Theater Room Serves Up Big Screen Treat
A Wisconsin homeowner’s theater requests included a whopping 133-inch movie screen and seating for 12.

- Home Theaters $10,000–$25,000

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May 01, 2008 by Arlen Schweiger

Creating this Wisconsin home theater was as easy as 1-2-3. At least, that’s the number of criteria the homeowner requested of Heath DeBernardi and his electronics installation firm, The Audio Video Pros, when they discussed the theater portion of a home renovation project.

Here’s what the homeowner asked of DeBernardi’s Onalaska, WI, firm: “One, I want it to seat at least 12 people comfortably. Two, I don’t want to see the speakers or electronics. Three, I want the biggest screen I can get.”

While not everything is out of sight, the homeowner and his wife now enjoy an elegant theater room that can seat them plus 10 friends whenever they want to fire up a high-definition film on a 133-inch screen.

To take care of the first request, DeBernardi constructed risers to create room and good sight lines for three rows of four Burbank theater chairs. Risers were sculpted to match the curved seating design for a more seamless look, and the leather seats feature motorized reclining for greater comfort.

The electronics gear, including an Onkyo TX-SR705 surround receiver and Toshiba HD-A30 HD DVD player, is stowed in a cabinet in the rear of the room. The speakers are a little more noticeable, as there are 11 of them. DeBernardi worked with Julie Henley of

La Crosse, WI–based Trillium Design to blend the audio as seamlessly as possible. The cornerstone of the surround system, an Atlantic Technology 8200e center channel, stands out in front of the screen, but speaker cloth covers the SpeakerCraft front left and right channels and the subwoofers located beneath them for a more decorative appearance. Six SpeakerCraft AIM7MT One surround speakers are hidden behind acoustic panels.

DeBernardi chose to focus on the center channel, and because an entire Atlantic Technology surround setup would not fit within his budget guidelines, he incorporated the company’s top-line center speaker and rounded out with multiple pairs of SpeakerCraft models to fill the 16-by-31-foot room. “Basically, 95 to 100 percent of a movie’s dialogue comes from the center channel, so our primary goal is that it has to be the best speaker in the system. The 8200 was designed for one thing: ultimate playback of movies,” DeBernardi explains. “The credo I always live by was taught by John Dahl at THX, which is we’re trying for the faithful reproduction of the movie-going experience in the home. We brought SpeakerCraft in, and overall it’s an extremely well-mannered surround system.”

For the homeowner’s third request, a Vutec 133-inch VisionX Pearl Bright screen fit the bill. The screen is recessed from the front wall for aesthetic purposes, and the Pearl Bright version has a high gain to handle the room size and the images of the Epson Powerlite Pro Cinema 1080p LCD projector.

Along with recessing the screen, other design enhancements include keystone-shaped acoustic panels that combine a graphite-colored front panel on top of an amber panel, whose hue glows warmly under lighting cans. An arched section across the middle of two bulkheads will eventually house drapery to hide the screen for further cinematic drama and authenticity.

“The homeowner is just really, really happy with the end result,” DeBernardi says. And why not? His three home theater wishes were granted.

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for and Electronic House magazine.

Equipment List

Epson Powerlite Pro Cinema 1080p projector
Vutec VisionX 133-inch Pearl Bright screen

Audio/Video Components
Onkyo TX-SR705 receiver
Toshiba HD-A30 HD DVD player
Charter 5000 HD cable box
Universal Remote Control MX-810 remote
Universal Remote Control MRF-260 RF base station

Atlantic Technology 8200e center channel
Atlantic Technology AIM Monitor One left and right channels (2)
Atlantic Technology AIM7MT One in-wall surrounds (6)
Atlantic Technology Bass-X 12 12-inch subwoofers (2)

Furniture, Acoustics & Accessories
AVP acoustic panels (8)
Guilford of Maine acoustical fabric
Burbank motorized theater seats (12)
Furman Elite 15-DMi power conditioner
Furman remote power unit for projector

Systems Design & Installation
The Audio Video Pros
Onalaska, WI

Interior Designer
Trillium Design
La Crosse, WI

Mastercraft Homes
La Crosse, WI

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