When you enter the lobby of this opulent, $1.5-million home theater, a motion sensor detects your presence and plays Hooray for Hollywood. When it’s Showtime in the regal red theater, the chandelier dims and ascends as two sets of drapes rise and part, and the home theater gear revs up for the show.
That’s just the warm-up, for the real stars here are the reference-level Meridian 4K projector that beams super high-res images onto a 16-foot-wide screen, and the 11,000-watt McIntosh home theater system, with behemoth speakers that hide behind the First Impressions Theme Theatres decor but make their presence known via hundreds of speaker drivers.
The Meridian 810 Series projector uses JVC’s 3-chip D-ILA technology to cast a stunning 4096-by-2400-pixel image onto a Screen Research display. (See sidebar.) You can sit close and still not see any pixilation, says Eduardo Orozco of custom electronics installation firm ISI Automation International in San Antonio, Texas.
The McIntosh Reference Home Theater System was chosen for the company’s lasting quality and design. The seven-speaker array consists of XRT2K front left and right tower speakers that each sport 40 tweeters, 64 midranges and six woofers, plus the XCS2K center channel and XRT1K surround speakers. Each speaker in the system has its own McIntosh amplifier, with the fronts each taking 2,000 watts of power and the four surrounds, positioned in the side and back, using 1,200 watts each.
The speakers are concealed behind fabric walls on either side of the screen, the center below, and the surrounds on the sides and in the back on either side of the entrance. Together, the speakers contain 23 woofers, and are backed by two Thiel SS2 subwoofers.
Also in the back are the equipment racks for the impressive McIntosh MX150 home theater processor, McIntosh Blu-ray player, a turntable that can use solidstate or vacuum tube-style amplifiers and some of the home theater amplifiers.
Professional grade XLR cables were used too avoid any signal interference from the McIntosh amplifiers to the McIntosh MX150 surround-sound processor. With a system as powerful as this, considerable care also had to be taken to ensure proper acoustics and soundproofing, as a mother-in-law’s room is right next door.
The 34-by-27-foot theater is built on the second floor of an addition above a patio, and features a floating wall, floor and ceiling construction that consists of a wall within a wall, with the space between filled with cotton insulation. The floating wall construction prevents sound and unnecessary vibrations from the powerful system from bleeding into other spaces, explains Jeffrey Smith, president and CEO of First Impressions Theme Theatres in North Miami, Fla., which designed the theater and served as the project manager.
First Impressions took the homeowner’s request for an elaborate theater and created the regal space trimmed with solid mahogany and antique muted gold leaf, as well as backlit onyx around columns and caps of handrails. The coffered paneling on the ceiling is lit with LEDs, and First Impressions’ own CinePalais Loungers were embroidered with fringe. Marble flooring lines the box office, lobby, grand marquee promenade entrance, inner lobby and outer lobby.
The entire theater was constructed in First Impressions’ Florida facility before being shipped to Texas and installed, using an exterior lift so the hundreds of panels making up the theater did not have to be carried through the house. Similarly, the audio/video system was assembled at ISI’s nearby facility and many of the connections and settings preconfigured.
Once installed in the home’s real theater, ISI tweaked the sound via microphones and McIntosh’s software to create sweet-spot presets depending on whether a person is sitting in the front or back rows, and to the owner’s preferences.
A Crestron home control system operates the audio/ video, lighting, HVAC and humidity controls. The Crestron automation and programming was by Audio One in North Miami Beach, Fla.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates