Dedicated Home Theater/Listening Room Suggestions

Just curious to know if anyone would like to share their experiences with wiring and designing a dedicated listing room for 2 channel as well as home theater. I will soon be moving into a new home where I currently have a dedicated listening room roughing out in the basement.

A few questions that come to mind are; Is it worth running separate power circuits for power amps and digital sources from the panel? Anyone know of any info online that maybe of value to this project? What should I use on the ceiling?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Personally, I think you will need multiple circuits run just due to the requirements of you amps. You will be using some kind of line conditioner anyway. Also, I would put a whole house surge protector in your box. It won't replace the conditioner/surge for your gear but will help block the big stuff like lightning.
Also, run extra Cat5 everywhere that you pull wire-future proofing is great. Just leave it inside the walls.
My ceiling bites, so don't take my advice there. Much of the soundproofing does NOT meet residential fire code for ceilings.
You might pick up the book by Earl Geddes at GedLee

Most of the white papers at the Harman web site address acoustic issues and are worth studying.

If you want to do it right you need to hire an expert.
Ask around in virtual systems, write the owners of rooms you like and ask who did what you may find insight by DIY guys and cautions, I think having a room built for you by a pro can be a con if you are not careful. The Home Theater market has created huge profits for less then honest installers, some wont even sell gear UNLESS they do the build.
I had great results with separate circuits for digital, analog as well as for amps and powered subwoofers. I wired the entire room with JPS Labs in-wall wire and Wattgate duplex outlets. The power and silence our outstanding. Well worth the effort and cost.
Use a drop ceiling - you never know what might come up in the future, and a drop ceiling will be invaluable. Damping of it is also important.

One of the best resources I've found is

Good luck.
If you are going to the trouble of running dedicated circuits , make sure that you additionally connect them to
what is called an isolated ground . This will segregate the power from the rest of your house and eliminate any noise from other items in your home .

Try to familiarize yourself enough about isolated grounds to be able to hire a professional that actually knows how to do it ! This might seem like a no brainer but few residential electricians have any experience with this circuit . Isolated grounds are usually used in commercial applications , generally computer rooms and hospitals . I went through 3 electricians before finding one that actually knew how to install this type of circuit correctly !
Google is your friend !

You can save yourself some money by running the wire yourself and paying the professional to just make the connections . And unless you live in a sandy area , they usually don't like pounding in the ground rod either !

Good luck .
A few tips:

1) Hire an expert in acoustical engineering. I used Rives (of Rives Audio) for my dedicated two channel optimized Home Theater and I recommend him heartily.

2) A great book is "The Master Handbook of Acoustics" by F. Alton Everest. It contains everything you need to understand acoustics, but it won't give you the practical first hand experience that a degree in the subject and/or years of designing rooms in the field will give you (refer back to tip #1).

3) You can check out my AVScienceForum thread on building my own room from the Rives Audio schematics. I went with a level 2 consultation, but if you can afford to do it, I would go with the level 3. Looking back, this would have been the best choice to ensure that the utmost care was taken in all the construction. It ended up being a lot of insane work on my part to understand everything being done with the F. Alton Everest book, since I decided to General Contract my own room. I wanted to make sure everything was done according to exact specifications so that the acoustics wouldn't get botched by over-creative builders who thought they could sometimes use any material lying around to create approximations of the designs instead of using materials specifically mentioned on the schematics (or specified by myself or Rives).

4) It is better to do it right the first time, than to be unhappy with the mistakes and results that are the product of amateur/unexperienced work and design (refer to tip #1).
Just finished my dedicated room a month ago & could not be happier. Ran all dedicated lines (14 total),sup panal with an isolation transformerfor. No need for a power conditioner.
I would love to share my research & construction with you, email me & we can exchange #'s
Dedicated wiring might be theoretically nice, but I doubt it will make an audible difference unless you have an unusual problem. I'd spend my money on acoustics that will make an audible difference.

"If you want to do it right you need to hire an expert."

Tranlation: Hire audiooracle to to do your room for you! (lol)

" I think having a room built for you by a pro can be a con if you are not careful." (chadnilz)

Basically it comes down to relationship here. Which is another reason that anyones advice here is just "air" and "ear-candy" Basically, your simply just not going to know enough to be able to discern what's going to be superb choices and advice vs, one persons biased oppinions!

That, and you'll never absorb enough information, to be able to put it all together. That's why you should consider pro's, and then see their work! If you like, you can be assured they know what they're doing. Even go to a clients home of theirs, from references, and see what they did.
Case in point: I went to a local AVS forum "local home theater meet", and checked out one guys full-on dedicated theater room, that ended up being featured in an electronics magazine. I personally, in my professional experience, thought the system was mediocre, and had lots and lots of design flaws, acoustical issues, setup and calibration problems, response issues, equipment cohesion problems, setting problems, poorly designed seating and and speaker setup flaws, HVAC noise, etc, etc! Basically, there was so much room for improvment, even though it was a "fun room", to be enjoyed. And, it's all good. But it could have been MUCH better, done by knowledgeable people!
So, depends on what you want out of it.
Basically, don't expect to read all the Audiogon posts, AVSforum posts, or Home Theater spot exposes, and even read some acoustics articles, and think you'll have a grasp on this stuff! It takes years of experience with this stuff to know what does what, in what room, with what gear, with what speaker/seating setup, with what acoustics, room construction, settings, etc, etc, etc!

Anyway, back to your questions-I like the advice here about getting help with the wiring, from someone who knows issolation and proper wiring for your needs, yes! Look for reverences on the forums.
Also, know that a company like Rives comes from a 2 channel background, emphesises 2 channel, and constructs theaters around that. IMO, not how a multi-channel system should be constructed, and especially NOT FOR MULTIPLE SEATING SITUATIONS!!! Take even a rectrangular or slanted trapezoidial room, sit in the middle of the room, and you'll have acoustial nighmares, that no EQ or room corretion can fix! (holes especially). That said, how many seats are you planning? What's the overall acoustics of the room, and engineering plans?
Good luck
Also, know that a company like Rives comes from a 2 channel background, emphesises 2 channel, and constructs theaters around that. IMO, not how a multi-channel system should be constructed, and especially NOT FOR MULTIPLE SEATING SITUATIONS!!! Take even a rectrangular or slanted trapezoidial room, sit in the middle of the room, and you'll have acoustial nighmares, that no EQ or room corretion can fix! (holes especially). That said, how many seats are you planning? What's the overall acoustics of the room, and engineering plans?

Actually that isn't true. He does both and he does both well. The differences are not a huge deal to accomodate. A well versed acoustical engineer can do both with the knowledge they have, the difference will mostly be in room layout (seating position, speaker positions, screen positions, etc, etc), level of sound absorption (liveness of the room), room shape/dimensions (if they can be changed), among other tangential issues. All it requires, if you are already an acoustical engineer, is the information on the current standards for home theater design and the ability to be able to apply acoustical engineering principles to the room in a way that achieves those standards. I know that Rives has those abilities, because I have seen his Home theater work first hand... (You can also go to the Rives Audio website and see all the papers they have written, as well as all of the workshops they oversee on these topics as proof of their background in this area!)

I had to choose whether I wanted my room optimized for two channel listening or for surround. I chose two channel. I have seen schematics of his pure Home Theater work and it is just as good as his two channel work that I have seen floating around on these and other fora. I have also been in someone's Home Theater room in the town next door to mine that he designed. This person's room was designed exclusively for Home Theater, not surround music or two channel music. The results are different, and the design is different (and from my research point of view, his decisions in the design are logical/rational and fit the protocols of professional theater design standards).

In particular, even though my room was designed for two channel music optmized listening, he followed certain MPAA protocols in the layout of my seating position and the projection screen (size and seating angle wise), as well as the correct protocols for speaker layout (as far as was possible given my room limitations - they are laid out at the correct angles and I have to adjust for their distances from the seating position in my surround processor due to the irregular shape of the room I could use in my house). He even made a note on my concept drawings that my choice of setup was good for two channel sound, but not so good for surround sound. That was the choice I made when I originally asked him to design the room for the best two channel sound possible, knowng that I would intentionally use digital correction technology with the surround sound to compensate for that choice.

Here is a link to the person's home theater construction thread whom I referred to above:

My point is, make sure you are correct before you post something that isn't factual like the above quote, because you are incorrect.

The new room is only framed at this time. I designed the rest of the house specifically with things away from the dedicated room (HVAC unit, main floor sleeping area, etc.). I hope that will take care of any extraneous noise from outside of the room. The room is 16' X 26" rectangular with concrete foundation walls around three sides. All the walls are currently framed and insulated. I need only to run all the wires and finish floor and ceiling. There will also be some ceiling bulkheads to deal with as I need to cover an I-beam and some duct work. I'm planning to have the system setup along the 16' front wall and building two short walls parallel to the 16' front wall back about 18' to create right angles to mount bipolar surrounds behind the listening sweet spot. Beyond the two short walls will be a small music area with a few guitars from my past when I used to play. The room is not huge but it will suffice as a get away for some much needed relaxation. As far as number of seats it will be minimal. I learned a few things from my current room in the old house (we move in one week). One think I will do for sure is use carpet but make sure all speaker and subwoofer floor spikes are adjusted to meet the concrete floor underneath. I guess I'm looking for experiences with wiring ideas and acoustic treatments for the room, walls, and ceiling. I will check out the information links provided by this thread so far and hope for the best. Thanks for all the responses to this point. Len
I just moved into a new house with a separate thater room and 2ch music room. I ran a total of 15 dedicated circuits between the rooms, back to separate panels (Equitech for my priority ten) and an isolated ground. I use varying Oyaide outlets for all the circuits. In my music room, by chance I have two circuits relatively close, one using an upgraded Romex and the other the JPS in-wall. Thus I was able to compare them easily and the JPS is far superior. The incremental cost of having more circuits was not that significant. In my case, what I thought was pricy was the JPS in wall wiring, the Equitech subpanel, and the Oyaide circuits. BTW, I did not change any equipment in either system from my old house and the sound for both systems is significantly improved (both are larger rooms than in the old house.)

Good luck