The Cinema 1858

Discussion in 'Picture Show' started by Travis Ballstadt, Jul 31, 2017.

  1. Well, my new processor arrived last week and the equipment rack was torn apart. What better time to get out the camera and take some new photos, right?

    But first.....where did this begin?


    This room was originally a shop, when I bought the house. It's extra space under the sunroom. But before it was that, it had been used as a theater, as evidenced by the big piece of white linoleum mounted on the wall. So step one was to buy a cheapo 720p Epson projector from Craigslist and move my existing surround sound down there, using the linoleum screen.

    That didn't last too long, though.


    I eventually, in a couple stages, spun the room 180ยบ.

    I tore out all the cedar and replaced with drywall, but I liked the cedar, so I kept it and used it for trim and highlights in the room. You'll also notice in the photo above, there are two doors, one to the outside and one into the rest of the house. On that wall, which is now the screen wall, there was also two windows and an in-wall furnace. This is actually a good thing, as I needed extra depth to put my speakers behind the screen and not have to move the doors. So I plugged the windows and the hole from the furnace, but created shelves in them for the LCR speakers to sit on.


    Here's a shot after the drywall was back in, and the carpet, as I was putting in the screen wall supports. You can see the cavities left in the walls. Much of the area behind the screen (and all of the area in the cavities) is lined with Linacoustic. Eventually, when the cedar was added back in under the screen, that cavity was also stuffed with extra carpet padding and chunks of carpet to keep it from becoming a resonance chamber.


    Here, you can see the stuffing under the screen, the LCRs in place.

    For the most part, that brings us to where we are today....


    The screen is a 115" 16x9 Seymour AV CenterStage UF, however I have the bottom masked off to bring it down to a 2:1 aspect ratio. Why? I'm not really sure, but I like it. For the content I watch in my theater, it's a good compromise - most TV I watch is generally of the more 'cinematic drama' genre, like Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Gotham, etc., and the slightly wider aspect ratio is actually nice (I'm not missing much of the action in that 120 pixels), I have a live sports setting on my projector that shifts the image down slightly so it cuts off the crawl at the bottom of game broadcasts, but keeps the important graphics, and any 2.35:1 et al content has a smaller letterbox, which is less noticeable. So, a weird aspect ratio, but one I've come to enjoy. And if I ever change my mind, I can get the screen back to 16x9 in about 5 seconds, as it's just a pressure-fit, velvet-wrapped piece of 1x3 poplar in there. Then I just readjust the projector and we're at 16x9.

    Here's a better shot of the masking and the cedar trim.


    And looking into the room...

    This is a small room, with a low ceiling, but once everyone is in and sitting down, it doesn't feel cramped at all to have this much seating. The front two rows are the primary seating, while the back row is overflow for movie parties or game watches.

    The minimalist movie art on the walls are actually acoustic treatments. The room is generally pretty dead already, but I wanted to put up some non-reflective movie art, and these are great. I had the fabric printed, built the frames, and stuffed a piece of Linacoustic into each one. They don't do much, but they do break up the larger pieces of drywall.

    There is also Linacoustic on the ceiling directly above the screen, and on both doors flanking the screen, with a simple brown fabric covering to match the wall color.


    And the 3rd row seating I mentioned is actually seating from the Merle Hay Mall Cinema in Des Moines. They had just put in all new seating about a year before they closed, and sold all of it for $25/seat. It's a shame, that was the last huge screen left in Des Moines. Now it's down to the multiplexes.


    So, as you come into the room, there is a built-in shelf on the wall with my media collection. This is built into what was a window well, before this room was added on. Walking past the shelf, there are two levels of riser on your way to the equipment rack. I haven't built the first step yet, as I'm not planning to keep the two seats in the front row. That's one of the next upgrades, and I don't want to have to re-build the step when I purchase new.


    And the rack...It's been through many changes, but I think it's settled for a while now (famous last words).


    From top to bottom:
    Oppo BD-103
    TiVo Mini / AppleTV / network switch
    Monster HTUPS 2700
    Emotiva XMC-1
    Emotiva UPA-700 (this is also a candidate for replacement, eventually, for a little more power)

    Not seen is a Darbee Darblet in the back of the rack.


    The projector is a Panasonic AE-8000U. Just put a new lamp in it this spring, and it still looks good enough that I can't justify upgrading at this point. I purchased it used about a year and a half ago to replace an Optoma HD20, which replaced the original Epson.

    I have yet to pay over $1000 for a projector.

    Speakers...the LCR speakers have been changed out quite a few times. First I had NHT speakers that I've owned since the 90s down there. Then I found a set of B&W bookshelves for cheap. Then...a friend was moving and sold me a few empty cabinets that were manufactured by elemental Designs and sold off when they went out of business. A parts-express order later, a couple days of building crossovers, and I loaded them, and they are now my current LCRs. They sound really good, especially for the minimal investment. Because of the cavities in the wall, I have limited options for LCRs. These fit the bill. If I found a similar design that had 10" drivers and would fit, I would probably upgrade. I would love if these had a little more low-end extension. But I'm not complaining.


    The sub is an SVS PB-2000 that lives behind the 3rd row of seats. Initially I put it there thinking it would be too localizable in the rear of the room and I'd have to find a better place for it, but it blends very nicely back there, and being on the riser, it adds a little extra rumble, the tactile bass. It's staying where it's at.

    Surround duties are handled by (4) Mission 77ds speakers. One pair is white, the other is black, but they are the same speaker. They're mounted up higher than one might think they should be, but the combination of the cabinet design, the dipole configuration, and the close proximity to seating, they sound about as good as one could hope. The dipole keeps them from being TOO easy to pinpoint the location, being so close, but the proximity keeps the dipole configuration from clouding the surround effect too much. Really a best of both worlds. And mounting them higher actually gives an almost Atmos-type effect in a room that is much too small with much too low of a ceiling to actually install Atmos.



    Other touches...the lighting is controlled/dimmed by a $35 Lutron Maestro switch. No noise, works great. I'm one of the Kickstarter backers of the NEEO remote, which has been delayed for a couple years now, but actually seems like it's going to ship in the next month or two.


    Popcorn machine and mini-fridge live right outside the theater. Hardly what you'd call a 'lobby', as it's also my workout room and it still holds a pile of leftover materials from the theater construction that need to be put back out in the shed, but it works. ;)


    Overall, the theater is not as big, not as fancy, not as state of the art as many I've seen, but I've done the work 100% myself, and the price/performance ratio will blow most others out of the water. I have been able to pick up nearly every item in the theater used, on sale, or with some sort of discount. Very few items were purchased at full price, and by not hiring a contractor to do the work, it slowed the process down, but it became a labor of love.

    It's a very cozy place for my son and I to enjoy our favorite movies and shows. It's paid for itself many times over in enjoyment.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
    Phil A likes this.
  2. Phil A

    Phil A Well-Known Member Top Poster

    Great job!
    Travis Ballstadt likes this.
  3. Rick C

    Rick C Active Member

    Looks like a great space! Thanks for sharing
    Travis Ballstadt likes this.
  4. Carl V

    Carl V Well-Known Member Donor War Zone Member Top Poster

    +1 indeed.
    Travis Ballstadt likes this.
  5. claud

    claud Well-Known Member Donor

    I am impressed. Nice cozy dedicated HT.
    Travis Ballstadt likes this.
  6. Randy Rhoton

    Randy Rhoton Well-Known Member Donor War Zone Member

    Nicely done! And impressive. My compliments. :cool:
    Travis Ballstadt likes this.
  7. Mike B

    Mike B Well-Known Member Donor War Zone Member Top Poster

    That looks real good. I like the speaks behind the screen.
    Travis Ballstadt likes this.
  8. Dustin B

    Dustin B Well-Known Member War Zone Member

    Looks great. The patience and luck to find all those deals is admirable (I'm jealous).

    I run a 2:1 screen too. I call it a constant area screen. I use the memory zoom on my Panasonic AE3000 to fill the full height with 1.85:1 content and the full width with 2.35:1 content. Doing that makes each take up roughly the same surface area on the screen which makes them both seem the same size and have the same visual impact. I had a manual 3 way masking system at my old place that worked really well using TheaterTek software which allowed me to shift the image down if I needed (didn't have the AE3000 then where the lens shift option would have worked with a 3 way masking system too). My plan in my new place is to build a motorized 4 way masking system. Give it a try, I bet you'll love it.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  9. I thought about that, but honestly, even with lens memory, it's too much of a pain. I like turning it on and hitting play with minimal tweaking. :) Plus, I'm of the opinion that everything should be produced in 2.35:1. ;)

    Regarding the patience, it's kind of patience by necessity. I didn't have the budget to buy a bunch of stuff new. I've always had a surround system, so as soon as I found a $150 projector on Craigslist, I was able to move the surround down to the theater room and have a fully functional system. Then it became just upgrades when they popped up. I'm always on the lookout, even though there's nothing NEEDED.
  10. Dustin B

    Dustin B Well-Known Member War Zone Member

    Would be nice if it was (everything 2.35 that is). It's literally 3 or 4 button presses on your remote (and they could be setup as a macro too making it 1). If you give it a try I bet you'll find it's worth it.
    Travis Ballstadt likes this.
  11. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin War Zone Member

    Top Poster Of Month

    Awesome photos and what a great room! Thanks so much for sharing.
    Travis Ballstadt likes this.
  12. Denton

    Denton Well-Known Member Donor War Zone Member Top Poster

    Travis... can you provide more info on your LCR speakers? Who designed them? It would appear they use pro drivers (?).
  13. The cabinets were made by elemental Designs (eD), a now-defunct company based here in Iowa. They created some great stuff, but had no solid business sense, and eventually had taken many orders that ended up not being filled. They had a lot of extra cabinets, which they sold off on a 'going out of business' sale in an attempt to fulfill/refund as many orders as they could.

    I bought the 3 LCR cabinets off a friend who had bought them and never gotten around to finishing them out. A crossover design was developed. The drivers are Faital Pro, and the tweeters are Eminence.

    I actually came across 4 slant surround cabinets from the same eD series a couple years ago, and I finally have a pile of parts to build crossovers and load the drivers, creating what should be a really nice, matching soundfield.
  14. Denton

    Denton Well-Known Member Donor War Zone Member Top Poster

    I'm familiar with the eD story. Interesting that ED also stands for erectile dysfunction... ;)

    Thanks for taking the time.

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