May 03, 2010
by Steven Castle
Check out this sprawling space, and tell us you don’t want to flop down on those nice couches and chairs and watch a movie or ball game. Want to be closer? Just amble down to the more formal home theater area where you can fire up some video game controllers for some real big-screen fun.
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The custom-designed rear-projection system uses a three-chip Runco VX2Cx DLP projector and Stewart Filmscreen rear-projection display to provide a whopping 138 inches of high-def video. That makes it big enough to be enjoyed by anyone playing pool way in the back of the space.
This area has it all in audio as well. A rocking JBL Synthesis Two system—complete with powerful speakers, amps, a processor and equalizer—cranks out 160 watts per channel with speakers concealed behind fabric to the sides and below the screen, as well as dipole surround speakers in the columns and in the more casual family room area. Two JBL subwoofers that fire from below the screen make it a powerful and flexible 7.2-channel system.
“The family was looking for a theater, but didn’t want a dedicated theater space,” says Sean Weiner, president of electronics installer Starr Systems Design in Baltimore, Md. “They wanted to be able to watch movies, entertain guests and play games.”
The solution was a hybrid sort of media room, which includes formal home theater seating by the screen, and family-style seating and a billiards area in the back. There’s also a bar off to one side, making the entire space L-shaped. Light comes into the area from walkout doors in the back, so a rear-projection system was used to prevent the picture from washing out. And to make the screen visible from the back of the room, the theater area was dug down a couple of feet.
Despite the comfy, cool feel of this room, Weiner says by far the coolest aspect of the space is the JBL Synthesis Two system. One big plus is that the processor, amps and speakers all come from the same company and are designed to be used together. “And the digital EQ really fine-tunes the sound,” Weiner says, “It allowed us to correct for [acoustical] issues in the room.”
To help tame the sound, Starr Systems added Acoustic Innovations panels to the walls. An Acoustic Sciences Corp. (ASC) system in the ceiling that’s an underlayment between two layers of drywall with a channel above the ceiling prevents vibrations from transmitting to the rooms above.
Making it all work for the homeowners is an AMX control system, with a wireless Modero MVP-8400 8.4-inch color touchscreen to call up the family’s choice of movies, music or other entertainment.
Not all rear-projection systems are the same. To create a 138-inch screen, the Runco DLP projector had to be positioned far enough from the mirror and Stewart screen—only there wasn’t enough room in this narrow space.
Fortunately, says Starr Systems Design’s Weiner, the ceiling was about 12 feet tall, so that’s where the installation company mounted the projector. It fires downward to the mirror, which reflects the image onto the screen. “That was the first time we had to do that in a rear-projection system,” says. Weiner.
There’s a first time for everything. And Starr System Design’s debut effort looks like a winner.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates