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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My wife and I will be closing on our new construction home in about a month and a half. We have a second floor room that will be dedicated to a media room and play room for our 1 year old twin boys. Due to the dual nature of this room, we need it to be very safe for them, with no danger of A/V equipment being pulled on top of little children or falling and smashing into many little pieces. I am expecting to start the build as soon as possible, but there will be a considerable amount of expense after moving in and I'm sure it will be about a year before I can start seriously devoting time or money to the project. I hope to use that time to research and have my plans finalized before starting. Here's the layout of the room:



I plan on having the screen on the short wall furthest from the staircase entry. Unfortunately, you can see there is a window on this wall about 4' from the corner of the room, which I believe will hamper my original plan of mounting a fixed screen since that window will be in the way. Also, I planned on trying out a 2.35:1 (or Scope, or Ultrawide, or whatever the correct term is) screen, but I need to figure out how to cover up that window before any of this will be possible. I was hoping to save a bit of money there by not needing an electric screen, so comments are welcome on my options. Also, the wall blocking that staircase is only a half wall, like a loft, which we may close in later (or sooner, if it will negatively affect the function of the room to a great degree).

Another idea was to use an acoustically transparent screen with in-wall speakers to avoid possibility of injury/damage. I'm not sure exactly what my speaker budget will be, but I am concerned that sound quality will be greatly diminished if I buy in-wall vs. freestanding speakers in the same price range. I suppose wall-mounting some bookshelf speakers is another option, but I will need to find some specifically designed for very little clearance, which seems to be a difficult chore. Alternatively, what about in-ceiling speakers? Are we talking about a much greater decrease in quality? And great care is taken with audio systems to ensure that the sound doesn't feel as though it's coming from well above or below the display. How is that countered when the sound is literally coming down from above?

I hope to use that closet in the corner next to the screen to house all the components, including a new HTPC which will be connected to my home media server (either Plex or XBMC based) and have a blu-ray drive. As far as projector, I'm thinking Benq W1070 at first using the zoom method for CIH, again, depending on budget. I think I'm going to stick with 5.1 surround and maybe add another two channels and/or a second subwoofer much later.

I imagine that the seating area (one row only) is going to be basically directly in the middle of the room, giving us about 10-11' between the seating area and screen. This is also going to be my "office", and I hope to also integrate the projector/screen as my display for PC gaming. I am not sure yet whether my computer desk will be directly behind the theater seating, or maybe against the wall opposite the staircase. I imagine I'll get a wireless keyboard/mouse and controller for gaming, but continue to use my regular monitors for productivity/web browsing, etc.

Anyway, this thread is going to be a living document of all the steps I take to accomplish my end goal of a combo media room/office/play room, and I hope some of you will share your insight as to how I can be most effective in doing so.

Update

For my own reference , I'm going to keep a list here of things I'm currently researching/considering during my journey:

Removable blackout for window (as recommended below) or Windowplug (http://www.asc-soundproof.com/window-plug.htm)
Linacoustic roll for speakers (http://www.avsforum.com/t/1428871/nick-s-attempt-at-a-theater/0_100#post_24482794)
Scope screen, building false wall with limited experience/tools, projector choices (http://www.avsforum.com/t/1523754/c...-opinions-on-diy-screens-and-projectors/0_100)
Two subwoofers? (Hsu vs SVS vs Outlaw vs DIY vs ?, need some input since it's a large, open loft)
Mounted speakers vs. hiding behind false wall with screens vs. behind AT screen (keep them away from young hands)
In-wall surrounds?
iRule vs. Roomie Remote? (http://www.iruleathome.com/)
Cable organization since ceiling is finished? (http://www.cableorganizer.com/surface-raceways/)
DIY speakers?
Cooling component closet (http://www.coolcomponents.com/)
Insteon automation (https://www.insteon.com/home-automation-compared.html)
Sketchup for 3D plans (http://www.sketchup.com/)
Panasonic fans for A/V closet (http://www.bathroomfansale.com/)
http://www.avsforum.com/t/855958/what-id-do-differently-next-time/500_100#post_18481278
DVDO iScan Duo (http://www.amazon.com/DVDO-iScan-Definition-Video-Processor/dp/B002Q8HQHE)
HDMI wall plates (http://www.monoprice.com/Category?c_id=109&cp_id=10425&cs_id=1042501)
Locking HDMI ports (http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=104&cp_id=10419&cs_id=1041913&p_id=8062&seq=1&format=2)
 

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I had a combination "home theater" and office for a while. Do you have cable (such as HDMI) pulled for these purposes? I had a 7.X system (I redid the room so I put in 8 or so locations for subs, the wiring for 7 channels, plus the ability to biamp the fronts if I wanted to do so). I'm not sure what operating system you are going to use (I have 4 windows 7 computers in my house and refuse to buy windows 8 until Microsoft gives up on forcing one to use tablet-style interfaces), but it can be somewhat tricky to use your computer while the projector is on another show. It's possible, but at times the mouse gets stuck on the projector portion.


If you have the walls open (no drywall), figure out what cables to run and run them. See if you can plan on putting in a cabinet where you can put your equipment, preferably behind a solid wood door where the kids won't see it. (You'll have to use an RF remote to do this, but I've been using these for years. They are expensive, though.)
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by ctviggen  /t/1520410/media-play-room-in-new-c...ations-and-advice-welcome/0_100#post_24425516


I had a combination "home theater" and office for a while. Do you have cable (such as HDMI) pulled for these purposes? I had a 7.X system (I redid the room so I put in 8 or so locations for subs, the wiring for 7 channels, plus the ability to biamp the fronts if I wanted to do so). I'm not sure what operating system you are going to use (I have 4 windows 7 computers in my house and refuse to buy windows 8 until Microsoft gives up on forcing one to use tablet-style interfaces), but it can be somewhat tricky to use your computer while the projector is on another show. It's possible, but at times the mouse gets stuck on the projector portion.


If you have the walls open (no drywall), figure out what cables to run and run them. See if you can plan on putting in a cabinet where you can put your equipment, preferably behind a solid wood door where the kids won't see it. (You'll have to use an RF remote to do this, but I've been using these for years. They are expensive, though.)

Unfortunately, we are buying in a community where the builder is also developing the whole subdivision, which means we only had a few floor plans to choose from, and only upgrades that the builder offers. It's not a fully custom home where we can ask them to do whatever we want. That's pretty common in this area of Florida, but it does mean that I'll have to do any wiring myself after the walls are finished. They also don't allow any other electricians to do work while the home is under construction.
 

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If that's the case, I'd have them put the minimum in that room and tear out the drywall as soon as you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by ctviggen  /t/1520410/media-play-room-in-new-c...ations-and-advice-welcome/0_100#post_24429508


If that's the case, I'd have them put the minimum in that room and tear out the drywall as soon as you can.

Agreed. The only thing I was able to add to that room (and all rooms) was ethernet cable to a central hub downstairs. The rest is up to me.



Does anybody have input on speakers? I am really hoping to avoid in-walls, as I am not going to have a giant speaker budget and I'm sure I'll end up being disappointed in their sound quality. What are my options for bookshelf speakers with very little rear clearance?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I just visited the house yesterday and the wife decided she does not want that window permanently covered. I'm thinking about some sort of blackout cloth or blinds that mount inside the frame of the window, and then maybe hanging a fixed screen over the top of it. That way, if we need to open up the room for guests, the screen could be removed and the blinds/cloth removed to allow light back into the room. Does anybody have any suggestions on a product that might be suited to this application?


Also, I watched a few youtube videos on DIY projector screens. If I am able to cover up that window with something, I might give that a shot. Time to head to the Screens forum...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by flvinny521  /t/1520410/media-play-room-in-new-construction-recommendations-and-advice-welcome#post_24447628


I just visited the house yesterday and the wife decided she does not want that window permanently covered. I'm thinking about some sort of blackout cloth or blinds that mount inside the frame of the window, and then maybe hanging a fixed screen over the top of it. That way, if we need to open up the room for guests, the screen could be removed and the blinds/cloth removed to allow light back into the room. Does anybody have any suggestions on a product that might be suited to this application?


Also, I watched a few youtube videos on DIY projector screens. If I am able to cover up that window with something, I might give that a shot. Time to head to the Screens forum...

Read this thread http://www.avsforum.com/t/1458472/the-best-total-blackout-window-treatment-ever-blackout-ez
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think my plan of action is going to be setting up the screen and projector first, blacking out the windows and getting those components wired, while using a low end set of stereo Polk speakers. That will allow me some time to wait for a good deal on speakers and decide if I want to do in-walls or find some other way to childproof them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamjason  /t/1520410/media-play-room-in-new-c...ations-and-advice-welcome/0_100#post_24461414


Add a ceiling outlet for the pj and a ceiling tube for the pj hdmi cable and run it to the av equip

Are we talking about a PVC pipe as I've seen in some build threads, or is there a flexible tube that I can use? Also, is it possible to do this after the ceiling is up since I will have attic access?


Also, I think approaching the project in stages is going to work best.


So far, phase one is going to consist of the projector (likely something nicer than the Benq W1070, since spreading the cost will allow me a little higher budget), covering the window using the recommendation by Sonyad, and mounting a fixed screen to the wall. I'm thinking about going with a DIY laminate screen and possibly drilling it right in to the wall. Having small children, the top priority is to make sure that they can't pull something down and get hurt, or they can't damage any of the setup. As I mentioned, I have a cheap Polk 3.0 setup that I bought on a Black Friday sale, so I'll likely use those during this first phase.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by flvinny521  /t/1520410/media-play-room-in-new-construction-recommendations-and-advice-welcome#post_24472776


Are we talking about a PVC pipe as I've seen in some build threads, or is there a flexible tube that I can use? Also, is it possible to do this after the ceiling is up since I will have attic access?

Flex conduit is much better than rigid PVC for these purposes. And it's a whole lot easier to put all that in during construction rather than later. Also, placing additional lumber support for the projector mount will make placement and mounting easier when it comes time to do it.


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor  /t/1520410/media-play-room-in-new-c...ations-and-advice-welcome/0_100#post_24516102


Flex conduit is much better than rigid PVC for these purposes. And it's a whole lot easier to put all that in during construction rather than later. Also, placing additional lumber support for the projector mount will make placement and mounting easier when it comes time to do it.


Jeff

I wish I could do this during construction, but my builder seems to have tightened up their policies in recent years and I'm not allowed to do ANYTHING myself, even if I use their own contractors that are already doing electrical on my house. I've found other build threads where people were allowed to do basically whatever they wanted with the same builder, but they were all a few years old.


Anyway, is this basically what we're talking about? http://www.homedepot.com/p/Southwire-1-2-in-X-100-ft-Flex-Aluminum-Conduit-55082103/202316476?N=5yc1vZbohlZ1z0usgq


I just visited the house today and looked again at my intended projector placement, and it seems that there is going to be an A/C vent directly where I expect my optimal projector placement is. I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Would anybody consider switching the screen wall to the opposite side near the stairs? My concerns are that the equipment noise will be greater near the viewing area and there are a few vents/access points installed by the builder that may get in the way. Alternatively, will the stairs pose a large impediment to good sound quality?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
A few things have changed on the proposed project, although I'm not really much closer to actually starting the work. First I'll be focusing my efforts on the main floor: ripping out the cheap builder carpet and tile on the entire first floor and replacing it with luxury vinyl plank. Then comes new doors, door casing, crown molding and baseboards, before a new paint job for the entire house. Then it will be time to upgrade the closet systems in my sons' rooms, and I'm sure a hundred new projects will pop up before the theater even begins.

I have decided to convert the large closet underneath the stairwell into a media closet. There I will house all hardware that feeds the "theater," all secondary viewing areas (living room, master bedroom, patio, and any future TVs), as well as a future whole-home audio system (still in concept phase), my DIY home media server, personal PC, HTPCs for each TV, router and switches, and on and on.

I've pretty much settled on utilizing a DIY approach as much as possible. The speakers will likely be flat packs (Fusion 10 LCR, maybe Fusion 12 if budget permts, and a couple Marty cubes). I think I may need to raise the floor in order to add some soundproofing, which I haven't researched yet at all. I assume that I'd stuff insulation under the existing subfloor before I lay a new subfloor on top. I'd also like to run low-voltage wiring under the floor (if possible) to the speaker locations and a near-field sub. Since this is a second floor room with three exterior walls, it would seem easier to do that than to run the wires in the walls. I don't think it's a good idea to try a sand-fillled stage, but this room is directly over my two kids' rooms and a guest bathroom, so I'd like to isolate the sound to the top floor as much as possible.

Unfortunately, none of the walls are really ideal for this room to become a theater. My first choice is the bottom wall on the pic in my OP, but there's a window and a closet in the way of where my false wall would likely fall. At the opposite end, there's more windows and a staircase to content with. I'll probably need a professional's consultation before finalizing the layout plans.

Any advice or knowledge is welcome.
 

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Do you have any other rooms in the house for a TV? You could make the room a playroom for 8 years and then turn it into a projector room, ripping out the drywall at that time. Keeping dents out of the screen will be a challenge.

You could go super cheap now, and project onto a wall, if you must. I wouldn't put anything nice into a playroom. It won't stay neat, not for guests at least.

I wouldn't worry much about sound containment for several years. Kids sleep like rocks. Pull out the drywall in 7-8 years, do it right.

Sorry, I know this is blasphemous, but it is an option to consider. The kids don't really need a TV. Sure, good for Mom and Dad after bedtime, but you won't use it much the first few years.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Do you have any other rooms in the house for a TV? You could make the room a playroom for 8 years and then turn it into a projector room, ripping out the drywall at that time. Keeping dents out of the screen will be a challenge.

You could go super cheap now, and project onto a wall, if you must. I wouldn't put anything nice into a playroom. It won't stay neat, not for guests at least.

I wouldn't worry much about sound containment for several years. Kids sleep like rocks. Pull out the drywall in 7-8 years, do it right.

Sorry, I know this is blasphemous, but it is an option to consider. The kids don't really need a TV. Sure, good for Mom and Dad after bedtime, but you won't use it much the first few years.
Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Yes, for now we're using the downstairs great room as our primary viewing location. The idea has basically morphed from a combination theater/play room to a theater that's just childproofed as much as possible. My boys are now two and starting to get a little destructive. I'm guessing we'll keep the upstairs as their play area until they turn at least 5-6, and then go through the process of converting it to a projector room. I am really looking forward to having family movie/TV nights together in this room when they get a little bit older.

I am probably starting my research way too early, because a lot can change in 3-4 years, but I'd like to hammer down the general direction (layout) as much as possible with plenty of time to let it sink in and discover possible obstacles.
 
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