The Littlest Home Theater Grows Up

Gary Ngo has upgraded his space to accommodate his growing family and AV habit.


Jul. 30, 2013 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

A few years back, we profiled Gary Ngo and his townhouse home theater. At 12-by-15-by-8 feet, the room was a small one. That said, it certainly packed enough of a punch for Gary’s AV needs.

Since then, those needs have grown—and so has Gary’s family. In October 2011, he and wife Yolanda broke ground on a new 5,300-square-foot home. By March, the family was able to move in and Gary was able to start planning another home theater. This time, however, he didn’t need to cram everything into a small space.

In July 2012, Gary starting cutting a drywall hole for the equipment rack. The theater was up and running by March 2013. This is a pretty short wait, considering the years that some people pour into their AV rooms. That said, this was far from a quickie install.

Having that space for a home theater was a major factor when Gary and Yolanda were looking for a home. Sure, he made the last one work in a smaller area, but this time he wanted seating for friends and a growing family. “When I first looked at a floor plan, the first thing I’d look at is the basement floor plan to see if it would offer a useable space as a home theater,” he says.

While most people dream of that perfect AV space, Gary says that the task was daunting. During the house’s pre-building phase, Gary spent countless hours working on the design. “The measurement, the rack area, the riser, the pre-wiring, the lighting, and even something as simple as which direction should we face; it was really hard to imagine everything from an empty floor plan on a piece of paper to exactly what you need now and in the future, too,” he says.

However, since the couple was having the builder finish the space to spec, everything had to be perfect.

“You know, the last thing I wanted to do was tear down the brand-new drywall just to re-run some new wire,” Gary says. “Of course, I still ended up doing that on the ceiling to relocate conduit for the projector, due to the final bigger screen size and the throw distance that’s required. And I totally had to redo all the ceiling lights, too.”

That said, the space was pretty perfect. Located in the basement, the room measures about 20-by-15-by-9 feet. It also has a 12-inch riser, with about seven feet from the back wall. The room could accommodate all of the seating that Gary wanted. Even more importantly, it was also the good size for adding all of the acoustic treatments he had heard and read so much about.

“I’ve heard a few acoustic engineers/designers state, ‘I’d rather to have a well treated room with HTIB (home theater in a box) speakers, than some expensive speakers in a square room with bare drywall.’ And I totally believe it,” Gary says. “After all, it’s not good when you hear the sound that should be coming from the front speakers coming from behind you or you are having way too much bass energy.”

Gary spent a lot of time studying up on home theater acoustics. He also got a little help. Jeff Parkinson, home theater contractor and AVS Forum regular, worked on the room side-by-side with Gary. He also consulted Bryan Pape from GIK Acoustics out of Atlanta, GA. Pape was able to advise Gary on the design of his room. He also fine-tuned the room’s acoustic treatments by helping him tackle a bass issue.

“After the home theater was done, I did some measurements and noticed there was some bass issue. I was hardly feeling much of the bass at my main listening position, while the second rows were getting a serious bass massage,” Gary says. “Bryan suggested that I put at least 6 to 8 inches of acoustic material (OC703) at the back wall to absorb the excessive bass energy.”

Now that he’s gone with and without acoustic treatments, Gary says that he notices the huge difference those make in the sound quality. They also look really cool, adding a unique design element to the room. Of course, it helps that he was able to build the room from the ground up versus building around an existing small space.

Gary says that he also appreciated having professional help this time around, especially when it came to calibrating his display. “It does make a night-and-day difference, as anyone who has seen mine will tell you,” he says. “You really owe it to yourself for that big, expensive display!”

For now, the room is pretty much finished. However, Gary says that he plans to add a second SVS PB12-Plus DSP subwoofer to make the room a full 9.2 setup. Of course, he’s also not ruling out a third home theater install, if the family decides to move again.

“I would definitely make a false wall and go with an acoustically transparent screen to hide all of the speakers and subwoofers for a cleaner look,” he says. “Also I would probably hire a professional to design the room for me. And I think my wife would like to have a big sectional for the front row instead of the recliners, too.”

For a tour of Gary Ngo’s home theater, check out the pics in “The Littlest Home Theater Grows Up” slideshow.

Equipment List
DarbeeVision Processor
Definitive Technology BP7001SC Bipolar SuperTower Speakers (2)
Definitive Technology BPX Surround Speakers (4)
Definitive Technology CLR3000 Center-Channel Speaker
Definitive Technology Di6.5S Speakers (2)
Denon AVR-4520CI AV Receiver
DirecTV DVR
Emotiva XPA-2 Stereo Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-5 5-Channel Amplifier
Insteon Lighting Control
JVC DLA-RS4810 D-ILA Projector
Logitech Harmony 900 Remote
Microsoft Windows Home Server (10TB)
Microsoft Xbox 360
Middle Atlantic Slim5 5-37U Rack with Custom RSH Faceplates
Nintendo Wii
OPPO BDP-93 Blu-ray Disc Player
Palliser HiFi Seating (8)
Popcorn Hour A300 Media Streamer
Seymour Screen Excellence 2.35:1 138-inch Screen
Sonos Connect Wireless HiFi Player
SVS PB12-Plus DSP Subwoofer

Also Check Out:
Common Pitfalls of Home Theater Installation
Automated Shades Make Basement Theater Build Possible
How to Save on Home Automation Expenses



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