A step by step guide for a DIY Acoustically transparent (AT) home theater

Guys – I would like to share the DIY build of my home theater. imgur link below has all pictures.

To give some background I wanted to make a home theater in my own basement. I needed with an Accoustically transparent screen which means the speakers will be mounted behind the screen and the screen would be transparent to sound. This is the set of equipment I purchased and approximate charges for each. The full total cost was around $6k.

Receiver – Denon 4400h – $800

LCR speakers – JbL studio 590s – $1600

Surrounds – JBL studio 580s – $700

Rear surrounds – Martin logan MLT2 – existing

Subwoofer – Klipsch r112sw – $350

Projector – Epson home cinema 3800 – $1500

Uhd player – Panasonic ub420 – $150

Projector Ceiling mount and plate – $150

Cost of materials – Approx. $600

These are the things I built and the imgur post switches into more details on step by step instructions. The materials used for every are also provided below. A great took used for the construction was kreg jig to build pocket holes.

Ceiling mount

  1. Plywood
  2. Wood screws
  3. Wood glue

Speaker supports

  1. 2×6
  2. Wood glue
  3. Wood scews

Ceiling supports

  1. 2×4
  2. Wood glue
  3. Wood screws

Frame for panels

  1. 2×4
  2. Wood screws
  3. Wood glue
  4. Tapcon anchors

Screen and panels

  1. 1 x 3 poplar
  2. Wood screws
  3. Wood glue
  4. Spandex

Absorption panels

  1. 1 x 4 common board
  2. Wood screws
  3. Wood glue
  4. Weed barrier fabric
  5. Roxul safe and sound
  6. Spandex

Speaker stands

  1. 1 x 4
  2. MDF
  3. Wood screws
  4. Wood glue

The energy tools used were purchased at set for Father’s day sale for $199. Regular price is $300. The various tools used were:

  1. Ryobi Circular saw 
  2. Ryobi drill
  3. Ryobi impact driver
  4. Harbor freight saw horses
  5. Ryobi drill bits
  6. Masonry bit
  7. Harbor freight level
  8. Harbor freight clamps
  9. Kreg jig
  10. Hammer

I’ve not discussed electrical design in the imgur post although the YouTube video goes into this. I had the electrician wire two dedicated 20 amp circuits to the av rack. For the projector I ran a dummy Romex from the projector location to the av rack with one end terminating in an outlet near to the projector and the other end on the av rack terminating as an inlet. I connected the ups to one of the dedicated 20 amps and linked the projector inlet to the ups using an extension. In this way I am in a position to protect the ups from power outages. The other dedicated 20 amps can be used for all my other equipment.

Hopefully all this has been helpful. Please touch base assuming you have more questions.

This is a mount for the projector. I cut two pieces of plywood first with the dimensions equal to the gap between the floor joists at the back of the room.
I then used glue and clamps to then hold them together.
I then installed the mount between the ceiling joists in the back of the room.
I wrapped each electrical can light arms and joints with friction tape so that there will not be any vibration or clanging while watching a movie or listening to music.
I installed two 2×6 cross braces between studs at the back of the room to mount my rear surround speakers. This is for the right.
And this is for the left.
I then installed cross braces between ceiling joists at the front of the room to provide a surface to anchor my top plate when the screen support would be constructed.
Continued for cross braces for ceiling support.
I had the contractors frame out an opening at the right side for access to the right speaker that would be behind the screen wall.
This shows the sheetrocked opening.
I had the contractors do a similar opening for the left side to have access to the left speaker behind the sceeen. There are two openings here. The first one you see is the entry into an under the stairs area that I am using for my av rack and the second opening is the one to behind the speakers.
When the contractors ripped out tiles they left a very uneven surface. This would certainly not help in installing a carpet. So I first shop vacced and cleaned.
Cleaned some more.
This shows you the kind of ups and downs left on the floor after tile removal.
Continued.
I rented a floor grinder from home Depot and ground out all the high spots and then used patch compound to create an almost level surface by filling up the gaps.
Continued.
Continued. Before grinding.
Continued. Before grinding.
Door installed for access to right speaker.
Door installed for access to left speaker
Theater pained using Sherwin Williams red theater. This was an incredibly difficult paint to get a full cover. We had to do 3-4 coats.
Ceiling was painted a dark black using Sherwin Williams tricorn black.
Double doors to the theater room.
Double doors open.
Door painted red on inside.
Now came the core of the theater construction which is the construction of the support frame and then the screens. To start with I installed a bottom plate and anchored it down to the floor using fuzeit and tapcon anchors. I had to buy a masonry drill bit to drill into concrete.
I placed some heavy items on top to seal the base plate to the floor. I then had the carpeter carper until the baseplate and then continue after. I had to do this before carpet install since I wanted a firm connection to the floor.
I then installed the top plate. I had to redo this ste multiple times to get it exactly parallel to the base plate. I could have used a plumb bob or laser but did not.
I installed the right top to bottom 2×4 for the panel support.
I then installed the left support. You see a gap at the top because the wall indents in at that place. So I could not do a straight connection. But that’s ok because this is just going to support the frame in front.
A closer view of the gap.
I then installed another vertical support. The distance between the two vertical supports is what is needed for the left panel.
I installed another right vertical support for panel. The distance between the two middle vertical support is the width (plus or minus some) of the horizontal distance for the 120 inch diagonal 16:9 screen.
I then installed horizontal supports at top and bottom. The distance between these is the approximate height of the 120 inch diagonal 16:9 screen.
I then added supports for the two horizontals to hold them to the top plate and base plate.
Horizontal installed with support.
The upper and lower horizontals done. This completed the support structure framing for the screen wall.
The next step was the construction of the actual screen. While the previous builds used 2x4s extensively, this one for screen and panels uses 1×3 poplar. They are sold by the foot at home Depot. It is very important to get absolutely. straight pieces.
I then installed cross supports for the screen.
This shows the tabs I installed with about 6 inches of wood that is screwed to the support Frame and overhangs. The screen will be hung on top of this. It is very important to realize that this tab support runs all over and wherever a panel or screen is attached to the frame the tab is what holds it together. The tab will have one to two screws going into the support frame and one screw into the frame in front of it. Since it is extremely difficult to cut absolutely straight lines while framing the tab allows some flexibility to screw tightly or loosely depending on any shifts needed for framing imperfections.
A close up view of the tabs.
Another close up view.
Checking is my screen frame can hang on the tabs. It’s perfect!!!
Now for wrapping the screen. I used black milliskin spandex from spandex world. Needed approximately 3 yards of black and 3 yards of white.
Continued
Completed the black wrapping and hung the screen. No wrinkles. It’s good.
Now for the white layer.
And hung it. And it’s great.
This is out of sequence. Ignore this.
I then did a similar kind of construction as the screen for the top and lower panels except that it was smaller to fit the gap above and below the screen. The difference in fabric used here to wrap is that I used psy fabrics triple black velvet.
I then constructed the side panels.
More pics.
I then wrapped spandex for the side panels.
And mounted. And everything looks great. Screen and false wall construction is complete.
Now it’s time to build speaker stands for the speaker behind the screen. I used 2x4s and MDF for this.
Continued.
Two legs made.
Housing below th stand is for my right side sub which I am placing behind the screen.
One stand completed.
Support at the front using a left over piece to ensure speaker does not top over.
All three stands completed.
Left speaker mounted on the stand behind the AT screen. The tab at the back is to ensure it does not tip over at the back. I then also placed 50 pounds of play sand the give stability to the stand as the speakers each weighed 70 pounds.
The right speaker on stand.
The center speaker.
Now the projector. I installed the mount. Anchored it into the ceiling box we constructed originally.
And turned on. It works.
Added theater seating and plugged in the rest of the speakers.
Finished theater.

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