My dedicated cinema room construction thread

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
We bought a house last year, and we're about to convert the spare bedroom to a cinema room. We'll still need to use a sofa bed for seating so that guests have somewhere to sleep, but other than that, it'll be a dedicated cinema room.

I've had several LCD projectors over the last 12 years, but since we've lived in rented acommodation, we've largely been restricted to using a magnolia wall or white roller blind as a screen.

Dimensions of the room are approx 10ft x 16ft. It has a sloping ceiling at either end, where the seating and screen will be, so I'm planning to build a false wall at one end to give us more height for the screen and to hide the front speakers.

Here's the plan I've created in AutoCAD so far, which should hopefully explain better.







Blue = timber frame for 'false wall'
Green = screen
Pink = raised 'stage' area in front of screen
Red = possible pod for projector sunk into wall
Yellow = projector

The budget is very limited, so I'll be doing the work myself with my father-in-law in our spare time, and keeping additional spending to a minimum.

- Screen will be home-made 2.40:1 constant height using Dunelm Mill blackout cloth stretched over a wooden frame (thanks to Ben for this tip http://www.avforums.com/forums/12689201-post258.html)
- Room is directly above garage and hallway, rather than living accommodation, so we're not planning to add any soundproofing.
- I currently use a hi-fi amp with stereo speakers but plan to upgrade to a 5.1 AV receiver and speakers.
- I already have a blu-ray player and projector (Epson EH-TW3500)

Here's a couple of photos of the room at the moment, looking towards where the screen will be:-

Front-left:


Front-right:


I'll post some more details on the thread below, and will update it as we start work next week. I'd welcome any opinions and suggestions!

Thanks,
Neil
 

Geps

Active Member
Can you draw a sofa to scale on those plans? I imagine you're 2.5-3m from the screen? Not sure how big the screen will be so can't say if you'll be too close....

I'd also recommend make the screen out of acoustically transparent material and then installing the speakers and sub within the stud wall to give more space.
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Hi Geps,

Thanks for your comments. I'll try to get round to adding some visible dimensions to those plans! We'd be sitting 4m from the screen, which would be 2.7m wide. This worked pretty well in our tests in the living room.

I did consider acoustically transparent material for the screen anyway, but thought I'd see how I got on with cheap material first, since I've never made a screen before. Material was only £15, so we could always upgrade to AT material later and move the speakers higher.
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
There are quite a few things I haven't decided yet, any comments are most welcome. These are just my thoughts/notes so far:

1) Whether to sink a box/pod into the wall for the projector (neat), or mount it to the side of the seats (less neat) with a slight loss in PQ due to lens shift.

I can't ceiling mount due to the slope and danger of banging our heads! Epson TW3500 has an air intake at the back and vents through the front, so I'd need to design a box to draw in air from the loft space without bringing in a lot of dust. Since the highest I can mount the box is 1.15m, it may be too close to the viewers' heads anyway, in respect of heat and noise. I'll need to experiment with this.

2) Where to position the AV equipment (amp and blu-ray player).

I thought these might go behind the screen wall, but never having had an AV amp, I don't know how important it is to see the display. How do people deal with making sure IR remote controls work if the amp is hidden?

3) Acoustic treatments.

Haven't really given this much thought at all, in part due to a limited budget, but I assume that walls panels etc. could be fitted later if necessary.

4) AV Amp and Speakers

Ideally, I wouldn't spend much more than £500 on these in total, but I could spend up to £1000 at a push. I already have 2 JPW Gold Monitors. Could these be re-used as front or rear speakers? Current idea is to visit Richer Sounds and Sevenoaks in Bristol to have a listen to some options.

5) Lighting

Quite like the idea of something like this:-
http://www.starscape.co.uk/Images/Homecinema/Mediaroom.jpg
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
IMHO forget the star ceiling, and put money towards your kit and room treatments. You could always do the ceiling later.
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Thanks Smurfin.

I may not bother with the star ceiling at all, but I am planning put in some 'shelves' around the top of the wall for halogen downlights and a rope light. That part, at least, shouldn't eat into the budget too much.

I have no idea how much I should be spending on acoustic treatments, or even where to start. It seems a bit of a black art!
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Update: We've made the timber frame for the screen wall and painted the wall behind it black so it doesn't show through the speaker fabric I'll be using at the bottom.

Haven't fixed it all to the wall yet, but it's a start!

 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
A few updates. Progress is slow, but steady!

Equipment-wise, I've bought an Onkyo 609 amp and Wharfedale DX1 speakers on special offer at £650 total. I could easily have accommodated larger speakers in the space behind the screen, but it's not a huge room.

Here's the finished frame for the screen wall, now attached to the walls:



And we've also made the screen by stretching blackout cloth over a home-made frame and stapling it on at the back. If it stays as taut as it is now, it looks very promising.



 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Made the stage from flooring joists and chipboard. Curved front is plywood with some holes drilled for 15mm LED lights.

You can also see the frames I've made for the speaker 'grilles' sitting against the back wall.



Bought some Siemens LighwaveRF kit from B&Q today to control the lighting. Seems a bit less 'clunky' than X10, but much, much cheaper than Rako.
 

cjwood555

Active Member
Nicer looking in wall switches/dimmers than the Rako ones too.

Looks a nice job so far - well done! Where are the rear speakers going? If you're putting the PJ in a box, I'd suggest adding some acoustic tiles to the inside where the fan exhausts - particularly so given how near the sofa will be to the PJ.

Chris
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Where are the rear speakers going? If you're putting the PJ in a box, I'd suggest adding some acoustic tiles to the inside where the fan exhausts - particularly so given how near the sofa will be to the PJ.
The rear speakers will go on the left and right of the seating, at about 5ft high. The sloping ceiling prevents me getting them any higher. I've never had a 5.1 system before, so let me know if you have any other suggestions!

The PJ vents through the front. It's pretty quiet, but it may still be distracting at that distance. We're going go try it out on a temporary stand behind the sofa, and if it's too noisy mount it at the side of the sofa instead and use a lot of lens shift. PQ does suffer a little with red/green fringing when using lens shift, but it's only very noticeable on the end credits of a film.

The sloping ceilings have caused me more headaches than I originally expected!
 

Phil.LFC

Novice Member
Thanks Smurfin.

I may not bother with the star ceiling at all, but I am planning put in some 'shelves' around the top of the wall for halogen downlights and a rope light. That part, at least, shouldn't eat into the budget too much.

I have no idea how much I should be spending on acoustic treatments, or even where to start. It seems a bit of a black art!
Hi mate,

Love your homemade screen - very nice :smashin:

I put the "shelves' around the top of my room and used downlights and ropelight. Did it all myself and fairly cheaply too. I'm really pleased with the end result and quite glad I didn't go with the expensive Star ceiling.

Acoustic treatments are a nightmare when you start researching. I spent hours and hours doing just that. In the end I made up some panels myself from timber, filled with foam bought from Dunelm Mill, then covered with cloth bought to match my carpet colour. Again I'm really pleased with the end result and it seems to do the job well too. I suppose I'll never know how it would compare to thousands of pounds worth of proper acoustic stuff, but it sounds ok to me and that's all that matters really :)

With your obvious DIY skills I reckon you'd be able to make up some panels easily.
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Thanks for the tips, Phil. My DIY skills are barely adequate, but luckily my father-in-law has been a great help!

I've now stapled the fabric onto the speaker grilles and built the shelves around the top of the room.

Here's a couple more work-in-progress photos!

Shelf from below, waiting for adjacent one to be fitted. Sloping ceiling once again made this job quite difficult.



Above the shelf, showing purple dimmable rope light from TLC direct.



Testing the speaker grilles in position.

 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
I suppose I'll never know how it would compare to thousands of pounds worth of proper acoustic stuff, but it sounds ok to me and that's all that matters really :)
Acoustic treatments don't need to cost thousands - frames along the walls are fine, it's more knowing what to put inside them, and where. This where the art is, and the reason why I'm paying someone to do a full acoustic design. It's not cheap, but then I'm (hopefully) going to be building my own little high end (in my eyes) heaven that I won't be getting rid of for a good 10 years :thumbsup:

This room looks superb btw, are you doing it yourself or is something doing the construction work for you?
 

liamt

Distinguished Member
The rear speakers will go on the left and right of the seating, at about 5ft high. The sloping ceiling prevents me getting them any higher. I've never had a 5.1 system before, so let me know if you have any other suggestions!

The PJ vents through the front. It's pretty quiet, but it may still be distracting at that distance. We're going go try it out on a temporary stand behind the sofa, and if it's too noisy mount it at the side of the sofa instead and use a lot of lens shift. PQ does suffer a little with red/green fringing when using lens shift, but it's only very noticeable on the end credits of a film.

The sloping ceilings have caused me more headaches than I originally expected!
surround speakers ideally need to be at ear height when sitting down. obviously move them up a little if seating blocks the path to the speaker and then angle them down.

regarding AVRs and displays. i like to see the displays but most amps also display on screen via HDMI now so you dont need it as much. i still like to see if im using THX music/cinema as sometimes i swap if listening to a music TV show etc. most amps will also remember what setting for each input. if you use a media HTPC you will always be swapping between music settings and movie settings etc.
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
This room looks superb btw, are you doing it yourself or is something doing the construction work for you?
Did you mean mine, or Phil's? Phil's garage conversion is one of the inspirations behind the project!

For my part, I'm doing the work myself with help from my father-in-law. We've got a few things wrong along the way, but I hope our mistakes won't be too visible when it's finished :laugh:
 

Midge01

Active Member
This is coming along nicely, I love the staging you've built beneath the screen, can you tell me how high that is please? Look forward to seeing it finished as I'm sure you do :eek:)
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
This is coming along nicely, I love the staging you've built beneath the screen, can you tell me how high that is please? Look forward to seeing it finished as I'm sure you do :eek:)
Thanks :)

The stage is 100mm high, plus 12mm for the chipboard.

In hindight, I'd have used thicker (18mm?) chipboard. I don't think I'd buy the timber from B&Q again, either, as one piece warped very badly after I'd made the stage.

The chipboard overhangs around 20mm at the front to allow room for the carpet to be stapled underneath.
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Just a quick update showing me testing the screen in position. I've also wired up the downlighters into the ceiling 'shelf' that goes around the room.



Biggest headache now is working out how to make the screen masking.

The masking should be attached to the timber frame so that it covers the edges of the screen and hides the gap between the screen and the timber frame too.

The masking will be approx 15cm all round, but I also want extra side masking for when we watch 16:9 films.

LightwaveRF dimmer switch has proved disappointing. Lights are very dim even at full brightness. The manufacturers blame poor 12v transformers for the problem, but my lights are standard 240v. Since I've bought all the kit, I might well have to put up with it now :(
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Well - it's been a while since I last posted!

We've now painted the room with Dulux Breton Blue on the side walls and the back wall and ceiling 'shelves' with Dulux Urban Obsession (dark grey).


Starting to paint the walls

My wife persuaded me to go with the star ceiling idea, which proved to be a major headache, as we don't have access to the roof space.

In the end, I bought a large sheet of Foamlux and screwed a light timber frame to the back. Foamlux is a plastic used for making shop displays etc. and is very strong and light. We covered the Foamlux with a large black stage backdrop cloth (glued on) to make it as matt as possible.





Installing the 250 fibre optics took an entire day. I'm pleased with the end result, though.


Star ceiling in place, before the edges of the 'shelves' are finished.

I also made a change to the original plan of having no soundproofing. The sound was quite loud in the downstairs hall, so I decided to buy some acoustic sheeting to put under the carpet. It won't stop the sound completely, but it should help a little.

The stuff I chose was called Tecsound, and it's horrible! Very heavy, somewhat sticky on one side and almost impossible to get it to lie flat. I followed the instructions provided by the seller to install it with the fabric scrim facing down, but I'm not sure that was wise, as I now stick to the floor! Nevertheless, it will be covered with carpet and Cloud 9 underlay very soon.

Here's a photo I took today. It's quite sunny here, so the paint on the walls looks a lot lighter than it does when you're in the room.



It's been over a year since we moved house, and we haven't watched any films in that time, but the end is in sight! Once the carpet fitter has been, the only major jobs remaining are making the screen masking, deciding how best to cover the window (any ideas?!) and making some kind of radiator cover. And installing all the kit, of course.

I'm leaving acoustic treatments and final decision on projector positioning until the end.
 

s_inman

Well-known Member
It's looking great! Well done, like the Star Ceiling. Which kit did you go for?

Stuart
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Which kit did you go for?
I bought a kit from Ebay in the end. The light source is LED, which is smaller and runs less hot, which made it easier to fit into the triangular box section where the downlighters are installed. Don't have anything to compare it with, but the kits seemed good quality, and the seller was very helpful answering my questions.

Here's a link to the seller's shop:
eBay My World - star-kits
 

michael.redfern

Active Member
deciding how best to cover the window (any ideas?!)
To cover my basement window I bought a sheet of blackout fabric (black one side, white the other) and sticky velcro from Dunelm Mill. I cut the fabric to the dimensions of the window, then stuck one half of the velcro to the window frame (uPVC in my case) around the very edges and the other half to the white side of the blackout material, again around the edges.

Basically like this, but mine's black on the room side -
(Image courtesy of Amazon)

This works really well, as the adhesive on the velcro is particularly sticky and seems to be much stronger than the velcro-velcro bond (if that makes sense), and I've removed it a couple of times and it's holding strong. Because it sits directly against the frame, it lets zero light through and works much better than curtains or a blind does.

I guess the curve on the top of your window might make things interesting and you might end up using a fair number of pieces of velcro, but for me it worked really well. :thumbsup:
 

Neil in Bristol

Active Member
Another quick update:

Got the carpet fitted, and for now we've fitted a grey Tupplur blind from IKEA over the window. We may try Michael's suggestion if too much light is leaking in.

Radiator and black screen masking left to do.

 

Midge01

Active Member
Coming along nicely Neil, when are you planning the Premier for?

Midge
 

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