Home Theater Design That Really ‘Rocks’

DPI, Sunfire and SnapAV deliver high performance at a reasonable price in stonework-heavy theater.


Editor’s Note: This profile of one of our Home of the Year winners originally ran in May of 2012. We’re highlighting past winners in anticipation of the May 2013 release of the new Home of the Year winners. You’ll want to check back in May, because the new winners are awesome.

Step into this theater, and your first thought might be “Rocks!”- as in all the rock and brick walls.

The owner of this custom-built home wanted the room to have a classy but comfortable feel, and the rock and brick provided that rustic, cabin-like atmosphere, explains Chad Lofgren of home electronics installation company Hi-Tech Home in Clovis, Calif.

But can this theater also rock—as in produce enveloping audio and video that takes you to another place? The budget for this room wasn’t limitless, so Lofgren and company maximized mid-level products with selections like a Denon audio/video surround sound receiver, Sonance speakers, a mid-priced DPI projector, Sunfire subwoofers and SnapAV’s Dragonfly acoustically transparent screen.

“The owner wanted to be somewhat cost-conscious with the theater, without sacrificing too much in the area of performance, comfort and look,” explains Lofgren. Digital Projection’s mid-line M-Vision 260 singlechip DLP projector ($8,495) is housed in a cabinet in the back and paired with a Panamorph anamorphic lens ($1,295) for super-wide CinemaScope movie viewing and SnapAV’s 125-inch Dragonfly AcoustiWeave 2:35:1 screen ($2,199). The AcoustiWeave is an acoustically transparent screen that uses woven fabric instead of microperforated holes to allow speakers positioned behind the screen to sound through.

Thanks to the AcoustiWeave screen, Hi-Tech Home was able to keep the decor free of bulky tower speakers by positioning three Sonance LCR1 freestanding front speakers behind it. Four Sonance SUR surround speakers are tucked into the ceiling behind the wrought-iron details. Lofgren says the wrought iron is anchored well enough to prevent any annoying rattles when the speakers rock out.

Ample bass is provided by Sunfire HRS-10 subwoofers located in the kitchenette cabinets in the back of the room. The Sunfire subs put out clear and crisp bass from the 10-inch woofers, Lofgren says.

The system is controlled by Denon’s AVR- 4810CI surround-sound receiver, which isn’t topof- the-line but is certainly no slouch. Operating the receiver and the rest of the gear is handled by the home’s Control4 system. The Control 4 HC-300 processor provides an on-screen interface and makes operation of the A/V gear, lighting and climate simple and easy.

No expense was spared for video sources, with the hard-drive-based Kaleidescape system and a Sony 400-disc Blu-ray changer serving as the theater’s main sources of content. The Sony changer allows the client to load a movie into the tray, and it automatically communicates with the Control4 system to access an Internet database, grab cover art, and allow him to browse his disc library via an on-screen interface.

To minimize harsh reflections caused by audio bouncing off the rock walls, acoustical absorptive padding was added on both side walls. Lofgren says the carpeting and Palliser sofa and seats also help to absorb sound and make this theater space as entertaining and comfortable as possible.

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