Media room in new house

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Well-known member
Jan 3, 2005
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Austin, tx
I am about to break ground on a new house. This time around, I have the opportunity to optimize the room, within a budget of course. Here's what we currently have in the drawings. The component cabinet will be the back of the room (on the left), with the screen and main speakers on the right side.

I'm hoping to do a few things in the design and building stage that will enhance the overall experience in the room. I've tried to follow acoustic discussions on this forum, and read all the links that have been posted. Our overall construction budget is currently tight, so I have to really focus on inexpensive things that will really make a difference. I put the curved walls on the sides already. I've been trading emails with a sales rep from Auralex, discussing room treatments.

If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them. One question in particular, am I going to run into problems with the components in the back of the room and the main speakers (Clarity and eventually, a Cinema) up front?

Any suggestions on sub placement? (I'm thinking in either front corner, or one of the back corners, if I can get away with it)



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Steve said:
If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them. One question in particular, am I going to run into problems with the components in the back of the room and the main speakers (Clarity and eventually, a Cinema) up front?

1. Equipt. Loc:
Long speaker wire runs - not such a big problem if using Nordost, but can get expensive. You will have to turn around all the time, even if using a remote.

2. Using the Golden Ratio? Should the room be longer by 3 feet or so?

3. Window (reflective) one side, opening on the other..............wood louvers or heavy curtains over window.

Overall score, 8.5 on a 1 to 10 scale.

Compared to the room I have, its way better. :)
Steve said:
If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them. One question in particular, am I going to run into problems with the components in the back of the room and the main speakers (Clarity and eventually, a Cinema) up front?
The only drawback to having the components far away from the speakers will be the expense you'll incur for...speaker cables :( Having said that, I remember some threads somewhere discussing using Cat5 cables successfully as good speaker cables. You'll need to do a search, maybe over on the Audio Asylum site ( to see whether this idea pans out. If it does, you might want to embed a bunch of Cat5 as speaker cables during the build phase to accomodate for the clean, seamless look of the finished room. If you are not sure, have the contractors put in some PVC conduits in the walls (or floor) with some strings (or cheap zipcord wires from HomeDepot) so that you have something to pull when it comes time to put your newly purchased cables. Take a look at a few sites for speaker cables to see how big (diameter-wise) the conduits you'll need so you can get the cables through in the future.

It's best if you can have a dedicated circuit (a couple of them?) for the electronics, and this circuitry should be separated from the light dimmers in the room to reduce AC noise creeping into the equipment.

Good luck
By "media room" you mean it includes video capabilities? Be sure to investigate a front projection system. I changed my mind at the 11th hour when I was building our room and switched to a pj. That will make you reconfigure your room.

Paint color: In case you go pj, the wall behind the screen will benefit from being painted a dark color. Not an easy selling job to the spouse, so you may want to start early. :)

About speaker wires: I run long ones too. Embedded my surround wires in the walls inside conduits. The front wires go inside the baseboard, a better overall solution as it's easier to remove and put back.

Budget: yup, everyone's on a tight budget when they're building. However, systems tend to change or get upgraded more easily than rooms :) So do plan with upgrades in mind (what if you want to change your main speakers, center, and/or surrounds to bigger ones, what if you want to change the display, what if you want to change electronics, what if you were to run longer interconnects to bring the amp closer to the speakers, what if you want to do this and that...) and spend for the room's flexibility.

Speaking of room treatments, you can add these later in the form of ASC products or similar. But you may also want to investigate built-in diffusors along the walls, while you're building? (I'm thinking of those wooden slats.) I've observed that many members try to absorb or diffuse the back wave of the stat.

Sub: I placed my Depth in one of the front corners, no problem. Now I'm investigating bass traps and may have to move it; not much of a problem either.

Room dimensions: Is there still time to make the room a little less square, by lengthening one dimension? (Sorry)

Good luck and enjoy the process! A media room is a magical thing to have in the house. :)
My HT suggestions...

Spike said:
It's best if you can have a dedicated circuit (a couple of them?) for the electronics, and this circuitry should be separated from the light dimmers in the room to reduce AC noise creeping into the equipment.

Good luck

1). I agree with Spike above... I would make sure to have at least, four - 20 amp circuits, of power all the wall sockets to your HT room. As an aside, I use, two, 20 amp circuits, just for my, "Anthem Statement P5" amplifier, in my HT...

2). Consider having a tapered cieling, like Gayle used in his ultimate HT. It really makes the difference in directing the sounds from the front of your HT to the listening area. (check out the ML home web-site for photo's and details).

3). Tiered or raised seating. A raised back row...

4). IMHO, stay away from built-in speakers.

5). Prewire speaker wire..., if possible, with the best speaker cabling for long runs, you can find... You will have to audition to find the very best.

6). IMHO, avoid installing any windows, at all, in your HT room. Movie theaters do not have windows...

7). Insulate & sound board the room from top to bottom. A sound proof room would be best. The reason being, that the rest of the house will not be disturbed, if you want to listen to a very dynamic movie or music, if you just want to crank-it-up... :)

8). Make sure the HT room is air conditioned and properly ventilated (without a window).

9). Awesome, prewired, built-in, adjustable "Sonoma", blowen glass theater lighting. I would think, 4 - 6 low voltage lights, might work. Remote controlled would be a nice touch.

IMHO, your goal should be, to try to make your HT room, similar to a Movie theater or a recording studio, but better... Filled with great ML speakers, a beautiful crystal clear HD video screen image, comfortable seating and lighting, that's easy on the eyes... A perfect dedicated HT room.

Hope this helps... :D

Good luck!


Thanks for the reponses so far.

Regarding dimentions, my flexibility there is very limited at this stage. I could make the room more narrow, but I can't grow the length.

Media room also means it will have video. Right now, I'm thinking front projection. I'm not a big video person, but I can appreciate a good hi-def movie on a large screen. I like that a front projection disappears when it is turned off, and then I'm back to a nice listening room.

This is the one room in the house that WAF does not apply to...well, within reasonable limits. I let the wife decorate the rest of the house, but I get the media room. I plan to do dark colors, carpet on the floor, heavy shades over the window, and heavy french doors leading into the space.

I plan to run two dedicated electrical circuits to the component rack.

Auralex suggested insulation inside the angled walls, sealed around the edges, and finished with 5/8" plywood instead of sheetrock. Beyond that, they were thinking strategicly placed panels to dampen first reflections.

I like the DIY cable ideas. I pulled up lots of links, including braided Cat5 and Coax solutions: (interesting reading)
Robin, just saw you post after I posted mine.

That's a lot of power! Actually, the main house power is coming into the room right behind the media room (to the left), so additional power runs will be cheap and easy.

I'll check the dedicated ML theater tomorrow. I've thought about the sloped ceiling, also thought about accoustic treatments within the pop-up, similar to the other ultimate theater room someone posted here recently.

Amen on the inwall speakers. No plans to do that. However, I pay very little attention to the surround speakers because that is a secondary use (at least from a hard core aucousic standpoint).

Unfortunately, I want this to be a sitting room (i.e. cocktails with friends) more than I want a home theater, thus the window, doors, and (gasp!) couch. I'm going to have to optimize around those restrictions.

Keep it coming...I'm a sponge on all things home design!

BTW, I forgot to mention, the lighting plan calls for lowvoltage can around the perimeter, and indirect lighting in the pop-up (where the lip curves to the ceiling).
What was the rationale offered for using plywood instead of sheetrock? They'll both be acoustically reflective and thus "bright". Plywood would give you the option of hanging reasonably heavy things from it without having to find a stud, but that's about all I can think of, and it will cost substantially more.

Any soft things you can put on the walls will help. Artwork, textiles like quilts, etc., and even irregular shapes like plants and bookcases all help to reduce unwanted reflections. I rotated the contents of my living room ninety degrees when I got my Ascents because that put them in front of bookcases which broke up a bad midrange peak, and moved them away from an opening in the original wall. Carpet will help too - I have laminate flooring with an area rug on it.

Insulation in the walls will help slightly, but much of the sound transmission will be through the studs with each sheetrock surface acting as a soundboard. A recommended sound-reducing construction method is to use 2x6 plates and stagger 2x4 studs so that each stud is mechanically connected to only one wall face. Crappy ASCII drawing follows (looking down from top):

I wish, I were you, what you are doing sound so fun...


What is so interesting, about what you are doing, is that you have a blank canvas, a clean slate, if you will... You have so many possibilities. It really sounds like a lot of exciting, fun, if you ask me. Keep us posted on how it all is shaping up, Steve... I for one would love hearing a progress report every once in a while. I think, what you are doing is so wise - beyond measure, because in asking for advice, you can research and investigate suggestions, which sound good or promising. Good for you, Steve. ;)

Enjoy the process...


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Not sure on the rational for plywood vs. sheetrock. The overall concept was that the insulation in the corners would serve as bass traps. I think I will end up with staggered studs by default on the side walls, due to the double walls. I may go ahead and do that on the back wall as well (on the left). The front wall (on the right) is an outside wall, so I'm not worried about that one.

Here's one of the replies from Auralex:

Your room has tangential mode issues that can be addressed in the corners (per your design) by facing your angles with 5/8” plywood that is completely sealed and the cavity filled with insulation. Auralex products would be 2”Mineral Fiber Insulation and Stop Gap Acoustical sealant. As mentioned before, this is a diaphragmatic absorber and should yield very tangible results in your theater. Really a cool design. I have not broken down the angles, but I’m fine with that portion of the design plan. Some surface treatments will be needed. There are needs for other trapping, but this can be done with panels on the surface.

I've worked out a deal with my builder that I will do all of the non-electrical wiring in the house. I like the idea of conduits in the front wall, which would allow flexibility for future upgrades. I'm using Clarity today, but those Summits sounded awefully nice when I stopped by the local dealer! I've got flexibility above as well, as it is attic (this will also help isolate the sound coming from the room to some extent).

I've been researching whole house audio/video as well. Absolutely mind numbing number of options available. It's a good thing I work in the industry and can see what's coming, at least from a wiring standpoint.

I'm getting pretty excited about the entire project. We close on our contruction loan next Friday, and start moving dirt in November. I'll keep y'all posted, and of course, comments are always welcome!
A little more info on the plywood from Auralex:

Good question- the system is termed a “diaghramatic absorber”. This creates a system that resonates at a specific frequency and thus absorbs that frequency. I have reviewed your angles and the modal response of your room; and facing your build-out with 5/8” ply will most precisely address your room’s needs….However, go ahead and use ½” drywall if that provides a more desirable finish…the acoustical compromise is relatively minor.
You can get thick heavy wall paper that looks like hand trowled stucco.

I hate wall paper.

Wood is a terrible substrate, it absorbs moisture out of the air - expands and shrinks leaving cracks or exposed joints.

What do they say to put over the plywood? Would 1/4" drywall be too much?
I was thinking about putting some kind of thin sheet rock over the top of the plywood. Good point about the moisture absorbance of the plywood. I might think about putting some kind of sealer over the plywood to avoid that. I did some fiberglass over plywood in the boat a few years back. It's nasty stuff to work with, but it should seal the plywood pretty well. Come to think of it, it could probably seal the edges too, instead of paying a premium for the Aurelex sealer...hmmm.

wow, i really envy you. i turned a downstairs rec room into a media room and have been thinking if i extend out back, i'd love to build a dedicated room. of course the current media room becomes a sewing room and the upstairs gets a sun room, but that's what compromise is all about :)

i have some thoughts here.

1. if you are worried about the length of speaker runs, then you want the components behind you - that is where the majority of speakers live, particularily in 7.1 or more

up front you have center, and surrounds - three speakers.
behind you there are the side surrounds, the rear surrounds - four speakers
the sub, being reasonably location independant can also go behind you.

so now you have five speakers at the back of the room and three up front. if i were doing my room over i'd put the compenents at the back where you have them.

2. look on this site for the thread about varnishing studs before putting up the sheet rock - i think that it was a michael green "ism" that someone tried here a liked a lot.

3. take a look at "venetian plaster" (home depot) for a wall treatment. it is a thin layer of coloured plaster containing marble dust. it really tightens up the sound and makes the drywall more "lathe and plaster" in sound. less boom. i am really glad i listened to my wife for this treatment (shhh, don't tell :) )

4. your room seems to be 19 feet long. mine is 18 and i find it too short. i have the CLS (buzzzzzz) 4.5 feet from the front wall. to allow proper space behind my noggin (and from the rear scripts) i sit 4 feet from the back wall. this leaves only 10 feet between my face and the CLS. it's okay for me, but if i wanted a second row, i'd be snookered. i don't know what you plan for seating, but i can't have more than 1 friend over to watch a movie as the couch only sits three. a second row to share movies would be great, but i can't do it with only 18 feet. you might consider adding 4 feet to the length.

5. for a sub, consider an infinate baffle - it means finding space on the other side of one of your walls :)

6. imbed 3 inch conduit runs in the floor when they pour it. it's not real expensive and will come in handy as others have pointed out. 3 inch seems to be a standard.

7. put conduit in the ceiling and run power up there as well to allow for a projector in the ceiling.

have fun - this sounds like a great project.