May 08, 2009
by Lisa Montgomery
The owners of this renovated basement had lived in their historic home nearly a year before deciding to add a theater. Although the dirt-floor basement suffered from a short ceiling, it was the only available spot for a dedicated entertainment room.
After having the 280-square-foot space excavated to raise the ceiling to a more-than-comfortable 10-foot height, the designers and installers at Definitive Sound in Mississauga, Ontario, converged to work their A/V magic. The homeowners had just one very important request: Make the room perform like a high-quality theater, but have it look like a natural extension of the house. It was a challenge that would test the ingenuity of Definitive Sound’s most seasoned installers.
Nothing screams “home theater” more than a video projector, says Jeremy Arding, company co-founder. “They’re big, noisy and they can get hot. They can be a huge distraction.” Thankfully, a wall at the back of the room had just enough space behind it to hide the projector. Soundproofing materials that had been installed into the wall cavity earlier would muffle the hum, and a ventilation system would expel warm air to prevent the machine from overheating.
The audio/video components, meanwhile, were stationed inside a built-in equipment rack in a hallway leading to the theater, and each of the six Snell speakers and a Snell subwoofer was mounted behind acoustic paneling on the walls.
The seating carries through the clandestine concept. On the outside, they look like ordinary family room furniture. But pull out a hidden snack tray and they make the perfect resting place for a bowl of popcorn and a can of soda. A console wedged between the two center seats houses jacks for the family’s gaming consoles and laptop computer.
Even the portable Crestron touchpanel that operates the entire A/V setup mimics the rest of the house, having been programmed with the same type of commands as the touchpanel the family uses in the upstairs media room. Both grant the family access to the same suite of components, including a Kaleidescape movie and music server and multiple cable boxes with digital video recorders.
“Initially, the lady of the house was not 100 percent on board with the project,” admits Arding. “But once she experienced how simple it was to operate, she started hosting weekly movie get-togethers with her friends.”
The only element that gives away this room’s identity is a 115-inch Screen Research screen. “We felt it was only proper to keep something visible,” says Arding. “Without it, the purpose of the room would be lost.”
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.