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