AVS Forum banner

1 - 20 of 98 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I’ve been lurking on here for several months admiring everyone’s theaters as I tried to learn as much as possible about what it would take to create my own. I started laying things out in Excel and then progressed to Sketchup, then Home Designer Suite trying to plan my basement out including theater.

In general, I’ve got a small space (width, length, and height are tight – I’m hoping to squeeze 16’ x 10.5’ x 7.5’ floor to joist) and would like to keep this as economical as possible since I also plan to refinish the room next to it in the process.

The space – my house is an old home built in 1940 with an existing room in the basement that was probably originally done in the 70s. It needs to be completely redone so this will be part of the project. I may start with this space first since it will be a multi-use room for the family and is a higher priority (at least according to the wife, ha ha) than a home theater. There is an unfinished room next to this with the electrical panel plus a slop sink. This is the room I’d like to turn into my theater.

I’d love to have two rows of seats (2 in front, 3 in back) and am planning on a 7.1 system. My current plan calls out a 110” screen (if my design is accurate, it looks like it will barely fit).

Issues to address:

  • This room layout presents a number of issues that I’ll need to address in addition to its size. The prior homeowners added a room so the HVAC supply ducts, water drainage pipes, and water supply pipes were all added in this space. These will all have to be moved out of the way. Pictures attached

  • Steel support beam and pillars – I have a steel support beam between this room and the next with two support pillars that I’ll need to work around. The beam is quite low (about 6.5’ at the bottom) Pictures attached. Current design has the dividing wall being built on the other side of the beam/pillars and using a soffit to enclose the beam and columns to enclose the pillars. The current plan is to have the side speakers also enclosed in the columns.
I still have a lot more to decide (to soundproof or not, how much to DIY, etc.), but I’m just starting the planning process and would love to get everyone’s feedback on my design.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,510 Posts
Could that utility sink be removed, or relocated? You could employ a DIY acoustically transparent
screen, and the AT space could hide the electrical panels, as well as hide the front speakers and sub/s.



Do you own speakers to be used in this room already?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,510 Posts
If that sink can go or be moved over to the utilities room.....


Now the AT space hides the air return. :) And doesn't force your LR mains into the corners, and
let's you raise the center channel, for improved audio in the second row.


If you do fabric panel style walls, the electrical panels could be easily hidden/blended in.


Those 79" high soffits are going be a headache, but the offset seating with a low riser, can make
sightlines work. I have 80" soffiits and made a second row work, with a 52x92" screen, but have since
shortened my room, so it's going to be a one row "micro" theater now (with 10' cut off the room).


Your space has much in common with mine. Rebuilt the HVAC sheet metal to a newer wider/shallower
profile and shuffled central vac line, electrical, and HVAC over tighter to the wall. My AT space hides
many room issues, and two big subs that otherwise, would never fit. The AT screen also has a high WAF
regarding speakers being hidden.


With your extra width, I'd be tempted to go 2.35:1 with side masking. And having the av rack outside the
theater is a nice plus.
 

Attachments

·
Banned
Joined
·
8,184 Posts
Check my build. My room is virtually identical in size.

I am not sure how you will get two rows in there. Unless they are non reclining. I could get a second row. But it will be bad for sound.

Also I have a 130" diagnol 2.35 at screen. It's phenominal. I suggest you go that way. But I will be following along!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
If that sink can go or be moved over to the utilities room.....


Now the AT space hides the air return. :) And doesn't force your LR mains into the corners, and
let's you raise the center channel, for improved audio in the second row.


If you do fabric panel style walls, the electrical panels could be easily hidden/blended in.


Those 79" high soffits are going be a headache, but the offset seating with a low riser, can make
sightlines work. I have 80" soffiits and made a second row work, with a 52x92" screen, but have since
shortened my room, so it's going to be a one row "micro" theater now (with 10' cut off the room).


Your space has much in common with mine. Rebuilt the HVAC sheet metal to a newer wider/shallower
profile and shuffled central vac line, electrical, and HVAC over tighter to the wall. My AT space hides
many room issues, and two big subs that otherwise, would never fit. The AT screen also has a high WAF
regarding speakers being hidden.


With your extra width, I'd be tempted to go 2.35:1 with side masking. And having the av rack outside the
theater is a nice plus.
Tedd,

Thanks for the detailed thought into my layout. I'm amazed at what AVSers can come up with in such a short time. If I had the length, I would certainly love to do an AT screen as I really like the hidden speaker look better. I don't own any speakers yet (I'm somewhat intrigued about the idea of making at least the sub), but haven't thought too much about it. I will say that I'm not what you'd call an audiophile like many on here.

The utility sink can be removed/moved although I planned on using it to drain a dehumidifier. The problem with that space relative to the theater is unfortunately not the sink -- it's the main electrical panel and a sub panel in the corner along with plumbing going to and from the kitchen above (see pic). I've done a ton of searching online and to see what code says about working space around an electrical panel and what I've found either says 30 or 36 inches. Are you saying to push the wall back, build it up around the panel, and just make the panel accessible with a fabric panel covering? Since it's accessible by removing a panel, would that get around the 30-36" of working space rule to meet code?
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Check my build. My room is virtually identical in size.

I am not sure how you will get two rows in there. Unless they are non reclining. I could get a second row. But it will be bad for sound.

Also I have a 130" diagnol 2.35 at screen. It's phenominal. I suggest you go that way. But I will be following along!!
Brian,

Thanks for the input. I'll definitely check out your build. Unless I can buy myself a little more length, I definitely think a second row will be tight both front to back and side to side. The way I have it now the back will be pushed up against the wall. I'd love to fit 5 full cushiony home theater seats in there somehow. I have 3 kids and everyone needs a spot or there will be mayhem. If I can fit them, I know they won't be in the best spot for acoustics since they'd pretty much have the back two speakers above their heads.

I think I've all but decided on a 16:9 screen since I think I'll probably be using my theater for live sports 75% of the time (maybe that will change once the theater's up). I'm trying to hold off a final decision on that until I nail down the room issues.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,510 Posts
Yes, you want 36" of access in front of the panel (and access to that drain cleanout too). And a door
will give you that, plus you could always pull the hinge pins and door, for total access.


And yes, I was proposing to push the wall back, and put a gasketed steel exterior door there.
The larger room volume would also work better audio-wise and seating-wise.


Why couldn't the dehumidifier feed into some in-wall drain pipe, and reside in a built in space?
You could mirror the angled wall in the family space, and create a cubby space for the dehumidifier.


Not having speakers at this point is a huge plus! :) And yes to a DIY sub, and there's some nice flat pack
DIY speaker options. A simple flat black finish on speakers also dovetails nicely with an AT screen.


Another option with the short space is a tight footprint seating configuration of a 3 seat front row, and a
3 seat bar row. No riser, so you keep the headroom and ideally select a projector who's throw ration has it
located over the front row seats or the bar top.


That's pretty much my current "formula" for a smaller DIY , high performing, budget room. Dark finishes
and fabric walls, as to capture light scattering off a woven AT screen. Up the lighting style and zone it for
some design flair. AV rack outside the space, and work in a rotated hdtv for some movie posters. Hiding
gear and speakers, coupled with dark finishes make a smaller space feel bigger.


Another thought is to do 2 entry doors, and couple something like this, with an AT screen.


Here's a friend's speaker fabric, panelled wall. The cell phone pic isn't great, and it's mid
side surround speaker replacement, with the previous dipoles removed and the upper column
fabric panel missing. In person, it looks excellent. The shallow column and the beveled panel
edges add some design flair. The lower panels come off, for wiring changes, and the upper
panels hide acoustical treatments in behind.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Updated My Floorplan

For those of you on here who think you're slow, it took me almost two months to just update my floorplan drawing with some of the suggestions I received. I took Tedd's suggestion and got rid of the slop sink, etc in the room behind my front wall with my electrical panels.


That allows me to build a false wall, which I always wanted to have, but didn't think I'd have enough space for. It allows me to push the front screen back just a little bit, which allows me to shift the front row of seats up closer giving me more room on the riser in the back. This pushed my room dimensions to about 19' x 11' with about 2' behind the false wall.

I also added in the two columns in the back where I hope to put speakers. It's going to be really tight back there so I don't know if it will work in actuality with the chairs there. Depending on how all the HVAC changes end up shaping out, I may end up flipping things lengthwise 180 degrees, but I'll see how that works out once I get someone in to look at all the changes I need to make.



Part of this project is to finish the other part of my basement. That half is already finished - it's just old and needs to be redone. We haven't used it since we moved in. I'm definitely hiring someone to do that part, but am debating how to do the theater. I definitely can't do the HVAC and probably don't want to trying moving all the pipes out of the way so I'll need to hire someone for that. At this point, I think I'm leaning towards having someone also do the framing, drywall, and electrical. That doesn't leave much left for me to do (false wall, columns, moldings, trim, riser, and hopefully a DIY sub, etc.), I think I'm at the point where I'd rather pay to have it done right and have it done quickly. Of course, that all could change once I get some contractors in for quotes.

I also think I've decided against soundproofing. My reasoning came down to 3 things -- space, cost, and lack of faith. My ceiling is about 7.5', as is, so I'd be at almost 7' all around once I soundproof. Where I live, 7' is the barrier ceiling height. At least 50% of the space needs to be more than 7' high and I'd be bumping up on that limit (especially once the riser is in). I also would rather save the $3K or so I estimate I'd need for soundproofing. I'm not looking to break the bank here. Lastly, based on what I've seen from others posting here, I've got to be honest that I'm a little skeptical that the soundproofing is going to really do much. I've got concrete walls on 3 sides in the basement and a kitchen and den right above so I'm not really dealing with bedrooms close by. My house is old and I've got wood floors throughout so I can hear a needle drop upstairs if I'm on the couch downstairs today so I think it would just be a monumental effort to really make a difference. I guess I just have the attitude that if the theater is loud and someone doesn't like it, oh well.

I'm hoping to get a couple of contractors in here for quotes in the next couple of weeks and then I can finally get things rolling.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
another CT person! i'm working on a basement room with a bunch of challenges also, i don't have forced air but i have the bathroom above. my room with foam and studding on the basement walls is 10' 8" x 15" i'm using a 100" screen. i didn't do a ceiling yet but i did install a 1.7" thick foam/osb subfloor which takes a lot of ceiling height. i think my room would be less than 7' when i add drywall to the ceiling. Have fun!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,510 Posts
The fifth seat is going to outright suck audio-wise and you have no separation from the rear surrounds.

Those rear surrounds will be pulled out of the surround mix and be very distracting in the rear seats.
An option might be to pull the seating forward (but not to the center point of the room length) and you
could use a narrow version of the seating for the second row. Or you could do two different styles of seating.


But I think you are starting to head in a better direction. So those two months are well spent. :)

The sound proofing side of things also has other merits, for your money invested. Even if you don't care about
sound leaking out of the room, you should really care about having a low noise floor IN the room. That low noise floor
will ensure you hear ALL of a soundtrack, from a whisper, to the a loud explosion (that isn't too loud and has you
reaching for the volume). If you get your noise floor low, then you haven't tossed out 30 db+ of audio headroom. And
that delivers more performance from your audio gear. It's also a lot simpler and cheaper to upgrade gear down the road, then
to start fixing an existing room's issues. And if you are a DIY'er, there's all kinds of ways to shave costs, to allow you to
re-allocate budget.


With a small space, I also sweated wasting an inch here and there. My advice would be to plant those inches carefully, but
also don't end up going crazy planting those inches. Sometimes it makes good sense to give up a few inches here and there, in a
small space.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,077 Posts
If it were me, I would flip the room 180 degrees so the screen is on the bottom wall. I would close off the "AV Closet" on the theater side and open it to the other room, with just an IR repeater inside the theater to run the equipment. Just an HDMI cable run alongside the beam so I didn't have to bore holes through all those floor joists above.

That would allow me to have an AT screen with very shallow LCR speakers behind it so I use up less than a foot of depth at that end -- the sub I would place outside the screen, possibly even in the rear corner. Then I would have the space to pull the back row away from the back wall to get some separation from the rear surrounds on the back wall of the theater. With 18' from rear wall to screen, I would place the front row 10' from a 135" AT spandex screen and the second row at 16' with 2' open behind the back row.

It would also allow access to the hidden electrical panels. If you place the screen in front of the wall with the electrical panels, you will have to remove the screen to get to the panel -- not fun if you are stumbling around in the dark trying to reset a breaker.

If your 11' width figure is because that is where the beam and columns are, I would wrap the beam as a soffit in the theater (and mirror it on the other side) with the columns enclosed and protruding 1' into the room so the wall was 1' offset from the beam and columns. I would have separate entrances for front and rear rows so aisle space is not needed. Even with the columns, 12' width will feel more spacious.

In terms of soundproofing, I would at least place two layers of drywall with green glue between them and screwed to the underside of the subfloor above and caulked between drywall edges and joists, then pack the joist bays with roxul or pink fiberglass. That type of ceiling treatment is a few hundred dollars. It uses up no ceiling height because it is up between the joists, and it damps sound from the rest of the house coming through the ceiling of the theater. It won't contain the theater sound, but will help isolate from outside sound. You may not care if the rest of the house hears the theater, but hearing people stomp across the ceiling is distracting.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tedd

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
The fifth seat is going to outright suck audio-wise and you have no separation from the rear surrounds.

Those rear surrounds will be pulled out of the surround mix and be very distracting in the rear seats.
An option might be to pull the seating forward (but not to the center point of the room length) and you
could use a narrow version of the seating for the second row. Or you could do two different styles of seating.


But I think you are starting to head in a better direction. So those two months are well spent. :)

The sound proofing side of things also has other merits, for your money invested. Even if you don't care about
sound leaking out of the room, you should really care about having a low noise floor IN the room. That low noise floor
will ensure you hear ALL of a soundtrack, from a whisper, to the a loud explosion (that isn't too loud and has you
reaching for the volume). If you get your noise floor low, then you haven't tossed out 30 db+ of audio headroom. And
that delivers more performance from your audio gear. It's also a lot simpler and cheaper to upgrade gear down the road, then
to start fixing an existing room's issues. And if you are a DIY'er, there's all kinds of ways to shave costs, to allow you to
re-allocate budget.


With a small space, I also sweated wasting an inch here and there. My advice would be to plant those inches carefully, but
also don't end up going crazy planting those inches. Sometimes it makes good sense to give up a few inches here and there, in a
small space.
Tedd - I totally hear you (pardon the pun) on the sound in the back row. I don't think it's going to be great, but am willing to live with that since it will most likely be the kids sitting in the back row. The seats in the drawings are also not exact since I'll only have single arm rests in the middle. That's all I could import into my design software from Sketchup. I'm going from nothing to this so even moderately decent sound will be far beyond expectations.

I guess I really can't 100% decide on things until I start getting quotes on things and decide what I'm going to do myself and what I'm going to hire out. Once I get an idea of that, I might be able to reconsider some things. I'm hoping to get that done in the next couple weeks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
If it were me, I would flip the room 180 degrees so the screen is on the bottom wall. I would close off the "AV Closet" on the theater side and open it to the other room, with just an IR repeater inside the theater to run the equipment. Just an HDMI cable run alongside the beam so I didn't have to bore holes through all those floor joists above.
Dreamer - I very well might end up flipping the room, but won't know for sure until I get someone in who knows about HVAC systems to take a look at how it needs to be reconfigured. I'm assuming I'll need some space for ductwork on that end, which might make putting the screen there a little more difficult.

That would allow me to have an AT screen with very shallow LCR speakers behind it so I use up less than a foot of depth at that end -- the sub I would place outside the screen, possibly even in the rear corner. Then I would have the space to pull the back row away from the back wall to get some separation from the rear surrounds on the back wall of the theater. With 18' from rear wall to screen, I would place the front row 10' from a 135" AT spandex screen and the second row at 16' with 2' open behind the back row.

It would also allow access to the hidden electrical panels. If you place the screen in front of the wall with the electrical panels, you will have to remove the screen to get to the panel -- not fun if you are stumbling around in the dark trying to reset a breaker.
That is definitely one reason why I'd consider flipping the room around.

If your 11' width figure is because that is where the beam and columns are, I would wrap the beam as a soffit in the theater (and mirror it on the other side) with the columns enclosed and protruding 1' into the room so the wall was 1' offset from the beam and columns. I would have separate entrances for front and rear rows so aisle space is not needed. Even with the columns, 12' width will feel more spacious.

In terms of soundproofing, I would at least place two layers of drywall with green glue between them and screwed to the underside of the subfloor above and caulked between drywall edges and joists, then pack the joist bays with roxul or pink fiberglass. That type of ceiling treatment is a few hundred dollars. It uses up no ceiling height because it is up between the joists, and it damps sound from the rest of the house coming through the ceiling of the theater. It won't contain the theater sound, but will help isolate from outside sound. You may not care if the rest of the house hears the theater, but hearing people stomp across the ceiling is distracting.
That's definitely a lower cost option that I haven't considered. Without having a theater space today to know how annoying footfall/kids fighting/other noises coming from outside the theater will be, it's tough to know if it's worth it. That's something even I could do by myself and might be something to consider.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
another CT person! i'm working on a basement room with a bunch of challenges also, i don't have forced air but i have the bathroom above. my room with foam and studding on the basement walls is 10' 8" x 15" i'm using a 100" screen. i didn't do a ceiling yet but i did install a 1.7" thick foam/osb subfloor which takes a lot of ceiling height. i think my room would be less than 7' when i add drywall to the ceiling. Have fun!
Definitely not that many people in CT on here. I think I've only seen one or two others, but I'm sure there are plenty lurking.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,510 Posts
Another try. :)


I have double 5/8" drywall/GG and red oak floors above. It does drive down the noise floor,
but doesn't eliminate all impact noise. No clue on how the extra layer between bays helps
with impact noise.


You could conserve save headroom (and some room volume), by doing an island style riser,
on a low riser. And still put the riser to use, as a broadband absorber.


You also could build (simple) double walled backer boxes for your spot lights, and embed your
spot lights into the joist space. Here's mine that were built a long time ago. These days, I'd use
cement backer board as an interior fireproof material, and skip the metal boxes. Inexpensive to
make in this manner.


Another nice thing about the room flip, is you could use that alcove space for a tall DIY sub
to augment your existing sub, in the future.


You could do a thinner floor with recycled car tire matts, and a layer of plywood, and gain some isolation.


If you built in a rack outside the room, you could do a hinged poster (or artwork), or cleat mounted light box
to hide the rear access.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Another try. :)


I have double 5/8" drywall/GG and red oak floors above. It does drive down the noise floor,
but doesn't eliminate all impact noise. No clue on how the extra layer between bays helps
with impact noise.


You could conserve save headroom (and some room volume), by doing an island style riser,
on a low riser. And still put the riser to use, as a broadband absorber.


You also could build (simple) double walled backer boxes for your spot lights, and embed your
spot lights into the joist space. Here's mine that were built a long time ago. These days, I'd use
cement backer board as an interior fireproof material, and skip the metal boxes. Inexpensive to
make in this manner.


Another nice thing about the room flip, is you could use that alcove space for a tall DIY sub
to augment your existing sub, in the future.


You could do a thinner floor with recycled car tire matts, and a layer of plywood, and gain some isolation.


If you built in a rack outside the room, you could do a hinged poster (or artwork), or cleat mounted light box
to hide the rear access.
I admit it would be nice to have a soundproofed room, just worried about my ability to get it done and the cost. I guess I'll have to see how things lay out once I start to get some quotes for the work and then look at some low-cost options like you recommend.

I more and more think flipping the room 180 degrees might be the best option. I really need to see how the ductwork will fit down on that end before making that decision, though. I'm assuming the best way to reroute it is to run it down what's currently the back wall and down the left side. We'll see once I get someone who knows what they're talking about in to look at it.

I also think I'll probably close up the A/V closet like you and Dreamer recommended. Sounds like a good idea. Time to update the drawings again.

Thanks again for all the advise. This board certainly is worth more than it's weight in gold.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,510 Posts
That air return that jumps joists could simply be boxed in, and let the AT space hide that intrusion.
Or you could sister floor joists on either side of it, and if it's one joist, you could rework that joist
to in order to cut it (and support the ends properly) so the sheet metal can be brought up into the joist
cavity, and out of the way.


One big advantage of doing fabric panel walls is you only need a fire coat of drywall mud and it needn't
be visually perfect.


I rebuilt my ductwork with a wider/less profile, to gain some headroom. I also tucked some wiring and
the central vac line close to the main support bean and brought the new HVAC sheet metal in tighter to the
support beam. That money was very well spent, as I was able to do two symmetrical soffits. I actually have
an S curve of sheet metal HVAC buried up front, on the right hand side of my room. If you brought that HVAC
to the side of the room, then you could use top take offs, and hide the HVAC where it enters the room and then needs
to turn up towards the ceiling. You could hide that much like the alcove in the front of my room. (Think HVAC instead of
a bite out of my foundation.) The AT screen wall could visually remove that from view.


You could have a REALLY nice home theater in that space, since you aren't trying to pack in too much seating.
 
1 - 20 of 98 Posts
Top