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Sam's Underground Aerie


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#1 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 04 2012 - 03:50 AM

There seemed to be something so right, almost fate if you believe in such, about how I came to build my home in MD. I had been looking for used homes while trying to sell mine back in NJ when, by accident, I went to a new development showing. Those homes were way too small for what I wanted, but they noted they had a development just 2 miles away with much bigger homes and it would only take a few minutes to go see if I could build new what I couldn't find on the used market. Within an hour I knew my search was over and I was building in that very development without hardly looking at any of the other competitors. I could get everything I wanted brand new for about a 15% premium over what I was setting my budget for. Turns out the development is called Eagle's Rest. Eagles are very special to me, they are both my HS mascot and I am an Eagle Scout, myself. I also delight in shooting the Conowingo Eagles and this development is less than a 15 minute drive from there. during the build I have seen numerous raptors, a few murmerations of sparrows, untold buzzards, deer, squirrels and other varmints. It's perfect for me. In the middle of horse country, less than 15 minutes from work, 5 minutes from big box stores and restaurants, and importantly, still just 2 hours from my family in NJ. If I have to be away from them I could do far worse than here. I built the house with the idea up front of doing a much more serious home theater in the basement than any I have had before. All of my previous ones were long on Bang for the Buck and not so much on building a truly impressive display. So in addition to pre-wiring for 5.1 in the basement I pre-wired the family room upstairs and also had a "whole house audio" system installed in the kitchen, family room, master and basement. What I didn't count on was how awesome my current gear would sound in the family room. I wound up bringing my Paradigm monitor 7, center and rears plus M&K sub and plopping them in and put up a plasma and called it quits for 6 months. It's awesome, it fits the room well, I wish the screen was bigger than the already impressive 65", but still, I was set. And then my dad asked me if he could help do anything while the rest of the family was cooking thanksgiving, a first for me to host one. Well, sure dad, you know what? You could hang my old PJ down in the basement for the kids to watch while we have football on upstairs. This was the result: pic.twitter.com/FKdx31wX Big mistake. =) We were all blown away at how good the 7 year old PJ with 2k hours on the bulb looked up against a bare yellow wall. I had ordered a screen to replace my old 90" roll up, but that didn't arrive in time, so we just went with it. Well, lets pull the 15 year old couches over and see how that works with the xbox: http://www.hometheat...e/61/id/171286/ But: whoops. No more ways to get sound to the stereo. Gonna need a receiver. And might as well get the full speakers. And a sub. And gonna have to hang the rears off the runners in the ceiling. And it snowballed from there. So this is my own Eagle's Nest at the Eagle's Rest. Also known as an Aerie or Eyrie. http://en.wikipedia....disambiguation) More to follow, we are just getting started!

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#2 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 04 2012 - 06:03 AM

The biggest considerations for this room: The dogleg left. The size. Over 6000 cubic feet even if you don't consider the space in the open stairwell. The lack of a back wall behind the couches due to the dogleg. going to have to hang speakers behind the couches from.... The 'canals' in the ceiling. You can see the right hand side canal in the picture above. The Left hand one acts as a channel that cuts off the main strip of the room from the dogleg area, which is behind it and below the morning room above it. I made up this simple drawing to show off Dr. Hsu before purchasing a sub. Posted Image Basement by Kadath, on Flickr He believes a single VTF-15h will be sufficient to get ULF down to around 16hz in this space. I'm not so sure but it will be fun to test. I expect that movies and Saint Saens will be illuminating in this respect. It's a big space that is not perfect for a theater, but it's gonna have to do and I will live with the tradeoffs and downsides that it creates. Some things I can engineer around via mounts and other choices but some things are just going to be imperfect and that's OK. Here's a better idea of what the canals look like, taken during construction. You can see the area where I've got the pre-wire for the speaker cable coming out, plan is to attach the Omni's each to a stud behind those panels and aiming the rears down and towards the listener. Again, not the best solution but the only real choice I have unless I was to wall off the dogleg and box in the theater.. Posted Image 12-EaglesRest-0516 by Kadath, on Flickr Posted Image 12-EaglesRest-03088 by Kadath, on Flickr

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#3 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 04 2012 - 06:11 AM

Components list so far: 120' Elite Screen grey with EZ Frame 7 year old Panasonic AE-900u 720p PJ Fios Cable Box & crappy wifi router Playstation3 slim Xbox 360 250gb Hsu VTF-15h sub, planning on both ports being 'sealed' On order: Denon 3313 Receiver Paradigm Studio 100 speakers Up next: Add cheap center speaker and direct radiating rears, hung by Omnimounts via the canals http://www.amazon.co...words=omnimount Add another Apple Airport Express to extend my Airport 5ghz network which the actiontec router lacks. When tax return comes in: Paradigm CC-590 center Paradigm ADP-590 rears

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#4 of 74 Jason Charlton

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Posted December 04 2012 - 06:30 AM

Looking good!


You're fortunate to have had the luxury of building/planning ahead of time (at least as much as is humanly possible).  I, on the other hand, am eternally grateful to the previous owners of our house for having installed a drop ceiling throughout the basement.


The drop ceiling made is possible for me to build out my theater in stages (speakers, then projector, then IR repeater, then remote-controlled recessed lighting, etc.)  Had that not been an option, I don't know when I would have been able to find/make the time to tackle it all at once and only have to patch drywall one time.


Of course, a drop ceiling would make hanging rear speakers more of a challenge.


Edit: Any plans on putting the second sofa on a riser?


Also, LOVE the open space... I'd kill to have that much open space (of course, my wife would kill me 'cause I'd fill it with pins, LOL)


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#5 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 04 2012 - 07:37 AM

So, the projector. The AE-900u was a terrific investment in my last home. I made it work on a bookshelf above my couch and neither fan noise or the sub par blacks made me question my choice, ever. Even when 1080p really took off (as I knew it would) I never for a second thought of upgrading. Similarly I did not jump on the 3D bandwagon until it came built into my bedroom flat panel and now my family room plasma, and I am a cautious enthusiast but not a hard line convert. But now we are 7 years down the road. Light years in terms of features and quality. And yet... I know that at 120", even as much as I am digging the 720p at that size, I am going to want to move to 4k as soon as the prices for those PJs comes down to reality for the common man. And that little voice inside my head says to me "You know, you could move up to 1080p, better blacks, and maybe even 3d for well under $1500, maybe even under $1k if you toss out 3D.... You don't have to go whole hog on on a PJ today only to regret it when 4k comes to earth".... Hrmmm The Epson 3020 is pretty badass at $1350+, 3 panels, 3d. Decent noise control. Cons are no shift, questionable QC (balanced with great warranty service I hear) and not so great blacks. The Benq 1070 is DLP, under a grand, has 3D. Downsides are it is tough to get in the US, questionable blacks for DLP, and noise. Hear decent things out of other contenders too. Optoma HD33. Older Epsons, Heck even the BenQ 7000 can be had for $1800ish today and we are a week away from the anniversary of it being announced, can a new model be far behind, pushing it's price down further? Lots to think about here.

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#6 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 04 2012 - 07:42 AM

Thanks for the kudos Jason, can't wait for you to come up here tomorrow and see the FR and see the start of the Aerie =) All other DC/MD/DE folks who are willing to drive in are welcome too! We need to get a good HTF rotation going in this area! Yes, plan is to build a riser to accommodate the second couch. The couches there now literally are 15 years old and have seen a lot of wear. They are very comforatble but starting to pill and look a little ratty. Doing it in stages tho I hope to have as good a HT focused furniture down there as I have in my family room. Baby steps! But I don't expect to do the riser until the rest of it is ready to go unless I can convince my dad to spend a weekend or two down here in the meantime. will also need to try to match the carpet, wonder if I can get put on a waiting list for remnants of that style =) As you know I'd love to start a modest pinball collection as well. The room is perfect for it, I bet I could fit 8 comfortably in the dogleg! I am not mechanical tho, so I have held off on them due to the maintenance. Someday! And a MAME cabinet too! Sam

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#7 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 05 2012 - 10:20 AM

Plans to buy a cheap center and get a 590 foiled by crafty salesman!

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#8 of 74 schan1269

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Posted December 05 2012 - 10:30 AM

Plans to buy a cheap center and get a 590 foiled by crafty salesman!

You need to find people on the wholesale end...(don't ask me though...not allowed to offer sales outside of my self...unless I gift it)

#9 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 05 2012 - 02:58 PM

Well I still need a set of ADP-590 rears =) Shoot me a pm or email if you have an in for good pricing on those, please! =) HTF hero of the day: Jason Charlton! Took us a little longer than we estimated, but the screen looks badass! https://twitter.com/...8958976/photo/1 Thanks so much for your help Jason, cmon back up any time! Also, thanks for letting me know that my canals are called soffits =p

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#10 of 74 Steve Tannehill

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Posted December 05 2012 - 03:07 PM

That's a great space you've got there! I think pinball machines would be perfect, and a popcorn machine too.

#11 of 74 Jason Charlton

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Posted December 06 2012 - 01:57 AM

Was a pleasure helping out last night, Sam.  I'll be back up there again sometime.. I definitely want to see/hear those 100s and that sub!


Told my wife about how awesome the picture was on that Panny plasma... I think she's sold, but it won't happen for a while - maybe by summer?


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#12 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 06 2012 - 08:24 AM

Thanks for the kind words Jason. One thing I meant to mention during your visit is that panel had ZERO user calibration adjustments of any kind. I put it in THX mode and called it a day. If I were to do it over again I don't know that I would go whole hog and spend the $$$ for the top end Plasma, but what I do know is that it looked better than any TV I have ever calibrated myself, and because I am both red/green and blue/brown color deficient, aka color blind, it was worth the piece of mind to buy a set that had this advantage. So no regrets! I think if you are willing to do your own calibrations the lower end Pannys will give this one a serious run for the money tho!

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#13 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 07 2012 - 03:21 AM

Nabbed those banana plug wall covers at Home Depot last night, thanks for the heads up on those Jason!

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#14 of 74 Jason Charlton

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Posted December 17 2012 - 05:42 AM

How do the new speakers/sub sound?


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#15 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 17 2012 - 06:05 AM

Only the fronts, center and sub are connected, and they sound great so far but need to be dialed in a bit more, I think the sub is a bit subdued. I bought a cheap set of rears over the weekend (direct firing paradigm Atoms) and will be putting those on the soffets tonight, then will re-run Audigy. Once that is done I am basically done for now unless I find a deal on a 1080p PJ that I can't pass up. Was tempted by both the Groupon Mitsubishi deal and Best Buy having the Epson 8350 for $1299, but still held strong.

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#16 of 74 DaveF

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Posted December 17 2012 - 12:43 PM

The Paradigm Atoms are nice speakers. I considered those when I was shopping a couple years ago.

#17 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 17 2012 - 02:54 PM

The Paradigm Atoms are nice speakers. I considered those when I was shopping a couple years ago.

The plan is to use them for my surrounds for now and if I can budget for 590s down the road move to them up to the bedroom. I put 4 screws in em and mounted em and hung em on the wall tonight. They sound great so far. It ain't pretty but it's got it where it counts for now! Posted Image Basement by Kadath, on Flickr Posted Image Basement by Kadath, on Flickr I really wish the recess lights weren't put right next to where I had the prewire, as Jason noted if I put the speakers right under them it would make a huge shadow. In front of them and I cut off my ability to have a second row. So the choice was a dumb looking wire or moving the prewire box. Dumb wire it is for now =( Posted Image Basement by Kadath, on Flickr Posted Image Basement by Kadath, on Flickr

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#18 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 17 2012 - 03:01 PM

So, next steps: -Clean up the amazing mess. -Work on a dimmer solution with remote. -Keep an eye out for a PJ that fits my needs (MUCH cheaper than $2k, vertical and horizontal shift, 3d a plus, deep blacks, quiet) -Re-calibrate the AE-900u -Get a 'bench' for the center channel. So far I am coming up empty for anything that keeps it lower than the screen edge. -Work on Bluray shelving, poker table, bar and other accoutrements for the room And of course, relax and enjoy some films!

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#19 of 74 Jason Charlton

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Posted December 18 2012 - 02:54 AM

Looking pretty cool!


I wish I remembered where I got my center channel stand.  It's only 12" high - which looks about the size you'd need.  I'll do some poking around online, too and let you know if I find anything.  There's always DIY - I've got a decent stable of power tools at the ready Posted Image.


Those surround prewire locations are a bit disappointing.  When you installed the binding post plates did you happen to notice if those locations had an enclosed "box" in there, or was it just a plastic "ring" with an open back?  If a ring - did you happen to notice how much room (if any) was back there?  Insulation? Ductwork?


Depending on how things are framed, it could be really easy to fish a patch cable back a few feet, put in a new box there and just slap a blank plate on the old locations.  I know, not a priority, but should be doable.


Either way, looks like those mounts worked well!


For the dimmer, here's a link to a more sophisticated version of the Lutron Maestro that I used: http://www.amazon.co... control dimmer


This one is RF - which you will probably need due to the orientation of the switch location and your main seating location.  In my basement, since I had access to do all the wiring myself, I used two IR dimmers in a three-way configuration with one on the front wall, so the IR remote still works fine.


As I mentioned when I visited, the 600watt limitation may be a factor, though (you have a lot of cans on that one circuit).  You can always replace some lights with smaller wattage bulbs to lower the power draw, but hard to say if that will reduce it enough.  I would certainly consider smaller wattage bulbs in the theater area anyway, to cut down on the screen glare.


Cheers!


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#20 of 74 Sam Posten

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Posted December 18 2012 - 04:26 AM

Very cool, will do a deep dive on dimmers soon! The stand I need has to be about 6-8", I think 12 might be too high. Will have to measure it again.

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