A Labor of Love
My wife Cindy and I purchased our new home in Raleigh, NC in January 2009 with an eye toward converting the large bonus room over the garage into a home theater. We wanted a space that could be used primarily to watch movies but could also serve as a place for relaxing and listening to music. Further, we wanted a space that was different from the rest of the house that would look and feel like a dedicated theater.
As a self-proclaimed do-it-yourselfer, I felt confident I could tackle the project on my own but had no idea what it should look like, how it should be constructed or what equipment to purchase to ensure the best experience possible. Given this, I spent the better part of six months researching everything I could find on home theater design and construction. Finally, with a plan in hand, I worked on the theater every chance I got (mostly nights and weekends) for the next five months. The only part of the project that we hired out was the carpet installation.
Lighting was a key consideration in designing the theater. Setting the right mood and creating the best experience was more important than just providing light. Whether we are watching the latest Blu-Ray, playing a game on the Xbox 360, or listening to music, the remote controlled Lutron 6-Zone Grafik Eye has a scene programmed for each situation.
The room also posed some interesting challenges – such as a large arched window located in the front of the theater and another window located on the side at the rear of the theater. Further, there were some rather stark ceiling angles that could not be altered due to the house's roofline. To conceal the large window, speakers, and subwoofer, I built a stage and false wall. The rear window was covered with room darkening fabric and then hidden behind fabric panels to match the rest of the theater. The panels are easily removed to allow for window access and maintenance. As for the ceiling angles, while I initially fretted over them, I think they add a dramatic effect.
Room acoustics were evaluated, and improved, by adding bass traps in the front corners. Additional acoustical insulation and treatments were hidden behind many of the wall panels. Cindy was invaluable (and incredibly patient) as she covered the wall panels with fabric. Further acoustical corrections and enhancements were achieved through the utilization of graphic equalizers as well as the use of RoomEQ Wizard (sound measurement and analysis software).
After a good deal of research on sound quality and speaker placement, we decided to configure the room for 7.1 channel surround sound. A variety of KEF speakers have been installed throughout the theater, each concealed either behind the screen or hidden inside a column. To provide an extra kick off heart-thumping bass, we added a HSU Research 350-watt subwoofer (also concealed behind the screen wall). All the research paid off -- as the sound quality has been absolutely amazing, creating an immersive experience that you won't soon forget.
All of the equipment is contained in a flush mounted Middle Atlantic rack located near the rear of the theater. All components are accessible from the rear via a walk-in closet in an adjoining bedroom, which makes equipment tweaks and wiring changes simple.
I hope that this inspires others that are reading this article to consider taking on their own home theater project. We have thoroughly enjoyed our theater and look forward to many years of enjoyment from it.
Marantz AV-8003 Processor
Marantz MM-8003 Amplifier
Marantz BD-8002 BluRay Player
Escient Fireball Media Controller
Sony 400 disc Mega CD Changer
Sony 400 disc DVD player
KEF IQ9s (Front L/R)
KEF IQ6C (Center)
KEF IQ3s (Side L/R)
KEF IQ5s (Back L/R)
HSU Research VTF3 MK3 350-watt Subwoofer
DBX 31 Band Graphic Equalizers (3)
DBX Dual 15 Band Graphic Equalizer
Behringer Feedback Destroyer Pro – DSP1124P
ART Power Conditioner
Belkin PureAV PF60 Power Console
Belkin PureAV PF31 Power Console
Belkin PureAV UPS Console
Technical Pro 4-fan Cooling unit
Mitsubishi HC-6500 Projector
100” DaLite Cinema Contour HC Screen
Lutron Grafik Eye 3106 Lighting Control
6 Palliser Coda / Camio Leather chairs with motorized recline (2 rows of 3)
XBOX 360 Elite - Call of Duty Edition
Harmony 1100 Remote with wireless extender
Linksys PLK300 Ethernet Adapter
Middle Atlantic Slim-5 Rack