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New house, small room for HT (11'6"x10'1") - Need advice

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  • New house, small room for HT (11'6"x10'1") - Need advice

    Hi everyone. I've been checking out the site for the past week and thought it was time to post my situation and ask for your advice.

    I've got a pretty small space in my new home that I can dedicate to a home theater. It's only 11'6" by 10'1". One 10ft wall has french doors(4ft wide) and one 11ft wall has a double window 6ft wide. I've saved an image from the floorplan here

    Construction for the house hasn't started yet. I'm looking for suggestions on what to put inside the walls before the drywall goes up as well as general suggestions of what will work in such a small space. I'd really like to go front projection but I'm not sure it makes sense. I'm not buying any equipment yet, just want to start the planning process and hoping for some good ideas. Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Realistically the room is to small to be anything other than a study, sewing room, or small library.


    You need to create adequate space for the doors and foot traffic, that means spacing furniture 3' or more from any wall where there's a door. Also speakers need to be placed away from the walls.

    For example.........

    A sofa is 3' deep. So if you place the speakers a proper distance out from the french doors, you could put a pull down screen between them. BUT that means a sofa on the opposite wall, and against a wall is the worst place to be listening. Also the glass in the doors is going to really mess up the stereo image.

    If you spin the sofa around and place it so it just clears the french doors, your head is already +5' into the room. And if you place the speakers properly (note this means 2' or more out from the wall), it's going to be like listening to headphones.

    So realistically forget using floorstanding speakers. And know that regardless of cost there are almost no high-quality, in-wall speakers. If you have any DIY ability there are some reasonable in-wall speaker options. Other than that use headphones with a subwoofer.

    Aren't there any other rooms that have more floor space? A family room or something similar that's a larger shared space would probably a better option.

    Edit: I wanted to add that there a guideline for the viewing distance from the screen. For HD is usually twice the diagonal screen size. So for example a 'small' screen that has a 40" diagonal measurement, means the viewer should be no less than 6.5' away

    IB subwoofer FAQ page

    "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson


    • #3
      Thanks for the response. We do have a family room that will have a 32" TV and probably our existing HT-in-a-box. WAF prevents me from doing anything more than that in the family room but I will make the best of what I can with that.

      One option we thought of to eliminate the door opening issue is to have the builder make the doors open out into the hallway. Not very appealing or conducive to traffic flow but it would give us a little more depth to work with. Maybe not enough though.....

      I know in many parts of the world living space is much smaller, anyone know any sites I can research what they do for home theaters in Japan, HK, etc. where this problem might be more common?


      • #4
        Having been in Europe and Japan, average middle-class famlies don't have anything close to a dedicated home theater room. They barely have enough space for a HT-in-a-box and a regular TV in their living room. Given the cost of land, housing, and HT equipment, only the very wealthy can afford true home theaters.

        Here are some thoughts regarding your situation

        How about pocket doors?. They look good when closed and when open they can't be seen.

        Buy or build speakers that are specifically designed (the technical term is 'voiced') for 'on-wall' mounting. Note that these are specialized units. If you buy or build regular speakers and mount them on the wall, the midbass will be very bloated and the tonal balance will be completely off.

        The choice of what you 'view' should probably be made between a plasma and a 'small' front projector. Those will have the least impact on the available space. Personally I can't stand to look at a plasma, given how they smear images during quick pans or similar actions. Others aren't as sensitive about this.

        Regarding the actual construction of course put the highest "R" value fiberglass batt insulation in ALL the walls. There are other treatments (most are membranes) that go behind the drywall to cut transmitted noise. These do work but tend to be quite expensive. Another option is to double up the sheetrock in the room. There are numerous debates as to which installation method is best.

        Finally if you're serious about this, then consider contacting someone like Dennis Erskine. For a reasonable fee and via the net, he can help you customize the construction for the best possible performance. He knows his stuff, is very reliable, and he's been in business a long time. Note that his website has a DIY section.

        IB subwoofer FAQ page

        "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson


        • #5
          Home theater as we know it is a somewhat American phenomena, with Europe participating but lagging a bit behind in comparison. In average Japanese homes HT would be unthinkable- you have to understand that a 1000 sq ft apartment is a large apartment in Japan- 300-400 sq ft is more common.

          In a room as small as you describe, FPTV is possible, but you'd need to be considering a reduced size screen- probably no more than 70" diagonal (16:9)- that's what I use, but in a larger room (14' X 22'). A friend of mine with a smilar room to yours (it was originally designed as a den) uses a widescreen RTPV Toshiba, but the depth of the set does reduce the distance to the viewer. He uses a couch against the wall, and we've taken some pains to find speakers designed for wall placement, then the boundary placement of the listener on the couch isn't too much of a problem, as long as you use something for acoustic damping- a hanging rug, for example. Otherwise you get comb filtering from the early refection from the wall behind you. Some care in tuning and setup to optimize the bass levels at the couch will be necessary, so that it's not "too much".

          After getting all this setup, though, he finds he's using his master bedroom more, which is where he has another Toshiba widescreen TV of the same type- and that room is over 50% larger. He's beginning to think he should have left that room as a den...

          Surrounds are a problem- the dipole style, side firing, are pretty much the only possible solution; they need to be mounted just slightly above ear level flush to the wall, and not to close to the side walls. Something like the Monitor Audio SFX will work well. You might look at the Monitor Audio S2 for wall placed mains. A smaller sub with a single 12" will probably be fine- Parts Express has some great kits with cabinet, plate amp, and driver, if you're handy with a screw driver and soldering iron.

          How much seating are you hoping to have in this size room? The whole family, or is this more a personal or Mom and Dad endeavor? The short walls and need for space for the surrounds will make it a little difficult to have a wide seating area - a love seat or smaller couch should work. 2-3 viewers optimally. Four side by side would be less optimal, but could still be done- it just complicates the surround setup.

          Good luck getting things sorted out for the whole family.

          Best regards,

          the AudioWorx
          Natalie P
          Modula Neo DCC
          Modula MT XE
          Modula Xtreme
          Wavecor Ardent

          Minerva Monitor
          Ardent D

          In Development...
          Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
          Saint-Saƫns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
          Modula PWB
          Calliope CC Supreme
          Natalie P Ultra
          Natalie P Supreme
          Janus BP1 Sub

          Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
          Just ask Mr. Ohm....


          • #6
            Thanks for the tips on speakers and customized construction advice. I'll definitely investigate.

            Regarding seating - 2 well placed seats for primary viewing, probably a loveseat or possibly small theater seats like the Salamander TC-1.
            We'll want seating for 2 more but those will probably be seats we move in and out of the room as needed.


            • #7
              I should add that the HT should get dedicated AC circuit or two, and that you should go ahead and have whole-house AC surge protection installed. These things are relatively cheap to do during the initial construction phase.

              IB subwoofer FAQ page

              "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson


              • #8
                Very good idea on the whole house surge protection, I had not even thought about that.


                • #9
                  I say have a motorized screen that drops down in front of the window with black out drape behind to block any stray light and a small FP. This should spare you some room and also help solve the problem of light from the window.

                  I've attached a graphic.

                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    Wow, thanks for taking the time to diagram your ideas! I like the thought of using the screen as an additional light barrier although that does shorten the viewing distance a few more inches.


                    • #11
                      No problem, I draw much more complicated stuff than that all day so it only took a couple minutes :lol: As for the couple inches you might lose, I still think this will offer the best flow and give the most room for you, otherwise you're having to move chairs etc too far in to the room just to leave doors etc accessible. You should even be able to make/buy a nice low, wide cabinet for your components which could also double as the stand for your centre speaker. Just make sure it's VERY solid to minimize any vibrations etc too and from the speaker. You may even want to make it modular with the centre de-coupled from the rest of the cabinets.



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