New member.....Beginning stages of new theater room. Tips, tricks and best boom for the buck advice?

M

MTSound

Audioholic Intern
Hello all,

New to the forum (great forum by the way). I have basically been out of the audio video game for about 15 years and wow has the technology. I’ve been reading and researching and there is almost too much information/disinformation out there so I am hoping to get some tips, tricks and advice on a new set up for an unfinished room.

The canvas is blank......

The room is in an unfinished basement with plans of finishing within the next 6-8 months so it’s the best time to plan the set up and wire it. It is also a good time to do some pre buying of equipment with Black Friday and model year closeouts happening

Dimensions of the room are 16’ long by 12’ wide by 8’ flat sheet rocked ceiling. Overall viewing area will be approximately 12’ x 10’ with most of the viewing being 8-9’ from the screen

Tv is inexpensive Samsung 4K 65” for temporary use until it can be upgraded down the road to a projector or OLED.

Now my overall budget will be $2-3k for the sound system. I want to be a little flexible for the budget but would prefer to be on the lower end of it. I just want to make sure I’m spending money the right way though. Buy once, cry once but be smart about it. I plan on buying the system over time during the next year or so

The plan is to start out with a receiver and 2 towers and possibly a center channel. Then add rears and sub later on to go to 5.1. Finally at the end will be another set of rears and another sub to go to 7.2

I also like the new options of second zone. With this I would go with a wireless set up for the second zone. This will not be included in my initial budget

System needs to be all around use. Movies and music. Everything from Chris Ledoux to Metallica.

Looking at what is out there and based on my research the Denon avr x3500h seems to fit my needs and the budget and right around $600 give or take. I would prefer to not go with a refurb on the receiver since warranty runs out at a year and have read some horror stories about a4l
I am not set in stone on anything

Speakers, I believe is where I will need the most advice. Is my setup idea and progression sound? What speakers should I be looking at to match with a receiver in that mid price range?

I do not have any place within a 2 hour drive to test drive anything so going to have to make the best educated guess on what to get.

Thanks anyone for the input and taking the time to help. So please help me spend my money......but wisely.


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NINaudio

NINaudio

Senior Audioholic
There's a killer deal right now on a well liked 7.0 speaker package:

7.0 DCM

The Denon x-3500h is a great deal right now as well. With 1500 cubic feet, you'd probably do just fine with dual hsu 12" subs, which are currently at $1030 for a pair before shipping. That would be an awesome $2k system right there.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
At only 16’ long, I would look at 5.2. Or 5.2.2. Imo you should have at least 5’ behind the LP for 7.x.x 5.2.4 might work too.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
Hello all,

New to the forum (great forum by the way). I have basically been out of the audio video game for about 15 years and wow has the technology. I’ve been reading and researching and there is almost too much information/disinformation out there so I am hoping to get some tips, tricks and advice on a new set up for an unfinished room.

The canvas is blank......

The room is in an unfinished basement with plans of finishing within the next 6-8 months so it’s the best time to plan the set up and wire it. It is also a good time to do some pre buying of equipment with Black Friday and model year closeouts happening

Dimensions of the room are 16’ long by 12’ wide by 8’ flat sheet rocked ceiling. Overall viewing area will be approximately 12’ x 10’ with most of the viewing being 8-9’ from the screen

Tv is inexpensive Samsung 4K 65” for temporary use until it can be upgraded down the road to a projector or OLED.

Now my overall budget will be $2-3k for the sound system. I want to be a little flexible for the budget but would prefer to be on the lower end of it. I just want to make sure I’m spending money the right way though. Buy once, cry once but be smart about it. I plan on buying the system over time during the next year or so

The plan is to start out with a receiver and 2 towers and possibly a center channel. Then add rears and sub later on to go to 5.1. Finally at the end will be another set of rears and another sub to go to 7.2

I also like the new options of second zone. With this I would go with a wireless set up for the second zone. This will not be included in my initial budget

System needs to be all around use. Movies and music. Everything from Chris Ledoux to Metallica.

Looking at what is out there and based on my research the Denon avr x3500h seems to fit my needs and the budget and right around $600 give or take. I would prefer to not go with a refurb on the receiver since warranty runs out at a year and have read some horror stories about a4l
I am not set in stone on anything

Speakers, I believe is where I will need the most advice. Is my setup idea and progression sound? What speakers should I be looking at to match with a receiver in that mid price range?

I do not have any place within a 2 hour drive to test drive anything so going to have to make the best educated guess on what to get.

Thanks anyone for the input and taking the time to help. So please help me spend my money......but wisely.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
I have to say, if everyone would provide such detailed information, i.e. distance, room dimensions, budget, other needs (no. of channels, zones, upgrade plans etc...). If you include your target peak spl (sound pressure level) it would be perfect, though in this case it probably doesn't matter.
 
M

MTSound

Audioholic Intern
Thank you all for getting information, advice and compliment.

The dcm listed above is very intriguing and seem to get good reviews. Would it be with the little extra to go with the tfe series or the tp260?

If I decide to go with the 5.2.2 as suggested and makes more sense than the 7.2 would the dcm ceiling speakers be a good alternative?


As this process goes on I will also update with thread with costs and pics of the development of the room. It may be useful for those working on mid to small budgets.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
2

2channel lover

Audioholic General
Hello all,

New to the forum (great forum by the way). I have basically been out of the audio video game for about 15 years and wow has the technology. I’ve been reading and researching and there is almost too much information/disinformation out there so I am hoping to get some tips, tricks and advice on a new set up for an unfinished room.

The canvas is blank......

The room is in an unfinished basement with plans of finishing within the next 6-8 months so it’s the best time to plan the set up and wire it. It is also a good time to do some pre buying of equipment with Black Friday and model year closeouts happening

Dimensions of the room are 16’ long by 12’ wide by 8’ flat sheet rocked ceiling. Overall viewing area will be approximately 12’ x 10’ with most of the viewing being 8-9’ from the screen

Tv is inexpensive Samsung 4K 65” for temporary use until it can be upgraded down the road to a projector or OLED.

Now my overall budget will be $2-3k for the sound system. I want to be a little flexible for the budget but would prefer to be on the lower end of it. I just want to make sure I’m spending money the right way though. Buy once, cry once but be smart about it. I plan on buying the system over time during the next year or so

The plan is to start out with a receiver and 2 towers and possibly a center channel. Then add rears and sub later on to go to 5.1. Finally at the end will be another set of rears and another sub to go to 7.2

I also like the new options of second zone. With this I would go with a wireless set up for the second zone. This will not be included in my initial budget

System needs to be all around use. Movies and music. Everything from Chris Ledoux to Metallica.

Looking at what is out there and based on my research the Denon avr x3500h seems to fit my needs and the budget and right around $600 give or take. I would prefer to not go with a refurb on the receiver since warranty runs out at a year and have read some horror stories about a4l
I am not set in stone on anything

Speakers, I believe is where I will need the most advice. Is my setup idea and progression sound? What speakers should I be looking at to match with a receiver in that mid price range?

I do not have any place within a 2 hour drive to test drive anything so going to have to make the best educated guess on what to get.

Thanks anyone for the input and taking the time to help. So please help me spend my money......but wisely.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
My advice.

I like the idea of building your system over time. I did the same thing. I've seen people do this that feel they need to fund all of it at the same time and that's great if you have it, but it's not necessary imo.

HT space...a 16' deep space can handle rear surrounds, but start with your seating to the TV screen 1st and let that guide you. You will need about 5 to 6' of room behind your seating to make 7.1 work properly...any less than that, it's too tight and it actually defeats the purpose of doing it.

Secondly, and I tell people this a lot because they spend the money only to find out they could've save it. If you have exposed walls, prewire for the max surround sound you think you would ever want (speaker wire doesn't have to be very expensive).

If you intend to stream your movie content...most of what is out there now in surround sound will be 5.1 content. If you have the space for 7.1 and don't mind building a physical blu ray library...there's enough content out there to justify the added cost of a 7.1 system.
 
tmurnin

tmurnin

Full Audioholic
I would plan on wiring for a 7.2.4 system now. If you don't end up using all those speakers, that's fine. Wire is cheap and the extra runs in an unfinished basement won't cost much. That wiring would allow you to run whatever system you can afford now and then add speakers later as you decide. For my money, I would go with a 5.2.4 system before I would do a 7.1 system given where Atmos has taken HT audio, but that's just personal opinion.
 
M

MTSound

Audioholic Intern
Great points. Thank you. When it comes to prewiring the more the better philosophy makes a ton of sense

It is an unfinished room so I can do what ever. I was doing some calculating today and came up with the fact that I can turn the room into a two row theater if I’m willing to give up the planned bar space.


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Bryce_H

Bryce_H

Senior Audioholic
Given it is unfinished you have the opportunity to chose the most important component to your set-up - the room itself! Sometimes changing a room dimension can make a huge difference in overall performance. A bad room either can't be fixed with equipment or will end up costing a lot of time and money. Spend time designing your room and how you build it. If you search through a bunch of my posts from 2004-2005, you will see I went through this very journey myself (bare basement build out). As an example, I put a 90 degree bend in the stairs to my basement so I could extend my room and remove several potential problematic modes if I build the back wall where it was intended. There used to be a mode calculator on the Sound and Vision website (it was an excel spreadsheet) - I assume there are some out there. I spent several months actually designing the room (dimensions, building techniques (double staggered stud wall as a sound barrier, decoupling drywall from the studs/joists to deaden sound to other areas of the house, etc.) and planning for the future - running conduit to all speaker locations (at the time a 9.4 - Atmos wasn't even a thought at that point) and projector location (I was able to swap out my component cables with an HDMI in about 4 minutes - pull cables out, run new cable). For the main/big cable areas (front L/R and projector) I used 2.5" PVC piping...for the minor areas (surrounds and subs) I used pex (or something similar). All these terminated in my component closet. A secondary benefit of the conduit was when I moved I was able to pull all my cables and system in about an hour. Also design in electricity and HVAC. Consider a riser for a second row and maybe a stage (I did).

There used to be a thread on another site (I think it was AVS forum) that was a "I wish I had/hadn't ??? when building my theater" I got a ton of things from reading this front to back (like running conduit and power in my riser so I could easily hook game systems to my component closet in the back).

I loved the process of designing and ultimately building (I personally did most of the work) my dedicated home theater.

Good luck and ask lots of questions - it is a great group here.
 
M

MTSound

Audioholic Intern
Thanks all for the information. I’m glad I’m planning now. The framing for the room already exists. I remeasured the the room and it is actually 14’ wide by 19’ long. So I have a little more too. To work than I thought. There are no odd angles. The open stairway is at the back. I will post some pics tomorrow evening to give a better idea.

Those DCMs look very tempting. Also looking at the tfe series as well. Might be a little more initial cost but looks like a great speaker that won’t break the bank

I had already planned on using pvc for the wiring and leaving back access to my two main connection points. I am already having a blast just researching and discussing the topic. The fact that I can do this on a realistic budget is getting me more excited and motivated to get started


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NINaudio

NINaudio

Senior Audioholic
There is limited stock of those DCM's left. I wouldn't wait too long if that's the route you want to go.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
I had already planned on using pvc for the wiring and leaving back access to my two main connection points. I am already having a blast just researching and discussing the topic. The fact that I can do this on a realistic budget is getting me more excited and motivated to get started
I wouldn't recommend using speaker wire with PVC insulation. That material is reported to react with the conductor over time and that makes the copper turn green. The Monoprice Oxygen Free Cu speaker wire is inexpensive and is the product which I use for the interconnections in my system. Both Monoprice and Amazon sell it online.

 
Bryce_H

Bryce_H

Senior Audioholic
I never saw any oxidation with my cables when they were run in PVC pipe...that is new to me. The cables themselves are jacketed (protected) from contacting the PVC pipe.

If the wire insulation is PVC, there could be some oxidation, but a quick internet search shows it is usually a failure of the jacket that causes oxidation.

Not an electrical engineer, just providing personal observations.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
I never saw any oxidation with my cables when they were run in PVC pipe...that is new to me. The cables themselves are jacketed (protected) from contacting the PVC pipe.

If the wire insulation is PVC, there could be some oxidation, but a quick internet search shows it is usually a failure of the jacket that causes oxidation.

Not an electrical engineer, just providing personal observations.
I wasn't referring to PVC conduit but the PVC sheathing that covers a wire. As the wire's polyvinyl chloride insulation deteriorates, hydrochloric acid forms. This causes oxidation of the copper; the green stuff is most likely copper chloride. It is a bad conductor.
 
M

MTSound

Audioholic Intern
Please forgive the clutter and archery target.

First pic is towards the front of the room.
2nd pic is from left facing right.
3rd is from front of room to back
Last is from right of room to left

My idea is to have screen at front of room then build out cabinet space for components. The two open doorways towards the front of the room will have doors




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SwedishChef

SwedishChef

Enthusiast
Having just made some changes myself, I have a few suggestions.
  1. Read, read, plan, plan, plan, post and ask, plan, read, plan... I didn't keep track of all the things I almost got wrong and was able to avoid through planning, measuring, thinking things through, and talking about them, but it would have been a BIG list. It took a lot of time, but I really felt it was worthwhile and prevented changes, rework, wasting money, buying replacements and selling things, etc.
  2. If you're doing a projector, plan even more, and block things out with paper or cardboard, etc. if you can. Ensuring you get the size of screen that works for you, amount of light, will the speakers fit beside/behind, etc. Sorry to repeat "plan," but I would have ended up ordering at least one more screen had I acted too quickly and not finished a careful plan.
  3. Buy last year's equipment on sale. It seems like a LOT of well regarded things can be had easily for 40% off or more, like the Denon you mention. I think my best buys were 76% off (new, not refurb/etc.). It's worth it to make a list of options and track prices over time and watch for opportunities. This also lets you know the "real market price" of things, so that a few months later when you see a great deal you can easily recognize it and act. (I'm not aware of a lot of current deals, I'm afraid, but there have been good prices recently on Elac, Polk, Klipsch, and other speakers. I'm hoping for more next week. Though I think I may have enough speakers.)
  4. I think the Denon you listed is a good option. Since there's a sale on the AVR-X3600H in Canada right now, I'm hoping there will be one in the US next week. I think that series or above, and the similar Marantz options are reasonable. I am not very familiar with the other brands current lines. I wouldn't go below about $400 unless you found a magical deal. I kept seeing a lot of compromises in the options at that price point or below, even on sale. It might be possible for 5.1, though. (Get one with Audyssey XT32, if you can.)
  5. I think going stereo at first is a good idea, as long as you're comfortable with "good sound" instead of "movie sound," so to speak. I did it for several years. I think "movie sound" is characterized by A) being somewhat loud, with a wide dynamic range, B) with powerful bass, and C) sound not solely from the front. To me, it's just not "movie sound" without those. You can get great sound in front of you with your plan, but it probably won't feel like a movie until you add the subs and surrounds. If you're OK with that, your plan is great.
  6. I'd go listen to whatever you can this weekend that you can get to locally. Anything, really. Start building your mental sense of what you like and don't like and take notes. Sometimes you can play your own music you know, and sometimes you can't, but you can start forming opinions. One of my discoveries was, "Good subs are worth buying." And I ended up spending more on subs in my home theater room than I expected, and have been utterly convinced you really do need two.
  7. Unless you're going to do a LOT of two channel, I wouldn't necessarily be afraid of going bookshelves all around. Towers are cool, and do sound a bit better (to me), but cost a lot more and you're almost certainly going to be crossing them over at 80hz anyway, so some of the "gains" from being towers won't really be realized in a home theater situation. (An alternative to buying L/R/C first would be L/R/Sub first, which could also enable satisfying music with bass in a 2.1 environment.)
  8. I would keep an eye on speaker sensitivity and whether they're 4 ohms or 8 ohms. A LOT of the speakers I seem to like end up having 76db sensitivity and be 2.6 ohms (I kid - but the more you read, the more you'll see that even the 4 ohm rating is often sketchy, because impedance varies with frequency so one number doesn't really capture it.). There are a lot of 4 ohm speakers these days and many lower end receivers don't give 4 ohm power ratings anymore. Depending on the volume you're looking for... well, let's just say my view is that I can hear a difference between low/midrange receivers/amps with demanding speakers. (Some disagree.)
  9. I would timbre match L/R/C if you can, and be sure you buy a speaker line with a good center - with a good design (see Audioholic articles and videos). Prioritize a good center. Personally I cared about timbre matching the surrounds, as well, because I was playing with a bunch of bookshelves with different character and it made a big difference in the sound to me when I got away from that. Many others disagree, though, and see surrounds/rears/height as unimportant to match.
  10. Don't forget to budget for good, basic cables of all types. HDMI cables from sources, any RCA cables, 20' 14 or 12 gauge speaker cables to surround/rears... you don't have to go full audiophile for it to add up when you're trying to stick to a budget.
I'll stop there - I didn't expect this to be this long. You could consider doing what I did. I tested the Elac UB5's a while back and really liked them, so I've put together an Elac system for my family room with UF5, UB5, UC5, and I'm buying the Denon 3500 or 3600 in the next week or so, depending on sales. I'm afraid to pair anything "less" with the Elacs. I aggressively shopped sales and if you toss in $120 for speaker wires and cables, the total system cost with shipping was $1850 (including to-be-purchased 3500 at current price). To be clear, that was multiple orders over weeks of carefully tracking prices. List price would be $3150. (I did not like the cheaper Debut 2.0 B6.2, but many do.) I think there are several other good options in this price range when on sale.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however - I haven't settled on a sub or two for it, yet. I have been very unimpressed with every small-driver and lower-end sub I've heard. I'm hoping to find some magical sale that will let me get away cheaply. But I'm having a really hard time seeing how to keep the cost of subs down, when I really want two, and don't like the cheap and/or small ones... and it just doesn't make sense to me to spend $1200-$1500 on subs for an otherwise sub-$2000 system in the family room.

Hope my thoughts and story help a bit. Best wishes, and keep us posted on your plans and actions.
 
SwedishChef

SwedishChef

Enthusiast
Ack, this is embarrassing, after having typed so much... but I did want to say one more thing.

I know nothing about those DCM speakers, and so can't speculate as to their sound or quality.

I can say that I am in the camp of "spend more on the speakers." I really think they have the biggest single impact on the sound in most cases, and it's important you get ones you genuinely like.

Pairing a $3-$4000 receiver with a bad pair of bookshelves will result in bad sound. The $600 Denon 3500 mentioned and a good pair of $500 bookshelves will sound better and cost a lot less. If you start with two front towers or bookshelves instead of a full 5.1, I wouldn't hesitate to spend $500, $1000 or more on a well regarded pair that you like and can build around over time.

Everyone has a different idea of where the "law of diminishing returns" really starts to kick in - for me it's around $1000 for bookshelves and $2000 for towers. But very few people seem to think it's $200 or $300 per pair.

If you're looking to expand from a strong base, I'd say spend more on that base. If you're looking to replace in the future, then you can risk trying as cheap as you like. Keep in mind you can't really go wrong, since we can all enjoy movies on almost any system. One of my favorite movie watching experiences was on a 15" screen wearing headphones, because the movie was good. OK, I'm going to leave some space for others to chime in, now.
 
BMXTRIX

BMXTRIX

Audioholic Spartan
CONDUIT IS YOUR FRIEND!!!!

I would say there are two things I always try to recommend.

1. RUN CONDUIT!!!

2. RUN CONDUIT!!!!

Beyond that, I have about 100 things I recommend. :D

As a basic for the room, I will leave it up to you and the tons of others here along with great guides on the main AH website to direct you for speaker placement and all the myriad of options you have, few of which are truly bad choices.

But, if you have an unfinished space, you should try to avoid putting all your electronics at the front of the room in visible sight of those seated. Treat the space as a theater, which means the only thing that should be visible, when lights are off, is that screen at the front. It's a bit of planning to do, but incredibly easy to do as well if you do it when there is no drywall.

Ideally, equipment can go in a storage area on a cheap A/V stand (or nicer if you want) and that gets the heat, noise, and lights out of the room which increases the overall impact of the A/V system. You can use a IR repeater system, or a universal remote like a Harmony to control all your gear in another room.

Which, brings me back to CONDUIT: Run at least one piece of 1.25" Carlon flexible conduit from the equipment rack location to the TV locations. You don't need it for speaker locations as putting in good speaker wire will last you a lifetime. I typically run 14/4 to all locations. This way I am overkilling the location and can double up wiring for a larger gauge, or I can biamp if my equipment allows for it. Not a lot more cash to go this route, but over-wiring when drywall is down makes grabbing a wire for a 7.4.4 setup in a few years that much easier. But, displays don't get extra wire, they get conduit.

Why? Because HDMI is obsolete! The HDMI 2.0 format which carries 18Gb/s of data is already old technology, even though it's the only real format standard right now. HDMI 2.1 is announced and it has a data rate of 48Gb/s. But, no cables exist (yet) for it. That means in a few years, when you are ready for that new killer TV or new projector (PROJECTOR!!!) you will need that new cable to be installed for your gear (in a back room) to the projector location. With 1.25" flexible conduit, this is a fairly easy cable run to make.

So, a piece of 1.25" Carlon flexible conduit from the equipment to the projector and the flat panel TV locations. You're set for life.

Add to that a power outlet at the projector location (back of the room) and at the TV location at a adequate height.

Finally, I bring this up all the time... Do NOT screw up the lighting!!!

A proper theater is dark. So, dark paint on the walls and ceiling along with dark carpet is the rule of the theater. Other rooms can be your family room, but make your theater a theater! It's a very different space and can be incredibly peaceful compared to bright 'family room' setups everywhere.

With that in mind, you need about twice as much lighting in a theater as you do in a family room if you want the room to be bright enough to work and see in when the projector is off.

I recommend about 6 or more recessed ceiling lights in the main area of the space on one zone and another 3 lights above the seating as a second zone. The actual layout of lights and positioning is up to you, but you want a way to have at least two zones with lighting separate for the main/front of the room from the seating area lighting. This way, when movies are on, you can completely darken the screen area, while having plenty of light around the seating to eat some snacks and hang out with friends while not in the complete dark. This works extremely well for sports viewing and with front projection at 100" diagonal.

Be aware, you can get pretty reasonable 1080p front projection with a screen and projector for under $1,000 right now. That's for a image that is close to what movie theaters can deliver at 100" or more diagonal.
 
M

MTSound

Audioholic Intern
Thank you again for all of the info. I feel fairly confident now that I was on the right track with my initial thoughts but you all are helping refine the ideas and help formulate them into an active plan.

The multiple sets of speaker wire is a great idea with how inexpensive the good wire is it would be money well spent if you ever had one fail or as you said needed a different gauge. The multi zone lighting was in the plans but it is a great point that the lighting plan needs to take into consideration the darker environment

As for the projector I believe I am a year or so away and taking notes on what is the best ones out there now so I can get them at a reduced cost in a year or so. From my calculations 100” would be the max I could do and would put my first row a foot too close from recommenced.


Sweedishchef

Thanks for the insight and the patience in buying I believe will payoff and get the best value. I have been researching like crazy and hoping I may be able to get to a Best Buy this weekend and at least listen to something. Here in the middle of MT there aren’t very many options for auditioning.


I have been showing the wife pics of all sorts of different rooms to get ideas. And get this she’s excited about the idea too!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Bryce_H

Bryce_H

Senior Audioholic
I forgot about lighting. In my old home theater I had 6 ceiling cans (2 front zone, 4 rear zone), 3 wall sconces (each side and rear - own zone) and rope lighting under the riser. I had a Lutron light switch panel with programmable themes (movie, TV/sports, full on, etc.). I also had a repeater system (Buffalo Electronics) since my equipment was in a dedicated closet in the back of the room. In addition to running speaker cable to every possible location (don't forget to run sub cable) think about outlets - TV in the front, projector on the ceiling, sub locations, etc...I'll look through some of my old posts and pull them forward on what I did when I built out my theater.
 

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