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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all. We're finishing our basement and I get to buy a new screen! I'm looking for some purchasing advice. Here are some dimensions and pictures:


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Receiver: Denon AVR-X3500H 7.2 channel
Projector: Epson 5050ub

Currently the plans show a 110" screen - I want to go to 120". It will be just about perfect for THX viewing distance - BIG. Will be nice for viewing in the rooms behind as well. Let me know if you think that's crazy.

The walls will be light color, the lights might be on from time to time. When watching a movie I'll certainly turn the lights off but my wife didn't want a dungeon so this is what we've got.

I don't need the best of the best but I'm looking for quality and performance. I am prioritizing better viewing with a bit of ambient light vs perfect blacks in the dark.

A fixed screen vs. drop down is fine.

I am thinking of building a shelf for the projector or cutout from the drywall, but mounting distance will probably be about 15'.

Any thoughts?

(I asked some questions on speakers over here as well)

Thank you!!
 

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Hate to see someone who does their first 2 posts after being a silent member of the forum for 13 years.... and then no one responds! Geez! :)

So I'll give you my opinion and maybe someone else will weigh in here and also on your speaker thread too. I think in this circumstance you definitely need to go with a grey screen. A white screen is just going to wash out with the light colored, close proximity walls. And even more so if you have lights on.

I did the all-too-typical progression of light walls with a grey screen thru assorted darker versions of the room until I reached the point where I went with a white screen in a very dark colored room (ceiling, walls, floor). I would get your projector first and then get assorted grey screen samples and see what you like. Get some white samples too just to see the difference - but don't get tricked into choosing it! :) Be on the lookout for sparklies on grey gain screens, some people are bothered by them some aren't. If you can get away with it from a brightness standpoint lower gain is usually more natural of an image because there are less chances of screen artifacts from optical gain coatings.

I'd recommend some grey screen material and screens to you but it's been forever since I was in the market for a grey screen so can't really help you there - haven't looked at any samples in a long time. But there's plenty of threads on the topic with assorted opinions from all as to the best choices. If you don't mind stretching your budget and adopting the mindset that your screen will outlive many projector upgrades, check out Stewart. Most would consider their Firehawk and Grayhawk as the reference grey screens in the industry.

You have an alcove that can also serve as a shadow box of sorts. One of the permutations I tried was light side walls, dark screen wall, and dark section of ceiling 3' closest to screen. That was definitely an improvement over light colored everything and that would be something you could easily do with the alcove. Just make the soffit bottom, screen wall, and alcove sides as dark as you dare. Making the screen wall dark doesn't really do much from a light reflection standpoint, but makes for a more dramatic image because of the contrast between the image and the dark wall behind it. Making the other surfaces in the alcove dark does help with cutting the reflection. Not enough for you to get away with a white screen in my opinion, but it will be an improvement. Just need to talk your wife into it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Jeff! Great suggestions. We're looking at adding built-in's below the screen but I'll make sure to keep the alcove for the projector screen based on this feedback. (And try to get some dark colors approved). I need to spend more time searching the forums on up to date screen recommendations - I didn't consider samples but will do that for sure. We have the projector set up with a home-made blackout cloth screen in the unfinished basement now so I can do some testing with the current lighting situation. 100% agree on the grey screen approach.
 

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Sure thing Doug. Here's a great demo pic of grey versus white in ambient light:


That thread itself is really interesting if you haven't seen it. It talks about the advantages of a grey screen in even a moderately dark colored room.

The key is if you get both white and grey samples to not view them at the same time side by side. The white will look whiter and you'll gravitate to that. But in the absence of the white sample your eye will accept the darker white of the grey sample. And grey will have a clear advantage in preserving contrast in that environment.

The only downside of the alcove is it will limit your screen size going forward. Plus it may force you to bring your L/R speakers further forward from the screen than you like, and potentially not the optimal alignment to your center speaker. You could also consider using the alcove for the speakers and going with an acoustically transparent screen in front of them, but that brings it's own complexities and potential issues along with the advantages. See, wouldn't want it to be too easy! Everyone needs things to worry over when creating their theater. That's the fun of the forum! 😁
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You could also consider using the alcove for the speakers and going with an acoustically transparent screen in front of them, but that brings it's own complexities and potential issues along with the advantages. See, wouldn't want it to be too easy! Everyone needs things to worry over when creating their theater. That's the fun of the forum! 😁
After a few days of stewing on this, I'm seriously considering the AT screen. Thanks for the nudge in that direction. I started a different thread as it seems like the questions between sound and screen have merged... I hope that's proper form!


Thanks again for the help!
 

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After a few days of stewing on this, I'm seriously considering the AT screen. Thanks for the nudge in that direction. I started a different thread as it seems like the questions between sound and screen have merged... I hope that's proper form!


Thanks again for the help!
Since the best AT screens are white, you would definitely need to re-think the light colored walls and ceiling if going AT. Edit - I see you mentioned a Firehawk MicroPerf. You still might re-consider going too light.
 

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Since the best AT screens are white, you would definitely need to re-think the light colored walls and ceiling if going AT. Edit - I see you mentioned a Firehawk MicroPerf. You still might re-consider going too light.
I would agree with Craig. It looks like the space is pretty much meant to be a dedicated home theater? But a more relaxed and casual one with a high WAF? If this is your first projector then you'd be starting on an initial path that many of us took with light colored walls, only to eventually go with a dark colored room once we realized the benefits. Going dark right off the bat would probably save you a lot of time, work, and angst. :)

Unless people are going to be using the room for other purposes, if you go dark you could always dim the can lights low to avoid the dungeon feeling when friends are over watching the game, or if your wife prefers it that way. With a white screen you'd still get some washout but for sports or casual viewing not a big deal. For critical viewing turn off the lights and you get the benefits of the dark room.

The Firehawk would be a great option if you are sold on the light colored room. Stewart screens are a premium product and therefore not cheap, but their AT screens seem to be significantly more expensive than their non AT screens. I'd definitely get a quote maybe I'm wrong. You may find it's a non starter though from a budget standpoint.

Stewart used to provide large screen samples back in the day - 2'x2', 4 square feet. It really allowed you to get a sense of the screen material. These days they (or their dealers, not sure) seem a little stingier. Before purchasing my ST130 screen recently, the screen sample I got was 1'x1', 1 square foot. I pretty much knew what I was getting so no biggie, but I would recommended trying to get a larger sample even if you have to pay something for it. May be worth it. Some people complained of sparklies on the Firehawk but the latest version is supposed to have much less - one more reason to check out the sample closely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks again guys. I'm getting some quotes on 110" screens. As of now, I'm going to build a false wall and bump everything back 2'. Viewing distance will be about 10' so I'm a little concerned about seeing the perforations, so samples will be good.

I think I talked my wife into a couple shades darker, and probably black paint in the recessed area where the screen is, which I hope will help.
 

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I would agree, go with an acoustic transparent white screen if you can. Just use shades and light control to dim the room down when you really want to watch something where contrast is important. Putting speakers behind the screen is really going to give you the best experience. I've had both types of setups, AT and non-AT and won't go back to non-AT again.

As far as a screen, I'm using a Silver Ticket from Amazon, which was all of $450 or so for a 130" 2.35 AT version. It's a great screen and didn't break the bank. My front row is about 10' from the screen, and I don't have any issues of seeing the perforations. I was also concerned about that, but it's not an issue at all with my screen. So if you can go 120", I'd sure do it if you're 10' from the screen or so. That's a good size for that distance.
 

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I'm looking forward to hearing what you come up with, as I'm also about to start construction on a hi-WAF non-batcave media room with an AT screen. I hadn't heard of the Firehawk series. Keep this thread posted!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Will do! Share your ideas if you have them as well!

I'm trying to get some samples of the Firehawk material to see how it performs and looks. There is VERY little info or reviews on the Firehawk G5 out there. It's strange...

We're going to do built-ins to take advantage of the 2' bump, which makes my wife happy. I'm trying to figure out how to keep a clean look but still use all that space. Definitely some drawers underneath the screen, but I can't figure out how to do the sides without making it look cluttered. I'm also trying to figure out some sort of hinge or access system for behind the screen. We'll see how that goes. I have meetings with the cabinet designers in the next few weeks. Updates to follow!
 

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I know this is probably the opposite of what you are thinking about (the screen behind the side walls), but I came across another theater (on one of my many youtube research binges) of a pretty cool casual type of theater that had some room on the sides of the screen. In this instance, it was reversed. The sides were a little behind the screen, and the screen was acoustically transparent and pushed forward. They utilized the sides to put some lamps in there, and the wall prevented the lamp light from washing out the screen. Provides a nice ambient light without sacrificing too much PQ. Just something to toss into the idea box. Of course this theater had darker walls.

Screen shot.

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As far as the hinge or access for the screen, I'd recommend perusing the Minimalist Approach to a Screen Wall thread. It doesn't have to be fancy, just hung up and easy to take down if you need to get back there. That is my plan at least.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks! That thread is really useful. I like the lamp approach but it gives up too much potential cabinet space. One of those sides is going to house my A/V equipment!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Here's my current plan. Sconces will be removed, but I'm too lazy to edit them out. Possible black paint around shadowboxed screen. Walnut drawers under screen, painted cabinets on pillars.

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I think the stone/ Stewart Balon Edge screen is nice. I stole that from Stewart's website:
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