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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I thought it was time to start a build thread since I finally have a space for one. This probably will not be a quick process, but hopefully a fun and rewarding one that will not take forever. This post is a bit long, but it's just some background on me so skip ahead if you want...

I've always been a music lover. I grew up with parents that enjoyed having music playing if we were all just hanging out or playing cards, games, etc., mom even played a little guitar

Despite only being 18mo apart, my brother and I have always had very different musical preferences. Therefore, I had to always ensure I possessed a bigger and better radio than he did....My first personal music delivery device was a clock radio, still have it. The display died only a couple of years ago, but the radio still works. Every few years my parents would upgrade our boom boxes, cassette to dbl cassette, to cassette and CD player, etc. though rarely at the same time. One Christmas my brother got a big radio, bigger than what I'd been using. Horror and dread filled me with the sudden epiphany that I would soon be hearing Disney soundtracks blaring from the next room. This audible equivalent of water boarding was instigated within the hour and throughout the next day. I was drowning in misery.

The next day my dad asked if I wanted to come with him to Circuit City. Hearing the crap coming from my brothers room and since any place covered in electronics, gadgets and stereos was up my alley anyway, we went. He said something about maybe we should look for something different for my next stereo and we left with a JVC receiver, 5cd carousel, a pair of big kenwood speakers and a pair of technics speakers. Now that's an upgrade!

I got home, hooked it all up and was in hog heaven. It was my first taste of the better dynamics that bigger speakers allow. Better, clearer and louder, more than enough to drown out my brother's tunes. To this day, he still pines about the single day he had the bigger stereo...

When I was in high school, I was walking around HiFi Buys while getting some speakers installed in my car. A couple of bigger rooms had surround setups with a pj and screen. A salesman put a laser disk on and I was sold. Don't even remember what movie was played but the whole experience burned itself into my brain. I knew at that moment I had to have a HT in my home one day.

A few years later I took the first step and bought a JBL sat/sub 5.1 and it sounded great to me. (The jvc setup was lent to a friend in college and never seen again.) I used it for 7yrs before we moved into our old house and began the modernization process. I upgraded the sub from the 8" to Hsu vtf3 mk3 (still going strong) and then the fronts to Hsu HB-1s. Next was rosenut MA RX8s and center I got for a steal from @reefdiver. Since then I've slowly pieced together a matching 7.1 rx setup with RX1s for surrounds. These will be the speakers used in the ht until I can upgrade, the center I plan to run vertically.

Last summer our next door neighbors told us they were going to try and sell their house. Long story short (too late, I know), we made them an offer the day before their photographer came out and we ended up buying it.

A few days into the process, my neighbor sent me a link with the house pics/virtual tour. I've seen virtual tours before and they've always been a little meh to me from a technological standpoint. The neighbors used something called Matterport. As you can see in some of the pics, this thing is bada$$! It gives you a complete 3D representation of the house that you can manipulate. They even have an app that can be used to walk around in VR if you have the cardboard or whatever. I didn't use it on the house we sold because I didn't think it'd be as impressive with the house empty. Regardless, I think they paid $300 to cover 3000 sqft. I'd highly recommend it and would probably even get it done to my current house if I didn't have it already. It's been incredibly helpful with getting ideas on things to do in the future with our home and can look at it anytime. I wish I could post the link to my house so you could get the full effect, but it lists my address so that's that...



Both houses are ranch style with full basements. Ours was original 1963 with a full unfinished basement. Basically, what we wanted to do to ours was already done next door (updated kitchen, finished basement, etc). Instead of spending years doing upgrades here and there and dealing with all the headaches involved, we decided it'd be better to buy the house and get a 4x bigger back yard for the kids and dog in the process. Took almost 5mo to move out, get the old house fixed up and sold, but were under contract about a week after listing. Not too bad, though paying two mortgages is just as awesome as it sounds.

Enough of the history lesson...





So the new house has a big room in the basement that's about 28x14', ceiling is a little over 8'. I just ripped down the drop ceiling and opened a couple areas in the side of the soffit to see what was up there last weekend. This weekend I opened the rest of the sides of the soffit...My neighbor told me they'd had a rodent problem when they first moved and that they took care of it and hadn't had a problem since. That's good, but I think I found where they'd been living. I'd be surprised if I vacuumed up much less than a half gallon of old mouse turds. Glad I didn't just start yanking that thing down and have it all rain down on me馃あ.



There's a few various cables, a water line, gas line and hvac ducts that extend slightly below the joists above. Other than that, it's fairly obstruction free. The next step is to rip out the thin crap paneling covering the walls and see what I'm dealing with there. Ran out of time today so just popped one open. No insulation btw the paneling and cinderblock foundation. This demo keeps getting better...

I'd like to get rid of the soffit and figure out another way to reroute the hvac to give me the most ceiling height. The only spot that I may be unable to delete it completely is the screen wall. The duct actually goes through the cinder block into the concreted crawl space to provide heat/air to the kitchen.





Looking at the screen wall, the right wall with the fireplace is an outside wall. The wall on the left is shared with an unfinished room roughly the same size and is used for storage.





I'd like to route the hvac through there. Shouldn't be that difficult since the whole hvac unit is in the storage room on the opposite end from the screen wall. There's plenty of room around the unit in there, but areas a tech may need to access in the front of it is gained through a set of accordion doors opposite the under stairs closet. I'd like seal that off due to noise when it's running.







The equipment rack could either go in the storage room or in the closet under the stairs. Wherever is goes, I want to have easy access to the back of it.

Then there's those damn support poles...

So if you're still with me, this is where things stand:

Room: roughly 28x14"

Ceiling and walls: hat channels with dd/gg?
Star ceiling would be sweet

Insulation: roxul safe n sound btw rafters? Walls too? Rafters/joists are 9", how many layers? 3 layers of 3" would fill it but do I need that much? One 3" layer would be roughly $1100

Power: needed at screen wall?
Have a spare 30A circuit.
Have 1 or 2 outlets/wall now except screen wall

Lighting: ???

Screen: 135" falcon horizon 4K AT (thanks @beastaudio)

Projector: TBD, Pj mount?

Poles: nothing but floor above 2 of them
Replaceable with a beam? Worth it?

Unfinished room: 36' x 11'10" with maybe 20-25' useable length
Maybe not at all unless poles can be removed. If so, may possibly rotate room 90deg

Fireplace: opening 50x30x26-30"
What to do about it if anything.

Soffit: Eliminate - would have to reroute hvac

Floor: currently laminate on slab
Soft carpet and thick padding.
Radiant heat?

Seating: sofas probably, but maybe ht seats
Enough height for riser?

Speakers: MA rx 7.0, need atmos speakers, but will wire for 6

Subs: 2 DO SI ht18 (Rockbiter 1 and part deux) on inuke 6k dsp. Might add some MBMs near field behind the mlp.

Receiver/Prepro: something with hdmi 2.1 preferably since that'll likely be out by the time I'm at that point

I think my biggest dilemma is how to configure the layout so I know where to start running wires to. Most importantly, another big thing that would really help is to know the best order in which to complete the steps required to finish this thing so I can help avoid unnecessary stress/mistakes. Feel free to ask me anything and thanks in advance for the help!






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Good luck! I'll be following along. I'm currently house hunting and we've been looking at a bunch of ranch style houses with similar basements as yours so hopefully I'll be able to steal a bunch of your ideas!
 

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This should be good.
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A couple quick questions.

Are you planning to soundproof the space? You mentioned hat channel and DD+GG, so I assume so. That's a pretty big decision at the outset.

My next question would be how many people do you intend to seat. One row or two. I'd guess that'll determine whether you have to put the screen on the short wall or not.

Also, what are your plans for acoustic treatments? How much space do you intend to allow for them?

Finally, you need to get your HVAC sorted as early as possible. It will be one of the most complicated parts in a retro-fit room. Heck, it's tough to deal with in a new construction HT.

It would probably help to do a quick sketch showing what you have in mind for the room and include the major interferences like the HVAC, ductwork, electrical panels, sump pumps, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A couple quick questions.

Are you planning to soundproof the space? You mentioned hat channel and DD+GG, so I assume so. That's a pretty big decision at the outset.

My next question would be how many people do you intend to seat. One row or two. I'd guess that'll determine whether you have to put the screen on the short wall or not.

Also, what are your plans for acoustic treatments? How much space do you intend to allow for them?

Finally, you need to get your HVAC sorted as early as possible. It will be one of the most complicated parts in a retro-fit room. Heck, it's tough to deal with in a new construction HT.

It would probably help to do a quick sketch showing what you have in mind for the room and include the major interferences like the HVAC, ductwork, electrical panels, sump pumps, etc.
JPA! I've actually been following the Plains Theater build for a good while, need to go back from the beginning as it looks like you've added some more good info.

Yes, I'm planning to soundproof. I've been emailing with the Soundproofing company to see what they recommend. I need to actually talk with their HT guy (Ted) for more specifics, but in the emails they said pink fluffy r-19 would be just as good as using 3" roxul safe n sound. ""In properly constructed sound isolation assemblies (like yours) all batt insulation works the same. No performance difference by spending more money." Does this sound right to y'all? I don't get how insulations with different densities would all behave in the same manner. I plan to use clips/hats/dd/gg as it seems to be proven route that doesn't take up a lot of room and isn't crazy expensive.

Realistically, I'll probably go with two rows of 3 as I think that's all I'll have room for. The den in my old house was roughly the same size and everything was set up on the long wall. It was good for that room but no way you're fitting 2 rows like that in a 14' width now. One yes, but there's still the fireplace to contend with.

As far as acoustic TXs, my idea was to do stacked rock on the walls and then add panels either on the wall or, preferably, built into the wall so things aren't sticking off it, but I wouldn't mind panels on the wall. Can you elaborate on "how much space do you intend to allow for them"? If you're talking about absorption to reflection ratios, I guess whatever is recommended. I have a second request into acoustic frontiers for help, the first one went unanswered but probably just got lost in the shuffle so no biggie.

I have a friend that owns a HVAC company that could hopefully help me out, still waiting to hear from him. Lots of good info on that in the beginning of your thread that I'll be sure to have him read. The existing intake and outtake in there were only about 4ft apart...weak. I'm thinking the return will be in the back somewhere and the input, or whatever you call it, will be in the soffit up front since it will have to remain to an extent do to it going through that wall anyway.

I can't draw for anything, but will see will see what I can do. But basically rock and panels on the wall, 135" AT screen with the linn acoustic deal behind it with maybe some black velvet over that. Couple of sofas with the back one on a riser if there's room...that's about as far as I've gotten so far, still looking at pics for inspiration.
 

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I was thinking the soundproofing strategy may dictate to some degree the room layout. E.g., the stairs are always troublesome from a soundproofing standpoint. Mechanicals, ductwork, plumbing, etc. can be problematic as well. Knowing a soundproofed room is the goal just helps all the rest of us following along understand the problems better.

I think a quick top down sketch of what you're thinking will be helpful. Nothing fancy. I mention it because in my mind I'm thinking screen on short wall opposite the stairs, but some of the things in your post sound like you're wanting to put the screen on the long wall. That's going to be tough with a 14' depth.

As far as the treatments go, I only ask because they can take up a lot of space in your room. 8" is a good number to consider for more common off-the-shelf stuff that's not crazy expensive. You can trim that in half with Quest Panels, but they're pricey. Then there's bass traps. Anything from "just skip it" to "loosely fill the entire room with pink fluffy and listen from your neighbors yard." I don't know what your audible tastes are like, but the acoustic treatments rabbit hole is a doozy! Again, it's just good for the rest of us following along to get an idea of what you're thinking. I really brought that up because I'm not clear which way your room will be oriented.

I think this will be an awesome space! I'm looking forward to following along.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was thinking the soundproofing strategy may dictate to some degree the room layout. E.g., the stairs are always troublesome from a soundproofing standpoint. Mechanicals, ductwork, plumbing, etc. can be problematic as well. Knowing a soundproofed room is the goal just helps all the rest of us following along understand the problems better.
Gotcha. Yeah the stairs will be a challenge for sure. I plan to insulate best I can on the ht side of them.



I think a quick top down sketch of what you're thinking will be helpful. Nothing fancy. I mention it because in my mind I'm thinking screen on short wall opposite the stairs, but some of the things in your post sound like you're wanting to put the screen on the long wall. That's going to be tough with a 14' depth.
You got it right, screen on short wall opposite the stairs



As far as the treatments go, I only ask because they can take up a lot of space in your room. 8" is a good number to consider for more common off-the-shelf stuff that's not crazy expensive. You can trim that in half with Quest Panels, but they're pricey. Then there's bass traps. Anything from "just skip it" to "loosely fill the entire room with pink fluffy and listen from your neighbors yard." I don't know what your audible tastes are like, but the acoustic treatments rabbit hole is a doozy! Again, it's just good for the rest of us following along to get an idea of what you're thinking. I really brought that up because I'm not clear which way your room will be oriented.



I think this will be an awesome space! I'm looking forward to following along.

Don't I know it. Treatments are just one of many bottomless rabbit holes around here as we know. I want to make it great but will be trying not to go much more than neck deep in the previously mentioned holes



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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Man, hard to find time to get this going. Still haven't been able to take the paneling down. I'm mostly concerned with the screen and right walls since they are against the foundation. Just inside the door of the crawl space there's a big water line that drains the washer, sink and dishwasher. Coming off of it is an old P trap that I assume was for the old kitchen sink before it was renovated.

About a month after we moved in, I was putting stuff in there and water splashed out the top of the trap and onto the floor which is slightly angled toward the back of the screen wall (front right corner from ht side). My old neighbor said it was damp in that corner of the crawl space sometimes, but didn't know where the water came from and didn't cause him problems inside. Regardless, I went to HD and bought a $2 cap for it to prevent future potential problems. However, since it's been splashing in there for years I want to make sure there's no mold, water damage or anything else funky in there.


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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Been thinking about the left wall that is shared with the storage room. I highly doubt it's load bearing in any way since the three support poles are centered a foot away from it. Short of replacing them with a beam, which is likely a giant and expensive pain, would there be any benefit to moving that wall to getter more width out of the room? The poles would be more into the room which would probably make them more of a hindrance at that point so...

Anybody have suggestions?


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I think whether or not the wall and columns need to move depends entirely on whether or not YOU want that space. There are threads on here where people made a basement after their house was built so they had space for a theater. You just have to decide if it's worth it to you to gain that extra space or not.

Just assuming you could get a beam in there without losing much height, for my part it would bother me knowing I didn't make the room as wide as I could. There are a lot of benefits to getting the surrounds further away from the seats.

If you're on the fence, I'd say get someone out to give you an estimate on what it would cost to remove the poles so you can widen the room (it may be cheaper than you think!). If you're happy with the width as-is, then carry on and don't think about it again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think whether or not the wall and columns need to move depends entirely on whether or not YOU want that space. There are threads on here where people made a basement after their house was built so they had space for a theater. You just have to decide if it's worth it to you to gain that extra space or not.



Just assuming you could get a beam in there without losing much height, for my part it would bother me knowing I didn't make the room as wide as I could. There are a lot of benefits to getting the surrounds further away from the seats.



If you're on the fence, I'd say get someone out to give you an estimate on what it would cost to remove the poles so you can widen the room (it may be cheaper than you think!). If you're happy with the width as-is, then carry on and don't think about it again!


That's good advice, thanks. May call a lumber yard that would sell those beams and see if they have engineers that could look at it. I have a window directly across from the walkway to the ht room that'd work or even come through the screen wall since there's already a hole in the cinderblock.

Maybe @BIGmouthinDC has done a few and may know off hand?


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I think the steel beam work on rawlinsway was 8-10K or so, Lemonade I think was around 6K

The "official" way to do this is: First you get a structural engineer to design it, then you pull a building permit to do it, a company does the work, Last a final inspection to determine if the work was done according to the approved plan. The final price is several multiples of the cost of the beam.

A short cut would involve hiring someone willing to do the work without an engineers plan and inspections, you take your chances.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I think the steel beam work on rawlinsway was 8-10K or so, Lemonade I think was around 6K

The "official" way to do this is: First you get a structural engineer to design it, then you pull a building permit to do it, a company does the work, Last a final inspection to determine if the work was done according to the approved plan. The final price is several multiples of the cost of the beam.

A short cut would involve hiring someone willing to do the work without an engineers plan and inspections, you take your chances.


Thanks for the explanation, it's more involved than I expected and likely out of my budget. Do you have any other thoughts on the rest of the space in general and/or what to do with the poles specifically?


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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Finally got around to lugging all the trash from the drop ceiling out to the curb. My county trash collection is notorious for not wanting to take stuff I put out for pick up. Luckily they took it all so I don't have to call for a bulk pickup.
The wife is talking about going out of town with her family for a night or two. If it happens, the dog and I will start ripping down the paneling. 馃馃徏


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Do you have any other thoughts on the rest of the space in general and/or what to do with the poles specifically?
I've looked at the pictures and your explanations and I'm not certain what you want to do with what space. It is probably very clear in your mind. I can't wrap my head around it. A birds eye floor plan of the theater space drawn to scale accompanied with a picture of each of the four walls as they exist might help. I think my problem is you have a picture with a caption under it saying this is the screen wall, but from what I can tell it is the storage room. But the storage room looks better suited for a theater space because it doesn't have that monster bulkhead. I really want to see what is in that bulk head.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've looked at the pictures and your explanations and I'm not certain what you want to do with what space. It is probably very clear in your mind. I can't wrap my head around it. A birds eye floor plan of the theater space drawn to scale accompanied with a picture of each of the four walls as they exist might help. I think my problem is you have a picture with a caption under it saying this is the screen wall, but from what I can tell it is the storage room. But the storage room looks better suited for a theater space because it doesn't have that monster bulkhead. I really want to see what is in that bulk head.


My bad, I wrote that first post over a few days when I would have a few moments of free time and guess it came out in a pile of info instead of a more organized plan.

I guess the main priority is to soundproof the room as best I can within (financial) reason. The plan is to do clips, hat channels and dd/gg with at least two layers of r19 or maybe Roxul safe and sound in the walls and ceiling. Though 1 layer of roxul would cost about $1k for the ceiling alone...After I get the paneling down, we can see if the room within a room concept would be applicable or not. I don't think the majority of the fireplace wall (right of the screen wall) has any framing, but instead just has the paneling attached to long boards glued to the cinderblock. At least this is my guess looking at it. The bumpout on that wall closest to the screen wall and left of the fireplace, is framing over the cinderblock.

The ceiling will have to have blocks attached to the floor joists to clear some stuff (hvac, couple pipes, cables) so the hat channels will have something flat and level to attach to.

This is as you enter the room. The screen wall is the far wall opposite behind that couch.



That monster bulkhead houses a hvac line that runs the length of the room, curves right and then through the top of the cinderblock screen wall to feed the kitchen upstairs. I'd like to reroute that long line to the other side of the pole wall so I could eliminate the bulkhead as much as I can.





Here's a birds eye view of the room which is roughly 14x28x~8' to the joists.



As for pics of the four walls, you have a pm...

Hope this helps explain my plan a little clearer. Thanks for the help!


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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
No updates on the theater, but on an audio related note I bought a new (to me) car today. It's got a B&O sound system in it that's LEGIT. Had a 2.5hr drive home from the dealer and had the windows and sunroof open for a while until it started raining. Easily played over the wind noise and was clean with great dynamics. I've always upgraded the audio systems in my cars, but this may be the first I one never need to. It's that good and sounds even better with the windows up!

Edit: found this about it

http://www.bang-olufsen.com/car-audio/car-models/~/media/3F88B3E44C4344BF961B8149D398FF3F.pdf


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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Finally had some time to work in the basement today. I pulled down all the cheap paneling down on just the outer walls, i.e. the screen wall and the right fireplace wall. With two floods (that I know of) down there in the past and a p trap splashing out water into the crawl space for at least a decade, I needed to see the extent of any possible water damage.

For the most part, it's not as bad as I feared. The right rear corner is the worst as the wood is rotted, but surprisingly bone dry. We've had a ton of rain in the past couple of months and nothing looks like fresh damage, to my untrained eyes at least.




In that same corner, I found some more turds as well as a bunch of acorn remnants. I'm just going to keep telling myself that all of it was from squirrels instead of rats/mice. At least there's now evidence of one over the other. Either way...



There's also a line of this white powdery stuff running the length of the whole wall along the bottom. My guess is it's mineral deposits from water seeping in. Either that or someone had a hell of a party down there...I vacuumed up a couple small piles of it but nothing crazy. Doesn't look like mold does it?




Even found an old pair of channel locks and a ball peen hammer in the wall. Gotta love new tools


I was most surprised that the the front screen wall doesn't really show evidence of water coming into the right corner. The floor of the crawl space is about halfway up the height of the wall.

Also, from the crawl space side the duct coming through the wall looks kinda janky which made me think they'd probably just sledgehammered a hole in the wall for it. Nice to see I was wrong. Seems forethought was utilized and it was framed for access.










As I suspected, most of the paneling was nailed to thin boards that are themselves nailed to the cinderblock. The rest was attached to the smaller framed out section of the right wall that's covering yet another pipe. Pretty sure it's the same drain pipe for the kitchen/laundry that'd been splashing in the crawl space.



So a few questions:

1. Guess I still need to get the rest of the boards off the wall?

2. Looking at these new pics, what do y'all see that I need to be concerned about and/or need to address before moving forward? What would the solutions be?

3. Would the room-within-a-room route be advisable? How much would I lose doing that, 1' in both dimensions? How would that work around the fireplace since the face appears to be less than 6" deep to the cinderblock?

Would love to hear your thoughts and welcome any and all suggestions and advice! TIA



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