DIYer Ends Tweaks to Ultimate Theater
Say it ain't so! After 10+ years of equipment changes, Steve Bruzonsky has put an end to his home theater tweaks.
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Steve Bruzonsky built an addition on his home, and spent years tweaking his ultimate theater idea. (Cadillac Records © 2008 Headhunters. All Rights Reserved.)
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April 27, 2009 by Rachel Cericola

Boldly go where no man has gone before? While some might consider building a Star Trek-themed theater, Steve Bruzonsky decided to take a different approach. Like many do-it-yourselfers out there, Steve’s goal was to “get the very best surround movies and music possible for the buck, with a great picture to go with it.” However, that took an awful lot of tweaking.

It all started in mid-1996, when Steve’s wife Karen suggested that he build a home theater room, so he could get all his theater gear and wires out of “her” basement. Most A/V enthusiasts would jump at that opening, and Steve was no different. Of course, she was joking. Steve, on the other hand, was not. The idea was born; now he just needed to figure out where and how to make it all happen.

Since this was before the days of instant Internet gratification, Steve spent a lot of time doing research, mainly focusing on the writings of Russ Herschelman and Peter Moncrief in Widescreen Review, as well as the Master Handbook of Acoustics by F. Alton Everest. When it came to acoustical treatments, Steve went to Michael Green, who he had seen interviewed discussing his unique method, which included discussing his unique acoustical treatments including PZCs (Pressure Zone Controllers).

When Steve and Karen moved into their new home in Gilbert, AZ in 1991, Steve eyed the basement for a real home theater. He started purchasing some basic home theater gear from local high-end retailer, Gary Hjerpe at Esoteric Audio. Within a few years, he moved into audiophile territory, with purchases of five Spica TC-60 monitors, two Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofers, a Theta Generation VA DAC, Parasound’s HCA-1206 multi-channel amplifier, and a Pioneer Laserdisc player.

Around mid-1996, Hjerpe recommended architectural draftsman Bruce Bender. At the time, Bender was a member of the Arizona Audiophile Society, which is now known as the AZ Audio Video Club (Steve had been a member since 1999). Steve got a lot of input from Bender, as well as the guys at Ririe Construction.

When it came down to it, Steve’s perfect room was going to need a perfect spot. An addition was added to his house, just east of the master bedroom. However, he doesn’t keep Karen up or annoyed. To keep the peace in the rest of his home, Steve has a hallway and bathroom separate the theater from the rest of the house. To handle vibration, the room’s cement foundation also has seams between the theater and the hallway/bathroom, and also between the hallway/bathroom and the master bedroom. There are also two sets of double masonite doors with wood and rubber seals between theater/hallway and hallway/master bedroom.

Another addition was double 2-by-4-inch stud walls, which also include 1-inch air space in between at hallway/master bedroom, as well as 2-by-6-inch exterior walls. At the rear of the home theater, flat black cabinets with a wet bar in the middle are 20 inches deep, with a 2-by-6 inch stud wall in back of the cabinets. A few finishing touches include blown-in cellulose insulation, USG Acoustical Sealant, sound and gyp board. The addition even has its own separate and self-contained air conditioning system.

Sure, there was a lot of research and resources put into the soundproofing process. However, Steve’s most important piece of the puzzle was getting the perfect size for his room: 18.25 x 25 x 11.92 feet. “This is number 3 on the Louden scale of best acoustical audio dimensions, to lessen the room node interaction at low bass frequencies as much as possible,” he says. “This is why you want to build a brand new theater room if you can.”

Getting the perfect room setup was also why Steve wanted to call in a few pros to help with the build. Ririe didn’t just supply advice and line up the subcontractors; they did a great deal of the build work, right down to owner Troy Smith and employee John Nielsen coming in to do the framing. “This was to ensure that the add-on structure fit perfectly onto my home,” Steve says. “You can’t tell that it’s an addition at all.”

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.

Equipment List

Audio
Aerial Acoustics 9 Speakers (4)
Aerial Acoustics CC5 Center Speaker
Aerial Acoustics SW12 Powered Subwoofers (3)
Integra DTC-9.8 Surround Preamp/Processor
Theta Casablanca (CB) 3 Surround Processor
Theta Enterprise Monoblock Amplifiers (5)
Theta Compli CD/SACD/DVD-A/DVD Player
Theta Six Shooter Multi-Channel Preamp
Velodyne SMS-1 Digital Subwoofer Equalizer

Video
ISCO III Anamorphic Lens and TechHT Cineslide
DirecTV PLUS HR20-700 HD DVRs (2)
Integra DHS-8.8 HD DVD Player
JVC HMD-H5U D-VHS VCR
Lumagen Radiance XE Video Processor/Scaler
Oppo DV-980H DVD Player
Panasonic DMP-BD35 Blu-ray Player
Sharp 15-inch LCD Color TV (for Theta CB3)
Sharp LC-32GP1U 32-inch 1080p LCD
SIM2 C3X 1080 3-chip DLP Projector
Stewart Filmscreen 128-inch 2:35 Cine-V Curved Screen

Acoustical Treatments
Michael Green Acoustical Crown Molding (5-inch)
Michael Green Pressure Zone Controllers: Mini Corner Controllers (4), 36-inch Wall Mount Controllers (8), Mini Echo Controllers (6)

Power Accessories
APC S15 Power Conditioner 1.5kVA S
Audioprism Quietline AC Filters and Noise Sniffer
Granite Audio Model 560 and 555 Power Cords
Innovative Technology PTE0481S101 Whole-House Surge Suppression
Innovative Technology PTE160 Whole-House Surge Suppression
PS Audio Premier Power Plant
PS Audio Quintet
PS Audio Soloist In-Wall Power Conditioner

Other
Billy Bags Amplifier Stands (4)
Boltz Multimedia Racks
Cardas Audio AES/EBU 2M Digital Audio Cable
Cardas Audio Caps
Channel Master Rotor (for outdoor OTA Antenna)
Classic Lifestyles Leather Recliners (6)
DVI Gear Super High Resolution HDMI Cables
Granite Audio Model 573 8-gauge Speaker Cables
Granite Audio Model 420 Coaxial Digital Audio Cables
Granite Audio Model 470 Silver Single-Ended Analog Audio Interconnects
Granite Audio Model 470 Silver AES/EBU Analog Audio Interconnects
Lutron Grafik Eye 3000 Lighting Control
Michael Green Cable Grounds
Michael Green Deep Clampracks (3)
Michael Green Deluxe Justarack Tuning Boards (5)
Symposium Acoustics Platforms, Ultra and Svelte
Symposium Acoustics Rollerblocks Series 2
Universal Remote Control MX-3000 Touchscreen
Universal Remote Control MSC-400
Wireworld Supernova 3+ Glass Toslink Audio Cables


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