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post #1 of 15 Old 01-11-2019, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Question Noobie here! help with my design

Hey Guys!
So I am a relative noob to the AV world, in the past, my home theater setup was whatever vizio TV was on sale, add a sound bar and walk away. However, we are building the house of our dreams and I want to do a theater room that my family and I can enjoy. More importantly I want to do it right.

Attached is a rough layout of the of where the Audio equipment will be pre-wired in the ceiling (and wall for the sub) I want to put a 120" (diag) screen on the front wall. and I want to put a built in AV equipment rack in the wall as well however I have some questions.

First off, is 120" the right size screen for the room? I plan on doing 2 rows of theater seating, the closest row being roughly 14ft away.

secondly, I really want to have a built in to the wall AV rack but my initial searches have turned up not alot. is this possible? has anyone done this?

thirdly, what about sound mitigation. this room is in the basement and unfortunately is right below the kids room. I dont have any notion that I will be able to stop the noise completely but any (post-construction) ceiling mitigation you could recommend would be great!

lastly, lets talk hardware. what 5.1 setup does everyone recommend? what about projector? this is not a "budget build" but I also am not looking to break the bank here. What are some good quality durable components that people have used?

Thanks all! looking forward to the next several months of stressing about making this room perfect.
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post #2 of 15 Old 01-11-2019, 02:15 PM
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OK, I'll be the one to break it you. If it was me, and knowing what I know now and I was building a new house, I would save the money the builder is charging to finish that room and put it towards doing it myself or at least contracting out the work I can't do to knowledgeable contractors. There is LOT to learn about building a home theater. Keep in mind that you are asking in the theater builders forum and MOST of the rooms here have been DIY builds, usually from scratch or a complete demo and start over from scratch, so the advice you will get is from the perspective of building a proper home theater.

With that, I'll take a stab at your questions:

"First off, is 120" the right size screen for the room? I plan on doing 2 rows of theater seating, the closest row being roughly 14ft away."
I don't know. I don't think anyone can answer that except you. How close do you like to sit when you go out to the movies? Do you like to sit in the first row and have the screen take up your entire field of vision? Do you sit in about the middle? The last row?

"secondly, I really want to have a built in to the wall AV rack but my initial searches have turned up not alot. is this possible? has anyone done this?"
There are TONS of builds here that have a built in AV rack in front or in back of the room. Generally, since the room is being built, you select the rack and then build the closet to fit the rack. Many of the rooms on here have the doors built to look part of the wall and are virtually invisible. In your case, if you want the rack in the front of the room, you have the luxury of having complete access to the back of the rack through the storage room.

"thirdly, what about sound mitigation. this room is in the basement and unfortunately is right below the kids room. I dont have any notion that I will be able to stop the noise completely but any (post-construction) ceiling mitigation you could recommend would be great!"
THIS is where you run in to trouble having the builder finish the room. IF you have the builder finish it, I would at minimum have them insulate the entire room with minimum R19 and possibly pay the them extra to upgrade to 5/8s X-type drywall. And if possible install a second layer of 5/8s drywall with an application of a minimum 1 tube of Green Glue per 4x8 sheet (and preferably 2 tubes). Unless the builder is extremely knowledgeable about home theater construction and can decouple the stud walls using IB clips (or similar), that is about the best you can do.

"lastly, lets talk hardware. what 5.1 setup does everyone recommend? what about projector? this is not a "budget build" but I also am not looking to break the bank here. What are some good quality durable components that people have used?"
Yes, LASTLY talk about equipment. EXCEPT for the projector. Will the builder prewire for the projector? Do you know what projector you are going to use? Do you know the throw distance and screen size it can project? that will determine where to prewire and the screen size. Audio equipment is the easiest thing to change out, and again, it depends on your final room. What sounds good to someone here may not sound good to you. You really need to find a seller that will allow you to try it out and return if it is not acceptable.

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post #3 of 15 Old 01-11-2019, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply! first off I guess I should specify that i have no control over the builder finishing THAT room or not. they are doing the whole basement for free and getting anything not "per plan" is near impossible. with that said...i guess I should revise my original statement that I want to do a theater "RIGHT", and say I would like to be able to convert this room to the best possible theater without tearing it all out to studs again.

Maybe this isnt the best forum for this kind of theater room.

to clarify a little more about the 120" screen, i guess i was hoping to hear "lessons learned" from people with similar sized screens and sized rooms (ie "yeah wish i wouldve gone bigger/smaller") to answer your question we normally like to sit in the middle rows of a movie theater so that the screen takes up most of your straight ahead viewing and not needing to turn our head to see whats going on on the left side of the screen haha. for this room, barring a bunch of guests we would probably be sitting in our front row, 14' away. i want the screen to be impressive enough to be able to fully immerse yourself in the theater experience. Not just look like a big ass screen in a basement room! (i dont know if that makes sense)haha

As for the AV rack, I am doing some searches now on this forum from it, however, what it sounds like from your description people build a closet to house it in? doesnt that get too hot? (sorry im a datacenter engineer so heat is first thing I think of) my initial plan was to cut the exact dimensions of the rack out of the drywall in that room, build a support system in the storage room then trim it out in the room. seems like a great solution in my mind I guess I need to just find the right rack to work with this. I dont neccessarily want the rack hidden as I love the look of a lit up server rack (again...datacenter engineer haha)

sound mitigation....ugh, i know....i wish i could have them build things a little different for this room to help mitigate sound. I know with me being a retrofit design im not going to get anywhere near the sound mitigation as I could but was hoping others had run into this and come up with creative ways to mitigate sound.

"lastly, lets talk hardware. what 5.1 setup does everyone recommend? what about projector? this is not a "budget build" but I also am not looking to break the bank here. What are some good quality durable components that people have used?"
Yes, LASTLY talk about equipment. EXCEPT for the projector. Will the builder prewire for the projector? Do you know what projector you are going to use? Do you know the throw distance and screen size it can project? that will determine where to prewire and the screen size. Audio equipment is the easiest thing to change out, and again, it depends on your final room. What sounds good to someone here may not sound good to you. You really need to find a seller that will allow you to try it out and return if it is not acceptable.

Hardware: for the projector. it will not be prewired at the ceiling i will have to run cable down the wall to an outlet. the good news, i think, is that i am not locked into 1 spot for the projector so if i go with 120" screen I should be able to adjust the throw distance for that size. if i understand correctly. as for audio, this is the trickiest part I know, my problem is I dont know where to start. maybe I need to have a pro come out for that part to get me the best sound for the room.
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post #4 of 15 Old 01-11-2019, 08:58 PM
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Buy your projector before buying a screen! You can play around with it for months before determining a screen size by using your wall. My guess is you are going to want a 135"+ from 14'
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post #5 of 15 Old 01-11-2019, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Awesome that's actually a great idea.this is what I was looking for, I'm thinking too technically and didn't see any easy idea like that
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post #6 of 15 Old 01-12-2019, 01:47 AM
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Well i say a 120 inch screen on an 18 foot wide wall sitting 14 feet back is too small. You would regret it every day, asking what if.

Why do you want to sit 14 feet back? 3/5, which is usually good for audio, would put you at 12 feet back, and at that distance i would recommend a 140 - 160 inch screen. I would go 2.35:1 so you have some room above and below the screen and so you dont have a few feet of nothing to either side of the screen.

5.1 surround sound is adequate, but on a new build, blank sheet of paper, have you considered 9.2.4?

As for having the contractor build the room normal, i would not recommend it. There would be so much to modify after the fact you are probably better off just having them frame the room only. You REALLY dont want an extension cord attached to the projector running across the ceiling and down a side wall.
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post #7 of 15 Old 01-12-2019, 07:02 AM
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Depends on just how serious you are about sound mitigation/control. Looks like the rear of the room is open to a stairwell? Going up I assume? Nothing you do to control sound will have much of an effect until you at least have walls completely enclosing the room. Otherwise, just let the sound go where it goes and don't worry about it.

Now if you are more serious and would entertain fully enclosing the room with a proper entrance door, I'd tell the builder who is doing this "for free" not to finish this room at all, unless necessary for inspection/appraisal in which case I'd have him hang sheetrock with a couple of screws and sloppily finished with zero trim knowing I'd be ripping it all right back down.
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post #8 of 15 Old 01-12-2019, 08:14 AM
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I don't have the link handy, but you should look up the THX recommendations for a screen size and seating distance and viewing angles.

If you like to sit in the middle of the theater, as I recall, 120 would be the max.

I agree, buy the projector, put up a couple of chairs where you think they will be and throw an image up on the wall.

You'll know soon enough what's too big. I firmly believe that contrary to what a lot of guys will say around here, there IS such a thing as too big. Don't believe me, ask THX.
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post #9 of 15 Old 01-13-2019, 06:02 AM
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Why sit so far off the screen? (I am guessing you are looking at smooth audio at 2/3rds the room's length? An AT screen would effectively lengthen the room
acoustically, if you could rebuild that end wall into an acoustically transparent wall, so I would be asking myself if I needed that deep of a storage space.

Building an av rack is easy to accomplish, but you might run into existing house wiring. (any freebie data racks and outdated server gear available to you?)

Sound isolation is going to be near impossible to pull off, considering the open back wall and exposure to the stairs.

How tall is the space? Screen size and riser height can be factors impacting on the screen size.

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post #10 of 15 Old 01-13-2019, 06:30 AM
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This could be a small retrofit of what the builder sticks you with.

You don't even need the av rack in the theatre space. No heat load, nor light pollution nor fan noise need be in the theater space.
You just need a control solution such as an inexpensive infrared repeater system.

Also being the datacenter world, doesn't that expose you to all kinds of discarded gear?
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post #11 of 15 Old 01-13-2019, 07:05 AM
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My biggest concerns about this room would be the heat load and cooling ability of what you are given by the builder.
Eight bodies + a projector would be my biggest concern.

Where's all the HVAC runs and basement obstacles? Is there any in the storage space? And how deep is the storage room?

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post #12 of 15 Old 01-13-2019, 08:36 AM
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First off I think 14 feet away to the first row is too far. Trying to squeeze a second row in with recliners when you are 6 feet away from the back wall will not work. You will also have a problem with your surround placement. Are you locked into the storage room being behind the theater? Is that a beam support point? It would be a lot better if you could move the theater to the back and have the storage area by the stairs. Not sure you would like having to carry stuff through the theater for storage plus you eliminate that open stairwell from the theater equation. I think you should look at a minimum 7.1.4 system with that much space and two rows of seating. Also just have the contractor frame everything and finish it yourself.

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post #13 of 15 Old 01-13-2019, 09:39 AM
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Could less be more?

Less seats, more screen..... Budget spent on things other then a large riser and three
3 extra seats?

Assuming the builder can shove that storage room wall forward for you, at this point...
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post #14 of 15 Old 01-13-2019, 12:48 PM
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First off I’m not a frequent poster to this forum but a long time AVS member and have had 2 FP theaters in two different homes over the last 14 years. My first theater was more of an on going work of love as the rules were not nearly as defined 14 years ago and technology has changed a lot over that time. I have learned a lot about what I personally like in HT and it is not always what you see showcased in the HT of the month threads. I’m not opposed to these beautiful dedicated works of science and art, actually just the opposite as I admire the attention to detail and the end results are amazing. I just could one never afford the full-blown theater and two they wouldn’t fit into our lifestyle at all.

The first step I would take if I were you is to take a step back from the details and think about how you and your family and friends will enjoy the area. Picture yourself in the room with your kids watching family content. Picture the two of you watching something together after the kids are down for the night. Picture you and your buddies watching sports or you both and another couple watching a movie. You want the room to be used in a way that’s maybe is different than going to a commercial theater.

For us we eat and drink in the TV room as we call a lot. We like the social setting of all being in the same row whenever possible with both friends and family.

Just some generic thoughts before opinions on details.

First opinion. Never put your equipment in the front of the room on the screen wall. That’s a carryover from TV and the lights on the equipment will be distracting along with the cable run to the projector will be long. I like the equipment out of sight in the back of the room or to the side.

Second, get rid of the storage area or figure a door into it that doesn’t enter into the theater. The door takes up screen area and I assume there is other storage in the home and closing that off was an after thought.

Third, familiarize yourself with presentation methods CIW, CIH, CIA, CIH+IMAX and even others that use variable areas as I do. The zoom on your projector is one feature no TV will ever have, and proper immersion makes all the difference in the world in a theater. When you go to a commercial theater once inside the first thing you are confronted with is where to sit. If alone you pick your favorite seat if with others the committee decides. Your taste for immersion is different than others and I can almost guarantee once you have a home theater for a few months yours will change. At least that’s true for most people. You are used to TV you go to the movies a few times each year, once you have a theater you will be watching a movie or two daily perhaps. Resolution of media and projectors keep getting better and there is to be a push to deliver more IMAX1.89:1 and IMAX like content (Game of Thrones) etc in the future. I would highly recommend some presentation that allows for IMAX1.89-like presentation with proper immersion. Watch the HD-BD or UHD-BD of Dunkirk as one of your test movies when you are playing with projecting to the wall and moving your projector around during the test phase, you will get what I’m talking about.

Lets just say you adopt CIH+IMAX as your presentation method. You say you like to sit in the middle of a theater and that would equate roughly to a seating distance 2.5 times the height of the CIH image for (scope 2.35 and flat 1.85 movies) then any IMAX content would be the width of scope but taller. That is how directors intend these movies to be watched. They don’t care about what level of immersion you like but in relationship that’s roughly how commercial theaters would show them or how many here think they should be shown. The extra vertical immersion in a movie like Dunkirk is so key to the spectacular image we are to see. That’s your front row. Now you can do the math but the second row at home isn’t like the next row back in a commercial theater. At home the proportion is greater because of the smaller screen and your second row will be likely 4 times the screen height seating distance and like the back row in a real theater.

For that reason and others in my room I wanted a single row of 6 seats rather than 2 rows of 3, or maybe one row of 4 than 2 rows of 2 etc. Doing that avoids building risers allows for a larger IMAX screen as heads are not in the way and IMO being more off axis isn’t as bad as having under immersion. I turned my room 90 degrees in fact and useed the longer wall for the screen. Some will tell you correctly doing that messes with the audio and will be correct to some extent. Another thing to conceder when mocking up your space is how sensitive you are to perfect audio.

Lastly I’m not sure what to tell you about should the builder complete the room or not, because I don’t know your level of perfection you are going for. If you plan on putting the kids to bed and going down and showing Iron Man in full theater mode with big subs then you should wait and really study sound transfer and just maybe after doing all you can you will still wake them up. We don’t have our modest room treated much different than a regular room and we do play it loud but we do it when we conceder others in the house. I even often watch late at night with headphones. If it was me and I have hung 1000s of sheets of drywall in my life I would have them finish the room minus the storage room if that’s an option.

It is hard to advise others and much easier to work with them thru the issues as you figure out what they want. Don’t be in a hurry to finish the room figure out what you think about presentation and select a projector that works best with what you like throw, zoom, offset, and all the rest. Then play with it in all the methods with some lawn chairs for seating. The time that saves you in the end will more than equal out any extra labor and materials.

Good luck its exciting doing a project like this.

Oh P.S. The new sound systems are pretty amazing I’m sure. I’m still 5.2 with very good quality large clear drivers and it makes all the sound my ears will ever need. Where you go with the sound is really up to your desires. With much of my content I actually like it best 2.2.

Bud
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post #15 of 15 Old 01-13-2019, 06:19 PM
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That last post by bud16145 is one of the more thoughtful posts I have seen on this forum. As I am in the early stages of a basement to theater conversion his insight and thoughts are much appreciated.

James
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