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26' x 10': too narrow for home theater?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Aaron Gould, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Well-Known Member

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    I am currently considering buying a new home, and unfortunately my budget has restricted me to those with potentially less than ideal basements for a home theater.

    Just this weekend, I viewed a home that has very nice features throughout. The basement is almost perfect... I'm just concerned about the width of the room. Here's the layout:

    [​IMG]

    This basement is unfinished, which is great for me. I will be able to in-wall wire as needed. The yellow area will be the enclosed theater area. The wall vertically down the middle cannot be moved, as it is supporting the upper levels.

    Can anyone tell me if I may regret building a home theater that's only 10' wide?
     
  2. Matt Weldy

    Matt Weldy Well-Known Member

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    I'm interested in this also.
     
  3. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Well-Known Member

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    It's not ideal, but I would do it. Very few rooms are ideal, unless you build your own house and plan it. My HT room in the basement is 12'X17' and features a front projector with a 106" diagonal screen. I wish my room was longer, and you wish your's was wider. Are you thinking TV or projector? Will this room be strictly for movies, HD prpgramming, or what?
     
  4. BruceSpielbauer

    BruceSpielbauer Well-Known Member

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    Question: How many seats do you picture when you think of your own home theater? Four? Six? Eight? Ten?

    10 feet is definitely on the narrow side, but everything is relative. A ten foot width can certainly be done, as long as you decide up front to limit the number of seats across in any row. A lot will depend on how many seats you had envisioned, and also whether you planned on using real theater seating (similar to the seats one finds in your local movie theater), or whether you envisioned true home theater recliners. Or, were you hoping for a sofa setup, or a love-seat or multiple love-seats of some sort?

    Home theater recliners (the kind that usually has a cupholder, and features full recline) tend to be wide. Thus, each person would take up a lot more room. The seats you find in your local cineplex are much less so. Sofas also allow for more people to enjoy without taking up so much width.

    One of the smaller true home theater recliners which is popular is the Berkline 088s. Placing three of these across (in the usual configuration, where each has an arm) means 86 inches. That is 7 feet, 2 inches. This would leave you only 2 feet 10 inches for aisles. The ideal is an equal aisle on each side, and 1 foot five inches is not wide anough to allow easy passage.

    Two of the same seats across, means 59 inches. You can then do two aisles.

    Remember, those Berkline 088s I mentioned above are just about the smallest recliners you will find in a true home theater recliner model, in terms of the width. Most are wider.

    If you go with one of the alternative styles of seating, you can probably do three movie theater style seats with no problem. And, you will be able to find small sofas and settees and love seats that could work. Some people even do a back row of bar stools. I personally balk at the comfort level of this approach, but this is a popular setupfor the very back row, as it means more people taking up less room.

    Or, if you gotta have the home theater style recliners, especially the larger models, perhaps consider only two across. Or, consider a single aisle on one side (oh oh... another compromise: the acoustics will suffer, especially for the person(s) right up against one wall). Surround effects are tough to manage when you are either right next to one of the side surrounds, or right in front of it, or right behind it.)

    Two rows? You certainly have the length in this long space. You can do three rows with your length.

    You will be making some serious compromises from the start. On example -- having the stairs enter directly into the room is a definite compromise -- people entering and leaving, and the usual distractions this can often mean.... will people entering be turning on a light switch to negotiate the stairs? Even that compromise is one that some people are willing to put up with, while others would decide this alone is a "deal-breaker."

    Some rooms require more compromise than others. There are home theaters with seating for only two, and I have seen pics of several that offered seating for only one. (There are people who have music listening rooms that do a dual purpose as a private home theater, and I saw a picture of one of these just the other day). Some people insist on more comfort than movie theater style chairs offer. I am a fairly tall guy, and I hate move theater style seats. Others point out that we sit in those for two hours all the time at a movie theater.

    Only you can decide what your acceptable levels of compromise are. That will determine whether this space is acceptable for your own needs and your own desires.

    I am just trying to force your thoughts, so you can think this through.

    -Bruce
     
  5. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Well-Known Member

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    Wow, that's certainly a lot of food for thought... thanks!

    Some events have happened since I posted that message. I actually purchased the home, as everything else about it was desirable for me. Several features I wanted were there: large open-concept main floor for a grand piano and dining room table, three bedrooms and a full bathroom on the second floor, nicely sized walk-in closet off the master bedroom, large 16'x16' deck off the back outside door, etc.

    So I'll change the direction of the tread slightly to be, "how can I make this 10' wide room work for my home theater."

    I'm a single guy with no kids, so I won't need a whole lot of seats.

    I will probably put a ceiling-mounted projector in. If I do can't do that, I'll be looking for a 50" or larger plasma (depending on price).

    Bruce: tiered seating (2 x 2 seating) did cross my mind earlier. Perhaps a pair of double-seat sofas? The unfinished height of the room is 8', so the tiered levels could work.

    Another thing -- this room is not solely for movies. I will also be placing my computer desk directly behind the sofa, facing the TV. (Yeah, I'm lazy and watch TV/movies from my desk while on the computer!).

    Most of the content played will be HD programming, DVD, movies from my computer, and some video games.

    I'll try to update the above image very soon to reflect the furniture and equipment I have, or plan to add.
     
  6. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Well-Known Member

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    Just an update on some ideas for furniture and equipment placements:

    [​IMG]

    I do have equipment for 7.1 channels, so because the rear speakers are so far back, would they be best placed on the side walls a few feet behind the side surrounds?
     
  7. nolesrule

    nolesrule Well-Known Member

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    What about dividing it into 2 rooms? You would have a wall to put the rear speakers closer to the seating area and create a bonus room.

    How far are the stairs from the front of your proposed theater? Depending on where the stairs are located, you might have enough room for the stairs to come into a bonus room instead of the theater, thus creating an entry area to your theater.

    Just an idea.
     
  8. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Well-Known Member

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    You can have a great setup in there. I definitely recommend a projector. If you haven't seen one in action yet, definitely do that before you decide. Your screen size would only be limited by your wall width, and saving room on each side for your front speakers. I would say a screen width about 7' wide. That leaves 1.5' on each side for your speakers. If you use smaller speakers in front and a subwoofer, you can go even bigger with the screen. A 50" TV set would be WAY TOO SMALL for that room. If you go with sofas, I think you should get the "shorter" type(7' wide I think they are) for a wider walkway. And recessed ceiling lights on dimmers are the way to go if you go with a projector. They keep the light off the screen.
     
  9. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Well-Known Member

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    Interesting idea on the two-room idea. I don't think the stairs are positioned far enough back to do that though. The basement of the last home I had was 18' x 12', and I always wished I had about 3-4 feet more at the back of the room! I'm also into creating music, and have an electronic keyboard with MIDI hookup. That'd fit quite nicely in the rear of the room. So would a nicely sized filing cabinet, and some type of furniture to store computer parts and other things along the back wall. (You can see this is intended to be a very multi-purpose room!)

    I'm definitely going the Lutron spacer dimmer route. I had those in the old house, and loved them. I'll probably be able to put in three rows of two lights here. The old place, I had two rows of two.

    Believe it or not, I've never really experienced a movie shown on a projector. I'm going on hearsay with this idea; everyone raves about them with movies and HDTV, so I'm definitely intrigued.

    Since I'm not exclusively watching movies though, I'm wondering if the projector is the best route. Typical bulb life seems to be about 3000 hours, which on my normal amount of TV/movie watching would be about 18-24 months. That doesn't seem to be a big problem, but doesn't a projector need a longer startup and shutdown time?
     
  10. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Well-Known Member

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    I don't think 3 rows of 2 lights is enough for that long room. That's what I have in my room and it's only 17' long. I think you need at least 4 rows of 2 lights. I'm not sure what you mean by a "longer startup and shutdown time."
    When you turn on most projectors, they reach full brightness in 30-60 seconds. When you're done viewing, you turn it off. If I'm going to watch something within one hour, I leave it on. You can't treat a projector like a regular TV, turning it on and off numerous times during the day. The on/off cycles of the bulb shorten bulb life more than actual hours. Like I said earlier, don't rule out a projector until you see one in action with DVD's and HDTV.
     
  11. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Well-Known Member

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    I was under the impression that a projector's startup time was longer than a typical TV, and that the shutdown required a couple minutes to cool down (for the bulb). Perhaps they've advanced since I last seriously considered a projector (probably 2-3 years now).

    I will definitely have to visit my local higher end dealer to experience some projector action.

    In my old house, I had 2 rows of 2 lights for the 18' long basement. Those four lights (100W each if I recall) provided plenty of light at full brightness. That's why I suspected I might need just one more row for 26'. Lutron Spacer switches aren't cheap, so I figured I'd save some money!
     
  12. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Well-Known Member

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    Your "local higher end dealer" may be a great place place to view a projector, but the prices will be a lot higher than you can buy it from elsewhere. Make sure to view both an LCD and DLP projector to see which type you prefer. You can now buy an HD projector(720p) for less than $1,000, both are DLP's. The new Mitsubhishi HD1000($995) and Optoma HD70($999). I'm going to be upgrading to one of these in the near future. Both are getting good reviews and are very popular. You can read reviews of both and other informational articles at Projectorcentral.com and Projectorreviews.com.
     
  13. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion on projectors. I just searched for pricing on the Optoma HD70, and found it at $1189 here in Canada (not too far from the current exchange rates). I'm not sure if the Mitsubishi is available in Canada. Come to think of it, I don't recall seeing any consumer electronics from Mitsubishi up here. No problem though, as I see the Optoma has several very positive reviews.

    Considering I'm building this home theatre from an empty concrete shell, an inexpensive projector will be very appealing!
     
  14. Wes

    Wes Well-Known Member

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  15. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Well-Known Member

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    Wes, that's pretty cool. I had a floorplan drawn up in just a few minutes using that site. Thanks!
     
  16. Wes

    Wes Well-Known Member

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    Let's see it! To get a design here I had to print it, then scan it, then upload that image to this site!

    Wes
     
  17. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Well-Known Member

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    Here's what I have planned, subject to change of course:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Don.l

    Don.l Well-Known Member

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    I can tell you that mine is about 25' X 10' and it is snug, but definitely not to small. It is awesome!

    Don
     
  19. Wes

    Wes Well-Known Member

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    My Suggestions, In wall surrounds and place the Rear EX speakers in the back wall pointing forward!
    I don't think you will have as much room as you have drawn, My theater is 12x24' with two rows take a look. www.prosteering.8k.com
    Drawing looks great!

    Wes
     
  20. Aaron Gould

    Aaron Gould Well-Known Member

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    Nice pics of your theatres Don and Wes... I think I've picked up a few ideas to consider (in-wall DVD shelving, different seating arrangement).

    I've already got the audio equipment:

    2 x Mirage OM-10 (front)
    4 x Mirage OM-R2 (rears)
    1 x Mirage OM-C3 (center)
    1 x Paradigm PS1000 (subwoofer)

    So in-wall speakers are not possible, but I can certainly place two of these on the back wall facing forward.

    I do fear too that I won't have as much space as indicated on the diagram. I suppose I can't have everything in a house! I really hope I don't regret the 10' width though...

    A slight modification to the floorplan (enlarged the furniture to better reflect scale; moved speakers; replaced front sofa with two easily movable chairs):

    [​IMG]
     

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