Look Inside a Great Room Home Theater Design and Installation
When it comes to home theater AV, many homeowners need a lot of guidance. The integrator has to select equipment, explain why it is needed, and sometimes even “sell” the customer based on usefulness and price. Far from it with this homeowner.
To put it mildly, this customer is a techie. Although he wishes to remain anonymous and is very humble indeed, his résumé explains a bit of his passion for the best technology available in his home.
“I wrote one of the first MPEG-3 encoder-decoders for the Sun Microsystems workstation and wrote a CD ripper and uploader program that would allow the entire company to use the audio collection,” says the homeowner. “It was like Napster in 1997, but only within Sun. I also looked into MPEG-2 video encoding and decoding – just because it was a fun and interesting thing for me. “
He continues, “CERN uses some of the technology I developed to store and filter the data coming from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Before it opened, I actually went to visit and took an elevator a mile to see the Atlas detector and walk around the catwalks through the LHC. “
Even techies need AV integrators
While most are going to the Nth Degree and building a custom home theater, the homeowner of this 12,000 square foot home wanted something bigger, yet more intimate.
“When there are special events [for example] With the Super Bowl, movies that are still only in theaters, or the Game of Thrones premiere, it would be nice to have a venue where you can have a dozen friends and watch something together, ”he says Homeowner.
The large home theater is located in the large room on the open ground floor with solid glass walls (no shadows), a 25-foot ceiling, and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace.
The great room is surrounded by glass doors and huge windows, which makes projection a challenge. View more photos.
Knowing what he wanted but needed help making it a reality, he called Brandon Smith Audio Design, an integrator in Scotts Valley, California.
“He wanted it to be a big, open space where you could watch TV, sit on the couch, relax, and feel more in a home setting than a theater setting,” says Smith, who was recommended by Heather’s client Harrington, the interior designer involved in the project. “It was a really interesting job because I worked pretty closely with the client – because they are so technical.”
At the center of this over $ 500,000 system is the Digital Projection Insight 4K laser projector (see full equipment list below). This model offers a lamp-free resolution of 4096 x 2160, 4K 3D functions and 12,000 ANSI lumens.
“Wherever the speakers are, you run the calibration that uses the audio input – whether Dolby Atmos or your preferred coding technology – and render it to the speakers once they’re configured. For me, that was a big selling point. ”
– Brandon Smith, Brandon Smith Audio Design
“We looked at different projectors and [the homeowner] I picked this one myself, which is pretty cool, ”says Smith. “He really liked laser technology, and I couldn’t argue with that.”
“It was great to get one of the first units of this,” says the homeowner. “And then figuring out how to distribute the various video feeds and how to connect them to everything – that’s where Brandon’s expertise came in.”
Since shading the massive windows was not an option, the projector had to provide a great viewing experience during the day as well.
“We’re using this number one projector as a light cannon,” says Smith. “The color palette on this projector is amazing.”
The homeowner agreed, “It’s pretty incredible compared to your standard festival light source with DLP chips in front of it. And above all the red and green tones of the lasers – they just pop. The color you get is just very nice, especially at night. “
Of course, a laser projector also meant that the homeowner never had to worry about changing lamps.
“The physics of the situation is that lamp projectors get very, very hot and this affects their lifespan. The last thing I want to do on a system like this is to take care of changing the lamp every couple of years, ”says the homeowner. “The laser had the advantage in terms of brightness, clarity and longevity.”
Big space brings big challenges
The homeowner was an advocate of ensuring that the cabinet for the projector, the enclosure for the screen, and the speakers were in harmony with and within the high standards of the existing architectural elements. While closely involved in all aspects, he owes the success of the final room to the co-design and integration between Brandon Smith Audio Design, Heather Harrington Design, and carpenter Wood Classics.
“Not just how the screen looks compared to the rest of the house architecture, but also how the cabinet is actually designed so that it can accommodate the 4K projector, which is by no means tiny – it’s kind of a giant – that looks like something that belongs in the house, looks lovely, is unobtrusive, and has all of the air handling, confusion, and noise attenuation. So when that thing goes crazy, you can’t really hear it in the room, ”says the homeowner. “The integration of the loudspeakers and the vibration isolation for these subwoofers – all of this was implemented very, very well.”
The case has also been designed so that the speakers can be placed on either side of the fireplace. When not in use, a motorized 114-inch screen innovation is hidden by the stone fireplace. The slate projection screen is hidden behind a housing that complements the wooden arches throughout the house.
Custom cabinets house the speakers on either side of the fireplace. View more photos.
To match the stunning picture, Smith put together a killer sound system for the room, with Dolby Atmos decoding and Genelec ceiling speakers for a truly immersive experience. It even has a Datasat processor usually reserved for large professional venues.
“It works like that wherever the speakers are, you go through the calibration and render the audio input – whether Dolby Atmos or your preferred coding technology – to the configured speakers,” says Smith. “That was a big selling point for me.”
However, there is one part of the sound setup that the homeowner loves the most. “The subwoofers are probably the coolest feature ever. You will literally shake the couch in front of it, ”he says.
As the Insight 4K laser was one of the first 4K laser projectors to hit the market and one of the first to ship, the support of digital projection was critical to the project. Smith names Digital Projection’s concierge service as authoritative because it provided support from start to finish.
“The concierge team worked with us to put us in control and use our feedback to work with engineering to make changes to the projector,” says Smith. “We had some changes and some firmware updates.”
This service also helped provide the team with things like specifications, airflow requirements, and other essentials during the installation process.
Content is king
A high-end AV system deserves the best content, which is why Smith installed a Prima Cinema system. This $ 35,000 player can stream movies from the first series that are still in theaters and range from $ 500 to $ 750 per pop per ad. This level of access to first-time content is usually reserved for cinemas. To ensure piracy is not a problem, purchasing a Prima Cinema requires an application process and a background check.
The Prima Cinema System has two power supplies and two network connections. There is also a fingerprint reader to authorize film purchases, which are then routed through the device rack below.
“If you unscrew the box, it will actually self-destruct,” says Smith. “So yeah, it’s quite a system.”
To accommodate the Prima Cinema system and other new components in the home, Smith also updated all of the home’s network infrastructure, including the multi-room audio system and equipment racks. Everything is integrated into a Control4 remote control to simplify control throughout the house.
It’s about the experience
“I would say going to the theater is a superior experience,” says the homeowner. “I would argue that my furniture is more comfortable than what you find in a theater.”
Of course, there’s always the pause button that you can’t get in the theater.
“The sound is just as good, if not better, the projection is just as good, if not better. And when you see a movie there, it’s a really great experience, especially at night when the brightness and clarity of the projector really comes through and shows its stuff, so to speak. “
- Control4 HC-800 controller
- Datasat RS20i digital audio processor
- Digital Projection Insight 4K laser projector
- Active in-wall speakers from Genelec AIW26 (4)
- Active on-wall speakers Genelec AOW312B (2)
- Genelec HT208 Active Loudspeakers (2)
- Genelec HTS6 subwoofer
- Kaleidescape Strato Movie Server
- Panamax M4320-PRO Power Conditioner
- Panamax MB1500 battery backup
- First cinema player
- Screen innovations 114-inch slate projection screen
- TiVo Bolt 4K DVR cable box
Take a look at the large home theater here.