This Minnesota house is contemporary, but not over the top. So what to do about a basement home theater? Continue the theme, of course. “With three very active kids, the homeowners wanted a space that was usable for the entire family,” says Lance Anderson, president of Edina, MN-based custom electronics firm Admit One Home Cinema. They didn’t want a gigantic screen, but they did want two displays for video game playing and keeping track of their beloved Minnesota Twins baseball team.
The solution: an attractive space with clean contemporary lines, color, warmth, and two video displays that aren’t so over the top.
Admit One went with a 70-inch JVC D-ILA (Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier) rear-projection set that appears as a giant flat-panel TV behind the close-cut custom cabinetry. Anderson says the three-chip 1080p D-ILA set has black levels superior to LCD and approaching DLP, but without any visual artifacts. D-ILA, which is JVC’s version of LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon), is sort of a cross between LCD, using liquid crystals, and DLP, using a reflective device. The result is a smooth, film-like digital image.
That was one screen. The auxiliary video display is a 23-inch JVC LCD. Using a rear projection and LCD was far more economical than going with an over-the-top setup using four or five screens. Sound from either video display can play over the theater’s audio system, and the family can switch the audio or switch the video on the screens with a touch of the RTI T3 controller. Piece of cake.
Going with a more modest video setup also saved some room that might have been used up by a front-projection system. “That room is very quaint and intimate,” Anderson says. It has a relatively low ceiling, with some spots as low as 7 feet.
At 14 feet wide and 18 feet deep, the theater poses other space limitations. In-wall James loudspeakers were used for the front and in the rear columns, while two in-ceiling James speakers make up the side surrounds in this 7.1-channel system powered by a Denon AVR-3806 receiver. The James Cinema 12 subwoofer fires from beneath the recessed equipment rack on the left wall.
Adding acoustical control systems was not a financial option, but constructing a double layer of drywall contained some of the sound leakage. The James speakers helped as well. “Their [Adjustable Frequency Distribution Circuit] crossovers manipulate the tweeters and woofers based on how live or dead the room is,” Anderson says. One of the biggest challenges was cooling the room, particularly the front cabinet with an Active Thermal Management fan.
The finishing touches? There’s a bar in the back with a mirror to add depth to the room, Continental home theater chairs in the second row over a small riser, and casual seating in front, along with the “caterpillar” that provides some curves and color for another splash of fun.
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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