new build...don't know much, starting from scratch...but willing to learn - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-13-12, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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new build...don't know much, starting from scratch...but willing to learn

I just joined the forum tonight, but as I mentioned in my intro thread the reason I joined is to get advise on my new home theater build...I am starting from scratch and I know absolutely nothing other than, this is something that I want to do...The area is located above my back garage, it is totally unfinished and uninsulated. There is a double window at one end, it is 31 feet long X 24 feet wid approximately. The ceilings are high and I have an idea of using that to my advantage to construct vaulted ceilings with wood beams...the ceiling is approximately 12 feet from the floor. With that in mind...here come the questions...

-type of projector
-size and type of screen (I want to install and electric one that is recessed in the ceiling)
-other components such as audio, video, receivers, amp and...
-types of lighting
-number and type of speakers
-any other considerations

I know many of the questions posed are personal preference, however, I want quality products that are rated for not only dependability, but, simplicity...Please wish me luck on my great endeavor....
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-14-12, 09:12 AM
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Re: new build...don't know much, starting from scratch...but willing to learn

Welcome.

Certainly there is personal preference involved. You have a very nice sized space to start with. Designing the room layout properly is one of the biggest things to consider.

To better determine the equipment requirements, here are some things you'll want to consider and it would be nice for us to know:

- What is the room to be used for? Purely movies? Movies and TV? Music listening too?
- How many people do you want to plan for?
- Do you have kids?
- What is the budget?

Welcome to the madness!

Bryan

I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

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post #3 of 6 Old 07-14-12, 01:15 PM
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Re: new build...don't know much, starting from scratch...but willing to learn

In addition to the considerations you put, Bryan's questions are certainly pertinent.

Since you are making a dedicated room in an unfinished space, you are in the catbird seat to produce a great result. However doing so probably requires more work and considerations than you have thought of so far:
-Sound isolation: how much do you want to keep the outside out, and how much do you need to keep the inside in?
-HVAC: what does the current HVAC to the area look like / what can you put in? Remember that a projector, audio gear, and a bunch of bodies make quite a bit of heat that you will need to rid the room of for it to remain comfortable. Also, how will you ensure that the HVAC system is quiet enough so that you can hear all the details in films without turning it up to ear-damaging levels?
-Other acoustics: the construction of the walls (generally for sound isolation) determines, to some extent, the low frequency acoustics in the space. If you want to take advantage of this, you will either need a very smart, studied friend or a pro.
-Shape of screen: do you want a constant image height setup, or to just match the (likely 16:9) shape of your projector's image and call it done?
-Do you want a false wall to mount the screen on?
-Do you want the speakers to be out in the room (visible), hidden, or in-wall?
-Are you a fan of the Oxford comma?
-What overall look do you want? Modern? French provincial? College student? Klingon battle cruise bridge?

These are things that determine how you build the structure of the space, which is not as changeable later as your projector, audio gear, "acoustic treatments" if you use them (which will be more part of the room and no one will ever know they are there, if a good pro tells you what to build), and furniture.

The budget question is also because a bigger budget makes it even more profitable to hire a good quality pro to design the theatre for you. If you don't intend to hire a pro, you would be well advised to spend at least a month using all your free time to read theatre build threads here and at AVSforum. Also make sure to review the "what I would do differently next time" if this is your first theatre build. Many who have built a theatre have a valuable insight into what they didn't realize initially (which is usually a lot).

31x24x12 is a dream space for me. The 12 foot ceiling part, especially, puts you at great advantage and gives you the possibility of having a simply awesome theatre if done well.
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-15-12, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: new build...don't know much, starting from scratch...but willing to learn

Quote:
aackthpt wrote: View Post
In addition to the considerations you put, Bryan's questions are certainly pertinent.

Since you are making a dedicated room in an unfinished space, you are in the catbird seat to produce a great result. However doing so probably requires more work and considerations than you have thought of so far:
-Sound isolation: how much do you want to keep the outside out, and how much do you need to keep the inside in?
-HVAC: what does the current HVAC to the area look like / what can you put in? Remember that a projector, audio gear, and a bunch of bodies make quite a bit of heat that you will need to rid the room of for it to remain comfortable. Also, how will you ensure that the HVAC system is quiet enough so that you can hear all the details in films without turning it up to ear-damaging levels?
-Other acoustics: the construction of the walls (generally for sound isolation) determines, to some extent, the low frequency acoustics in the space. If you want to take advantage of this, you will either need a very smart, studied friend or a pro.
-Shape of screen: do you want a constant image height setup, or to just match the (likely 16:9) shape of your projector's image and call it done?
-Do you want a false wall to mount the screen on?
-Do you want the speakers to be out in the room (visible), hidden, or in-wall?
-Are you a fan of the Oxford comma?
-What overall look do you want? Modern? French provincial? College student? Klingon battle cruise bridge?

These are things that determine how you build the structure of the space, which is not as changeable later as your projector, audio gear, "acoustic treatments" if you use them (which will be more part of the room and no one will ever know they are there, if a good pro tells you what to build), and furniture.

The budget question is also because a bigger budget makes it even more profitable to hire a good quality pro to design the theatre for you. If you don't intend to hire a pro, you would be well advised to spend at least a month using all your free time to read theatre build threads here and at AVSforum. Also make sure to review the "what I would do differently next time" if this is your first theatre build. Many who have built a theatre have a valuable insight into what they didn't realize initially (which is usually a lot).

31x24x12 is a dream space for me. The 12 foot ceiling part, especially, puts you at great advantage and gives you the possibility of having a simply awesome theatre if done well.
All I can say is "wow"....John. Thank you for all of the considerations that you have offered to me. I knew that there was more to consider, but, no idea there were so many..I guess I can answer what I know and maybe you can give me further advice...

-I want to retain the best possible sound quality. The room is totally unfinished. No insulation...no flooring. we are going to frame it after I get all of my thoughts together. My question would be what type of insulation is best to keep the sound in and the outdoors out.

-The HVAC question is another one I can answer. There is absolutely no air condition and my plan was to mount a window unit to cool the theater in the summer and an electric heater in the winter. Will this suffice?

-Other acoustics...the only "well studied friends" that I know, are all of you here. What would be the optimum acoustics I could construct to make this an awesome theater.

-Screen size- I think 16:1 will do, unless there is an advantage to having and adjustable set up and it is simple.

-I like the idea of a false wall with a motorized screen stored in the recess of the ceiling surrounded by some curtains to give it the "theater" look as opposed to the "TV room look"

-I would like to have my speakers either in wall or exposed...I just have no idea how to determine the number of speakers and subs. Nor do I have any idea how to determine the amp outputs to give me the volume level I need.

-The overall look that I am shooting for is another simple one...I was a paratrooper for 20 years and I love, absolutely love war movies...from WW2 to modern and ...Any suggestions.

Well may budget is not low, neither is it infinite...I have 2 friends at my beckoning that can help one is a general contractor and the other an electrician and another who is a retired machinist and very intelligent man, he is a jack of all trades and master of none...and me, well just like in the army, I guess I am the grunt. As far as the other info I can offer...the furniture I have in mind is sectional sofas and a bar with stools in the rear as opposed to theater chair. Of course I will put the seating on risers.

Thanks in advance for you answers and advice....
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-15-12, 11:24 PM
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Re: new build...don't know much, starting from scratch...but willing to learn

As has been said already, welcome to the madness!

Going to break this apart a little......

Quote:
Rakkasan Trooper wrote: View Post

-I want to retain the best possible sound quality. The room is totally unfinished. No insulation...no flooring. we are going to frame it after I get all of my thoughts together. My question would be what type of insulation is best to keep the sound in and the outdoors out.
Insulation is just a small part of the whole for sound isolation. Probably the biggest piece is decoupling your walls from your studs as best you can to reduce the ability for low frequency wavelengths to cause vibrations which then travel through your studs to other areas of your structure. You can accomplish this by constructing a "room-in-a-room" or by using clips / channel. I went with clips and channel as my room is in the basement and I had nowhere near the ceiling height you have. For more information on clips / channel, you can check out The SoundProofing Company's website.

Another technique used quite heavily is to do 2 layers of drywall with a product called Green Glue used between the 2 layers. This significantly reduces the ability for mid / high level frequencies to pass through. I actually did my first layer using OSB rather than 2 layers of drywall. Again, The SoundProofing Company's website has more info on doing this.

As far as insulation, most builds I have read use R13 in the walls and R19 in the ceiling.

Quote:
Rakkasan Trooper wrote: View Post
-The HVAC question is another one I can answer. There is absolutely no air condition and my plan was to mount a window unit to cool the theater in the summer and an electric heater in the winter. Will this suffice?
You may want to reconsider this - after you go through the effort to do the sound isolation work, the last thing you want to do is provide a large opening for sound to bypass the soundproofing. I would either check into running a trunk off your existing HVAC, or look into a ductless mini split system.

Quote:
Rakkasan Trooper wrote: View Post
-Other acoustics...the only "well studied friends" that I know, are all of you here. What would be the optimum acoustics I could construct to make this an awesome theater.
The main things to consider now are where you plan to put your seating. Most of your room modes (peaks and nulls) occur in the 40-60% area of your room - you likely won't be able to completely avoid this area, but you want to try to keep your primary seat out of this range if at all possible.

Quote:
Rakkasan Trooper wrote: View Post
-Screen size- I think 16:1 will do, unless there is an advantage to having and adjustable set up and it is simple.

-I like the idea of a false wall with a motorized screen stored in the recess of the ceiling surrounded by some curtains to give it the "theater" look as opposed to the "TV room look"
The majority of movies now are shot in 2.35:1 IIRC. However, I am not sure if you can get a motorized screen in this format. Hopefully, someone with a bit more knowledge on screens can help there.

One thing you could consider is doing a fixed screen with curtains hanging in front. Most projectors have a 12V trigger that would allow you to send a "signal" to your curtain motor so that when the projector fires up, the curtains open which would give you that "theater" feel.

Quote:
Rakkasan Trooper wrote: View Post
-I would like to have my speakers either in wall or exposed...I just have no idea how to determine the number of speakers and subs. Nor do I have any idea how to determine the amp outputs to give me the volume level I need.
Speakers are probably the most personal preference dictated purchase you will make. My suggestion here - audition as many as you can to get a feel for what sounds best to you. You can always ask here if anyone has any recommendations for speakers, but in the end, your ears will be the final judge. Also, after doing a speaker search of my own, the journey is quite fun!

For your room size, I would suggest going with at least a 7.2 system (L/C/R, side and rear surrounds, and 2 subs). If it were me, I may even consider getting an AVR 9.2 or 11.2 capable so that should I choose to add additional speakers, I don't have to get a new AVR as well. As for outboard amplification, this will depend on your speakers. For example, Klipsch speakers have such a high efficiency you may not need an amp at all to reach ear-bleed levels.

Quote:
Rakkasan Trooper wrote: View Post
-The overall look that I am shooting for is another simple one...I was a paratrooper for 20 years and I love, absolutely love war movies...from WW2 to modern and ...Any suggestions.
Only that you try to control ambient lighting as much as possible - lighter colors will refract light easily and reduce PQ.

Quote:
Rakkasan Trooper wrote: View Post
Well may budget is not low, neither is it infinite...I have 2 friends at my beckoning that can help one is a general contractor and the other an electrician and another who is a retired machinist and very intelligent man, he is a jack of all trades and master of none...and me, well just like in the army, I guess I am the grunt. As far as the other info I can offer...the furniture I have in mind is sectional sofas and a bar with stools in the rear as opposed to theater chair. Of course I will put the seating on risers.

Thanks in advance for you answers and advice....
Great to have lots of friends with building know-how! Good luck - and we are here to help. One other suggestion f I may - when looking for advice on specific parts (i.e. projectors), try to post your question in the subforum that deals with that area. Subforums have moderators with loads of experience in that area and they may not always check the construction threads.


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post #6 of 6 Old 07-16-12, 07:51 AM
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Re: new build...don't know much, starting from scratch...but willing to learn

Quote:
Rakkasan Trooper wrote: View Post
-My question would be what type of insulation is best to keep the sound in and the outdoors out.
The answer is... the cheapest thing that will meet your requirements. It's not just in the insulation, it's in the mass on the outside of the wall, the mass on the inside of the wall, the size of the airspace, how airtight all the layers are, whether the layers are decoupled, the type of studs used. Much of the data used by pros is from the national research council of canada but that doesn't cover down to the lowest frequencies we'd like to control so there is also a heavy dose of independent testing, experience, and analytical calculation. Much of that is available for you to learn about though.

Using that information to better control the sound inside the room, not just to keep things out, that is one area that I have not seen a whole lot written about (but that I know pros do). An area I don't personally know that much about, and hope to learn.

Do you want the garage to be able to be used while using the theatre without interruption? You will need to figure out how to make sure you don't hear the garage door opener run, or the cars start, in that case for example. Trust me, it should still be a little easier than trying to isolate a basement theatre from upstairs footfalls!

If you are going to need heating and cooling, you are ideally going to want a mini-split for sure, and find out what ones are sufficiently quiet. Again, an area about which I know relatively little that I can tell you directly. I do recall one particular post from Dennis Erskine on AVS that would be a great start in terms of knowing what the cooling requirements would be... but I haven't a direct link handy, sorry. Some searching there should find the information pretty quickly.

As for the optimum acoustics... well it depends on your sensibilities. It depends on the speakers you choose. And it often depends on the acoustic philosophies of any given professional what you will get as an answer to what is optimum. A better question would be "what tends to be common among various acoustic/theatre designers". Also "what are industry standards for film mixing environments"... which is a question I will link to an answer for later when I have a bit more time. Bryan Pape is a good resource here, but he does work for GIK (a great company with good integrity as far as I can tell BTW) which sells "add-on" acoustic devices so if you want something that is more integrated you may want to look elsewhere also.

I personally have a 16:9 setup with no masking, and I'm happy with it. I wanted to keep it just a bit simpler (and less costly) because this is all complex and costly enough already! In either case, read build threads, look at pictures of completed theatres, and -- I can't stress this enough -- try to get to local HT meetups or contact some local people who have built a dedicated theatre to get into their rooms. The more theatre rooms you get in from others the more you will know what you like so you can just cut straight to the final answer. You'll probably still muck about for the rest of your life though... a theatre is nearly never really "finished"... and BTW it is a constant struggle with friends. "When will your theatre be done??" Answer.... never.

I'm not sure I understand why one would want a motorized screen unless there was a window to cover. Motorized screens are much more costly and may not be as flat or have as nice of blackout borders. I think motorized curtains in front of a fixed screen might be cool, but I probably wouldn't do that either... as I mentioned. But then I've a bit of a minimalist streak.

Right now, only 7.1 really has films actually mixed for it (and you can multiply the .1 as much as wanted or needed if you become a basshead). As such, I see 9/10/11/12/13 speaker setups as a bit of a novelty--again personal opinion. I do enjoy a 7-channel setup over a 5-channel setup by experience, but I have never heard anything more than 7 so who knows, I could be blown away if I tried it!

I'm honestly not sure how "war movies" translates into a theatre room theme other than guiding your choice of posters wherever you put them.

Another consideration I forgot to mention is to consider if you want an adjacent minibar/snack stand/popcorn machine/mini-fridge type area. Having a little anteroom for this kind of stuff is really nice, and you will get better acoustics if you separate this area.

A GC and electrician friend would be great resources, but you will want to brief them extensively and monitor the work carefully. Good theatre work tends to be more exacting than your average home construction these days, particularly installing the sheetrock, soundproofing measures for the electricals, making sure to run conduit for any wiring that may change in the future (without providing flanking paths that hurt the soundproofing measures).

Last edited by aackthpt; 07-16-12 at 08:24 PM. Reason: Clarify a point slightly... not worth a repost.
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