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I'm building a new home with a dedicated media room and I have just a few days to complete the pre-wire specifications for the low-voltage company. I think I have a decent handle on the receiver/HTPC/projector side but I have some doubts about speaker setup.

I think the low voltage company is not too audio-savvy because after explaining that I was looking for the ultimate in audio experience, the guy told me things like "subwoofer placement does not matter at all" and "in-wall subwoofer and in-ceiling 7.1 speakers will be just fine". From what I have researched, subwoofer placement does matter, having 2 subwoofers is often going to give the best results and freestanding speakers are going to be the best performing for the money and most flexible compared to in-ceiling.

Originally the room was going to be set up with the screen on the longest wall, but I am operating under the assumption that the screen should be on the shortest wall, which I read in quite a few posts here. It is a real bummer that I have the intruding closet in the left corner but you have to work with what you have.

Priorities/goals are:

  • 95% movie watching
  • Future-proof for Dolby Atmos setup with pre-wire for the 4 ceiling/overhead speakers.
  • I care mostly about the audio performance for the few seats toward the center of the couch since most times only 2-4 people will be watching a movie.
The screen may be something like an 86" TV or could be a 4K projection screen setup. I am having conduit run from the A/V rack to the projector ceiling position because I know with 4K a standard HDMI cable won't be up to the task.

To come up with my layout I started with what I saw in another post and modified it for my room. The things I don't like are:

  • The L/R surround speakers seem too close to the seating
  • The L rear surround is going to be cutoff by the WIC closet intrusion for some seat positions
  • The screen size (114" diagonal) may be too big for this room. Guides say distance from seating area should minimum 1.5X screen size. My seating area is about 9' so that would mean a max screen size of 72". My wife says that is too small, she wants 100+ inches. This would be even worse had I kept the original configuration where the seats are facing the longer wall.
  • I am going to see if the builder will eliminate the corner intrusions next to the screen (see inset). I am not sure if they are just decorative but they could be in the way of the front speakers.
Any comments about how you would change this room to get the best audio? I don't have to worry about what anyone thinks about the way the room or equipment looks - the sole priority here is to optimize the movie viewing and audio experience.

I am not sure what I should specify for the wallplate type for the freestanding speakers and subwoofer. Banana plug, RCA or something else? At what height should the wallplate be positioned if I will have freestanding speakers (as in the Dolby image)? I am thinking at the 3 or 4 foot level for the non-ceiling speakers. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Craig
Dripping Springs, TX
 

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Yea he needs to just run the wires you want and keep opinions to himself...

As far as wall plates, I'm a fan of banana plugs. Installed them in my upstairs living room and will be doing so once I finish off my walls in my basement as well.

Also just an observation... like the previous poster, those rear atmos look very close to the rear speakers. I'm as guilty as anyone trying to fit the biggest/best setup I can in my space. But with finishing my basement, I had to take a step back and really look at how everything would really fit and, more importantly, sound. I would have loved a 9.4.4 system!! But ultimately had to look at my space and came to the realization that a 5.2.2 would fit nicer and probably have better results. All that to say maybe look at moving the atmos speakers forward just a bit, or try just the 2 fronts for a while! :D lol. Whatever you decide, obviously prewire for anything you want.
 

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Yea he needs to just run the wires you want and keep opinions to himself...

As far as wall plates, I'm a fan of banana plugs. Installed them in my upstairs living room and will be doing so once I finish off my walls in my basement as well.

Also just an observation... like the previous poster, those rear atmos look very close to the rear speakers. I'm as guilty as anyone trying to fit the biggest/best setup I can in my space. But with finishing my basement, I had to take a step back and really look at how everything would really fit and, more importantly, sound. I would have loved a 9.4.4 system!! But ultimately had to look at my space and came to the realization that a 5.2.2 would fit nicer and probably have better results. All that to say maybe look at moving the atmos speakers forward just a bit, or try just the 2 fronts for a while! :D lol. Whatever you decide, obviously prewire for anything you want.
I agree about fitting speaker numbers to the room size. That being said, speaker wire is CHEAP compared to trying to put something in post construction. For your ceiling speakers, you could have the wire run and bundled up between the joists. Take pictures and measurements of where they're at, and then when you want to add a speaker you know where to cut. This gives you flexibility without committing to plugs all over the room. I would run as many wires as you think would ever be possible to add. Also you might want to add in some wiring for a projector...again it's cheap today vs in the future.
 

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+1 over wire, I didnt wire for atmos and I my HT was just finished about 8 months ago, I'm already ready to put it in, stupid.

Also, I really would consider moving that AV rack. A built in using part of that walk in closet would be absolutely perfect in that room.
 

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Optimal speaker locations are very important.........I would also run subwoofer wiring to all 4 walls...corners as you never know where or how many you will have a year from now.




Pre wire to ceiling for a projector and use conduit so all the new and old cables can be pulled and removed over time.


Not a bad idea to run a conduit to the front wall for this very purpose and the back wall for any unknown future changes.




Also agree low voltage person should stick to low voltage, hopefully he is more educated on that.
 

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Thanks for the great advice. I've moved the A/V equipment to the other side of the room so it will be behind viewers.

A built in using part of that walk in closet would be absolutely perfect in that room.
Good idea, I will ask about that possibility. I would have to think about how cooling/ventiliation would work. Another issue is that I believe the small space between the media room and WIC is an HVAC inter-floor tunnel that would need to be moved.

I adjusted the layout - now the Atmos speakers are repositioned so the rears are further away from rear surround. I'll plan on trying out Atmos someday with just the 2 front speakers at first, but have the wire there ready to go if I want to try out 4. Speaker wire is cheap - unfortunately I have to pay the low voltage company $130 per pair of speaker pre-wires.

For projector positioning the UHD60 has a throw range of 1.39 to 2.22:1 so at 99.4W (114" diag screen) that would mean 138"-220 "or 11'6" to 18' 4" distance from the screen. There is a ceiling fan at about the halfway mark (9') so I will ask to have the projector conduit and power plug positioned on the ceiling 15 feet from the screen.I haven't calculated how far down the projector needs to hang, but I assume it will be low enough to clear a low-profile fan.

Not a bad idea to run a conduit to the front wall for this very purpose
Fantastic suggestion, especially relevant since I've moved the A/V rack to the rear and I will have a TV up there for some time while I get the projector and screen planned and funded. They charge $190 for a conduit run.
 

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Speaker wire is cheap - unfortunately I have to pay the low voltage company $130 per pair of speaker pre-wires.
Is it possible to do any of the speaker wire yourself? If you're paying a separate company to do the wiring (i.e. not the contractor), I'd think you could go in on a weekend and bust it all out in a couple hours easily. All you need is a cordless drill, hammer, low voltage boxes and some low voltage wire staples.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
>> Is it possible to do any of the speaker wire yourself?

I think I would need to sneak in there to do it because the builder would be afraid of liability if anything went wrong.
 

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>> Is it possible to do any of the speaker wire yourself?

I think I would need to sneak in there to do it because the builder would be afraid of liability if anything went wrong.
Just blame the low voltage company if any questions are raised :D
 

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Your second plan looks better on rear Atmos spacing. Do you need to have a walk in closet for that bedroom? If not that would help give you some more room. Looks like you have figured out that you should be able to do a 100" wide screen and sit 9' to 10' away. I agree with pre-wiring for the future and will be doing that as well. I would talk to your contractor and low voltage company about running the wire if they don't want to or the conduit. If you have a plan not what not to run into they should be ok with it. If they were an AV company and said those things about speaker and sub placement, I would not use them. In our house the GC had a low voltage guy and I met with him and he ran wire for a 5.2 system in my living room and wired my alarm system. I had a different AV company come in and install in-ceiling speakers in my living room.

This is funny question, but have you noticed that your sofa is facing the wrong way on your plan?:)
 

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>> have you noticed that your sofa is facing the wrong way on your plan?

Yes I was too lazy to figure out how to turn that around on the floor plan tool :)

Unfortunately the closet has to stay and also there is a shaft for HVAC equipment (the dashed line in the WIC) that would make modifying the floorplan to use that space fairly expensive.
 

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HA! Sub placement doesn't matter. Tell that to the 10'000+ post on the subject! Yeah just through a in-wall 8" sub somewhere in the room and call it good.
 

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HA! Sub placement doesn't matter. Tell that to the 10'000+ post on the subject! Yeah just through a in-wall 8" sub somewhere in the room and call it good.
If you do in wall sub, you probably want to have an idea of which one you'll go with when doing wiring now versus trying to figure it out in the future and hoping you got all the needed wires there...that's always the risk with these projects. Missing a key connection or wire is so much more work once it's all finished.
 

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If you do in wall sub, you probably want to have an idea of which one you'll go with when doing wiring now versus trying to figure it out in the future and hoping you got all the needed wires there...that's always the risk with these projects. Missing a key connection or wire is so much more work once it's all finished.
+1. I actually was digging around in my utility room last night and realized they only ran coax to 7 rooms, it was supposed to 8. Realistically, if they missed a bedroom, no big deal, I i will likely never use it. To my horror, they missed the home theater.......

I had backed off on checking details during our build as my builder was extremely annoyed when I bring up something a sub missed, he would always say that he has a checklist and makes sure everything is done. So, I stopped doing it and I got burned. Hopefully the builder makes it right, our plans specified coax to the home theater.
 

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+1. I actually was digging around in my utility room last night and realized they only ran coax to 7 rooms, it was supposed to 8. Realistically, if they missed a bedroom, no big deal, I i will likely never use it. To my horror, they missed the home theater.......

I had backed off on checking details during our build as my builder was extremely annoyed when I bring up something a sub missed, he would always say that he has a checklist and makes sure everything is done. So, I stopped doing it and I got burned. Hopefully the builder makes it right, our plans specified coax to the home theater.
It's your house and you have every right to check their progress and point out things that are wrong now rather then later. I checked on our house when they were building it one day and discovered they were painting the inside of the house the wrong color. I also noticed some outlets missing in the floor in our open concept living room. Now that you have found something you need to tell you your builder you keep checking and there is nothing wrong with having another pare of eyes checking in things. You are paying the bill for it so you have every right check on them. He ought to be used to it if he has been doing it a while. Good luck with the rest of the build.

Not sure of your wiring plan, but I was told my friend and BIL that are AV specialists said that you should run at least 2 HDMI's and 2 network cable's to the front of you theater room and the same to your projector. Actually conduit to these two areas with pull strings would be a good idea as will if you ever need to change any cables. The two at the front are in case you want to hook up a game system or DVD player.
 

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Actually conduit to these two areas with pull strings would be a good idea as will if you ever need to change any cables.
+1! Yes, run a conduit, and make it big enough for a full sized HDMI cord end to fit when there are other cords in it! No matter what cords you run today, you'll need something different in the future. Whether its a new HDMI spec or some new cable that isn't invented yet, cords will never go away completely. Also cords can fail...I had 1 in wall HDMI cord fail after 1 year. Luckily I had a conduit and simply pulled it out and snaked a new one.

Speaking of snaking cords, one way to do it is tie a cord (I used parachute cord) that is 2 times the conduit length off on each end. I used screws with large washers to secure it. Now when I run a cable I simply pull the cord all the way out, tape the cable to it, go to the other end and pull the cord and there it is! Super simple!
 
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It's your house and you have every right to check their progress and point out things that are wrong now rather then later. I checked on our house when they were building it one day and discovered they were painting the inside of the house the wrong color. I also noticed some outlets missing in the floor in our open concept living room. Now that you have found something you need to tell you your builder you keep checking and there is nothing wrong with having another pare of eyes checking in things. You are paying the bill for it so you have every right check on them. He ought to be used to it if he has been doing it a while. Good luck with the rest of the build.

Not sure of your wiring plan, but I was told my friend and BIL that are AV specialists said that you should run at least 2 HDMI's and 2 network cable's to the front of you theater room and the same to your projector. Actually conduit to these two areas with pull strings would be a good idea as will if you ever need to change any cables. The two at the front are in case you want to hook up a game system or DVD player.
Thanks for the advice but my build is already done. The reason it took me so long to spot the problem is I don't have cable and I haven't yet installed my outdoor antenna. I started looking last night in preparation of doing it.

I agree with two sets of eyes don't hurt but some people don't have that perspective.
 

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I see this is an old post but if you sneak in and run wire you need to try to be there when the LV guys are. They will wonder what all the wire is and will ask questions, and the realtor will end up calling you etc etc in a panic. I was actually hanging out with the LV guy when the calls started happening lol.

Make sure to spec the wire size or assume they will run dental floss.

Run two runs to all the lower speakers to allow subs anywhere.


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