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Future-proofing new home theater

Old 01-22-09, 02:05 PM
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Future-proofing new home theater

Hey everyone, I'm finishing my basement over the next few months, and I'm devoting one room to a home theater. I have an older rear-projection Mitsubishi that I'll be using until I can afford a front-projection system, but I want to make sure the room is cable ready for the front-projection system I will buy in the next 5 years. I have a couple questions:

1) What kind of cables should I run to the ceiling to make sure I'm future-proofed?

2) Are there any universal measurements as far as how far from the screen the projector should be placed for maximum sharpness/size, etc?

3) Are there any universal measurements as far as how wide/bulky front-projectors are? I want to sort of "box in" the projector mount spot on the ceiling.
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Old 01-22-09, 02:15 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

before you can do any measuring you need to figure out which projector you want. The throw distances and offsets are different for each projector. The only real way to do it now would be if you restricted yourself to strictly LCD projectors or were willing to spend tons of cash on a DLP unit capable of vertical and horizontal lens shift. Never use keystone correction. You can browse for projectors and figure out your measurements on projectorcentral. They have a handy calculator on the lower left hand side of the site.
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Old 01-22-09, 02:50 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

and the best way to future proof is to run conduit. there is already talk of single cables that will be able to run video/audio/internet on the same cable. the cable can't be purchased. so the only way to ever truly future proof is to run conduit with pull strings to allow you to run more later.
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Old 01-22-09, 03:49 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

I've come to learn that future-proofing is next to impossible when it comes to electronics/video systems. A good speaker system is a different story of course. In a few years we are going to see new projectors with 3D capabilities. There is always something new coming out.

As others have mentioned, I would try to determine which projector you wish to purchase and base your calculations on that model for now. LCD/DLP will be a big difference when it comes to placement. LCD projectors make it easy to accommodate most mounting solutions. If you are going with DLP, make sure you have everything figured out ahead of time. Most of them have limited, if any, lens shift. I personally wish I could own one but my ceiling is just too low.
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Old 01-22-09, 04:49 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Obviously I'm new to front-projection. I can tell you I'll be throwing the image about 11-13 feet, from the ceiling. Seating will start about 15 feet back. If I were to pick a projector now, it would be the Mitsubishi HC6000 (just based on its abilities and a few reviews I've read). My room is about 15 feet wide and 20 feet long. I will be able to make the room completely dark--total lighting control. Any warnings for me or alternate suggestions? Anything to take into account for a situation like that?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 01-22-09, 05:12 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

I would make sure that your room can accommodate new technology, but only as far as things like conduits and in-wall wiring. I agree with some of the other folks here who said it is nigh-impossible to "future-proof" when tech advances happen so rapidly. I planned my media room (check my sig for pictures) for 6 years before committing to do it in March of 2008, and even now I look back and say "I wish I had..."

I did have a 45 foot cable conduit built into my new house in 2006, along with a seating riser, and 7.1 surround sound wiring in the walls. I have a 40 foot HDMI cable running from the receiver to the projector, which is ceiling mounted 7 feet up and 14 feet away. Each of the in-wall connections is topped off with speaker connection plates that are placed well around the room. I created my own blackout frames for my 22 inch square windows, so my room is completely dark save for two recessed ceiling lights that can be dimmed via remote control. I even went so far as to buy solid core French doors for the room. I am happy with the results as the room turned out much as I envisioned it.

Check into sound proofing - my builder used regular insulation and it works to a degree (no pun intended) but the room is not as temperate as the others in my home. On my next room in my next house years from now, I will use this thin nylon soundproofing material in my walls.

Last edited by RockyMtnBri; 01-22-09 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 01-22-09, 05:32 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

That's a nice theater, and the space is about what I'll have, actually. Nice job. I do plan on a riser for the back seating, 7.1 sound, solid-core doors, and will look into soundproofing. One of my main concerns is to find a way to "bass-proof" (as much as I can) the ceiling from the floor above (our master bedroom).
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Old 01-22-09, 06:52 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

you might want to do some reading on AVSforum,they have alot of info regarding this.
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Old 01-23-09, 06:45 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Thanks FunkDaddy J! People are always amazed when they see my media room and I just tell them "this is what years of planning yields."
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Old 01-23-09, 08:59 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Your best bet is to take about $2000 and put it into the wall, and take it out when you need to upgrade
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Old 01-24-09, 03:12 AM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Originally Posted by Shazam View Post
Your best bet is to take about $2000 and put it into the wall, and take it out when you need to upgrade
That'll work too!
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Old 01-24-09, 12:19 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Hey Brian, my ceiling is fairly high (9ft); I need a projector that will throw about 11-12 feet, but throw the image downward at an angle because of the height. Is that going to create a problem?

Also, how much did you invest in the screen? What were your requirements there? What would you do differently? I am interested in hearing more of your "Things I Would Do Differently" list.

Last edited by FunkDaddy J; 01-24-09 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 01-24-09, 01:26 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Actually, doing more precise measuring just now, I have a choice between throwing the image about 10 feet, and throwing it 15 feet. There's a big beam between those two options. So my question is, which distance is generally preferable?
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Old 01-24-09, 06:07 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Originally Posted by FunkDaddy J View Post
Hey Brian, my ceiling is fairly high (9ft); I need a projector that will throw about 11-12 feet, but throw the image downward at an angle because of the height. Is that going to create a problem?

Also, how much did you invest in the screen? What were your requirements there? What would you do differently? I am interested in hearing more of your "Things I Would Do Differently" list.
First - most projectors can compensate for vertical height to a degree via lens shift. My projector is set so that it's at the very bottom position of the shift. If that doesn't work, you may need to get a mount extender pole and have it cut to the right height to physically lower the projector from the ceiling, then use lens shift to correctly place your image. My ceiling is 9 feet high as well.

Second, I spent $1300 on my screen, and my projector was $5000 - you can have the best projector but if you have a crappy screen you've wasted your money. I researched screen materials, throw distances, and specifically gain values. I didn't need high gain (1.5 or greater) since the room is virtually dark when the projector runs. The only thing I would have done differently is maybe bought Screen Innovations' new darker material that makes your screen look like an LCD when it's turned off, and offers a bit more in black levels. The material just came on the market a few weeks after I bought my screen.

Things I'd do differently - put speaker wall connections closer to the floor, install power outlets in the riser, use the thin sound barrier material all around the room (including floor and ceiling), have a separate room/niche for the media shelving, and put the entrance at the rear instead of the front.

Last edited by RockyMtnBri; 01-24-09 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 01-24-09, 06:15 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Originally Posted by FunkDaddy J View Post
Actually, doing more precise measuring just now, I have a choice between throwing the image about 10 feet, and throwing it 15 feet. There's a big beam between those two options. So my question is, which distance is generally preferable?
That question will be answered by your choice of screen size, projector specs, and specific throw distance. Go to Projector Central and play around with some of the settings. The further back you go, the less detail and brightness you will have. My projector is mounted about 13 feet back (front of lens to screen).
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Old 01-24-09, 08:02 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Originally Posted by FunkDaddy J View Post
Hey Brian, my ceiling is fairly high (9ft); I need a projector that will throw about 11-12 feet, but throw the image downward at an angle because of the height. Is that going to create a problem?

Also, how much did you invest in the screen? What were your requirements there? What would you do differently? I am interested in hearing more of your "Things I Would Do Differently" list.
That positioning describes almost exactly the inexpensive DLP market. They often need to be above the top of the screen and many have short throws.

I spent about $50 and 3 hours on my DIY screen and it looks incredible. Only thing I might change is to try out a grey screen for easier contrast.

Originally Posted by FunkDaddy J View Post
Actually, doing more precise measuring just now, I have a choice between throwing the image about 10 feet, and throwing it 15 feet. There's a big beam between those two options. So my question is, which distance is generally preferable?
Now this positioning would probably favor something with a large zoom like the Panasonics. Although, it depends on the size screen you want. Question: you can't attach to the beam? But go to Projector Central and play with the calculator.

Any distance is fine, that is more based on the room requirements. You do want to stay away from the ends of the zoom lenses if possible, middle is usually better optically, but that depends on the unit, too.
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Old 01-24-09, 08:07 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

You don't need to buy an expensive screen to get the most out of a projector. Send an email to Stewart, Carada and Dalite asking for screen samples. Compare what you think looks best in your room.

I have an extremely dark theater, minus the white drop-ceiling, and I tried every fabric I could get my hands on before picking a 106' High Power screen from Dalite. It was a pull down model B, and the High power has thick material with no waves in it. Looks incredible and cost me under $300. I now have three different pull downs that I can switch out in a few minutes if I want to. Depends on what I want to watch.

I certainly would get samples before just blind buying a screen. Carada and Stewart tend to send a 8x11 sized sample while Da-Lite will send a small booklet with their entire line up in it. If memory serves me correct, Stewart usually has the most expensive product. Great quality though. Look around before buying. The DIY route can be rewarding as well.
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Old 01-25-09, 11:32 AM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Thanks guys, you've really helped me "focus" my research.

Originally Posted by Spiky View Post
I spent about $50 and 3 hours on my DIY screen and it looks incredible.
Wow. I gotta definitely look into the DIY screen options.
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Old 01-25-09, 11:44 AM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Originally Posted by RockyMtnBri View Post
Things I'd do differently - install power outlets in the riser...
Interesting. What for?
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Old 01-25-09, 02:17 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Originally Posted by FunkDaddy J View Post
Interesting. What for?
Maybe running a computer or plugging in devices like my remote charger out of sight.
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Old 01-27-09, 03:26 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Hey guys, let me run a scenario by you. I've pretty much decided that the Mitsubishi HC5500 is right for my room. I've played with the throw distances and screen size, and so on. My question is this: How much "give" do I have with these measurements? I mean, suppose I buy the thing, and the throw distance turns out to be 6" off?

And another thing. I found a deal on the projector at Costco that comes with a 106" screen. I can accommodate that, but what if--again--my distance-to-screen measurements are a bit off? Is there breathing room in these measurements?
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Old 01-27-09, 04:35 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Originally Posted by FunkDaddy J View Post
Hey guys, let me run a scenario by you. I've pretty much decided that the Mitsubishi HC5500 is right for my room. I've played with the throw distances and screen size, and so on. My question is this: How much "give" do I have with these measurements? I mean, suppose I buy the thing, and the throw distance turns out to be 6" off?

And another thing. I found a deal on the projector at Costco that comes with a 106" screen. I can accommodate that, but what if--again--my distance-to-screen measurements are a bit off? Is there breathing room in these measurements?
From what I've read and had done, if you ceiling mount, your horizontal and vertical measurements have to be spot on, or the rectangular shape of your image will be distorted. Throw isn't as touchy, but again, being in the middle of the min/max throw is best.

This review of the projector is very good and talks about throw and mounting in detail.

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Old 01-27-09, 05:29 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

You have a couple feet of space on the zoom for that PJ. And I think it can work anywhere in the screen area for the vertical measurement. Are you that bad at measuring? I mean, I don't intend this as a nasty comment, but the tolerances aren't that tight!

Tell you what, get it. If it doesn't work out, we can trade. Mine has plenty more zoom.
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Old 01-27-09, 06:05 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

Originally Posted by Spiky View Post
Are you that bad at measuring?
Hahaha, no, I'm pretty good with the measuring tape, but it's an unfinished room, and I'm not completely sure what the finished wall will add to the "screen wall." I'm thinking of recessing it a bit to fit the speaker behind the screen. That kind of stuff.
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Old 01-29-09, 03:05 PM
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Re: Future-proofing new home theater

OK, I went for that excellent Costco deal: Mitsubishi HC5500, 106" screen, mounting bracket, replacement bulb for $1899 after $300 rebate. Sounds perfect for my room.

Brian, now I'm curious about your Panamax 5400. Did you do all that installation yourself, or did you have your electrician install that?
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