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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I’d like to remodel my basement into a pretty nice dedicated theater.

I don’t have the time or skills to do the work myself, but I’m not up for the usual six figure prices, with $30k acoustic treatment, etc, that seems to come along with many high quality pro builds.

I’m still after many of the high-end features, though, like an AT screen & false wall, a stage, risers, and acoustic treatment.

So, I’d like professional design expertise, combined with more cost effective materials and construction.

The room is 17x30x12.
I already have most of the electronics, but not the AT screen or seating.
I want to do all the calibration myself, and maintain some flexibility for upgrades, since that’s half the fun for me.

Any specific suggestions for who to work with, or general suggestions on strategy?

Thanks for your help!

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Equipment:

Projector: Sony vpl-vw1000 (w/ vpl-vw1100 HDMI 2.0 upgrade)
Using EStar ESG6000 3D glasses with IR->RF converter, so no worries about IR (although 3D is a low priority for me, if I run into brightness issues with a big AT screen)

Mains: 3x JTR 212HT LCRs
Subs: 4x Rythmik F25s (totaling 8x DS1505 15" drivers)
Amps: Parasound A51 for mains, Parasound 5125 for surrounds
Source: HTPC w/JRiver and Dirac Live
Pre-pro: Onkyo PR-SC5509 (will replace later for Atmos)
Some Kareoke stuff.
Acoustic treatment: I have a lot of bass traps and acoustic panels, if they make sense to use, but no problem if it makes more sense to replace them with built-in stuff.

Planned equipment (not purchased, yet):
Surrounds: planning on replacing current surrounds with 8-10 high efficiency coaxes, like DIYSoundGroup's Volt 10LXs or Concentric-8s, to keep up with the JTRs better and prepare for Atmos. (will need another amp)
Screen: planning on 140-150" wide Seymour AV Center Stage XD.
Eventually, either an Atmos pre-amp, once a reasonably priced one comes out with Dirac (perhaps Emotiva's future XMR-1) or else I might stick with the HTPC route, once JRiver gets Atmos support. It would be handy to support other sources, but not at the cost of good room EQ, like Dirac or Audiolense.
Seats: Current favorites are 7-10 Palliser theater seats in 2 rows. Maybe a table/barstools behind the second row, if there is room.

Notes:
I'm leaning toward a flat screen with no a-lens for simplicity, but I am considering curved. I have a Prismasonic a-lens that can do 1.25 on the shelf. I need to scrutinize the quality, light, and convenience tradeoffs more.
I prefer LRs in the corners and toed in for 212s, with only C behind the screen. I think they would benefit from a baffle wall setup.
We want a stage up front, so our kids can perform and amuse us.
Some space up front for game consoles.
So far, the bass response is best near the center of the room, so that's where I'd want the MLP.
A broadband absorber in the risers sounds neat.
A mini-bar in the back or corner.
The ceiling will probably need some sort of acoustic treatment, either with a stuffed drop ceiling or panels.
So far, I've had the best results with a 120hz crossover. I think this is a blend of room issues that sub placement handles best and how my subs handle those frequencies vs. my mains. This might change with acoustic treatment, but it's working out well.
The entry door is in the back corner, preventing corner sub placement. With that limitation, I have had the best results with 2 subs in the front corners and 2 subs at 1/4 3/4 positions on the back wall.
Since the LR 212s and front subs both sound best in the corners, I have the front F25s on their sides, with the 212s standing on top of them.
 

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It seems like most people here either go fully deluxe or DIY.
Hi there, I can't give you any recommendations for local help. But, I've seen several folks on this forum utilize Erskine Design Services to help develop a plan. See this thread for details. Seems like you could work with them to develop a detailed plan and then take that to a contractor or subcontractors to do the work that you don't want to mess with.

ps. Do I know you in real life? Cool, if so!
 

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What's the construction budget? You mention 6 figures.. can we get 5 figures to play with?? :D

You have awesome dimensions for a totally kick-a theater.. Would be a shame to not do it up right.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi there, I can't give you any recommendations for local help. But, I've seen several folks on this forum utilize Erskine Design Services to help develop a plan. See this thread for details. Seems like you could work with them to develop a detailed plan and then take that to a contractor or subcontractors to do the work that you don't want to mess with.

ps. Do I know you in real life? Cool, if so!
My first thought was maybe, then I saw your signature and put your full name together. Yep!
Impressive carpentry skills!

Thanks for the link. I tried contacting Erskine a couple years ago, but he said he wouldn't be able to help me, since my dreams were out of line with my budget. Maybe I need to ask the right way or adjust my expectations or budget?

There is also a company in Dallas called CinemaTech that does theater design. Has anyone worked with them? Next on 620 seems to like them.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What's the construction budget? You mention 6 figures.. can we get 5 figures to play with?? :D

You have awesome dimensions for a totally kick-a theater.. Would be a shame to not do it up right.

Tim
On construction cost, I was hoping for something in the range of $35k, not including furniture or equipment. I'm not expecting $30k premium acoustic treatments or ornate millwork everywhere. I'm still hoping for something fairly nice, though, with cool lighting, baffle wall, rack, stage, riser, cost-effective acoustic treatments, etc.

If what I'm hoping for is out of line for the money, it would at least be nice to know that I'm going a cost effective route, and work with someone to find the right compromise between my expectations and budget.
 

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I've been helping out a lot of AVSers recently, especially those like you who have a lot of their own equipment, want to do some stuff themselves and have limited budgets. I'd be happy to review your wants and needs with you, PM if you are interested.
 

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I understand you don't have time to do the work.. if you have time to GC it (and hold your contractor's hand for a while) I think a great theater is completely within your budget.

Get a nice set of construction plans and a good set of treatment plans.

Erskine Group will produce a basic set of plans for $900, but I understand it uses Quest panels.. I do believe Nyal and bpape at GIK will create an acoustic plan using common building materials.

The trick is making sure your contractor follows the plans. Not sure if Big owns a cowboy hat.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I understand you don't have time to do the work.. if you have time to GC it (and hold your contractor's hand for a while) I think a great theater is completely within your budget.

Get a nice set of construction plans and a good set of treatment plans.

Erskine Group will produce a basic set of plans for $900, but I understand it uses Quest panels.. I do believe Nyal and bpape at GIK will create an acoustic plan using common building materials.

The trick is making sure your contractor follows the plans. Not sure if Big owns a cowboy hat.

Tim
I do have some time, just not tons. What is involved in GC'ing it? I at least know what that stands for, but I've never done that before. My gut says that this is the right approach, but I'd appreciate any advice!

If I go with a designer, like Erskine or CinemaTech, what level of detail should I ask for?

When you say to make sure that the contractor follows the plans, are we talking about stuff that I would see just by paying attention? Or are we talking about specific building tricks & techniques that only people with hi-end theater expertise would know?

I don't think that Big works down in Texas, unfortunately.

I'll add more specifics to to the top post and send Nyal a PM.
Thanks!
 

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When you say to make sure that the contractor follows the plans, are we talking about stuff that I would see just by paying attention? Or are we talking about specific building tricks & techniques that only people with hi-end theater expertise would know?
For much of the construction, it should be stuff that you can readily see if you stay on top of the daily progress. For example, did they fill the stage with sand and then cover with two layers of plywood with green glue between them per the plan? In my experience, a lot of subcontractors will say "sure, no problem" without really understanding that you actually really do want them to exactly follow your plans.

There are some things specific to higher-end-theaters that a general purpose subcontractor may struggle with - like covering your screen wall with acoustically transparent fabric or building a fabric panel to cover your super-chunk corner bass trap. You could consider doing those things yourself, and I have a lot of tools that you're welcome to borrow. I find the DIY acoustic projects to be fairly interesting and fun. I'm also more than happy to help out ... as soon as I'm done with mine. :cool:
 

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I know Nyal has helped a few people here in Houston. And you're right, Big didn't want to bring his tools to Texas but did at least tell me he'd surpervise the job if I didn't trust a GC. I was just lucky when I found someone that had just finished his room and he was willing to help me. I guess it depends on how much input you want to provide and what you'd prefer to hire out.

What about Bjorns?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I know Nyal has helped a few people here in Houston. And you're right, Big didn't want to bring his tools to Texas but did at least tell me he'd surpervise the job if I didn't trust a GC. I was just lucky when I found someone that had just finished his room and he was willing to help me. I guess it depends on how much input you want to provide and what you'd prefer to hire out.

What about Bjorns?
My main concerns are avoiding costly mistakes that experienced people would know (like layout or how to build a stage, as Chad described), an acoustic plan, and interior design.

I haven't contacted Bjorns. Are they just an installer, or do they do nice rooms? There are plenty of local installers.
 

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My main concerns are avoiding costly mistakes that experienced people would know (like layout or how to build a stage, as Chad described), an acoustic plan, and interior design.

I haven't contacted Bjorns. Are they just an installer, or do they do nice rooms? There are plenty of local installers.
I honestly don't know what all they do. I was just trying to think of companies closer to you.

It may not hurt to reach out to Shawn with Erskine. Let him shoot you a price. They are pretty insistent on their equipment recommendations but may work around your current equipment. They have several levels of service including design with plans to their team building your room.
 

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My main concerns are avoiding costly mistakes that experienced people would know (like layout or how to build a stage, as Chad described), an acoustic plan, and interior design.

I haven't contacted Bjorns. Are they just an installer, or do they do nice rooms? There are plenty of local installers.
Have you decided what path you're going to take? Did you find an installer?
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Have you decided what path you're going to take? Did you find an installer?
I got started some with Shawn @ Erskine, then I got busy with work. :(
I've also heard great things about Nyal.

These are all just designers, though. No movement on finding a building contractor.
 

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I got started some with Shawn @ Erskine, then I got busy with work. :(
I've also heard great things about Nyal.

These are all just designers, though. No movement on finding a building contractor.
There is a lot of new building work taking place around our end of Austin. If you know anyone in these areas I'm sure they could even ask a few teams for estimates if you wanted to save some money. If they have drawings I'm not sure where they could go wrong with a single room that already has walls and ac. Most of us manage to to do the work ourselves (with the exception of the electrics - I've done it before but I had an electrician check everything and connect the zones to the mains) so I can't believe many professionals would struggle.

You've got a big head start over most people in that the room has already been built.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
There is a lot of new building work taking place around our end of Austin. If you know anyone in these areas I'm sure they could even ask a few teams for estimates if you wanted to save some money. If they have drawings I'm not sure where they could go wrong with a single room that already has walls and ac. Most of us manage to to do the work ourselves (with the exception of the electrics - I've done it before but I had an electrician check everything and connect the zones to the mains) so I can't believe many professionals would struggle.

You've got a big head start over most people in that the room has already been built.
I'm not there yet, but yeah, that's the idea, once I have the plans.
I wish I had the time and skills to do it myself, but that ain't happening anytime soon. :\
 

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I'm not there yet, but yeah, that's the idea, once I have the plans.
I wish I had the time and skills to do it myself, but that ain't happening anytime soon. :\
The time bit is the issue. With all due respect to the professionals I think most people are capable of building there own if they don't have the money to pay someone else to do it. A professional might do it better (if you find a good one who takes pride in their work), and a lot faster, but thanks to the professionals that come online and share their experience, we all have access to the knowledge that we need to complete a job like this. Obviously you should also have some tools.

I've already made mistakes on mine but I could choose to correct them if I want. I would love to be able to pay someone to help me but I don't have the spare money to do that. My coffered ceiling is going to cost me $300 to complete. People in my area have been charged between $6,000 and $10,000 for a professional to do the same thing. It's been very hard work doing it alone but that's a lot of money to someone like me.

If you really want it to do it yourself I'm sure you could but it would take you a lot longer to complete.
 
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