Big Theater, Small Package

Good things fit in small spaces.


Silver Winner: Home Theater $75,00 - $150,000

You don’t need to build a new house to gain a home theater. The owners of this New Jersey home tapped into unused space in the basement, and now they’re enjoying a big-screen, big-sound cinema experience without leaving the comforts of home.

If only building this theater was easy. At only 11 feet wide by 17 feet deep and just 7 feet high, the space presented several challenges. Custom electronics firm Electronics Design Group (EDG) of Piscataway, N.J., was hired to survey the space and provide a floorplan for a theater that could comfortably seat five. EDG expanded its plan to include structural considerations to provide the best theater experience possible. EDG made suggestions for blocking out windows, rerouting the heating and air conditioning ductwork and running wire for lighting and electrical needs. Then it handed off the construction work to a contractor and architect and hunkered down with plans for the audio/video gear.

EDG brought in specialists from RPG Diffusor Systems to create a sound control system using diffuser panels and absorptive materials on the walls and ceilings. RPG measured the room and created panels that would scatter sound in an organized way and eliminate any distortion and unwanted reflections.

System Design & Installation

Electronics Design Group, Piscataway, N.J.


MDK Contracting, Livingston, N.J.


Stern-Ring Associates, Florham Park, N.J.

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The room’s surfaces were one challenge; the low ceiling was another. EDG would typically mount a projector to the ceiling and shoot the image onto the screen at the front of the room. Here, the 7-foot height of the room wouldn’t allow for headroom beneath a projector.

The original solution was to place the projector on the floor, which created a new set of seating problems. Then some technical serendipity occurred when the owner decided to upgrade to a 1080p projector. A Runco VX-22d 3-chip DLP projector with a longer throw distance (the distance a projector can be from a screen) enabled the EDG installers to position the projector behind the back wall in a mechanical room. This was a win-win, as the projector was out of the way and invisible—except for a small hole cut into the wall for the lens—though it could still project a bright, sharp image. As a bonus, heat and noise from the machine were confined to the adjacent room. 

The room height also affected the seating. Since there wasn’t enough height to install tiered, stadium-style flooring, the homeowners chose the next best thing: comfy pod-shaped gamer seats. The brown chairs blend with the earth tones of the room, and the muted shade prevents visual reflections that might interfere with images on screen. 
With the 1080p projector strutting its stuff on the 110-inch Stewart Filmscreen, the family is ready for anything high-definition that comes its way, including the latest Blu-ray discs and HD cable programming. We didn’t forget the powerful audio portion of this theater. Seven studio-grade Genelec AIW25 in-wall speakers are driven by seven Genelec amps and accompanied by a Genelec subwoofer for a rockin’ 7.1 surround-sound experience.

Thanks to a finely tuned room, a high-octane sound system and a top-notch projector, whatever is on screen keeps viewers strapped to their seats. EH


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