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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have enjoyed reading other's stories and (mis)adventures in theater-building, so I felt I should share my own build that started a couple of months ago. Due mainly to budget constraints, the build is progressing very slowly, but this has given me plenty of time to plan and revise everything.

This is my first effort at a home theater. Growing up I had a variety of stereo setups hooked up to my 13" bedroom TV, and I finally got an early 5.1 Pioneer system from Costco in the 1990s. I haven't ever progressed beyond hobbyist to audiophile, so my standards are quite modest. My goal is to have a space for my wife, kids, and I to watch movies on the weekends and special nights, and my wife was foolish enough to give me leave to transform half of our small basement into whatever I wanted.

So I have an approximately 8' x 13' space to work with. Tiny, but fitting to my budget--also tiny at $2,500 (for everything from nails to seats to speakers and projector). I am going a bit overboard in squeezing in two rows of seating and 6.1 surround, but I think it will work.

First is the plan and some photos of the space before I started.
 

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Looks like a fun project to me!!..Its also very doable on your budget!!..You can look at some of my pics and posts and might get some pointers..I spent about the same as your budget on my living room and I'm very happy with the results!!..Here is what I would do with $2,500 and your space (this is just MY opinion :))

Epson 710hd projector--$650
84" or possibly 92" DIY screen--$100
Pioneer VSX-523K Receiver--$250
Polk Monitor55T--$250 (Fronts)
Polk Monitor45 B--$150 (Rears)
Polk Monitor15 C--$100 (Center)
Polk PSW110--$200 (Subwoofer)
Total--$1,700

I have used this same set up in a 16x20 room and was very happy with the results!!..Plus, you would still have $800 left over for your seating!!
 

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13' is pretty much impossible to get 2 rows of seating and have either in a good place for listening - much less 2 rows with decent viewing angles - sorry. Just being honest.
 

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It is a bummer sometimes dealing with room constraints. I have two unused channels on my preamp and amp but my current room makes it impossible to add the two side axis for 7.1. It's best just to maximize what you can and don't look back. Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the ideas and inspiration. I have to use $400-600 of my budget for construction - framing one wall, installing doors, and a seating riser, so I have about $2,000 for seating and components. I am planning on the following, with some holes still to fill in:

Projector - ViewSonic PJD5533W (native 16:10) ~$500
Speakers - Pioneer SP-BS21-LR for center and fronts, still looking for surrounds; Dayton Audio Subwoofer ~$240 so far
Screen - 84" DIY screen with blackout cloth

For the surrounds, I am still trying to figure out what to do in the back of the room. From the pictures above you can see an alcove where I am putting the main seating area (a couch). It will put the viewer about 2 ft off the back walls, and 1 foot off either side wall, but that doesn't leave much room for speaker placement. I obviously don't want a speaker in someone's ear, kinda ruins the effect. I am considering some in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, but I am hesitant from all the discussion about poor sound. Again I am not going for audiophile sound, just "good enough" sound. I am open to any ideas or advice. I will attach a drawing to help show what I mean. I also plan on treating the alcove with a couple of bass traps and panels at first reflections. With that tiny space in the back, and that many wall/floor/ceiling intersections, acoustics are going to be a challenge.

13' is pretty much impossible to get 2 rows of seating and have either in a good place for listening - much less 2 rows with decent viewing angles - sorry. Just being honest.
Thanks for the blunt truth, always appreciated. I am trying for one "real" row of seating with a small row of folding movie seats for my kids (2 and 5 yo).

Tedd,
Thanks for the link. This is one I have had bookmarked, but it is due a re-read.

And here is a side view of the planned theater so you can visualize the seating placement and the alcove in the back.
 

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The front row in that setup will be MUCH better sounding than back in the alcove, close to the wall, low ceiling height, etc. For surrounds, put them behind the seating but up as high as possible given the low ceiling.

Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have been thinking I will sit in the front row with the kids and let the wife (who cares little about quality sound) sit in the back.

What problems would I have if the surrounds were in the back corners next to the ceiling? I am guessing there would be some boominess to the bass and a lot of reflected, indirect sound, but for surround sound, maybe not a big problem?

Thanks Bryan, your advice and wisdom has been very educational as I have browsed the forums these past few months.
 

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Do what you can to get the surrounds at the proper angles and try to keep out of corners a bit. Push them up as high as possible - ideally about 6-6.5' from the floor that the front row sits on.

Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Time to Create the Space

To continue with the constructions side of things:

So I set out to build the partition wall aligned with one side of the rear alcove, only to realize the joist above was offset by about six inches. At this point I could tear out parts of the ceiling drywall and add cross braces to support the new wall, or I could move the new wall out a few inches and secure it to the existing joist. This being my first real construction project of any kind, I opted to move the wall. This had the added benefit of giving more width, but also added some corners to the room to mess with the acoustics. Oh well. I finished the wall on the theater side with drywall to be textured and painted, and the theater entrance with faux brick to hopefully give it more of an outside feel.
 

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Flip the room end for end, and black out the alcove and soffit, with black velvet to trap light coming off the screen? Those soffit lights become your screen lights. A friend uses speaker cloth as wall fabric, pretty nice looking in a plain and simple way.

The header of the door should have be doubled up, so you have a nailing surface for trim work. Too late but you might keep that in mind for when you trim the top of the doorway.

You could do the theater seats as one row and use bean bag chairs for the little ones, in front.

Use dipole speakers up high at the end of the adult seating row, and stick with 5.1

Now you need a couple of movie posters on both sides of the door on the brick wall. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the out-of-the-box thinking, but I am actually farther along in construction than the current pictures and it would be tough to make any structural changes. Thanks for the tip on the door, too. I learned a lot from my mistakes on that one doorway (so many lessons that it is a bit embarrassing). Thankfully everything else has gone rather smoothly considering this is the first time I have ever done any DIY beyond some minor electrical and plumbing.
 

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Actually, the header of the door should be on its edge to provde more structural strength also. One each side with a small gap in the middle so you have a full face in the room and outside the room.

Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Some color

Some updates:

I spent a ridiculous amount of time deciding on a color for the theater. After scouring the internet and sites like houzz.com, I finally followed the advice I found on this and other forums: choose a dark neutral tone. I went with Pittsburgh paints Ceramic Flat Enamel; a flat paint that is also washable (important with two little kids). I went for the darkest brown I could find - it ended up being the color of a Hershey bar. I went with brown as it would go better with the dark red furniture I had planned. The first picture shows up lighter and yellower than it really is. The picture with my best helper (my son) shows the color more accurately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Time for the riser. There will be a couch on the riser, and I tried to make the riser deep enough so the couch doesn't sit up against the back wall. Nothing in the theater will recline (hard to do in a 13' long room), so I went with 5' deep and 12" high. In such a small room, bass is likely to be a problem, but I am hoping by stuffing the riser full of pink insulation and adding vents along the back, I can turn the whole thing into a bass trap. We'll see. At best, it will help absorb some bass, at worst it will keep the whole riser from resonating.

I lucked out with the carpeting. I was looking at spending $50-100 for the carpet, but when I mentioned I needed a 6'x8' section of carpet, a kind salesperson showed me some 6'x8' area rugs of indoor/outdoor carpet for $10. Installation was easy with some carpet tape, and I think it looks great.

A Note:
So, I am not actually proceeding as quickly as the photos and updates might lead one to believe, but I am almost caught up to where I really am in the process. I hope to have premier night sometime in August or September. But I still have a lot to get done first: Install doors and trim, seating, AVR receiver, Blu-ray player, and projector; and design, build, and install the screen and acoustic panels. I just got my main speakers though! I got two pairs of the old model of the Pioneer Andrew Jones designed bookshelf speakers on sale for $59.99/pair. Hard to beat.
 

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Been casually following your build and the room is turning out really nicely! Good use of limited space here. I like the color choice, reminds me of what I used in my HT, maybe a little darker. Have you chosen a movie for your premier night yet? From what I've read and heard, you will love those Pioneer speakers. What will you be using for front and rear center channels?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Making Progress

I am loving the dark brown. It looks much better in person too. One bonus to dark brown is that wall plates, outlets, switch covers, etc. are all available in dark brown at the same price as white or beige, so I went through and replaced all the outlets and faceplates so they blend nicely.

For premier night, I am thinking Tangled with the kids, and maybe The Fifth Element for me and the wife.

The Pioneer speakers will serve as the front, right, center, and back channels, with some in-ceiling speakers for surrounds (maybe Dayton?), and a Dayton 8" subwoofer.

I have been making a lot of progress in the room this past week or so, and it is finally feeling like a theater. I got doors and trim installed, 16 acoustic panels built and installed, and I am working on the screen.

First, the entrance. I am open to any suggestions for sprucing up the entrance (please!). Below is a picture of how it looks now and a mockup of how it might look. I have been thinking of either painting it red or going for the upholstered look similar to this.
 

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