Editor’s Note: This profile of one of our Home of the Year winners originally ran in May of 2012. We’re highlighting past winners in anticipation of the May 2013 release of the new Home of the Year winners. You’ll want to check back in May, because the new winners are awesome.
Sometimes you see a home theater room like this and think, “Wow, it’s very elegant. But did design trump the audio/video performance?” It often does- but not here. “This is the best performing theater we’ve done,” says custom electronics (CE) pro Chad Lofgren of Hi-Tech Home in Clovis, Calif. That performance comes courtesy of James Loudspeaker, a Denon A/V processor and Sunfire subwoofers, among other electronic gear.
The homeowners decided to convert a second-floor kids’ playroom into a space for the whole family, and they wanted to be as cutting-edge as possible, says Lofgren. “Audio was a big deal for him, so we chose James Loudspeakers.” The audiophile-grade speakers include S103 three-way towers and a S83C center-channel in front, along with two Sunfire Solitaire 12-inch subwoofers. They’re built into the columns and woodwork beneath the 110-inch Stewart Filmscreen display. Four James 62CS full-range in-ceiling speakers are mounted in the angled side trim above the columns.
“When you crank it up, everything is clear and distortion levels are low. You don’t lose dialogue even at high levels,” says Lofgren of the James speakers. Denon’s AVR-4311CI surround-sound receiver helps as well. It’s equipped with Audyssey’s MultEQ technology that allows fine-tuning of the audio via a microphone that’s moved around the room. (See sidebar.) In-wall acoustical treatments and the room’s soft furnishings also tame any unwanted sound reverberations.
Design was also a big factor in the room. The Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 9700UB 1080p projector is discreetly hidden in a soffit in the back of the room, and shines through an opening with a very high-tech-looking grommet. The soffit is vented into an adjoining space.
Available video sources include a DirecTV HD DVR, a single-disc LG Blu-ray player, and a 400- disc Sony Blu-ray changer that integrates with the Control4 platform to allow the owners to easily scroll through cover art with the on-screen interface and select any movie from their library. Another handy feature is a quick-connect A/V hookup wired to a drawer beneath the stage, allowing the kids to bring in their Xbox 360 and play on the system without having to commit the gaming system permanently to the rack in a nearby closet.
The Control4 automation system allows access to any component via the on-screen interface, and the system also controls the lights and the curtains in the room. Motorized drapes open and close in front of the big screen at the start of a movie and at the end—providing a nice touch to a theater room that combines elegant design and great performance.
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Review of Sony’s Control4 Home Theater Receiver
Home Theater Design that Really Rocks
Blending Sophisticated Tech in a Sophisticated Apartment
Review of Epson’s 5020UBE Projector
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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