October 23, 2009
| by Arlen Schweiger
As we grow older, we tend to upgrade our cars, our appliances and our homes. And if you’re Morris Saad, you upgrade your home theater. Saad’s years of obsessive audio and video upgrades has led to his dream theater—at least for now. The professional-looking basement includes a 106-inch screen, a 1080p projector, distributed audio, 7.1-channel surround sound, theater chairs and a reclining sofa, a ticket booth and a concession stand.
It looks great. It sounds great. But the real shine of Saad’s theater comes from what he accomplished behind the scenes in the planning and design. Saad, 33, says he put much more sweat equity into this project than he did in any of his previous audio/video efforts. He had greater consideration for the room’s acoustics, and he worked around particular layout problems to create a true cinema-like atmosphere.
Saad’s electronics upgrades over the years have included beefier speakers and A/V receiver replacements, as well as a 100-inch Stewart Filmscreen screen and Optoma projector. That came when he moved from his first condo to another, but in Saad’s mind it paled to what he could accomplish with a blank canvas.
“My friends thought I was crazy, and used to call me the upgrade king,” he says. “Everyone thought [the first projection setup] was fantastic, but to me it was a regular room, so basic.”
While living in that condo, Saad’s new home was being built, and he made sure to leave the basement blank. Then he enlisted a childhood buddy, Andrew Cammaert, who owns a home addition/renovation business, Focal Point Home Improvements, to help with the planning and construction.
Along with the dedicated theater room, the basement space would include a bar and game room, as well as a lobby area that leads people into the theater. The theater itself measures about 20 by 14.5 feet, with a ceiling of nearly 8 feet.
But Saad wanted to ensure that high volumes of sound would be contained within the theater. Without letting his budget spiral too far out of hand, Saad and Cammaert relied on a combination of methods to tag-team the acoustical treatment:
- The walls and floors were decoupled from the rest of the house, with everything fastened by screws instead of nails, helping to reduce vibrations and leakage.
- 22 bags of Safe’n’Sound insulation were used, doubling the amount in the walls and ceiling.
- Insulation was sprayed around all of the door frames and electrical outlets for a tighter seal.
- Safe’n’Sound doors and weatherstripping were incorporated to contain sound.
- Heating ducts were insulated to prevent sound from traveling in and out of the room.
- A half-inch-thick underpad was installed below the carpet for better absorption.
- 15 bags of play sand were poured in the front stage to dampen the audio and reduce vibration from the front-channel speakers.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.