Home Theater Paints Vivid New Orleans Picture

Acoustic panels double as French Quarter street scenes in this beautiful room.

About the only things missing in here are some street musicians and the smell of beignets.

This homeowner really digs New Orleans, and between the custom electronics installer and the acoustical panel manufacturer they brought the Big Easy into his home in a big way.

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Anytime the owner sets foot in this theater, he gazes upon the vibrant, colorful artwork that bring to life the French Quarter’s art and architecture. The secret is that the pieces that adorn the walls of this theater not only pay homage to New Orleans, but play an important technical role as absorptive acoustical panels.

It’s something that south Florida-based 3-D Squared specializes in as both an acoustical panel manufacturer and home theater design firm. The company collaborated with custom electronics installer Kasabe Designs of Katy, Texas, on the design, layout and implementation of the A/V, acoustics, lighting and controls to produce the gorgeous results.

“Our biggest design challenge was how to create a New Orleans theme within our budget for both the interior design and acoustics and still have enough for an A/V system that met our performance goals,” explains Kasabe’s Abe Rasoulian. “We ultimately settled on framed acoustic absorptive panels, which helped provide the acoustical control we needed against excess reverberation, slap echo and first reflection points. We first thought of printing street scenes from New Orleans. After talking to Glen Hoffman at 3-D Squared, he suggested we go with more artistic impressions of New Orleans street scenes. He presented us some amazing, very vivid and beautiful artistic impressions of the French Quarter that [the homeowner] just absolutely loved.”

For anyone considering personalized or themed touches to their theater rooms, using acoustical panels as a method to do so is popular and practical because specialists like 3-D Squared can work with the acoustical fabric as a canvas. We’ve seen everything from movie artwork and custom murals to personal photography that’s been processed into stunning panels.

Of course, the primary role of the room is to provide a big-screen movie experience, which Kasabe and 3-D presented in an equally impactful manner. They chose a 150-inch Stewart Filmscreen Firehawk G3 screen to receive the lush high-def images from a Digital Projection M-Vision Cine-260 single-chip DLP projector, which delivers more than enough light output to handle the large screen.

The surround-sound audio comes courtesy of KEF Q Series speakers for the main channels, two KEF Q Series subwoofers and SpeakerCraft dipole in-wall surround speakers, driven by a Yamaha A/V receiver. A Middle Atlantic equipment rack is concealed behind one of the acoustical panels.

The hidden gear isn’t the only stealthy installation aspect within the streets of New Orleans. Under the fleur-de-lis on the rear wall you’ll notice a rectangular niche and small, protruding shelf. It’s where the owners can get a taste of New Orleans, or other movie drinks and snacks (maybe that beignet and a Hurricane?) during the show from the theater’s adjacent bar area. “We designed a little refreshment ledge with small sliding door access so drinks could be passed from the bar to inside the theater,” Rasoulian says. “We had to make sure the door was thick, solid and could lock and seal for sound isolation and light blocking, but easy to use.”

Controlling not only the sound, but also the light proved to be the theater’s biggest design obstacles. The room had two huge, arched windows that Rasoulian says could not be removed, so the installers solved the problem by custom-building louvered shutters with a blackout lining and gasket seal system that could darken the room but also be opened completely when the owners wanted. Kasabe and 3-D Squared also integrated a four-zone Lutron Grafik Eye lighting control system in the theater, which can be commanded by the same URC touchscreen that operates the A/V. Rasoulian programmed scenes into the lighting for activities such as entering, movie watching, cleaning and more so appropriate lighting conditions are produced by a button press.

“When you enter the theater, the Lutron light switch will illuminate the ‘entrance scene,’ including illuminating the step lights to allow guests to find their seats,” he explains. “When the owner hits play, the lights slowly dim to off, giving time for eyes to adjust to the lighting (step lights will remain dimly illuminated), while projector turns on and the movie begins to play.” We wouldn’t expect anything less than “big easy” A/V and automation controls for a theater night in New Orleans.

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Projector: Digital Projection M-Vision Cine-260
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen SNDQ150HFHG3WX
Speaker System: KEF Q Series
Main LCR: KEF Q900
Center Channel: KEF Q600C
Subwoofer: KEF Q400
Surrounds: SpeakerCraft ASM73551 Inwall dipole (4)
Receiver: Yamaha RX-A2000
Blu-ray: LG BX580
Control: URC touchscreen
Lighting: Lutron Grafik-Eye
Equipment Rack: Middle Atlantic SAX-31
Power Management Panamax M5300PM & MB1500
Projector Mount: Chief RPA/SLB

Systems Design & Installation
3-D Squared
Boca Raton, Fla.

Kasabe Designs
Katy, Texas

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