No one owns this award-winning theater yet, but it’s more than ready to please even the most discriminating audio and video enthusiast. Tried-and-true components and systems were used to ensure that no matter how long it took to sell this seven-figure spec home, the electronics would still be some of the best on the market. Fixed to the front wall of the room is an enormous display from Stewart Filmscreen. Stretching 100 inches diagonally, it presents images with amazing realism and clarity. A ceiling-mounted Sim2 Domino DLP projector shoots the video onto the screen from the back of the 19-by-21-foot space. Designed with features to make images pop, the screen and projector are perfect for each other. The Domino projector features an amazing contrast ratio of 2,800:1 and an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) input, a purely digital connection that can transmit video directly from a source—like a satellite receiver—to the display without any degradation. The wide beveled black fabric fascia of the Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall, meanwhile, sets off the image, making blacks look deeper and whites appear more vibrant.
The two-piece projection setup is a big step up from the LCD TV that the builder had originally planned to use in the room. “We brought the whole project up several notches,” says Jim Sweeney, president of HomeTronics Lifestyles. The North Haven, CT, based home systems installation firm was contacted by Classic Home Builders of New Canaan, CT, to completely redo the lower-level theater that, according to Sweeney, “simply wasn’t on par with the rest of the house.”
Other improvements were made to the sound system, the room design and the seating arrangement. A 5.1 surround-sound system was replaced by a 7.1 Pioneer Elite surround-sound receiver. Tucked into a closet with the rest of the audio/video gear, the receiver directs seven discrete channels of sound to seven Triad Silver speakers. All of the speakers, as well as two Earthquake subwoofers, are virtually invisible, having been built into the walls while the room was being redesigned. The acoustic paneling on the front and side walls cloak the speakers while letting the sound drift into the room unaffected.
HomeTronics purposely put in a limited variety of video sources, says head of operations Mike Purcell, but that’s just one more reason why this theater is so appealing. Whoever buys the house will be able to add any type of components they like—a media server, a 400-disc DVD carousel or a high-definition satellite receiver, for example—and this future-proofed theater will respond. In the meantime, the theater presents an admirable amount of video, courtesy of a Pioneer Elite DVD player and a high-definition cable box, both of which are tucked into a roomy slide-out rack. Like the speakers, the rack is completely hidden, occupying an unused closet with a hinged door. The slide-out design of the rack will make it easy for the future homeowners to hook up new components to the system.
A graceful seating arrangement and elegant lighting finish off the space. Two curved rows of almond-colored leather reclining chairs offer enough seating for eight. The curved design gives the theater a unique appearance and enabled the HomeTronics team to fit more seats into the space than would have been possible with a traditional straight-row arrangement. Another special touch is a riser that lifts the entire seating arrangement a couple of inches off the floor. A two-inch bullnose on the lip of the riser visually defines the area and creates a pathway for visitors to follow when entering the room.
Visual definition is also provided by a Lutron Grafik Eye lighting system. A simple press of a button can alter the brightness levels of the room’s lights to create a number of special effects. A pause scene, for example, raises the lights slightly in case the owners need to answer the phone or load a DVD. break brightens the lights a little more for times when the owners need to leave the room. Other scenes include reading and, of course, movie time, which fades out the lights completely. The owners can use a wall-mounted keypad by the entrance to cue a lighting scene, or they can grab the MX850 handheld remote from Universal Remote Control to set the lights and start the show. Like the speakers, the projector and the screen, the lighting system and the remote control may not be the most sophisticated pieces of home theater technology available, but they’re able to give the room the cinematic punch it takes to do the six-million-dollar home justice without financially strapping the innovative homebuilder who chose to put the systems in. Plus, anyone who buys the home can easily make it his or her own by adding whatever new components they want.
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