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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been a long-time reader here on AVS, and finally will build a dedicated space in our house which was originally built in 1996. It will not be anywhere as marvelous as some of the theaters from which I've borrowed ideas, as I am working within constraints both with the room selected and overall budget. Still, I feel it will be fun, as well was motivating in some measure, to share progress here as the room takes shape.

I'll try to keep this first post somewhat up to date with current status and/or high points of recent progress. Down the road, I'll likely add an index.

Current status: Wall panels around the riser are done, and seats are installed for good!
Next: More baseboards, wall panels, and closet door build, working my way around the room. Also, calibration and some enjoyment, as the room is basically functional.










Here is the ongoing Google Photos album for the theater build: https:// goo .gl/photos/gLp4BR6hBcrMBp9bA

** Looks like the forum filters out certain domains... copy the link and take out the spaces before/after "goo" to reach the album. **

Why McTheatre? Well, it's a goofy name that incorporates part of my last name, and it stuck. Sometimes things just get McNamed around here. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
First, some background about the setup at my prior house, nearly all of which was brought with me and stored in what will be the new theater space.

The original McTheatre (McTheatre Legacy? I just borrowed that from the screenshot below. I think I'll keep it.) was a living-room integration with partial light control and some improvised acoustic treatment, but no acoustic isolation from the rest of the house (bachelor life!). It evolved over several years through my late 20s - below is the final setup as it was removed in 2015 for the move.

By AVS standards, much of what you will see is cringeworthy and by no means special. I had big plans for this room - but instead I left the projector hung, sat on my butt, and the big plans gradually mattered a lot less than enjoying my equipment.



I actually don't have any good shots of the room with the lights up. Probably because I didn't put the work in to make the room meet my vision for it. Nonetheless... it was 2 rows of seating (couches) with 6" can lights overhead controlled by a RF-operated dimmer. Extremely budget-minded, effective for setting and changing light levels from my chair, but not automated.

As it was a living-room integration, there was an exterior french door on the left wall (blackout curtains were installed so I could close them for daytime PJ viewing), and two open doorways to the rest of the house along the right wall (one right of the screen, the other right of the seating). I did not convert to a dark color scheme since it was an open living area, which is plainly visible in the image splash on the ceiling.

Here is a highly cluttered shot of the screen wall - I believe this is when I had first brought the 18" sub cabinets in from the shop and installed the drivers, hence the oddly misplaced coffee table and rubble everywhere. The tape mark on the ceiling was where I was about to install an IR target.



And the rack, just around the corner from seating. I must have been cabling something at the time, with the side panels off and velcro ties nearby.

Let's not dwell on the speaker cables "temporarily" taped down to the carpet (which stayed like that until the day I moved out), or the mess of game console cabling. Please. :eek:



I work in IT, and the rack was a beige Compaq unit which a client declined to keep after a facility move. I was able to convert it to 20" depth which works great for AV gear and allows for easy cable management.

McTheatre Legacy equipment list:

- Infocus SP5000 (2007, 720p LCD). This purchase was influenced by AVS and projector central - I needed a sub-$1000 light cannon to compete with the lack of light control in the room.
- DIY 49" x 87" 16:9 screen, painted on a section of existing drywall. I sanded off the texture, primed many coats while filling minor imperfections and wet-sanding, painted Behr Pewter Mug with back-rolling technique, added velvet-wrapped border made of bevel-cut 2x4s. All thanks to researching in the AVS DIY Screen forum. In 2007, prefab screens did not meet my budget requirements.
- Pioneer Elite VSX-49TX - upgraded from Elite VSX-25TX, and I don't remember which Pro Logic AVR came before that. :)
- MiniDSP for sub EQ processing (4-way advanced plug-in). It's a bare MiniDSP board which I grafted into a blank 1U rack enclosure - front panel has USB for programming and power LED; rear panel has XLR inputs/outputs wired to the board with shielded balanced microphone cable.
- MiniDSP measurement mic and REW for sub measurement and EQ adjustment. The selection of these MiniDSP components was knowledge gained from the AVS DIY Subwoofer forum.
- Crown XLS-402D x 3 powering LCR channels, bass shakers installed in seating, and "aux" passive 12" sub (more on that later)..
- Crown XTi 4000 powering subs (a DIY Sub forum favorite, when people aren't buying Behringers!)
- Modified Tripp-Lite PDU (using a relay and setting it up for 12V trigger from the AVR) to control power to the pro amps, since they lack trigger input or signal sensing
- Mains: Infinity RS-5 (all are late 1990s RS series. RS-5 is a MTM tower, two 6.5s and 1" silk dome, ported)
- Center: Infinity RS-3 (same drivers as RS-5, in bookshelf format, single woofer)
- Surrounds: Infinity RS-2 x 6 (same woofer as RS-5 and RS-3, with 1/2 poly tweeter)
- Subs: Two Dayton Reference HO 18s in DIY small sealed enclosures (4 ft^3 each) - built with my eye on tuning the low end using the DSP - heavily influenced by the AVS DIY Subwoofer forum. I call them "the twins". This room build WILL drive me to finally paint the bare MDF enclosures.
- "Aux" sub: Infinity BU-120 with the no-freaking-good plate amp bypassed (powered by 1 channel of an XLS-402D, and signal runs through the MiniDSP). For times when the 18s would be uncivilized, I can run this and still enjoy "some" LFE.
- Emerson/Leibert GXT3 1500VA battery backup (with a proper power inlet and cabling to the PJ outlet, to battery-protect the PJ)

Source gear has varied through the years but includes two Elite DV-F07 DVD carousels, some form of CATV/Sat STB, BD player, and game consoles.

Now, with that out of the way, on to the new room!

Edit - I found some earlier pics of the old room, attached below, in various states in the earlier years. Looks like the projector was first hung in 2007, and eventually I fished the signal cable to the PJ, moved the "equipment cabinet" out of the room, then acquired the 4-post rack much later. By no means a dedicated space!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
So, about that new room?

Good: We have a 5-bedroom house, and one of those 2nd floor rooms was earmarked when we purchased it 2 years ago to be my future theater space. Having a space - better than not having a space!

Meh: It is a much smaller room than I used in my previous house, at 10'6" wide x 13'8" long x 9' main height. Not being prone to downsizing my equipment list, I'll just have to shoehorn it all in there. My old room was about 15' x 27' x 8' if memory serves.

Bad: This bedroom has the only attic access in it, which cannot be relocated elsewhere in the house. I will have to work around this, and I *really* hope I don't have to deal with sympathetic vibration issues, specifically with the coil springs. We shall see.

First is a 3D render of the existing room minus the back wall. Entry door is on the back wall, opening into that little bump-out in the left rear corner. Closet at left-front will house the equipment rack.

My drawings might not be the greatest since I just started using sketchup specifically for this project. I had to be able to visualize the creation and my go-to graph paper wasn't getting it done!



Next are a couple angles of what I am building. The black side/rear columns will have Infinity RS-2 drivers built into them (a side surround for each row). In order to keep protrusion into the room at a minimum, I'll be replicating the RS-2 internal volume built into the columns, at only 6" overall depth, compared to 11" depth of the original cabinets.

The front L/C/R and subs will be visible below the screen, as I do not have enough room depth to build the screen wall out for AT and also maintain a second row. The second-row is a must-have..

Red areas will be GoM or similar - to hide in-room acoustic treatments. The fabric forward of the first column will be black to maintain contrast / avoid visible image splash onto the walls. Equipment room door will blend into the wall when closed. Bottom of soffit/light tray will be flat black (likely SW Emerald tricorn black).




I did not add the light cans in this render, but there will be 3 across the front soffit for screen wash, and 4 at the rear washing the red GoM panels between the columns. I also didn't draw the crown or RGB LED that I intend to utilize on the soffit.




You might have noticed a 2.35 ratio screen in those drawings. Replacing the Infocus PJ will be this little guy - Panasonic AE8000U. I will be using lens memory to zoom for 2.35.



OK, it's not so little.



I had to do some minor surgery to get my rack into the closet. It's a full height 7' rack and even after removing the door, the rough opening had to be enlarged. I will be framing in my own door later - to match the GoM panels so it appears to be a regular section of wall.



And here is the room so far. Outer blue tape marks indicate screen location (AVS tradition!), and the marks within that screen show 16:9 image size (pillarboxed). If you look closely I had my laser level running to get the bottom of the ladder framing adjusted right. The plan is to place 3/4 MDF above the 2x2 on the wall and fasten it up into the bottom of the ladder, forming the bottom face of the soffit. This makes placing the MDF a feasible operation for 1 person. The vertical face will be removable GoM frames, likely a shade of medium to dark gray for the RGB LED strip to wash against.





This is a bit more substantial of a soffit than usually seen in this size room. Still I prefer this aesthetic to the strange coffered/cathedral ceiling angles that are inconsistent throughout the room. Framing this in will give me a place to run cables and can lights, and stuffed with FG it might have some bass trapping effect. I can't give up floor space for bass traps, so stuffing the soffit and riser will have to do.



The attic stair complicates this somewhat but I designed it so attic access will still be possible. A hinged panel at front will pivot down, a vertical fabric frame section will come out, then the attic can open. A few more steps, but still accessible.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I of course welcome any input on my plans, such as I've been able to get out of my head and share here. There is a lot of detail, just it's hard to know what to share!

Here are a few more sketchups.



Column design on a cutaway of the right-side wall. After drawing this (attempting to get some detail defined for the columns), I realized the left-side wall will not have a riser step, so the columns may look strange if I stagger the base heights like this. I might have to find a base height that works for all (relative to the actual floor, not the riser). More than likely a full render is in my future to see which I prefer.

Also this shows the can lights planned for the seating area. Just a couple wall wash lights on each side (lowes 3" LED cans, tested and they dim down to 9% without flickering - nice!). More on that below.




Attic access - with a not-very-detailed crown moulding added. Also, finally, a look at the back wall and projector mounting. I have a Chief RPA-181 mount on hand and it will through-bolt to the bottom of the soffit (MDF).



In case it's unclear, the part closer to the screen wall pivots down first, then a gray GoM covered panel (vertical soffit face) will come out, then the portion of soffit attached to the attic door will be able to swing open into the vacated space.



Equipment closet door - I am leaning toward a pivot hinge design. Other than an undercut on the baseboard (for cool air into rack) and a slight notch to clear the baseboard, this will blend in with the black GoM fabric frames on the surrounding wall. (Heat extraction from the closet will be handled.)

Fabric frames will be a pseudo GPowers concept, 3/4" ply with a 45 bevel routed where that effect is desired, friction fit with velcro just to be safe. Rather than embed the treatments in the frames, I will attach treatments to wall then use the frames to conceal. .

Lighting control will be handled through my existing z-wave home automation (Vera Edge). I've tested the Aeon Labs z-wave micro-dimmer with my LED light cans, and they get down to 9% with no flicker. I feel this will be a very usable "minimum" light level if desired, and for movie time they will be off anyway. I have 3 gimbal-type cans of the same model for screen wash, and those will be on a separate Aeon micro dimmer.

I may zone the two rows separately at the seating as well - incremental cost for another dimmer is reasonable. Finally, there will be a Leviton 4-zone controller in the room, and it can receive IR commands from, say, a Harmony remote. This will allow for some automation such as lights coming up at pause/stop, lights down on play, etc. The 4 zones will correspond to preset lighting scenes like "Welcome", "Movie Time", "TV", and "Full On" for working in the room.

Finally, I'll be using a Fibaro z-wave RGBW LED controller to add RGB LED strip behind the crown moulding. This is why I've indicated a gray color for the vertical soffit face rather than black (need something for the LEDs to wash against and be seen).

I very well may take the W channel from the Fibaro and run that over to a DIY backlit poster frame near the door (using white LED strips).

Lots of ideas, lots to do - it's all exciting. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Update from the weekend -

Rather than feed full sheets of 3/4 MDF into the table saw (~90lbs a sheet!) I used this little guy. Kreg rip-cut jig... Worked great to get my 49x97" sheets ripped down to much more manageable 24" widths.





I started on the right wall first, across the screen wall, and made the turn at the left-front corner (stopped there for the hinged panel in front of the attic stair).






I need to do a little electrical (relocate smoke alarm) before I continue this at the back of the room, since access will be more difficult later.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've been working, but I haven't been posting. Here are some updates!

Finished the bottom face of the soffit/tray at the attic access.



The trap door and the attic access are held tightly closed by neodymium cup magnets.



One last sanity check before starting the riser build. Of course the ladder clears.... :cool:



Riser front/rear beams cut to length, marked for joist hangers. 2x8 front/rear/left, and 2x6 for the rest.



Test fit before bringing it into the room for final assembly



Final assembly. One of my buddies who is into Jeeps and also loves HT, remarked "Any day you get to use a ratchet strap is a good day!"



With the riser base in position, I used it to guide my knife as I cut the carpet away from the riser area. (I will be recarpeting the room, but rather than pulling it all out at the start, I will remove as-needed to keep things a little more comfortable to work in the room.)



Riser base is screwed to the subfloor with angle brackets, roofing felt underneath, and I cut in 2 boxes. Left will be a duplex recep "just in case" and the right will be speaker terminals for the front row bass shakers.



14/2 will tie into existing circuit. I plan on pulling the existing receps and covering with blank plates before doing wall treatments. New receps will be installed to satisfy code and usage requirements.



Pulled a smurf tube so that I can fish the speaker cable through after the riser is stuffed with pink fluffy and closed up.

 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
It's been a while! Since I last posted, the riser is closed up, screw heads and seams in the light tray are filled and smoothed, can lights are in and wired, and I did some work on the existing network cabling in the house so that I could extend wired networking into the theater closet. (Separately from construction I've been working on a Demopad based control setup - so having the equipment rack networked has let me continue on that front at times when construction noise is frowned upon.).

As for the room, I am currently working on the columns. The first column has been dry fit, so I'll use it as a pattern to cut and route the parts for the remaining five.

Some updated sketchups, most notably adding the crown molding which is similar/borrowed from Bacon Race (thanks @BIGmouthinDC - so many good ideas in your builds!).




Current-ish status in the room. Can lights are in and wired to three Aeon Labs micro z-wave dimmers.(zoned as: screen wall, side walls, back wall). Projector outlet in the light tray is wired to an inlet in the equipment closet, so that I can feed the projector UPS-protected power.





Dry fitting the first column (minus a couple of cross-braces that will allow the column to be fastened to the wall). I have a bunch of Infinity RS-2 bookshelves (including a lot of 4 that I picked up inexpensively on ebay), and I am building a box into each column that is the same internal volume as the original RS-2 box. The face of the column will be a removable black fabric frame between the vertical pieces (which will be sealed/primed/painted black).



It took some trial and error setting up the router for the double roundover on the vertical pieces, but I think it will look great.



How the drivers etc fit: Note that the test fit below is how the box goes together; the test fit above has the baffle 1.5" too close to the front edge of the column. (The baffle and back go inside the top and bottom pieces, not the other way around.)



Fun stuff... I tested the PT-AE8000U in-room a while ago. Wanted to confirm that I was in range for zoom, screen size, sight lines, etc. before getting too far along to make changes - and gave the family a chance to see a picture in the room and visualize the end product with me.

PJ has since been removed so that work can continue. I did allow myself a few hours to test and play around before boxing it back up.



With the lights on, no problem hitting my marks for 16:9 and 2.35 content:

16:9


2.35


And now for the good stuff, lights out. Projected onto the wall - you can see my blue tape hash marks in the projected picture.







Plenty bright in eco mode.
 

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That was some clever thinking integrating soffit into a pull down attic hatch. The theatre is progressing quite nicely :)
 

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Wow, how did I miss this build? Your room is nice and small like mine that I just started. Is your depth really 13’ and change with 2 rows? I have 14’ 5” long and 9’ wide with 8 ft and everyone is telling me one row. I thought about using ikea poang chairs for 2 rows. I bought one chair to try later on that is still not assembled.

I’m going to watch the rest of your build, looking good so far. Builds that are not full decked out don’t get many followers. I will join for the ride. :)

I forgot to add, I like how you are using the RS2’s. I thought about doing that with my RS1’s for my surrounds. Instead I ordered some inwall JBL that matched my RS5 LCR.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That was some clever thinking integrating soffit into a pull down attic hatch. The theatre is progressing quite nicely :)
Thanks! It took a fair bit of brainpower to come up with that attic solution. Even though the soffit makes the room feel smaller, I greatly prefer its look vs. the original coffered ceiling. Plus, no pulling cables through the attic!
Wow, how did I miss this build? Your room is nice and small like mine that I just started. Is your depth really 13’ and change with 2 rows? I have 14’ 5” long and 9’ wide with 8 ft and everyone is telling me one row. I thought about using ikea poang chairs for 2 rows. I bought one chair to try later on that is still not assembled.

I’m going to watch the rest of your build, looking good so far. Builds that are not full decked out don’t get many followers. I will join for the ride. :)

I forgot to add, I like how you are using the RS2’s. I thought about doing that with my RS1’s for my surrounds. Instead I ordered some inwall JBL that matched my RS5 LCR.
Excellent, glad to have you along for the journey!

Yes, my room the depth is 13'8" raw and will come down to approx 13'2" finished. Seating is two couches, no recline features as there isn't enough room depth to accommodate that.

We do family movie nights with some regularity and needed seating for at least 5 to make that work. Given the limited width, there is only one aisle on the left and seating is offset to the right side of the room. There are a lot of compromises involved in having 2 rows in this small space - they will not all be money seats.

Down the road I might look at commercial style rocker seats, but for now the couches will do.

The front row is a bit close at about 7'4", and the back row is about 12'2". Part of my PJ testing was to sit in each seat and get a feel for it. The front row is much like sitting in the bottom third of a commercial theater - perfect for the kids who like sitting close but by no means unwatchable. The back row is where I'll be spending my time, and the viewing cone is more like sitting 2/3 of the way up in a commercial theater - the far end of what I prefer. Ideal would have been one row at about 10' but we have a larger audience to seat. :)
 

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Thanks! It took a fair bit of brainpower to come up with that attic solution. Even though the soffit makes the room feel smaller, I greatly prefer its look vs. the original coffered ceiling. Plus, no pulling cables through the attic!
Excellent, glad to have you along for the journey!

Yes, my room the depth is 13'8" raw and will come down to approx 13'2" finished. Seating is two couches, no recline features as there isn't enough room depth to accommodate that.

We do family movie nights with some regularity and needed seating for at least 5 to make that work. Given the limited width, there is only one aisle on the left and seating is offset to the right side of the room. There are a lot of compromises involved in having 2 rows in this small space - they will not all be money seats.

Down the road I might look at commercial style rocker seats, but for now the couches will do.

The front row is a bit close at about 7'4", and the back row is about 12'2". Part of my PJ testing was to sit in each seat and get a feel for it. The front row is much like sitting in the bottom third of a commercial theater - perfect for the kids who like sitting close but by no means unwatchable. The back row is where I'll be spending my time, and the viewing cone is more like sitting 2/3 of the way up in a commercial theater - the far end of what I prefer. Ideal would have been one row at about 10' but we have a larger audience to seat. :)
Understand the family of 5 as that makes your decision easy. Looking forward to how your space will turn out. Your column and panel design is similar to what I’m going to do. Seeing your further along I’m might borrow ideas.
 

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Have a quick question...what are the metal brackets that you used to build the soffit?



Excellent build so far and thanks for sharing!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I used metal studs in my Big-inspired minimalist screen wall very much like the soffit pic. The metal works pretty awesome with puck magnets to keep the acoustically transparent screen panels in place. Once you work with metal studs/channel you’ll find they are quite useful in many areas of a theater build.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yes those are the brackets I used. The price here is 98 cents, or 78 cents buying 25 or more.

The soffit framing is all 2x2, which I ripped from 2x4 on the tablesaw. (I can't bring myself to pay almost as much as a 2x4 for the crooked 2x2s they have at the yards here... really terrible stuff.)

The metal stud method looks like it would be a time and money saver for many soffit builds. I'm curious how that goes together. Part of the reason I went with wood and framing brakcets is that I could construct it in pieces, starting with the top piece of the ladder frame that is anchored to the existing ceiling joists. I built down from there piece by piece, working solo.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It's been a couple weeks since I've been able to work on McTheatre. I'm just getting over a really bad head cold, presumably due to the hot/cold/hot/cold spring weather we've been having in Houston. With the wife out of town for a visit with her mom, I set about rubber-stamping out some speaker column parts, with the goal of getting my first column glued up by the end of the weekend. I had some great 60 degree weather conditioning the garage workspace, so here we go!

Here I'm about to use the flush trim bit to copy the baffle I had previously made (using Jasper circle jig) onto the piece of MDF below.

I need to make enough parts for 6 speaker columns, and it is easier to do the layout once, test it, and copy it with the router than to do the layout 6 times.





After - Pile o' baffles. (You might also notice pile o' port-holed box bottoms behind it.. Those all had to be done with the Jasper jig to create the recess for the port flare, then a 2" hole saw to drill for the port tube.)



Here is how I routed out for the terminal cup. Using some MDF scraps as straight edges - they are double-sided taped to the piece below and I routed it out with the flush trim bit:



The finished piece (having received the mark of "pattern" after I tested the fit and deemed it worthy of copying). A little chunky but I was not taking my time.



The Infinity RS-2s have the crossover board hot-snotted to the back of the terminal cup. Here I'm checking fitment to the piece previously cut:



4 sides of the box glued, clamped and brad nailed together:



Just add column sides (which were previously cut to length):



Port, drivers, and terminal cup/xover installed:





After installing the top/bottom face pieces (the fabric covered grill panel will be flush with these in the final product) I had to stand it up to get a preview:





I then added two of these to the rear edge of the column, for fastening the column to the wall. There is one above the speaker box and one below (shown):



That's it for the weekend - I had to run to my hockey game after that and left my future self the joyous chore of cleaning up the garage after hockey (I didn't regret that at all...!).

I should be able to get the built column into the room after work one day and get started on the next one. I am not sure if I am going to prime/paint these in the garage or in the room, but either way I do not have space in the garage to keep piling them up - so might as well put it in the theater for now.
 

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Columns look great. You got me thinking of doing the same with my RS3’s to match front RS5’s. I have one pair of 3’s so I can pick up another on eBay. Or just stick to the new JBL’s I bought. IDK.

Waiting to see what they look like in your room. What is the depth of your column?
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Columns look great. You got me thinking of doing the same with my RS3’s to match front RS5’s. I have one pair of 3’s so I can pick up another on eBay. Or just stick to the new JBL’s I bought. IDK.

Waiting to see what they look like in your room. What is the depth of your column?
Thanks! Might get it into the room after work today.

I know what you mean - I considered buying in-walls for the surround channels, but I have 10 RS-2s on hand (how did THAT happen?!) and once I took one apart to confirm driver depth would work for what I had in mind, the "reworked RS-2 column" plan got its wings.

Column external dimensions are 12" wide x 6" deep x approx 83" tall (for the 3 columns on the riser) or 91" tall (off riser). I am measuring the exact height at each column location and building to fit with a 1/2" bottom gap for carpet.
 
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