Seeking Basement Home Theater Design Advice/Opinions

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by MarkHancock, Dec 31, 2004.

  1. MarkHancock

    MarkHancock Auditioning

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    I'm in the process of finishing our basement and want to be able to use the large multi-function room for home theater. I need advice!!! I am a newbie to Home Theater but I am unafraid and I am ready to learn.

    The room will be large (20ft x 24ft). If you think of it with the 20ft dimension across the back, then the stairs lead down into the back-left corner, and the front-right corner will have double-doors leading to a mud room that has a walk-out exit. Half way to the front is the main beam of the house that is supported by 2 lally columns which divides that ceiling (8ft) into two halves in which I am putting six recessed lights (for a total of 12). I plan on putting wall sconces along the sides and back to provide indirect light when needed as well as a sconce on either side of the screen.

    My plan the buy the equipment for home theater is year(s) away since I have to finish the construction first, but I want to put the infrastructure in place for it now. I know that the "squarish" shape is probable not the traditional shape for home theater but we want to be able to use the space for large group gatherings as well (bible studies, parties, etc.) and ultimately it will probably be mostly a space for our kids to have their friends over (though my wife would also probably classify me as one of the kids too). I suspect that it will only be used occasionally for home theater, but you never know.

    Here are some questions:

    1) My original plan is/was to orient the room toward having the screen along what I have described above a being the front wall. But, that could put the lally columns between the viewer and the screen (as would any layout that include the whole room). Just tonight I was thinking that if I only used that back half of the room for theater then put the screen along the back 1/2 of the right wall, then that would eliminate the columns from being obstructions but would mean that the theater would have no left wall. What are your opinions on what the best general layout would be?

    2) I was able to pick up a Lightolier scene-based lighting system for a very good price. I have 5 dimmers, 7 switches, and 3 6-button panels. What are you opinions on what lights should be on each of the zones? Preliminary idea was zone1=front recessed, zone2=back recessed, zone3=front sconces, zone4=side & rear sconces, zone5=?.

    3) Where should I run my speaker wires to? How many? Should the surround speakers be located in the back wall or is it too far back? Should I have options for side or ceiling speakers?

    4) The ceiling is planned for sheetrock and standard fiberglass batt insulation (existing). I have not planned any special sound insulation at this point. All the bedrooms are on the 2nd floor so there will be a whole floor between them and the theater and the cost of resilient channel seemed like it would add several hundred dollars to the ceiling price so the value didn't seem to be there. Am I missing something?

    5) Any pearls of wisdom or other regrets or heard learned advice?

    Thanks
    Mark (Connecticut)
     
  2. MarkHancock

    MarkHancock Auditioning

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    I hadn't heard any opinions so I was curious...
    . Is this the tight place for this question?
    . Are my questions redundant with another thread(s)?
    . Is there no one in this forum with an opinion? :wink:

    Thanks,
    Mark

    P.S. I did read though "Things I wish I would have done differently in my project" after I posted this and it was full of a lot of great stuff.
     
  3. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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    Mark,
    This is the right place for these questions. I am now finishing up my basement theater Here are a few things that I ran into. I did post in the "Things I wish I would have done differently" section yesterday so it is probably on the last page.
    Are you going to use a projector and what is your screen size? This will effect your room layout. I would avoid having the columns in he viewing path. My room is about 14' and I ended up with a 91" wide screen with only one row of seats.
    As far as speaker placement. I would buy the sound system before you start, get some folding chairs and try different layouts. My surround speakers are mounted on the side walls about 8" from the back wall. Research acoustics. There is a lot to learn.
    The most difficult thing for me was planing all the wiring ahead of time. Keep reviewing it before you put op the sheet rock. If in doubt, run extra wires.
    Your lighting sounds great. It is one of the things that I would have done differently.
    I did not sound insulate at all. My living room is above the theater and during normal viewing I only hear the sub. I hear the sub through out the house! It is not overpowering but like distant thunder. I was a little worried until I got the carpet down.
    Good luck and keep reading in this forum.
    Dave
     
  4. Brad E

    Brad E Second Unit

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    Sounds like a perfect sized room, but those two posts are a major pain.
    Maybe put a wall where the posts are to make two separate rooms?

    Wire the surrounds, so they are on either side of the main seating area. Of course you have to figure out where that is first.
     
  5. Kevin_F

    Kevin_F Stunt Coordinator

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    I also have posts in my theater area, to combat it I am planning to place 2 chairs one 1 side and the last chair on the other side, this way no one's view is obstructed. The chairs will be theater seating with 2 rows.

    As everyone has said, try to plan EVERYHTING before putting up any sheet rock. My ceiling is a drop ceiling so I can run the wires in the ceiling to anywhere in the room that I need. Behind the wall behind where the tv will be, I put a piece of conduit run from the floor to the ceiling to get any wires from the ground up. Where the conduit is protruding from on the ground will be behind the tv, so no one will see it and the top is above the drop ceiling.

    Hope this helps some.
     
  6. Robert McClanahan

    Robert McClanahan Stunt Coordinator

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    I happen to be a licensed low voltage electrician in my state and wire for custom theaters every day.I mean custom too.I have been a member of this forum for about five years and now practice what I preach.That said,what do you want to know?I can answer any question and it will be accurate.
     
  7. MarkHancock

    MarkHancock Auditioning

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    Thanks for all the replies and info.

    Also, yes at this time I am thinking of front projection, probably to a 45"x80" screen.

    It seems the biggest concensus is that the posts are something I need to be carefull to avoid so I have been looking over the room plan again.

    I really can't add a wall to where the posts are. That would subdivide the room which isn't an option for me. The main project is to create a large multifunction room. As a concession, my wife has been allowing me my dream of preparing the room for home theater at a later time. So.... here is my thought ...

    Below is an attempted ASCII art drawing of the room:
    d's are the door locations, w's indicate a window, and s's show where the stair balustrade and landing are. The collumns are marked with a [].

    The original idea was to put screen and projector where the x's are (big X is the projector)

    Another idea that might avoid the collumns better is shown with n's.

    The whole room is 20x24 making the second option a virtual 20x12 theater with no wall on one side.

    Note that there is no divider in the middle. There is a cornice located over the collumns to cover some pipes. I am also using that as a wire plenum and could hang speakers from it to acommodate the surround


    ---------------------------------wwww-----------
    |....................xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx............ ..............|
    |................................................. .....................|
    |................................................. .....................d
    |................................................. .....................d
    |................................................. .....................d
    |................................................. .....................d
    d................................................. .....................d
    d................................................. .....................|
    d................................................. .....................|
    |......[]..............................[].............................|
    |................................X................ ....................|
    |................................................. ...................n|
    |................................................. ...................n|
    |................................................. ...................n|
    sN................................................ ..................n|
    s................................................. ...................n|
    s................................................. ...................n|
    s................................................. ...................n|
    s................................................. .....................|
    ---------------------------------------------------

    What is everybody's opinion on which is the better solution and whether not having the wall on the one side for the "N" option would effect?

    Note: The "N" option also has another advantage. The wall tha screen and the projector are mounted to are bordered by unfinished space so getting cables to the is EASY. That means I wouldn't have to really do anything for wiring for them yet since I could access the back side even after the sheetrock goes up.

    Also, for "N", I could use the collumn(s) to mount the surround speaker(s) for that side to get them closer to ear height.
     
  8. Brad E

    Brad E Second Unit

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    I think the N setup would be best. You should be able to fit 2 rows of seating in there.

    But with the X setup, your 2nd row would have to be placed behind the posts. Which would not only obstruct veiwing but infringe on the other half of the room.
     
  9. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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    I agree. I like the N setup better.
     
  10. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

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    Wes Peterson
  11. MarkHancock

    MarkHancock Auditioning

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    Thanks for all the votes and comments. Lokks like the new idea is a winner. Boy am I glad I changed it now!!!

    I have added a Gallery on this site so you can see what the renderings and floorplan look like. It is called the Hancock Family Theater.

    I tried to add a direct link but it wouldn't let me.
    Click on the Camera in the toolbar and it will take you there.

    Take a peek and let me know what you think.

    Mark
     

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