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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all -- after enjoying my version 1 theater for over a year, I finally got the itch enough to start on version 2. Frankly, I had never done ANY construction work before moving into my house, and the theater was the first project after being settled in for three months.

Before & after pics are included. Honestly, I was very pleased, and everything I learned came from these forums. But, I learned a few more things and had a few of those "I should have done it this way" moments that only come with hindsight. So...on to Mark II.

Goals:
  1. Switch to an AT screen with DIY speakers hidden behind
  2. Accent Lighting
  3. Atmos Speakers
  4. Darker Color
  5. New Carpeting
  6. Sound treatment on the walls
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Reserved for lessons learned, and final pics.

Stage/Screen:
Allow more than 24” behind the AT screen if possible. 18” sub boxes are often 22” or 24” inches deep and it cuts it too close for comfort. I wired my speakon inputs on the side of the sub cabinets just in case, but 4-6 inches of extra depth would have been nice.
Sand is heavy, but it is a worthwhile endeavor to get a solid base below your bass.
2x8s for the main cavity lumber seemed like a good height. If you are doing two steps, use cheap 2x4s for the bottom one.
Why two layers of 3/4” plywood/OSB on top of the sandbox framing? Because BIGMouthInDC says so. Trust the experience. And, 1.5” of OSB/plywood makes for easy round-overs with a router.
Leave a 1” gap around the entire sandbox perimeter so that it does not touch the wall. Sound dampening/isolation is the whole point of the sand. Don’t degrade that by rattling your walls and the china cabinet upstairs.

Riser:
The height depends on your needs and the best angle to see over the first row of chairs while being able to view the bottom of the screen. I went with 2x10 with 1.5” of decking on top.
Add power outlets in places where you might need them in the future. Maybe you will want near field subwoofers behind the second row of chairs. Maybe you will want to have power for an iPad charger near each chair. You can hide outlets with black faceplates, but it’s very hard to add them after the fact. Really hard.
Pink fluffy insulation is cheap. Line the empty cavities with it so that your riser doesn’t become a resonant drum, even if you are on thick carpet.
If you want an LED or incandescent rope light lining the underlip of the riser, plan ahead for that. I couldn’t extend my lip after the fact and needed to black rope light channel strips to hide the bulbs. The channels disappear in low light and create a diffuse effect, but it would have been cleaner to have a proper lip to begin with.

Labor:
An extra pair of hands can cut the work time down by 75%. I hired two guys off of Craigslist (the odd-jobs and gigs section) who were between construction jobs and paid them $15/hour. Best move ever. While it was my project and I was “in charge” - I made it clear that I wanted their suggestions and input, which definitely helped the project along. I had the vision, but they had the years of expertise and had a few tricks up their sleeves to make things go faster/better.

Lighting:
Accent lighting added a really great look to my room. I went with cheap 3” 50w halogen downlights ($14.99 each) and I’ll add in LED bulbs when they burn out. Buying them separately is oddly still much cheaper than starting off with LED housings. Some people go with 4” downlights - I liked the accent effect of the 3” bulbs; my tray ceiling was 10” so it seemed to be better balanced. It’s 1000x easier to add the accent lights when you’re building a tray ceiling. If you are doing it after the fact, just get the power up into the tray and then pull your Romex through. Don’t make the spacing between light holes too far or it is much hard to fish the wire through.

Paint:
If your spouse allows it, painting the ceiling black has an enormous effect on the perceived contrast — night and day difference. I was tossing out my carpet so I didn’t care about the drips, but keep that in mind and carefully prep your space when you are painting on the ceiling.
The blackest of the black paint still has some reflection so heed the advice that so many here give on making a wider screen frame made out of black crushed velvet. It is like a black hole for light and really makes a tremendous difference. Get MDF or cheap plywood and a stapler and you’re done in a few minutes. I used SyFabrics and loved the result. JoAnne Fabrics is probably fine too, but the price fluctuates too much and I just wanted it done.

Speakers:
Seriously, check out the DIY offerings from DIYsoundgroup. Premium components and the only catch is that some assembly is required! Flat packs from them, and from Parts-Express are the best investment you will ever make. Pre-drill your holes for mounting woofers.
Put your hand between the woofer and the screwdriver or you will be buying a new woofer when it slips (mine did, and I was being careful).
If using sealed enclosures, get speakon receptacles that are air-tight. Parts-Express.com has speakon connectors with different colors (blue, white, green, yellow, red) and it might help your sanity to color code your cables at the speaker end (ex. red for Fronts, yellow for subs) and then with the same color at your amp end if you are using.

WAF:
Double the amount of time that you tell your spouse that you will be working. Things always take longer than expected. And, if possible, take a night off and just do something nice for her/him and say thank you for being patient. I initially failed and this and got some deserved backlash, but was able to make it right eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Destruction is easy when it's a room you don't like. This was my pride and joy so it was pretty tough messing it up again.



  • The 135" Elite Screen is on Craigslist and I already have the AT version on the way
  • A stage will be necessary so I am following the advice given on other threads and lining with roofing felt on the concrete
  • I raised the speaker holes up from the bottom since the future stage will cover them. I got lazy and just mudded the holes.
  • The carpet is stained, ripped, and has to go. However, I am leaving it for a while until the rest of the construction is done. There is a riser and a lot else that I can't move myself
  • I went with 2x8 lumber for the height of the stage, with 2x4 as the front step.
 

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Looked through you old build thread, and now on to the new! Love the overall look of your space, and the colors. Looking forward to seeing v2.0 come together.

Funny as there are a lot of people that spend years/decades with v1.0 but gotta love the drive to go to v2.0 within just a year. :D

I have been thinking what my own v2.0 would look like, and sound like (as in the sound my wife would make if I told her that I was going to redo the theater) and what I would change with my current layout.

Regards,

RTROSE
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My wife thinks I'm painting it, swapping out the screen, and adding in a few lights. I don't think she understands what that really means :p

Everything needs to move backward by 24" to accommodate the AT screen, so the ridiculously heavy riser will have to go back as well. Getting carpet under that thing will be a challenge -- there isn't much space on the side to wiggle things around. The plan is to go underneath the riser straight back (as if it doesn't exist) and then carpet the riser itself separately so I can move it around a few inches in the future, if needed.
 

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Based on your signature, it seems like you're switching to the 1099s and UM18 subs. Leaving the current surrounds or are you switching them out as well?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Based on your signature, it seems like you're switching to the 1099s and UM18 subs. Leaving the current surrounds or are you switching them out as well?
I had a chance to hear the 1099s and the UM18s and I was hooked. The flat packs have been sitting in my garage for months for a long time I was too scared to jump right in. Something about building a speaker seemed more daunting than building a theater.

For the surrounds, I will probably end up making some Volt 6 or 8 speakers, but my current ones are really special and I may consider keeping them. Infinity ES250 bi-pole or di-pole (handy switch under the grille) and they sound great. With the dual inputs, I can make one speaker in the back fire Left Back Surround out of one side and Right Back Surround out of the other side. I love that!
 

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Nice work! :)


Isn't the real beauty of a DIY AT screen, is how you can leverage a simple finish on a speaker cabinet, and yet create an incredible
performance driven yet very affordable sound system?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Nice work! :)


Isn't the real beauty of a DIY AT screen, is how you can leverage a simple finish on a speaker cabinet, and yet create an incredible
performance driven yet very affordable sound system?
Yep! However, in case the 1099s or UM18s ever see the light of day, I would like them to be presentable in a home theater sense. Duratex all the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Let's get sandy!

Best quote of the weekend: [Wife] "Why are you bringing a beach into our house?" I just smiled as I lugged the two more bags through the garage and down the stairs.

I used an old plastic drop cloth and lined the cavities with it. Then, 200 pounds of play sand in each cavity still in the bags (I saw no reason to take it out) plus loose sand all around the bags to make it solid. 3/4 OSB then another layer on top of that (perpendicular seams if you want to get fancy).

Now it's time to buy a router to do the roundover. I've never used one before so I'm not sure whether to go with a cheap-o router or something more substantial/expensive. The Dewalt router with plunger attachment is overkill for this job, but supposedly I'm going to get better at building and want something decent in the future.
 

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Best quote of the weekend: [Wife] "Why are you bringing a beach into our house?" I just smiled as I lugged the two more bags through the garage and down the stairs.

I used an old plastic drop cloth and lined the cavities with it. Then, 200 pounds of play sand in each cavity still in the bags (I saw no reason to take it out) plus loose sand all around the bags to make it solid. 3/4 OSB then another layer on top of that (perpendicular seams if you want to get fancy).

Now it's time to buy a router to do the roundover. I've never used one before so I'm not sure whether to go with a cheap-o router or something more substantial/expensive. The Dewalt router with plunger attachment is overkill for this job, but supposedly I'm going to get better at building and want something decent in the future.
The majority of my tools are DeWalt, and the majority of my DeWalt tools are reconditioned. Buying reconditioned was my justification for purchasing better tools than I could justify for my intended uses.

In any case, a good router will perform well and last the average DIYer a long time. So, my vote is to go for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Since the previous screen was up against the wall, I need to move everything in the room back 24". This includes the tray ceiling and rope light, which are kind of a pain to move. I'm going to build another set of studs in the closer location and leave everything else alone since it will be hidden. Ripping the crown moulding was tough, but I think I got it such that I can remove sections on the side and just put it right back up. Fingers crossed...

These went up pretty easily and I'm figuring out the drywall right now along with the holes for the down lights. I had to do the drywall twice since I made some of the light holes too large -- argh. But, still pretty simple when they are 3-4 foot drywall strips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
The first wall is black and I'm starting to see just how much of a difference the darker color is going to make.

All of the holes for the down lights are cut so it's time to jump into wiring.

I am doing three circuits of 3" downlights:
1. side downlight (four lights on each side)
2. front screen wash lights (four lights)
3. back bar area (four lights)

Two of the lines already have lights on them (existing side sconces and existing back bar lights) so I just need to another line and switch for the front wash lights. They are really only for decoration, but if I'm already pulling romex around the room, I might as well do those too. My two-gang box needs to become three-gang, and there isn't a ton of space for new wires.
 

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Good progress.

In addition to the aesthetic value, in the darker room, the screen wash lights will be helpful to light the room for cleaning, etc.

You mentioned that you are adding accent lighting, do you already have LED or rope lighting in the tray ceiling? You mentioned expanding a 2 gang to 3. Since you are pulling wire, you may want to expand to 4 gang to allow flexibility to add accent lighting in the tray ceiling if you haven't already.

Replacing the carpet under the riser could be quite the challenge. I"m curious. Why do you want to preserve flexibility to move the riser "a few inches in the future if needed"?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Good progress.

In addition to the aesthetic value, in the darker room, the screen wash lights will be helpful to light the room for cleaning, etc.

You mentioned that you are adding accent lighting, do you already have LED or rope lighting in the tray ceiling? You mentioned expanding a 2 gang to 3. Since you are pulling wire, you may want to expand to 4 gang to allow flexibility to add accent lighting in the tray ceiling if you haven't already.

Replacing the carpet under the riser could be quite the challenge. I"m curious. Why do you want to preserve flexibility to move the riser "a few inches in the future if needed"?
I had rope light in the tray ceiling already so luckily I don't need a new switch for that. Painting everything black will certainly diminish the effect of the tray light, but hopefully it still looks good.

The carpet situation is one that I keep revisiting in my head. I wanted to carpet it separately from the floor in case things change in the future (I have no idea what that would be). If the riser is "carpeted into place" then it can't be moved for maintenance, add-ons, etc. It's just me being non-committal! :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
By the way, your theater looks incredible and it is one of the best I've seen here. The LED light dispersion is very uniform and looks great. Same on the wall accent lighting.
 

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By the way, your theater looks incredible and it is one of the best I've seen here. Did you go with blue LED or incandescent lighting on top? The light dispersion is very uniform and looks great. Same on the wall accent lighting.
I used 5050 LED strips with 60 LEDs per meter which I bought from SIRS-E. The strips are color changing RGB. The density of the LEDs helps make the dispersion quite uniform. We typically have the lights set at about 25% of brightness for accent lighting.

The RGB strips are awesome. I really like the blue, my daughter likes purple. We used orange for our Halloween party last year:


I'll be following your re-build
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Riser time!

When I did theater 1.0, I didn't have the cash to put in new carpet, and flooring was on sale, so I went with that. I had no idea what to plan for, and I didn't do anything more than make a frame, deck it, and put the hardwood on top. Electrical was almost an afterthought (I managed to get one outlet in front and one on top, but I need to upgrade the riser before carpeting.

I want to add more outlets for the top and the front face. With the frame already built and weighing hundreds of pounds, this task isn't easy. The last picture shows the underside of the riser, and I needed to tap the one outlet to add others. The front face outlet was a little easier, but I still felt like I was putting my life in jeopardy every time I put my arms or head underneath. A few car jacks did the trick to keep the riser elevated. I had an LED tape light that I wanted to keep, but with carpeting it will need a deeper lip. The one right now is only 1/2 inch, which won't work. I tried (and failed) to dig a notch into the underside of the lip, but I'm going to have to figure out something else.

I also ran the rolex all the way around the room for the downlights. Back to Home Depot again to pick up a few things that I forgot...
 

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why can you just carpet the floor up the the riser....then carpet the riser and just have the meet at the corner of the floor and the riser? since you have the riser up shove some insulation under there to reduce the hollowness -
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
why can you just carpet the floor up the the riser....then carpet the riser and just have the meet at the corner of the floor and the riser? since you have the riser up shove some insulation under there to reduce the hollowness -
I realize that I am over engineering the carpeting process, but I also am aware of the desire to upgrade/change things in a few years. Any change to the riser itself (size, placement, electrical, subs, etc.) would require me to move it and I'm not sure I could get the perfect joint on all sides. It's not that much money to go under it and then wrap it separately, but getting it under there is going to be a beast. The room goes back another 15 feet so that much bunched/rolled up carpet has to get underneath it without killing anyone holding it up (or pushing it through underneath).

Great call on the insulation. I'll pick up a few rolls of the pink stuff from HD.
 
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