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Home theater planning dilemma, any advice welcome


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#1 of 9 OFFLINE   hornsfan

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Posted January 19 2011 - 02:32 PM

We're in the later stages of planning a new home, and I thought I had allowed enough room for my home theater. However, perhaps I've gotten greedy, because there's just enough room to try and fit my higher-end ideas, but seemingly not enough for me to make them work without feeling forced.


The room is 20' 3" wide and 21' 4" deep, with the entrance in the back center. My wish list is a 2.35:1 CIH screen, as large as possible for the immersive Cinemascope experience and for a good 16:9 size as well.


Here's what I eventually came up with:


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


I was hoping to have a 2nd row of more lounging-type seating, but ran out of room, so those are barstools. Overall, though, it just feels too cramped and forced.


My thought is the false walls aren't really taking away from the space, since there would be speakers in that area anyway.


However, I'm now thinking that if I can't figure out a better arrangement, I should scale back to a more casual room.


Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!


-- Mark



#2 of 9 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 19 2011 - 06:57 PM

Welcome to Home Theater Forum Mark, it looks like a cool project.  My first question is why the 18" acoustically transparent wall around the sides and back of the theater?  What is it going to be made of?  Are the speakers going behind the screen?  Where is your equipment going?


I don't see a problem with mixing the two types of seating, if anything it will make the room more flexible if you use it to watch sporting events, the Oscars, etc.

If you still want two rows of theater seats, what if you rotated everything 90 degrees, so the door was on the side and your second row could go all the way against the back wall?  Would that allow you to fit a second row?



#3 of 9 OFFLINE   hornsfan

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Posted January 20 2011 - 03:40 AM

Hi Adam, thanks for the reply!


I've seen the false walls in the demo rooms of Bjorn's in San Antonio, and thought it was a cool idea. It gives you some flexibility in speaker placement, so you can use speaker stands for the surrounds and move them a bit away from the walls if it helps the sound. For the fronts, I could move them away from the wall and toe them in a bit. Of course it hides all the speakers. Finally, running and hiding wires is now trivial. Posted Image  I haven't picked the exact material, but something along the lines of GOM. I also need to figure out some type of removable panel construction (maybe velcro or French cleats) to get access behind the wall. The false walls would have the sconces and such, and should look like they're regular walls.


Even though it's a big screen, because of the aspect ratio it's only about 54" high, so I was considering putting the center (hidden) under the screen. Behind the screen is still an option at this point, though.


I can still move the door up from its current location, but since its going to be a 7.1 (9.1?) system, I need to be aware of speaker locations. That and rotating might be a more efficient use of space, but I would lose about a foot front-to-back due to the room dimensions. Something to ponder, though.


Also, if I stay with bar seating in the back, I could probably go from 2x 6" risers to one 6" riser, or maybe eliminate the step down all together.


Another piece of information I left out was the ceiling height, which is 12' at the door.


Thanks again for any thoughts or advice!



#4 of 9 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted January 20 2011 - 08:36 AM

This is my personal opinion, but I wouldn't want to sacrifice (conservatively speaking) at least 60 square feet of room area with false walls on the sides and back so that I have the "freedom" to move speakers that really won't ever need to be moved once the system is set up.  Running and hiding speaker wire during construction is really easy.  Worst case scenario is that you give youself ~15" of "wiggle room" by leaving the speaker wire in the walls between two studs.  Certainly, placement of surround and surround back speakers (7.1) is not as critical as placement of front speakers, so there really should be no "mystery" in speaker location to begin with.

If you do opt for a 7.1 system, don't obsess over adding any additional speakers.  More speakers does not equal better sound.  Adding extra surround speakers won't make it a "9.1" system - there's no such thing.  You'll simply end up wasting money on more speakers and additional amp channels when the net result is each speaker putting out half the volume once properly calibrated.  There's no benefit whatsoever.


Just my .02.


Overall, I would say it does look like a fun project, and I'm with Adam on liking the two types of seating idea.  Eventually, I hope to build a bar and add barstools behind the sofa in my theater.


Are you new to the Home Theater Forum? Stop by the New Member Introductions area and introduce yourself! See you there!


#5 of 9 OFFLINE   hornsfan

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Posted January 20 2011 - 03:05 PM

Hi Jason,


Thanks for the reply. Regarding the speaker placement, I've read that the optimum place for speakers is away from walls. 24" seems to be recommended, but anything is better than right up against the wall. You can do that with stands and without false walls, but it might not be aesthetically pleasing. It wasn't that I wasn't sure where to place them.


I'm with you though that it's taking up a lot of visual space and making the room seem cramped. I still like the hiding of the speakers, but I'm not sure it's worth it in this room.



#6 of 9 OFFLINE   hornsfan

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Posted January 20 2011 - 04:11 PM

Hi again, more questions.


I know a square room is a bad idea, but how square? Is what I'm planning too square?


Also, at 12 feet and a 136" screen, the first row will have a 47º viewing angle for 2.35:1 content, and a 36º viewing angle for 16:9 content. How does that seem?


Thanks again for any input!



#7 of 9 OFFLINE   hornsfan

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Posted January 21 2011 - 04:31 AM

I'm still not ready to give up on the current plan, so I've tried to tweak it a bit.


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


I've changed the step down from 12" to 7" (which eliminated the need for an actual step/tread), moved the step down to 12' 6" from the screen, and changed the recliners to allow for 5. Overall it feels a bit less crowded now to me.


The alternative I'm considering is almost 180º away from this. No false walls, speakers on or in the walls, no step-down, sectional and casual seating. That could be a spacious, comfortable room, but I'd be giving up something in the actual viewing and especially acoustic department.



#8 of 9 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 21 2011 - 05:42 AM




Originally Posted by hornsfan 
I've seen the false walls in the demo rooms of Bjorn's in San Antonio, and thought it was a cool idea. It gives you some flexibility in speaker placement, so you can use speaker stands for the surrounds and move them a bit away from the walls if it helps the sound. For the fronts, I could move them away from the wall and toe them in a bit. Of course it hides all the speakers. Finally, running and hiding wires is now trivial. Posted Image  I haven't picked the exact material, but something along the lines of GOM. I also need to figure out some type of removable panel construction (maybe velcro or French cleats) to get access behind the wall. The false walls would have the sconces and such, and should look like they're regular walls.


 I think this makes perfect sense for a retail store where you need to change out the speakers as the new models come out, but not in a home.  but if you are building the room from scratch, the wiring will be in the wall and you shouldn't need to swap out your surround speakers.  While I can see doing it across the front to hide the big speakers, surrounds are designed to be mounted on (or in) the walls.  They could be just as easily hidden in columns and covered with GOM:

http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


At this point I would take a step back in the design department.  Everything so far as been about feel and seating, and nothing about acoustics.  You can break out your calculator and try to work out the acoustics yourself (where peaks and nulls will be in the room) or you can hire someone do come up with a room plan for that is optimized for acoustics.  I chose the latter on my theater and had Dennis Erskine do the design work for me: http://www.erskine-g....com/design.php  It was around $2000 and well worth it. If you want to try to tackle it yourself I am attaching a spreadsheet that can help you with the size of the room.  You need to populate the room dimensions and your seating location.  It will flag problem frequencies at your seating location.  You will need to do this for each seat (I wouldn't worry about the bar stools).  You can tweak room sizes to come up with one that has the fewest problems--keep in mind that an acoustically transparent wall is like having no wall, so you can't re-size your room with that.  Someone like Dennis takes this much further.  He designs the room locating columns to break up standing waves, indicating exactly where speakers and seating should go for best sound and tells you where room treatments need to go, etc.




 

 Note this file was created by David Henderson



#9 of 9 OFFLINE   hornsfan

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Posted January 23 2011 - 08:40 AM

Hi Adam. The GOM column idea makes a lot of sense, especially for my rear surrounds where space is at a premium. I think it's likely we'll incorporate that in one way or another, thanks!


Also, thanks for the spreadsheet. I've been playing with it, and a few others I've found on the Web. (One at http://www.bobgolds....e/RoomModes.htm gives a different look at some of the same issues.) Interesting how a couple of inches can make such a large difference in results! I think working at some point with Dennis Erskine (or perhaps someone similar locally) seems like sound advice. (Couldn't resist the pun, sorry.)