April 12, 2013
by Lisa Montgomery
Editor’s Note: This profile of one of our Home of the Year winners originally ran in May of 2012. We’re highlighting past winners in anticipation of the May 2013 release of the new Home of the Year winners. You’ll want to check back in May, because the new winners are awesome.
The goal of this built-from-scratch theater was to create something visually unique, while fitting into the rest of the 12,000-square-foot house. “We wanted it to really stand out, but not so much that it didn’t feel like it belonged,” explains Jeremy Arding of Definitive Sound in Mississauga, Ont. His team of custom electronics pros accomplished this by crafting huge, sweeping arches similar to the ironwork that had been incorporated onto the exterior of the home’s garage doors. A black-and-silver color scheme, meanwhile, mirrored the clean, modern aesthetic of the home’s overall design.
But this 26-by-20-foot space is more than just a pretty face. It’s a carefully constructed and calibrated room comprised of special materials and top-notch equipment that allow it to function beautifully as both a commercial-grade home theater and a lecture hall for the owners’ business presentations.
Positioned behind the fabric and brushed stainless steel walls are clips and materials that allow the room to “float.” Explains Arding: “None of the walls or the ceiling or floor touches the walls, ceiling or floors of adjacent rooms.” This construction technique isolates the room acoustically so that no sound from it escapes into other areas. The owners can crank their 9.2-channel B&W surround-sound speakers as loudly as they want without disturbing activities that may be taking place elsewhere in the house. Black fabric wall panels ensure that the isolated audio comes through pure and pristine—that movie dialogue is clear, effects are realistic and everyone, no matter where they are seated, hears the soundtrack as the movie director meant it to be heard.
As is the case with most theater designs, the more ornate the room is, the more difficult it can be for the surround-sound system to stay true to its roots. Definitive Sound tackled this issue by having each of the 55 fabric acoustical wall panels individually designed and cut by the manufacturer, Kinetics Noise Control. “We sent Kinetics our calculations, and they customized each panel to spec,” says Arding. Each of the nine B&W speakers and two subwoofers were tucked behind the paneling, which incorporates fabric designed to allow the sound to pass through cleanly into the room. The speakers and subs are driven by Rotel processors and amplifiers, which are stowed, along with a Samsung Blu-ray Disc player, high-def cable box and APC surge protector, in a Middle Atlantic equipment rack in a mechanical room. With the speakers and gear hidden, the only noticeable technology in the theater is the 165-inch CinemaScope screen from Stewart Filmscreen and the gun-metal gray Lumis three-chip DLP video projector from Sim2. The screen and projector are optimized for movie viewing, but function equally well for PowerPoint presentations. The owner simply touches the presentation icon displayed on the screen of his portable Crestron touchpanel to adjust the lens of the projector, brighten the LED light fixtures and disable the surround-sound system. “Audio for presentations sounds better when it comes through all speakers as one channel, without surround-sound effects,” says Arding. When the meeting is over, the owner can shift the space back to its original movie setting with a single touch on the Crestron controller.
Looking for more home theaters from fellow audiophiles? Check some of these out:
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.