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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
After much deliberation, I’m finally posting a build thread! I’ve been an AVS member for about 14 years now, and have enjoyed reading many build threads and seeing the end product that other members have achieved and are lucky enough to enjoy. We’ve been in our home for 7 years, and with my wife’s plan for us to not move again until it’s in a wooden box (me before her apparently), and my desire to add Atmos, the time has come to finish our room.

For several reasons I’m thinking of this as a remodel rather than a full build, mainly because it already “works” and we don’t want the room to be offline for a long time. My plan is to contract out some work as finances allow, as I’ve just not had a huge amount of time after work or on weekends with an 8 and 4 year old I want to dedicate my time to. Witness the two years I’ve had the GOM to recover my first reflection panels to wall color, or the five years since I built the uncarpeted riser!

Why the Litter Box?
This photo from the stairs down to the theater should explain the name :)



The Room
Here’s the layout and a couple of shots of the room as it exists today. The dimensions are 12x25x9, but really 12x19x9 due to the bathroom. The house is built into the side of a hill, and so the theater is mostly underground with the garage to one side and the back yard out through the egress/window near the screen wall. Above is the open plan kitchen and dining room, with engineered wood I-beam joists 16” OC running across the narrow width of the room.






Current Layout
The layout diagram is pretty accurate as it exists today and my Visio skills allow. The second row is on a 9*5*8” riser, creating an aisle about 29” wide. The equipment is all on a simple Sanus glass/wood table in front of the right chair of the first row, as all the current in-wall wiring goes to that point. I do have HDMI from there to the projector in wall too, but an upgrade to the Lumagen Radiance Pro required me to switch from a 35’ BJC passive cable to a Monoprice Cabernet.

The screen is a 2.37:1 128” diagonal (118” wide) Carada brilliant white, with the screen material being 44” from the floor. The front row eye height is about 38”, but no one has ever complained. Personally I would like to lower the screen or raise the seating though. My LCR are all Meridian DSP5500 which are 42” tall, and with a non-AT screen dictate that screen height.

In the corners of the room, and above the rear closet are GIK soffit traps (with 244 traps behind the LCR and at first reflection). The room paint was up three years before I bought these, but GOM had a near perfect match in Anchorage 2094 Lapis. The egress window (as well as being beneath grade in a large window well) has a blackout blind and blackout curtain across, but still some light seeps in during the day.

Equipment list:
JVC RS600 projector
Anthem MRX-1120 receiver (bought this for upgrading to Atmos)
Meridian G68 surround processor. Still need to use this as a “preamp” for the DSP LCR speakers.
Lumagen Radiance Pro
Meridian DSP5500 LCR speakers. These are digital in only.
Meridian M33 active speakers for side/rear surround
Kef Ci200QR for Atmos
Rythmik D15SE and F15 subs. I had bought the D15 in 2009 and wanted another last year, but they stopped making them so the F15 was the best match.
Berkline seats we’ve had for 10 years now. These have ButtKickers, with the one for the seat on the riser now attached to the riser.
Oppo 103, Samsung K8500 UHD, Roku 4, DirecTV DVR
Buttkicker amp
Logitech Harmony Elite (I had used iRule for a long time but got tired of the lack of physical buttons)
Middle Atlantic RCS-4224 rack (bought this to move the equipment to)

The Plan!
Subject to change based on feedback and personal whim of course... Until recently my basic plan was:

• Rebuild the rear closet. Keep the left side as is, tear down right side door and frame around the Middle Atlantic RCS-4224 rack. Move all equipment to this rack and remove the Sanus table/rack.
• Install KEF speakers for Atmos
• Install a hinged/removal plug for the egress window to completely block light.
• New carpet (Shaw One Sweet Day in Smokey Quartz color)
• Split ceiling lights from all four cans on one circuit into front and back circuits.
• Insert joists isolated from the ceiling joists for the projector to hang from. The projector location is right below where the kids jump down from stools in the kitchen above.
• Conduit to the front wall and all other speaker/projector/riser locations, mainly running in a soffit around the entire perimeter. I have 2” to go to the front wall, 1.5” to the projector and 0.75” for each speaker location.
• Paint. Likely black on the ceiling rather than the wall color this time, to break up the room and soffits a little.
• Power. I’m running 2x20A to the new rack at the rear of the room and 2x20A to the screen wall, one each to give clean power to the subs and LCR speakers.

Soundproofing: I didn’t plan on this as we’ve not had a problem in the past seven years. Yes you can hear the theater in the kitchen but not in the bedrooms two floors above, and the theater itself is naturally quiet when a herd of kids are not running around above (rare that there is). I have started to build backer boxes (based on Ted’s soundproofing design for lights) for the ceiling speakers though, just because they may be more of an issue to those in the kitchen with them being just a few inches away.

Plan goes out of the window?
Recently though, I’ve been thinking about a new screen wall with an AT screen… I’m thinking I could push the width up to 130” and drop the height from the floor. My LCR speakers would need to be raised, as the bottom woofer is 9” from the base and the center of the tweeter is at 37”. If placed right at the bottom of the screen, the tweeter would be just 1-2” above center of the screen. I do need to test material directly in front of my speakers through to see (hear) what I think – I have a Seymour XD sample and am hoping to get a Falcon Horizon sample too.

Hopefully the fabric can be placed very close to the speakers as my LCR are 16.25” deep, and although they have settings for boundary placement (and ARC on the Anthem is excellent) they do prefer to be 8” away from the wall. I saw in a post by Big that a typical screen wall takes only 18” of space, so the speakers must be close to the fabric in that design.

Thank you for getting this far, and I welcome all suggestions, comments and questions as I try to move ahead. I’ve certainly been suffering from some paralysis by analysis as I question myself and then complicate matters with the like of the AT screen wall!
 

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Ideally you want the AT fabric 6" off the face of the speakers, or they will timbre shift. That effect is gone at 6". Anything less, and
timbre shifting occurs.


I assume that is a 2 piece bathroom. Is there an opportunity to rebuild the bathroom by rotating it along the back wall? That would deepen
your viewing space. that egress window up front is also limiting, but a LCR speaker swap would allow for a baffle wall design up there.


It is a challenging space, so that's likely the reason behind the paralysis by analysis, which is likely more about good instincts.
 

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This would be ambitious but I'd be asking myself about the resale value of the Meridian, and how intensive a rebuild I'd be up for?


(Just how are the Meridian speakers going to mesh with ATMOS?)


I do wonder if a single step high riser, would be a design solution to allow you to rotate the bathroom and run plumbing beneath, without
breaking the cement floor?


Need six seats? I'd be tempted to do a King/Queen front layout and a three seat couch for the second row, to gain separation from wall boundaries
and surround speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This would be ambitious but I'd be asking myself about the resale value of the Meridian, and how intensive a rebuild I'd be up for? (Just how are the Meridian speakers going to mesh with ATMOS?)
Thankfully I didn't pay anywhere near MSRP, a bit less than a sixth of that in the used market, and so the bath has mostly been taken on those. The difficultly is selling anything but locally due to the almost 200lb (220 boxes IIRC) per speaker weight!

Those sides stick out about 15" from the wall, and the one on the aisle has taken a few noggins over the years and so we have decided to replace those too. I'm going with Kef Ci200QL in walls, to match (in all but the outer trim being rectangular rather than circular) the ceiling speakers. The dispersion plots across the whole frequency range are very wide and flat and so should work as well if not better than what's there today, plus blend seamlessly together. The big issue there is what to do with the rear speakers, as unless I build out the wall from the bathroom there is only wall space for the right rear. I'm going to have to noodle on that some more as yes, I do believe in timbre matching and so having the existing Meridian M33s may be an issue. Meridian and Kef usually work well together, but something to think about still - I may try and fit the in walls before other work happens to run some experiments.

how intensive a rebuild I'd be up for?

I do wonder if a single step high riser, would be a design solution to allow you to rotate the bathroom and run plumbing beneath, without breaking the cement floor?
That's an intriguing idea - let me see if I can update the floor plan to show the bathroom layout. Essentially the right side is all shower, with a toilet next to it in the middle of the top wall and then a vanity next to it (and then the wall behind the second row). I think it would be more than we're willing to do though.

Need six seats? I'd be tempted to do a King/Queen front layout and a three seat couch for the second row, to gain separation from wall boundaries and surround speakers.
This is something we've debated ourselves too. At the moment the chairs are in good shape seating wise, so we'd like to get some more use out of them before replacing. Eventually smaller scale, but still with power recline, and in a darker color is on the agenda. Our family household is just the four of us, kids are currently 8 and 5, and so we tend to just crunch into the front row. However, my wife's mom will sometimes come over and during football season some friends come over for Thursday night football. We can't crunch then, but a smaller back row is fine and we've talked about just removing the single Berkline from there, leaving just the two seated Layzboy couch.

Thank you for your thoughts :)
 
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Discussion Starter #6
I,m about to start my own project.... Finally, so I'll follow your with much interest!
Good luck Andy! Outside of work, the kids take most of my time so I haven't made as much progress as I thought I would but we're having a great time along the way :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ideally you want the AT fabric 6" off the face of the speakers, or they will timbre shift. That effect is gone at 6". Anything less, and timbre shifting occurs.
Thanks Ted - I hadn't noticed your first post earlier, sorry. That's good information, and with my current speakers puts me at 22" from the wall if I place them right at that wall, so realistically 24" with room for power cords to them. I'll jig up my samples to hang in front of a speaker to test with.
 

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That egress window might be "stealthed out" by a wing wall up front, which could be hinged for egress.


I was assuming the bathroom was a half bathroom, which would be substantially less work to rework...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Single row of 4 + a counter with stools

One good thing about life happening is that there is opportunity to change :)

As a family, the majority of our viewing is at most with the household and for that we need four seats. Currently we can squeeze into the front row of three as the kids are 8 and almost 5, but that will change over the life of the room. Sometimes my mother-in-law will watch with my wife and I, but typically never as a 5 and same when my sister and brother-in-law comes to stay. Football night is 3 to 4 friends. So given that we are thinking we should switch to a front row of 4 seats and a counter with say 3 stools behind. We have 9' wide by 5'6" of depth (from behind the reclined first row to the rear wall) to play with which should be comfortable.

Checking out the Fusion Jive, the IOIOOIOI configuration is just 109" wide which is actually 3" narrower than our current 3 Berkline's. Additionally, given the same aisle width the center of the love seat's left seat would align perfectly at the center of the room/screen and so now be a perfect sweet spot - something we don't have today. Given the counter height seating, I think I could remove the riser for the second row (but I need to play with that) too which given it is not wall to wall may look cleaner and less intrusive.

Next up is to update the floorplan.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Updated floor plan

Here's the latest proposed floorplan:



The major change is a single row of 4 seats at ~ 11' from an AT screen wall, with a counter behind. The counter may have a small fridge at one end, likely making the counter an L to cover the top. The fridge will have to be silent for it to stay here! The seats may be Fusion Jive in IOIOOIOI or Lagoon in IOOOOI with the "plugin" arms. I measured our kitchen stools, and the counter is 37" high and with 27" high stools my eyes are at 58", meaning with ~42" high front row chairs the existing riser can go. That will save a little carpeting money.

We will also need to build out the wall behind the counter so that I can remove the current 5' stands that the rear speakers are positioned upon and instead use the same in-walls as the sides (KEF CI200QL). For aesthetics I was thinking maybe the wall should only extend 6' high so that the room does not get closed off apart from the aisle, and this could be capped to act as a shelf.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
HVAC duct and vent location?

My room has two vents (8"x4") on the ceiling, one next to the window and the other next to the current second row or where a potential counter could go. I opened the ceiling in the joist bay for this second vent a little (same bay as where the power and cables to the projector exit) to see inside, and the duct is 8" round steel and hung closer to the joist closer to the screen wall - leaving about 7" that I can run the isolated 2x8 joists to hang the projector from. The return is about 12"X12" and is just outside the room on the bottom of the hallway wall that is shared with the garage.

If I could remove, or shorten, this duct I could move my Atmos speakers 32" further back (43d angle) than the current proposed location (though just 30" from the rear wall). This would be right over the second row, but ideal for the front row. The bay inbetween has the two 6" pot lights right in the would be speaker location and moving them would be extra hassle but maybe the right solution (Atmos speakers now 46" from rear wall, but just ~24" laterally from front row for an angle off 22d)

This room usually stays very cool, but when the heat is on does heat up very quickly even with the vents closed nearly all the way. Since I have a vent over the window, do I really need another on the same wall? Or can I move it 10' down the same joist bay so it is close to the left wall by the theater entrance? Measurement told me already, but an existing wire hole in the I-beam and a flashlight confirmed, that the next joist bay over by the rear wall contains the duct for the vent in the kitchen above.

Any opinion or guidance on the following options?

  1. Move the vent to the left wall
  2. Move the vent 16" over to the next joist bay where the duct for the vent in the kitchen is
  3. Move the pot lights one joist bay closer to the screen wall
  4. My rear Atmos location is fine!
 

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Asked to put some critiques I made via PM, in this thread.


1). Do you really want to raise the room's noise floor, with that bar refrigerator, in the listening environment?

2) Re ATMOS and a bar top. Read somewhere, posted by someone very knowledgeable, that isn't a good idea.

3) The side surrounds aren't really well placed. Define the front row as the primary seating row, and move the side surrounds forward?
 

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I find that space challenging and rather interesting. ;)


I do wonder if the slope and run would work, to thread a relocated sink's drain line to the existing waste line, under a raised floor? That would lengthen the space.
And it wouldn't touch the existing toilet and tub. Not too sure about a step down in the bathroom, but it could have LED step lighting.


An Art Install Morskoy's sort of ceiling, might offer up some way to creatively move " ceiling things" about, and work in acoustical treatments for
first reflection points, plus work in more lighting, and different lighting. That egress window could be worked into a fabric wall plan, and still offer
up egress.

http://www.artinstall.ru/en/projects/morskoy


If those subs are front firing, you might want to rotate them 90 degrees, so they don't the AT screen doesn't end up acting like a filter (and avoids the potential
of the large drivers rippling the screen).


The av rack could be a side by side affair, up top, and those side walls might just work nicely for some media drawers beneath, that could really up the storage
count. Or it could simply closet space down under, so you don't lose that.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I do wonder if the slope and run would work, to thread a relocated sink's drain line to the existing waste line, under a raised floor? That would lengthen the space.
And it wouldn't touch the existing toilet and tub. Not too sure about a step down in the bathroom, but it could have LED step lighting.
Actually, you could to that without a raised floor. Your proposed sink location has a cleanout right behind it in the current closet (and by inference a drain line) for the kitchen sink above (the sink is about two feet to the right and above) and the water supply lines are going to be right above there too. I think they run in the joist bay to feed the kitchen and then the shower, but if not should be easily accessible. Unfortunately we bought this house when it was 3.5 years old and have no build photos. When we lived across the street, which was a different builder and why we later moved, we had pictures of everything.

If those subs are front firing, you might want to rotate them 90 degrees, so they don't the AT screen doesn't end up acting like a filter (and avoids the potential of the large drivers rippling the screen).

The av rack could be a side by side affair, up top, and those side walls might just work nicely for some media drawers beneath, that could really up the storage
count. Or it could simply closet space down under, so you don't lose that.
One sub is down firing and the other front firing - Rythmik had discontinued the down firing when I went to buy a second sub last year. The first I bought in 2009.

Unfortunately for the rack I got ahead of myself and bought that 5 weeks ago. However I could do media next to it or leave it for storage. Although we aren't moving, removing the closet would remove the bedroom designation and so affect resale value. It would be easy enough to just roll out the rack and call it a doorless closet or hang a new door though.

I'm *kind* of liking this idea although it is extra work, since plumbing should be cheap to do here and none of these walls are bearing. I'll measure how much I can move that wall in and leave enough room to get in. I think it's about 24" but I'll measure and report back.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Asked to put some critiques I made via PM, in this thread
For anyone following, Ted PMed with some thoughts and I asked to post them here for archiving and in case anyone else was interested. Opinions and ideas are always welcome!
 

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It's definitely work and some expense, traded off for a little extra depth. Just threw it as an interesting possibility.


As for that av rack, I've bought 3 used, over the years. Didn't get to choose on size, when it was easy to save substantial money there.
They all have been cut to size, with a $20 4" angle grinder, and hammered finish rattle spray can paint made the racks look brand new.
That angle grinder also created a 54x96" masking system out of a bargain Ebay'ed Draper motorized masking system ($302.50 shipped),
from a 4:3 72x96". That grinder also cut some Unistrut for crt hanging, and cut some heavy steel channel to support the bottom of
a Slim5 av rack, that is to be suspended. (The av closet isn't much wider then the rack, but much deeper, so access to the back of the rack is
under the rack.)


So if you split that av rack, and did a side by side layout, up higher, then you could still have your bedroom closet. A couple of 20" closet doors,
cut down in height, and the Bluray mounted at the bottom of the rack, would make it accessible, and an ir repeater system would be a nice addition.
Access to the back of the av rack could be via the closet. I could see the closet ceiling being a punched metal panel, set in suspended acoustical tile
grid. Access and a natural cooling stack, where cooler air could come in under the doors?
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
This bathroom remodel is certainly intriguing...

The vanity in the bathroom is 28" wide and there is a further 9" to the toilet, which I wouldn't want to encroach on, so it would be possible to reclaim 28" of extra depth for the theater. Having stood in front of it I don't think I'd want to go any narrower than the 28" and so placing the vanity on the other side of the existing shower wall + a standard 6" deep wall to extend the bathroom would bring the bathroom length an extra 34" into the room. This is about 9" clearance from the fully open hallway-theater door and so that door wouldn't need to be rehung to swing outwards instead.

The only issue I see is that my left rear surround would have to be brought in 8" towards center to be able to be in-walled in the newly extended bathroom wall though. If I'm building out this wall, it would be great to remove the speaker stands that the rears are currently placed. Maybe that is fine, and I can move the stands in to test with - for multiple row seating I'm not sure how you are supposed to attain the Dolby recommended angles, as they would need to be *so* wide when so far back.

I forgot to add, that bathroom has an HVAC vent on its left wall which would now be part of the main room and so presumably I could remove the existing HVAC line by the projector / rear Atmos speakers and clear that bay for the speakers. The bathroom would need air, but maybe that can just tap off the old bathroom supply line with the new line riding through a soffit and then through the wall to a high wall location on the new bathroom wall?
 

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I doubt 8" or so , is going to make any real difference.


Wing walls up front, could absorb light coming off a larger AT screen. The one in front of the window, could
slide forward, for window egress access, and serve as a "Blind" for the window too.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Sealed off theater of 12x19x9

Although I really like the idea to reclaim about 30" of depth (from the bathroom), that may be too much reno for my wife, and so I've come up with another idea below. Although she'd previously just declared to do "what makes you happy" she recently did mention that she would like to enjoy the room with families of our kids' friends as they get older - which does sound like a great idea - and so takes us back to two rows of "regular" seating. Maybe non-recliners in the second row would be fine, as I recently fell asleep at the Cineplex during Angry Birds :)



Note: Not sure how I missed this before but I remeasured tonight and the depth to the bathroom wall is about 6" deeper than in previous layouts earlier in this thread. Not a huge amount, but should I soundproof means I'm not taking away from those plans.

So in this plan I would extended the bathroom wall across the room and add a door, so that we have a sealed off theater of about 12x19x9. Although I didn't draw it in, I like the wing walls for covering the window and tapering slightly into the front as a design point.

Sound proofing and HVAC?
I've been talking a little with Ted from the Soundproofing Company, and if I change my 6" recessed ceiling lighting and HVAC then I should be able to soundproof pretty well. I'd previously not planned on this as we've never woken the kids up two floors above, but my wife now tells me she can hear when I'm in there and she's on the bedroom floor. This has be a little concerned as I don't want to spend $$$ on this room and later needing to spend more $$$ to fix it, and so I plan to test what I hear sometime in the next few days. When the kids, or my wife's friends on Wednesday wine night, are above in the kitchen I do hear them and so doing DD under the joists and a decoupled ceiling seems to be the minimum I need (and all walls DD on channel if my top floor hearing tests show it required).

I'm not concerned with removing my existing 6" cans and moving to say 4" lights in perimeter soffits, but HVAC has me worried. Today there are two 8" supplies (venting above the window and riser) from the main trunk in the garage next door. These run right through the ceiling joist bays, and there is no dedicated return. The return for the whole floor is just outside the room in the hallway. These supplies seem far too big for this room, and usually we keep the vents closed as the room is naturally cool in summer as 8' of its height is underground. Ted suggested me move to a single 6" supply + dedicated 6" return. Would having the return near the entrance to the new sealed room be a good option? This would be in the same joist bay as the current second supply line, which I would remove so I could fit my Atmos ceiling speakers + backers in that bay (about the ideal location for MLP in the first row). The problem I see is that there isn't much room to suppress sound unless I run it in a soffit down through the length of the room some and then into the main return trunk in the garage.

Any help or thoughts here would be much appreciated.
 

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