Transforming a Billiards Room into 12-Seat Home Theater
Sound Investments turned a non-enclosed billiards room into a home theater while maintaining its open layout, which included a fireplace, bar and sitting area.
Grant Clauser · March 3, 2015
The happy owners of this home theater room were having a major renovation done on their house. The basement area where the home theater is now used to be a billiards room, and like a lot of billiards rooms, went largely unused for years after the family realized that the game of pool is more fun in theory than in practice.
The homeowners hadn’t had much experience with custom theaters, but they had a big family and wanted the renovated room to be something everyone could enjoy. Thanks to a family member who referred them to Sound Investments in northern Colorado, they found themselves the proud owners of a 12-seat home theater with a 120-inch Elite screen.
Like any custom renovation project, this room didn’t come without challenges. For one this, it’s not an enclosed box of a room. The 25 foot by 18 foot space that holds the seats and screen is open to another area featuring a fireplace, bar and sitting area. The family didn’t want the kind of theater room that’s completely shut off from the rest of the house, so Sound Investments owner Randy Revak had to make sure the audio and video would work in such a non-traditional environment.
Open areas like that can create problems for acoustics because the reflective and absorptive qualities of the room are different on one side. Evenly filling the space with bass is another big problem in a room like that, but Revak was able to accommodate the room’s needs by custom building his own speakers and subwoofers.
In the front of the room he built in a subwoofer with dual 12-inch drivers and a 1,000 watt amplifier with parametric EQ. To balance the bass he built another subwoofer in the back. That one is partially built under the rear floor platform in a four foot box with its own rack-mounted 500 watt amp. He also built the three front speakers himself with dual five inch drivers and custom grills (which keep them all hidden).
For surround sound Revak installed TruAudio in-ceiling speakers. Heavy curtains around the room are added help for the room’s acoustics.
Revak determined that the best home theater projector for that room would be an Epson Pro Cinema 6030 1080p projector, which can put out about 2,400 lumens. For most of the family’s viewing, the room is dark (with blackout curtains ensuring no light leaks in from outside) but if they want to keep a few lights on, especially when a crowd is over to watch a football game, the owners can flip the projector into high brightness mode, which will produce a vibrant image even with room lights on.
Still, just to be safe, Revak painted the walls and ceiling theater black, which does a great job absorbing any unwanted light so the Epson projector can create the best possible picture. The in-ceiling lights are set up in multiple zones so viewers can, for example, keep the rear lights on, but darken the front of the theater.
Another challenge this room offered was size. While it’s not a small room, the family wanted to get the maximum theater room seating as possible. Revak was able to fit in twelve home theater recliners by building two levels of risers. He concedes that the front seats may be too close for some people, but the young kids in the house love being up front.
All the room’s electronics are hidden in a cabinet Revak built in the front under the screen. Because Revak doesn’t like noisy cooling fans, he designed the cabinet to be vented and passively cooled. Hidden in the cabinet is the Denon AV-RX400 receiver, an Oppo Blu-ray player, TV DVR and the subwoofer amplifier. To keep the system within the owners’ budget, while still giving them simple control of the theater, he programmed a Logitech Harmony remote to operate everything.
Revak says the whole family loves the new room, and no one misses the pool table.
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Grant Clauser is a technology editor, covering home electronics for more than 10 years for such publications as Electronic House and Dealerscope. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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