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Basic configuration of Home theater room (1 Viewer)

CrossAtlantic

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Hello all,

We are finishing our basement and want to have a theater room. We will have a 19'X13' room. I did some calculations on audioadvice.com and figured that I can not have more than 1 row of seating and the screen size would be limited to 100".
A local professional visited my home today and he said I could have 124" screen and two rows of seating (Recliners) with first row starting at 11' from the screen.
These two sets of configurations are completely conflicting and confusing. I am a beginner and would appreciate the inputs from the pros here.

Additionally, how much should I expect to pay for wiring and installation?
 

DaveF

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That’s like asking how much it will cost to make some changes to your kitchen. It depends on everything about the work to be done and where’ you’re at in the world. It goes from free if you DIY to hundreds of thousands of dollars, for high end custom design, construction, and integration of equipment.
 

CrossAtlantic

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That’s like asking how much it will cost to make some changes to your kitchen. It depends on everything about the work to be done and where’ you’re at in the world. It goes from free if you DIY to hundreds of thousands of dollars, for high end custom design, construction, and integration of equipment.
I should have been more specific. I am looking for cost of designing the placement of speakers, their capacity, running the wires before the walls are hung and then connect the speakers, receiver, projector and screen and calibrate the system. I believe my options are limited due to size of the room. Probably I could go for either 5.1.2, or 7.2.4 (max).
 

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For what it is worth, my room is 18'x15' (not optimal dimensions but what I had to work with). I considered two rows of four recliners each because I thought it would look cool as a home theater. However, in the end I chose to have only one row. In my case, I felt it would be a compromise. One row being too close to the screen and the other too close to the rear speakers. We are a family of four, so most of the time the extra row would not be used. Instead, I got some bean bag chairs for extra guests. I've never regretted the decision.
 

JohnRice

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The range of possible costs is still vast. The odd thing is, "Professional" installers have a tendency to do things half-hearted and go for the simple, far less than ideal options. For instance, 11' away for the front row is rather far in my opinion. You could have the seating closer with a smaller screen. Also, the tendency is to put the back row against the back wall, which is why the front row is so far away, but surround sound works much better if there's room behind the back row.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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IF you actually go for say 120" screen, 11ft could be a good viewing distance for the front row although I'd suggest 10ft instead, especially if 2 rows are desired... and that should be actual viewing distance, which means the front of the reclinable theater seats would probably actually be ~8-8.5ft from the screen -- that's roughly how close I have my 1 row to my 120" screen, which I find pretty close to optimal for most content for me.

The 2nd row could then be ~2-2.5ft behind that 1st row, making it ~14ft from the screen (w/ ~16ft viewing distance). That should probably leave ~2ft clearance between that 2nd row and the rear wall. Not exactly ideal for 7.x.4, but probably ok enough.

IF you're comfortable pushing the front row another 1/2 foot or so closer to the screen and maybe the 2nd row another foot closer to the screen (leaving only ~2ft between rows), that would yield ~3ft clearance behind the 2nd row and would probably help for 7.x.4 config.

IF you've never had any display remotely close to 100-120" size, you might initially feel like this yields too big/close viewing for 1st row, but will likely grow to enjoy (and love) it over time. Maybe just mainly use the 2nd row initially instead until you get used to the view, if so.

FYI, 120" 16x9 screen would be ~9ft wide, including typical masking border. Doesn't leave a whole lot of space on either side for the front L/R speakers that will need to be toed in some toward the primary seating spot. Will probably want some acoustic panels along the side walls to minimize undesirable (sound) reflections. Would also be good to leave some clearance between those speakers and front wall, if possible -- always good to have extra clearance around all speakers, but especially the front LCRs.

Not sure if you already have some specific speakers in mind, but do realize 120" screen will only allow ~2ft on either side of a 13ft wide room. That could be barely enough for many speaker choices, but not for some others, particularly if you're considering some higher end options -- FYI, higher end options usually also demand more clearance space (and/or acoustic treatment) for optimal performance (to make them worthwhile).

_Man_
 

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You may also want to take into consideration the quality of the content you watch. Bigger screen and closer viewing works better for 4K/UHD and HD content, but if you still watch any DVD/SD content it may be best to sit a bit farther away. While the second row could be used for any DVD/SD content, I personally wouldn't ever want to be in the second row in my own HT if I ever plan to recline and put my feet up. Depending on your height, 2' to 2.5' between rows may not be adequate for comfortable reclining in the second row.

Back to something I stated earlier, is the idea of doing two rows just because it can be done, or because you plan to use the second row regularly? How many seats per row? I'm not trying to dissuade you, just saying, one row gives complete flexibility with respect to personal viewing distance and content quality preferences and audio. Two rows in that space may compromise one or the other a bit. Especially, if the second row isn't actively used, and not to forget the extra cost in seating and the need for a platform for the second row.

I'm just trying to put a slightly different spin on things since we really don't know your budget, viewing or content preferences, or seating needs, and there is no single answer that fits everyone's needs.
 

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Brad makes some good points about doing 1 row vs 2 rows considering the size of your room.

I'd also suggest not choosing quite the same (expensive) seating for the 2nd/back row that should be on a raised platform, if budgeting is a concern. For one thing, that back row probably doesn't need quite as much, if any, reclining ability, especially if it will end up being less used. But even if used often, considering it will be on raised platform w/ circa 15-16ft viewing distance, certainly won't need much reclining at all -- maybe just a modest amount of raised leg rest should be plenty good... and you could probably even get that w/out built-in reclining in the seats. Maybe just a very nice/good, high back, comfy couch plus a modest sized ottoman or the like would do for that 2nd row.

It's really more the 1st row being at lower (more normal) eye level and much closer to a large screen that could probably use some/full reclining capabilities built into the seats.

_Man_
 

CrossAtlantic

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IF you actually go for say 120" screen, 11ft could be a good viewing distance for the front row although I'd suggest 10ft instead, especially if 2 rows are desired... and that should be actual viewing distance, which means the front of the reclinable theater seats would probably actually be ~8-8.5ft from the screen -- that's roughly how close I have my 1 row to my 120" screen, which I find pretty close to optimal for most content for me.

The 2nd row could then be ~2-2.5ft behind that 1st row, making it ~14ft from the screen (w/ ~16ft viewing distance). That should probably leave ~2ft clearance between that 2nd row and the rear wall. Not exactly ideal for 7.x.4, but probably ok enough.

IF you're comfortable pushing the front row another 1/2 foot or so closer to the screen and maybe the 2nd row another foot closer to the screen (leaving only ~2ft between rows), that would yield ~3ft clearance behind the 2nd row and would probably help for 7.x.4 config.

IF you've never had any display remotely close to 100-120" size, you might initially feel like this yields too big/close viewing for 1st row, but will likely grow to enjoy (and love) it over time. Maybe just mainly use the 2nd row initially instead until you get used to the view, if so.

FYI, 120" 16x9 screen would be ~9ft wide, including typical masking border. Doesn't leave a whole lot of space on either side for the front L/R speakers that will need to be toed in some toward the primary seating spot. Will probably want some acoustic panels along the side walls to minimize undesirable (sound) reflections. Would also be good to leave some clearance between those speakers and front wall, if possible -- always good to have extra clearance around all speakers, but especially the front LCRs.

Not sure if you already have some specific speakers in mind, but do realize 120" screen will only allow ~2ft on either side of a 13ft wide room. That could be barely enough for many speaker choices, but not for some others, particularly if you're considering some higher end options -- FYI, higher end options usually also demand more clearance space (and/or acoustic treatment) for optimal performance (to make them worthwhile).

_Man_
Thank you. Love the detailed response. This puts my mind to ease that 11 ft, or even 10 ft is not really close for 120-124" Screen. As I mentioned, I had done some rough configuration on a website which suggested it to be extreme immersion experience. We a family of three in a rather large house. While we would be using only one row most of the time, we would like some additional seating for the guests. I like the idea of getting used to the big screen from the second row.

I have just begun looking into the speakers. So far I have not found a set which consists of all speakers. Looks like I will have to purchase separate Atmos. If I have to put a number on the budget for equipment, I could probably afford upto $3000 including the receiver and projector. Is it good enough? Choices are vast and hence I could use some help in selecting the right equipment. It is mostly going to be Blu Rays and 4K content available through online platforms. with barely 2 ft from screen to wall on each side, would it make sense to go with In-Wall speakers?

~K
 

CrossAtlantic

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Thank you all for detailed responses. Love the thoughts you have given while responding to my query.

The reason for two rows is only for accommodating the guests, nothing more. as I replied to one of the responses, I could afford upto $3000 for equipment that includes receiver, speakers, and projector. We are looking to watch mostly Blu Rays and 4K content from online platforms. Your suggestions in selecting the equipment would be greatly appreciated.

~K
 

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I built floor to ceiling columns to house my side and back speakers to hide them as well prevent people from potentially accidently bumping into them. In your case, with the space constraints you may opt for in-wall for the sides and back, but I would recommend sticking with stand-alone speakers for the front and center. Generally speaking, stand-alone speakers will outperform in-wall for the same money.

It is usually best to go listen to speakers before buying, but if you aren't overly picky there are some online brands that get a fair amount of praise on here as good values like ELAC and SVS. Also, SVS for a sub. I would tend to scope the projector first and see what is available in the $1500 range. Then receiver for another $500 (saving money by buying a model one to two years old) and say $1000 for the speakers. You may want to hold off on the sub until later when more funds are available. Just a thought.

Edit: Don't forget, you will need a screen, so $3000 may not quite be enough, you may have to add another $1000.
 

John Dirk

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Hello all,

We are finishing our basement and want to have a theater room. We will have a 19'X13' room. I did some calculations on audioadvice.com and figured that I can not have more than 1 row of seating and the screen size would be limited to 100".
A local professional visited my home today and he said I could have 124" screen and two rows of seating (Recliners) with first row starting at 11' from the screen.
These two sets of configurations are completely conflicting and confusing. I am a beginner and would appreciate the inputs from the pros here.

Additionally, how much should I expect to pay for wiring and installation?
Welcome!

You'll need to do the research or work with an integrator to get meaningful cost estimates as it all depends on your needs [desires] vs budget. Even if you do decide to work with an integrator I'd strongly advise taking the time to personally understand your options beforehand as you are otherwise taking a toothpick to a gun fight. :cool:

For what it's worth, your room [assuming you have a standard 8 feet ceiling] is 1976 cubic feet. Mine is 1832 and I have a second row along with a 135 inch [16*9] screen.
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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For room that size (and for 2 rows), would be much better if you can expand the budget significantly beyond $3K for the whole setup of projector+receiver+speakers.


Since the extra/2nd row is mainly to accommodate occasional guests, maybe you could cut back on that to allocate more funds to the A/V gears themselves. Maybe even just hold off on spending anything significant for that 2nd row and just recycle an old couch or something until you're more certain of the value of that 2nd row.


The projector alone could easily cost upwards of $2K for best results... although you could still get very good results below $1K (and maybe as low as $500-800) if you stick w/ 1080p and forgo 4K, which is really only incrementally better PQ-wise (w/ largely diminishing returns in terms of PQ as you go up beyond say $1.5K), but would forgo some very nice functionality like programmable lens adjustments/focus/memory (that may not necessarily matter to you unless/until you dig deeper into certain projection nuances and potential desirables like if you want wider scope (2.4:1 AR) movies to look bigger/wider than the narrower (1.66-1.85:1 AR) ones that typically fit pretty close to the standard 16x9 shape w/ little-to-no letterbox/pillarbox bars).

You could always upgrade the projector later of course -- and that might be the simplest, most cost-effective to upgrade later, especially if you start w/ just a cheap, entry level one in the $500-800 range... which might satisfy you for a good while since you're probably very new to this.


IF you do go the absolute minimum of ~$500 for the projector (perhaps a good, refurbed, entry level model), that leaves ~$2.5K for the audio side, which still isn't quite that much just for the audio and probably won't be quite enough to get you an (decent) Atmos setup... in part because the receiver/amp side for Atmos will likely be too high for this budget, and you're probably best off sticking w/ just a 7.1 setup for best quality value. You could always install (in-ceiling) wiring for Atmos to upgrade to that later of course, but you'd likely also need to upgrade/switch receivers at that point (to be more cost-effective for now and foreseeable future). Even if not going for Atmos at all, you can expect to spend upwards of $500 for the receiver alone -- more would be better for more robust amplification, but ~$500 would probably be minimum for 7.x channels nowadays.


As Brad mentioned above, for speakers, you could certainly consider ELAC or maybe SVS in this range -- maybe also Monoprice or especially RSL, if you really need to keep the budget lower. ELAC, in particular, offers excellent value in highly recognized-and-recommended options that also happen to require less space than most (and that combo was why I chose them for my own current, space-constrained setup).

In your budget range, you might consider ELAC's Debut 2.0 series. I'd recommend waiting for one of their frequently recurring sales to save 20-30% off their regular/list price. During such a sale, you could probably get say the floorstanding Debut F5.2 for front L/R, C5.2 for center plus 2 pairs of B5.2 (and/or maybe their on-wall OW4.2 instead) for ~$1730x80%=~$1380 (probably sales-tax-free direct from ELAC). IF you only spend ~$500 for the receiver plus such a discounted set of ELAC speakers for 7 channels, that could leave you w/ ~$600 to spend on the subwoofer, which might not be quite enough to satisfy for this size room -- spending upwards of $1K would probably make a substantial diff.

IF you must stay w/in (or very close to) the $3K budget (w/ $2.5K allocated to audio), I suppose you could swap the ELAC floorstanders w/ the same F5.2 bookshelves to save ~$380 toward the subwoofer to get you to that ~$1K mark for that. But do note bookshelf speakers generally need good (not too cheap) stands for best results whereas floorstanders essentially already come w/ their own (and may well be more sturdy) -- mounting bookshelves to the wall is generally not desirable/recommended, especially for the front channels -- and this is where you might consider ELAC's on-wall speakers for the surrounds instead, especially if you need them up against the walls, not on stands (that do add cost), anyway.

Anyway, upwards of $1K for the subwoofer is probably important for this size space and would help offset/alleviate what might otherwise be a tad lacking in performance in the rest of the audio system, including the receiver's power capability, since the subwoofer would handle the most power-hungry/intensive (bass) part/load of the audio for movie soundtracks and the like.

And we haven't spoken of other little things that do add up some more and will stretch some bit beyond that budget, eg. cost of wiring/cables, speaker stands (as I alluded), the screen itself (unless that's separately accounted), sales tax in most cases, etc.


So there you go for a good example of roughly what can (realistically) be done w/ that $3K budget, but yes, definitely bigger budget could yield substantially better results, especially at this level...

_Man_
 
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smithbrad

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You could always upgrade the projector later of course -- and that might be the simplest, most cost-effective to upgrade later, especially if you start w/ just a cheap, entry level one in the $500-800 range... which might satisfy you for a good while since you're probably very new to this.
Good point. I built my HT room in 2004 and I'm happily still using the same speakers I purchased way back then, while I'm on my 3rd projector. First projector developed a DLP color wheel whine after 6 years, second just became dated after 10 years, now I'm on my third. I'm on my second receiver, only because my first was so dated from the get-go.

My lesson learned; the projector is likely the item to be replaced the most, whether it be because it dies or technology advancements. I made the mistake of putting too much toward my first projector then my income supports, expecting it to last much longer than it did. My first projector was a Sharp 10K 720p projector that cost $6700 back in 2004. Now, I only allocate $2000-$2500 for a projector purchase with the idea that I may only get five years use out of it.
 

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For what it's worth, your room [assuming you have a standard 8 feet ceiling] is 1976 cubic feet. Mine is 1832 and I have a second row along with a 135 inch [16*9] screen.
Just curious, do you ever watch any DVD content on that screen?
 

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Mostly Blu Ray these days but, absolutely. I've constructed a simple masking solution for 2.35:1 content.
Interesting...I half expected you to say you don't watch SD content anymore, figuring that SD content might be beyond watchability at that size. Good to know. Thanks.
 

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Interesting...I half expected you to say you don't watch SD content anymore, figuring that SD content might be beyond watchability at that size. Good to know. Thanks.
Sorry. I may have misunderstood the true intent of your question. I do occasionally watch SD content [because I love a lot of older films that will likely never get HD releases] but you're right, it's definitely a serious tradeoff in both visual and audio quality. It's too bad so many great films were created before the era of Blu Ray and aren't being re-released either due to lack of [perceived] popularity or possibly lack of decent source material.
 

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Sorry. I may have misunderstood the true intent of your question. I do occasionally watch SD content [because I love a lot of older films that will likely never get HD releases] but you're right, it's definitely a serious tradeoff in both visual and audio quality. It's too bad so many great films were created before the era of Blu Ray and aren't being re-released either due to lack of [perceived] popularity or possibly lack of decent source material.
My current screen is the one I installed back in 2004. It is only 92" 16x9, it predates blu-ray. I own a broad range of movie and TV content from the 1920's to present. I was able to upgrade probably 60% of my movies to blu-ray, while probably less than 5% of the TV. I also own 1000+ sports games in SD from the 1980's through 1990's. We are looking to move in the next few years to build our retirement home where I will build my next HT. Likely I will stick with a screen between 100"-110" just to balance out my ability to enjoy both HD and SD content.

Op, sorry for deviating from topic.
 

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Good point. I built my HT room in 2004 and I'm happily still using the same speakers I purchased way back then, while I'm on my 3rd projector. First projector developed a DLP color wheel whine after 6 years, second just became dated after 10 years, now I'm on my third. I'm on my second receiver, only because my first was so dated from the get-go.

My lesson learned; the projector is likely the item to be replaced the most, whether it be because it dies or technology advancements. I made the mistake of putting too much toward my first projector then my income supports, expecting it to last much longer than it did. My first projector was a Sharp 10K 720p projector that cost $6700 back in 2004. Now, I only allocate $2000-$2500 for a projector purchase with the idea that I may only get five years use out of it.

Display tech certainly have advanced (much) faster/more than audio over the last couple decades or so... though it does seem some advances in audio tech have helped made high quality (much) more affordable (and so much better at the budget level).

I was also still using very old (even ~30-yo-by-now for much of my) audio gear before finally completely overhauling my entire system in the last couple years. I actually almost went w/ another very old (~25-yo?), well maintained, used set of "high end" (at least back in the day) speakers for my front LCRs (plus a beefy, dedicated amp to drive them as they're very difficult to drive well as 3-4ohm loads, even going down near 1ohm in the lower bass), but had to change plans and downsize, so settled on the ELACs (UniFi 2.0s for front LCRs, Debut 2.0 for surrounds) I currently use in just a 5.1 setup (w/ possibility of adding rear surrounds probably via the ELAC on-walls I have in storage), instead of originally planned 7.2.4 -- I actually also still have a nicely priced, new-in-box, bundle of RSL in-ceiling speakers tucked away in storage.

So yeah, audio tech hasn't really changed/advanced all that much, except in specific HT application, including subwoofer tech (and maybe addition of some bells-and-whistles like streaming audio features), so it's mostly just the receiver/prepro (and adding some likely fairly affordable surround/Atmos speakers) that need changing every so often (and I guess maybe a recent-ish subwoofer too). Doubt I'll ever bother upgrading my prepro again though (unless it dies or something)... although better hirez audio streaming support would be nice (as I do find DTS Play-Fi kinda klunky... at least in my specific case w/ my Anthem AVM-60 anyway). And I'm probably fine w/ just my single, still not much worn, Hsu VTF-3 Mk5 sub for the next decade or more unless I unexpectedly move the HT to a substantially bigger, dedicated space (and expand the system) once again.

For projector, I'm currently on an Epson 5050UB, which I acquired a couple years ago (on deep discount sale) right w/in that $2-2.5K sweetspot you mentioned -- I was actually originally planning for 135" screen, but had to settle for 120" now. Probably won't be upgrading that until maybe Epson's(?) next gen of laser 4K PJ (or comparable competition or maybe some new, reasonably affordable flat panel tech that can scale to 120"-plus) in the $4-5K range I guess, which may be another 3-5 years away since they (along w/ JVC and Sony) only just recently released a new gen of laser 4K PJ. Hopefully, that will indeed be my last display upgrade... but who knows?

_Man_

PS: RE: the separate question about SD content w/ a particularly large FOV, I rarely watch anymore in SD on my setup. Usually only something particularly interesting, but (unavailable in HD and) limited to SD, on The Criterion Channel, which often doesn't look too bad (or I can just "zoom" smaller w/ a lens memory setting)... probably because of better encoding tech than many particularly poor, old DVDs **plus** generally lower PQ expectations for most such old classics (or avant-garde content in some cases). I got rid of 99% of my DVDs and almost never watch the small handful I still have anymore. There's really too much to watch in HD (and 4K) to deliberately go back to those.
 
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