May 03, 2010
by Arlen Schweiger
Instead of drowning their sorrows in the wake of a flooded basement, these homeowners made it a reason to initiate a full remodel. It just so happened that the project’s cleanup and renovation was a function of the firm, 1 Sound Choice, whose main gig is home theater design.
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With Dad as an electronics buff, not much arm-twisting was needed to stretch talk of water and mold removal into CinemaScope movies and surround sound. The only catch, according to 1 Sound Choice’s Ryan Herd, was that the homeowners requested a finished room in time for their daughter’s birthday party less than two months away.
“They had a little entertainment system in the family room, but the owner always wanted a theater,” says Herd. “We ended up gutting that room. They’d already ripped out the carpets after they had flooding, but water also got into the Sheetrock. Doing a theater is such a radical change, it was just easier and quicker to gut it, and then make everything look nice, symmetrical and organized.”
The custom electronics pros started by taking apart the bottom four feet of Sheetrock to alleviate the mold and mildew, changing electrical outlets to accommodate the theater gear, and insulating the walls and drop ceiling. Then 1 Sound Choice brought in materials such as acoustic panels, fiber-optic ceiling panels, molding to trim the ceiling and acoustic panels, and columns that would conceal the in-wall speakers and subwoofers.
Herd worked closely with key manufacturers Runco, Stewart Filmscreen and Triad to ensure that the projector, screen and speakers would be ready for installation as the construction progressed. The homeowners didn’t know about goodies such as a curved 2.35:1 aspect ratio screen for CinemaScope-type movie viewing, but flipped over it after seeing demos. “It’s one thing to do great sound immersion, but to put a huge cinematic screen in there really sucks you into the movie,” Herd says.
The 132-inch screen also manages to hide the three front-channel speakers behind its acoustically transparent material. Two more pairs of speakers are concealed in columns on the side walls, while three rear surround speakers are in the back wall. Four subwoofers smoothly and loudly reproduce bass frequencies: Two are below the screen and two are in the rear columns.
One request, given that the homeowners wanted the room for social entertainment, was a small dance floor. So the seating plan was tweaked to leave room in the front for a removable 10-by-10-foot dance floor, and nearby electrical outlets were installed to plug in temporary disco lights.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.