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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All,

First let me say that I am always impressed and jealous when I read this forum; both of the setups and the knowledge displayed. You all have setups that fill my dreams. :)


Anyway, my wife and I just purchased a new house. The good part of this is that she now gets a living room w/o a TV, and I get the basement (split level home)for my home theater/media room. The bad part is that the room isn't very conducive to a home theater -- I have the dreaded pole problem. I also have the problem that the basement was recently re-finished by the previous owner, and my wife will likely put up great resistance to tearing it up.


My current gear, good starter gear; hopefully will be upgraded over time. (see here for a photo ):

TV: Toshiba 32AF44 (Hope to replace with a big HD rear projection soon)

Receiver: Denon AVR 2400

Fronts: Paradigm Titans on stands

Rears: Paradigm Atoms on stands

Center: Paradigm CC-270

Sub: MB Quartz


Some Photos and a quick sketch of the room:
Plan Sketch
p1 p2 p3 p4


So I'm looking at the room trying to figure out what to do, and I'm just stumped! (I think because of the dissapointment of not being able to buy a house with an unfinished basement :) ) I wish that I could have a dedicated home theater with stadium seating, but that is going to have to wait until the next house. I really need comfy seating for 8 and for it to be arranged for a movie, super bowl, or a party. We probably do more parties (when we would like bring even more chairs downstairs) than movies. My wife also wants a treadmill down here.


So, I need to figure out:

1) What furniture to buy and where to put it. We currently have nothing that will be going into this room. I'll have a budget this year of $2000 - $3000 for sofas and/or chairs.


I'm thinking about putting the TV under the windows and then putting two recliners on either side of the pole directly across from the TV. Then sofas could be place along the sides. I think this might be a little cramped, because the sofa on the right will have to be kept off the wall, and it probably wont allow room between the recliner and the sofa. We also really like some of the big long slightly curved sofas we've seen. Thoughts?


2) Where to put the rear speakers and how to hide the wires. I currently have the Paradigm Atoms on stands and directed at the seating positions. This has worked well for me, but I'm thinking it won't depending on where the furniture is placed. I'm considering replacing the Atoms with some dipoles on the walls or in-ceiling speakers. But, I've never been crazy about dipoles or in-wall speakers.


3) What can be done to improve the acoustics on a budget? I'm already thinking about installing a pocket door to close off the downstairs from the upstairs. I also have access to the back side of the dry wall in the utility room and the garage(left side) so I'm thinking about installing some sound deadening material. Oh and the ceiling is those glue-on-tiles.



Any other ideas/tips that you guys could give me would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks again
 

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FIrst, the trade was no TV in the LR for a basement for you. Sounds to me like you can rip it up!


Seriously, use the 'shoot for Mars and settle for the Moon" theory. Give her a plan where you get an engineer to come in and design a way to remove the pole and replace it with extra beams. Maybe you could even dig the floor another foot deeper! She MIGHT buy it. If not, moving a couple walls and doing some refinishing seems rather tame ;)


I'd figure out a way to be able to cover the window when you want to. During daylight hours, that will be very distracting being right over the TV.


Personally, if you have to live with it the way it is, I'd put the TV on the left wall of the drawing. Realistically, with the size screen you have, you really don't want to be 9+ feet away. You can mount rear surrounds on the wall for the util room. You can also build a built in rack opening into the utility room for wiring access.


The only visible wiring will be LCR and video. You can get it to the TV and speakers from the rack either through the ceiling and drop it down the wall or replace the baseboard leaving a channel behind it for the wiring. If you take the baseboard off and cut the bottom 3/4" to 1" of the drywall, that leaves you a nice little place for wiring to run (just make sure you don't nail through it when you put the trim back up!)


Acoustics on a budget.... Hit the first reflection points on the side wall. That is always a good idea. You also want absorbtion behind the speakers and TV. After that, it really depends on what the room needs, what your budget is, your acceptance of traps, more acoustic panels, etc. Big overstuffed furniture tends to provide some good broadband absorbtion. Whatever you use, don't get high backs. You ideally want your ears up over the top of the chair back. If you get high backs, you'll kill the surround image.


Think about replacing the paneling on the bottom part with some fiberglass panels. Cover it with some nice cloth (let her pick it out within reason) and then cover the seams with trim spaced out like the rest of the panels. This is a nice clean look that fits with the rest of the room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Originally posted by bpape
First, the trade was no TV in the LR for a basement for you. Sounds to me like you can rip it up!


Too late for that. :( But, we really love the house, its an older house with really good access to the metra train line - more important than anything else here.

Seriously, use the 'shoot for Mars and settle for the Moon" theory. Give her a plan where you get an engineer to come in and design a way to remove the pole and replace it with extra beams. Maybe you could even dig the floor another foot deeper! She MIGHT buy it. If not, moving a couple walls and doing some refinishing seems rather tame ;)


I actually am a structural engineer and have already done calculations. With the 18' span, I would need to deepen the beam about 4 inches to make it work. That's a lot of head room lost. :( I'm thinking that if I moved the pole a few feet toward the util room, I could probably reinforce the existing beam without losing much head room. But, I'm not seeing my wife going for that! Probably could get her to go for it in a few years, but for now...

I'd figure out a way to be able to cover the window when you want to. During daylight hours, that will be very distracting being right over the TV.


Yeah, this is on my list. Probably nice wood blinds with big heavy curtains overtop.

Personally, if you have to live with it the way it is, I'd put the TV on the left wall of the drawing. Realistically, with the size screen you have, you really don't want to be 9+ feet away. You can mount rear surrounds on the wall for the util room. You can also build a built in rack opening into the utility room for wiring access.


Humm, I'll have to think about this. I like the idea of rears on the util wall. We move in next week, so I'll be able to visualize it better then. I'm only concerned that this will make a real cramped corner.

Acoustics on a budget.... Hit the first reflection points on the side wall. That is always a good idea. You also want absorbtion behind the speakers and TV. After that, it really depends on what the room needs, what your budget is, your acceptance of traps, more acoustic panels, etc. Big overstuffed furniture tends to provide some good broadband absorbtion. Whatever you use, don't get high backs. You ideally want your ears up over the top of the chair back. If you get high backs, you'll kill the surround image.


Think about replacing the paneling on the bottom part with some fiberglass panels. Cover it with some nice cloth (let her pick it out within reason) and then cover the seams with trim spaced out like the rest of the panels. This is a nice clean look that fits with the rest of the room.



Big overstuffed furniture is on the list. I like your idea of replacing the (fake) wood paneling. It will probably come off anyway to run wires around the room.


Thanks for the suggestions. Any other suggestions/tips?
 

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The only issue I see with doing it that way is that you'll now be non-symmetric. However, as long as you have some distance between the speakers and the side wall, you can deal with it pretty easily.


After you get in the house....


Get things set up and listen for a bit - see how you think it sounds. Then see about taking some acoustic measurements. It's a decent sized room so you have a lot of volume to deal with (that's good). Don't do anything drastic or permanent until you get the furniture you're going to have. It will change the way the room behaves.


Once you get a handle on where the potential issues are, you'll have a better idea of what is needed so you can figure out how best to address them.


General info...


When laying things out, try not to put seats at 1/2 way points of either length or width. That will put you in a null for the mode of that dimension. It will sound like you have no deep bass at that position. Sometimes it doesn't take moving something more than a foot or so to get out of it.


There's nothing wrong with putting the setup under the window if you prefer it that way. Or, if you COULD move that pole a little bit, you could have a nice 12x16 unobstructed space.


I'm just trying to figure out how to get 8 good seats with good viewing and listening lines either way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by bpape
I'm just trying to figure out how to get 8 good seats with good viewing and listening lines either way.
Oh gosh, not all of the seats need to be "Good". I'm shooting for 4 to be good and the rest can be good conversation locations.


I've been playing with that Better Homes and Garden online room arranging program that someone posted in another thread -- pretty cool.


I'm thinking like you said, put the TV on the left wall, two chairs on either side of the pole, a sofa under the window, and then another sofa in the corner with the half wall (not facing the tv). and a treadmill stuff in behind the chairs. See this picture . Note that the plants represent my speakers, and the big brown table is the treadmill.


That, or I could put the TV under the windows on the front wall and get a big sectional that would wrap around the left wall and behind the pole -- so probably two seats would be obstructed by the pole.

See this picture . But, this gives the max seating, and I'm thinking that if the pole is close enough to the sectional, it won't obstruct things too much. Does anyone have any experience with this?


I've finally get to pick out my own furniture, and I can't figure out what I want! :)


Of course, someday when I have my way, the utility closet will be gone (nothing in it anymore) and I'll have something that looks like this .
 

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First, I think you need to put your foot down. If you don't get to do what you want below, then you get the living room back.


But if that means divorce, then consider going on the other diagonal. Screen in the corner with window to the left. Put the pole right in the middle of the seating area. Two ranks of two on each side of the pole/screen axis. Get away from the couches and (especially) sectionals for the prime seating. You want individual, comfortable (thus no sectional) seats for the immediate family, and the rest as best you can. Even folding chairs are good enough for individual events.


You'll want a good light curtain on the window, and any other light opening. Consider a riser for the back ranks of seats, and with a riser, real theater seating might make sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by DMF
First, I think you need to put your foot down. If you don't get to do what you want below, then you get the living room back.
Wow, I never expected these revolt against your wife responses. But, I've probably given you guys the wrong impression and been using my wife as an excuse. The thing is that we spent quite a bit of what we had to upgrade from our cramped townhome to a real house, and we both had to make compromises to get a house in a convenient location rather than waaaay out. I'm had to give up my dream of a perfect dedicated home theater, and my wife had to give up a huge kitchen. Luckily, my wife is kind enough to let me spend what little money we do have left over on furniture, etc. for the home theater.


So for now, what I can do is: furniture, paint, curtains, upgrade the rear speakers to dipoles or ceilings, or anything else that is reasonable. I could probably make the half-wall in the rear corner a full wall if it would make a huge improvement, and I'm considering eliminating the Utility room to get a little more room. I would just have to leave a 4x4 square in the corner near the stairs for the water heater. But the room really needs to be multi-functional.



Diagonal???

I'll have to play with the room design to see how the furniture lays out. But isn't putting the TV and speakers in a corner a bad idea, acoustically? I always thought that this was one of the worst things you could do. Also, where would the rears go?


Thanks
 

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Diagonal arrangements are more difficult to deal with. You would get the seats away from the pole more that way but getting your surrounds mounted anything close to optimum would be next to impossible that way IMO. The speakers would actually be out from the corner BUT they'd probably be right against a side wall which is also not good in general if you can help it.


Don't get me wrong. We're just jabbin at ya about the wife. You gotta live with the situation you have and make it the best you can with what you have to work with.
 

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I don't think surround location is all that difficult. You can hang them from the ceiling. Also, in a diagonal arrangement, the corner behind the screen is effectively dead. Meaning a great place to put some serious corner traps!



And yes, baiting people with serious WAF is kinda a non-league sport around here. To us geeky types the sociological solution often seems much simpler than the techie one. ;)


But as some sage once observed, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the replys. It's given me some good ideas. I think once I get the room setup, I'll have some more questions. :)
 
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