Home Theater Design advice

dt1234May 29, 2008

Hi everyone,

We are constructing a new home with a dedicated home theater. I have attached the floorplan.

Framing is almost complete of the home, so if the dimensions need to be changed (the only thing that CAN be changed is the wall with entrance - it may be able to be pushed back more into the 'billiard room' if required), please let me know asap.

Also, what is the largest screen size I should do? We plan 2 tiers of seating, with a lower deck (refer to plan). I was hoping to do 133" screen. The floorplan shows a set of double swinging doors, I was thinking of using a 4 door partition to be able to open up the room more so if we are playing in the billiard room, we would still get a nice view of the screen.

What do you suggest for good, not too expensive wall insulation?

What about wiring? Wire for 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, or what?

As far as budget, budget is very good, but not extreme.

I want a theater that will blow my mind (and my buddies) in terms of video and sound.


Here is a link that might be useful:

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Need more info and a better set of plans.

Can you email me the plans in a PDF so I can enlarge them for viewing?

Sans that, I have a couple suggestions.

1. Two 36" pocket doors rather than the swinging doors.

2. A 92" 16x9 screen (the 133" is way too large).

3. 7.1 Surround with a Denon AVR788 and using zone2 for the billiard room (zone3 to patio?).

4. Build some columns alongside the windows, front and rear corners, to break up the flat walls, with sound dampening cloth covered panels between.

5. Equipment storage beneath a "stage" under/alongside the screen area.

6. Bohlender-Graebener Z-5 LCR front array, Z-Subi and PD8i rear surrounds for the theater.

7. Bohlender Graebener PD6Ci for the billiard room.

8. Panamax M1500 UPS.

9. URC MX980 or MX3000/MRF350 Control (need a pro to program).

  1. Berkline or Encore seating for lower budget (there are some higher level options).

And for a projector I'd recommend the JVC PRO DLA-RS2U 1080p 3Chip Proj.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 5:36PM
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What do you think of distributed audio? Are multizone receivers able to do the same thing for less money?

I went to a home theater store yesterday and the prices are absolutely crazy for some of these crestron/lutron systems.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 2:14AM
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Lutron is the Caddilac of lighting (I'd recommend a Grafik Eye for your theater).

Crestron is the Rolls Royce of home automation/distributed audio (great stuff if you have the bankroll for it).

Are there other less expensive alternatives? Absolutely, but you will give up a lot of features and functionality.

Really depends on what you want from the system and how many rooms of audio that you're looking for.

More of a "Mid Fi" line would be Russound. And even there you can have a very wide range (I sell a lot of Russound, it's a very good, very stable, product).

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 8:51PM
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Be sure to include a PS3 and wireless-n router in your system. You'll see that such an addition will make the Crestron stuff seem crude and outdated. The PS3 delivers stellar audio/video thru an HDMI connection allowing you to stream content from your home computer system. The power of the CELL processors in the PS3 is incredible and the gaming aspect is hiding it's real utility from those who don't research it...The ability to put Linux on the PS3 allows you to do all sorts of home automation with it.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 4:15AM
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garymunson: PS3? As in Playstation 3? What good is that?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 12:46AM
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Yes, Playstation 3. People dismiss it as a toy but it's actually the most powerful addition you can connect to your home theater. It lets you display your jpg photo collection in several different slide shows (in HiDef), play your mp3 music collection, surf the web (it accepts a USB keyboard), stream video/photos/music from your network...it has built in WIFI. I don't even own a game for mine..it replaced a Buffalo LinkTheater Media Streamer that I used previously. It has a built in harddrive that you can easily replace with a larger one. One quirk I've found is that photos need to be kept on a plugged in flash drive to keep any directory structure you have your photos in. The PS3 will sort them by date if you copy them to the unit's hard drive. It will also accept certain Epson printers. I have a small Epson photo printer connected and if someone likes a pix on the slideshow, I can instantly produce a high quality print for them. I haven't explored using Linux on the PS3 but that should allow access to Lutron or X10 modules for automation. Don't forget it includes a BlueRay disk player. That's like the difference between a VHS tape and a DVD....The PS3 has HDMI and optical audio out.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 3:45AM
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Nothing like having a device in your system that will give you grief.

A real nice kludge for those not familiar.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 6:18PM
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You have a suggestion for something with more functionality than a PS3? No matter how much you spend, I've seen NOTHING that even approaches the power and simplicity of one. Gary.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 4:29AM
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Another fun addition to the audio side of your system is to go to dwjukebox.com and download the guy's free program that turns your computer into a 50's style jukebox. I have it installed on a HP touch screen equipped laptop and set it on a counter during get togethers. Guests have a ball with it. Works with mouse or keyboard too but the touchscreen feature is 'da bomb'. The ps3 is my unit of choice for playing music but requires some familiarity to operate. Someone can just walk up to the DWJukebox-running computer and pick music to play.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 4:55AM
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Garymunson: thats bada55. I am only 30 so gaming isn't completely out of my system, but i never thought of a PS3.

I will, though, of course probably have a top of the line blu ray player, maybe a pioneer elite or whatever is tops... But thhe other stuff sounds cool...

What do i need to make sure I have in terms of connectivity for this at this stage we are framing.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 12:45PM
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I have no issue with what ktkelly spec'ed. He obviously knows his business but I think he missed my point. You can have a sick to the max home theater but if you don't think of it as a real media center, it becomes a 'one trick pony'...a great tv with killer sound. With a little looking around, you can set up a system that really does amaze all your friends...after watching the big game and everyone starts to mingle, you can wow them with your music playlist and slideshow. On the high end BlueRay players, the HDMI output from the PS3 is probably indistinguishable from even a Pioneer Elite without comparing waveforms on a scope. You may want to do a visual yourself. I especially like the idea of minimizing the wiring ratnest as much as possible and the PS3's multiple uses go a long way in that respect. I'm not sure what ktkelly meant by 'grief' as the PS3 operation is very simple and straightforward.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 4:59PM
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One other thing on wiring....I had the framers provide a 'box' in the framing behind my system and on the room's back wall. I then ran several pieces of 2" conduit into the attic from the 'boxed' area. This lets me pull wiring around as the situation changes over time...and as technology changes, it surely will.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 5:03PM
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garymunson-2008 - I'll need to check out the Playstation 3. I never thought of it as anything but for games.

BTW - ktkelly, try to be civil here will you. Everyone's just exchanging ideas and looking for advice. If you don't have anything good to say....

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 12:16AM
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It really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Ktleey is fair to say what he has to say. Unfortunately in the AV space there are two extremes to it. There are people who will want to DIY everything and put things together to make them do what they want (without the usual original intent of the product). Then there is the other group that doesn't want anything to do with it and just wants ease of use, ergonomics, and a headache free setup. The problem is both sides don't see the other - the DIY sides can't fathom the dollars being spent to do what they think they can accomplish with less and the other side doesn't want the headaches associated with a diy type of setup. Then there are all the people in between who want the most for the least amount of money. The key is the amount of 'tweaking' involved - that and the integrator.

The PS3 is a great device. Is it the best for a homeowner that doesn't want any exposure to the underlying things ? most definitely not. Is the the "most powerful", depends on the user. But relatively speaking, for most probably not.

I love to tweak. but at the same time, I understand that what goes into the house - needs to be the most user friendly setup for the homeowners (and guests of homeowners). That means that things are limited/controlled as to what can and cannot be done and how things are done.

You are talking extremes in price - but I'd venture to say that most people would take a K-scape/Crestron setup over a PS3 setup in a theater almost any day of the week. Granted, it can't handle streaming of blu-ray (yet, announced but not released). But then again, if you want streaming blu-ray Axonix does this now as well, albeit the same as the Sony PS3 - illegally. Managed Copy is the issue for everyone right now.

But getting back to the original - how much do you want to tweak is the main question. For a theater - you are free to tweak if you want. If you use the automation for other things in the house (especially lighting), I would highly recommend that you go toward the more reliable, less tweaked options. Your significant other (and potentially future homeowners) will not want to live with light switches not turning on lights reliably. That means 100% of the time without delay - not most of the time, or almost all of the time, or whatever.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2008 at 10:26PM
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Actually, Anthem, the intent of Sony IS to do it all...I was amazed to open the manual of my new system and see instructions for installing Linux and installing a larger harddrive. The PS3 interface has been set up for as simple operation as possible using one device to accomplish many things with the least amount of effort or control devices. I admit I haven't attempted to add the Linux driven automation solution so can't comment on that however I have several professional friends with very high end home theater setups and I'm appalled at how complex the controls are compared to the PS3. Your comment on the 'significant other' made me think of that difference. Have you tried fooling around with one yet? My jaw dropped the first time I got to scroll thru the options.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 5:23AM
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The thing what you have posted in your comment itself there is a answer.
The simple way is to get one big tv stand with some arrangements in that and keep your home theatre in that whatever you like.



    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 1:52AM
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