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Fred's Home Theater

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  • Fred's Home Theater

    I've been waiting for things to come together a little on my end before I started posting my build-related questions and pictures here, and I think I've finally reached a point where it's worthwhile to fill you all in on the details. Hopefully, the friendly community here will have some insight and be interested in what I have going on. I've been pretty well convinced for months now that I would totally outfit my new theater with CHT gear, but it's been entirely impractical to buy it before now. I'm getting closer...

    So lets start with a little background about me and my perspective on this whole thing - feel free to skip this paragraph if it bores you, but it informs my approach to my designs and may be of casual interest. I'm young-ish and married, with no kids (not gonna happen), and I'm a little bit of a movie nut. I've never spent my extra cash on sound gear or music really. I used to be a public high school science teacher, and now I am a mechanic; so it's not like I have a lot of extra cash in the first place, but I do have a fairly technical education, and I like gadgets and technology. I bought a nice plasma TV a few years ago and began to realize what the potential for home viewing really was, and since then I've been planning and researching. I had a small HTiB that I set up in the living room, after I convinced the wife to let me rearrange the furniture so I could have a symmetrical setup. Just doing that convinced me (and the wife) that we could really do this right if we could just get a space dedicated to it. Well, eventually, we found a house for sale with a basement area that would fit the bill, and we bought it (we were lucky enough to find reliable tenants for the old house, so I still pay for both, but that's a whole different story) We moved last October. I began demolition on the old "finished" "entertainment area" early this year, and I'm slow. So I've just now gotten the new framing in place for the walls of the new theater. That pretty well brings us up to date.

    Here's the space as it was when we moved in. I don't have any good pictures, just this video. It explains what I saw as limitations and possibilities for the space. (Embedding is disabled, so you'll have to watch at youtube, if you'd like to see)

    Here's the only picture that shows the room, mostly as before. From this perspective, you'd be standing outside the rear of the theater, looking toward the screen wall.

    After a great deal of measuring and planning, here's a render of what I'm building. The only things you can't see here are soffits around the rear and side walls, and you can't see clearly that there is a 14" riser in the back half of the space (not actually built yet).

    I've been rebuilding from scratch in order to accomplish a few goals that were unreachable in the space as it was. First, total light control to make front projection more manageable. So I took out one of the windows.

    Second, I'm going for the best sound isolation and lowest noise floor I can get with mostly off-the-shelf parts. That means careful planning for HVAC, lighting/wiring, and totally decoupled, isolated framing. This is what I have just finished. I'm putting the finishing touches on a new set of walls that stand on my concrete floor, but are totally independent of any other structure in the house. Here's a picture of the current state of the rear of the theater, viewed from the screen end.

    You can see a video of my walkthrough from the other day. It explains some of the details of my framing techniques and the challenges to a room-within-a-room, as I built it.

    That brings us up to date on the major situations, I'm hoping I can post some questions about the fun stuff (speakers and subs!) and get some insight from you guys. That'll be in a few ours.

    Thanks for taking the time to read.


  • #2

    Off to watch the videos...


    • #3
      Thanks for the interest!

      So here's where I am: I have tried to plan for 7.x surround. I will be building a stage with an acoustically transparent screen. I'm hoping to build some kind of column or other enclosure for surround and read speaker channels. The challenges to that are the dimension of the room. I've limited myself to two rows of seats - not more than three in each row. But that still only leaves a small distance between the seats and the walls. I'm expecting about two feet between the edge of the seating and the side walls, and about three feet behind the rear seating, before the rear wall. Here's a sketch that doesn't include the extra couple feet at the entrance you can see in the 3D render.

      The room is just about 12 feet wide (maybe a little less after drywall), by 21.5 feet deep, plus the 20 inches or so in the middle of the rear wall. The ceiling is 9 feet up, minus drywall, and minus a 14 inch riser in the rear 8 feet or so of the room - you can see the extent of the riser in the image above. That image is to scale, in terms of built structure, but maybe not for furniture.

      My questions for you all, at least for now, are what do you think about speaker and sub locations - prewiring. The speaker wire will be routed entirely within soffits, risers, and false screen wall.

      The speakers, like I said, will eventually be enclosed in columns or similar, so I don't have to worry about wall plates or pretty connections or cable wraps. Given that the receiver/amps will be just outside the entrance in the closet, the speaker wire runs will be as much as 30-35 feet to LCR - less to surrounds. Would you run 12 gauge wire? I think 14 should be fine, and 12 might be harder to get into binding posts, right?

      Would you insist on SHO-10s? Or would you prefer to save $300 and go for six PRO-10s or even all seven PRO-10s?

      For subs, I was figuring to prewire for at least one location behind the screen (given that I can leave wires long back there), probably two connections through the front of the stage (near the walls on each side), and maybe four connections in various places out from the riser. I don't pan on running 7 subs, but I want the flexibility to tune and retune with location. Ultimately, I foresee running 4 subs, but I'll probably start with 2. What's the wire to run for the subs? 12 gauge speaker wire alongside COAX? I don't know if I'll have built-in amps or separates for the subs. SpeakOn is just speaker wire with a special connector, right? So if I even upgraded to an amp that used that, I could just reterminate, yes?

      I don't think I can fit 18.2s, so probably singles.

      The room's about 2400 cubes, minus riser, soffits, etc. How much is enough bass? :D

      So, you can see that I have very little practical experience with this, but I'm trying to load for bear, if you know what I mean.

      I have a calibrated ECM 8000 and soundcard setup for REW, and plan to make full use of it, once there is something to measure. :)

      Also, I know I've skipped a lot of my thought processes and details of my designs and intentions. I'm more than happy to explain any decision or answer any question you may have - I'm just trying not to overload this with an essay, you know? So, how would you outfit this space for sound, with future-proofing in mind?



      • #4
        My only though it: 2' is awfully tight to walk between seating and wall. I can't think of any way you would want to stick a column or even a speaker in that location. I'd want 30" between obstructions, myself, even if it put the seating a little off center.


        • #5
          Guesstimating by eye, the side speakers look like they're operating at their widest spread, maybe 30 deg to the front seats, and 50 deg off center to the back seats, which is pushing the 90 deg spec of the horn. Maybe place a little forward of the front seats and point them between front and back? This would solve what Kevin_Wadsworth is bringing up, too.

          Looking at oxygen free speaker wire at Monoprice 200' of 14 ga is $50, 0f 12 ga is $58, I'd go with the 12 ga for peace of mind. No problems with the binding posts.

          I'm pretty happy with the PROs Sho LCR setup I have. I definitely am interested in the SHO-10 tower, and the Pros will move to sides when that happens.

          Start with the 18.T (twins) first, you'll be very impressed in a sealed room. But I'd still recommend sight unseen, even without a review yet, the MQ-600 with mini DSP option! I'd bet the farm on the performance of that one. Haven't heard anyone yet that said they had too much woofage, so a quad setup will start stiring in your dreams once you hear and feel what good bass does.


          • #6
            Thanks for the thoughts guys. I hadn't really considered the possibility of turning the side speakers. I'll keep that idea and see how it pans out. I'm still hoping that it won't be necessary, but I see what you're saying. The picture sure looks like it'll be pushing it. I've never studied specs for the horn - is 90 degrees -3dB or -6 or something else significant?

            Originally posted by sbdman
            ...the MQ-600 with mini DSP option.
            This is a new product to me (I think it's pretty new in general, isn't it?). So, the single output from my AVR can get split and tweaked individually in the miniDSP and routed out to amps from there, right? Seems like a great affordable way to get lots of tuning options.



            • #7
              MQ-600 hasn't been released, yet. Craig sent it to D.T.Mike for a comparison with a very powerfull Crown XLS-2500 in the "Experimenting with other Amps" thread. We'll hear about it soon.

              The mini DSP is like other equalizers. it goes between the AVR sub out, and to the mini DSP, then the amp - all RCA or XLR connections, then to subs with speaker wire. Typically you'd use a PC to program it, and REW, soundcard and the mic you have to tailor response.


              • #8
                Nice looking design Fred! I'm going through much the same process myself right now. I opted for 4 sub runs in each corner just for future proofing sake but I'm going to start with the 18.2 and 18.T in the center front wall behind my AT screen and centerwall rear behind an AT wall.

                What are you doing for room treatments? That's something to really consider too. I ran my room dimmensions through modecalc as well to see what kind of modes I was going to get so I could plan for it. I actually adjusted my dimmensions to avoid some nasty modes. You can find it on HTS.

                I'm still struggling with exactly what kind of columns to make myself. I'll share what I come up with if you are interested...
                LCR: Gedlee Abbeys for LR and Nathan for Center Surround & rear 4 x Sho10's
                Subs: 4 x 18.2
                Electronics: Marantz SR7002, Acurus 200x3 (LCR), PS3, HTPC, CDP300, Mits HC1500, Elite Peregrine 2.35 156" Acousticpro4k


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dguarnaccia
                  Nice looking design Fred!
                  I'm still struggling with exactly what kind of columns to make myself. I'll share what I come up with if you are interested...
                  I've looked at the room mode calculators, and don't have enough confidence in them to change my design - they can't account for my irregular rear wall, or the riser or soffits. The design looks fairly benign, with reasonable mode distribution (not great) and without many (any?) very strong modes, but we'll see. I've left myself options to build resonant absorbers as well as corner traps. I'll need walls and ceiling closed in before I can make any measurements though (not to mention drivers!). I'm not willing to invest in the materials and space without knowing what problems they need to solve.

                  The column issue is kinda thorny, you know? With the width of the room being so limited, I'm reluctant to build anything big. I'm thinking about maybe a tapered design, where the bottom is very close to the wall. Or maybe a stepped design, with straight segments, but larger near the top to accommodate speakers. Or maybe just something small, really applied to the wall, with a shelf built on/above it.

                  I haven't really thought too much about the aesthetics of the whole room - picking colors or fabrics or anything. Once it's mostly built, I'm hoping my wife will take a more active role.

                  Please go ahead and post any designs you're willing to share - as long as you don't mind when I poach them!



                  • #10
                    This one caught my interest in terms of tapered design...

                    I found that in the "show me your columns/pillars" thead on AVS.

                    I think I'm going to go with something like this. I have a little more room than you do, but not much at 16 foot wide...

                    LCR: Gedlee Abbeys for LR and Nathan for Center Surround & rear 4 x Sho10's
                    Subs: 4 x 18.2
                    Electronics: Marantz SR7002, Acurus 200x3 (LCR), PS3, HTPC, CDP300, Mits HC1500, Elite Peregrine 2.35 156" Acousticpro4k


                    • #11
                      Looking good Fred. That room has big time potential.Your doing it right by having the room first then purchasing the equipment. Don't be like me and have high spl equipment with no room. Lol!
                      I came, I saw, I purchased.


                      • #12
                        I've been following this since you posted, and each time I got ready to reply, I was interrupted. No immediate suggestions come to mind, but you never know. I'll be following your progress regardless!
                        Coach Pat Summitt - Folding at Home


                        • #13
                          Thanks guys. I appreciate any and all input (even nonsense!).

                          I was on "vacation" until today, so I got a lot done. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep some momentum going and get things done. I have some more insulation to load in the walls and ceiling, and then I'll be hanging OSB, for my first layer of wall/ceiling.


                          • #14
                            I hate that I'm so slow. I certainly wasn't able to maintain any of the momentum I had. Life gets in the way, you know?

                            Anyway, I've finally gotten a little of the wall boards (OSB) up. The drywall lift is essential. I've realized that there will be a lot of wiggling and cutting and measuring, and refitting and more cutting... Most of the ceiling is going to require custom cut weird shapes and cut-outs to fit around the plumbing and so forth. I only get four full sheets up (probably less on the second layer), and the rest will be custom.


                            • #15
                              Keep plugging away, Fred. Looks like a nice space.