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Building my Theater ..... Ideas?


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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   trailshredder

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Posted March 08 2012 - 05:59 AM

Started framing the walls this week for my theater. It is the last corner to finish in my basement. Size is 16 1/2' x 28' x 8'-4". Plan on doing 2 elevated platforms for a total of 3 seating rows. Will also have a stage on the viewing end of the room. Sound will be 7.2 with mix matched speakers, driven by an Onkyo 609. Projector will be an Epson 8350, ceiling mounted. I plan on having track lights on the ceiling in front of the stage. The stage will actually serve as a functional stage for my young daughters. Plan on doing some columns and having lights mounted on them. Will also have a candy shelf/popcorn maker with some pendant lights over it. All the equipment will be in a closet in the rear of the room. I guess I am looking for some tips from all you experienced DIY'ers. I do have a few questions; Without adding cost of center channel "in wall" speaker, I plan on using my infinity center channel speaker and have debated on my building it into the front of my stage or just setting it on the stage under the screen. I would like for the lights to be remote so I can dim the lights right when the movie starts. Looked at some x10 remote switches, any other suggestions? I am considering the Logitech Harmony Link to control all my remote devices. Anyone know if lights can be somehow controlled through this? Some of my speaker runs are over 40' so I will be using 12ga wire for them and 14 for the shorter runs. Any downside to doing this? Do most just run their speaker wire through a hole in the drywall or use some kind of a wall mounted jack? I do plan on using a 7.1 wall plate in the equipment closet to terminate all my speaker wires too. Any other tips or suggestions at this point would be greatly appreciated. I'm sure I am missing something.

#2 of 5 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted March 08 2012 - 06:39 AM

Hi Brian, welcome to the forum!


Sounds like a really nice project.


Here are my thoughts on a few of your questions:


I'm generally not a fan of "building stuff into" the room.  You limit flexibility later on.  Also, if you were suggesting taking a standalone speaker and recessing it into the wall, that's generally not recommended, either - it could have an adverse effect on the sound produced by the speaker.  In my basement theater, I have my center channel on a short stand just underneath the projection screen.  The stand is angled upwards just slightly.  It's wood, and about 12" high and works just fine.


Remote-controlled lighting is a great thing to add.  I installed recessed can lights in my basement and added a Lutron Maestro IR remote controlled dimmer.  I was easily able to program my harmony remote to work the lights.  It's a great addition.  X-10 products have been around forever, too.  They're good, too, but I find it easier to find Lutron stuff at Home Depot or Lowes.


12 gauge speaker wire is fine - in all honesty, you'd probably be OK with 14 gauge wire, too.  Just be sure it's CL-2 rated so that it can be run in-wall.  If you're new to the forum, you may not know about monoprice.com.  Get your cables/wire from them.  Quality stuff at reasonable prices.  No reason to pay an arm and a leg for speaker wire (get something like this).


I'm kind of a DIY'er, too.  I wanted a nice, clean look for the speaker terminals, as well.  Again, Home Depot/Lowe's and Lutron to the rescue.  Lutron has a "QuickPort" line of wallplates and snap-in specialized terminals, including binding posts.  I used one of these for each of my speakers - an "old construction" blue electrical box in the wall, a two-port wallplate, and one pair of binding posts for each speaker location.  There are probably cheaper alternatives to Lutron, but I was very pleased with the quality and ease of installation for that project.


For the final step, you can opt to add some banana plugs to your speaker "patch" cables that will run from the wallplates to the speakers (or from the back of the receiver to the wallplate behind the gear).  Banana plugs offer no improvement in terms of signal quality, they simply make it a bit easier/quicker to connect/disconnect your speakers.  In the least, I would consider doing this for your center channel speaker so that it's easier to pick it up and move it out of the way before any "performances" from the little ones.


Finally, although nothing can beat the authentic feel of a "real" popcorn popper on a cart, I got this popper for Christmas after reading this thread right here on Home Theater Forum and I gotta say, it makes some of the best, most authentically "movie theater tasting" popcorn I've ever had.  If budget is tight after everything else, you can save some $$ and not sacrifice much.


Best of luck to you!  Keep us posted on the progress.


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#3 of 5 OFFLINE   trailshredder

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Posted March 08 2012 - 01:34 PM

Awesome, Thanks for the tips and advice. Will the banana plugs be too big and look bulky near some small wall mount surround speakers or look ok? Can I have 3 of the remote switches you mention controlling 3 seperate lights and work individually? Can these 3 seperate lights be controlled through the Logitech Harmony Link? Thanks Again!

#4 of 5 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted March 09 2012 - 01:31 AM

If the speakers are large enough to have binding posts on them, the banana plugs shouldn't be too bulky, but if you're talking satellite-sized speakers, then it may be something to keep in mind.  I really find them most convenient for connecting to the posts on the back of the receiver.  I don't think any adult's fingers can easily slip between those damn posts to feed the wire through the little side holes...  I added the banana plugs throughout mostly just for a weekend project.


For your lighting situation, three (or more) separate light circuits controlled by remote dimmers is a bit more advanced.  I don't know if the Maestro dimmers would interfere with each other or not, but Lutron does make a more advanced (and expensive) system called Spacer (here's the product brochure)  This system is specifically designed to create "scenes" incorporating multiple light circuits.  This is one Lutron product I don't recall ever seeing at Lowes or Home Depot.


For something of this complexity, I would think there's a pretty good chance an X-10 system might be the cheaper route - but I'm not as familiar with the products, so I can't be certain.  At least with a Harmony remote, you know that you can control/program ANYTHING that uses an IR remote - so either one will be easy to implement into the finished theater.


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#5 of 5 OFFLINE   trailshredder

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Posted March 10 2012 - 12:03 PM

Thanks again! I think I am going to just go with a single light on a dimmer, since there a bit pricer than I expected and to avoid confusion on controlling them. I did come across another thought today while working on the theater. Currently I have 15 "fold up" style theater chairs that I bought on craigslist that I plan on using but will likely upgrade in the future to the nicer theater recliners. Since I plan on having 2 platforms, is there a standard size the recliners are so I don't cut myself short on platform space for the recliners down the road?