Old Media Room Gets Overhaul with New Owner
An existing media room is taken to the next level with an overhaul.
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photos by Jeff Jenkins
April 25, 2013 by Grant Clauser

It might seem that moving into a house that has an existing media room would save you a lot of hassle when it comes to setting your own home theater system up. You’d be wrong. Why? Because a home theater is not just a bunch of electronics tied together with wires (it’s easy to forget that sometimes). It’s an integrated system, and by integrated, I don’t mean only by the wires and control applications that make it work. I mean it’s integrated into the house and the user’s lifestyle. A home theater is a personal thing, so you always need to start from scratch.

Which is exactly what Jeff Jenkins, owner of FX Pros in Little Rock, AR, did when he was called to do a theater space for the owner of this room.

“The previous owner had the media room facing the short wall opposite the bar area,” says Jenkins. That makes sense if you want to sit on a bar stool and watch the screen, but in this room it also wasted a lot of space. The new owner wanted more seating for the theater, so Jenkins suggested reorienting the room. One downside of that is that none of the existing wiring could be used. “We pulled it all out,” says Jenkins. Going with new wiring is usually a safe bet anyway, because you can never be sure what’s behind the walls unless you do it yourself.

While reorienting the room allowed for more seats and a better use of the space, it also presented some access problems at the screen wall. Jenkins built out the wall for the screen and speakers and did a lot of custom trim work to make it a showpiece. There he installed a 120-inch Dragonfly screen and the front in-wall speakers. Next to the screen he also built in a gear rack to make access to everything easy.

Speaking of gear, the homeowner came to Jenkins with some pretty clear ideas of what he wanted. He had done a lot of reading, and had his heart set on an Epson 6020UB 3LCD projector (read our review of the Epson 5020UBE projector here). The projector’s split screen feature, which would let him watch two sports programs at once, as well as the unit’s touted 3D capabilities, are what sold him. He also wanted audio that moved him. “I want to feel it,” he told Jenkins. While freestanding tower speakers were initially on the homeowner’s wish list, it was decided that they’d look awkward in the room, so Jenkins suggested Episode’s HT950s for the main stereo pair with an HT900 for the center. Also installed up front are two Episode 8-inch in-wall passive subwoofers. For the rear and surround speakers, Jenkins put Episode HT700s in the ceiling. He says this system give the room a great soundstage and a response range of 30hz up to 40khz.  For the added “feel” the client requested, “we added a reinforcement subwoofer in a custom cut-in cabinet in an adjacent wall.”

Because this space is used for more than just dedicated movies an area at the back was given a small table and its own flat panel TV fed from the zone 2 output of the room’s Denon AVR3313 receiver.

Check out the slideshow for more views of this media room.

The room came with a vaulted ceiling in the main area, so to set it off, Jenkins built a crown surround around it, and installed a dimmable LED system. Those lights, along with the front sconces, ceiling lights and bar area lights are all integrated into the control system. When the users put the room in Movie mode, all the lights are dimmed. A Sports viewing mode keeps some of the lights moderately lit so viewers can comfortably have conversations about the game and get up for snacks without tripping.

The whole room is controlled with a ProControl remote system and the ProPanel iPad interface. The remote is mostly keep in the seats, but an iPad mini was mounted on the front wall for quick access. Underneath the mounted iPad Jenkins built a small charging station. A USB hub there allows charging of the remote and the projector’s 3D glasses.

Content for the theater comes from an Apple TV, a Blu-ray player and a DirecTV Genie DVR, which is also distributed to other rooms in the house. A Russound system provides music to the house, but not the theater room.

Although the room is perfectly functional, and the homeowners use it frequently, it’s not quite done. Risers are being added to the rear row of seats to improve the view. Other projects in the house are also ongoing, such as an outdoor entertainment area which will include A/V.

Check out the slideshow for more views of this media room.

Design and Installation by
FX Pros
Jeff Jenkins, Little Rock AR
(501) 831-2257
http://www.thefxpros.com


See also:
URC Total Control Now Works with Sonos
Is IP Replacing IR Control?
Why You Want a Whole-house Audio System
Extreme Media Room Overhaul

 

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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