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Budget Theater - Dedicated Home Theater on a Budget

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123Toid
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This was from when I designed my Home Theater.  I thought it might be useful to some of you guys.  I'll start slowly moving everything over here.  This was originally posted on AVS forum.

Goal:- While a member of AVS, I have seem some immaculate dedicated Home Theaters. I have always been enamored with the elegance and dedication that some members can put into their theaters. Also, I have been amazed at the allotted budgets some have for a dedicated home theater. As for me, I am a new home owner and realize that although, I would love to have a $50,000 dedicated Home Theater, it really isn't in the cards. So I am attempting to show that one can have a dedicated Home Theater, tat you can enjoy for a modest budget.

Budget: - $5000. This includes all cabling, carpet, projector, seating, and material.

Equipment: There are a few pieces of equipment I already have, which will not be going into the budget. This includes a modest receiver: Pioneer Elite VSX - 50. For Speakers I have 2 Klipsch F3 tower speakers, C3 center and two S3 Surrounds, along with a Cadence CSX-12 subwoofer. One Bonded Leather Love Seat and ottoman.

Room: For this build, I am taking an already existing room in the basement and converting it to a dedicated Home Theater. The room is 10'6" wide, 25' long and about 7'2" high. The room was already insulated, but no other soundproofing will be done at this time, to conserve costs. The finished room will consist of 3 rows of seating. Two rows will be for couches and one will be a counter behind the couches.

Equipment Needed:  Here is a list of the Equipment needed along with the costs associated with the material.

BenQ w1070 - $700
Peerless PRGUNV - $97
120" AT Jamestown Screen - $560
50' Media Bridge Ultra Series HDMI: $25
250' Monoprice 12ga In-wall Speaker Wire - $85
50' Monoprice CL2 Rated Subwoofer Cable - $10
50' IR cable extender - $15
Misc Wall Plates: $20
Black Outlets and Covers: $50
Insteon Dimmer Switches: $115
Misc Building Supplies (for false wall, stage, riser, insulation, speaker cloth, etc): $500
Drywall: $45
Paint: $200
Carpet, pad and installation: $700
6 pair of Estar 3D Glasses - $240
100' of r30 Insulation: $40

Currently I sit at around $3430 for the grand total. This will allow others flexibility if they do not have some of the equipment I already possess. I hope in the end I have a theater I am proud of, while inspiring others to start building their own theater off their modest budget. 😀

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123Toid
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Here are a few shots of the room. As you can see, the previous owner thought this should be two rooms. I humbly disagree. Time to knock some walls down!

DSC 0516 IJFR
DSC 0514 IJFR

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123Toid
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The walls came down. Then we had to do a test fit. A special thanks to my friends Nate, who is taking a break after all our hard work. 

DSC 0521 IJFR

 

It looks like everything will fit, as I was expecting. The Theater will consist of these two rows and a bar/counter behind the second couch. The bar will be an unusual height, so it looks like I will have to custom build some bar stools.

DSC 0523 IJFR

Budget Tip: Do a test fit, before you build it all. You will save yourself a lot of time and money finding out it will or will not fit, before you build it. Also, don't forget about were the projector will be sitting. You don't want that in your eye sight.

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123Toid
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Here were the first sketches I did. Unfortunately, I could not find two couches that fit the way I wanted to on the top riser, so the plan has changed a little. I ended up pushing all the seating to the right hand side of the room. This allowed an alley down the left for people to get to their seats. I still like this design better, but it won't work in my setup. Maybe someone else can use it 

Also, I noticed that the doorway placement, although would work, seemed a little tight. Therefore, I went ahead and moved it to the very back of the room. The door has to open inwards, due to hallway limitations.. This means I lost a little of the back of the room counter space. But don't worry, I still have room for a mini-fridge!

Obviously my design has changed a little.

Top of Theater Room Sketch
Front Speakers behind False Wall of Theater Room Sketch
Front of Theater Room Sketch
Head View of Theater Room Sketch
Rear Speakers of Theater Room Sketch

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@123toid

Nice!

For the second row couches have you considered a pair of 48 inch love seats?  They're comfortable seating for 2 normal sized people or one big heavy son of a gun...

 

 


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123Toid
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@douglas-blake

I'm not sure if I did.  The theater has been finished for quite a few years now 😀  But it's a good thought for if/when I build another one or anyone else does.

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123Toid
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I got my Speaker wire in and sub cable! What to do next? Install it of course! I installed the front 3 speaker wires and sub, but running it through the wall. Luckily I have a big gap between the two walls, due to the steel support beam being straddled by the two walls. THis made running the wires a cinch. After wards, I tested the speaker placement. I move the rear speakers 3 times before I decided on a final placement. 

Speaker Wire

I still have to permanently hook up the rear speakers. For now, I just hooked up some old Monster CL3 rated 16 ga wire to them. This is due to the fact, that the right rear speaker wire will be going through the 12" riser once that is built. Since it is not built, there is no speaker wire ran. 

DSC 0529 IJFR

Enough talk, let the testing begin! 😀 

DSC 0528 IJFR

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123Toid
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I was able to run a few wires today. Unfortunately, I needed some electrical wiring for the projector. I ended up running to Home Depot to get some. I decided on 100' of 12-2 wiring (yellow). I am running not only the projector, but also 3 more outlets that will hook up a mini fridge, my receiver and all other electronic devices. I figured I might at well run the 12-2 now, as it gives me plenty of room to upgrade to stand alone amps later down the road. 

While at Home Depot, I also decided on my color scheme. I plan to paint all the trim and ceiling in Behr Broadway (the same paint you see the wall behind the screen painted). The top of the wall will be painted a dark grey, Behr Intellectual. All paint will be the Behr Ultra Plus, which includes the primer. I've also been playing with the idea of putting up some wood paneling and faux columns. Of course, I have a plan that will keep costs down. I'm thinking the color stain will be Rustoleum cabernet. Here's a mini mock up of what I am thinking. If it works, I'll let you all know my secret to make it look nice, while staying within budget.

*The colors are not an exact match

What do you think?

Theater Room

*colors stayed the same, but not the wood.

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123Toid
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I was lucky/unlucky all at once. Lucky, my room was already partially finished with brand new insulation. It really does dramatically cut the sound transmission tot he upstairs. THe only thing that really travels is the bass, but even that is fairly minimal (that may have more to do with my 1 sub). But I'm also unlucky, in the sense that I'll never have as good of soundproofing as you.

I did not have the furniture, but I was able to find a dual reclining real leather couch on craigslist. The thing was in great shape and I feel I got it for a steal...$350! I still am on the hunt for another one. I thought about theater recliners, but passed for a few reasons. First, they are very expensive and second with only 10'6" wide, I was very limited to the amount of space I could reasonable fit them. It honestly was going to be a little cozy with theater seating. Another idea I had, which I think would be great for someone on a budget and with kids, is to do some XL Cozy Sacs. They are relatively inexpensive, comfortable and save ceiling space, if that is an issue.

Budget Tip: Check Craigslist and think of alternative seating for your theater room. You can always add Theater Recliners later, if that is what you really want, but isn't in the budget. I got my reclining couch for $350. This was originally a $1200 couch. I'll take that savings any day!

 
 

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Posted by: @123toid

@douglas-blake

I'm not sure if I did.  The theater has been finished for quite a few years now 😀  But it's a good thought for if/when I build another one or anyone else does.

Or, if you are refurnishing your current one. 

There are actually 3 sizes that are good for home theatres, where you have a long narrow room ... A Couch which is 60-70 inches, love seats which run 40 to 50 inches and the chair-and-a-half which runs 36 to 44 inches wide.

Of course there's always plan B ... set the system up on the long wall. I know it's audiophile heresy to even suggest it but I've done it a couple of times with very nice results.  Instead of rows of seating, you end up with the seating in a half circle around the screen which can be quite nice for a multi-purpose room.

This is a computer mock-up of the layout I've used a couple of times in "small spaces" apartments or basements...

Plan 1   Entry

 


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123Toid
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Good news. I went to Home Depot today to buy some R19 insulation for my riser. Unfortunately, they sold their entire lot in the morning. Instead of going home disappointed, I thought I would try my luck at Lowes. I picked up some stain I wanted to try on a few test samples of wood and went to look at their insulation. I was amazed, as all of it was on clearance. Unfortunately, they too were sold out of R19, which is what most use for their riser. I could have gone R13, but would need more insulation, so I didn't really want to do that. Low and behold I saw R30 attic insulation being clearanced out for $13 a roll! That was a huge discount so I went ahead an picked up 3 rolls (31.25 sqft a roll). Now I have a dilemma. 

I am using r30 for my riser, even though most use either r13 or r19. I will lay one strip down. The r30 insulation is about 9 1/2 inches tall. So if I just lay one strip down, it will leave about 1 1/2 inches of space. 

Budget Tip: Check local stores for clearance material you can use, Don't just go to the one supplier for all your material. If you are on a budget, it helps to shop around

 

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123Toid
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I've been working on drywalling a few areas and moving outlets. So far, I have moved a light switch that was previously in the wall I took down. I've also wired an outlet for the projector ran an HDMI and an IR extension cable (which will be used with my older than dirt Harmony 1000 remote). 

I'm hoping to start painting sometime this week, if not this weekend. In the meantime I though I would share some pretty awesome deals I've found. All of these deals are shared, so you can later find something like it if you are also on a budget.

Budget Tips:

1. I got some speaker grill fabric from Joann Fabrics. They ran a sale for $6.99 per yard. Their speaker cloth is 60 inches wide for every yard. That means by getting 4 yards (12' x 5' for $28), I got all the fabric needed for my false wall. I plan to wrap the false wall in it. Similar to the minimalist false wall BigmouthinDC built.

2. I believe in banana plugs. I currently have enough plugs for 3.5 full sets of speakers (so a total of 7 pairs of plugs). I got these Monster Cable banana plugs various times at Best Buy or on sale. But, I really like to have all my plugs the same. So after searching for Monster, they ran $20 a pair and I needed 2 pair ($40). I really didn't want to spend $40, so I was looking for a cheaper alternative that others could also use. That's when I came across these. They are $28 for 12 paris! That means you can hook up a 6.1 speaker system with just this one pack. Assuming, you go straight to the receiver to your speakers. The best thing, they are made exactly like the Monster Cable, but at a fraction of the price!

3. Wall plates, are not the most expensive, but they can add price to your theater, with just having to get more banana plugs and cabling to accomodate them. That's when I found these covers. I bought 2 of them. I hooked one up by my front speakers and ran the speaker wire as well as the sub cable. The second one, I hung from the ceiling to allow the cables going to the projector. It is a very nice wall plate and the best thing about it, is it comes with a cut out template as well as the wings that secure it to the drywall.

The second cover I got to put behind the receiver. I would have used the kind I previously used, but there really wasn't enough room in it. So instead I bought this. This thing is great! It has enough room to run a thick HDMI cable, 7 in-wall CL2 12ga speaker wires, a CL2 rated subwoofer cable, an IR extension cable, CL2 rated RG6 cable and could still fit some more The only thing you need to keep in mind with this is you need to buy a low voltage bracket for is to screw into ($1.38 at HD).

There probably are cheaper wall plates, but these are really nice and I highly recommend them!

4. Camel! If you are building a theater on a budget get to know Camel Camel Camel. It is a web browser extension that will keep track of price from Amazon. It can also e-mail you whenever a specific product you want gets to a price you designate (This can even be from 3rd parties). It is very useful to help save some money. I recently was able to get the Peerless PRGUNV mount for under $97 (that includes tax).

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123Toid
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So I got a little bored last night and decided I would paint! Here are the before (taping), middle and final shots. I hope you enjoy!

Theater Room020815 14
Theater Room020815 17
Theater Room020815 18
Theater Room020815 25c

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123Toid
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I almost forgot to tell you guys how i ran my speaker wire on a budget. A long time ago, my father gave me a nylon wire-running kit that spooled within itself. When I went to use it, it stayed in a tight spiral making it virtually useless. Knowing I'm on a budget I went to Amazon looking for a Fiberglass Wire Running kit. I found one by cen-tech, which at the time was $25! I really wasn't sure I wanted to spend that, so I decided to check Harbor Freight and Tools.

Can you believe they had the exact same kit, same manufacturer and everything for $10! SO when you need some tools, especially if they are not something you will use very often, do not forget about stores like Harbor Freight and Tool.

Budget Tip: Check stores like Harbor Freight and tools for cheaper alternatives for tools you will only use once.

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123Toid
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Since I finished painting the inside of the Theater the other day, I thought it would be a good idea to paint the smoke detector and the pot lights. Luckily I already had the lights and the smoke detector. I took down all the pot lights, and the smoke detector. I wiped them down and took apart the smoke detector. The smoke detector just pulled apart. Once I pulled it apart, I took off the clear lenses on the smoke detector. On the smoke detector, I also covered the PCB board with electrical take then painters tape.

Once all the prep was finished, I bought 1 can of High Heat Black Matte Spray Paint ($4) at Home Depot. Then coated everything lightly with a coat of spray paint. Once it dried, I did another quick touch up of everything I missed (edges mainly). Keep in mind, if you are spray painting for pot lights, you need the high heat spray paint.

DSC 0005 IJFR
DSC 0004 IJFR

So for $4, I was able to paint my lights and smoke detector. Here is a final shot. I hope this helps. Let me know what you think?

DSC 0006 IJFR

Budget Tip: Budget Tip: See if there is any High Heat Spray paint in the color you are using on your pot lights. You can save a lot of money, instead of buying custom paint covers. I did all of my ceiling accessories and ventilation for $4

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