It’s practically faux pas to install loudspeakers in a dedicated home theater without them being hidden in some manner. Typically they’re covered by acoustical fabric on the walls, concealed in columns, or beaming down from round speaker grilles within the ceiling. But if the surround speakers are going to stay out in the open, at least keep the grilles on them, right?
Not in this dazzling home theater, where eight in-wall speakers as part of a whopping 11.1-channel audio system sit virtually naked, grille-less as they blare concerts and movie soundtracks. It’s a speaker aesthetic that’s usually reserved for two-channel listening rooms, where towering floorstanding speakers often look more majestic without the black fabric covers. It’s also a more common sight in professional recording studios, where speaker aesthetics just don’t require as much consideration—but pristine sound quality does.
This is a big reason why Toronto-based custom electronics pro Rectech Rooms outfitted this theater in Hamilton, Ontario, with a big sound system that also looks like it can really belt out the audio. It helped that Rectech’s background includes pro studio work. “You don’t always see exposed speakers—people like to have their surround speakers hidden,” says Rectech’s Marco Resendes. “[The homeowner] came to us and knew what we did—we were referred to him from a business partner who had done a recording studio that we worked on, so I think he saw the level of detail that went into that and figured these guys know what they’re doing. We basically brought the studio effect in here as far as exposed speakers go.”
The speaker package is just one part of an overall sound system that’s nothing short of spectacular on many fronts. For one thing, Rectech Rooms not only custom builds the theater room, but in cases like this it will also work with a local partner to custom build the speakers and subwoofers. Fed by powerful RAM Audio amplifiers and an Integra preamp/processor, 10 speakers comprise the surround channels to go with three front-channel speakers that reside behind a 14-foot wide Screen Research screen. The stage below the screen houses eight (yes, eight) 8-inch woofers—two sets of four on the left and right sides.
Another aspect of the impressive audio installation, led by Rectech’s Chris Tedesco, stems from a design laden with wooden flooring and millwork (eco-friendly reclaimed lumber from the Great Lakes region) throughout plus stonework in the rear. Rectech tamed these reflective surfaces by creating an arched column framework that works as a diffusion system to help scatter the sound more uniformly in the room. To top off the surround speakers, Rectech custom-faced the grilles in mahogany to complement the theme of the room.
(View images of this home theater here)
Those arches are a multipurpose force, too, essentially playing a four-in-one role: they house the surround speakers as well as the HVAC system’s air supply to the room; they incorporate the many diffusion slabs to aid the acoustics; they include built-in LED lights; and on the whole are a major architectural element. “As technical as they are, they’re practical as well as aesthetic to the room,” says Resendes.
Of course, the problem with such a whopping audio system is trying to confine it to the room—especially one that sits below the master suite and another bedroom. Rectech isolated the room through a “box-within-a-box” construction that decouples it from the house using techniques such as a three-layer system that sandwiches particle board between two layers of drywall, and “floating” the entire room on rubber isolators. “It’s pretty amazing,” enthuses Resendes, “you can really blast it in this place, and when you’re upstairs … nothing.”
There’s Video, Too
Did we mention that there’s a 14-foot-wide screen in this home theater? Sure, the audio is impressive, but the video’s no slouch, which is a good thing for the up to 14 theatergoers this room can seat. The video setup includes the aforementioned Screen Research acoustically transparent screen, which is in a 2.35:1 CinemaScope aspect ratio with a motorized masking system to account for traditional HDTV’s 16:9 shaped content as well as older 4:3 material. A Runco VX-33d DLP and DHD-3 controller/processor provides the brilliant images, with a source selection that includes cable and satellite TV, a Kaleidescape movie server, Apple TV and the gaming console trifecta of Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. “The kids are in there quite a bit,” says Rectech Rooms’ Marco Resendes. “You could imagine gaming in that room.”
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.