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Carlucci

Help me design my Home Theater

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Feeling confident I'm going to survive this round of layoffs, so I went and did a little shopping.  A local Home Theater store was having a pretty good sale yesterday.

 

Picked up:

 

  • A pair of B&W CM9's for the mains
  • B&W HTM61 center channel speaker
  • Yamaha RX-A3050 receiver
  • Sony VPLHW40ES 1080P projector

 

Still need:  

 

  • Projector Screen.  I'm now 90% convinced that I can go 123" from my seating distance.  As a test, we sat 10' from their 123" screen and we didn't feel uncomfortable at all. But I'm still going to project on a blank wall at my house to get to 100% certainty before buying the screen.
  • Subwoofer(s)  Eyeing the SVS PB-2000
  • All surrounds and in-ceiling height speakers (Eyes on B&W, natch!)
  • Another amp for driving the Atmos heights (haven't even started looking yet)
  • Oppo BD player (or I move mine from downstairs and just go el cheapo down there)
  • cables and mounting brackets
  • Sound absorption panels
  • Replacement wall sconces
  • A stand/cabinet
  • Build a riser for 2nd row couch (Dreaming of building a bar off the back of the riser, but gotta make sure my skill-set is up to that.  No budget to hire custom builders.)

 

We went and picked up some test paints to help decide on a color scheme.  I think we have decided against a chair rail in favor of crown moulding in an accent color, and sound absorption panels to match,  but I need to re-measure to make sure the moulding won't be too close to the top of the screen, or maybe I won't do the front/back walls at all.

 

So, movement.  I hope to take some days off soon to paint, install moulding and panels, and hang the projector.  The dude from the store said he would come to the house upon invite and make sure my mounting locations look OK before I start hanging the surrounds/heights.

 

 

Oh and as an added bonus, my buddy is building me a MAME cocktail-table style cabinet as a house-warming.  He was looking for his next woodworking project and wanted to play with a Raspberrry Pi, so I dropped a subtle hint and he took the challenge.    I'm hoping to find a barrel for a table to set it on, so I can decorated it with the DK letters.   This will go in the game-room open area upstairs and not in the media room, WAF already confirmed.

 

 

 

Carlos.

 
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Carlos,

 

The only question I have for you is what the HTM61 center channel speaker instead of one of the CM Centres? Is it a cost thing mostly? I'd want to have matching speakers all along the front, but that's just me.

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I went round and round with the sales guy and he actually talked me down from the CM center. Seems like the most straight-talking salesman ever, who understands my goals and budget.  Knowing that I prefer 2.1 channel music, his point was the Center is a speaker really just for movie/TV vocals, and having auditioned it with the CM9s, they all sounded really great together to these aged ears.    Once I get a chance to hear them in the room, I can trade up with full credit if I change my mind.  He's even going to come to my house once I'm ready for surrounds to make sure all my pre-wires are in the right spot and advise on which ones I'll need.

 

He *is* advising I get a more expensive Stewart screen,   I think that since I can control 100% of the light, I can get away with less than top-tier. Wish I could find a place where I could do A-B comparisons. 

 

I've got real concerns about the soundproofing.  The spray foam in the walls (the only thing I could have done pre-closing) definitely muffles the escaping sound a lot, but not enough, and that's just with the CM9s.playing music with no subwoofer.  I'm going to have to look into a second layer of drywall, or something even more expensive, or else the family can just learn to deal with it.   :)   I think I have the skills to add a second layer myself, but if I need to watch more youtube videos and stay at a Holiday Inn Express before I decide to tackle that. 

 

 

 

Carlos.

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You are going to LOVE that projector.

 

Thanks!  It looked amazing in-store on that $3,000 Stewart screen.  I'm going to set in on a stool and project it on Sherman Williams, almond-colored, flat paint this week.  Should be comparable.  ;)

 

 

 

Carlos.

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Well, it did look pretty darn good being projected on that almond-colored wall. I did not expect it to look even halfway decent on a textured, yellowish wall. I'm definitely going for the 123" screen as my wife and I agreed that our viewing distance didn't feel at all uncomfortable with that size image, for both movies and TV.

 

I also set up a 5.1 surround, by just placing my older speakers in the back of the room, setting a movie playing at a comfortable volume, then closing the door and walking all over the house. I think my initial misgivings about the soundproofing were mostly unfounded, due to using music at an arbitrary, and excessively loud volume. So I think we can live with the existing isolation, and can always revisit down the road if it proves bothersome.

 

So we went and choose some paint and painted the walls and ceiling yesterday and today. I went with Valspar "sooty lashes" for the ceiling and "flannel grey" for the walls, though I may use some of the darker color on the inside walls adjacent to the screen. It's drying now, but looks really great to me.

 

I also decided what I'm going to do to hold my equipment up front under the screen. I just couldn't find a cabinet that looked good, was sufficiently low to the ground, and that didn't cost two arms and two legs, so I'm going to just build two rows of thick 2" shelves, which my wife can distress and stain. That way the top shelf can hold my center speaker and run the full length of the wall, and the bottom shelf can be 4" off the ground and leave room for my subwoofer(s) in the corner(s).

 

It was really exciting actually seeing the room come to life, even in a short, ramshackle test.

 

 

Carlos.

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I also decided what I'm going to do to hold my equipment up front under the screen. I just couldn't find a cabinet that looked good, was sufficiently low to the ground, and that didn't cost two arms and two legs, so I'm going to just build two rows of thick 2" shelves, which my wife can distress and stain. That way the top shelf can hold my center speaker and run the full length of the wall, and the bottom shelf can be 4" off the ground and leave room for my subwoofer(s) in the corner(s).

 

It was really exciting actually seeing the room come to life, even in a short, ramshackle test.

 

 

Carlos.

 

But you could still lead a rewarding life:

 

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Heavy painting is done. Still needs trim work. Painting a dark color over a light color sucks big time. Took forever to get it looking right.

 

DCIeq1F.jpg

 

The square in the front corner will be the footprint of the SVS PB-1000, with another in the opposite corner. The top line of blue tape represents the top height of the center speaker after I build the shelf.

 

The splotches on the front wall are where we said screw it, the screen will cover that part.

 

The new wall sconces look great. I really like the up/down light effect.

 

Sconces full brightness:

IOSuweL.jpg

 

Sconces dimmed:

w7TuQ1i.jpg

(NO, Spiro is not pooping. He just got up as I took the picture. ). The blue rectangles are to help my wife visualize the size of the acoustic panels I will be building, except there will be one on each side of each sconce.

 

View from front corner:

39o4jVA.jpg

 

Here's the image as it will be displayed, at the approximate size, with and without the sconces on (and this is projected on the dark gray wall, no screen yet)

 

TKEnT2K.jpg

QQcBJuf.jpg

 

This projector rocks!

d30T9tX.jpg

 

 

Carlos.

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Damn, the arguments in that wirecutter article for the Silver Ticket screen are very strong.  I'm leaning towards taking a chance and getting the 120" screen.   Amazon has them for $250 with free shipping, and the reviews are fantastic.Thanks Joshiajay and Jay for pointing that out.   If i grab the Silver Ticket, with 100% light controlled room, and this being my first foray into projection screens, I'm likely to be blown away, even if the screen isn't up to the highest standard.  Then I can always upgrade from there as 4K projectors get more affordable. 

 

This way I can put the substantial savings into ISF calibrations and a really good amp to drive the mains (and center?).  Maybe even spring for video/audio calibration combo.   It feels crazy that I'm considering going from the $3000 recommended screen, to the $1800 I was eyeing, and now all the way down to $250.  Anyone want to talk me out of it?  

 

I've always said that my senses are good enough to tell the difference between a $500 pair of speakers and a $2000 pair of speakers, but NOT good enough to tell the difference between a $2000 pair and a $10,000 pair, as many audiophiles can.  Maybe it works that way with screens too.  

 

 

Carlos.

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Anyone want to talk me out of it?

No, you're making an absolutely correct choice IMO, especially if your room is light controlled.

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I made my own 120" out of countertop laminate (which had around 1.1 gain as well), 2x4's and some velvet... all said and done it ended up costing around $200...

http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/diy-screens/3776-laminate-screen-thread-data-detailed-information.html

 

I wished there was a $250 Silver Ticket screen back then....

 

My DIY screen was pretty decent no complaints quality wise - light control is way more important as its choice of projector really. The biggest factor in my room was choosing a really dark color (I chose velvet red) and blackout curtains:

 

13273433_0_RnjYEU.jpeg

 

I just sold that house earlier in the year...lucky buyers... :)

 

So yeah you are making a good choice :)

 

I would invest the $3K in acoustic treatment and speakers. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yeah it took me about 4 coats in the end to make it fairly uniform... it definitely sucks big time :) specially painting the ceiling - it really did a number on my shoulder.

Heavy painting is done. Still needs trim work. Painting a dark color over a light color sucks big time. Took forever to get it looking right.


Carlos.

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All right, I ordered the 120" Silver Ticket in the white material. Let's see how it goes. Should be here Thursday.

 

Here's a newbish question that I have been unable to find an answer to. The Yamaha 3050 can process 7.2.4 channels for Dolby Atmos, but it only has power for 9 channels (subwoofers bring their own power). So this means for two of the 11 discreet channels, I'll need an external amplifier.

 

So, given that I'll need an external power amplifier, and given that the Yamaha supports a configuration in which you send you Mains L/R to the external amp, I figure I will get a good amp, for 2-channel music, instead of a cheapie just to drive one set of the height speakers.

 

Now, I've never stepped into the world of pre-amps and power amps, so I wonder how you control volume. The two amps I have my eye on are the Marantz MM-7025 and the Emotiva XPA-2. Neither of these have volume conrols, it's just an amplifier, I get it.

 

But, do you just connect an amp like this up, run YPAO to set the levels , and that's it? I'm reasonably certain it will increase or decrease power based on the volume input from the AVR, but how will it do so to ensure the levels stay proportional? I just want to know if I'm going to have to constantly be tinkering with the levels with each listening volume tier I might like for a given situation or input.

 

 

 

Carlos.

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