Pro custom HT build to highest standards - Cowshed Cinema

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Building DIY' started by kbarnes70, Mar 12, 2017.

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  1. Overall design of cinema

  2. Information on sound containment

  3. Discussions about sound hardware (amps, speakers, etc)

  4. Discussions about video hardware (PJ, Blu-ray/UHD players etc)

  5. Information on acoustics and acoustic treatments

  6. Photographs and drawings of work in progress

  7. Ideas suggested by Members

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  10. General choice of hardware and reasons behind the choices

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  1. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    The Cowshed Cinema Build Thread.

    This thread will follow the design and build of my purpose-designed Home Theatre in a 33ft x 18ft cowshed adjacent to my home.

    There are several overriding design criteria for the cinema, as specified by me to the company which is providing a turnkey solution to my specification: Birmingham based Custom Install Company, The Big Picture (Home Cinema Installation in the Midlands -). These criteria are:

    1. Picture and sound quality are paramount.
    2. A 'fancy' décor theme is not needed.
    3. A considerable amount of acoustic isolation is required such that there is almost no sound leakage to the outside world.
    4. Where possible 'Pro' gear will be used - this is especially so for speakers.
    5. My existing hardware from my former HT is to be used where possible.
    6. Sound calibration will be accomplished using my existing 7.2.4 Dirac Live capability via twin DDRC 88A units.
    7. The initial design will cater for Atmos using 4 overhead speakers, but provision will be allowed for more overhead speakers to allow for potential future upgrades to the Dolby Atmos for Home specs.

    The thread will kick off with the initial rough sketches and designs and once the build commences (April 2017) I will add detailed photographs of the build progress and give a daily report on progress.

    I have reserved several posts after this first post but I will try to add new information to the original post. I am not sure if there is a post length limitation on AVF which is why I have reserved the following posts.

    Initial random thoughts, sketches and ideas.

    Here are a couple of views of the space before any work has begun. Although the cowshed is 33 feet long, I will not be using the entire length of the space for the HT. Approximately 11 feet will be reserved at one end for a small gym, making the space for the theatre roughly 21ft x 18ft. As you can see, we have a very good ceiling height which will greatly benefit the Atmos presentation. I have considerable experience with Dolby Atmos and have been privileged to be invited on several occasions to Dolby's London HQ to evaluate both their amazing Pro cinema room and also their 'home cinema' room, designed to approximate a typical domestic layout. My views, following this research and the incorporation of Atmos into my previous room (all designed and built entirely by me) are that the higher, within reason, that one can make the ceiling, the better the Atmos 'effect'.

    image017.jpg@01D23049.DC80F370.jpeg


    image019.jpg@01D23049.DC80F370.jpeg

    And a view of the exterior. The steel roller shutter door will of course be removed and be replaced by a conventional entrance door and the external wall lapboarded.

    Exterior.png

    One of the important criteria was to soundproof the cinema as much as possible. This was for two reasons: first, to ensure that no neighbours are disturbed by my late night sessions at Reference Level sound and second, to create a much lower noise floor in the room to assist with creating the greatest possible dynamic range. This means that we have two issues for the acousticians to work on: the soundproofing and the acoustic treatments to control unwanted reflections etc and to help give the best possible sound experience in the room.

    As a result, we will be building a 'room within a room', using an acoustic isolation system to physically separate the inside walls from the (20 inch thick stone) exterior walls. This will be supplemented by the use of high density rockwool 'inside' the walls and also double layers of plasterboard with Tecsound 5kg/sqm (Tecsound Membrane) membrane sandwiched between. The Tecsound alone aims to give a 25db sound reduction, and overall we are targeting a 40-45dB drop in sound from inside to outside.

    The creation of the isolated 'room within a room' is principally designed to benefit my two neighbours but it will also bring benefits for me as well (which is good since it is an expensive way to proceed). The benefits I will experience will be the reduction in the noise floor, as previously mentioned, but also we will end up with a 'diaphragmatic' or 'pistonic' set of walls and ceiling, where the whole walls and ceiling will work as bass absorbers thus giving a hugely improved control over bass. In addition to the dedicated acoustic treatments used extensively in the room (see later), this should result in a truly awesome bass quality from my dual Seaton Submersive subwoofers (4 x 15 inch drivers, 6,000 watts of amplification) giving fantastically deep, loud and controlled bass.

    Below is one of the early design sketches from The Big Picture.

    image003.png
    (Drawing © The Big Picture 2017)

    As you can see, we will have just one row of 5 seats (the sketch shows just 4). The seating position has been chosen with great care with respect to the room modes to ensure that the audience is not sitting in a null or right on a mode.

    This sketch shows approximate positions of the overhead speakers, the 4 surround speakers and the main LCR set behind the acoustically transparent 130-140 inch screen (final size not yet determined).

    A sketch of the rear wall, showing subs and other speakers as well as PJ.

    image009.png@01D26C15.EB83EB90.png
    (Drawing © The Big Picture 2017)

    And a similar sketch of the front wall:

    image001.png@01D26B85.3AB26D40.png
    (Drawing © The Big Picture 2017)

    A couple of sketches showing considerations for Atmos and surround speaker placement:

    image001.jpg@01D24A22.9A428580.jpeg
    (Drawing © The Big Picture 2017)

    image005.png@01D24A22.44560FC0.png
    (Drawing © The Big Picture 2017)

    Some idea of the finished appearance can be gleaned from the following sketch. As laid down in our criterial list, I am not interested in a 'fancy' interior design as I wish to spend as much of the budget as possible on picture and sound quality. I am therefore going for a 'nice aesthetic' pretty much along the lines of a smart commercial cinema. It will be interesting to compare these initial sketches with photos of the finished room in a few weeks. Note that this sketch is for 'appearance' only - the screen will be much bigger and will more or less fill the front wall.

    image003.png@01D27D34.04BB2270.png
    (Drawing © The Big Picture 2017)


    There is apparently a limit of 10 images per post, so the thread is continued below.
     

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    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  2. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    The final (almost) specification.

    To be continued....

    It is pretty time consuming pulling all the info together and condensing months and months of preliminary discussion with Ciaran at The Big Picture, so the next instalment will follow shortly....
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  3. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    Equipment list.

    The proposed configuration is 7.2.4 Atmos.

    Currently owned equipment to be used in the installation:

    • 1 x Emotiva XPA 3 power amplifier, 200 wpc ACD for LCR channels.

    • 2 x Emotiva UPA 2 power amplifiers, 125 wpc ACD for Surround and Rear Surround channels.

    • 2 x Emotiva UPA 2 power amplifiers, 125 wpc ACD for Top Front, Top Rear Atmos channels.

    • 1 x Marantz 7010 AVR used as 'processor' (no power amps used currently).

    • 2 x MiniDSP DDRC-88A EQ processors to give Dirac Live EQ on all channels.

    • 2 x Seaton Submersive subwoofers in 'master slave' arrangement, with 6,000 watt UK spec amplifier.

    • 1 x Oppo BDP 93 Blu-ray player for Region A discs.

    • 1 x Panasonic DMPUB900 UHD Blu-ray player for UHD and Region B Blu-rays.

    • 1 x Epson 9030 'Faux-K' e-shift Projector.

    • 1 x ISCO II Anamorphic lens for 'Scope aspect ratio presentation. (Now sold)

    • 1 x AV Racks (UK rack company) 39 RU equipment rack.
    New equipment to be used:
    • 3 x JBL 3677 speakers for LCR.

    • 4 x Tannoy DC8i dual concentric surround speakers.

    • 4 x Tannoy Di6DC dual concentric speakers for Atmos on-ceiling.

    • 4k Screen Excellence acoustically transparent 'Scope screen.

    • Automated masking system for AR adjustment, proprietary to Custom Installation company.

    • Mitsubishi HVAC for heating/cooling.

    • Control4 automated control system.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  4. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    The finished article. Great photos courtesy of AVF member Graham N.


    HT2.jpg

    HT3.jpg

    HT1-1.jpg

    HT4-1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
  5. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    As I had 'reserved' this post, I thought it was a good place to put the review which Roger Dressler made of The Cowshed after his recent visit.

    Roger is someone with vast experience in both professional and home audio. Roger has helped me greatly in the past and he has been instrumental in many of the choices I have made in my own HT, both the Cowshed and the former Hobbit Theatre, and he is a valued and valuable contributor on AVS in the USA.

    For those who don't know of Roger, he was for many years one of Dolby's senior gurus, instrumental in creating Dolby's first surround sound technology, and all the subsequent ones, including Pro Logic, Surround EX, PLII, PLIIx, Dolby Digital, DD+ and True HD. It's fair to say that Roger probably knows more about the inner workings of surround sound, including the latest immersive technologies, than the rest of us put together :) In addition, Roger has built two of his own home theatres, utilising all that knowledge and has a very interesting build thread over on the American forum. He has also been a guest in numerous high-end home theatres in various parts of the world as well as, of course, having access to Professional viewing rooms as part of his work.

    These were his views after spending some time in the Cowshed with me:



    Thanks, Keith for the warm hospitality in your lovely home.

    It is as the thread says, built to highest standards. The acoustics – quiet and well controlled – no obvious reflections, yet no sense of dryness or dullness when talking in the room. Comfortable feeling.

    Great articulation of spatial effect, both horizontally and vertically, yet no sense of hotspotting anywhere. The sides being at 90 deg posed no problem whatsoever – no feeling of “fronts here, surrounds there,” just a cohesive space. Lateral panning from screen to sides/rear as in Spectre was seamless.

    I thought the subs up front sounded very impactful and blended perfectly with the mains. Then Keith reminded me there are no subs up front! The tactile effect went beyond the direct conduction up through the floor/seats, much as I experienced in the Dolby Soho theater just the day before, but the subs also provided full body cues through my clothing – pant legs and even my shirt joined the sympathetic vibrations. ‘Mrs. Roger’ noted she had never felt her hair move with sound before, and it startled her. I really dug it, and to me it’s 1000% more realistic effect than any tactile transducer imparts.

    All clips were played at a generous -5 dB ref level, giving visceral dynamic impact but never feeling too loud or overly aggressive. I have to say I prefer the spectral balance here more than the Dolby theater, where the top above 5 kHz was ever so bright and metallic. I would also mention my wife made much the same observation – she experienced it as “wincing” pain as her ears are more sensitive. Right after the Dolby Vision theatrical demo we were shown the very same content upstairs in Dolby’s consumer room with KEF speakers all round driven by an Onkyo AVR, 7.1.4 with upfiring heights. There, the top end was as smooth and silky as you’d want for a movie system – so much easier on the ears. Ok ok, the Christie laser projector makes short work of the consumer LG display, so the theater is still the place to be given the choice – but why can’t these JBL tweeters be as smooth as Keith’s?

    While that’s a rhetorical question, I should also say I had never heard my Marantz AV7702 w/ XT32 sound as nice, again not realizing there was no XT32 involved here, but Dirac Live. Very nice tuning, and all the tweakability one could want.

    Keith, you have a lot of movies to watch. Better get to it. Only wish I could be there to enjoy them with you.


    Roger's kind words serve as a vindication to me of the immense effort, time and money spent on creating the Cowshed Theatre and I am ever-grateful to Roger for taking time out of his schedule to come and visit us.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  6. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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  7. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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  8. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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  9. Apone

    Apone
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    Looking forward to seeing the developments on this one :)

    Good to read that you are pre wiring for more speakers in the ceiling. Did you also consider pre wiring for L/R wide speakers as well?

    I heard a Trinnov set up using wide speakers on the side walls and it did sound very good.
     
  10. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    Hey! Yes, we will be wiring for Wides since wire is cheap :) I am not sure I will ever use wides. Dolby doesn't support them for Atmos (and has never been an advocate of wides) and they are not part of any commercial cinema spec, but since wire is cheap, I may as well wire for them at the time of the build, just in case....

    I will be (my installer permitting) be mounting the side surrounds slightly forward of the MLP to help close the gap between the LCR and the rear surrounds. This is fully in accordance with ITU and Dolby specifications and is how I had my former cinema set up. This works well in a 4 x surround speaker setup.

    Trinnov can do all sorts of things with 'virtual' speaker remapping and so on, so may be able to make better use of wides than a conventional setup, but never having heard such a system it's hard for me to comment really.
     
  11. Lensman5d

    Lensman5d
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    My barn has finally started this week. So very interested to see what you do as the sizes are similar. So lots of info please :)
    I start wiring up next weekend so be quick!
     
  12. Smurfin

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    The cowshed is a bit emptier than when I saw it :laugh:

    Really looking forward to this build! Your aims are similar to my long term ones (albeit I don't have a cowshed!)

    Out of interest, did you consider JBL 4277n's?
    Curious as well about the subs - what is the reasoning for having them both on the rear wall?
     
  13. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965
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    I'll be following this with interest. :thumbsup: I'd have loved a proper dedicated room myself, so I'm glad to see that yours will be suitably decorated rather than the somewhat chintzy/light coloured designs sometimes seen over on AVS.

    Nice subs as well those Seatons. :cool:
     
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    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  14. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker
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  15. Dans1210

    Dans1210
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    Look forward to this, room dimensions are very close to mine, was also considering the jbl scs for overheads.
     
  16. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    Hehe. I won’t even be starting until April in all likelihood. But, as my next post in the series will show, we more or less have the specs sorted out now. :)
     
  17. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    Thanks! That was how it looked *before* I filled it with sh1te. :) It isn't quite as full as when you saw it - most of what is in there now will be going back in there. It is going to have to go into storage during the build.

    Nope. Not sure what their spec is though. The 3677s I had heard and liked and their physical size is better for me - they are not too deep front to back so they fit behind my screen wall better. Originally I had planned for 3677s all round - 7 at ear level but in the end I couldn't fit them in. I will do a section in the thread on my speaker choice.


    Why not? They won't fit on the front wall. I am not keen on subs in corners. They won't fit on opposing side walls. So the rear wall is all that's left. But two on the front or rear wall (same thing sonically) is a good location anyway. What did you have in mind that prompted the question?
     
  18. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Just that it's unusual to see :)
     
  19. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    Thanks. :) I've nothing against the fancy designs per se, but I'd rather put my money into PQ and SQ. After all, all I will see during the movie is the screen. I sometimes have the suspicion that some people are more interested in a nice looking HT than they are in movies, but not me. I just love movies and want to see them, and hear them, at their best. The room and the gear are incidental to that pursuit for me. Also, some of those AVS guys seem to have money to burn, which I don't.
     
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  20. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    Thanks Gary!
     
  21. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    Yes, I am using SCS8s now for the Atmos speakers. I was originally planning to use SCS12s but they are HUGE.
     
  22. Peter Parker

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    Hi Keith

    Are you going to be making use of the ISCO lens you have, or not bothering?
     
  23. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    Ah right :) Well, acoustically it's the same as two on the front wall, which is fairly common :)
     
  24. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    I most certainly am! What a great memory you have! :) The HT will feature automated masking for aspect ratio too.
     
  25. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    Next instalment will be in Post No 2 - Final Specification. Hopefully posted tomorrow or Tuesday. I will try to post as much as I can re the design concept, acoustic considerations, gear choice etc etc before the build starts so that I can then focus on the actual day-to-day build.
     
  26. sjackson

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    Yeah I think it's wise to wire for front wides. Googling 9.1.4 brings up this page from Dolby themselves and something I'll wire for myself when the time comes. I'm guessing 9.1.4 is the next evolution and the +2 speakers could easily be wides......

    9.1.4 Dolby Atmos Enabled Speaker Setup
     
  27. Peter Parker

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    Keith, will all the walls, ceiling etc be black velvet or some other colour, like the grey in the images?
     
  28. 5saladz

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    Really looking forward to seeing this one finished. I think your room aesthetics are bang on! What PJ and screen combo are you going for?
     
  29. kbarnes70

    kbarnes70
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    That is for the Atmos upfirers. Not sure why Dolby are showing wides there since Atmos doesn’t support wides. My take on it is that if we ever see 9.1.4 in a domestic setup it will be for 7 on the floor and 6 on the ceiling. Time will tell. I'm wiring for both layouts anyway :)
     
  30. sjackson

    sjackson
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    Perhaps it will be 6 on the ceiling. Top middle or maybe front heights.
     

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