Is This the Home Theater of the Decade?
Keith Yates Design (KYD) was named Home Theater of the Decade by the AVS Forum back in 2019 for her project with cinematographer Rob Hahn to create the home theater, including creating an all-new subwoofer.
Rob Hahn’s motivation for building such an ambitious theater came straight from his experience as DP (Director of Photography) in Hollywood, where “You work apart from your family for months just to see your work in cinemas on screens with dim lightbulbs, wrong image setting, blurred lenses and the sound so painfully loud that it is uncomfortable, ”says Hahn.
To solve this problem, Hahn decided to “build a theater that presents films as they should be seen – on a large, constant-surface screen with a powerful, intense, yet delicate sound”.
“Rob Hahn first contacted me in early 2012 for our tenth black label project, but this time with two key differences,” says Yates. “First, Rob’s infectious passion sparked the architectural direction and stimulated our technical discussions. And second, he finally shared three AVS forum threads publicly what we were up to and something about the art and science behind it, ”says Yates.
Yates’ vision was inspired after sitting under the stars on the edge of the Grand Canyon. The legs dangled over the precipice and stared into the blackness. He imagined a huge, brilliant movie screen that appeared perhaps 50 meters in front of him, somehow magically floating above the gorge, the glowing image surrounded by the huge black abyss. The screen was a living window into another world, like a giant light bulb, but with no light reflecting surfaces around it to dilute the intensity and purity of the filmmaker’s vision.
Together they worked on Yates’ architectural sketches and his team’s 3-D computer model, which Hahn could use to navigate around, zoom in and out, and attach notes to elements as large as the stage and proscenium and as small as the smallest shape profile. The result their back and forth brought out was something even better than Yates’ chasm. You have Hahn’s Abyss and many agree that it worked.
Invent a solution to drive away the audience’s disbelief
The human ear extends to 2.5 Hz, three octaves below 20 Hz, the low frequency limit that is widespread in the AV world. This ultra-deep bass range below 20 Hz is known as infrasound. There’s not a lot of natural infrasound content in music, although movies positively pulsate with it: collisions, explosions, slams, stamps, trains, helicopters, thunder, earthquakes, even the relatively distant sound of the family car rumbling softly in the garage.
While it’s easy to find infrasound-rich movie content, it’s almost impossible to find a subwoofer that can actually reproduce it.
The UberSub is installed exclusively in the constructed baffles of the KYD Black Label and Red X cinemas in order to deliver 3-19 Hz infrasound content with audible and tangible levels.
The physics of infrasound engineering is a criminal offense: think of 2-foot diameter subwoofer drivers in closets the size of walk-in closets. And Hahn needed half a dozen of these cabinet-sized giants plus a rack of multi-kilowatt amplifiers to power them. When Hahn said the first test CD he wanted to play in his new room was Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, Yates knew they had to actually and cleanly solve the problem from 20 Hz down to 3 Hz.
The end result of overcoming this monster of a challenge was the invention of KYD’s UberSub Infrasonic subwoofers, six of which were built into a constructed baffle that didn’t take up any additional space.
A blind psychoacoustic teacher at Yates College had a knack for stepping into an unfamiliar room and describing its size, shape, and placement of key furnishings. We all, blind or seeing, identify our surroundings by the way sound is reflected from things in front of, behind, above, below and to the side of us. After Yates’ first meeting with Hahn, he imagined his blind teacher entering Hahn’s theater, only to give up and say, “I have no idea how big this room is, or its shape, nothing. Still, I hear a room around me with a rich, natural atmosphere; it is alive and glowing. ”
If Yates Hahn’s room could get a rich, soft acoustic glow that is devoid of strong individual reflections, he could keep the room from breaking the spell by announcing, “Hey, wait, you’re not in Jungle, you’re just in a living room watching a movie. ‘ Without the specific acoustic signature of the room battling that of the soundtrack, Hahn would be far more likely to expose disbelief and step into the film.
Yates’ pursuit led the team to model various acoustic schematic solutions using ray tracing, finite element analysis, flow simulations, and weird 3D microphones for concert hall and auditory perception research.
Create the quietest of the silent rooms
With the space envelope and projector housing optimized to suppress annoying noises, the heating / cooling system was the biggest source of noise pollution.
The noise criterion for the room was set to NCB 0, with the HVAC system operating at 7-10 air changes per hour. This ventilation rate, driven by our indoor air quality requirements, is 3 to 4 times higher than what is typically achieved in custom built homes in North America.
Pictures like this one illustrate very well where the speakers are housed in the walls.
The measured result was an NCB -6 (minus 6), which is just below the human hearing threshold and is significantly quieter than any known home or professional cinema, synchronous stage, directing hall or recording studio in the world.
Hahn reported that when his friends and colleagues in the film industry first step into the theater, note that, unlike the closed, claustrophobic nature of non-reflective test chambers and other ultra-quiet environments, his theater is the opposite of being large, spacious, and airy.
“I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard: ‘I could live in here right away, Rob,’” says Hahn. “Each of my guests is starting to rattle off dozens of films that they now want to see ‘for the first time’ (whether they have seen them before or not). Dream come true. “
technology Included in the installation (from the manufacturer):
- 3 SDA-8300 (8 × 300 watt) power amplifiers
- 1 SDA-4600 (4 × 600 watt) power amplifier
- 3 main M2 speakers (left, center, right)
- 4 AC28 / 26 front surround speakers
- 6 8340A surround side and back speakers
- 10 SCS-8 top / ceiling surround speakers
- 8 SHOC-24 subwoofers with IWSv2 amplifiers
- 1 Strato Movie Player
- 12 DV700 disc safes
- 2 Terra Movie servers
- 3 No.531H 300 watt mono power amplifier, drive the woofers of the JBL M2 loudspeakers
- 1 No.533H 3 × 300 watt / channel power amplifier, drives the high frequency of M2 speakers
Stewart movie screen
- 1 Directors Choice 4-Way Masking Video Wall, Sno-Matte Micro-Perforated Material, 228 “x 110” Video Image
- 1 4K SXRD home theater projector VPL-VW5000ES, 5,000 lumens brightness
- 1 Altitude 32-channel preamp processor, Dolby Atmos, DTS: X Auro-3D
Keith Yates design
- 6 Infrasonic UberSub modules with horizontally opposing, force-suppressing 24-inch drivers, each with 6,000 watts of amplification