How to Build a Hassle-Free Theater, DIY-Style
With some research and planning, you can tackle a breezy installation like this.
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Credit: Tony Scarpetta
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August 28, 2009 by Steven Castle

How many times have you heard this from someone who bought and installed his own home theater system: “I don’t think I had any surprises, and no problems.”

That’s from 58-year-old homeowner and DIY-er Diego Betancourt of Ashland, Mass., whose 800 square feet of renovated basement space now includes a 13.5-by-16.5-foot home theater with two rows of seating, a 14-by-30-foot family room, a bar and a bathroom. (Click here to view a slideshow of construction and finished room photos).

Betancourt researched and bought all of his home theater equipment and cabling before the job even started. However this project did not come without some challenges, starting with the seating. “I wanted two rows of four, so I wouldn’t have to break up couples, and I couldn’t go any wider because I needed an aisle on one side of the theater,” he says. “It took me awhile to find a manufacturer that could do a seating configuration that fit.” Apollo had the seats and could do the configuration with loveseats in the middle.

With his layout drawn up, Betancourt hired general contractor Vin Gadoury of Custom Design and Construction in Blackstone, Mass., to construct the walls and move the air ducts and a gas pipe for the soffitted ceilings. Several supporting lally columns also had to be replaced with laminated beams.

Betancourt also worked closely with the electrician to make sure power outlets for the audio/video rack, projector and powered subwoofers were placed exactly where he wanted them. And once Gadoury’s crew framed the room and the high-voltage wiring was in place, Betancourt ran the audio and video cabling himself, being sure to separate it from the high-voltage lines.

A 25-foot HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cable was routed from the ceiling-mounted projector to the rack along a side wall, and Betancourt ran that and component cabling (just in case) inside a conduit pipe to make it easy for future upgrades. Fourteen- and 16-gauge audio cabling was run to the speaker locations, and plug-in outlets for audio connections were installed.

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

Project Details/Equipment List

About the project
MONEY SPENT
Under $15,000
(system alone).

TOTAL PROJECT TIME
3 to 4 months.

INSTALLATION TIME
1 day.

BEST BUY
The $2,500 Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080p LCD projector, which is “not much different than a Pro model.”

REGRETS?
“If we have a bunch of people over, we don’t have enough seats. So we added little bar table with four stools behind the second row of seats, and that works out well.”

ADVICE FOR DIY-ERS
“Do a lot of research and know what you want.”

Equipment List
Epson PowerLite 1080p LCD projector
Sanus Sytems ceiling mount
Carada Criterion Classic White 1.78:1 92-inch screen
Mirage OM8 front tower speakers with powered subwoofers (2)
Mirage Omnisat V2 center-channel speaker
Mirage Omnican 6 in-ceiling surround speakers (3)
Mirage PBS150i 150-watt subwoofer
Onkyo TX-SR805 receiver
Sony BDP-S550 Blu-ray player
API DV702 Karaoke player
Harmony 880 universal remote Control
Pyle Pro 1000-watt transducer amp
Bass Shaker transducers (8)
Monster 14- and 16-gauge CL3/THX audio cable
Comprehensive XHD Ultra HD HDMI cable
Apollo seats (2 rows of 4 with love seats)


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