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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm an AV neophyte who has finally convinced his wife to go forward with a downstairs remodel that includes a media room, but not a fully dedicated, enclosed home theater. The space I'm starting with is as follows.








The first set of plans we looked at were as follows:




The wife is not a fan of getting rid of the door leading to the outside, so we're now leaning toward the following.




To be clear, looking at the picture above, the left side of the picture is the door to the outside that stays, the middle right side is where the screen goes, and the far right is the gym behind it.


The room is presently 14x18, however this plan assumes we take out a wall and bump it back by 4 feet, giving us 14x22. This is going to put a dent in the budget since I need to move a water heater & furnace, however we all feel that the extra 4 feet should help w/ the layout and enable a better flow through the room, direct access through the garage (we presently enter that area from the gym), and maintain direct access from this area to the gym).


We considered putting the HT system up against the wall w/ the existing cabinets (which will be torn out), however both the contractor & architect/designer said they can't recommend that layout since it will be unconventional and impede the flow of the room. We are pulling down all of the drywall (walls and ceiling). There is a home gym on the other side of that wall where I could *maybe* put a rack and homerun for future AV growth.



Since I'm a total noob here is what I'm wondering.


1.) Is this space better geared toward a Plasma/DLP or projector? We'll control the light with shades/curtains when necessary, but there will clearly be times that we watch TV without going through the motions of closing everything (ie. parties).


2.) Since we don't presently watch a ton of TV or movies my wife is pushing back about going all out day one w/ component purchases (and all out for me isn't like many here - I simply mean buying an all new setup). As such I *may* temporarily use my Mitsubishi WD60638 60" DLP and Denon AVR 1611. If that were the case the only current purchases would be in wall and in-ceiling speakers, as well as a bunch of smurf tube (3"?) to run a conduit for a potential future projector setup.


3.) Since I have one wall that is missing (would have a curtain pulled during full movie mode) I think my option is to have ear level speakers in the front (probably in wall), ear level in the far rear (if practical), but for the in-between speakers they need to be in-ceiling. I know nothing about placement, but assume the ones above should be slightly behind the primary couch facing the screen?


4.) Does anybody care to recommend a budget projector setup that would produce decent 1080p on a decent motorized screen (ideally recessed)? I stopped into a high-end HT store the other day and I'm clearly not in that league. His base system starts at $20k (I demoed a $250k room for grins & giggles - freaking amazing but WAY out of my range or desire), and after talking to the wife last night I know there is absolutely no way she'd get behind that. Budget wise I was hoping to come in under $10k (or even less than that) if possible. I'm not opposed to buying used equipment.


5.) Anything else I should know and/or consider, especially since I can prewire for future needs galore since we're pulling all of the drywall?


Thanks for any feedback!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by StompAWOT
I'm an AV neophyte who has finally convinced his wife to go forward with a downstairs remodel that includes a media room, but not a fully dedicated, enclosed home theater.
I'm no kind of expert, but here's my gut for your situation: You want a great place to watch TV and movies, but it's not really something you do a lot at this point, so it's hard to see how having a high-performance dedicated space is going to change your feelings about watching movies. You want one, because they're awesome - duh! but there's still plenty to be said for a great casual space to hang out and gather with friends. (This is the conversation I've been having with my wife and friends, so maybe I'm imposing my situation on you: stop me if I'm wrong.)


The sound of the space is the big unknown, but it's the clencher, IMO. If you set up speakers and the TV properly, it turns into a killer movie room - even if you have to wait for dark and draw the curtains (who has time to watch movies in the daytime anyway?) That's why I'd concentrate on getting the sound right.


As far as making recommendations for sound, your concerns about side surround speakers are warranted. I'd hope to avoid in-ceiling speakers. That may not be practical but as long as you'll be moving some walls, why not look at partially closing/moving the large opening into the next room, so that you have a wall to mount the speakers on? (or even just a column) Then you can better optimize sound and make the most of the space. If you do go with in-ceiling surrounds, the stock recommendation is to find some that are "aimable" to help get the sound directed horizontally, instead of at the floor. This is further complicated by the idea of a second row of seats, but unless you have a use for the back of the room that keeps you from having 2+ rows, not getting two rows into 22 ft would be a shame.


You didn't say anything about speakers you wanted to use, so let me just say that I'd look for very sensitive speakers. That way your amp power can be used to deliver the dynamics that make the theater exciting.


At the same time, I'd stick with the 60" Mitsubishi but wire for a projector. Once you get accustomed to a dedicated/semi-dedicated space, it'll be easier to justify the cost of a couple grand investment in screen and projector. Staying with your current diplay takes some of the unease about your expectations away, plus keeping the budget in check makes the whole thing more palatable. On the other hand, if the budget is there now, projectors like the Panasonic AE4000U please a lot a folks for around $2000.


Just my gut...

Fred
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by HopefulFred
You want one, because they're awesome - duh! but there's still plenty to be said for a great casual space to hang out and gather with friends. (This is the conversation I've been having with my wife and friends, so maybe I'm imposing my situation on you: stop me if I'm wrong.)
Fred - thanks for the thoughtful reply. I think you pretty much nailed the situation with this comment. The balance I want to walk is having it be a flexible room over time without having it simply be a room w/ a TV and some speakers.


It's very possible that we just go with an L shaped couch instead of two rows of seating, and instead poach a row of bar stools (or bean bags) if we have more people over. In fact in the original rendition the idea was that those small "chairs" in the front of the main seating area were actually bean bags or something like that.


You will notice that there is a wall that encroaches about 4 feet on either side of the opening. In a 7.1 setup is it ok to have the side speakers slightly back? If a few feet back is ok (and pointed diagonally toward the main seating area) perhaps that in conjunction w/ the rears directly behind would be ok? Thoughts? I'm pretty sure we'd prefer not to close that opening any more or add an unnecessary post for one set of speakers. If this isn't doable perhaps a 5.1 setup is the way we need to go?


As to what types of speakers we go w/, I'd rather spend the $$ there and deal w/ the DLP for a while if I can't swing the whole package. My gut tells me that TV technology will change faster than speaker technology, so the speakers will stay longer than most other components.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by StompAWOT
...without having it simply be a room w/ a TV and some speakers.
I'm with you on making the speakers be the major investment, I just hope you get the most out of them. I say that because I have junk for speakers, but I know from experience that if you set them up in the right spots, the sound field is enveloping and it really puts you in the movie - my 8 year old $300 HTIB is OK for this in a small space, so I'd hate to spend a bunch on great speakers and not get the envelopment I had with properly set up junk. YMMV, but all the recommendations from THX, Dolby, DTS want the surround (side) speakers between 90 and 100 (maybe 110, I forget) degrees - or just behind the main listening position, and they don't care if it's 5.1, 7.1, 11.1 - that's where the sound designers/mixers expect them to be. A person might argue that if you matrix all your movies out to 7.1, the positioning might be less critical, but I couldn't speak to that directly. My gut says ...meh... I'd rather not find out, and just do it right.


How you set up the seating is really what will define the use of the space, so that's got to be up to you and the Mrs. ...Bean bags, bar stools, couches, recliners... it's all gravy to me, as long as the sight and sound are bumpin' you know?


This all about compromises - it always will be. You'll be faced with hundreds of decisions, and they'll all be compromises of some sort, so pick your battles. Like I started with in my first reply: I think the sound is going to be the clencher. So, for me, I'd be looking to close the front of the room in enough to get the surrounds where they ought to be.


Give me a second to check your dimensions a little.
 

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I'm working from counting floor boards, so forgive my approximations. It looks like the current opening that will become the right side of the movie area is around 11 feet wide. I got there by counting three (ish) floor tiles, or around three feet from the interior (gym) wall and maybe 4 feet for the rear wall (from the exterior) then subtracting that from your stated current total length of 18 feet. I see how 11 feet is a great opening for allowing these spaces to mix for parties - so I acknowledge what I'm arguing against.


The space is 14 feet wide... so let's guess that the ultimate projection screen will be 8 or 9 feet wide, maybe a little more, and the prime seating distance will be right around ten feet. Maybe 11 or 12. If that's the case, we're talking about extending the wall along the front right, back a total of 12 or 13 feet from the screen wall. It's already 3, we move the front wall 4 (that's seven) then we'd need to build an additional 5. If you leave the stub of a wall that abuts the exterior wall, your opening just shrank from 11 to 6 feet. 6 is still good, but not like it was. You can get most of that width back by shortening or totally eliminating the rear stub.


How does that sit on you? Ask the wife - just something to consider. Removing the stub on the exterior would help to unify the two spaces near the exit doors, almost creating a new wide space along the exterior wall, while allowing the theater space to be either incorporated or sequestered, based on seating design. Clearly, my opinion doesn't actually count, but I think that's what I'd push for - at least until somebody came up with a better idea.


Fred
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by HopefulFred
I'm working from counting floor boards, so forgive my approximations. It looks like the current opening that will become the right side of the movie area is around 11 feet wide. I got there by counting three (ish) floor tiles, or around three feet from the interior (gym) wall and maybe 4 feet for the rear wall (from the exterior) then subtracting that from your stated current total length of 18 feet. I see how 11 feet is a great opening for allowing these spaces to mix for parties - so I acknowledge what I'm arguing against.


The space is 14 feet wide... so let's guess that the ultimate projection screen will be 8 or 9 feet wide, maybe a little more, and the prime seating distance will be right around ten feet. Maybe 11 or 12. If that's the case, we're talking about extending the wall along the front right, back a total of 12 or 13 feet from the screen wall. It's already 3, we move the front wall 4 (that's seven) then we'd need to build an additional 5. If you leave the stub of a wall that abuts the exterior wall, your opening just shrank from 11 to 6 feet. 6 is still good, but not like it was. You can get most of that width back by shortening or totally eliminating the rear stub.


How does that sit on you? Ask the wife - just something to consider. Removing the stub on the exterior would help to unify the two spaces near the exit doors, almost creating a new wide space along the exterior wall, while allowing the theater space to be either incorporated or sequestered, based on seating design. Clearly, my opinion doesn't actually count, but I think that's what I'd push for - at least until somebody came up with a better idea.


Fred
Thanks again, Fred. We were originally considering taking out both stub walls but the architect looked at the plans and realized it's some sort of load-bearing wall (can't recall the specific term he used) that runs the length of the house. Their suggestion was pretty much not to touch it unless we want to spend a lot of coin.


Both stub walls are presently 4 feet long, with the opening being 10 feet. If we were not to push screen wall back by four feet and have a seating area about 12" back we'd be pretty close to the beginning of the back stub wall. I'm not sure what the angle would be from a speaker right on the edge of that wall to a couch that far back, but I have to believe it wouldn't be much more than the 110 degrees to the center of the room.


The obvious benefit of this is I don't end up with the cost of a new water heater and furnace and all the extra work.


The downside is the "flow" of the room may not be as optimal, we lose the entry from the garage to our main living area, and the space is smaller overall. Since my wife and I have no intention of moving, and look to raise our twins in this house (they're almost 3), the question is which is the optimal long term approach for the family.


A compromise could be to go with the smaller room for now, and when the furnace ends its useful life take the time to bump that side of the room back and tweak the door configurations as represented in the scanned napkin plan I posted. Our downstairs furnace gets almost no use (our main living level is upstairs) and isn't likely to get much for the forseeable future, so this interim period could be somewhat extended...


I fully expect the architect and contractor would tell me that's a terrible idea, but it still might be worth considering (buy the extra wood for the new floor so we can make sure to match in the future). FWIW, the contractor has been a friend since third grade, was my best man and does high-end homes so I really trust him and his opinions.


All that being said, I am curious to understand how well the directional ceiling mounts might work with our situation.
 
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