May 01, 2006
| by EH Staff
Imagine for a moment that you’re an ex-music-industry guy who’s now in the technology business. You regularly host parties at your house for your friends, including some from the music and technology scenes. There’s mingling, maybe some dancing. Sound like fun?
Sure it is. But there are also some serious responsibilities that come with being the host with the most. Yeah, you can check on the hors d’oeuvres and make sure the drinks are flowing, but you’d also better provide some extremely high-grade home entertainment for your guests—as in something your music and tech-fueled friends can’t experience elsewhere.
Gulping yet? You might if you were charged with turning this room into an entertainment Xanadu for music and technology professionals. “It’s a high-volume space with tons of ambient light,” says Mark Ontiveros, president of electronics installation firm Audio Images. The scenic 27-by-37-foot room with 15-foot-high ceilings has several sitting areas and a bar.
“The homeowners regularly entertain with 50-plus guests, day and night,” says Ontiveros. “And it was required that little to no grille cloth show.” In other words, hide everything but the screen.
Okay, so how do you begin serving up these hidden entertainment canapés? First, the projector can’t be seen. To address that, Audio Images decided on a customized rear-projection setup using a commercial-grade Christie Digital three-chip DLP projector with a Large Screen Display system consisting of a single mirror placed behind a 90-inch diffusion screen.
The projector puts out 4,000 ANSI lumens, which in layman’s terms means it’s extremely bright. It’s so bright, says Ontiveros, it can be watched in the middle of the day with light coming through the windows and still produce a clear and colorful image. “It has been set up and calibrated to change brightness based upon the ambient light conditions in the room, so guests can see an accurate presentation, day or night,” he explains.
The powerful Triad InRoom Platinum front speakers were custom built to fit inside the columns flanking the screen—with the center channel below—and behind fabric that perfectly matches the color of the woodwork. Because the room is so big, the speakers were also designed to focus their sound toward the main sitting area in front of the screen rather than vaguely throughout the room.
Four Triad InWall Gold surround speakers were mounted in the back wall and ceiling to round out the 7.1-channel speaker system. Four Triad subwoofers provide the necessary boom-bada-boom. One Platinum sub is located in the console behind the couch, two more are in the back wall and another is beneath a table in front of the windows.
Power all that with an audiophile-grade Theta Dreadnaught 7-channel reference amplifier and a THX Ultra-certified Lexicon MC-12B audio/video processor, and you have some seriously powerful sound.
The Theta Carmen multiregion multiformat CD/DVD transport was selected because the owners have collected DVDs from all over the world, and some use different video standards. “[The DVD player] had to be modified to play media from all regions and formats,” says Ontiveros. “Furthermore, it outputs SDI [a Serial Digital Interface used as a professional digital video connection] directly into the DLP projector.”
Add some equalizers and a Crestron control system, et voila, n’est-ce pas?
Not so quick, party boy. Now you’ve got to control that powerful sound so it’s not reverberating and bleeding gobs of bass all over the space. Taming and refining that power is the hallmark of a truly great system. So Audio Images called in acoustics specialist Tony Grimani of Performance Media Industries (PMI) to design the room’s sonic performance. Grimani built a bass absorber out of the wall panels above the screen and near the ceiling. The front panel of this absorptive system is mounted on precision springs and surrounded by a sealed gasket made to look exactly like the paneled woodwork. Sound pressure resonates the membrane, and then the excess sound is ported below, out of the room.
In addition, PMI created a near ideal configuration for the multiple subwoofers in the media room.
And how did our ex-music industry/technology sector homeowner feel about it? “I love it!” he told Audio Images. “I’m amazed that you could pull it off so well with all the constraints involved, and on top of that, you made it so simple to use.”