June 25, 2012
| by Lisa Montgomery
One of the biggest and most challenging upgrades to the room was the addition of a fiber-optic star ceiling. The couple purchased a kit for $2,500 from Fiber Optic Systems Inc. (FOSI), and spent more than 200 hours putting the ceiling together. This involved drilling 989 tiny holes into MDF board and running strands of fiber-optic cabling from an illuminator box to each opening. Each fiber would appear as a single star comprising the Milky Way, constellations, shooting stars and a comet within the northern sky. After each fiber was in place, the holes were caulked and the paneling was mounted to the ceiling. “It was by far the most labor intensive task of the whole project, but it’s one of our favorite parts of the room,” says Hollingsworth.
It was also good practice for the DIYers’ next job—insetting acoustical paneling into the walls. Rather than buy pricey prefabricated panels, the couple purchased Owens Corning OC703 compressed fiberglass for $700 from Home Depot and wrapped them in fabric themselves. In all, they covered 26 panels of various sizes with material purchased from a local fabric store for around $350. Hollingsworth figures he saved thousands of dollars by building the wall panels and star ceiling himself.
Of course, no theater is worth a nickel if you can’t control it. Hollingsworth purchased a URC 980 remote and hired a pro to program it so that one command could set the lights (controlled by a Lutron Grafik Eye system) and A/V gear for a movie. He also added a small TV to the equipment room for scheduling programs to record to the DVR and for adjusting the preamplifier settings. “It’s a lot quicker and simpler to view DVR and preamp menus on the little TV than to have to turn on the projector to do so,” explains Hollingsworth.
Although the room is complete, Hollingsworth is far from calling it quits. This winter he replaced two of four B&K amplifiers with three MC601 monoblock amplifiers from McIntosh, which drive the front three speakers.A McIntosh MC452 handles the surround speakers, which were also recently upgraded to models from Aerial Acoustics, including the 20T V2, CC5, SR3 and SW12. “What a difference these new speakers and amps have made,” Hollingsworth says. “They have taken my home theater to another level, which has been my goal from the start.” There will likely be other new levels of performance incorporated into the theater as time goes on. Hollingsworth’s dream has evolved into a full-fledged hobby.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.