My basement theater equipment install
I thought I’d show off some of the progress in my basement entertainment room. It’s not a “theater room” because it isn’t designed to be strictly a theater room, but more of one large open space for watching TV/movies/sports, the kids playing, entertaining, etc. This thread is mainly focused on the A/V rack and its related equipment. One day when I have time I will possibly make a thread on the rest of the project – it started as a completely unfinished basement.
I'm just going to jump into it here, as to go to the very beginning I would have to go a long way back.
Power inlet installed to feed power to the projector power outlet. This lets me be sure that the projector is on surge protection and conditioned power.
Wiring up the jacks/plates.
Where the AV rack will go:
Labels for everything:
Subwoofer Box built with ¾” MDF, Titebond III, and #20 biscuits. Port-tuned to 31hz with 2x 12” Polk subwoofers.
Subwoofers installed in-wall:
Ceiling plates for the projector:
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Projector mounted, this was before the black cables were replaced with shorter white cables.
Starting work on the AV Rack:
I test-fit it all together. It would work with only one board framing the whole surround, but the problem is the oval screw-holes do not completely sit on the board. You could screw it in, but there would be a gap that you could see through/behind the face. Fits better with 2 boards on the right side.
Shot from the back side.
I moved to one of the most looked-forward-to parts of the whole basement, building the AV rack. I put the front and rear frames together with basic mitered cuts, glued the joints and clamped with corner clamps to be sure everything stayed exactly square and perfect. Front face is typical colonial case molding in poplar, back is poplar 1x3s.
I clamped them to the wall, made sure the alignment was perfect, and attached them to the poplar frame boards, using 18g brads for the front case moulding and 16g finish nails for the rear 1x3s.
To accommodate non-rack-mounted equipment, I attached dual-track shelf brackets on the back side. This allows me to adjust the height of the shelves so everything fits well.
These are mounted through the face-frame and into the stud behind it - no worry about it falling off.
Mounted up. I held the equipment in place and marked where the screws should land. Then I took it out, drilled about 1/4"-3/8" deep holes, just to keep the front of the wood from splitting when I installed the screw. I didn't drill all the way deep so the screw would have a nice tight grab. These are mounted with 1" #6 wood screws and a finish washer.
With the equipment on shelves, it was time to start making the face panels. I wanted to build them out of aluminum, but due to having 99 other things I need to do, I figured I could do the same with hardboard and get a good result, and some day when I need something to do I’ll start metalworking.
They were a process. First, I ripped a 2x4' sheet of 1/8" hardboard to 18-15/16" I tried to keep the height of each panel to a number of universal rack-mount size (1.75"). It wasn't easy. Also had to keep cooling and circulation space in mind with the components and future equipment.
So, with the dimensions, I went and cut down the panels, one at a time. I measured the component size and marked off where to cut in the center of the panel, which I did with the jigsaw - very slowly. Of course, they didn't fit with only that. So a lot of time was spent with a file to gently work the opening to a perfect fit.
All panels cut and test-fit:
I sprayed them with black primer, then black satin paint. Meh. Don't really like the paint finish, some dust or something settled on them while drying and some have rough patches. Could have been affected by the cold too. I still want to put the aluminum panels in someday, but for now these will work. I think in a while I'll take them off and plastidip them. That will smooth them out in appearance. I have enough other things to work on for now.
Put some black vinyl tape over the spaces in the AV rack panels, so that no light will come through when the closet light is on. Worked even better than I anticipated.
Started to put some flex-tubing on the wires. That white extension cord will be replaced with a short 1' extension cord from Monoprice that I'll order when I order the speakers.
Here is the screen frame. I brought it inside last night. The dimensions are bigger than a 102" screen, due to making room along the edges for 2" of black felt, and 3/4" of moulding, while still retaining the 102" viewable size. If you build any bigger than this, you'll want to consider assembling it in the room. I had a hard time getting it in the house and down the stairs. Not a big struggle, but if it were much larger it wouldn't have made it down the stairway
It's 3/4" MDF, assembled with #20 biscuits and Titebond III. Then, I glued some rectangle scraps of 1/8" hardboard on the the back at the joints, just because it seemed like a good idea. It's very rigid, and I'm not afraid of it falling apart. Also, the nice thing about MDF is I won't have to worry about anything warping over time.
I spray-painted the moulding that will go on the edges satin-black. This is just typical 1" outside corner moulding. Primed with black primer, then a few coats of satin black paint.
Here it is laid on the frame. It won't be attached until after the screen material
Screen material installation. I have a pneumatic stapler, which I planned on using. I only had 1" staples for it. So, after finally tracking down some 1/2" staple, I thought I was ready to begin. No. The narrow-crown staples just rip right though the material. Need to use a standard staple gun. Ok, started with that and was having good results. When pulling tight, the 54" wide material easily stretches to the edges of the 55-3/8" frame. About 10 staples in, I run out and can't find my box of staples. Find a box of staples, which don't fit my staple gun. Had to go buy some more. Aside from fighting staples, it was easy to do. Just start in the top-middle, put in 3 staples, go to the other side and stretch, put in 3 staples across. Then, moving in one direction (to one side), I'd put in 3 more staples, walk around and put in 6, walk around put in 6, etc. Secured the top and bottom, then did the sides in the same way.
Since the pneumatic was too powerful/too narrow to work well, I was using a standard staple gun. I didn't quite have the power to drive 1/2" staples into 3/4" MDF and sit them flush. So, I had to give the staples a quick tap with the hammer and they all went home.
Clamped and drying.
This stuff is awesome, by the way. No runs or drips - stays right where you put it.
Two hangmen attached to hang the screen. I highly recommend this method for hanging.
***Picture Limit Break***
Matching hangmen on the back of the screen.
Back of screen form distance.
Screen is on the wall. (final wall color still needs to be decided).
That’s where I am today. I have 2” black felt tape ordered that will trim out the inside of the frame. This does 2 things: gives a nice even frame around the picture with light-absorbing material, and also increases the perceived contrast ratio of your eye. So they say.
I still need to order the speakers (5 go in the front wall, 4 in the rear ceiling), and build the frame/grill that covers the subwoofer. My plan for the rest of this week is cleanup. We have new furniture coming for upstairs next week, so the upstairs furniture is coming down here this weekend. Even though the basement isn’t finished, I want to clean it as well as I can before putting the furniture down here.
Awesome! Nice work!
I totally agree with leaving the back open for access to the wires.....would like to see some close up views of your wiring looms in the back.
How much power total does your system pull?
The wiring is not complete yet, I still need to add all the patch cables for the 9 speakers going between the receiver and wall panel. (I need to put the speakers in the wall first). When I get that done, I'll snap some updated pictures of the back side. Going to order those speakers shortly.
With just my test configuration with 3 speakers on the receiver + two subwoofers on the other, 2 computers, projector, network switch, HDHomerun, I pull somewhere around 9 amps [with it cranked-up]. When I'm actually powering the full compilation of speakers and replace the 2nd receiver with a real amplifer (Crown XLS1000), I'm sure it's going to go up a little. There are 2x 20a circuits feeding the outlets behind the AV rack. Each circuit has an Ethereal power conditioner/surge protector plugged into it, after which all the components are plugged into that. The power conditioners are only rated at 15a though, not the full 20a of the circuit. That's ok. It's still 30a of available power, which would be well over 3000w. Besides switching the 2nd receiver for the Crown amplifier, I'll also be putting in some other things, like HDMI distribution, equalizer, and DB meter. One day when money permits, I'd like to switch to a pre-amp + amp combination instead of just a receiver, but I have a long way to wait until things like that come into play.
The felt arrived a day early. I put it on at lunchtime.
I had to get really close to even see any light being shined onto the felt, does exactly what it is supposed to do in absorbing light.
The vertical height is about perfect. The horizontal distance leaves me with just under 1/2" on each side. One thing I forgot to account for - with the screen is on the wall the projected surface is closer to the projector. So my 102" image is now like 101-1/4". My projector is at max-zoom, so this is as big as I can get without moving the projector further back - which is not an option due to ceiling layout. So, for now I'll leave the white space on either side of the screen, but could always put another small strip of felt down the sides if it bothers me too much. I haven't actually watched anything - only had time to display the Windows desktop, so I don't know if the whole "perceived contrast" thing has a big impact.
Looking very nice.
What speakers are you ordering, and what projector do you have? How is the image quality?
For left, center, right speakers, I am using the 7604 speakers. Rear and surround will be in-ceiling 4103 speakers. Originally I was going to use 7604s also for the front-height channel as well, but am now wondering if that is an overkill and if I should just use the 4100 instead of the dual-woofer variety. For movies/TV they will get the job done, but if I run all-channel stereo, however, I might be able to take advantage of the expanded speakers.
Picture quality is good-enough for me for the time-being, on a DIY projector screen. The Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 705HD is an LCD projector, so its contrast is not as high as some of its DLP brethren. The projector I purchased was recently discontinued, and at a good price. It is a 720p projector, which is fine for sports and TV - as no broadcast uses 1080p (it's all 720p or 1080i). There are some satellite providers that can send pay-per-view content at 1080p, but it will be a long time before everyone broadcasts at that level - just not enough bandwidth to do so. The $1000 question was whether or not 1080p was worth a few blu-ray movies. I decided it was not at this time since TV and sports are primarily what it will be playing.
Have you heard these speakers yet? They look decent and have respectable specs, but I'd be leery about buying speakers that I didn't audition myself in advance. I have a 5.1 Definitive Technology system with BP2002 powered towers, a PF15TL powered sub, a CLR2002 center, and a pair of BP2X surrounds in my family room along with a Panasonic PT-AE500 LCD projector (720p) and a 96" pull down screen. I've also got a small Definitive Tech 3.0 system with a pair of ProMonitor 800's and a ProCenter1000 in the living room used with a 42" Panasonic plasma. Lastly, I have a pair of Definitive Tech UIW55 in-wall speakers in the bathroom. All of the Definitive Tech speakers have far exceeded my expectations and continue to amaze me with their sound quality. I hope your speaker choice proves to be something that you enjoy. (an old screenshot from the INHD channel from years ago)
I haven't ordered them yet, but from the reviews and man, many [hundreds?] of people on AVSForum that use them, I'm not worried. I don't want to put a multiple-thousand dollar budget into in-wall speakers for general room / TV purpose. If it were a standalone theater, perhaps I'd look higher end on the components. DT definitely makes some good stuff, but you pay for it.
You know, after my last reply I looked further into those speakers specifications and ratings and I am now officially impressed. Kevlar speaker cones and butyl rubber surrounds? One would not normally get that kind of quality until the price point reaches at least a couple hundred bucks. And now that you mentioned that the guys and gals at AVS Forum use them, I'm doubly impressed. I'm a member of AVS Forum as well. When you get them installed please let us know how they sound.
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