May 26, 2009
by Arlen Schweiger
A dual-viewing setup provides the best of both worlds: traditional high-def viewing on a flat-panel TV and special movie-time viewing on a large projection screen. But that can crowd a high-traffic family room, right? Not in this sleek space designed for Andrew and Diane Kahn’s San Francisco area home, where the A/V is plentiful and minimalist at the same time.
“We had some pretty stringent guidelines from Diane,” says Jeff Symonds of systems installation company Rolling Thunder Group in San Rafael, Calif. “She didn’t want the [four] kids to watch TV too much, and she also had a real vision of what she wanted the room to look like. She wanted it very Cape Cod-–like and had to have it super clean—she didn’t want to see any of our stuff.” Andrew, on the other hand, wanted big sound and a bigger screen. Symonds found ways to make everyone happy, and he acted fast because Andrew contacted him the day before drywall was to go up in the renovated space.
Symonds started by creating one long soffit in the front and removing two recessed nooks. The soffit offered more visual appeal and serves as a housing for the 110-inch drop-down Da-Lite screen. The face above the fireplace was extended to the left and right to provide enough width for a screen that covers it flush upon descending. A Runco projector is cleverly stowed in the ceiling and lowers by an Inca motorized lift. A 50-inch Runco plasma display stays concealed in custom-built cabinetry to the right of the fireplace, so despite the multiple viewing options, the kids’ TV habits can be constrained.
The electronics, including a controller for the SpeakerCraft distributed audio system, three iPod docks, amplifiers, Blu-ray player and more, are also stored in the cabinet and naturally ventilated so heat exhausts through the soffit.
The cathedral ceiling created an audio challenge that Symonds resolved with a 7.2-channel surround system that actually includes eight speakers and two subwoofers, all of the in-ceiling variety from SpeakerCraft to maintain the hidden theme. “We used two speakers for the center channel, so we could aim them a certain way to get dialogue right and to look symmetrical because that was such an important view of the room,” says Symonds. “The fronts and intermediates are at the full width of the room to create a wider sound stage, and because they’re aimable speakers, we were able to tweak them and really nail the sound.”
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.