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The MacBeth Theater (flood resilient build)

45524 Views 316 Replies 48 Participants Last post by  Design1stcode2nd2


I went through many ideas and changes to my designs and after a flood in the basement it changed again. The current build starts around post 43   


Finished Pictures start here


Five months ago I completed my simple and cheap “theater” which was just a portion of an open L shaped basement. Originally I intended for this setup to be temporary and a better open style theater to be created in my main floor family room (20’x20’ addition). The thinking at the time was this was a newly renovated space where we watch TV/movies already why not add a good pull-down screen and projector, well that was the plan anyway.

After the first month of having the basement theater operational I knew it wasn’t going to be moved and this would now be the permanent theater space. That being the case the original cheap budget plan won’t work long term so it requires a new plan.

Next summer I should be able to afford to renovate but it will be dependent on the availability of my brother who is a contractor (summer tends to be a busy time for his company so it may not get done until winter). This will most likely be done in two phases which is the theater and then the kitchenette (the kitchenette has to wait until the appliances and cabinets in the main kitchen are upgraded and painted/resurfaced).

Now this could be done leisurely over the course of the next 12 months but then my theater would be out of commission and that is not an option. My wife and I are very attached to the theater now. So I’ll have to make all my plans ahead of time an block out 4-6 weeks to put everything back together. That being the case I want to make sure my plan is solid so that when things do happen they happen quickly.

A few things up front, this will still be a fairly low budget affair but just not as budget as I have now. I’m also dealing with an existing finished space and plan to leave the DIY screen where it is, so no room within a room or double drywall/GG or similar measures.

OK on with the plans, below is what I have now more or less, a variety of kid junk in the non-theater space.

This plan shows the proposed changes. I will be splitting the space in two by adding a wall. The bar area will be accessed by a pocket door and the theater seats by a standard 3-6 interior door. A solid core door probably wouldn’t make much difference since there isn’t any soundproofing anywhere else.

A number of HVAC vents will need to be added although with only one vent and 5-6 people heat build-up hasn’t been an issue so far. Superbowl party with 8-10 will probably be a different story, so more HVAC.

The only tricky cabling should be the rear and right surround speakers. I plan on running speaker wire through the bar structure and then behind chair rail/wainscoting that will surround the perimeter of the bar area. The left and right surround will be mounted directly to the top rail of the wainscoting. The wainscoting will stop just past the theater seats since it will be painted white. This will keep me from ripping down a lot of finished drywall and drilling through studs.

There is a huge soffit that runs down the left of the theater that has the main support beam and HVAC ductwork (you can see it in the two pictures below). The L/C/R and front sub cables will route into the unfinished area and then down the soffit to the rack.

I’m pretty happy with the theater area floor plan, I think it gives me the most occupancy for the small size without having a second row backed up against the back wall.

The kitchenette and rest of the space I have redone a number of times and this was the best I could come up with. The small closet in the bottom right corner is where the breaker box is so I need access to that. The green desk is a must, if I’m not watching a movie I’m on my computer (with what little free time I have that is). You’ll notice that there isn’t a sink in the layout. I’d like one but I’m not about to yank the carpeting and jack hammer a drain in the foundation for one. I can walk my butt up to the main kitchen and clean a pan/dish if need be.

The main purpose of the kitchenette is to make popcorn, wings, nachos, place for beer and drinks so I don’t have to miss much of the game/movie. Also no powder room, just isn’t enough room for it.

So with all that is there any glaring issues, things I’m not thinking of? I’ll add some acoustic panels at first reflection points and perhaps on the back wall but that will probably be the extent of it.

The projector will be ceiling mounted, the joists run north to south so that is an easy run. The ceiling will be painted black anyway.

As to the name I couldn’t think of one so I just went with the street I live on. For reference you can see various pics of the existing space with the link in my signature.
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I may up my timetable a tad since I can do it in two stages. Nothing is going to happen until football season is over though (I’ve been waiting for football ever since it was completed). I do plan to move my desk out of the theater space so I can put some stools in the back for a superbowl party. So maybe beginning of February I can redo the theater part and just keep the couch until summer and then buy recliners.

I measured once while sitting on the couch and it’s about 10.5’ to my eye so this will be about a foot closer approx. For 2.4:1 the screen will definitely fill your vision (it’s 115” diag, 105” x 45”) for 1.78:1 its better. I may need to steal a few inches out of the bar and bar area if need be. The bar is 18” wide and doesn’t really need to be, 14” would be fine. I have a 9-10” over hang on my island in the main kitchen and we eat there every night and the depth is good. Maybe another couple inches from the bar space and that would put the distance at 10” which would be better.

Having two entrances is a bit odd, the only other option would be to go with three recliners and a much smaller free standing bar or one attached at only one side. With four in the family I don’t think I want to go that route. It also complicates running wire to the surround speakers. For football watching it will probably be at the bar for a good part of it and movie watching in the recliners. I don’t expect there will be much going back and forth from recliners to bar.
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I need to learn sketchup, floorplanner is easy to use but just doesn't look that good.

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I would agree with the previous post about it being a bit odd with no access to the bar from the theater floor. You may want to grab something quick from the bar and hop back into your theater seats. Have you considered removing one bar stool and making stair access instead?
It's not ideal but I just don't think there will be enough room. Even with somewhat smaller chairs (the ones I like are 120" for 4) it's only going to leave 9 or so inches of space on either side of the chairs before the support post. So six inches or less between the right and left chair and nearest surround speaker.

As of right now I have the speaker wire going through the bar so not having it connected would cause issues there as well. I'll have to think more on it and see if I can come with something.
Paying off bills and waiting for money to save up is getting me down. I've scaled back my plans a bit and just did a spreadsheet for material/labor and it's looks like at min. I'll need $8,500, probably close to $10k if past experience on building things is any guideline and that is without buying any new equipment (no recliners just using the same old furniture I have now). That's going to be a year from now, easy.
I don't want to do it piece by piece as I don't want the theater out of commission for a long time.

I've saved some money that I was going to be put towards a large aquarium, I've been watching Craigslist for a couple of months now and haven't found much I've liked or it's been sold before I could go see it/buy it. After thinking about it some more I think I need to have the theater enclosed first or I'll have to shut off the tank lights by 8:00-9:00pm any night we are in the theater. Let alone when we watch midday on rainy weekends with the kids.

With that thought in mind I may put the aquarium funds towards an Epik Empire now that they are finally back in stock. I've never had a sub with any power (just the sole 10 Klipsch). The best I've had would have been my car audio days 20 years ago. My only concern is I'd get the sub and not be able to play it except at 3/10ths for fear of waking up the kids or the missus, kinda defeats the purpose.

Well I did pick up a Harmony One which I'm not sure 100% is a lot better than the multiple remotes. I can just turn everything on by hand anyway since it's all on the same rack including the PJ. I'll need to fool with the settings for the PJ as some of the commands are missing. I'm sure I'll get it all figured out.

Anyway I guess I'm just complaining, it could always be worse I could still be watching movies on a 52 TV like I was only 8 months ago!

Here is a slightly revised plan which I think is more realistic.

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Your room is similar to mine in that we both have smaller spaces to work with. I will be watching this for ideas. Feel free to take a look at my build thread too (although I just started). There's a link in my signature.

I love your fish tank by the way. I'm a sucker for them myself
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A HSU Research VTF-15H is on its way, Fed Ex says delivery on Friday so I'm hoping for a fun weekend. Thinking some Transformers 3 might be a good test and maybe I'll pick up Tron, heard that was good as well.

Can't wait!

Originally Posted by design1stcode2nd /forum/post/21215305

A HSU Research VTF-15H is on its way, Fed Ex says delivery on Friday so I'm hoping for a fun weekend. Thinking some Transformers 3 might be a good test and maybe I'll pick up Tron, heard that was good as well.

Can't wait!

A friend of mine has that sub. It sounds amazing. Great Choice.

Originally Posted by stockmonkey2000 /forum/post/21218208

A friend of mine has that sub. It sounds amazing. Great Choice.

I just read through your build thread, OMG it's amazing can't wait to see final product. That IB sub will be phenomenal and with the room construction I bet you will barely be able to hear it outside the room.

I am worried that things will rattle in the dining room above the HT room and that at night when the kids are in bed the sound will travel through the house. There is only one HVAC vent in the finished part of the basement as it stands now and you can hear two floors up in my kids rooms (they are heavy sleepers though). May have to see what can be done about that in the future.
After a couple of weeks with the 15H I have to say it’s a huge upgrade over the Klipsch. I am currently running the Klipsch behind the main listening position and I think it adds a little but not a great deal. The Hsu is on the front wall on its side with the center channel on top with isolation pads. Once the space is enclosed the 15H will be plenty on its own (which is good as it’s not like I have room for two with the floor plan I’m thinking of).

Currently running it with one port open on EQ1 with Q between 0.3 & 0.5. I have noticed that the overhead can light above the seating position will rattle at certain frequencies (the rocket launch scene from Despicable Me is one such scene) so I’ll need to isolate that. The door to the basement does as well but I’m going to leave it be for the time being as it will be replaced shortly.

I did some testing and you can hear/feel the sub going through the house but it just sounds like distant thunder; at least at the levels I listen at. The Incredible Hulk just arrived today which I know is a good LFE movie so looking forward to hearing/feeling that.

On an unrelated note I watched the Deathly Hallows Pt.2 the other night and so far this is the only movie I’ve seen that really points out the limitation my projector has with black levels. I’ve been very happy with the AE4000 and think it’s a good value however when the day comes, years from now to replace it I’m going to have to get something that can handle those deep blacks and black detail. Of course a gray screen may help as well.
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Unfortunately I have this disease called upgraditis. I'm the person who can't keep the same car for 8-10 years even with it working properly.

While I enjoy the theater as it is I know it can be much better so I feel compelled to make it better.
Well it's been about nine months with no changes to the theater until this past weekend when I came across a great deal on theater seats.It was a package deal on six recliners (never intended to have 6) but you work with what you've got so I moved some things around in the basement and fit them in.

I'll have to build a riser after football season (I'll probably use it as an excuse to close the theater in and just finish it off) and I need to find a solution for my rear channel speakers. I have no speaker cable run through the walls so they are just sitting on the floor now which won't do. I'll have to buy or build stands.

Anyway on to the pictures (phone quality, sorry).

And the great view from the back row:

If I ever have 6 people over the front row needs to recline a good bit and the tall people go in the back.

In the meantime I'll see if I can put of some acoustic panels on the side wall as it looks so barren. And I'm getting a wire cover for the left surround, I just put some plexi over it so my cats won't chew through the speaker wire.
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The real question is do I close off the theater or leave it open? Due to the layout there needs to be two entrances to the theater (if closed in) or I need to lose a chair in the front row which I'd prefer not to do. So I need to think about pros and cons. Due to the existing bulkhead the back row needs to be in the corner (it's already not a very tall ceiling and the bulkhead drops it by another foot).

Here is the floor plan I came up with. I've tried to hide the appearance of a second door by putting a lighter poster frame in it.

Now the main pro's as I see it will be:
  • places to run cable in the new wall
  • new wall provides a spot to mount the left surround
  • should provide better acoustics since it's cutting the space in half at least
  • should reduce noise transmission and keep the pets out of the space

Main cons:
  • price; new electric, changes in HVAC, material costs, time
  • two entrances to the same room

An open floor plan would be a lot cheaper, easier and allow for some overflow seating (stools). The main problem with it is there is no way to run the left surround that doesn't look cheap and the theater doesn't have the polish an enclosed theater would. And I assume the acoustics wouldn't be as good.
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Hmmm... I'd consider replacing the side speakers with bookshelf ones and ceiling mount them (angled) to keep the open floor plan. Just a thought.
I think I'll just pick up some red rosin paper this weekend and "hang" some walls to give me an idea of what it would look/feel like. I'd like to have at least two small walls to put lighted posters on and hold the left surround, I could build a column for both surrounds to give the space a better look.


I actually found a theater with two entrances (A much, much nicer theater but it gives an idea if I added some doorways instead of closed in with doors.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1323860/heretic-theater-build/120 Start at post #123
Well here is my sorry attempt to see what walls would look like. Pretty sure it just feels like paper taped to the wall. I'll keep it up for a few days and try to use my imagination. If I do put walls up I'll probably just do the two door thing.

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It might make everything easier by moving the 4 seats to the back and 2 to the front. Then you could wall in the back right so you only have 1 entrance in and have the walkway to the riser be from the far side so you don't smack your head on the soffit.
No matter how many floor plans I try the two entrance thing just isn’t working for me. I’m going to have to split the seats into two rows of 3 (luckily there are two armless and four, two-armed chairs).

I took a look at the soffit that was built 10-15 years ago and I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and move the HVAC lines to the opposite side of the main support beam. The supplies for the basement can go above the beam and I can add more vents as necessary. I need to make changes to the HVAC anyway since I have dead branches after my most recent family room addition (we cut off two vents).

Assuming I can have that done without huge expense it will cut a 5’ soffit down to a 1’ soffit (on the theater side) which is much more reasonable and will allow for a larger riser in the back row. There is a lot of cabling for satellite and I think at least on grounding cable that runs between the support beam and the main HVAC trunk so opening the entire soffit up will let me clean that up.

I think I’ll have to remove the rack from the room so I’ll need to account for an IR repeater/blaster (I think that’s what everyone uses that doesn’t have a rack in the room?). This would allow me to put the 15H in the back left corner and leave adequate space for the 2nd row. Entry would be from the back left of the theater.

This also allows for 3 illuminated posters outside the theater and a number of acoustic panel/posters inside. I’d also like to do a shallow soffit/light tray around the room but that would require some unusual design around the windows. I don’t mind plugging the windows but since these are the only means of egress in an emergency (fire on the main floor or something) they need to be accessible.
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Hopefully this will be the final floorplan. All speakers will be in enclosed columns except the sub.

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