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Newbie Looking for some direction

832 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Ranger Spawn

Hey everyone...I am fairly new to the AV world and like most new guys have is...A LOT of questions.  So Not waste anyone's time, Ive decided just to ask for directions to certain posts to answer most of my questions.

Ok now I am diving into a transformation of my old game room/bar into a home theater room. My budget is 10k and most of the work will be done by me and I have a good friend that is an electrician/construction  with all licenses willing to help out. And I also have a neighbor who works for Time Warner IT dept who will be helping me with all networking and cable/wiring design BUT...between the 3 of us we have no experience on home theater design hence the reason I joined this forum to get expert and experienced advice and direction. This home theater is also the Guinea Pig to hopefully help me with some endeavors I am a part of. I am part of the Wounded Warrior Project and the plans and know how derived from this project will be helping fallen and wounded hero's families in the future. Ok now what I need direction on ranges from...and please remember that I will be doing most of the work and on a limited budget...



Speaker placement & wiring

Best affordable speakers (in wall preferably)

Best affordable 3D projector

Pros & Cons of AT projector screens

Build a screen or purchase?

Audio & HDMI wiring



I wanted to Thank anyone willing to help in advance for the direction...Thank You
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I could address all of your questions, but you'll learn more and get a better result as well if we can get the horse hitched up on the right end of this wagon first. What kind if space exactly are we dealing with (dimensions, and obstructions at a minimum, please. Diagrams preferred)? And what are the expectations and expected usage (light and noise control, number of people, movies only? Or parties of people milling about watching the game?)
A drawing of your space with dimensions is helpful to provide any feedback. Also picture are important as well.

Ok guys...here are some pics and a homemade diagram...the space will be used solely for movies and video games and seating for 8 people max.





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The small void where the bar is...has plans to be framed off flush with the stairway to the right with a doorway entrance with curtains. Where the bar is..will have a glass display for candy and snacks. My buddy decided it was best to close it off and make it as much of a rectangle space for the acoustics.
Cool - so you're buddy is probably right about the rectangle being easier and preferable for acoustics. Sounds like you're looking for a pretty serious dedicated space, which is awesome.

Does that mean you are left with approximately 16x21? That's workable for two rows of 4 pretty nicely. How high is the ceiling? Looks like a pretty standard 8' in the middle of the room - or is it higher? Are the sloped ceilings and knee walls at the ends of the 21 foot length? If that's the way it's laid out, the effective length is going to come down some - it should still be workable, I think.

If you really want it to be high performance (to get the most out of the equipment you buy), now's the time to think about sound isolation (soundproofing), which has two basic uses: keeping the sound of the movie from bothering the rest of the house (or the neighbors) - meaning you can use it whenever you want; and keeping outside sounds out - preserving the sense of immersion and keeping you from needing to work the remote to move the volume up and down when the quiet parts are too quiet (so you turn it up) and the loud parts end up too loud. There are drawbacks to consider - extra costs for materials in soundproofing, and the extra attention that you'll need to pay to ventilation, both for the sake of preserving the isolation as well as keeping a tightly sealed room form becoming and sauna when six or eight people sit in there for an hour or two. If you want to go down this path, we need to put the equipment considerations aside for a little while and concentrate on getting the construction right for those aspects, since you won't redo it later, and the techniques and materials are non-standard. Also, it looks like this is an upstairs space - what's below and adjacent?

Assuming all of that is handled to your satisfaction, let's talk gear.

"Speaker placement & wiring

Best affordable speakers (in wall preferably)

Best affordable 3D projector

Pros & Cons of AT projector screens

Build a screen or purchase?

Audio & HDMI wiring"

For most everyone, especially on a budget, you should place speakers around your main listening position, following the recommendations of THX or Dolby (which are very similar). When you go to calibrate everything, basically forget what the sound is like in other seats - just work it out for yours.

Wire doesn't need to be special, it just needs to be of a reasonable gauge (AWG) - 14AWG is common for most rooms of this size, but if you are concerned, you can go for 12AWG. You're probably actually good with 16, or even 18. Roger Russell's website has this great table, explaining what wire gauges are required to avoid any wire related difficulties, given wire length and speaker impedance. Most speakers will be 8Ohm, but it might be good to plan for 4Ohm - shop for speakers before you run wire, if possible.

Shopping for home theater speakers is not quite like shopping for Hi-Fi speakers. Don't go to some fancy shop, and I personally wouldn't read too many reviews. It doesn't make much difference if some reviewer says these speakers are "airy" or "warm" or whatever else. You're looking for speakers with high sensitivity (loud) and hopefully good off-axis response (controlled directivity). Typically, it's hard to find affordable speakers with high sensitivity and power handling that use dome tweeters, so you should expect things like waveguides or horns and compression drivers. That's not a rule, but just an observation. High sensitivity and power handling means that loud sound effects come through with impact and without distortion - it makes gunshots and explosions sound natural. I wouldn't consider loudspeakers for your space with sensitivity lower than about 92dB (that means 1 watt of power from the amp makes 92dB sound pressure when measured from 1 meter distance) Check out this website to see what kind of amplifier power is needed to reach reference level from a speaker with a given sensitivity. http://www.kvalsvoll.com/Articles/AudioCalculators.htm There are a few good internet direct manufacturers of loudspeakers you should check out, like HSU research - they make in-walls you should consider. Right now, I can't come up with other in-walls that I feel confident will fit in your budget. Triad makes very good stuff, including in-walls, but may price you out. Maybe check out Chane Music and Cinema . Honestly, I have trouble recommending a budget speaker that isn't home made. DIYSoundgroup (a group of mostly forum members here) have the best value going for home theater speakers, but there's not really much for in-wall, and you have to build them yourself (which is easier than it sounds)

For projectors, don't be afraid of used, but the 3D capabilities are developing very fast, so the best 3D projectors will be new. I don't keep up with which are best for 3D, but the big players are Epson and Panasonic, with JVC and Sony being the higher-end with Optoma making a lot or quality budget units. For me, the things to consider are brightness and flexibility. Have you considered a cinemascope screen format? 2.35:1 image ratio is very common for big-budget movies, and is intended to be wider (and therefore bigger) than more traditional 1.85:1 (or the similar 1.78:1 HDTV ratio). If you want to be able to project blockbuster movies extra wide, as they were intended, instead of the same width but less tall (with the black bars, like you would see on a TV), you need either an additional anamorphic lens (usually a couple thousand dollars) or a projector with enough zoom range so that you can zoom in enough for the 2.35 image to be as tall as the 1.78/1.85 image. Technically, a 1.33x zoom will do this, but for a little placement flexibility, you'll want at least 1.5x (2x would be better). And if you're going to zoom, consider power zoom and lens shift, as well as power focus, as they will make the transition from 2.35 back to 1.78 easier - even easier is a projector with memory settings so that you can just switch back and forth with a single button - Panasonic and JVC I think are the only players with those features (I think, but maybe Epson has added them?)

AT screens have only two (small, IMO) drawbacks, when set up properly. First, if you sit too close (usually within 10 feet), you might see the weave or perforations. Second, the woven fabrics won't have more than about 1.1 gain. If you need a really bright image, or have a dim projector, you'll need a screen with some gain. To me, if you have the space to put speakers behind the screen, you can usually work around the potential drawbacks of AT screens, and it's worth it, IMO. I would build. The cost savings are huge.

Wiring is a big topic, and there's lots of things going on to consider - like automation, remote control, redundancy, future-proofing. It's getting late, so let me direct you to a very helpful post in my build thread. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1372262/the-once-and-future-theater/690#post_23667860
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Fred, can't Thank You enough for all the great info...I've included some pics of the components i have purchased already. Although I am still confused about the 2.35:1 image ratio. The projector is going to be appox 13-14 ft away from the screen (ceiling mounted) The screen that I'm planning to purchase is 130". Let me know if all of the components and distance sound right. Also is the space too small for a 7.1? Or should I stick with a 5.1?


. Yamaha RX-V673

Klipsch RF-42 II

Epson - PowerLite Home Cinema 5030UB 3D

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The Yamaha should be a solid value - use the YPAO after you get everything in place to see if it can help you dial in the audio. Should be enough power to drive the Klipsch RF stuff to plenty of loudness, and has nice networking features to boot. It doesn't have line level outputs (very little in this price range does) so if you were to decide you needed outboard amplification or processing, this piece wouldn't fit in that scheme, but that's not likely to be an issue.

The Klipsch should do well overall. I didn't think of them when you asked the first time because I don't know about any in-wall designs from them, but they tick all the other boxes. Did you buy two for left and right? or a whole set?

Relating to speakers, the conversation that hasn't come up yet is subwoofer(s). While the RF-42 II has fairly extended bass response (-3dB at 59Hz), that won't be enough for the deep rumbles in soundtracks - a subwoofer (or several) will really fill in below a common 80Hz crossover (or even 60 if that works better). This is a huge topic as well, but let me just say that I'm a believer in using more than one - though one well-placed can work wonders.

The Epson 5030 should be a really solid choice as well. It has enough zoom to do whatever you might want and plenty of brightness for 3D and limited gain screens.

Before I get into my concerns with your placement and image size, check out this link for a description of what projecting cinemascope (extra-wide) movies is about, from a technical perspective. I don't often recommend articles in magazines (they're usually selling something), but this one is clear and has good images and enough accurate technical background. There is also a subforum in the displays section here at AVS dedicated to Constant Image Height projection (CIH).

My only concern at this point for you getting this at least set up and running (tweaking can take a while, and be expensive if you let it) is the throw distance and image size you're expecting. First, a couple details and assumptions: the throw is measured from the lens to the screen - so if you are measuring to the mounting point in the ceiling, the actual throw will be a few inches shorter. Second, I assume you're talking about a diagonally measured 130" 16:9 screen. An image of that size is about 64" tall and 113" wide.

Projectorcentral has a calculator that can show you what screen sizes are possible with basically any given projector at any given throw distance, and even estimate brightness for you (though there are a few caveats to the brightness conversation). If the throw is only 13', the zoom will be basically maxed out to fill that 64" high screen - it won't get much bigger. If you wanted the option to get a wider scope image at that same height, you can't get there from here without a lens. If you were able to mount the projector farther back or use a smaller screen (limiting the overall width to about 113" and the height to about 47"), zooming would be an option. You'll have to decide for yourself if you want the 'scope movies to be wider or not. (have you read that article I linked yet?

Edit: I forgot you had other questions.

As far as 5.1 vs 7.1 - I say the space supports it just fine, but there are always compromises. If the rear row of seats is right up next to the rear surround speakers, folks in those seats will be a little distracted by the extra loudness they perceive. Sitting close to any single speaker is bothersome - but in any reasonable home there isn't enough space to put more than a couple listeners in the sweet spot. You can mitigate the effects somewhat be making sure the surround loudspeakers are elevated above listening position, so they're not right in anyone's ears - and I've heard people say that the bi-polar or di-polar designs like Klipsch has in their THX Ultra 2 line can help with this, but I'm not sold on that argument or on those designs in general.

One last thing, I think you're probably okay in this regard, but you should check and think about it. Seating distance vs image size. I personally like to sit at about 2 to 2.5 times the image height away from the screen. That's not unusually close, but it's not near the back. Twice the image height of a 64" tall screen is about 10.5 feet back - is that where your seat will end up?
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All I can say is WOW!! I read the article and I was blown away by how much more sense everything is. And now that I am in the midst of this project it reminds me a lot of when you pick up a pool cue or know someone that has and they have that crazy beginner luck but as they play more they're game play worsens...Because they realize how more complex the angles are and the strategy involved. Thats how I feel like...the more research i make...the more complex it is. Well..I did some more digging into the Epson and fortunately it is caught up with a lot of the demands for 2.35:1 ratio images and the throw distance that I have falls comfortably within its range. And yes...10.4 ft from the screen is exactly where my seating is going to be. I dont have enough room for two rows being the rectangle room has to used differently than normally so I decided to use the space wisely and have 1 row in a U shape seating 9. in blocks of 3. Also my buddy that works for Time Warner learned to extend and use cat5 for HDMI cables. which is a great money saver.I looked into a company called Triad and theyre speakers were in wall but way out of my budget so... the klipsches will have to do. And again Thank You for all your help
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