probably do not want to skimp on is the proper set up and treatment of the room. It pays dividends down the road- and it will make the room sound a lot better than if you go upgrade your speakers. Keep that in mind. You might want to try to get a calibrated listening room demo if you ever get the chance. I know you’ve heard a lot of stuff and been to a lot of GTG- but this would really open your eyes. Especially a room vs a room type demo. Quest does a good one sometimes at the shows like CEDIA. Shawn could probably point you in the right direction.

I'm sure I've left some things out that we'll address, but that gives you all a good idea of what I'm trying to accomplish. I'll get some pics up by tomorrow so you guys can visualize.
You did just fine to start. This thread has potential written all over it.
 

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And... sooo.....

I see a bunch of replies while I was typing and some additional info that I didn't know or see when I wrote that. Jake you seem like you have a headstart from where most start from- I am expecting big things here.


Thanks Dave! I appreciate the candid account of your experience. I will more than likely use Shawn, I'm just coming to terms with the desgin costing more than my sub system :D. Even with that in mind, I imagine the difference in the end result will be noticable. I have also downloaded a great skyline diffuser calculator, so the cost of treatments will be next to nothing vs commercially bought. For example, I can make a 2x2 skyline for about $70 and retail is like $450. I could never use the correct amount of diffusion at retail, but to make enough to cover the appropriate areas at 70 each, I'll be good to go for like 60ft2 worth of coverage. From all the reading I've been doing on treating the area behind the listener and so forth, that should be plenty and make a huge difference. Point of that rant, I can use that savings to fund the plans. My wife may hate me after making 20 of them, which require 144 individual cuts each, but we're saving money :D
It's not how much treatments you have... It's where you put them and what kind you use where. That's the secret. :D

Since I know you are serious about things there is really only two ways to get it right. Option #1 is hire a pro and have them involved in the design and construction of your actual room - or - Option #2 is go take the HAA class (level II) and learn yourself. The cost is probably about the same.

You are not an idiot though, so I assume if you hired a local pro to come by and do it with you side by side and explain what hs is doing and why you'd pick up enough to be dangerous.


I feel like I have a lot of things covered. I feel like I've covered so much of it, save for the treatments. One thing that I love about the plan Shawn offers is that it will detail the hvac spec. I think some folks forget how much noise the system can make just moving air...In a quiet passage that's pretty annoying and I think takes from the experience.

My head is spinning :D
I would just use a dedicated unit - dual. Heat and Cooling.

You need about double the normal capacity for cooling, since the room is so air tight and insulated. You'll be surprised how gear and bodies and raise or heat up a room. So you want to overspec your cooling from what traditional thinking suggests. You can also run it on low or whisper mode which is a lot quieter than a weaker unit running on high trying to keep up.

You will want the ability to cool the room when the heat is on in the rest of the house. Do a dedicated zone. The end.

Also- don't attach any of the duct work to anything existing in the home and sound proofing is a lot easier. A lot of the mini split style units don't require a ton of holes to be cut for installation either- which also makes things easy. Cost wise- it's about the same, and sometimes cheaper anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Couple pics just for ref...one of the existing first floor layout, one of the location of the theater, realtive to that and one pic of the rear of the existing house. For ref, the house is 75ft long and 30ft deep in the area we are working with. If you look in the pic of the house, the left single story area is the back of the family room and where the HT will join the house. HT plan.jpg
existing house.jpg
rear house pic.jpg
 

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He had a great build thread ^ and also was HT of the month. I too always likes that color scheme, it’s one of the two options I am considering myself.
This is my all time favorite theater. I love his mains which I believe he built. If I remember this guy is some THX guy or something like that. Just incredible.
 

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Awesome! And great selections for design, room construction & size, and speakers.

I'm thrilled for you man!!
Thanks Mark! I absolutely cannot wait!! It felt like the day would never come, but a little patientce went a long way...and for me, well those that know me, know about my patientce :D

Mike, way too much for me to quote :D Thanks for your replies, and thoughts...I'll hit some bullet points.

- That theater you posted is right on point with my color design ideas, looks great!

-I spec'd the original house with an extra zone and system capacity to heat and cool and additional 1000ft2, which works out to be perfect. I also have an outlet reserved ont he exisiting unit, to run a dedicated trunk line to the HT. Hopefully that works out in Shawns' plan and it will save tons...basically my friend who is a commercial hvac guy can follow Shawn's specs for duct size it will just be running some ducts...almost no cost outside of materials.

-As for construction, I am hiring out the site/foundation, siding and taping of drywall. Between myself, my father and uncle (remodeling contractor), we will do the rest in house. My two friends, one owns electrical business for 15yrs and the other is a commercial hvac mechanic, will help with that part in exchange for free tickets to the HT for life :D
Because of my uncle, I get contracotr pricing on all materials and the cost to go 2x4 instead of 2x6 is so minimal, I won't even chance it. I know to most it's likely overkill, but as you said...this will be enough for me to not hear the outside and MAYBE enought to keep them from hearing me. I fugure the more air gap, more mass and thicker framing, the better. If it were thousands, I'd think about changing it, but it's a few hundred.

-I will certianly hire Shawn. I know it seems like a lot of money fofor the info, but I don't want to do this more than once.

-As far as the gear goes, I haven't really bought anything new yet, as I've learned that same lesson. There are certain things I do want, like the JBL speakers, I love them. I also, as you said, need to get shawn measurements etc so that he can plan treatment accordingly.

As far as screen size, distance etc, you're right on. I think the front will be wow factor row and still perform extremely well sound and video wise. Row two is $$ and for me and the fam. Row three is sort of "overflow" for when my oldest has a dozen kids over or for the sporting events and it is what it is. I still think some space behind it will be good just for the "feel" of space in the room as well as acoustics. Wasn't planning a bar, just a third row of seats..I could do a bar instead (legnth of the room won't allow for three rows plus a bar) but I like the idea of three rows, plus you then have to account for the acoustic affects that a hard surface abr top has on the rear of the room. Maybe it would be minimal, but maybe not. Shawn ccan help here too.
 

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What is the dimension? ^

I see 25 total feet. And judging by the split it's like 65% gear and 45% lobby?

Might want to swap that around- leave yourself some space for a candy counter/popcorn/ arcade style lobby or a mini bar area with fridge and drinks.

Move the door for gear into the theater? And use the space there for the lobby ?
 

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You have a great space, most here would die for. Just an opinion from the cheap seats, but I would really, really, get the space professionally designed. There are so many things that will affect the performance of your room, many of which you are just not going to know about. Room acoustics is the most important, and least glamorous, part of your theater.

Also, I second the opinion on not getting set in equipment choices just yet. Budget aside, the room as designed, to a large extent, will dictate what your best equipment choices or options should be

Good luck!!

Edit: See you are going to talk to Shawn. Great choice.
 

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