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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everybody:


Happy Thanksgiving! Now that all the turkey has been eaten, I need some help from those have haven't fallen comatose...


In my theater build thread , I mentioned that the main "honey-do" item I have to complete before starting my build is to construct some built-ins in our family room. The built-ins are a pair of cabinets flanking our fireplace. One side will be an entertainment center, the other side, bookshelves. I'd like to get some opinions on the entertainment center.


Here are some pictures. First, the room that will house this beast:




The entertainment center will obviously replace the small stand in the corner with the big TV sitting on it. If you look closely, you can even see our universal remote basket. Someday, I'll have to replace that with a real universal remote.


Next is the design for the entertainment center:




Although the diagram isn't really polished, I went to a fair amount of detail:




The idea is to incorporate room for the 46" Panasonic plasma; left, center, and right speakers; and components (Denon AVR-1909, Samsung Blu-Ray, and Apple TV). The unit is angled at about a 14 degree angle at the front to counteract glare from the windows on the right hand side of the room. It will be integrated with the mantle, so that the top of the mantel is at the same level as the top of the entertainment center, and the two flow together.


I sized things approximately right in the diagram. I tried to leave room for future upgrades: the right and left speaker compartments are about 2" wider than my current speakers, and I attempted to size the TV compartment big enough to house a 50" TV. I failed on that last account. I'm about two inches too narrow to fit a 50" TV.


So this leads to the first question: which is more important? A bigger TV, or bigger speakers? I know, it's a priority call, but I'd like to hear other opinions. I'm leaning toward leaving the speaker compartments wide, and just accepting that I'll only be able to fit a 46" TV into the TV compartment. if I do that, I can raise the center speaker about 4 inches, and have more room for components. Viewing distance is at about 12 to 14 feet.


My current speakers are about a foot taller than the height of the TV. So I figured I would just build a platform inside the cabinet, possibly sand-filled, for the speakers to stand on, to raise the tweeters to ear height. As you can see from the X-Ray view, I'll be resting the unit on a base, that I'm also wondering how to treat. Should I fill it with sand? Fiberglass insulation? Nothing? Keep in mind that the unit will be on the first floor, not in the basement.


Finally, my current speakers (some cheap Polk R300s) are rear ported. I know they aren't ideal for placement in a cabinet, but would lining the speaker compartments with OC 703 help somewhat until I can afford new speakers? I have no plans to do any sort of acoustic treatments in the rest of the room, and even if I did, those plans would be vetoed due to negative WAF. I'm just trying to get the best sound and picture I can given existing constraints. BTW, I also use a pair of cheap Boston Acoustics in-ceiling speakers for surrounds, sharing them with a Russound CAV-66 via an A/B switch, and a cheap subwoofer that is hidden beneath a window seat.


I'm getting ready to start the build on this soon, so I'd appreciate any and all feedback.


Jeff
 

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i don't like built ins. they limit future upgrades. you want a larger tv, your screwed.


i say put the tv over the fireplace, speakers to the sides. with some nice shelves next to those.


nice room
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonC1223 /forum/post/19547379


my concern is the placement of the tv? you going to be able to see it from all those angels in the room?

Jason, I think so. The cabinet is angled toward the seating areas, just as the TV is now. And the TV will be mounted at the front of the cabinet. So the cabinet shouldn't obstruct views, at least not from the primary seating locations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabricator /forum/post/19548038


i don't like built ins. they limit future upgrades. you want a larger tv, your screwed.


i say put the tv over the fireplace, speakers to the sides. with some nice shelves next to those.

Fabricator, you're absolutely right about limiting future upgrades. But my wife and I struggled with this one when the house was being designed. The whole struggle between multiple focal points in one room versus a single compound focal point. In the end we decided that we didn't want to be looking up at the TV all the time, so built-in cabinet next to the fireplace won.


Jeff
 

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You are right there. Television over the fireplace would be too high. It's easy for me to say because it's no my place and I live in Florida, get rid of the fireplace. That would be an excellent placement for your system.
 

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word of advice = in matters such as this, don't ask your wifes advice.


you should have built the fireplace in the corner. and the system on that wall.

oddly placed tv's are hard to enjoy.

a fireplace anywhere is easy to enjoy.


oh

put a little tv there. whatever your wife wants.


then find another room for "da gear"
 

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You've obviously built and designed this room with a purpose Jeff, which unfortunatley doesn't accept the asthetics of a TV/sytem very well. Even the seating doesn't lend itself well at all to your intended placement/design. There's other options of course that would make both of you happy.


For me as an outisider the solution is obvious. Build you built ins on either side of the fireplace, symmetrical and for storage,books, maybe even a concealed cabinet at the base for the AV gear......but no tv..please....no corner loaded TV. No matter what you do, it's always going to appear oddly out of place with limited to no functionality. I suggest placing the TV in a pop up cabinet in front of the bay window, in between the loungers. This allows for wider seperation of the loungers, the left one can move more to the left and the right to the right. Now ALL of the seating becomes viewing usefull, the room remains balanced and the TV concealed when needed and doesn't become a combating force for the focal point with the fireplace. The window sill easily accepts a small form factor real wood bookshelf speaker and the center channel could be built in to the pop up cabinet. There's lot's of DIY options for pop up mechanisms for builing your own cabinet which, when faced with the options is this woodgrain laden room is an easy build.


So take what you will from an outside the box point of view....and good luck. The LAST thing that room needs is a hulking built in entertainment system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Oops. Another old thread warning...


Despite opinions to the contrary, I'm going ahead with the build on this entertainment center. Mayhem13, your suggestion was great. I just wish I would have thought of it before going too far in my house build process. Oh well, maybe next time.


So, the build begins. The first thing I had to do was figure out what to use as speakers. Budget rules out anything decent off the shelf, so I'll start with a diy kit. I considered a bunch, and chose the Zaph ZA5.3 kits from Madisound. My main concern was off-axis performance, and it looked to me like the ZA5.3's had most others beat in that category. I also need a better subwoofer, so I'm planning on building a Reed Exodus Anarchy sub.


So I ordered three ZA5.3c kits from Madisound a few weeks ago, and an Anarchy midwoofer this weekend.


Not willing to leave well enough alone, of course, I decided I had to modify the enclosures on the left and right speakers a bit:




The front of the cabinet is slanted by 15 degrees (the right side of the cabinet is about 18 inches deeper than the left side). So the left and right speaker enclosures will also be slanted by 15 degrees.


I'll be using 3/4" MDF for the enclosures, and I started working on the left and right speakers. Here are the six sides, waiting for the next step:




And here I'm routing holes for the drivers:




Of course, I didn't realize until too late that I failed to make the baffles mirror images of each other. So I got the opportunity to make a third baffle...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Made some good progress on speakers over the weekend. I glued up the Zaph ZA5.3 center channel speaker, connected the crossover and drivers, and tested it out:




I've been listening for about six hours, and it sounds fantastic! It started out a little bit bright, but either I've gotten used to it, or it's partially broken in already. There is NO distortion that I can hear, even at levels as high as 106db! The sound is so clean, my wife and I are sitting here in the kitchen playing on computers while the speaker is going strong at almost 90db in the next room playing some Bela Fleck. And she isn't complaining about the volume--despite a five-year-old sleeping in the room directly above.


Unfortunately, I spent so much time listening to the single speaker, that I haven't finished my "slanted" right and left channels yet. But I did make a little progress. I got one cabinet glued up:




The glue up wasn't too difficult. Just a couple of cauls angled at 15 degrees, and it lined up pretty well. I did have to glue top, bottom, back, and sides in two steps. The glued up box looks like this:




The baffle still isn't attached. It's just sitting there. It isn't perfect--I have about a 1/16" lip on the joint between the back and the side that will have to stay because parts slipped while gluing. Oh well, it will be hidden in a cabinet anyway.


This week, hopefully, I'll finish assembling the last enclosure, possibly but a bevel or roundover on the baffle, paint the enclosures, and finish off the speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I finished the left, center, and right channel speakers today. I spent the week wiring crossovers to make sure components were all okay. No problems. Then came painting. I primed with some spray primer, then a couple coats of Rustoleum satin black. Added the foam damping, finished wiring, and glued and clamped the baffles on today.


Things aren't perfect--the paint job is a bit rough and the back and one side on the left and right channels aren't perfectly aligned. But the speakers will be hidden entirely behind speaker cloth, so I'm not worried about it. Here's the center channel (please excuse the grainy iphone photo, I can't find the DSLR)




What matters to me is the sound. Far better than the Polks that they're replacing. Far more clarity, no "boominess". The brightness I heard early on doesn't bother me anymore. Maybe it's the foam, maybe they're broken in after about 12 hours of playing, or maybe my ears are just used to them now. We'll see what happens when I actually finish the cabinet and place them in their final home.


Anyway, here are the speakers in their temporary home. Now it's time to start the cabinet.

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
After a summer full of other activities (and quite a bit of laziness on my part) I have finally made progress on the entertainment center, despite the "old thread" warning.


Starting with the design. I decided I was never going to upgrade to something as large as say Statements in my family room, so I modified the design just a bit to add some storage beneath the left and right speakers:




Once the design was complete, it took me a few weeks to get all the carcass pieces cut and assembled. The 15 degree angle on the front of this piece was more difficult than I hoped. I tried cutting it on the table saw with a homemade taper jig, but the thing is just too big. I went and purchased a saw guide with an attached protractor, and that worked pretty well with a circular saw. So here's a picture of the partially finished entertainment center:




I spent the last few days varnishing the carcass, attaching it in place, cutting slots for cords in the various compartments. So now I can officially say the carcass is done:




I know, I never should have connected the TV before completely finishing the cabinet. But there's method behind the madness. Keep reading...


It appears as if the TV is just sitting in the cabinet. It's not. It's attached to a column I inserted into the back of the unit with a Monoprice articulating TV mount. So it's really easy to shift the TV to get access to the jacks on the back:




The speakers fit perfectly, and I'm glad I created those funky angled speaker cabinets. I certainly wouldn't have been able to fit the standard Zaph's in the space I had available, so it worked out well. The speakers sound reasonably good, although I'm pretty sure I can hear an increase in the bass after I placed them in the cabinet. I'll see what happens when I finally run Audyssey on this setup. I might stuff the compartments behind the speakers with fiberglass insulation and see how that sounds. Someday I'll need to raise the speakers a couple of inches to bring the tweeters up to ear level.


I'd say I'm satisfied with how the cabinet turned out, although not really ecstatic. The Panasonic plasma turned out to be taller than I thought it was. It has a piece attached to the lower edge of the TV that I thought was part of the stand. Well it's not. So it turns out that I'm lucky I expanded the size of the unit to accomodate a 51" plasma. I needed the extra space and only had about an 1/8" of clearance above and below the plasma. Luckily, the Monoprice mount is sturdy enough to make it possible to fit to that tolerance. But this will complicate constructing both the face frame and the frame around the TV. I'll have to see how it goes.


I had another problem that I didn't think of until I tried to place the cabinet: the lower storage door is partially blocked by a built-in window seat bench. Oh well, I guess I'll attach that door with magnets.


So I still have a bunch of work to do. I need to construct and attach the face frame for the cabinet, build the doors and speaker covers and attach them to the face frame, and the task I'm dreading the most: fit and cut the top so that it appears to be an extension of the fireplace mantel. Once all that is done, I just need to create a simple bookcase on the other side of the fireplace to balance things out.


I'll be traveling almost full time for the next month, so it will be at least another six weeks (and probably more) before I'll be finished.


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'll get yet another old thread warning here. It's taken me far longer than expected to finish this up. But I'm officially declaring it finished enough. The completed entertainment center:




With a matching bookcase:




Both installed, varnished, and sitting in their appointed spaces:




By the way, those recliners actually recline, swivel, and rock... So when I combine those chairs with two couches and a 13' long window seat, I can accomodate eight to ten people seated in that room--everyone with a reasonable view of the screen.




I'll test it out on Thursday since we have 30 people coming over for the Packers game, I mean Thanksgiving dinnner.


To celebrate the completion of the entertainment center, we decided to order cable. The installer arrives tomorrow. Got tired of not being able to channel surf. But the best part: I've officially been given the go-ahead on the basement build--including theater, and it looks like we'll do a 37" TV in the exercise room to boot!
 

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I agree with Sonyad. This build looks really sharp. As one who also had to conform to a WAF instead of what I really wanted to do I empathize. Great to hear you got a go ahead on a theater build in the basement. Wish I had a basement...but they just don't do that here in Arizona.


Everyone enjoyed football today at my place...even the in-laws.



-Curtiss
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks guys. I did have a dozen or more folks in the room on Sunday watching the Packers beat the Lions. Wasn't a theater experience, but it worked fine.
 
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