BACKYARD THEATERS aren’t difficult to pull off. Portable projectors and wireless speakers are affordable and can be easily positioned on patios and decks. And while these products have introduced many to the splendor of outdoor movie viewing, their piecemeal nature can’t come close to creating the crisp, vivid experience of an indoor theater.
There are exceptions, though. During a major renovation of their backyard, which would include new landscaping and the addition of a swimming pool, the owners of this 15,000-square-foot house in Pine Brook, N.J., hired custom electronics (CE) professional Balji Minhas and his crew at High-Def Zone in Lehigh Valley, Pa., to install an outdoor high-performance home theater system. Their request wasn’t unusual, says Minhas, who’s seen an upswing in requests for outdoor entertainment systems, but the fact that an outdoor area would be the setting for the family’s biggest, most elaborate A/V setup certainly qualified as unordinary.
Not only that, but this outdoor setup would serve as the system on which the owner would screen movies for his production business. Consequently, “he expected nothing less than a reference-grade experience,” Minhas says.
Replicating the performance of a professional screening room outdoors is tough to do, given finicky outdoor conditions like lighting, acoustics and weather. But with the right products installed in the right way, High-Def Zone proved that it is possible to have high-grade outdoor A/V.
A 14-foot-wide screen from Vutec ensures that everyone — no matter where they hang out in the huge backyard — can see the action. An ultra-bright (6,000-ANSI lumen), ISF (Imaging Science Foundation)-calibrated projector from DPI was positioned behind the screen in an attic space, which was added to a portion of the house to protect it from the elements and hide it from view.
Audio coverage was a concern as well. The family wanted their movies to sound loud and clear for both those on the patio and in the swimming pool. Bay Audio’s HTM1 Horn Loaded Speakers were selected for the front channels for their ability to play “loudly and without distortion,” says Minhas. Rather than aiming them at a neighbor’s yard, they’re angled downward from the eave of the house. Six Madison Fielding speakers, which double as planters, were strategically positioned throughout the yard to preclude audio “dead spots” and serve as surrounds. Of course, no movie is worth listening to unless you can hear and feel the bass, so three Bay Audio Home-Base subwoofers were strategically planted in the yard. The speakers and subs are driven by an ADA PTM-6150 amplifier and Bay Audio Power Pack amps, respectively, which push out 2,500 watts of calibrated power: “Plenty for a big, outdoor area like this,” says Minhas.
Check out the slideshow for more photos of this amazing backyard.
Photography by Allison Michelle Richman
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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.