The owner of this theater loves movies. No surprise there. But what you may not notice from the rather tame-looking interior is that he likes to play his movies loud—really loud. Dad’s penchant for ear-bleeding acoustics could have been a big problem for the family, but thanks to some proactive design work by Connected Technologies of Colorado Springs, CO, this theater can crank out the audio without disturbing a single soul elsewhere in the house.
Several bedrooms are located directly above the entertainment room, so keeping the boom, bangs and bloodcurdling screams inside the theater was a top priority. The only way to isolate the sound totally from the rest of the house would be to build a completely new room within the existing structure. New walls, floors and a ceiling would have to be built—none of which would touch any portion of the original framework. The only part of the house that was implemented into the design was a concrete wall. “At nine feet high and several inches thick, it was basically inert,” explains Connected Technologies president Robert Ridenour. “So we used it as the foundation to support the entire theater space.”
Another acoustic challenge would stem from the room’s abundance of hardwood surfaces. “The family went with a Frank Lloyd Wright–style design that incorporates a lot of cherry wood,” Ridenour explains. The simple, clean lines would set the home theater apart visually from the rest of the house, (which follows a Tuscan theme), but all those hard surfaces would need to be softened up for the room to have a pleasing sonic quality. Connected Technologies applied 1-inch foam to the open-studded walls, then covered the material with fabric, giving the room a good mix of reflective (hard) surfaces and absorptive (soft) surfaces. In that type of environment the surround system’s 7-speaker, 2-subwoofer setup would really be able to wail.
A lot of attention was paid to this theater’s acoustic performance, but it’s no slouch at presenting video, either. The 92-inch Da-Lite screen may be slightly smaller than screens used in other theaters, Ridenour admits, “but our focus was to make everything presented on it pop.” Often, that’s easier to do on a smaller screen. Recessed into a custom cabinet, this screen displays DVDs from a Sony player and high-def satellite programming from a DirecTV receiver. These components, as well as equipment for a whole-house music system, reside in an equipment rack built into a wall and closed off with a hinged door.
The cabinet at the front of the room was designed to keep parts of the system closed off, too. The front three speakers and two subwoofers are nestled inside acoustically treated cavities and covered with acoustically transparent fabric.
The only parts of the system left out in the open, save for the screen and the ceiling-mounted Runco projector, is a Niles IntelliControl remote. Programmed by Ridenour, the clicker simplifies the operation of the room by presenting the family with buttons that clearly define a particular action. For example, DVD sets up the space for watching a DVD movie and even dims the lights slightly. Of course, there’s the all-important volume button for Dad. As the projector juices up, the DVD starts spinning, and the lights fade, that’s his cue to crank it up.
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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.