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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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The home theater...

Posting this mostly at Trunk Monkey's request - but I suppose it'll be convenient for me to also catalog it someplace for myself to look upon in delight, if when I finish.

Even before I moved into the new house I had my eyes on what possibilities might be in store for the large, unfinished basement. The one room I wasn't going to compromise over was a proper home theater - and so I started sketching out designs. I had a good rough idea of the layout by the time we moved in about 6 weeks later, and ported my sketch into a crude Photoshop layout for scale.

After settling into the house (late last year) I had motivation again to more properly render the floor plan, so I started searching for platforms to do so from. I eventually settled on Homestyler - from there I was able to tweak the design according to the various codes as I learned about them, and confirm measurements/dimensions to the space I had. When it came time to submit the floor plans to the city for the permit application I used a copy of AutoCAD Architecture, which took me a little time to adapt to but the renderings are much cleaner.

With the permit with the building department I started off by applying Drylok Extreme to the walls - not as a waterproofer but more as a moisture barrier to reduce the possibility of condensation (and later, mold) forming up behind the insulation. After that I installed 2" extruded polystyrene insulation. With that done I installed the floor plates for the walls, then top plates. At this point I'm currently putting studs in between them. After that, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, drywall etc.

So enough about the basement as a whole. Let me detail the theater specifics...

The theater room is 19x14. Unfortunately about half the width of the ceiling has ductwork running the length of the room, so I had to build an 11" deep soffit to enclose it. The current plan is to have a dark gray ceiling, dark blue walls, and a medium gray/brown carpet. The front of the room is also up against the HVAC equipment, so I'm taking extra measures to soundproof the room. I installed 2x6 floor and ceiling plates to accommodate two, 2x3 walls with a 1/2" gap between them. I'll be using mineral wool insulation in the wall, and I'm also installing 1/8" vinyl to further isolate the drywall from the studs (wall and ceiling) and reduce sound transmission. From the calculations I've done the room should have an STC of about 60, which should prevent "shouting" from being audible on the other side. In actuality I'm more interested in keeping HVAC noises out of the theater than I am from keeping theater noises from penetrating the rest of the house - but I have to confess, that's a nice added bonus.

I've got a 120" 16:9 acoustically transparent screen (Elite Screens Aeon AUHD) on deck for the room, and I have an Epson 5040UB 4MP projector to pair with it. I already have a 7.1 THX certified speaker set and 4K ready receiver from Onkyo as well. I'm planning on building 8 or 10 inch deep shelves around where the screen will go, which will act as not only as storage, but as a clever way to build the screen away from the wall so I can hide the center channel speaker behind it. Furthermore it should be a good way to help conceal the fact that there's a soffit on half the ceiling. I'm also not dead-set on the total square footage, but right now it's looking like about 100 square feet of sound absorptive acoustical panels in the room (on the walls) to help keep room reverb down.

For seating I'm looking at the same type of motorized reclining seats you can find in some theaters nowadays. Eventually I'm looking to have two rows, one of four and one of five seats - but the darned things are like $700 a piece so it's not going to happen all at once.

Unfortunately there isn't a ton I can do about HVAC - there's barely enough room for me to install one 6" air return and feed vent in the room since I am putting the vents close to the floor and don't want to open up vents in the wall against the furnace (again, for noise prevention purposes).

For the lighting I'm installing four recessed lights in the ceiling, using dimmable LED lamps that have a selectable color temperature, and also feature a ringed "night light" around the trim giving a low glow. I'm also putting in four wall sconces with dimmable LEDs.

Just outside the theater there's an area I'll put some cabinets and a countertop in, for a microwave, mini-fridge, and snacks.

It'll be a little while before I have more updates regarding the construction in the theater itself, as I started there with the framing and now have the rest of the basement to frame up before I can move on to the next phases. My goal is to have all the framing done by the end of July, so I can tackle the plumbing for the bathroom, and electrical for the rest of the basement as a whole and transition to drywall for September. With a lot of elbow grease and even more motivation, I'll be able to meet my goal of having things finished up (at least enough to use the theater) by the end of the year.
Attached Images
File Type: png Theater Wall-Temp0002.png (282.6 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg ht-1.jpg (33.6 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg ht-2.jpg (69.8 KB, 0 views)

-Brandon
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 09:02 PM
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That looks great, B!

I think the setup you're doing is going to be great sounding; 7.1 rocks.

I think you're going to be really happy when you get done.

If it's too bright sounding, you can put a cloth tapestry/poster on the walls to the right and left; adding books to the shelves will make it dead and not resonant at all.

Adding a subwoofer holddown, like either bolting it to the floor, or putting a few hundred pounds of books on it will help the sound. Bolting it to the chairs really rocks, lol.

Don't put anything fragile on the sub, as it will break caps off eventually, lol.

Adding a minifridge for beverages is a good idea; make sure it's not noisy, tho.

Personally, I'd add an older computer with a theater type video card to the mix, something quiet; I have all my disks on HD, and just play everything from there. A simple 5 disk sata Raid-5 set, using a port multiplier and 2TB disks will hold an entire cabinet of DVD's and Blu-rays, and they won't get scratched up over time.
I've lost one disk in 10 years; replacing it with a blank one, and letting the system rebuild it took 20 hours, but I didn't lose anything, content wise.

Nice!!

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Well, a little update. I finished up with the framing a couple weeks ago and had the city inspector out two Fridays ago (the 2nd). This last week I focused on getting the remaining HVAC modifications done throughout the basement. I finished that up today and have transitioned into the water lines for the bathroom. My goal is to have those wrapped up by the end of this week so I can start with the electrical work next week. I'm not sure how long that will take, but I am more or less on track to start with drywall sometime in September. I've also started to consider hiring that part of the project out - there are a few folks I know/have been told to talk to about that, so I'll have to see what the estimates come in at. If they want more in labor than what I will pay for materials, I'll probably just suffer and do it myself. Or at the very least, I'll hang it myself and pay someone to do the joints.

In any case, since I know we all love photos of stuff, here are a few of the various rooms in their current states of disarray. It's a mess down there to be sure - I just move the various piles of stuff out of the way as I go from room to room. Forgive the lousy pictures - I had to use "panorama" mode on the phone camera to get the full 90 degree FOV for the rooms, and it wasn't very forgiving. The studs really aren't out of level THAT much...

There's also a storage area and an "entry hall" which is really too big to be a hall, but too small to be its own room. I'll probably build shelves so I can display my collection of vintage ThinkPads.

As I go through the electrical I'll settle on what types of cabling to run from the AV receiver to the projector, and also from elsewhere in the basement/through the house to the AV receiver. At the very least, an HDMI from the PC in the office upstairs...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Theater1.jpg (165.8 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg Kitchenette1.jpg (131.0 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg Den1.jpg (148.8 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg Bathroom1.jpg (184.7 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg Workshop1.jpg (191.5 KB, 1 views)

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 06:06 PM
No, Mr. Lemmywinks, No!!!

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I'd run a couple of Cat6 ethernet cables, 2x HDMI cables, and maybe 2x displayport cables; fiber audio, RCA audio, and maybe a 3.5mm audio cable.

1080p is standard now, but having cables capable of 4k would be a minimum for me, you might want to consider 8k capability.

I'd make a spot where you can put a laptop or other portable computer and jack in to the system easily. You may not want it now, but who knows what's just around the corner.

One thing you may run into is HDCP; copy protected media (Blu-ray, Amazon, some new cable boxes) requires everything in the chain to be copy protected, so sometimes running it thru a receiver that has multiple output capability won't work. I'd test that before you finalize the setup. My older (10yo) receivers won't work.

That's fairly easy to get around for now, lol.

I'd run extra cables while the walls are open; short runs are better than long runs, 6.5 feet is max for a copper HDMI cable, but active cables extend it to 65 feet.

Easier to remove ones you don't need later, than to add one more.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 07:01 PM
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One thing I just learned from a cable guy is that not all coaxial cable are made to run high speed internet/cable TV. Luckily When I did my home theatre I was lucky enough to buy the correct type. Elsewhere in the house we fine some cheaper Walmart cables (not sure if that's what they are or not, but you get the idea). Just make sure you put the right stuff in the first time. Drywall sucks... Good luck with the project, sounds like a nice setup!
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Progress has been a little slow lately due to the chaos at work that erupted this and last week, but things are progressing. I finished the plumbing a few days ago and have been working through the electrical over the last week. I've got most of the boxes in place and have started with lighting circuits. I finished up the home theater lighting rough-in this evening and pulled the speaker wire I had (I grossly underestimated and have ordered another spool of speaker wire). I settled on the front speakers centered at 3'6" and the surround and rear speakers at 5'6". I was originally planning to try and recess the surround speakers into the walls a little but given the shallow cavity of your standard 2x4 wall and the desire I had to keep the speaker feed wallplate concealed behind the speaker, I'm just going to put a small shelf up to suspend them. The fronts I will be recessing - owing to the fact that I'll be building out the front wall 8-10" for storage.

I also decided on the rest of the low voltage plans for the basement. I'll be pulling a pair of Cat 6 to the workshop (one for an eventual sump pump alarm alert), three to the home theater (one for the projector, one for the receiver and one for the BD player), four to the den (two on each side of the wall - the idea is an active drop on each side and the other two that I can patch together if desired, to create an offline LAN for retro gaming without the need to run a cable across the floor). Based on the inputs to the projector itself (aside from the LAN feed), I'm just pulling a single HDMI 2.0 cable to it from the receiver. I was hoping to find an HDMI 2.1 cable for 8k compatibility down the road, but I couldn't find anything longer than 6' -- plus, the odds of me ever getting an 8k projector are slim-to-none. If I ever upgrade to native 4k, that'll be a minimum of 5-10 years down the road, depending on pricing. The route for the cable is relatively accessible with the construction, so if I need to replace it, add more later, or otherwise get at it, it will be feasible.

No pictures at the moment, but I imagine in 2-3 weeks I'll be getting my electrical handiwork inspected... then it'll be final insulation and soundproofing before drywall. I did find someone who will finish anything I hang for $.42/ft inc. materials... pretty seriously considering that route to save me time and guarantee a professional finish to the final product.

-Brandon
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 01:15 AM
No, Mr. Lemmywinks, No!!!

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By the time 8k becomes common, there will be a new optical standard for driving it; it's impossible to move ahead that far.

My "Killer 26" 1080 monitors" on my desk are only 10 years old, but don't have displayport, lol.

I'd add one more "dead" Cat6 cable to all those runs, if it were me; leave it in the wall unterminated.
You'll likely find something to use it for before anything else.
Extra cables you never use are much better than one you have to run after the sheetrock is finished.

I'd run some stereo RCA cables, even if you don't terminate them.

You can get crimp on RCA connectors for Quad shield Coax RG6; I have a roll if you need some, lol.

A tip if you ever have speakers slide around on a shelf:

Put wax paper on shelf
Put dot of Ultra black RTV on waxpaper
Put piece of waxpaper on top
Put speaker on top.
Let dry
Remove waxpaper
Replace dots
Place speaker on non-slide dots.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 03:04 AM
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Since you don't have it set up yet you might want to consider preparing for Atmos speaker set-ups, either in-ceiling or sitting on the main speakers -

https://www.dolby.com/us/en/guide/sp...tup-guide.html

https://www.dolby.com/us/en/guide/sp...tup-guide.html

This looks to be the new norm in terms of surround sound future, irrespective of 4K/8K or HDR. Better to wire for it now. I don't know if there's a consensus on whether in-ceiling is better or not.

Ya, the "standard" is never standard but pre-wiring for 8K and having it still work with 4K, and preparing for 7.1.4 would be the way to go.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 09:31 AM
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Good Lord that's a lot of speakers! That's the THX configuration - on steroids!

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 10:21 AM
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Why don't you run an extra CAT6 cable to setup a dedicated WiFi access point. Being a basement I'd imagine whatever WiFi signal you have from your router upstairs will be weak / limited down in the basement once it's all completed.

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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That is a good idea. I'll have an extra 50' or so of wire on the 2nd spool that I'm buying to finish the regular 7.1 jacks, so I can at least put 2 runs in the ceiling. I also have a spool of a different type of speaker wire leftover from a different project a number of years ago, which should work for the other two runs... so I think I can make those four overhead speaker runs work.

As far as wireless signal, the router I have now is actually right above the home theater on the first floor, and I get 4-5 bars throughout the entire house (!). I'm running close to a dozen drops thoughout though - so if I do need another WAP down there... I'll be equipped. I'll estimate the cable length needed for all the drops I already know I want, then round up and get a spool of cable above that (e.g. if I need 300' I'll get a 500' box, then run more runs until I run out).

Now - Grog - where were you thinking the other end of the various audio cables you were suggesting would go to? With this being and enclosed and nearly soundproof room, there isn't much point in running audio cables in there from other rooms, since I'd be able to stream to it over the network anyway.

-Brandon
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 04:45 PM
No, Mr. Lemmywinks, No!!!

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IDK; I always regret not running one more cable of a type I forgot; I didn't see audio cable on your list, and I hate doing A-D, D-A conversions on things like Vinyl.



Compare a Vinyl album of say, Mozart to an MP3 or other digital file.

I have a great vinyl collection of Classical, and it makes a difference.
If I bother to convert them, it's to FLAC.

I love your setup; I'd start out with stuff like The Matrix, Independence Day, or other great surround sound movies.

For audio tests, Mozart's Violin concertos, or Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon are great tests of clarity and dynamic range.

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-08-2019, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Well, an update on progress over the last couple months.

A few weeks ago I finished up the electrical and had the plumbing and electrical inspectors give me the OK; I had a buddy of mine who's a commercial electrician look it over ahead of time which gave me an opportunity to fix a few things for a first-inspection pass. I've been doing the soundproofing of key locations (mostly around the duct-covering soffits, home theater interior walls, and the mechanical utility room walls) and perimeter insulation over the Foamular since then, and should be finished with that either later tonight or by tomorrow evening. The current plan is to get the 38 sheets of 5/8" drywall I'll need for the ceilings this weekend... fortunately a neighbor of mine has a drywall hoist he's happy to let me use!

I did pull four more wires for overhead Atmos speakers, since it was only about $20 for another spool of the CL rated stuff I was using for the wall speakers. I originally was going to run Cat5e but decided it was in my best interests to upgrade to Cat6 so I could run 10 Gb/s Ethernet down the road if desired. So I returned the 5e and grabbed a 1000' spool of Cat6; I had more than enough to pull two drops at each location I had marked - and was able to add drops to 3 locations I hadn't planned on as well. I also ran another HDMI 2.0 cable from the location of the AV receiver up to the 1st floor office. Given the ways I could use my current setup, I don't see any reason to add more low voltage cabling.

I hauled the projector down and powered it up briefly so I could test picture throw from the location it's going to be mounted, so I could verify the mount would work. This was a concern of mine since the projector is going to be mounted where the ceiling is "full" height at the center of the room, and the soffit around the ducts is about 12" deep immediately adjacent to it on the right. If the projector lens was too high relative to the soffit, it would cast a shadow that would land at the top of the screen on the right -- which is going to be only about 2" under the soffit. Fortunately with the inexpensive-yet-highly-rated mount I was eyeing, the setup is just about ideal to have the projector as close to the ceiling as possible without having the soffit cast a shadow at the top of the image.

I've also done some reading and picked up a few tips on "better drywall hanging and taping" so I'm feeling more confident about being able to do all the work myself and finish with a suitably professional result. I was also thinking about the $1500 in labor I'd be saving by doing it myself, to be honest.

I need to finish putting in the last couple batts of insulation and use up the remaining two rolls of vinyl soundproofing, then clean up a tad to make room for the drywall. Once I do all that I'll post a couple pics. Speaking of the soundproofing... that stuff is way more effective than I thought it would be - and also way more of a pain to work with than I thought it would be too! The theater is adjacent to the mechanical utility room (furnace and water heater) but with all the soundproofing/insulation in, the furnace is no longer an impossible-to-ignore prominent sound but rather a quiet rumble - my guess is a sound reduction of 25-30 dB. It'll be even quieter once I hang the drywall.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-09-2019, 09:16 AM
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I'm excited for you and the work you're doing!

Everyone I've talked to complains about drywall, but IMO, it's not that bad. Hanging it on a ceiling though, I can see how that can be a pain. How will you be getting the drywall hoist down to your basement? Or is it not that big? And are the drywall sheets 4x8 or 4x12?

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-09-2019, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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The drywall hoist is along these lines, so I don't anticipate difficulty moving it. https://www.northerntool.com/shop/to...3184_200693184

OK, I was too lazy and impatient to not take a pic or two.

In reality I read that the HDMI cables I installed weren't good for some of the HDR formats I need to be able to use with the projector, so I hauled it down again and tested things out. Fortunately everything looks OK - the projector doesn't support 4:4:4 unfortunately but it is running at the max quality it does support, of 12 bit 4:2:2. I'll take it. I've still got one more roll of the vinyl soundproofing to hang (I'm fairly certain I'll use it on the other side of the wall adjacent to the furnace) and I found a couple areas I need to add blocks/braces to before ceiling drywall can go up. Slowly (very slowly) but surely...
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post #16 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 08:55 AM
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Awesome project. Thanks for the updates. I've got an unfinished home theater that I'd love to build out.

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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-13-2019, 09:47 PM
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That's going to be awesome when its finished. Look forward to seeing pics when its done.
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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-13-2019, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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I actually just finished hanging the ceiling drywall in there this evening. Sure makes a difference in the room! And holy smokes it made a big impact on sound isolation as well! My wife likes to listen to some tunes on occasion up on the 2nd floor directly above the theater, and before hanging the drywall I could fairly easily hear it through the ductwork (even with the insulation and vinyl). Not tonight though - I had no idea she was up there until I came up the stairs!

Now to hang the other 28 sheets in the rest of the basement, and tie off the minor odds-and-ends so I can get the wall drywall. Maybe in a couple weeks (or less if I can kick some butt on progress for once!).
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