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The "I can't take another day of watching movies on this 65" HDTV" theater build

Title says it all.... In my previous two houses I finished the basement and built larger general media rooms. Last house was a very large room (over 700 sq ft open to another 300) with a 125" AT screen, a 7.4 setup consisting of Deftech UIR RLS/RSS II speakers, 4 DIY 15" subs and a 1080p DLP 3D projector. We loved the room and used it all the time (but think open concept, lots of windows, white ceiling, walkout sliding glass door, etc). It was not a dedicated room but we liked the idea of hosting lots of friends and we have three young kids. We would do family movie nights weekly and I would watch movies and game 3-4+ nights a week.

18 months ago I was relocated halfway across the country and we focused on moving to one particular town due to schools and a good commute for me. Next to no new construction and most houses were build 30+ years ago and had damp bassements with low ceilings. I all but gave up hope of having any kind of media room aside from perhaps a bonus room over the garage. After having two houses fall through (both times buyers backed out and decided to keep their house) we found a great house that actually had a dry basement with 8' ceilings.

The space was not suitable for a large open concept so I got my dream of a dedicated theater room. I started basic framing (I am finishing the whole bsaement) this past winter.

Room will be roughly 20' long by 12'2" wide with roughly 8' ceilings.
I have planned for a 127" diag 2.35:1 AT screen
Seats are powered Seatcraft Aspen fabric theater seats. First row is a loveseat and single recliner. 2nd row will be on a tiered 10" riser (6" riser and then anotehr 4" to keep as much ceiling height as possible for the projector) and consist of a powered three seat sofa.
I will be installing a ductless minisplit (Mr Cool DIY)
9 x 4" LED can lights
There is a nook for the equipment that I will be building shelves for
There is an area (not counted above) near the door for a up to 60" of cabinets and shelving so we will be adding cabinets and a countertop and a mini fridge for snacks and drinks.

After much internal debate I decided just to use R19 insulation in the walls and ceiling and one layer of 5/8 drywall. This is a three story house (2 story + basement) and all the bedrooms are two floors up and on the opposite side of the house. It's already a tight space and I wasn't sure it was worth the additional cost of clips+channel+GG+2 layers of drywall. I hope I don't regret it but I wont listen at reference level in the evening anyway.

For equipment I have been watching sales for the better part of the last 8 months and have picked up:
Closeout JVC RS-520 (paid 1/2 off MSRP late last year on a brand new model)
JBL Studio 590 x 3 ( front three behind a false wall). Fell in love with these speakers when I heard them. Got these on a crazy deal brand new.
JBL Control 227C coaxial speakers x4 mounted in colums for side surround. These speakers have very wide dispersion and sound great.
RSL in-ceiling 34E x 6 for Atmos and rear surround duty.
15" Monolith subwoofer x 2
Denon AVR4300H (closeout sale)
Emotiva A700 to power surrounds (pickup up used)
Silver Ticket 127" (diag) AT screen

I had the framing and electrical done in February (next door neighbor is an electrician). However drywall ended up being a nightmare. I hired it out and used someone through my church (I did see an addition this person did and it looked great. Well, he claimed he did drywall but it became obvious that outside of patching, he didn't. It should have took him and his brother about 2-3 days max to hang 800 or so sq ft of drywall and it took him 3 times that. Once he started taping and mudding I could see how poorly it was being done and I let him go. It took me a month to find someone reputable to fix his mistakes and finish the job. It cost me more than I expected but you just don't cheap out on drywall finishing based on my experience.

Will post pictures soon!
 

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Here are some of the pictures of the journey. Framing and insulation stages. Notice the boxes made for the Atmos speakers:




I modified some of the backwall where the staircase was to add over 1.5 more feet. This allowed me to have a false wall and two rows:








Drywall going up.. This ended up being a disaster and resulting me in firing the guy and finding someone who knew drywall:


 

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Current progress. Building of the 6" riser. I spaced 2x6" boards every 12" and will be installing 5/8 plywood. Then I will be building a smaller 2x4" riser with another 5/8" layer of plywood. This was done to save height since the projector is very close to where 2nd row will be sitting, and I like the look. Electrician is coming this week to wire in the main circuits, and install all the lights and run power to the riser. Riser is roughly 6.5' deep by 9' wide.

 

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I really enjoy trim work and the theater room has 5.25" baseboard, chair rail, picture frame moulding. I am using Benjamin Moore matte paint and the store claimed this color, Absolute Black, the darkest they have. It looks better in person and with the lights off this room is dark. The other color is a grey color from BM as well but shows up a little green on my phone..







 

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My father came to visit and we knocked out the crown moulding in 2.5 hours. He is a retired general contractor :) It would have taken me 2 days by myself. Just need some patching and painting.



 

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Also was able to get all the Atmos and rear surround ceiling holes cut. Once I placed the boxes in the ceiling I used a plumb bob to mark on the floor the center of the boxes (used a permanent Sharpee). Was relieved that everything was on the mark when I cut the holes and the speakers fit perfect. I will be using some insulation inside the boxes... I did forget to mark the wall the exact dimensions of the Atmos surround above the riser so my Dad and I had to move the riser to find the mark :)

Here is the mark on my floor:


And an example of one of the holes.

 

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As for columns I went simple. Everything was built in 5/8" MDF and will be stuffed with R13 insulation before speakers are installed. Due to room size restriction (narrow) the columns are narrow (14" wide, 3.75" deep). Simple and sweet but gets the job done.



I love this router jig to cut holes...



The finished result:
 

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The dual 15" Monolith subwoofers. I can't wait for these bad boys, they can play low and are THX certified for large rooms meaning they can play low with very low distortion. If you notice that bump out in the riser in the back of the room I am planning on placing one on the riser and the second in the front behind the screen wall.



To give you an idea of how big these are compared to my C7 Z51 (don't mind my junky garage we have a big dump haul scheduled):
 

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An example of my chairs.. These are Seatcraft Aspen chairs (powered, LED lights, trey tables, etc). I needed some space saver chairs due to my narrow room and I wanted to stay away from bonded leather yet stay on budget. After talking to my wife we like the idea of fabric chairs (cold basement). I got a great deal over President's Day on black ones and they were delivered and are sitting waiting for install:

 

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Coming up this week:
Wife is picking up the kitchen cabinets (upper and lower) from Ikea this week for install. We are debating between grey and black cabinets. Most likely will be black :) Countertop will be quartz, hoping to find a remnant.
I will be filling nail holes and painting after work in the evenings.
Need to build a false wall, it will mostly be of the minimalist design.
Chief projector mount for my JVC-RS520 will be arriving this week and I will install. I did install blocking in the ceiling so should be pretty easy.
This weekend we will finish the riser then build the mini riser and then finish the trim around the riser area.
Need to install the door into the home theater and the small door under the stairs where we have storage.
Need to build the shelves for the A/V nook.
Need to install the speakers in the ceiling and columns.
Need to install the rest of the trim on the speakers and the speaker cloth.
Need to install the Mr Cool DIY minisplit. At least get it installed on the wall (so I don't create more mess once carpet is in). I have watched several YouTube videos on the install and with my Dad helping I think we can knock it out in 3 hours or less. It's pretty straightforward, all the lines are precharged.
 

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We have the first family movie picked out. The UHD/Blu copy of "The Greatest Showman". For my first movie I am thinking "Dunkirk" or "Thor Ragnorok" (both in UHD). I have been holding off seeing both until the theater room was completed. I am leaning "Dunkirk" because I am such a huge WWII buff and I have been dying to see this one..

Thoughts?
 

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Your theater looks like it is coming along very nicely! I was curious about a couple of things. First, are you running four side surrounds? How are you going to split the signal from your Denon to both sets of speakers? Will that make calibration problematic? Second, why did you place the rear surrounds in the ceiling? I think prevailing wisdom is that when setting up an Atmos system you want separation of the bed layer (7.1) from the height layer (.4) so having your rear surround in the ceiling might muddy the height sounds.

Dunkirk is a great film but unfortunately Christopher Nolan doesn't believe in immersive audio yet and only included a 5.1 soundtrack. If you have yet to see the film you will thoroughly enjoy it. As someone else with a great interest in WWII and immersive audio I would also recommend screening the new UHD/Atmos release of Saving Private Ryan and also Hacksaw Ridge as both feature awesome soundtracks and are great WWII stories.
 

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Your theater looks like it is coming along very nicely! I was curious about a couple of things. First, are you running four side surrounds? How are you going to split the signal from your Denon to both sets of speakers? Will that make calibration problematic? Second, why did you place the rear surrounds in the ceiling? I think prevailing wisdom is that when setting up an Atmos system you want separation of the bed layer (7.1) from the height layer (.4) so having your rear surround in the ceiling might muddy the height sounds.
That is a great question. Yes I am using four speakers as side surround and am using a Minidsp to accomplish this. Essentially you pre-out the left and ride side surrounds (2 channels) into a Minidsp which allows you to then split those 2 channels into 4 channels via an external amp. The minidsp will allow me to tweak things like time delay (if it is even noticeable), etc. If you choose not to use a Minidsp you could wire the speakers in parallel as well as long as you have adequate power.

Example on the MiniDSP:



In terms of 7.x here are my thoughts. You are 100% right in that I should have mounted the rear channel speakers in columns or lower on the wall, but unfortuntely, my room did not allow for this (the rear right surround had no place to be mounted on a wall). I went in-ceiling due to the room and my in-ceiling speakers (both woofer and tweeter) are slightly angled, but if this does not sound good I can either disable them or eventually reconfigure them as another set of in-ceiling Atmos speakers. It was a compromise for sure, but worth a shot. Typically the rear channels are some of the least used so hoping it doesn't cause issues.

Dunkirk is a great film but unfortunately Christopher Nolan doesn't believe in immersive audio yet and only included a 5.1 soundtrack. If you have yet to see the film you will thoroughly enjoy it. As someone else with a great interest in WWII and immersive audio I would also recommend screening the new UHD/Atmos release of Saving Private Ryan and also Hacksaw Ridge as both feature awesome soundtracks and are great WWII stories.
Well now I feel silly for not checking that. For some reason I just assumed it was Atmos. Looks like Thor Ragnarok it is (I checked it is Atmos). I will definitely grab the UHD version of Private Ryan and Hacksaw ridge as well. Great movies. I own both already on Blu-Ray and hate to rebuy but make exceptions :)
 

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Anyone else having an issue seeing the images on the pictures of the build? After the Photobucket debacle I have tried another free site and the images showed up last night but now I am not seeing them all.

Ugh..
 

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Good news, your photos show up fine on both my Ipad running Tapatalk and my Mac. More good news, the Atmos soundtrack was included on the blu-ray release of Hacksaw Ridge so you don't have to re-buy unless you want the 4k HDR video.

I figured there was probably a good reason you did not place the rear surround on the rear wall. I upgraded my 5.1 room to 5.1.4 and then a few months later I added the rear surround and another sub for a full 7.2.4 system. The jump to 5.1.4 was awesome and very much worth it. The addition of the rear surrounds has pretty much been unnoticed with a few exceptions so the fact you had to compromise on your rear surround placement shouldn't bug you too much.

I am very much looking forward to hearing about how the Mr. Cool installation goes. I plan on adding a mini-split sometime this year to my room and have been closely examining the prospect of going DIY with the Mr. Cool. I look forward to hearing how that goes!
 

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Good news, your photos show up fine on both my Ipad running Tapatalk and my Mac. More good news, the Atmos soundtrack was included on the blu-ray release of Hacksaw Ridge so you don't have to re-buy unless you want the 4k HDR video.

I figured there was probably a good reason you did not place the rear surround on the rear wall. I upgraded my 5.1 room to 5.1.4 and then a few months later I added the rear surround and another sub for a full 7.2.4 system. The jump to 5.1.4 was awesome and very much worth it. The addition of the rear surrounds has pretty much been unnoticed with a few exceptions so the fact you had to compromise on your rear surround placement shouldn't bug you too much.

I am very much looking forward to hearing about how the Mr. Cool installation goes. I plan on adding a mini-split sometime this year to my room and have been closely examining the prospect of going DIY with the Mr. Cool. I look forward to hearing how that goes!
That's good about the pictures, it is likely my work filtering/blocking some sites, and good about Hacksaw Ridge.

I will post some pictures and thoughts on the Mr. Cool DIY. Just for comparison I had three quotes from HVAC companies and the cheapest price was $4600 for a 12K BTU Fujitsu model. I ended up paying $11xx for the Mr Cool and will probably spend less than $100 on additional tools and a pad, etc. Let's just say $1250 all in. My basement stays cool all year long but with a projector and people I wanted the Minisplit and factor in the dehumidifer aspect it's worth it for the room. I don't expect to run the heat much via the Minisplit but it's nice to have the option, but I figure the projector may be all the heat I need :)
 

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As for columns I went simple. Everything was built in 5/8" MDF and will be stuffed with R13 insulation before speakers are installed. Due to room size restriction (narrow) the columns are narrow (14" wide, 3.75" deep). Simple and sweet but gets the job done.







I love this router jig to cut holes...







The finished result:



Looking great and what speed this is...

Quick question on column depth...with just 3.75” depth, would the JBL 227’s fit?
 
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