Kevin Gilman (24Changer) fell in love with movie theaters when he was seven years old. "A friend of the family owned a local theater, and I was allowed to go by myself to see the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve. Since then, I regularly attended the movies, dreaming of having my own personal theater one day."

That dream became reality after Kevin and his wife, Tami, built their current house in Kannapolis, NC. "There was a definite plan to have a dedicated room for watching movies. In 2006, I purchased the equipment to outfit a room I built in the basement. It consisted of a 90" Screen Innovations screen, Sharp XV-Z3000 projector, Integra DTR-7.7 AV receiver, Samsung DVD player, and Klipsch R-series speakers. It was the best—until I stumbled across AVS Forum in 2008! I became a member and immediately started thinking about upgrading."

Kevin's first home theater was modest by modern standards.

"When I set out to build what would become the Creekside Cinema, I wanted a room that would be warm and inviting. Also, it had to look good, sound good, and feel like you were in a dedicated theater versus an all-purpose media room. In addition, I wanted a design that would stay in style through the years with rustic decor, which is why I went with stone for the lower part of the walls.

"For the screen, I wanted to go as big as possible while maintaining a comfortable viewing experience from the front row. It needed to bring me back to that day when Superman was larger than life on a giant screen. For the audio, I decided on a 7.1 setup. Dolby Atmos was just coming out, and I chose not to incorporate it at that time. I can add it later without too much trouble."

In 2013, Kevin contacted fellow AVS Forum member Matt Bauwens (Spaceman), whose theater designs he really liked, and asked him to help design the new room. "We went through eight design studies before I landed on what I have now."

Because of the location of the door, the original room had an offset riser for the second row of seats. It also had an equipment room behind the seats separated by a partial wall.

The new room would have a centered door and full-width riser with steps from the door to the second row of seats.

After clearing out all the equipment and seats, one of the first jobs was to remove the old riser and demolish the partial wall that concealed the equipment closet. This opened up the room considerably.

Kevin retained the basic walls of the first build. "The walls were constructed with 2x6 staggered studs and 5/8" drywall, which I left in place. I totally gutted the rest of the room."

He wanted to make sure the theater sound didn't leak into the first floor above the basement theater, and vice versa. "I installed two layers of 5/8" drywall with Green Glue between the first-floor joists. Then, I stuffed pink fluffy into the remaining voids. I suspended the ceiling with IB-1 clips and furring channels, and I attached 5/8" OSB to the channels, followed by a layer of Green Glue and a layer of 5/8" drywall."

Kevin attached furring channels to the first-floor joists, which would support a ceiling made of OSB and drywall sandwiching a layer of Green Glue.

Losing the original drop ceiling meant that Kevin needed to build a soffit around the room for the HVAC ducting. He credits AVS Forum member Jeff Parkinson (BIGmouthinDC) for the soffit design. "I used 2x4s with clips and channels and pink fluffy stuffed in the soffits. The soffit assembly was quick, inexpensive, and easy. I caulked the seams in the drywall/OSB with acoustic sealant."

The new riser spans the entire width of the room. Notice that the new door is centered, and the old door is walled over. Also, you can see the soffit framing in this shot.

On the screen wall, Kevin cut 2" Knauf insulation board into triangles that he stacked in the corners to form bass traps. Between them, he hung two layers of black Linacoustic duct liner sandwiching a sheet of 4mm poly.

A frame for the screen also includes shelves for the three front speakers and two subs, which are surrounded by more Linacoustic material.

Kevin called upon AVS Forum member Nyal Mellor of Acoustic Frontiers for the acoustic design.

Between the columns on the side walls, Nyal Mellor specified Kinetics TAD (tuned absorber/diffuser) panels.

The ceiling includes nine Auralex QuadFusors and six QuadPyramid diffusors.

A unique feature of this home theater is the stonework along the lower part of the walls. "It really adds another dimension to the room. When you walk in there, it really pops, and you know this is not an ordinary room."

Kevin and Tami installed all the stones by hand, one at a time.

After 10 months of planning, it took another 10 months of actual construction, most of which Kevin and Tami did themselves. "I tried to do as much as possible on my own. But when I needed assistance, Tami was ready to help, from carrying and hanging the 5/8" drywall to hanging the soffit frames to installing the stonework. She was a true partner in the build. The only things I contracted out were the drywall taping and mudding as well as the carpet. I preferred not to tackle those."

In addition to the acoustic design, Kevin called a professional to calibrate the audio and video. "I contacted AVS Forum member Jeff Meier (umr) of AccuCal, who did a great job; the result is outstanding. Both Nyal and Jeff were wonderful to work with."

Kevin saved some money by using the Berkline recliners he already had.

When I asked about the biggest challenges Kevin faced, he replied, "Not knowing what I was doing! It was one thing to build a room and put a screen on the wall and project an image on it. But it is a whole different ballgame when you want to build a 'perfect' room for a home-theater experience. And it's especially challenging when you are starting with something that's already there. As expected, there were things that came up along the way and would halt progress, sending me back to researching and asking questions. Thankfully, the members of AVS Forum were always willing to share their thoughts and experiences."

Like many home-theater DIYers, Kevin's greatest moments occurred every time he finished a step in the project. "From demolition to hanging the drywall on the ceiling to constructing the stage and filling it with 30 bags of sand, there was a great feeling of accomplishment each step of the way."

A 120", 2.35:1 Falcon Vision HD screen provides a canvas on which the Sony projector with anamorphic lens paints a beautiful picture.

Of course, another benefit of DIY is saving money. All in, Kevin figures he spent about $25,000 on his Creekside Cinema, so named because a creek runs by the house. "The construction materials and acoustic design and treatments accounted for about 40% of the cost. The rest was in equipment, cabling, AV rack, projector mount, and calibration. I easily saved $15,000 on the project by doing so much of it myself. Also, I saved a lot by building the speakers from DIY Sound Group kits. Thanks to all that, and the knowledge and help from AVS Forum, I was able to build a decent room that looks and sounds great within a budget that I felt was reasonable."

With a lot of hard work and sweat equity, I'd say Kevin got much more than a "decent" room for much less than anyone would expect. Superman would definitely approve!

For much more detail about how Kevin's Creekside Cinema came together, check out the build thread here .

If you'd like your home theater considered for Home Theater of the Month, send an email to [email protected] with a few photos, a brief description, and a link to your build thread if available.




EQUIPMENT LIST

Sources

Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player
DirecTV HR22-100 satellite receiver/DVR
DIY HTPC (Windows 10, AMD Phenom II 3 GHz CPU, Gigabyte GeForce 750 video card, 4 GB RAM, 20 TB HDD, LG Black 8x BD-ROM drive)

AV Electronics

Integra DTR-50.5 AVR
Crown X1000 2-channel power amp (2 side surrounds)
Peavey IPR1 7500 DSP 2-channel power amp (subwoofers)

Projector

Sony VPL-HW55ES projector
Panamorph UB480 anamorphic lens on manual sled

Screen

Falcon Vision HD (120" wide, 2.35:1, 1.1 gain, woven acoustically transparent)

Speakers

DIY Sound Group Elusive 1099 (3, LCR)
DIY Sound Group Volt-8 (6; 4 sides, 2 rear)
DIY subwoofers (2; Dayton Audio UM18-22 Ultimax DVC 18" drivers, Denovo 4-cubic-foot DIY enclosures from DIY Sound Group)

Cables

AudioQuest Forest HDMI
Monoprice CL2 speaker cable (12 AWG, 2-conductor, in-wall)
Monoprice CL2 speaker cable (for subs; 12 AWG, 4-conductor, in-wall)

Control

iPad Mini 4 running iRule
Insteon light switches controlled with ISY994i (5 zones)

Power Conditioning

Panamax M5400-PM power manager/voltage regulator

Seating

Berkline 090-52/53/54 (6; 2 rows of 3)

Room Dimensions

21.5' (L) x 12.8' (W) x 10' (H)
8.5' floor to soffit



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