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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For those who don't know, the housing market on the San Francisco peninsula is really expensive. Luckily, we bought ten years ago, when we could still afford the mortgage here, and now we can remodel from 1,350 square feet (all three kids in one of the two bedrooms) to 1,850 square feet (4 bed two bath).


We're in the middle of a remodel where three things will hopefully happen:
  • A study, master bedroom, and master bathroom added above the garage. (This allows us to turn the office into a bedroom)
  • A completely new kitchen. (This is how I buy off my wife)
  • An updated living room, with completely new A/V system. (This is why I need to buy off my wife)


I'm doing some of the work myself, both to get it right, and to save cost. However,

for the heavy lifting, we're using a builder, who has been nothing but great. Mail me if you're on the peninsula and need a recommendation. We're also using an architect who designs very well, understands our likes, and we really like working with him, but he is not that good at staying within budget. Or maybe we're just not sticking to it as much as we should when he has good ideas... I'd be happy to give out his name, too.


Here's what we're going for, downstairs remodel and upstairs addition:

Downstairs plan
Upstairs plan


Here's what I'm aiming for in the living room:


. View from the entrance/back of the room
View from the subwoofer corner towards the back


The subwoofer is pretty ugly, but there's really no good way to hide it. Maybe we'll get a sculpture of some sort to put there in the future.


I am thinking about putting the A/V equipment in a cage that would go to the right of the back-of-the-room sound foam. I will likely cover that with the same kind of door as the cabinets in the kitchen. All doors (entrance, interior, and even cabinets) will be birch; floor will be white oak; walls will be off-white GWB. The rack would stick into the garage, which for fire code means it's got to have a two-sheet barrier, which means cooling might be an issue -- I'd be interested in experiences anyone has on this topic!


In the lived-in room, there will be a large upholstered sofa in the sweet spot, and an area rug, which hopefully will take care of floor reflections. We're not much for coffee tables, so we might go without one. I wanted to put wood diffusors in the ceiling, but at that point, the love of my life said "stop" :) We will have track lighting along the wall that shines up into the curved ceiling, so at least it will look good.


The treatments on the side walls will actually be covered by hanging drapes, that can be pulled over the windows (but normally will not be). We're still debating whether to wrap the foam behind the speakers, and on the rear wall, in cloth or not. The foam will likely be charcoal Auralex Studiofoam 4" Pyramids , which I think looks kind-of cool (at least if you squint) and it does an excellent job of killing bounces, and at $7.50 per square foot it's reasonably affordable.


I've seen that a some people ask for bathroom pictures, so I'm including one of the current state of the master bath under construction. The big tank in the middle of the wall is for the wall-hung toilet (which is not mounted yet). The picture is taken from the balcony door in the master bedroom. Hopefully the finished bathroom will be more interesting :)

Upstairs bathroom under construction



Well, now that I've made it public, I guess I'd better check back in on this thread with pictures of progress now and then. It's taken quite a while so far, and it will take longer before we're done!



I have a laundry list of ideas for gear (some of which was vetted in this forum a while back), but I haven't made up my mind yet. I am, however, getting cables built for the A/V -> sub run, and sub -> speakers runs, as the sub I'm thinking of does its own bass management (matched with the speakers). I also got fed up at waiting for the 35' HDMI 22 AWG cable at monoprice, so I went ahead and got 24 AWG from bluejeans cable instead. I will, hopefully, be able to run only a single cable from A/V rack to display, and the speakers and TV will have power and feed in the wall behind them, leading to a clean look.


If anyone has comments, please post! We're still at a stage where changes are possible and not too expensive (no drywall up yet, for example).


Edited to turn large images into URL pointers.
 

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Congrats on your remodel! Housing here is insane and its been that way for 30 years.


Some thoughts--


Speaker placement- it looks as if you have the L/R and rear surrounds on the same wall. That doesn't work well. Check out the Dolby Labs site for suggestions like this one



The foam looks high tech but there is controversy over its effectiveness. Check out http://www.gikacoustics.com/ and http://www.realtraps.com/index.htm as well as many threads here. The small treatments behind the fronts may not do much.


I had my equipment located behind the main seating for many years. It's a pain unless you do something to relay remote control commands back to the rack. Pointing it over the shoulder or aiming for a bounce gets old. Otherwise I liked having it out of site. It shouldn't be a hassle to use fire rated sheet rock on the bump out. You might want to add a layer of insulation, as even in Redwood City I imagine a garage can get hot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
The small treatments behind the fronts may not do much.

Interesting! I'm hoping they would reduce mode interference echo for rear cabinet diffraction. On the other hand, the speakers I'm currently looking at are designed with minimal diffraction in the first place (cast aluminum construction).

Quote:
It's a pain unless you do something to relay remote control commands back to the rack.

Agreed! I've been considering something like an RF-based IR repeater, or maybe just going with a Harmony. The Harmony 1000 looks really nice, but also costs almost as much as a PS/3.

Quote:
it looks as if you have the L/R and rear surrounds on the same wall

Yes, this is a bit of a compromise. My wife wants the couch fairly far back, so with that placement, the surrounds may be in the 120-130 degree range, although the center rear surround will be awkwardly close and high in relation. I'm looking at Omnimount 30 which can swivel in most any direction to set this up.


On the brighter side, I might re-wire the entire front wall for "right" and the entire back wall for "left" to throw a rave :) (Maybe the surround receivers of today even have programs to do that) (no, I don't imagine really hosting rave parties, it's just a fun thought)


I'll think a bit more about moving the surrounds forward, although the previous attempt didn't look good.


Thanks a lot for the feedback! I'm still at the stage where changes aren't costly, which is a good thing.
 

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From one guy on the other side of the San Mateo bridge to another avser, good luck on your build!


Victor
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
An update:


Coming out of the production/studio side, pretty much all I knew was foam (hence the above images). Reading this site, I've learned and taken to heart about the more residentially appropriate paneling. Discussing with my wife and my architect, we have a new take on the room treatments:


1) Use Owen Corning 703 2" boards, clad with yellow jute, along the south (fireplace) wall. This is mounted straight to the studs, with R-13 insulation batts behind, giving a total of 6-8 inches of absorbtion. This will hopefully reduce mount wall based reflections, and make the speakers perform more like full-space rather than half-space mounts. Treating the wall (but not the fireplace part) makes this solution aesthetically acceptable to the wife.


2) Put more 2" 703 board, this time with blue cloth, along the back, in a build that mirrors the extension of the fireplace. (This could conceivably be a lighter color, something off-white). This gives 2" of absorbtion with a 6" air gap behind, which will hopefully add to the bass management of the room.


3) Put diffusion on the high wall segment that mounts the rear speakers. For aesthetic reasons, I can't put diffusion in the round ceiling (which really needs it), but this is second best AFAICT. The ceiling will at least have wood paneling with beveled edges, lending a little bit of diffusion (every bit helps).


I put in a picture of the couch, which is made of stuffed canvas, to given an indication of listening position and because it's probably going to be a major absorber.


I'll return with some "before" pictures all full of dust and stripped studs, which will make a nice contrast when it's all done :)


I would much appreciate any other feedback you might have, on treatment, design, or anything else. And shout-outs to the Fremont/Hayward side are always in order :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
View from the front-left corner towards the north wall (diffuser possibility visible):





View from the back-left corner towards the south wall (absorbent wall visible):




Edited to make the images smaller.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
View from dining room (note that the opening gives contact with people in the living room)




I wonder if I couldn't actually bring the rear speakers down beside the opening on each side, and in the middle of the absorbing panel in the back. That's probably something to think about.


Edited to make the image smaller.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The more I think about it, the better it seems to put the rear speakers on the side and rear walls, rather than in the air. Except for aesthetics. The two backs won't have first reflections on the walls (a big hole on one side, a drape you can put panels behind on the other). The rear speaker is mounted on a big panel (although the mount will be a knock-out in that panel, and drilled OmniMount 30 into the stud behind).


I've updated the images to this new look, and made them smaller for easier browsing.


For kicks, here's a "before" image, too:
 

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jwatte

What a unique and unusual room !The ceiling looks cool like an airfoil on a wing !Good luck on your build journey. Thanks for the interest in my thread I thought I would return the favor ha ha. Johnathan
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks! I agree on the looks, although it'll be a bit more residential once it's done.


A week ago, my contractor suddenly told me that it was time for me to run low-voltage wiring, and I had a week before he's closing up the walls (which means Monday). I've been working late evenings, took Friday off work, and will work more tomorrow to make it. Luckily, I had ordered all the cables I needed (monoprice, bluejeans, and a custom box snake for speaker distribution from GigCables.com).


Here's an image, showing (left to right):

- The build-out of the area around the fireplace, with cables for Ethernet, HDMI, cable, power and AES/EBU digital return from the TV; power and XLR signal for the L/C/R speakers, and the box for connections at the bottom right. I noticed that the Aquos 62U are coming down in price, so I up-sized it for a 52-incher. Keeping fingers crossed on the price staying low!

- Detail of the box. I think it came out great, although the lid is somewhat flimsy (only one retainer on the locking side). However, I will remove the lid (because it's a permanent install, anyway) so I don't mind. The subwoofer will do bass management as well as LFE, although my speakers go down to 38 so I might set the cut-off for BM low (say, at 50 Hz).

- The A/V cage space which is at the back of the room. There's CaTV and Ethernet hanging above it (I haven't pulled it in yet). There's also HDMI and a fan snake (from the box) coming in from below the floor -- the A/V cavity is lower than the floor in the living room, so I have a nice concealed space for entering cables, and putting power management (I've been eyeing the Transcendent 1000VA kit .

There's not enough space in the walls of the A/V to run the dedicated circuit through, with a relay, because of code restrictions, so I'll probably forego the idea I had to have the receiver 12V turn on the rest of the system (speakers + TV) -- I even have the relay already (a nice solid state 25A job). Oh, well.




Because I'm going with an unbalanced A/V receiver (for price reasons), I'll be running the pre outs through an Ebtech LLS-8; the fan at the end of the snake from the box is pre-wired for that device (TRS quarter-inch). I'm almost set on the Sony STR-DA5200-ES, because of the 1080p, although the Pioneer Elite 84 and the Yamaha 2700 are still nominally in the running. Anything else for $1,100 street price I should look at?


Alright, more updates later. I'm told that if everything goes according to plan, we'll be "done" done by end of April, and I'll have to actually get and install the gear. Joy!
 

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jwatte, the renderings look amazing. I will be following this thread to see the progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks! The renders are a side effect of my line of work -- I used 3ds Max with the Mental Ray renderer, which is a bit fiddly to get right (not as easy as Sketch-up), but the results are nice.


Insulation was laste week; The drywall is going in yesterday and today, so it's moving forward. I made sure to insulate the interior walls as well, not for soundproofing, but to make sure that the room between the studs doesn't turn into an unintentional resonator.
 

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cool. I used 3ds max back in the day for a school project and already then, you could do great things with it, but it required lots of hours I recall. (I spent several hundreds, maybe over a thousand hours finishing a 5 minute animated movie for my main project)


-Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The drywall and mudding is done. I'm leaving the front wall un-walled, because I will put up 703 panels with cloth on them, and the added insulation will give me better bass control. I think the curved ceiling will look great when I get the track lighting installed along the lower edge, washing across the curve.


I'm also getting really itchy to get the new gear in there, but there's still at least a month to go. I bought the Transcendent Sound balanced power supply with filtering, as a kit, and screwed it together the other night. The design itself gets a 4/5 (I would have used lower gauge wiring, even though it's only 1000 VA, and I would have looked for an EI-frame transformer); the instructions get a 4.5/5 (very clear, with only a few typos or number transpositions). There's a little bit of AC hum from it that I haven't figured out how to kill yet, though.


So, pictures:

 

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jwatte,


looks like an exciting project for you I see
The renders are pretty good that program seems to do a good job in the right hands. Looking forward to seeing this one come together.

One thing I didn't do quite as well as I would have liked is to really work with 2 x 4's behind the flat panel to line up exactly with how my mount and in-wall center channel came together (I drew up the plans in my thread but it didn't get built to those drawings sadly).

I'm not sure if your going the same direction but thought I'd add that from my experience as a heads up.

Cheers

Calvin
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
work with 2 x 4's behind the flat panel to line up exactly with how my mount and in-wall center channel came together

That's a great comment! I actually thought of that at the last minute, and think I adjusted enough to make it work.


The studs are already in there, but I'm getting a slim mount that is adjustable (monoprice), so I hope that'll work. And if it isn't enough adjustable, then that's 1/2" plywood in the back of the niche, which technically will hold the TV all by itself :)


For the center speaker, I will mount it above the TV (see the two holes -- that's signal and power) and angle it down. I'm using Omnimount 30. There is a stud going lengthwise between those two holes, so hopefully I can screw the speaker in where I want it.


The front L / R speakers will be mounted on the visible thick, cross-mounted studs on the front wall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The painter showed up unannounced while I was out of town and started spraying. He protected the windows, but not the connectors hanging out from the low-voltage boxes. I'll have to find some way to scrape off primer from the casing and pins of XLR cables. Those were high quality, too :-/ He also sprayed straight into my mounted and punched patch bay in the wiring closet, so I'll have to re-do that. Grumble!


I've started thinking about cooling in the A/V closet, and could need some help. The closet already pulls in air from the crawlspace, because of the way it's oriented in the garage against the foundation (garage is slab; living room has crawl space). I'll put power conditioning at the bottom, below floor level of the living room. My two options for exhaust are:


1) Punch a hole through the firewall into the garage. This lets me hermetrically seal the cabinet to the living room using weather stripping inside the door, which is great for low noise. However, the hole to the garage is probably against fire code.


2) Cut a slit of some sort in the front door, cover it with stainless mesh and blow out air through that (or perhaps just let it vent by itself -- I won't have a power amp in there, but two game consoles, a Tivo, a computer, ...) This lets fan and hard disk noise into the living room, though.


Is there something smarter I could do? Opinions?


Btw: I would like to go with a temperature controlled 5" fan to avoid too much added noise, if I go with a powered solution. Or something like this 8.7 dB fan .
 

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jwatte

Great plans, and I wish I could do just half as much to my place, as you are yours !

I KNOW you're really going to enjoy it, and revel in the personal touch, you moving toward.

Good job !



I got a couple of comments, so just read um, and make up your own mind.


The penetration you refer to (into your garage) isn't a penetration, unless there's a possibility of air movement (between the two spaces). Otherwise, it would be called a projection, and Fire Code won't be a problem, with a projection.


As far as the rating of the wall (of that projection), Fire Rock (special Sheetrock) or layers of Fire Resistant Materials and Metal Studs, will get by just about any Fire Code.


Once you ventilate the box/projection into the Garage, that's when you get into problems, but, I'm surprised that your Architect hasn't advised you on that. Fire Codes/Inspectors are a LOT more interested in preventing smoke from moving to adjacent zones, than they are Fire, unseemingly as that sounds.


In Hospitals (my personal experience with Fire Codes), when a Penetration is necessary, we use a Damper, which has a temperature rated Heat/Fusible Link, which holds the Air Door open, and if it gets too hot, it separates and drops the door. That's over 180* usually, well above comfortable limits of a living space, or probable temperature generated by A/V equipment. They can also be connected to your Alarm System (electrically) to close when there's an alarm. More expensive, but, if your GOT to get by the Code, that's one way.


As I said before, I'm surprised your Architect hasn't resolved this for you, but, if you have time, why don't you take the plans for that to the Fire Department, and let one of the Inspectors look at them. My experience with Inspectors has been very satisfactory, and you'd be surprised how helpful they can be. They've seen a LOT of applications, and may be able to guide you through this issue, without the expense and trouble, of having an elaborate protection system installed.


Hope this gives you some ideas.


Have a good Day !
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the info!


We did work through it. The problem is mostly cost, as I'm flat out broke at this point (unless I were to dip into my 401k or kids college savings, which I won't).

The solution is simple: cut a 4" wide slit in the center of the A/V cage door, and cover it with wire mesh (or, ideally, etched-hole mesh). This will vent into the living room, but it will look decent, and mirror the design of our front door (that has a narrow and tall slit in the center, with frosted glass). Broke-ness is the mother of invention :)


An automatic damper would be the ideal solution, but it's not going to fit in the budget, I'm afraid -- initially, we weren't even going to touch the living room, but the city architectural review board had us change the roof/ceiling over the living room, and the work for that kind-of cascaded...


The exciting thing is that hardwood floor is going in right now! Only a few weeks left.
 
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