October 26, 2007
| by Steven Castle
The Andrews family has it made: They moved from Nashville to the Tennessee countryside a few years ago to run a hobby farm with crops and horses. Parents Lep and Tami and their three teenagers can breathe in the fresh air and go for horseback rides. The kids even put all computers, TVs and iPods aside for a day each week to enjoy the outdoors. They’ve simplified their lives.
But Lep and Tami also wanted a place where their three teens could entertain friends for weekend visits, as well as place where they could all gather at times. They had a basement room with a rear-projection TV, but as the homeowners admit, the space wasn’t very inviting.
The Andrews decided to install a home theater with comfortable seating and make the room feel cozy and warm. Enter Jim Anderson and his crew at Allied Home Technologies of Nashville. The Andrews thought they’d put a big screen near a fireplace, but there wasn’t enough room. Allied thought to use an opposite wall and build custom cabinetry (a service the company also provides). Moving the theater area to other side of the L-shaped space also allowed room for a pool table.
The Andrews’ budget was $30,000 for the equipment and $50,000 for the complete job—including cabinetry and millwork, acoustical treatments, electrical and the theater chairs—and Anderson used the money wisely. “They wanted middle- to upper-middle [performance], but they didn’t want to go crazy,” Anderson says. “Lep was aware there was a price curve in this and a sweet spot right before prices got steep for not very much improvement, so we went with pieces like the Denon [AVR-3806] receiver and the Sim2 [D35 720p single-chip DLP projector] that were a good value.
“Even though it’s a dedicated theater, they didn’t want to see the equipment,” says Anderson. So they chose a 119-inch fixed Draper screen perforated with tiny holes that allow three Polk tower speakers to be hidden behind it and sound through the screen. Four Polk surround speakers are mounted on the sides and in the back wall to complete the 7.1 system. And two custom-made 12-inch subwoofers, also crafted by Allied, fire from behind the grilles beneath the screen. Each subwoofer contains its own 500-watt amplifier. “We found that we could provide a better value than prebought subwoofers, and we can custom build them to size and even make them look like coffee tables and end tables,” Anderson says. The equipment rack is located behind doors to the right of the screen.
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