When AVS member Gary Ngo (landshark1) moved from a townhouse to a brand-new, single-family home in Silver Spring, MD, he knew he wanted a larger  home theater  than the previous dwelling could fit. "I wanted at least eight seats to accommodate my growing family," he says. Acoustic treatment was also high on the wish list. "This is important to me, because I truly believe that expensive speakers can still sound bad in an untreated room." Interestingly, sound isolation from the rest of the house was not important to his family, and they are totally fine without it.

Gary turned to theater designer/installer and AVS member Jeff Parkinson (BIGmouthinDC) for help. They started by working with the builder to modify the basement layout to include pre-wired locations for the  projector , speakers, electrical outlets, etc. as well as a riser for the second row of seats.

Gary's contractor built an empty shell of a room in the basement using conventional drywall; no sound-isolation construction was done. The room measures about 20x15x9 feet with a 12-inch riser.

In terms of the design, Gary wanted something modern but different than what most other home-theater owners seem to do. "You know, a room with four or six columns along the side and rear walls, tray ceiling with rope light—most  home theater s on AVS have the same basic design! I was browsing the Internet for some inspiration, and I saw a large  home theater  with staggered square panels on the back wall. I showed the pic to Jeff Parkinson, and we came up with the current design of my room—staggered-thickness panels on the wall with rope light at the top and bottom of the wall panel."


The design of Gary's  home theater  started as a rough sketch.

Next, Gary and Jeff got busy building all the panels they would need to cover the side and rear walls. The frames are of different thicknesses to provide the desired appearance and some acoustic diffusion. Behind the outer fabric of each panel is Johns Manville Linacoustic RC material, which is normally used to line HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) ducts and provide acoustic damping.


Gary had to build a lot of square frames for his staggered-wall theater.

Each panel is lined with Linacoustic material, which provides acoustic damping.

Once the panels were built, it was time to install them—nearly 70 altogether!

After Jeff showed Gary how to hang the panels, Gary had his work cut out for him.


The panels on the back wall hide Auralex  diffusers .

Gary decided to go with speakers in the room—Definitive Technology all around with SVS subwoofers—so he didn't need an acoustically transparent screen. He did want a 2.35:1 screen for movies, using a JVC DLA-RS4810 projector and its ability to memorize and recall different zoom settings for different aspect ratios rather than an  anamorphic lens .


The front speakers include Definitive Technology BP7001SCs for the front left and right, CLR3000 center-channel speaker, and one of two SVS PB12-Plus  subwoofers .

Another thing Gary wanted was a real equipment rack, which would house a Denon AVR-4520CI AVR for its preamp/processor and two amp channels for the height speakers, Emotiva XPA-2 power amp for the front left and right speakers, and Emotiva XPA-5 power amp for the center and  surround speakers . Also living in the rack are an Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player, DirecTV receiver, and various other goodies.


The equipment rack is in the back corner of the room. Note how neatly the cables are dressed behind the rack.

Once the theater was more or less finished, Gary discovered a problem. "When everything was done, I heard no bass at all in my main seat, while the second row was getting a nice bass massage," he recalls. "With help from some forum members, I found out that my main seats are in a null! Later, AVS member Bryan Pape (bpape), who works at Gik Acoustics, advised me to install at least six inches of Owens Corning 703 along the back wall as a bass trap, which I've now done. I also added a second SVS PB12-Plus  subwoofer  in the opposite corner to even out the bass across all seats."


After installing 6" of OC703 on the back wall and adding a second  subwoofer , the low-frequency response at main seating position is exceptionally smooth all the way down to 15 Hz or so.

Gary has been enjoying his  home theater  immensely—even before it was close to being finished. "The greatest moment was the first time we lit up the projector while it was sitting on top of a stack of boxes and watched a movie with a piece of white cloth as the screen," he recalls fondly.


Gary is beside himself watching the  big game .

Now, of course, the experience is far better than a sheet on the wall can deliver. It took a year of careful planning and seven months of actual construction, but it was worth it. And the cost? Around $40,000 to $50,000, all told. That's not chump change by any means, but it's a relatively small price to pay for the theater of your dreams.


Gary's  home theater  is a thing of beauty.


I love this shot looking toward the back of the room from the screen.

For much more detail about how Gary Ngo's  home theater  came together,  check out the build thread here . The theater was also  featured in Electronic House .




Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player

DirecTV receiver/DVR

Popcorn Hour A300 streaming player

DIY HTPC (Windows, 10 TB)

Xbox 360 game console

Wii game console

Sonos audio system


AV Electronics

Denon  AVR-4520CI AV receiver (preamp/processing, power for height channels)

Emotiva XPA-2 (front left & right channels)

Emotiva XPA-5 (center, side & rear surrounds)

DarbeeVision DVP-5000  video processor






Seymour-Screen Excellence Radiant White (138" diagonal, 2.35:1, 1.3 gain, non-AT)



Definitive Technology BP7001SC (front LR)

Definitive Technology CLR3000 (center)

Definitive Technology BPX (side & rear surrounds)

Definitive Technology Di6.5S (height LR)

SVS PB12-Plus DSP  subwoofers  (2)






Logitech  Harmony 900  universal remote

Insteon (lighting)


Power Conditioning

Panamax M5300-PM



Palliser HiFi (8)