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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Update 12-11-2018:


I'm hijacking my first post to say this theater wrapped in December of 2018. If you want to see its final state, you can skip ahead to post 75. Otherwise, grab some popcorn and take a 3 year journey through this thread and see how I built my second story budget theater :grin:


-----------Original First Post Below-----------


Warning! I’ve seriously spent over a week trying to formulate this post to be as direct and no-nonsense as possible, but I’m cursed with being an engineer so please bear with me if I start to ramble. With that being said:

I’m simply looking for advice on how to best spend my money converting a room to a home theater. I can take criticism. This isn’t a thread where I’m going to get mad at anyone for not telling me what I want to hear. I may clarify my position and reasons for planning a certain way, BUT I am here to learn so in the end, my ears are open and my predispositions are managed.

My family and I have just moved into a new-to-us home that includes a finished upstairs 22’-10” x 14’-11” x 8’ - 6” rec room. It has been my intention from when I first set eyes on it that it would be my new dedicated home theater.

Here are some pictures:

Layout:



Screen Wall:


Seating / Riser Area:


Above Ceiling Access:


Limited Under Floor Access:


As you can see, I’m not kidding when I said we just moved in. The furniture and 65” Panny in the room have only just been roughly placed here. Incidentally, I’m not planning on using any of it.

Some easy observations you can take away from the pictures:
1. It has laminate flooring and wood ceilings so it will most likely ring like a bell as-is
2. It’s on the second floor
3. It’s light controlled
4. It’s finished and has HVAC plumbed
5. It’s contained within a house that makes extensive use of spray foam insulation bringing the attic envelope up to the roofline (and coincidentally creating a climate controlled attic). Great for access and possible projector ventilation, not so great for soundproofing.

I’ve been into building cars for 15 years now and frequent a lot of automotive forums. Whenever we have a newbie join us asking for help building a car we like them to state their goals so that we can help them better. I’m guessing that type of info is helpful here as well so here we go:

Goals:
1. 16:9 Projector based using a false front wall and AT screen with viewing purposes tending towards 80% watching movies and 20% watching TV/Sports.
2. Two seating rows - 6-7 Seats with a raised rear row.
3. 7.1 Surround Sound
4. Simple IR Dimmed Lights
5. In Closet AV Rack
6. Acoustically Treated
7. Bass shakers!
8. Minimal Construction
 

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If you want to fit 7 seats in this room with a riser, flip the orientation postion a DIY acoustically transparent screen as shown and surround with black fabric making the front wall flat wall to wall. Not quite to size front row chairs are wider and row is centered. Use speakers behind the screen.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
If you want to fit 7 seats in this room with a riser, flip the orientation postion a DIY acoustically transparent screen as shown and surround with black fabric making the front wall flat wall to wall. Not quite to size front row chairs are wider and row is centered. Use speakers behind the screen.
Wow! Thanks Jeff! It's amazing what a new set of eyes can come up with!
That actually makes my wiring much easier as well because the laundry shoot section of the room actually only occupies the space up to about waist height. The area above it is 5ft of unfinished space that opens into a cabinet out in the hall. My plan was to house all of my AV equipment in this closet anyway. Having the screen on this side + the 3 front speakers and sub means I could simply run my wiring behind the screen right to the components. Aside from that all I'd have to wire for speakers is the surrounds :D

The only thing that got me looking at the other side of the room for the screen wall is because I've heard it mentioned a couple of times that an entrance to a theater is preferred at the rear vs the front by the screen. I haven't really dug into the reasons for this or if it was just a couple of people preference, but I wondered if it was just for light bleeding purposes or perhaps it had something to do with acoustics. Regardless, it's going to be hard to sway me from your suggestion unless there's a very good reason to do it another way. Just the fact that this orientation solves the problem of having the riser right in front of the door is a huge bonus in my mind :)

Thank you for the help! And thanks for taking the time to jot down your illustration

Lane
 

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The only thing that got me looking at the other side of the room for the screen wall is because I've heard it mentioned a couple of times that an entrance to a theater is preferred at the rear vs the front by the screen. I haven't really dug into the reasons for this or if it was just a couple of people preference, but I wondered if it was just for light bleeding purposes or perhaps it had something to do with acoustics.
The reason most often cited is they don't want to be disturbed by people coming and going. Frankly I never understood this notion, in a small room you will be disturbed if they enter in the front or the back. I stop the movie if the misses needs a break, it wouldn't matter what where the door is placed. You are right. entering at the rear compounds the difficulty of accommodating a riser. As for acoustics you can mount a panel on the door.

If that was my house I would pull the door, flip it and reinstall opening out, If it is a pre-hung this is not a big deal. You remove the case molding on both sides take a recipricoal saw and slice all the mounting nails, pull out the jamb and door in one piece, flip and re-install.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If that was my house I would pull the door, flip it and reinstall opening out, If it is a pre-hung this is not a big deal. You remove the case molding on both sides take a recipricoal saw and slice all the mounting nails, pull out the jamb and door in one piece, flip and re-install.
Excellent suggestion. I've never hung a door before but I'll seriously look into this, especially if, like you say, its pre-hung and I can use my reciprocating saw to do the dirty work. If for nothing else, I may just do it to open up the doorway while I move materials in and out of the room.

Thanks again
Lane

PS
Whoops! Sorry Jeff. Got my threads mixed up! Trying to multi-task on a phone :\
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

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If you blow across an empty bottle, you will hear it resonate, making that booohh sound. If you enlarge that empty chamber to the size of your room, it will still resonate (of course at different frequencies than the bottle).

A map of these resonances (modes) for your room length would look roughly like this:



Notice at the midpoint of room length (11 2/4 feet), modes are either peaking or nulling. Not a good place for seating, since this will result in ragged frequency response (big peaks, deep nulls).

However, at any of the odd divisions (thirds, fifths) of room length, there are no nulls. In fact, at 2/3rd room length (between 14 1/4 and 16 2/4) most of the modal frequencies are pretty close in level. Good place for seating, since the frequency response will be smoother there (fewer/smaller peaks & dips).

With that in mind, if you're doing a couple rows of seating, the 3/5 and 4/5 points of room length would be good spots. BTW, when I say seating, I mean the listeners ears (the seats themselves aren't going to be listening).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
With that in mind, if you're doing a couple rows of seating, the 3/5 and 4/5 points of room length would be good spots. BTW, when I say seating, I mean the listeners ears (the seats themselves aren't going to be listening).
Thank you! I will definitely try to take this into account when I settle on seats and actually start to layout the room.

Lane
 

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I will definitely try to take this into account when I settle on seats and actually start to layout the room.
Good placement means less work for the room correction system in your AVR. Equalization can bring down peaks, but can't do anything about nulls (cancellations). When you start to lay out the room, don't worry so much about peaks, use the mode graph to avoid null locations. Good luck.
 

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On the front screen wall, I'd suggest adding another drywall bump out to mimic the other side and balance it out.



___________________________
Chris - HiTech Upgrades
Maryland
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
On the front screen wall, I'd suggest adding another drywall bump out to mimic the other side and balance it out.
My interpretation of Jeff's proposal in post 2 is to build a minimalist screen wall in front of the laundry shoot column which would flatten the wall out and give me ~3ft behind the wall for speaker placement. The minimalist screen wall shouldn't really need another mirror column structurally so I expect that's why Jeff didn't draw it in, and isn't something I would have expected to be necessary considering how bare-bones the wall will be.

Thanks for the continued help guys! I'm still here planning away. Lately I've been taking a stab at climbing the learning curve of SketchUp as I try and render the current plan for the room. Hopefully I'll have something to post in the next couple of weeks!

Lane
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
So I've been hard at work leaning the basics of sketchup and am now at a point where I can show some ideas and open the floor up for suggestions. Before I start posting screenshots I wanted to post some general info steering some of my decisions.

16x9 vs 2.31:1 vs Riser Height:
Diving into this one, I'm leaning more towards a 125" 2.31:1 Fixed Frame AT screen by Silver Ticket:
http://silverticketproducts.com/catalog/fixed-frame/STR-235125-WAB
With a 50" height a 1:3 ratio puts the ideal seating position around 12 1/2 feet which is right behind my targeted front row position (see below). Some may say to go bigger, but you'll see below that my front speakers placement options are running into limitations even with a 125".
This is in comparison to a 16x9 110" screen I was considering earlier (still an option):
http://silverticketproducts.com/catalog/fixed-frame/STR-169110-WAB
This saves me ~4" of height and ~ 2" off my riser height. It's minimal, but it gets me to a riser height that's divisible by 6" so it makes the steps somewhat standard.
Speaking of the riser, here's my calculated requirements:



18" seems to be higher than most people shoot for, but I've made my peace with it. I understand that I massage the numbers by raising the screen, but I really don't want to raise the screen above 29" from the floor because I firmly buy into the recommendation that the bottom of the screen be at least 1/3 of the screen height below the primary seating position's eye level and have enjoyed past setups done this way. Beyond that, anyone see any problems so far?

Projector
I know I know. I'm jumping the gun shopping for electronics, but leaning towards a 2.31:1 screen is forcing my hand.
I've pretty much decided that I will be going with a Panasonic PT-AE8000U. On top of being an excellent projector I'm thinking the zoom memory will really benefit my setup and the throw length seems to be ideal for my room length.

Surround Speakers
I've actually had these on my list for a couple of months, but this is what I've got in mind for the rear and side surrounds (7.1 system planned)
Monoprice 7604 - 2 way 6 1/2" in-wall speaker:
https://www.monoprice.com/product?c_id=109&cp_id=10837&cs_id=1083702&p_id=7604&seq=1&format=2

Room vs Primary Sitting Distance
Per sdurani's advice, I have tried to keep my primary seating row ~ the 3/5 room division. 3/5 of my 22' 10" room = 164.4 inches. My estimated ear position on my primary seating row = ~ 170-176". Overshot a little but I can always scooch forward if it makes a huge difference. The rear row is just stuck where it's at unfortunately :\

Ok, so lets get to some screenshots!

Here's the modeled room:





The model has some more detail that my house plans don't show. Specifically, there is a channel in the rear wall that was most likely added to encase an air handler or something of that nature.

Here's the proposed seating layout:

The seat measurements were modeled off of Roman's Fusion line. Specifically his Lagoon model. Realistically I won't be able to afford these seats with my budget but I wanted to at least get a starting point and his seating options have good online specs :)
The seats have ~6" of clearance behind them for recline, but I don't know if this will really be enough.

Here's another view with step detail:

Tried to get some giant steps going! Although, after being forced to go with 3 steps on a 18" riser they became less giant ;)

Here's my proposed screen wall based off of Jeffs minimalist design:

Nothing too crazy going on. Like I mentioned before, the design is based around a Silver Ticket 2.31:1 Fixed Frame AT screen.
The four surrounding panels will be made of 1.25x3" , wrapped in black GOM, and velcro'd to the structure/wall. The structure provides 1" of exposed perimeter around the screen frame to facilitate the velcro on 3 sides and the column on the right side will provide the rest of the support.

Here is the proposed position for my side surrounds:

This is where things start to get interesting for me. I placed the speakers 18" above the primary listening position so the rear row can get in on the action while being able to get over the heads of the seats adjacent to the primary listening position. Is this wise? Is 18" too much? Any better recommendations?
In the same vein. I don't know what to do with the rear surrounds. As you can see I've got a column that complicates things so really, I don't think I can even space them out as wide as they need to be. Additionally, I'm not sure what height I should use. Any suggestions?

Finally, here's a shot behind the screen wall:


This is the source of most of my pain. Front speaker placement. I've got some good depth going for me, but the column is stealing width from my sound stage. My research has lead me to understand that on a AT screen setup that's switching between 2.31:1 and 16x9 (which is what I'll be doing), the front right and left should be placed outside of the 16x9 perimeter and inside the 2.31:1 perimeter. In the shot above I've outlines the 16x9 perimeter so you can see my problem. I can jam my right channel up against the column, but I'm thinking if I sit it 6-12" back from the screen that the wall's corner will mask the output of the speaker and I might get some weird reflections. In my mind that leaves me with two options. 1. Live with the narrow sound stage. 2. Go with a 16x9 screen.
Any other suggestions? Considering the two options above, which one would be easiest to live with for you?
On top of all that, I really don't have any direction for what speakers I'll be using for my right, center, and left front channels. Ideally they'd be under $100 / each and pair with the monoprice surrounds. Perhaps a narrow / taller bookshelf speaker would allow me to get the right speaker closer to the column without getting into too much trouble? Suggestions are appreciated.

Room treatments are planned but not drawn in yet.

Any help is greatly appreciated!
Lane
 

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I've got some good depth going for me, but the column is stealing width from my sound stage.
Even in this day and age of surround sound, the front soundstage remains critical because that's where your attention will be focused, whether watching a movie or listening to music. With that in mind, I prefer having any room irregularities (door, column, etc) behind the main listening position rather than up front. I know you just modeled your room, but is there any way you can do a version flipped 180 degrees?
 

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Things I’m willing to sacrifice in the name of my $10k budget:
1. Soundproofing. This is a biggie, but after a month of consideration I’m ready to axe it. It’s not that I don’t believe in it. I’ve read everything over at soundproofingcompany.com and buy into it all! But, despite people saying it’s ‘cheap’ I disagree. It’s expensive up front and it’s expensive from a time standpoint. This room is also upstairs so I won’t have the footsteps over my head. Finally, I’m on a 6 acre lot and my nearest neighbor is 1k ft away. This room DOES share walls with adjacent bedrooms and I fully expect the ceiling to leak sound like a sieve, but in order to meet my budget I’m willing to make the ultimate compromise and switch over to headphones for late night viewing. An option that my wife is firmly behind vs the cost / time involved with soundproofing.
2. Stage
3. Columns
4. Soffits
5. Fancy Lighting. I’m happy with the existing cans and a dimmer I can control from my Harmony 900.
6. Premium AV equipment. #1 Has me making the compromise for no soundproofing and headphones so I definitely am not concerned with volume above reference or a sub that can hit 16Hz.
7. Popcorn machine / Bar / Fridge
8. 2.4:1 and CIH via zoom memory or anamorphic lens (unless I find a projector that I’m happy with that includes zoom memory as a feature (something I haven’t had any luck with))
Regarding #8 on this list, I would suggest taking a look at the Pana PT-AE8000u. Great value and has a lens memory feature built in that many here on the forum have used (including myself now :D) for CIH on a scope screen.

Link to Projector central's comprehensive video: http://www.projectorcentral.com/Panasonic-PT-AE8000.htm

BTW, I also have the "knack" and this disease is one without a cure I'm afraid - embrace it! This forum is a sort of AA for that i think...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Even in this day and age of surround sound, the front soundstage remains critical because that's where your attention will be focused, whether watching a movie or listening to music. With that in mind, I prefer having any room irregularities (door, column, etc) behind the main listening position rather than up front. I know you just modeled your room, but is there any way you can do a version flipped 180 degrees?
I can flip the room 180 degrees for sure. Modeling is time consuming but its much less expensive than making mistakes in realtime haha!
Before I take the time to make the flip though, I can already see issues that make it problematic for other reasons.
1. I'll be dealing with a similar problem. Yes, I'll gain ~ 1' of clearance to expand the soundstage but I'll still have a column to deal with except it'll be in the way of the left channel vs the right.
2. Losing 1' on the backend of the room will remove the possibility of seating 4.
3. Walking into the door at the rear will having me walking into the riser. That's not insurmountable but still an extra problem to figure out.

Alternatively, wouldn't it be simpler to just go with my option 2 and settle for a 110" 16:9 format screen? That would give me plenty of room behind the screen to position the right and left channels (outline of 110" 16:9 screen viewable width is shown in the modeled pic looking into the space behind the 125" 2.31:1 screen.)

Definitely not fighting to hear what I want to hear. I just want to explore all good options and not burn up any more expensive holiday time than I have to ;)

Regarding #8 on this list, I would suggest taking a look at the Pana PT-AE8000u. Great value and has a lens memory feature built in that many here on the forum have used (including myself now :D) for CIH on a scope screen.
You read my mind! See my last post :D
I've been considering the PT-AE8000u for about 2 months ago but have been going back and forth due to the issues discussed the the owners forum. I've pretty much decided to bite the bullet though. With a 2.31:1 screen its definitely my top pick!

Thanks for the help guys
Lane
 

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I'll gain ~ 1' of clearance to expand the soundstage but I'll still have a column to deal with except it'll be in the way of the left channel vs the right.
Hard to read the numbers in the pics. What are the dimensions of the two columns, width (left to right) and depth (front to back)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Hard to read the numbers in the pics. What are the dimensions of the two columns, width (left to right) and depth (front to back)?
Sorry about that. Photobucket shrunk my pictures down. Try these:





Basically the column by the seats has a width of 1' 8" and depth of 1' 8" whereas the column near the current screen wall has a width of 2' 8" and a depth of 2' 7"

Lane
 
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