November 23, 2011
| by Lisa Montgomery
Football jerseys, posters and other memorabilia are a popular way to pay tribute to your favorite university. The owners of this 400-square-foot home cinema took another route, skipping the knickknacks in lieu of acoustical treatments designed in Texas Tech’s signature reds and blacks. In addition to the visual punch they provide to the space, the treatments allow the Vienna Acoustics Klimt speakers to perform to their full potential. Finally, the custom-designed and -engineered treatments sequester the sound to the room. Nothing leaks out, which ensures that nothing is lost in the reproduction of the audio.
Reaching this point of acoustical nirvana required plenty of calculations, CAD drawings and calibration, says Mike Brock of custom electronics design and installation firm UltraMedia, Richardson, Texas. His company worked directly with the manufacturer—Auralex—to make sure every inch of wall surface, both inside and out, was covered with the perfect type and amount of acoustical material. “We sent the room dimensions and the planned locations of the video projector, speakers and other equipment to the engineers at Auralex,” Brock explains. Using this information, the company was able to specify products and determine their proper placement. “This was the first time where I actually had the manufacturer come down and take an active role in the project and it really worked to everyone’s advantage,” Brock continues.
Auralex’s help with the design of the acoustical treatments afforded Brock the time to implement other sound-enhancing solutions. For example, he filled the hollow metal legs of the bar with sand to prevent them from resonating during loud passages in movie soundtracks. A thick, heavily padded carpet was added, and the general contractor constructed the shell of the room with sound-reducing drywall and installed a solid core door to prevent audio from seeping out into other areas of the house.
Lastly, the sound system was calibrated. Unlike many acoustically treated theaters, where the speakers are installed within the walls and covered with special fabric, in this room UltraMedia kept the nine Vienna Acoustic speakers completely exposed. The front three Vienna Acoustics Klimt Music speakers (as well as two REL sub bass units) were positioned on the floor, and the back six speakers were mounted to the surface of the walls. “The cherry in this theater are the Klimts,” says Brock. “We really dialed them in for the best possible sound.” By “dialing in,” Brock means using his and his team’s critical listening skills to position the speakers properly, then using the Integra receiver’s built-in Audyssey technology (a combination of sophisticated software and microphones) to calibrate the speakers to compensate for any acoustical anomalies. The end result: audio perfection.
Check out the slideshow for more pictures.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.