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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been wanting to put a thread together about my theater for years now, but decided that some upcoming changes were the motivation I needed. I'll start with pictures of the space, a bonus room above our 3 car garage in a production home in Norther California - no custom home or basement build here. Stay tuned and I'll get into all of the details of the theater's current configuration and the pending upgrade to a 2.35:1 screen.


If you want to read more about it's previous state check out the link to the 2007 Home Theater article in my signature.


Let's start with the shell of the room.

Front wall with in wall back boxes


Right side front


Right side rear


Back wall


Left wall


Entrance to theater, left wall


Ceiling of theater above left speaker in construction. Note low voltage wire runs and future pipe


Projector and ventilation location in ceiling of theater in construction. Note HVAC return, jumper duct location, and exhaust fan
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Going into the project I knew it would require a lot of planning due to the house being built on a production home schedule. Fortunately I was working for a HVAC and low voltage contractor that was doing other work for the builder so I was able to arrange for coworkers to do the pre-wire for the speakers, subs, and projector. I started with the seating plan - all of the seats are at the 3/5 (front row) or 4/5 (back row) distance from front to back and at the 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, and 4/5 points from side to side. This was done to help minimize bass peaks and smooth the frequency response at the listening positions.


Here is the top down layout of the room. This details seating for 10, but the final room has seating for 11 due to a great find on the 5 front row seats.



Here is the front wall draft plan showing the left high frequency, left low frequency, center, right low frequency, and right high frequency speakers. Three of the speaker locations are behind an AT screen. The left and right high frequency speaker locations flank the screen to help widen the front stage. In this draft the left and right subs are mislabeled.



Here are the sight line plans of the room as seen from the side. This shows couch seating for the back row and dedicated theater seating for the front row. I wanted to make sure both rows had unobstructed viewing of the screen. You can also see that the tweeter for the front LCR will be at ear level fro the front row listeners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Low Voltage

Prewire and back boxes – double runs of 14 awg Monster Cable THX in-wall speaker cable were pulled to every location and the in-wall enclosures were installed for the left and right low frequency speakers during construction. They were run to boxes at floor level for future expansion or alternatives to the in-wall speakers. Future pipes were also run to the front speaker locations and projector to make pulling HDMI or additional cable easy. Three subwoofer locations were prewired (left front corner, left rear corner, and right mid wall). In-wall back boxes for front subwoofers were installed at left and right edge of screen.

Extensive amounts of low voltage wiring (Cat-5, RG-6, and speaker wire) were also run to every room in the house for phone, Internet, and distributed audio. You can see the dual 42” structured wiring enclosures in the right half of the bedroom closet. The left half will hold the Middle Atlantic gear rack so the front is visible in the hallway outside the theater entrance and the rear connections can be accessed standing in the bedroom with the closet door opened.


Equipment rack and structured wiring closet in construction. Closet is in bedroom outside of theater. Rear of gear rack is accessed through the closet.


Detail 1 of equipment closet wiring in construction. Note exhaust fan.


Detail 2 of equipment closet wiring in construction.


Detail 3 of equipment closet wiring in construction.


Detail 4 of equipment closet wiring in construction. Left corner of closet with dedicated 20 amp circuit shown. Note theater entrance and windows in background.


Detail 5 of equipment closet wiring in construction. Right corner of closet. Switch is for the exhaust fan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Electrical

Again, many decisions had to be made in the builder’s design center well before ground was broken on the house. For lighting I knew we wanted to keep light off of the screen during playback so we had it prewired for 4 additional can lights, one in each quadrant of the ceiling, and 2 sconces on the front wall. The bonus room came with a ceiling fan and a 4 gang switch box (for the 2 cans, sconces, ceiling fan and light). Sconces and matching ceiling light fixtures were later purchased at a local lighting supply store. Once we were moved in I purchased and installed the Lutron Grafik Eye (in matching brown) for 4 zones of lighting – front sconces, front cans, ceiling light, and rear cans. The amount of flexibility and control it provides is great.

For the home theater gear a dedicated 20 amp circuit was run to the closet outside the theater and extended to the outlets in the bonus room for subwoofers, potential powered speakers, and the projector. All of the lighting in the room is on a separate circuit. Power was also installed in the floor for recliners or misc. future needs.

HVAC

The theater room has its own HVAC thermostat and is a dedicated zone separate from the rest of the house. There is a plenum box off of the furnace in the attic that can be opened or closed as needed to keep the room comfortable. Exhaust fans were installed in the equipment closet and above the projector location for a possible future hush box. A jumper duct to the hallway, the dedicated air return in the theater, and the two supply registers at the front of the room finished out the ducting connected to a 5 ton Carrier system with 3 zones and variable speed fan.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Room Aesthetics

Per the name of the thread, we wanted warm comfortable colors in the room so lots of brown, tan, cream, and a little black are present in the wall paint, theater chairs, couches, area rug, lighting fixtures and controls, black out shades and window treatments, and acoustic treatments. We found the area rug at a local furniture store and it really helps tie everything together. The wall mounted acoustical treatments consist of eight 2” thick rock wool panels installed around the room – additional treatments will be done in the future. I am planning to add a cloud to the ceiling and diffusion to the back wall.

Walls – The room was painted a chocolate brown color from Baer using a sprayer by my brother-in-law with three coats after the speakers were installed. In-wall speaker grills were painted to match using watered down version of the paint with a brush.

Furniture – Most prominent item in the room are the 5 Cinematech Valentino chairs bought in Southern California off of eBay, cost me a family trip to Disneyland and a U-Haul rental, but still came out ahead buying used. They came from a home theater builder who had a customer go from three rows down to two after the chairs were delivered. Two microfiber coaches with recliners at each end, purchased at local furniture shop, used to be the only seating in the room, but now take up the second row. Wooden media storage shelves in the front right half of the room flank the windows and add a little diffusion. The three ottomans under the windows add additional storage.


Original room configuration showing the couches that are now in the back row. Old Infocus projector and URC remote are visible.



Front wall of theater original configuration.



Current seating in the theater, note the newer Sony projector and updated URC remote.



Cinematech front row, best seats in the house - seriously, I don't have any other furniture this nice in the home.



Here is a shot of the front wall speakers while the screen was off. Old Martin Logan single sub visible.



Right front corner of theater with media storage.



Acoustic treatments - left wall
 

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very nice looks like a very comfy room i think i would never make it through a full movie in those front seats would fall asleep in minutes for sure
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Riser construction

The plan was always to have two rows of seating in the theater, but this necessitated actual building of a riser, something that up till this point was done by the home builder. Yes I had cut holes in drywall for speakers and mounted the screen and projector, but no actual “building” had been done. So I called in some help from another brother-in-law who also knows how to swing a hammer. I settled on a bass trap design for the riser that is floated away from any wall contact. The framing has a nautilus shaped pattern with an opening at the front center and is stuffed with insulation – sorry no stories about carrying umpteen tons of sand into the house since it is above where I park my cars. We used 2x8 construction with three layers of 5/8 particle board on top, glued and screwed one layer at a time. The riser sits on top of the existing carpet and could be removed in the future. It was originally rough assembled outside in the driveway and then carried piece by piece upstairs. Once it was reassembled power was run inside for future step lighting. We did the construction between Christmas and New Years a while back and then had it carpeted using remnants from the homes construction. Don’t ask me how well it works as a bass absorber, no before and after measurements were taken, but it does have a nice tactile conveyance with two Aura Bass Shakers and two JBL Synthesis subs on it.


We started out front in the driveway.


After all the pieces were cut.


With help from brother-in-law and curios son.


Everything screwed together.


Pick up your tools as you go...


Insulation with the paper side down.


Me bringing sexy back.


Once we finished building it we had to test fit the couch.


Riser being carpeted 1.


Riser being carpeted 2.


Riser being carpeted 3.
 

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Nice! Where in NorCal are you?
 
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Ah - the blazing hot valley! We keep it cooler up here on the North Coast!
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
From another of my favorite movies - rerelease poster signed by most of the original cast of Star Wars. My dad took me to see this movie when I was a kid, one of the first I can remember going to, standing in huge lines in the summer heat. This framed poster was a gift from my wife on our 10th anniversary. It hangs in the hallway just outside the entrance to our theater, across from the rack of gear.




Close up of signatures
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The Gear

This is probably where I get the most “geeky” about this hobby, probably due to my car audio days. My home theater equipment has changed over the years, but the rack layout has been consistent. Amplifiers that make heat at the top of the rack, signal processing next, source devices that I need to interact with at an easy to reach level for the entire family, and power conditioning at the bottom since it doesn’t need to be touched much. This layout also makes for cleaner wiring on the backside of the rack. The signal comes from the source components over HDMI or RCA into the preamp. The .1 sub channel at 80 Hz and down then goes to the tactile amplifier and then on to the active subwoofers. The center channel signal at 80 Hz and up goes into an EQ for high frequency restoration for behind the screen speaker placement and then on to one of the monoblock amplifiers. The side and surround channels at 80 Hz and up each go to their own monoblock. The front left and right channel signals at 40 Hz and up go into a stereo crossover and signals from 40 – 100 Hz go to one set of monoblocks and then into the in-wall left and right subs. Left and right signals from 100 Hz and up go to another pair of monoblocks and on to their speakers. This bi-amping of the front stereo channels provides better bass when listening in stereo and greater dynamics. The current configuration starting from the top of the rack is:

In the rack –
Middle Atlantic PD915R – This has all of the mono block amplifies plugged into it and allows me to easily run the system with the amps shut off for testing low frequency response. Just one red power switch on the front instead of nine on the back.

Three Soundstream M3 Tri-monoblock THX amplifiers for nine channels – left high and low pass, center, right high and low pass, right and left sides, right and left rear. These provide maximum channel separation and great dynamics for each channel thanks to nine separate power supplies. What can I say? I was a car audio guy.
Sonance Sonamp 260 amplifier that drives the Aura Bass Shakers on the back of the riser. Its variable low pass crossover and phase control have come in handy for tweaking the tactile response. This amp originally came with the Sonance Cinema Subs that are in the front wall.
Outlaw ICBM to split left and right signal – I had trouble finding a stereo subwoofer crossover and almost had to go with dual mono units.
Integra DTC-9.8 preamp handles all of the switching and EQ duties. I did go the extra step and paid for a professional calibration of the Audyssey system.
URC base station for IR – bounces commands off of the framed poster across the hall from the gear rack. It is matched with the IR/RF sending MX980 remote and RF receiver wired in the theater up by the projector.
Panasonic DMP-BDT215 Blu-ray player – nothing fancy but it does the job. I do like the iOS app for it. This was the Costco sold model and came with the 3D “Avatar” disc that when sold almost paid for the player.
TiVo Premier with 2TB hard drive – the best way to record cable and over the air shows and lets me access the other TiVos in the house.
Xbox 360 with 4 wireless controllers – my kids love gaming on the 106” screen.
Escient DVDM-100 – an oldie but a goodie, still lets me access my entire DVD library, never crashes, never needs to be rebooted, and entirely legal.
Sony DVP-CX777ES 400 DVD Changer – I switched to a black one a few years ago for better cosmetics. You know what they say…
Monster Power HTPS 70000 MKII Signature Series – pretty blue lights and easy system power up. Actually living on a heavily taxed suburban power grid during a brown out makes power conditioning a necessity.
Monster Power Pro AVS 2000 Signature Series – I don’t think you can even get these anymore, but the 20 amp capability of the Pro unit made it a no-brainer. The rack handles also make it easier to pull the entire rack out if necessary and it had more matching pretty blue lights. This is the only piece of gear in the rack plugged into an outlet.

Not pictured – HP ProCurve 408 switch – behind the rack, simple and reliable Internet access for all of the on line gear.

In the theater –
Sony VPL-VW60 projector – 1080p LCOS works for me.
Monster Power UPS 500 Battery Back-up – dedicated to just the project and allows time to shut it down with the fan on if we lose power.
Chief ceiling mount with shelf – this is for the projector and UPS.
Monster Power SW 200 x 3 – two of these in the front of the theater and one in the back protect the subwoofers.
Aura Bass Shakers x 2 – these are mounted directly to the riser behind the couches and do a nice job of adding tactile response.
Sonance Cinema THX Ultra II in-wall speakers x 5 for L, C, R, LR, RR – features an 8” woofer, dual 3” mids, and 1” silk dome tweeter in D’Appolito array.
Sonance Cinema SUB system for L and R low pass – these are the dual 8” drivers in the in-wall back boxes behind the screen.
Sonance Cinema Surrounds for LS and RS – similar configuration with 8” woofer, dual 3” mids, and dual 1” tweeters. Not THX certified since these are bipole, not dipole speakers.
JBL Synthesis HTPS400 12” subwoofers x 4 – each one rated at 1,000 watts and placed near each corner of the theater for smooth strong bass with Monster Subwoofer RCA cables connecting them.
Monster HDMI 400 50’ cable to projector – this was pulled through the future pipe and is now the only input the projector uses.
Stewart Filmscreen 106” Firehawk THX Microperf screen - 16x9 aspect ratio.


Top of Rack -- "Power, power, woo woo woo"



Middle of Rack -- Preamp, processing, and sources. The TiVo and VCR have both since been replaced.



Bottom of Rack -- Power conditioning is part of a strong foundation. The changer is no longer silver.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Here is another poster my wife gave me as a gift. It cost a lot less, or a lot more, than the other one - depending on how you look at it. This one features the framed article from Home Theater Magazine and my CEDIA Designer Certificate. It hangs in the front left corner of our theater.

 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I wonder what could be down this hallway?

Here is the entrance to the theater. Gear rack on the left, autographed poster on the right, solid core spring loaded door in the middle. The Cinema sign was also a gift from my wife.

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
One remote to rule them all...


Here are shots of the Universal Remote Control URC MX-980 color screen remote that runs the theater. Macros have been programmed so that any source being selected fires up the entire system and dims the lights. Hitting play on any source turns off the lights completely, hitting pause brings them back up to dim. I can also access any source without the macro being launched by pressing and holding the button for 2 seconds.


The remote is RF and IR so it sends signals to a ceiling mounted receiver which is wired to the IR base station in the rack. I also love that it is rechargeable. Just set it in the base after each viewing and it is ready to go next time.

 
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