May 01, 2008
by Lisa Montgomery
The owner of this theater plays in an R&B band, so he’s developed a great ear for audio. When he contacted Gramophone of Timonium, MD, to incorporate a dedicated theater into his newly built 8,000-square-foot home, his quest for audio excellence came as no surprise to the company’s team of custom electronic designers. But before Gramophone could install a single piece of acoustical paneling, they had to completely reconfigure the layout of the room. “We were introduced to the project during the framing stage,” says Gramophone director of custom sales Lance David, “and one of the first things we noticed was that the room was oriented in the wrong direction.” In order to achieve the high quality of sound and video the homeowner demanded—plus comfortably accommodate at least eight viewers—the Gramophone team decided to turn the room 90 degrees.
With the layout issues resolved, Gramophone tricked out the space with high-caliber audio equipment including nine powerful McIntosh amplifiers. These amps produce a whopping 3,000 watts of amplification to drive the nine-speaker-two-subwoofer setup in the theater as well as several speakers located elsewhere in the house. All nine McIntosh speakers are positioned behind acoustical wall paneling and a custom-crafted proscenium below the screen to maintain a clean appearance. The specialty fabric-covered paneling on the walls and ceiling was selected as a way to conceal the speakers but without degrading the audio quality, says David.
The audio is complemented by a Runco 1080p projector paired with a CinemaScope (2.35:1 aspect ratio) screen from Stewart Filmscreen. There is no shortage of video for the top-notch high-def video setup, thanks to the addition of a Kaleidescape digital media server loaded with the owner’s enormous collection of DVDs and CDs. The server displays a categorized list of entertainment on the Stewart screen; users navigate the menu and enter their selection via a wireless 8.4-inch WiFi color touchpanel from Crestron. If the format of the chosen program is something other than 2.35.1, fabric panels slide over the sides of the screen automatically so that the shape of the screen matches the skinnier 4:3 or 16:9 formatted video. The Kaleidescape server maintains order of the standard-definition DVD collection in the theater while a Toshiba HD DVD player and Pioneer Blu-ray player provide a full high-def experience.
In addition to cutting-edge equipment, this theater also features light fixtures that are relatively new to residential environments. A series of LED bulbs tucked within a cove around the perimeter of the ceiling illuminates a huge photo of the Milky Way. These lights, as well as other accent fixtures in the room, are controlled from the Crestron panel. From top to bottom, this theater exudes entertainment excellence.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.