Converting generic "media room" to home theater. Projector/screen recommendations?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by DonRC, Oct 2, 2004.

  1. DonRC

    DonRC Stunt Coordinator

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    I posted this message in the HT Construction forum, but wanted to get input specifically on projectors and screens from this group. I will post the whole message here for context, but I am interested specifically here in answers to questions 2-5 from this forum. Thoughts?

    Greetings, all. I'm a new participant in this community, and would like some opinions from anybody that would be willing to share.

    We have lived in our new house for about 6 months, and I am finally ready to start working on my media room. My vision for this media room is that I'm going to set it up as a theater room, with front projector, large screen, 5.1 surround sound, etc. As I get ready to start on this project, I'd like input from some people that are more knowledgeable on these issues than I am right now. I have a number of questions, and I anticipate the answers people provide may generate further questions. Any thoughts you'd care to provide would be appreciated.

    For some background, the room that I am completing into a media room is 16.5 feet wide, 17.5 feet long, and 10 feet high (with some slanting down to 8 feet on the outside 2-3 feet on 2 sides). There are two windows on the back of the room, but I can control the light very well with the blackout shades I have on them. There is some slight light leakage around the blinds, but it is very slight, and is diffused, not direct, light. The windows face north. The entrance to the room is a 3'x 3' alcove with two steps down into the room. The room is pre-wired for 5.1 surround. There is also a component closet built into the room (in the entry alcove), with a thick bundle of cables already pre-run. (Having said that, it's doubtful that all of the cables I might need have been run. The cables that have been run are coax, speaker, and Cat-5.)

    1) The room is currently "generic builder's beige" in color. The carpet is a dark navy blue that we had put in for light absorption. How much benefit would I gain by painting the walls a darker, more light-absorbent color? If I do paint (and I probably will unless people tell me there's no significant benefit), some people have suggested a light chocolate brown. I was debating whether I should go with something like that or if I should go really dark with a dark blue to match the carpet - or even a very dark grey or black. Any thoughts?

    2) The room will mainly be used for watching movies, sports (go Seahawks!) in HDTV, and occasional television programs (in HDTV when available). I would like to also have the ability to play console and/or computer games on the projection screen, but that is a secondary (or teriary) objective, so it isn't a deciding factor for what the setup should be other than making sure it is capable of serving in this capacity. For a projector I am considering something like the BenQ 8700+ projector (I'm new so I can't post a link... sorry), or something in that general price range. I chose this as my "baseline" projector based on getting good HD performance at a price point I think I can afford. Is this a good choice? Would there be a better choice in roughly the same (although lower is okay... ;o) ) price range based upon what I want to do with the projector?

    3) I am thinking I would like to put in about a 120" diagonal screen to provide the "big" movie experience (good idea? bad idea? why?). What screen proportions would be recommended and why (1.78:1, 1.85:1, 2.05:1, 2.35:1)? What are the pros and cons of each screen ratio?

    4) What cabling should I be thinking about running between the projector and the component closet that may not be there yet? If there are cables that I may not be using now, but will probably want in the future, please let me know that, too, as I would prefer to do as much of my crawling around in the attic now as possible so that I don't have to do it again later. Also, are there cables I should be running elsewhere in the room as well? Which ones?

    5) Back to the projection screen... What recommendations would you make for the type of screen I should use? I have thought about building a screen myself, and would kind of like the project, but I don't want to do it just for the sake of doing it if I'm going to lose a bunch of image quality in the process. (Of course, if I would be more than happy to save the money if I can maintain image quality.) If a DIY screen is a reasonable choice, any suggestions for where I can find plans on making one? If a DIY screen is a bad idea, what kind of screen would be recommended? White? Grey? Brand?

    6) What kinds of "ambience" features would you recommend for a room like this? What are some relatively inexpensive things I could put in to make it *feel* more like a real theater experience, and where is a good source for these things?

    7) What other things should I be considering that I haven't thought of yet?

    Thanks in advance for all your help! [​IMG]
     
  2. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    2. From what I've read about these units, you may want to consider the new AE700 unit. Price range about the same (a little less actually) and apparently superb for video. Not sure for comp display; there is an image-softening process involved, and that might put the kibosh on that, but at the same time, apparently this unit out of the box eliminates almost entirely the screendoor effect. If so, great news for video! There's also the TX100.

    3. Go as wide as you can on your screen, then mask the sides. You can also paint the walls, fix-mount, whatever. I expect I will be using the wall at first...

    4. Every cable you can think of - and I am off here, I don't know this piece well either - but cat5, component, s-video, DVI, a couple audio leads, some small wires for controls, etc.

    6. Sconces on the wall to light up on remote control, control the lighting. BACKLIGHT - you'll want some around your screen. May want to have extensible, switchable small task lights near your electronics. One really cool room I have seen put fiber lights all over the ceiling, making it look like an outdoors star scene - just for kicks, but it sure was grand. COMFY seats. If you want the theater look, some really nice seats in a couple or three rows (space an issue) and on different elevations (6" is enough change in height). Motorized curtains in front of the screen?

    Mike
     
  3. DonRC

    DonRC Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm planning on putting two sconces on each of the side walls. What do your recommend for controlling the lighting in the room? Use an integrated remote that will control everything? Any suggestions for which one?

    What kind of backlight would you recommend around the screen? I hadn't even thought of that.

    Switchable task lights around the electronics is a VERY good idea. Thank you.

    I saw the fiber optic ceiling room, too. I would like to put that in. Do you have any idea where I could find a fiber optic "transmitter" like that?

    Finally, I do like the idea of a motorized drape in front of the screen. That would provide masking as necessary, and would also protect my screen when not in use. (Of course, the wow factor shouldn't be underestimated here, either... ;o) )

    Thanks!
     
  4. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    I would not backlight a FP screen. It is unecessary, IMO.

    There are times where it may be necessary, such as it may help you avoid fatigue from rainbow effects, but other than that I don't see any reason to do this.
     
  5. DonRC

    DonRC Stunt Coordinator

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    I was talking to somebody about my room the other day and they said a 120" screen would be too big for my room, and that I probably shouldn't go with anything larger than 100" unless I wanted to spend a lot more on a projector. My impression from the reviews I've seen on some of these projectors (such as the BenQ8700+) was that I'd be okay with going with a full 10 foot diagonal picture.

    Thoughts?
     

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