Theater Squeezes into 8’ Wide Room
This home theater still manages to pack in a 92-inch screen, high-performance projector and surround-sound system.
Credit: Shayne Hensley
September 30, 2010 by Steven Castle

How’s this for a mini-theater? It’s 16 feet deep, but only 8 feet wide, and opens to a billiards area in the back. That makes for cozy confines, as in two rows with just two seats each and one aisle between them. That was okay for these homeowners, though, who wanted to use some space they felt was wasted.

“This space was actually a walkway leading to two bedrooms, one of which was converted to a gym,” says Joe Polovich, senior systems design engineer with theater installation firm Boca Theater & Automation (BTA) of Boca Raton, Fla. “They really wanted a theater, but didn’t have a room they could dedicate. They adjusted a few walls to make it wide enough to be adequate, and decided to use it to their advantage.”

The challenge for BTA was finding the right equipment and making it perform well in the narrow space. The homeowner also wanted a high-performance system. To that end, a Runco 1080p DLP projector was mounted on the ceiling in the back of the area. The unit shines on a 92-inch Vutec HD fixed screen that just fits in the narrow space.

For speakers, BTA chose James Loudspeaker in-walls for the front. “With such a narrow space, in-walls were the only way to go,” says Polovich. James is BTA’s top-of-the-line model. Two more James in-ceiling speakers are located over the rear row of seats, and an in-wall 10-inch James subwoofer fires from below the center channel.

“One thing we had going for us is that we selected high-quality, efficient speakers and a surround-sound processor. This gave us the ability to [fine-tune] the room just right, using delays, equalization, and crossover points,” says Polovich. “In the end, the small nature of this room actually worked to our advantage; the room came out tight and due to the headroom we had left over, the system can operate nominally because to fill such a small area with a lot of sound doesn’t take very much. The bass is deep, the high and midrange sounds are pronounced. It definitely took some work to [tune] it in, but in the end, it’s a phenomenal sounding area.”

In addition, the home theater chairs were custom made by Cinema Design Group to fit in the space. Control comes from an AMX MVP-8400 touchpanel, which is docked on a wall in the billiards area. A Lightolier PLC Compose automated lighting system has pre-programmed scenes, such as accent lights only for theater and a little more lighting for gaming, so players can see their controllers. The theater mode is enacted automatically whenever a DVD player or the Kaleidescape movie server plays.

The mini theater also uses whole-house sources, including any one of five DirecTV HR20 HD satellite receivers, two Kaleidescape Movie Players, and an Xbox 360 game console. The back of the room opens up to a billiards area with four Runco screens, including a 42-inch plasma display and three 32-inch LCDs, as well as its own speakers.

Don’t be deceived by looks. This room may be narrow, but it packs more into it than most home theaters.

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
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.

Installer, Equipment List

System Design and Installation
Boca Theater & Automation
Boca Raton, Fla. 

Equipment List
Runco VX-2000d 1080p DLP Projector
Vutec 92-inch Silverstar HD Fixed Screen
Arcam AVR300 7.1 Surround Receiver
James 33SDX In-wall 2-way Speakers (3)
James 32SDX In-wall 2-way Speakers (2)
James 110SDXP In-wall 10-inch Subwoofer
AMX MVP-8400 Wireless Touchpanel
Cinema Design Group Leather Chairs (4)

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