Ultrabright Outdoor Theater Weathers the Elements

No worries about harsh weather ruining this outdoor theater. Innovative techniques protect Digital Projection, Vutec, Bay Audio and other systems from the elements.


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.

Florida and Southern California are hotbeds for outdoor entertaining. New Jersey? Not so much. But the finicky weather of the Northeast didn’t stop the owners of this gold-winning outdoor space from incorporating a reference-grade home theater system into their backyard. They made sure, though, with the help of the custom electronics professionals at High-Def Zone in Lehigh Valley, Pa., that their expensive gear would be well-protected from Mother Nature.

This was accomplished through special programming of an RTI XP-8 control system and clever installation of the projector, screen and other components. The 14-foot-wide screen from Vutec, for example, is motorized to roll up into a soffit underneath a balcony when it’s not being used. Most times, the owners move the screen up and down by pressing buttons on a waterproof RTI remote or an iPad. However, should the owners’ weather station detect a wind velocity of over 8 miles per hour, the RTI system puts away the screen automatically and shuts down the entire home theater system. Only when the wind dies down—and the sun has set- can the owners use the home theater again. Although this may sound a little restrictive, it’s for the best, says High-Def Zone’s Balji Minhas. These homeowners demanded only the best viewing experience from their outdoor A/V system, and that can’t happen when sunlight is blasting onto the screen. Therefore, the system can only be used—and therefore, fully appreciated—after a certain time of day, as dictated by the astronomical clock inside the XP-8 system.

In the dark, the screen can really shine. Its 14-foot-wide size ensures that everyone, no matter where they’re hanging out, can clearly see the action. An ultrabright (6,000-ANSI lumen), ISF (Imaging Science Foundation)-calibrated projector from Digital Projection International (DPI) was positioned behind the screen in an attic space. Here, it’s hidden from view and protected from the elements.

Audio is big in this space as well, so the family can hear the movie from the patio and the swimming pool. Bay Audio’s HTM1 Horn Loaded Speakers perform as the front channels of the surround-sound system for their ability to play “loudly and without distortion,” says Minhas. They’re angled downward from the eave of the house to contain the sound to the yard. Six Madison Fielding speakers, which double as planters, are positioned throughout the area to preclude audio “dead spots” and to serve as the surrounds. Of course, no movie is worth listening to if you can’t hear and feel the bass, so three Bay Audio HomeBase subwoofers were strategically planted in the yard. The speakers and subs are driven by an ADA PTM-6150 amplifier and Bay Audio Power Pack amps, respectively, which push out 2,500 watts of calibrated power.

The home theater may take center stage in this backyard, but the RTI system controls a lot more than the A/V equipment. All of the lights, as well as motorized patio umbrellas, can be operated from an RTI remote or iPad. The umbrellas are designed to capture and channel rainwater to an underground water drainage system- just one more step taken to protect the equipment from the weather.

See Also:
Outdoor Theater Features Hidden 9-Foot TV
Entertainment and Automation Add to an Awesome Backyard
Inside Look at Outdoor Televisions


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