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Okay so after nearly three years after first putting together ideas for an unfinished upstairs bonus room, I have begun working in earnest. Many plans have changed along the way and I'm sure some more will still change. My goal is to have the room as close to finished, and be usable and functional before the end of summer. Luckily when I called the city a few weeks ago they said all the work I was planning on doing they don't need to inspect so that will help me move along as quickly as I can without having to wait in between. Also I had noticed a few months ago the county has been charging me taxes on the space as if it was finished anyway for the past 3 years so that sucks but I shouldn't have to mess with them either once it's done. Also, below is a very poorly done MS Paint drawing of how I'm proposing to finish off the room for a visual representation. It's definitively not to scale or completely accurate of any sort of placement. Would love to hear constructive feedback and thoughts.




I measured it roughly at 14' 8" x 14' 1" with 8' ceilings this last time so not too small but definitely not as large as many of you who get to plan a whole basement. It also still leaves the need to not make it a dedicated home theater because other things are better placed in it. So it's really going to function as a second family room or den I suppose.


As far as speakers, after a lot of looking and debating with myself, I've decided to go with Def Tech UIW RCS/RSS in ceiling. And since Baja's stocks are hard to predict, I went ahead and got enough rough-in brackets to do a 5 speaker system. I've got the front three brackets installed, and need to build the crossbeams for the surrounds and get those brackets up, hopefully next weekend. I wanted to save as much floor space as I could even if it was a bit of a compromise. I had thought about mounting bookshelves on the wall but couldn't find mounts that seemed to actually be able to hold their advertised weights. Plus I thought it might make the small seem smaller with more "clutter" on the walls. In-Wall speakers were ruled out because with the exception of the door from the stairs, everything faces exterior or attic space. 2x4 construction would mean leaving a lot more insulated space. At least with the in-ceilings I should be able to put at least 4" of insulation above the RCS and 6" above the RSS to reach the top of the joists. I'm still debating on how to do the subwoofer(s). All the high-voltage electrical was ran with the rest of the house and runs above 3' off the floor through most of the studs so in-wall is definitely limited. I haven't found any in-ceilings I liked and I still want to keep as much as I can off the floor, but we will see. In the image I've annotated the area where I would be able to fit a stacked 10", 12" or Def Tech's 13" in-wall subwoofer but I think it's a less than ideal location. Although it is likely stacked 10" subs might fit under the electrical along the other wall just depending on how high the installation calls for. I think Def Tech's was 5" off the floor minimum and would leave somewhere between 4-6" from the top of the sub to the high-voltage...but those seem to come available a lot less regularly through Baja than the Reference IWSubs.


As for the display, the WAF ruled out any projector. Since it's likely to see moderate use, replacing the bulbs more frequently was unappealing. I also don't think she would have gone for very dark paint on the wall, but all is well. The backup plan was a Panasonic Plasma but of course those went EOL even though early rumors suggested just no new model which is what I was counting on...third backup plan is to see what 60-65" LCDs go on clearance as new models start coming out as I do kind of like the Vizio M series just wish more details about the new M series would come out especially price. 4th plan will be to move the 52HX909 from the living room and replace it with a lower tiered model since it won't be for movies any longer. But I'm afraid it will still seem to small at the 8' seating distance currently envisioned as that is about the distance in the living room right now and it is a little small. I am planning to mount whatever display centered to the room, not to the wall it's hanging on. A tv stand or cabinet will be put under the TV. I had thought about doing a tower off to the side or even the rear of the room but I was afraid my child with no fear would use it like a tree, and who knows what any future child might do...safety first? Compromises..


Also I'm going to put in an area for a desk to move the desktop upstairs. I've still got at least 3 years left in school and it's sometimes hard to get stuff done downstairs where I'm in the open. Will be running an HDMI cable back to the TV area for use with gaming. Will make it large enough for actually two study areas, one being in the corner and the other next to it. Thinking about doing it with cabinet bases and my wife suggested maybe butcher block as a top and painting/staining two different colors for a good contrast. I don't think granite to match the counters downstairs is going to be in the budget.


I'm also planning on running a Zone 2 to the covered patio. Since I never thought about this originally, there's no easy way to get a volume control mounted out there because it's brick and some wood siding, so I will end up needing a receiver that either has a decent mobile app, or has built-in AirPlay, or last resort use an AirPort Express/AppleTV. I don't have the model handy but I did find some 8" OSD Audio in-ceilings that are marketed as outdoor weather resistant that should be fairly easy to put in the covered patio.


Flooring: Haven't decided completely but the WAF has said no carpet. Doesn't want to lug a vacuum upstairs just for one room. Hates the carpet on the stairs already. So yeah...maybe just some rugs covering parts of the room and a receiver with some type of audio calibration a must for hard floors?


The HVAC is finally done and was the first major step in starting to work on the room. We had some duct work roughed in when it the house was built but it was never connected. The system was spec'd from the beginning to be large enough for the whole home, so for all this time it's actually been oversized for just the downstairs. It took me about two years before I found a reliable contractor that actually agreed that zoning was the best way to go about it. A few other companies tried to push a second unit that I didn't want. It would have meant a lot of lost attic space for another furnace, a second outdoor unit in an area that is already a tight fit because of the first one, was way more than I was wanting to spend, twice the maintenance costs in the future, but most importantly it would have meant that both units would have been oversized and subject to short cycling. Another company wouldn't ever email me back or call me back as soon as I mentioned zoning, even though they do it but I guess don't like to retrofit it, and another company that prided itself on arriving on time that didn't show up on the day to inspect to get me a bid nor bothered to call me. Called them the next day to tell them to take a hike, and they of course gave me a lousy excuse that didn't really make sense.


Anyway so besides the HVAC work, I have the speaker wire ran for the 5 speakers all 14 ga even though they aren't very long runs, even the ones to the patio should be under 50' each but there wasn't a big price difference so that's what I got. I have the coax and Ethernet, and plans of where I'm putting them so hopefully I can knock those out next weekend as well. They'll all be ran from a structured wiring enclosure downstairs just to keep it all together. The blown-in insulation on the walls had some issues so I tore down several cavities and have batts to replace them. Since those cavaties had to be torn down anyway and are mostly along the wall with the desk, that is where I'm going to run a few Ethernet cables and a coax to move the modem upstairs. I've got a little less than half of the ceiling insulated last night, and I'm hoping to get it all done except right next to the surround speaker placements that require the crossbeams this week. No pictures of any of the work just yet, mostly a giant mess still, but hopefully I can wrap up at least some part of it soon.


I've never been one very good at home repairs, etc, but it has felt pretty good this past week working up there in free time. Granted nothing I've done yet has been the hard stuff yet so I suppose I'll see what I think about it in a few months.
 

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Highly recommend you reconsider the in-ceiling placement for the front LCR speakers. Especially since you have a blank slate. In-wall models from Definitive placed around the display location would be much, much better. Having dialog coming from speakers far away from the screen makes for a poor experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Jautor, I am a little confused about what you meant by placement of the LCR? They are going to be placed just a little bit forward of the TV. Sorry the picture does make it seem like they are a lot more forward of the TV but in reality they aren't that bad. I can't remember exactly where but I did read along the way Definitive had told somebody before they recommended the edges of the speakers be at least 18" from the wall and that's exactly where these ended up being able to fit and it's about 3' on sides of LR to the side walls. I also figure the TV will sit a few inches off the wall, along with it's depth, still shouldn't be that big of a difference between the actual screen and where how far forward the speakers are.


As far as using the in-wall speakers, I did think about going with RLS and use the RSS as in walls. All the unconditioned space and with just 2x4 framing made me really reconsider it. I didn't want that many deadspots in the walls. Also, I thought about doing a false wall that would let me keep the insulation along the wall but a few other things are going to keep me from doing it. It would add a lot more cost than it's worth in my opinion for several factors but simply not going to happen. I'm hoping that since these are angled speakers that they will do there thing once in place and it won't be that detrimental. Remember, I'm not going for the perfect solution. The WAF alternative is far worse than in-ceilings I can promise you that.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegardentool  /t/1524894/thegardentools-unfinishe...start-and-hopefully-finish-soon#post_24545796


Jautor, I am a little confused about what you meant by placement of the LCR? They are going to be placed just a little bit forward of the TV. Sorry the picture does make it seem like they are a lot more forward of the TV but in reality they aren't that bad.

You want the Left/Center/Right speakers - where all of the dialog and most of the music / sound effects come from - to be at the same level as the TV, and the Center to be as close to the picture (TV) as possible. In-ceiling placement means dialog (voices) come from above instead of from the "front" (where the mouths are on the screen).
Quote:
As far as using the in-wall speakers, I did think about going with RLS and use the RSS as in walls. All the unconditioned space and with just 2x4 framing made me really reconsider it. I didn't want that many deadspots in the walls.

Not sure what your concern is there, but my suggestion for in-walls was based on your choice of in-ceiling speakers - assuming that you were trying to hide the speakers from view. If that's not an issue, bookshelf speakers placed around the TV in your media cabinet will be a much better choice.
Quote:
Also, I thought about doing a false wall that would let me keep the insulation along the wall but a few other things are going to keep me from doing it. It would add a lot more cost than it's worth in my opinion for several factors but simply not going to happen.

In-wall speakers won't affect insulation or any building integrity...
Quote:
I'm hoping that since these are angled speakers that they will do there thing once in place and it won't be that detrimental. Remember, I'm not going for the perfect solution.

The only time in-ceiling speakers should be used for L/C/R is if there is no alternative. Again, if this is a WAF issue, in-walls are the way to go. But if you're building an entertainment center, speaker niches with grill cloth over them can easily conceal "ugly boxes".
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor  /t/1524894/thegardentools-unfinishe...start-and-hopefully-finish-soon#post_24545933


You want the Left/Center/Right speakers - where all of the dialog and most of the music / sound effects come from - to be at the same level as the TV, and the Center to be as close to the picture (TV) as possible. In-ceiling placement means dialog (voices) come from above instead of from the "front" (where the mouths are on the screen).

Not sure what your concern is there, but my suggestion for in-walls was based on your choice of in-ceiling speakers - assuming that you were trying to hide the speakers from view. If that's not an issue, bookshelf speakers placed around the TV in your media cabinet will be a much better choice.

In-wall speakers won't affect insulation or any building integrity...

The only time in-ceiling speakers should be used for L/C/R is if there is no alternative. Again, if this is a WAF issue, in-walls are the way to go. But if you're building an entertainment center, speaker niches with grill cloth over them can easily conceal "ugly boxes".

Jauntor, I do get what you are saying. I did consider in-wall speakers for quite awhile. But I did not find any to my likening that were already enclosed, the center could be mounted between 16" O.C. studs, and were within the similar price range as the refurbished UIW RCS/RSS. Even the RLS was going to require some reframing work to fit horizontal, and I'll be honest I am just not wanting to do it that right now. I've read quite a few threads on here about the RCS speakers and it seemed the owners were pleased. So I think I'll stick with the plan. I won't be doing a custom entertainment center but if I was then yes that is probably what I would end up doing.


On another note, I did take some time to go through your build thread. It looks really good. And if I ever had a custom house built again I would strongly consider making arrangements for a dedicated theater room that wouldn't have the compromises and have the foresight to have certain things done differently.


As far as progress:

I did cut the crossbeams to support the RSS speakers and started to nail them in place but got sidetracked so I didn't finish the job yet.


Amazon lowered the price of the speakers I was going to use for the covered patio so I went ahead and ordered them. OSD Audio ICE-800WRS is the model number that I couldn't remember the other day. It was one of only two in-ceiling speakers I could find that were advertised as "weather resistant" so we will see. I was all set on going with some more traditional outdoor speakers hanging from the patio but I discovered two things. Had a good rain a week or so ago and I went out to look at where I'd put them while it was storming. The rain can whip in and unless I put them speakers way too close together it's likely one was going to be exposed directly to rain, possibly hail etc. The second is since it is a corner lot, it's pretty easy to see what's attached to the roof of the patio from the side of the house either from the street or sidewalk. I might be a little paranoid but would rather try to keep as many electronic items hidden from view as possible. I also did see in the reviews of the speakers several people talk positively about how they kept the sound from traveling too far outside of the patio as well. This could also be a plus since the side of our neighbors house is behind us and it's the master suite on that side. So hopefully it'll keep the noise level down to not get any complaints since it is probably around 50' from our patio to the side of their house.


I also found a display I plan on putting up there. I checked the clearance/open-box section of the local Best Buy stores online and found an open boxed customer returned Panasonic TC-P55VT60. It's definitely smaller than I was hoping to put up there but I do have 45 days to return it if I get buyers remorse. Only had 100 hours on it, was only missing the box and the pen I'd never use anyway. A few scuffs on the rear that look like it was hung and brushed some drywall. Already noticed a much better overall image quality compared to the HX909 in the living room. As far as a larger display though, when I went to check the measurements of it to where I plan on hanging it, I did realize a 65" could end up a bit close to the thermostat so a 60" would probably end up the largest I could have went with anyway.


This weekend and early next week I'll likely be too busy to get much done so I hope the weekend after I can get some work done up there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I haven't had too much time to work on the room in the past month as I would have hoped. I really only got the bracing up for the RSS II speakers between the joists. Most my free time was spent filling in holes in the yard from the two digging dogs. On several occasions as soon as I filled one up the dogs were right there digging it when I moved to the next one. Oh it's been so much fun.


The last few days though I have spent many hours up there trying to finish the insulation on the ceiling and the walls. I almost have the ceiling done and only 3 of the 6 stud cavities left to redo. The last few hours of insulation work has been tedious because I didn't buy batts for the walls, and the spots left in the ceiling have required me to cut the batts to fit 2 16" wide side by side and of course they are all of various lengths. Although I should be able to finish the ceiling up in about an hour's worth of work. Stud cavities will have to wait until I pull the wires to the boxes but 2 of the 3 only have a couple wires each.


Today the weather held over nicely from yesterday so I got some help with running wiring. In about 6 hours we pulled 7 CAT6 drops, 2 RG6U, and the 2 speaker wire lines to the patio. We were also was able to get the outdoor in-ceiling speakers installed as well. Might try to find a cheap stereo receiver on Craigslist or something just to test out the patio speakers, and start using them until everything else is finished because my wife will enjoy that very much, since I still haven't bought a surround sound receiver. I still need to run at least 2 more RG6U lines to use for an antenna to keep separate from the Cable Coax lines.


Going to try to take a few pictures later. Still hopefully I can get a lot of it done in the next couple of weeks.
 
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