Home cinema mk2: living room edition

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Building DIY' started by DougAP, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Figured it was about time I started a build thread for my slowly evolving living room project. I've found with previous projects that it's always worthwhile getting input from folks on here!

    Bit of background: I moved into a new house at the end of 2017. In the previous house I had a dedicated room, that after a while looked like this:

    [​IMG]

    Alas, in the new place I don't have a dedicated room (yet ... until the loft conversion at some point in the distant future).

    So, on to this project. A far more mundane living room set up. But the aim is to get sound in the living room as close as possible to the dedicated room, perhaps better, but within stringent aesthetic constraints. WAF is high on the agenda, so it has to be discrete.

    When I started the living room looked like this (minus the previous occupant's furniture):

    [​IMG]

    I've now switched the layout around so the main sofa is in the bay (see below).

    The criteria for the system are:
    • discrete, high quality, white, on-wall speakers
    • 65" or larger screen
    • no wires on display
    • 7.2.4
    I fairly quickly settled on the screen: a Panasonic 65EZ952. There wasn't much in it between the Panasonic and competing OLEDs, although I liked the Panny's colour accuracy and black bezel.

    The speaker decision has been much more difficult. I narrowed it down to the following options:
    • M&K Sound MP950s for LCR; S150T or SUR95T surrounds; SUR95T surround back (or CS-29s if I can find some); one of the IWs for Atmos
    • Dali Rubicon base layer, Dali in walls for Atmos
    • Procella P5v base layer, in walls for Atmos
    • Elac WS 1665/1465 base layer - non-Elac for Atmos (they don't do in-walls)
    • Totem Tribe 3 LCR - undecided on the rest
    Ultimately M&K won out. One of the main reasons for the decision was that M&K have the best range of options: discrete form factor in the MP950s, great rears (I prefer tripoles as rears where possible) and wide selection of in-walls.

    The one thing that almost struck M&K off the shortlist was the fact the MP950s don't have any rear keyholes for horizontal mounting. At one stage I was planning to mount all three LCR horizontally, so I could have a pj screen drop over the OLED. @beechy06 suggested the horizontal option - and in his room (and @jfinnie 's) it looks incredible. Lack of horizontal wall mounts would have been a problem if I went that route. However, I've now decided against having a pj in the living room, so only the centre will be horizontal. I can figure out a workaround for that. The always helpful @Seriously Ltd suggests L-brackets. So, while lack of horizontal keyholes is a poor decision by M&K, I can live with it.

    The other reason for going M&K is that for a time in the dedicated room I ran S150 Mk2s with an Anthem AVM60 and Halcro MC50, and it sounded incredible. So I know and like the M&K Sound ... err.. sound.

    I haven't decided on electronics yet. I'm considering the NAD t758 although it doesn't seem to have worked out all its kinks. As the system will be used by the rest of my family, I want a receiver that works properly and is user friendly. The other option is to go for something temporary, probably a Marantz receiver (I've owned and loved two Marantz processors - AV7702Mk2 and AV8802A), and then upgrade to a processor & power amp combo down the road when my budget will accommodate it. I'm leaning towards the latter option.

    Progress so far

    The base layer speaker layout will be as indicated in this high-definition MS Paint rendering (possible sub locations in red):
    [​IMG]
    I haven't decided on Atmos speaker locations yet.

    The centre will be ear height, horizontally mounted below the screen with L/R either side. The surrounds/surround backs are 140cm. This is about 40-50cm above ear height which isn't ideal. However, surrounds slightly higher up than ideal is an aesthetic compromise as the living room needs to double as, well, a living room. Also, some viewers will be quite close to speakers, so having them higher up avoids speakers firing into their ears.

    I gutted the room and stripped the walls. Then, before the plasterer turned up, I chased channels for speaker wire:

    [​IMG]

    I ran the left conduit all the way into the ceiling. So it contains wire for left front, and 4 Atmos speakers.

    Plastering done, and a rough mock up of how the MP950s will look alongside the screen:

    [​IMG]

    Painting mostly done:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Brush plates installed for HDMI etc to the back of the TV:

    [​IMG]

    Dual sub outputs running to the back of the sofa, behind the main listening position in the bay:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You might have noticed the bag of wire coming out of the wall below where the TV will be mounted. That's where this beauty comes in:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, it isn't labelled. I've created a map so I don't get lost:

    [​IMG]

    And that's where I'm up to so far...

    Next job is to follow that map and affix the wall plate. Probably a job for Sunday, as I'm going out with friends tonight and definitely don't want to be wiring this up on a hangover!
     
  2. Seriously Ltd

    Seriously Ltd
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    Hi Doug,

    If you want to come over and hear the 950 Atmos system that I personally run just let me know.

    Best regards

    Rich
     
  3. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Cheers mate - I was hoping to! Just picked up @the_dude2 's white 950s from the classifieds, so I'll need a third... I'll PM to arrange.
     
  4. the_dude2

    the_dude2
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    Watching this thread!

    I should start a build thread for my system!
     
  5. DougAP

    DougAP
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    You should mate. I always enjoy reading build threads. Reading about members'/readers' systems is how I got into this hobby in the first place, when VTV was a thing! Besides, the hive mind here's very useful!
     
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  6. beechy06

    beechy06
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    Looking good Doug, any particular reason you decided against the projector route?
     
  7. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Thanks beechy.

    Regarding the pj decision: it's mainly down to the room's primary use, and expense. I watch TV and Netflix/Amazon/etc. with the family far more than I do films, so it makes sense to have as good a TV as possible. In light of that, if I were to spend £5k+ on a screen down the line it'd make more sense to upgrade the OLED to a 77" or larger than to add a pj + ReAct screen. That way I'd have the best quality large HDR image possible most suited to the room's primary uses.

    The other reason is that I'll virtually never be able to listen to the system at reference or thereabouts. The living room's along the wall with the neighbours (it's a semi). In a full on pj-based cinema, I'd want to be able to listen loud. So I figure I'll stick with TV for the living room, and perhaps later on add a system in the loft, or in the garden. Both have plenty of space for a larger cinema (say, 7m * 6m), which I could soundproof and light control. That way I'd get the best of both worlds - very competent system in the living room; full blown fixed screen pj room in the loft/garden :)

    Sorry, long-winded explanation! But it did take quite a lot of consideration before I decided to abandon the pj + living room idea.
     
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  8. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Some progress this morning: wall plate installed.

    A little bit of a fiddly job, but not as tricky as I expected it to be. I wasn't sure it would fit, as I had to use a 35mm back box instead of the recommended 47mm, but that wasn't a problem. I scuffed the paintwork a little while doing the wiring, so I just need to tidy that up and then I'm done with wiring for a while :D

    If anyone's interested, I used these guys for all my wall plates and some of the speaker wire. I can't fault their service: everything turned up quickly and well packaged.
     

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  9. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Minor update...

    New toy arrived today: a Marantz SR7012.

    As mentioned, I'd narrowed my choices down to Marantz and the NAD T758v3. I decided on the Marantz as there are some teething issues with the NAD, and the SR7012 has more useful features and inputs. I've enjoyed owning previous Marantz products, so if they are anything to go by, this should sound great. My main criticism of their products previously was that Audyssey killed the higher frequencies. When I owned the AV7703 and AV8802A I left it off and ran my system with an Antimode. It sounded very good, but the problem with that approach is there are typically bass issues in rooms well above the crossover point, which the Antimode obviously couldn't address. The new app means I can limit Audyssey to below Schroeder, which is exactly what I always wanted to be able to do and, according to some, all room EQ should be used for.

    So, I'm sticking with the Floyd Toole school of thought for the time being: EQ for low frequencies, and sparing use of room treatment. The patch of wall in the attached pic is almost certainly going to need some absorption though. Finding room treatment that's aesthetically acceptable will be a challenge ... I'm currently considering the Artnovion panels, although I think some people (@kbarnes70 ...?) haven't been too impressed with their products.
     

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  10. DougAP

    DougAP
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    All the face plates now on and looking nice and shiny :) The camera makes them look slightly wonky, but they're all level, promise.

    The only thing left to wire into the wall is data. I'll need to chase in for that and affix 2* wall plates each with two RJ45 modules. I'll fit one of them in the gap between the speaker plate and power, the other will go next to the router. I should've done it before the plastering really, although at the time I hadn't realised I wanted data there.

    Any thoughts on what cable would be best? Is it worth going for something better than Cat5e? I'm a complete newbie at wiring for data. In the first instance, I'll only be using data for the PS4, but eventually I'll have a HTPC in the cabinet below the telly.

    Also, does anyone know of any cheapish but decent banana plugs (ones that take wire from the bottom, not the side)?
     

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  11. barry7767

    barry7767
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    I'd say definitely use Cat6 ---- never know what you may end up using it for so the greater speed potential the better.

    I had no experience either prior to having ago, found crimping the plugs onto cat5 (now changed to Cat6) infuriating. Eventually got the knack. Cat6 was harder still, but ended up using wall plates as the wiring was so much easier than feeding into a plug. Just bought pre terminated cables as required to connect up gear.
     
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  12. adam-burnley

    adam-burnley
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    I agree with using Cat6 cable, not much cost difference to Cat5e.
     
  13. Seriously Ltd

    Seriously Ltd
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    As above we always use Cat6 on our installations or fibre Optic.
     
  14. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Thanks all. Cat6 it is then. I'll buy the modules and cable on the weekend, and order a punching tool. I better get reading and try to figure out how to wire it....
     
  15. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Do you have a link buy any chance?
     
  16. adam-burnley

    adam-burnley
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  17. DougAP

    DougAP
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  18. adam-burnley

    adam-burnley
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    Yes you want to terminate each end to a wall plate (or patch panel at the switch / router end), and then use ready made patch cables to connect between the wall plate and the equipment.

    You can use wall plates like the one shown in the video, or use euro modules, such as Hellermann Tyton - HellermannTyton Gigaband Cat6 UTP White Module

    Or search for Euro Cat6 module on ebay for different colours / finishes
     
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  19. DougAP

    DougAP
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  20. adam-burnley

    adam-burnley
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    It would be nice to see a picture of the back of that, but in theory it would save you stripping and punching down the cable cores.
     
  21. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Yea, thats
    Yea, that's what I thought. Not sure why that one doesn't have a picture of the back, but I'm assuming it's the same as this:

    Buy Twin Network Wall Plate Cat6 RJ45 White Quick Connect NX-WP-066Q

    So, just female sockets. Given that it saves me fiddling about I might go for quad sockets. I should have enough space to run four cables without needing to chase the cable run around the room. There's a gap below the plaster and a space between the wall and parquet. Besides, I haven't fitted skirting yet so I could just buy skirting with a rebate on the back.
     
  22. DougAP

    DougAP
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    I went with the twin Cat6 plate in the end instead of a quad plate - running four cables would've been a bit of a squeeze around a couple of the corners (particularly the fireplace). Two should do me, hopefully. The plates should be turning up today while I'm at work, so that's tonight's/tomorrow's job.

    I've attached a more recent layout. The speakers will be:

    LCR - MP950s
    Surrounds - S150Ts
    Rears - MP7s
    Sub - V12
    Atmos - not decided, and it won't be for a while, but no doubt after I hear Rich's system I'll want IW950s!

    I've decided to move the sofa forward so it's mostly out of the bay. That means a small loss of floor space in the main room, but it should bring surround benefits as the sides aren't so far forward of the MLP and there's more clearance from the rears.

    There's still a question mark over the sub's position. That's where I want it, for aesthetic reasons. It also keeps the sub away from the wall with the neighbours. REW Room Sim suggests it's a reasonable place to put it. However, Room Sim can't factor in the bay, so I've no idea what the actual in-room response will be.

    One unknown at the moment, which I haven't thought too much about, is: what the hell am I going to do about Atmos speaker locations? I've wired in for four ceiling speakers that can go anywhere on the ceiling, but the dropped ceiling in the bay makes it a bit awkward.

    The MLP position is roughly in line with the point at which the ceiling drops (the sofa's now further forward than in that photo). I could follow the Dolby angles and put two speakers in front of me on the main ceiling and two in the bay, in line with the rears, and hope that the height difference is sorted out by setting delays. Not sure how well that would work though.

    Anyone got any thoughts about or experience of what to do in this situation?
     

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  23. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Cat6 in place, and I'm finally done burying cables in the wall. Need to sand down and repaint the filler below the wall plate, but otherwise I'm pleased with it. Not that anyone will see it when it's behind a cabinet!

    Having the parquet sanded on Monday. After that I'll get the cabinet set up and sort the skirting out. Then I'll be more or less ready to get some speakers on the wall.
     

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  24. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Floor's all sanded and I'm very happy with it! Just need to wait for the hard wax oil to dry then I can get on with installing skirting.

    I've also just built the 'AV cabinet'. It's actually a sideboard (this) that I've modified to include an SR7012-sized hole. I'm going to use a hole saw to cut holes for cables behind each shelf; after that it should happily accommodate more or less any kit I'm likely to buy in the future. Needs a bit of oiling, but once that's done it should look pretty decent. :)
     

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  25. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Finally starting to get there! The cut-out for the 7012 worked a treat:smashin:
     

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  26. adam-burnley

    adam-burnley
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    Good job Doug. I need to do the same, what did you use for the cut out?
     
  27. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Cheers. It's slow progress, but glad to finally be getting some kit in place...

    The cut out was very straightforward, as the rear panel was already divided into three. All I did was cut it in half, then cut one of those halves into one long and two short sections. I had planned to use a router before I discovered the panel came in three parts - made my job much easier!
     
  28. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Can't shake the thought that I should've wired for six ceiling speakers instead of four ... hmmm... might have to use one of the existing Atmos wires to pull through three more speaker wires...
     
  29. DougAP

    DougAP
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    Now we're getting somewhere - 65EZ952b finally on the wall.

    Very pleased with how flat it sits. I specifically measured the position of the plug and brush plate such that when the TV sits on the wall, the protrusion of the plug fits in a little recess on the back of the TV:

    [​IMG]

    What's not so good is that I somehow managed to ignore my spirit level, so the bracket and hence TV aren't quite level. Which means it has to come off the wall again tomorrow. Pretty easy job though ... not sure how I messed it up the first time.
     

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  30. Zigourney

    Zigourney
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    Looks really good, following with interest.

    I love real wood floors, the house that I just moved out of I put in dark solid oak flooring, all different sizes, hand carved and very natural looking. In my new house I went with carpet, with some regret.
     

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