Help With An Article / Post?

Posted by: Amie

Help With An Article / Post? - 07/18/12 01:52 PM

Hi guys! I was just thinking that a really helpful article to write would be on "Things I Wish I Hadn't Done When I Built My Home Theater". You know, mistakes you made with wiring / purchasing / lighting / not wiring / not purchasing / not lighting . . . that sort of thing. Knowing a lot of you have really beautiful and intricate installations, I figure you may have all kinds of helpful advice. Any you care to share?

Thank you in advance!

Oh - and of course, it's perfectly fine to say a friend made the mistake in their home theater ;-)
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/18/12 04:53 PM

I'll bite. Here are some of mine.


Buy more cable than you think you need. Those bends and turns add up quickly.

Don't buy all of the wall plates until just before you are ready to install them. You never know when your final configuration is going to change and you end up with odd plates/jacks.

Never assume that anything is squarely built in your theater, whether before you started, or after.

If you have an entirely enclosed room, don't forget the HVAC coming into the room, but just as important, don't forget some way for the air to get out of the room. Enclosed spaces warm up quickly even if you try to cram more A/C in if the hot air has no place to go.

Use flexible ductwork and several bends to prevent sounds from traveling through the entire house.

Soundproofing techniques don't have to be complicated, have many different options, and just require the correct application techniques to be successful.

Any room can benefit from acoustical treatments.

Use a good carpet and thick pad for your floor covering if at all possible. You might be surprised how many people sit on the floor.

Silicon caulk seals up seams wonderfully for air-tightness (yes I made that word up), but nothing wants to stick (paint, mud, primer, etc) to silicon caulk.

An extra set of hands can really be helpful sometimes.

An extra set of hands can really slow you down sometimes.

Take lots of pictures, not only to post online, but so that you can document what you did, where the wires run, and so forth.

No matter how hard you try, sometimes your camera will just screw up the colors and thus the look/feel of the room.


Posted by: Amie

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/18/12 05:05 PM

This is a big help, Nick, thank you! I remember taking photos of where we put the wires in the walls too - good call on that one. And LOL on the extra hands!
Posted by: chesseroo

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/18/12 05:28 PM

Originally Posted By: nickbuol


**You never know when your final configuration is going to change

**If you have an entirely enclosed room, don't forget the HVAC coming into the room, but just as important, don't forget some way for the air to get out of the room. Enclosed spaces warm up quickly even if you try to cram more A/C in if the hot air has no place to go.

**Soundproofing {edit: sound dampening/controlling} techniques don't have to be complicated, have many different options

**Use a good carpet and thick pad for your floor covering if at all possible. You might be surprised how many people sit on the floor.

**Take lots of pictures, not only to post online, but so that you can document what you did, where the wires run, and so forth.


I'm onboard with those bulleted from Nick's list above.

Trying to plan ahead can be tough. We originally figured on a single seating location in our room for use with a projector and screen. By the time we were done the room reno, we had it wired for two seating configurations, for 7.1 in both directions, and 6 years later we have not bought a projector, nor are we planning to do so any more.

Some of the behind wall 'tunnels' were located to accommodate the fact that a projector screen would have hidden any wires coming down from the ceiling. Now having changed the plan to just buy a large flat screen (70" + plasma or OLED depending on how fast it comes about), running new wires through our tunnels would be fairly visible unless we came up with a post-construction design for cable management along a wall (eeech).

Aside from that, measure, measure and measure.
Follow that up with building mock items (out of cardboard boxes works well), placing them around the room because sometimes even measurements (of furniture for example) and Google Sketch type drawing don't quite show you how tight things fit into a room.
e.g. Our 1st seating location faces into the long part of the room BUT, in this configuration we don't have enough space on the side of our loungers for side tables.
In our 2nd and present seating location, sidetables work, BUT, distance the speakers decreases and the sound sweet spot is right where the two lounge arms bump together.
{sigh}

One thing is for sure, our HT cannot take speakers larger than the M60s and actually make a reasonable stereo effect. Coupled with the centre channel we have a pretty good soundstage, but not completely optimal.
But i'm not changing out the M60s for anything smaller, not anytime soon.
Posted by: exlabdriver

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/18/12 05:35 PM

Be sure to get approval from your better half before committing to anything & everything.

Alternatively, be really good at hiding new equipment, speakers or credit card statements...

TAM
Posted by: J. B.

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/18/12 05:46 PM

last year (or 2 years ago, can't remember!) i bought a sub which is good enough to play well anything i have fed it so far, even WOTW at Reference Level while tuned to 11 Hz.

a few days ago, i bought Cameron Carpenter's Revolutionary CD/SACD on Telarc.
the frequencies below 20 Hz are so strong that my sub overloads when the sub's tuning is at 11/12 Hz.
so, i will retune the sub to 16 Hz and see how it behaves.

not being able to play this CD with my sub tuned to 11-12 Hz is having a negative impact on my smile...

i should have taken the adjacent room into consideration when i selected a sub; this room is connected to the AV room by a door space and it effectively doubles the room size.

one solution would be for me to install a solid door in the empty space to make the room effectively 1300 cu ft. and not 3000 cu. ft.
Posted by: Hansang

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/18/12 06:18 PM

What does he know (nickbuol)! It's not like he built a HT recently or anything..... geesh! smile
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/18/12 08:14 PM

Nice catch Chess on the "Soundproofing". I used that term just to make it more "newbie" friendly, but you are right on the mark. I can't imagine the cost of a fully "soundproof" room. The sound coming outside of my room is *significantly* quieter than inside the room, but you can still hear it of course. Those LFE sounds are very difficult to stop. I am still glad that I spent the time and money to do what I did. For about $1000 more (plus a LOT of elbow grease), it was a huge improvement over anything else I've ever done.
Posted by: Lampshade

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/18/12 10:01 PM

Mistake no.1

Going to a big box store and buying speakers before you knew about a Canadian internet direct company.
Posted by: Amie

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/19/12 11:07 AM

These are all great (Lampshade's entry being the greatest, naturally;-)) - very helpful! Thank you!
Posted by: Murph

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/19/12 12:14 PM

-- Phoning customer service for help with your horribly vibrating subwoofer before checking for cat toys in the port tube.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/19/12 09:09 PM

When the builder asks if you want the basement slab stepped down for a home theater don't ask "why the heck would I want a home theater ??" without at least doing a bit of research first.

When you're running wires in the wall from amplifier to speaker don't automatically assume the electronics are going to go at the front of the room. After you've seen enough pictures of other people's slick looking rooms you'll probably want to move the electronics then have all these stupid outlet boxes on the walls you can't use.

If you don't have the $$ for a good system all at once, you can get almost as much enjoyment from two good speakers and a good sub (this one I did do properly IMO).

If you're going to listen to all kinds of music without a sub, buy M3s not M2s.

When the power goes out and your projector stops working it probably means the hidden overtemp switch activated and needs to be reset by taking the projector apart. Buying another $400 bulb doesn't help a bit.

You need a *big* subwoofer to make a concrete floor vibrate... but it's worth it.

Oh... and on a whim I added 4 lights near the floor on a dimmer (in my case the walls come down at 45 degrees so I could use pot lights)... both practical and stylish, the latter being somewhat out of character for me.
Posted by: AdrianD

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/20/12 07:40 AM

1. Plan ahead carefully (as best as possible). Examples: get a 7.1 Receiver/PrePro even if you now think you're never going to use it and/or that 5.1 piece price is very enticing. Pay attention to all those crazy audio/video standards.
Buy a Blu RayDVD player that can also play SACD.

2. Try and match components in terms of power/quality; if funds are not available at once, it's worth waiting, even though buying all at once may be exciting. Don't "cheap-out" on components, wires, plugs etc; plugging your M80's into a cheap Receiver will leave you underwhelmed and always feeling that something is missing.

3. Keep music in mind; in my experience, I've rarely seen a HT system used 100% for movies only.
Posted by: Amie

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/20/12 08:58 AM

You guys are coming up with lots of things I never would have thought of. Thank you!
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/20/12 08:58 AM

Buy a receiver and a TV with more inputs than you think you need.
Posted by: niveka

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/20/12 12:14 PM

Here's one: Be absolutely certain of your speaker placement/wiring before the drywall goes up. think about it, think about it some more, and then think about it again prior to drywall day. If you are undecided, or think you may want to change your mind, run wire to support both options just in case you want to change the locations. Once the drywall goes up your pretty much locked in. I decided to change the location of my surrounds from in-ceiling to on wall after the walls went up. I was able to run wire through one of the walls after the fact, the other one was less accessible. I will end up using the Axiom flat wire along the ceiling to wire up the left side surround speaker. I'm hoping it will not be noticed by my better half.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/20/12 12:32 PM

Niveka. So true. I think that I planned, measures, marked, re-evaluated, adjusted, sat and contemplated, so on and so forth the placement of my side surrounds for hours. HOURS!

They ended up right where I wanted them in the end.

For me, there were so many variables with unknown number of rows of seats, seat heights, placement, unknown riser height, etc... All factors that had to be processed into the mix and when there are that many variables, it takes more than just slapping the wires in someplace.

Good call!
Posted by: Hansang

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/20/12 05:22 PM

Whenever possible, try to put in conduits to make it more future proof. At the very least, put in a pull rope so you can use it in the future to add another cable type.
Posted by: INANE

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/26/12 11:45 AM

I'd just say to be prepared to live with any mistakes you made during the planning stage. In the grand scheme you can't think of everything and the end product is still probably pretty good.
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/26/12 12:17 PM

Patience is a virtue.

There is nothing better than copper.
Posted by: medic8r

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/26/12 02:53 PM

Elevate the speaker wire on levitation stands.

Expensive is always better.

Tube amps sound better than solid state amps.

All solid state amps both do and do not sound the same.

Ken is available to travel and work for free.

Tom is available to travel, work for free, and bring lots of beer.

Always get Randy to copy edit you're signage.
Posted by: chesseroo

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/26/12 02:54 PM

Originally Posted By: nickbuol
Nice catch Chess on the "Soundproofing". I used that term just to make it more "newbie" friendly, but you are right on the mark. I can't imagine the cost of a fully "soundproof" room. The sound coming outside of my room is *significantly* quieter than inside the room, but you can still hear it of course. Those LFE sounds are very difficult to stop. I am still glad that I spent the time and money to do what I did. For about $1000 more (plus a LOT of elbow grease), it was a huge improvement over anything else I've ever done.

And this is the #1 question when i've had any people over.
Is the room soundproof?
No i tell them, it is sound controlled or sound dampened.

Their next question is inevitably, so can you hear this upstairs?
Again i answer, no, not really. The most you hear upstairs is some bass.

Of all the questions i've had over the years, those are still the first ones i get asked.
You would think people might say oh, nice speakers, where are they from? Or, hey, these are great loungers, what brand are they?
Posted by: chesseroo

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/26/12 02:55 PM

Originally Posted By: tomtuttle

There is nothing better than copper.

I'll take gold over copper at today's prices, esp. if you're giving it away.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/28/12 10:05 AM

Oh, and if you're planning a square listening room be sure to check with Mark for his current recommendations.

Mark, I noticed in the recent SoundStage article that Axiom is building a new listening room... if they don't have plans for the old one I would be happy to help haul it over to your place wink
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/28/12 11:22 AM

That would be awesome, John! grin
Posted by: fredk

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/29/12 12:26 PM

Maybe its because I have a more casual home theater set up, or mayby its just because I came to this forum and asked a million stupid questions before my speakers arrived, but I don't really have any 'I wish I had's".

The best thing I ever did was ask those questions. Even Mark was helpful.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/29/12 05:06 PM

Maybe that's the most important advice of all -- ask questions.

I didn't ask any questions... that's why I have so many lessons learned wink
Posted by: Murph

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 07/30/12 08:22 AM

Originally Posted By: bridgman
Oh, and if you're planning a square listening room be sure to check with Mark for his current recommendations.


His room is not square. It's symmetrically quadrangular.
Posted by: fredk

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/06/12 03:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Murph
Originally Posted By: bridgman
Oh, and if you're planning a square listening room be sure to check with Mark for his current recommendations.


His room is not square. It's symmetrically quadrangular.

I thought it was rectangularly challenged. No?
Posted by: niveka

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/17/12 09:18 PM

Ok, here is one I just finished paying for. I've just finished building a home theater that has all the speakers & entertainment cabinet built into a false wall. If you are standing looking at the wall, on the far right you have a closet that actually provides access to the space behind the false wall, then moving right to left you have the front right speaker cabinet, then the entertainment center cabinet, then the left front speaker cabinet, and then finally the sub-woofer cabinet on the far left. I ran speaker wire from all the speaker cabinets to the component section of the entertainment center prior to permanently installing the cabinets.

Well, I received my EP500 in the mail yesterday and today I hooked it up to my Denon in the office just to test that it works. It works great, sounds superb, BUT as I wired it up I realized that it takes TWO speaker wires not one. Yep, that's right, that sub-woofer cabinet, on the far left of the room, in the most inaccessible place, only has one wire going to it.

So I just spent the last hour fixing the situation. I bout a 50' length of audiquest 14AWG and doubled it over and taped the end in a loop. Then hooked the end of the wire coming out of the speaker cabinet through that loop. Then, starting at the closet on the far right of the room, i wormed my way over the right front speaker cabinet then worked my way up the two walls until i could get up on top of the entertainment center. So now i'm on my stomach on top of the entertainment center, about 10' off the floor, behind the wall, squirming my way along inch by inch toward the sub-woofer cabinet. Hanging off the far end of the entertainment center i can pull the existing wire up and over, eventually pulling the doubled over length up to me. From there I started inching myself backwards until I finally got the doubled over length hanging down the back of the cabinet.

With all that done, I inch my way backwards and eventually get down off the entertainment center and back out of the closet. Back in the room I pull the cable through into the room and loop it all up to call the job done. As I'm taping up the loop I notice the directional arrows on the wire jacket and of course one of the two lengths is pointing the "wrong" direction. I consider for a moment doing this all over again, pause, and then say the hell with it, tuck the coil into the back off the shelf and turn off the lights. FYI - right now I'm itching like heck from the insulation.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/17/12 09:25 PM

Wires aren't directional. It's a bunch of hooey.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/17/12 10:07 PM

Niv, your gymnastic efforts in doing that wiring made for thrilling reading, but why are you using speaker wires instead of simply a coaxial cable from the receiver to the sub amp?
Posted by: dakkon

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/17/12 10:50 PM

John, if he has an In cabinet sub.. The amp is a separate, the driver and its enclosure is just like a "regular" speaker.. The RCA to the amp, then wire to speaker just like any other speaker..

Amie, it might be worth pointing out that the Subwoofer drivers are Dual voice coil drivers, and require a pair of cables to power both voice coils (especially the inwall subs such as niveka has, maybe this could be brought up at the time of purchase if ordered over the phone)... In the Version 1 of the EP-600's there was only 1 "amp", so Niveka would not have had a problem. But, the new design has an amp for each voice coil. I don't think this is something most people would assume, I think most would assume that there would be one amp channel powering both voice coils in parallel.
Posted by: JohnK

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/17/12 11:59 PM

Yes, if that's what was actually done. Since only speaker wire and not coax was mentioned, I took this to mean that the entire wiring run was done with speaker wire.
Posted by: dakkon

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/18/12 12:26 AM

Originally Posted By: JohnK
Yes, if that's what was actually done. Since only speaker wire and not coax was mentioned, I took this to mean that the entire wiring run was done with speaker wire.


When i read your reply, i had to think about your question for a minute. Then re-read the referenced post before deciphering what is going on, i think....
Posted by: niveka

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/18/12 08:24 AM

John,

The in-cabinet EP500 has an external amp, for me, it sits in the same area as the receiver. A very short run of coax goes from the receiver to the amp. The output from the amp is normal +/- speaker wire.
Posted by: Amie

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/22/12 05:46 PM

Finally posted! Thanks to everyone for your helpful suggestions - you're probably helping to save lots of soon-to-be-home-theater-builders from lots of frustration!

Building a Home Theater: 10 Things You Need To Know Before You Start

Thanks again!
Posted by: medic8r

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/22/12 06:04 PM

No problem! (ahem) wink
Posted by: Amie

Re: Help With An Article / Post? - 08/22/12 06:07 PM

LOL!