Ceiling design for Home Theater room

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  #1  
Old 10-05-04, 11:20 AM
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Ceiling design for Home Theater room

I am finishing my 1500 sf basement, including a 16 X 13 Home Theater room that will receive special sound treatment to minimize sound transmission outside the room. Part of this treatment will be to decouple the ceiling completely from the floor joists above. This will be done by adding new "joists" between the existing floor joists to hang just below them. The new "joists" will be fastened to the stud walls at either end of the room. This is the only room to receive this treatment. I have 2 questions:

1) I plan to add up to 3 layers of drywall to the ceiling. What size joists will be sufficient for this load? The "joists" will run in the 13' direction, and thus will be only 13 feet long each. Remember, the "joists" will only need to carry the drywall, though it could be 3 layers of 5/8" = 1 7/8"

2) My local building code (Fairfax, VA) requires draftstopping for any ceiling not directly attached to the underside of the floor joists (mine are 24" OC plywood and laminated I-beams). The code states:

DRAFTSTOPPING: When the ceiling of the finished basement is not attached directly to the underside of the floor joists above or when the floor joists are comprised of open web trusses, draftstopping must be provided. Sufficient draftstopping must be installed such that the area of the concealed space does not exceed 1,000 sf and is divided into approximately equal areas. Draftstopping shall be installed parallel to the floor framing members.

The "concealed space/1,000 sf" wording has me puzzled. I do not understand it since many basements would be no more than 1000 sf, so no draftstopping would be required. But that doesn't seem correct.

For example, in my case, since all other ceilings surrounding the HT (2 walls are the foundation walls) will be attached directly to the floor joists, does this room need any draftstopping within the room perimeter boundaries?

I do not want to have to add any draftstopping within the room ceiling area since that would defeat the de-coupling design.

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 10-05-04, 05:18 PM
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Since you are obviously doing a high end room I'd use 2x8"s at the minimum for stiffness.

Make sure you use screws to attach your drywall to carry all that weight. Also, I'd get the fiberglass mesh drywall tape and use small squares of the tape over your screw heads. My HT system had a nasty habit of poping the drywall mud off the nails & screws if you hit the rooms frequency.

I'd check with your inspector about the draftstopping, but it looks more like a commercial spec. that would not apply to you. Your HT room is well below the 1'000 ft. limit and if you are really having an inspector inspect your construction I would be nice and explain what you are doing and why and explain how draftstopping would hurt the sound isolation properties.

Now... Tell us what you are installing... Front projection, plasma??? What pre-amp & amps??? Speakers???
 
  #3  
Old 10-06-04, 05:10 AM
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Thanks for the response, and the interest. 2 x 8's sound like they'll work great.

I am still deciding on the gear. I would like to add a projector unit, but I am not convinced they are worth the money yet, especially for a true HD resolution version. But that is my leaning at this point. I have a 34" direct view CRT monitor now and think it is just great. We also have a Dish 921 HD DVR which is fantastic.

I have seen DLP (rear projection) - not impressed with the viewing angle issues. Rear projection in general is not an option - looks phony and too bulky. Direct view is limited to about 36" or so, and monstrously heavy. So, I am open to suggestions. Just not sure about the durability of plasma, and LCD has viewing angle issues as well, I believe.

One area where I can also use suggestions is sound system. I am looking for authentic sound with the appropriate bass to enhance the theater experience. But I also expect the room to be used for music as well. We like all kinds from Bach to Sinatra to the Who to Toby Keith.

So, I guess since it is not exactly time to make decisions on the gear I am still wide open to sugestions.

I am just beginning framing the entire basement space at this point, and it will be several months before I get to the HT end of the space. I have broken up concrete for the full bath. (My septic fields are above the floor level of the basement, so I have to add sewage ejector basin/pump.) I also have to essentially redo the entire insulation scheme. That means ripping out the old moldy batts and fitting new foam board and unfaced batts, so it's slow going. I hope to have the new 100 amp subpanel in and wired up this weekend. Then I'll have polenty of juice available for tools during construction, and my workshop afterwards. I am tired of tripping breakers all the way at the other end of the house upstairs and tripping over extension cords running to the only 2 outlets in the basement - both only 15 amps.

But we are heading toward a high-end-ready HT room. Though I do not plan to add raised theater seating or a stage. I think for the size of the room, it would be too much, and we want to use it for more than just the HT purpose. After all, it will be "soundproof" in both directions, so will offer a haven for reading, relaxing, and just putting the world on hold for a spell.

But, feel free to offer any suggestions. They are most welcome.
 
  #4  
Old 10-06-04, 10:38 AM
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I just got a projector myself. I'm on much more of a budget then it sounds like you are though. Nonetheless, I'm extremely happy with my projector. It's really amazing and everyone who's seen it has commented on how good it looks. And it's the lowest of the low end models. I'd strongly suggest going that route if I were you. It certainly blows away our "high end" 32" CRT (although not HD). In my opinion, HDTV is not fully utilized if your screen is under 6 feet wide

Also, I might suggest building your own speakers and subs. You can buy kits where you basically have to assemble the parts. That gives you a lot of control over how the final product looks. Plus, from what I hear (I can't say I've done it myself, although I do plan to) you can spend 1000 bucks on DIY speakers and they will sound better then 10,000 dollar store bought models.

If you haven't already found it, www.avsforum.com is a tremendous resource for home theater building and equipment....
 
  #5  
Old 10-06-04, 11:26 AM
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Thanks for the thoughts. I defnitely visit the AVS forum. Have gotten a good education on sound control. I am sure I could build my own speakers, but not sure I know enough to select them from a kit. I guess I'll have to immerse myself in that subject before too long. What kind of projector did you get? Analog or digital?
 
  #6  
Old 10-06-04, 12:29 PM
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Digital. I got a Sanyo Z1, a 960x540 LCD projector. It really does look pretty darn good.

There's a sticky in the DIY part of the AVS forums about build your own speakers, and (I think) in there there is a bunch of links directly to different kits and stuff. Some of the online stores make it really easy for you, matched surrounds and centers, etc etc etc.
 
  #7  
Old 10-06-04, 12:30 PM
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Thanks, I'll look for it.
 
  #8  
Old 10-06-04, 04:42 PM
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Certainly front projection in the basement is an option. The big drawback I see with them is that the room needs to be as dark as possible. The blacks and dark colors you can see will depend on how dark the room is.

My system is in a room where one wall is loaded with windows so I went with a 40" Sony direct view. The TV is a good 300 pounds so you only want to move it once.

I've found that the absolute best picure comes from direct view followed by a mid+ level front projector. It sounds you and I have the same view of rear projection, LCD and rear projection so there is no sense beating that dead horse.

I would definitely go for the highest resolution anything. Even on my 40" there is quite a difference between a regular TV signal and a progressive signal. They both have the same number of lines, but making them all active on each scan is noticable. High Def signals make it really come alive. I'll applogize to Garasaki in advance, but anybody who says you have to get a 6' screen to notice HD probably thinks a 60" rent-to-own rear projection has a good picture.

When the time gets closer just e-mail or post for equipment advice, and give an idea of your budget. Just make sure to burry wires in the walls for anything you can ever think of, then run 1" conduit or piping in your walls between several key locations. If you forgot some wires you can easily snake them through the conduit later on. 5.1 (center, front L & R, surround L & R, sub) surround is yesterdays news, 7.1 (center, front L & R, surround L & R, rear L & R, sub) is current and I imagine that in the future we will see more and more surround speakers. You can plan your speaker locations, but your best sub location will be difficult to know until everything is in the room and you may have to try several locations.
 
  #9  
Old 10-07-04, 05:25 AM
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Thanks, PD. I will definitely be interested in your advice on speakers and SS receiver options. As for wiring, I plan to wire just as you suggest. But I would be interested in pointers or advice on products to use. I have a few catalogs, but none seem to be very comprehensive. I need the satellite quality coax, I believe it's RG6, or at least it's the "6" version not the standard "5" version used for cable hookups in the past. I have DISH network.

I also need phone or equivalent and probably should add a data port or 2. Both should be Cat 5e or better I assume. Also, I want to "pipe" audio to my shop and the other basement room. So, I believe I need a multizone audio solution. Either separate components from HT or combined if that works. So far I have not found a true multizone SS receiver. I have seen dual zone or ones you can use extra outputs to run to additonal speakers, but I want independent audio outputs to the other zones.

Make sense?
 
  #10  
Old 10-07-04, 04:30 PM
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You are correct. You want RG-6 cable to get to your rooftop dish and it's the better cable to use when interconnecting within your house. The cheaper RG59 can be used but most satellite equipment packages will not guarantee their installation if you use it.

You will need at least a phone jack where your sat. receiver is located.

My head started to spin when I tried predicting what cables to install for the future. I ended up installing what I thought I would use within a year or two. I installed conduits and wire-ways where I can easily add anything in the future. I figured that if I did not use the cables within a year or two they would probably be obsolete. Another tip is don't staple your wires. Run them through nice big holes and just let them lay. If you need to change wires or pull more, you can tie & tape your new wires onto the end of your old wire and pull it through the wall with the old wire.

There are multi zone receivers available. Dual zone is pretty common, but the price curve gets steep beyond that. Honestly, I just don't like mulit zone anymore. My old system had the feature but I rarely used it. I used it at first, but found that if I was in the other room it was a pain to go back to the base unit to change a CD (I did not have controls in each room). I am happier with a really nice HT system and a cheaper system in my shop, bedroom & office. The only drawback so far is when we have a party and want the same thing playing everywere.
 
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Old 10-08-04, 08:41 AM
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Great thoughts. Thanks. I was planning to allow for future wiring runs with some PVC conduit and I absolutely agree about not fastening the wire.

As for audio, I dreamed up an idea last night for a patch panel for audio feeds. The basic notion is to feed receiver output (HT or other units) to the panel and run to the speakers from there. Then I can wire the sound anyway I want for any occaision. Also, would not need a MZ receiver, could use multiple receivers.

Still thinking through it, but seems like it could work.
 
  #12  
Old 10-08-04, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Pilot Dane
Another tip is don't staple your wires. Run them through nice big holes and just let them lay. If you need to change wires or pull more, you can tie & tape your new wires onto the end of your old wire and pull it through the wall with the old wire.
Thats an awesome tip. I never heard that before, and is so simple it's genious!

I didn't really take offense at your comment. I think you'd agree that the difference between SD and HDTV is more subtle on smaller sets, but on larger (especially front projection) sets, ie when you start measuring in feet, the difference goes from a subtle "oh that sure is sharp" to a more "drop your jaw, kick you in the stomache, day and night" difference.

Another way to look at it (more of a practical viewpoint, less about PQ for visual-phlies) SD TV looks "reasonable" up to a certain size, after which it just plain looks terrible. Take a HDTV image at that size and it looks amazing. The difference is much more staggering at larger sizes.

Also, you may want to consider running larger conduits for DVI connections. (planning for future requirements is tough...it requires a lot of luck!)
 
  #13  
Old 10-29-04, 09:01 AM
skl
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Although you can wire with multiple chaseways and conduit, there are new products on the market that can utilize one cable for all current and future needs. Bundled cat 5/6 with rg 6. There are also adaptors for the cat 5 for cable/video/audio. These are a little more pricey, but with the labor costs on installation and running cables into existing construction this may be the way to go. Check out some samples @ http://www.smarthome.com/comptele.html
 
  #14  
Old 10-29-04, 11:04 AM
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Thanks for the thoughts. I have been trying to puzzle through this. I have no problem with cost of materials and would spend whatever I needed to to have a sensible wiring scheme for data/voice, and even power. Is there anyplace that has any good tutorials on this? I am actually pretty knowledgable about the general approach. I am really in search of a good example layout and discussion of the issues and products.

Thanks.
 
  #15  
Old 11-14-04, 06:16 PM
bborzell
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I recently completed a home theater room with a Sanyo Z2 projector. It is a full HD machine. The sources are HD from Dish Network, Standard Def signals (HBO, etc.) and DVDs. One thing to understand when looking at HD projectors is that there are HD signals and there are HD signals. Some knock your socks and others make you wonder why they went to the trouble to film in HD. The Discovery channel signal is high quality. ESPN recently improved the signal for Sports Center, but up until then, it was a pretty crude example of what HD should look like. If you go to a dealer, don't let them get away with showing Shrek or Finding Nemo. Those signals are notoriously easy to project. One of the best currently available test DVDs is "K-19 Widowmaker" (or words to that effect).

When I bought the Sanyo in January, it was about the best price/performance HD front projector available. I highly recommend it, although there might well be newer models with improved price/performance. I have a 120 in. diag. image and I will never go back to anything smaller.

...Bob
 
  #16  
Old 11-15-04, 05:07 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I agree about HD programming. I currently have Dish and a 921 "tivo-like" HD receiver/recorder. Good HD programming is just fabulous. I think HD sports are about as good as it gets. Hardly a reason to buy a ticket. No parking/travel headaches and better seats than can be constructed physically. Those cameras on wires are just sensational.

Mind my asking what you paid for the Sanyo? Ballpark is just fine. I think I have my wife convinced that a projector is a "reasonable" solution. And I do not want to get something I will feel overly attached to as high-priced items tend to do. If there is a decent HD projector for 4k or less, I'd like to know about it. If not, well, we'll just keep looking.
 
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