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 gear revs up for the show in this classic Beaux-Arts style theater.
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 184-inch 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. 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 solid-state or vacuum tube-style amplifiers and some of the home theater amplifiers.
The 34-by-27-foot theater is built on the second floor of an addition above a patio, and features 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.
(View images of this impressive themed theater here)
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.
The Route to 4K
Meridian’s 4K video projector produces such a large and detailed picture that custom electronics (CE) pro Eduardo Orozco of ISI Automation International didn’t want to use an acoustically transparent screen that allows speakers to fire from behind and through tiny microperforations. Instead, a nontransparent 184-inch Screen Research display was utilized. Images are upscaled with Meridian’s 810 processor and sent to the $236,000 projector via four DVI cables, each transporting 1080p. At the processor, the four video inputs are combined to produce the 10-megapixel, 4096 x 2400 images.
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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