The owners of this theater didn’t pussyfoot around when it came to the equipment driving the roughly 400-square-foot entertainment space. Nor did they skimp on the design or architectural details. They even had the entire room acoustically engineered and the audio system expertly calibrated to ensure everything from music to movie dialog would sound pristine. It was this attention to detail that made this project a clear winner as the Electronic House Home of the Year: Best Home Theater $75,000 and Up. See other winners of the 2017 Home of the Year contest, here, here, and here.
“This theater sounds as good as it can possibly sound,” says Michael Alpert, president of Nantucket Media Systems, of Nantucket, Mass. He credits the outcome to close collaboration between the homeowners, his team of integrators, and fellow subcontractors. “We all came to the table with different ideas, but were all flexible enough to work together and create something special.”
Digging Deep for Home Theater Gold
It all started with the bones of the house. Although structurally sound, the basement where the theater would reside needed some TLC. A portion of the existing slab was removed and contractors trenched into the earth to create a higher ceiling of 10 feet. With that extra height, the homeowners were able to get the stadium-style seating layout they wanted and Nantucket Media Systems could mount the projector high enough to preclude anyone from hitting their head on it.
The Nantucket Media Systems team cloaked the HVAC ducts with a custom-built soffit and applied two layers of sheetrock. This construction method would prevent the high-octane audio planned for the room from spilling out into other areas of the house.
Acoustics and Calibration Create Top-Notch Audio
With the shell of the theater complete, Nantucket Media Systems teamed up with Cinema Design Group (CDGi) to add architectural elements like acoustical wall and ceiling treatments, carpeting, seating, and light fixtures. These features would all impact the performance of the Wisdom Audio speakers and amplifiers selected for the project, so Wisdom Audio and CDGi worked together to ensure perfect placement of the acoustical panels and the speakers that would rest behind them.
The next step was calibrating the audio equipment to compensate for any minor acoustical anomalies that might still be present in the intricately designed room. A high-end audio processor from Datasat was added for this purpose. Including such features as memory profile settings, equalization, room optimization/correction, and extensive automation controls, the Datasat RS20i was the last link in the audio calibration chain, giving the Dolby Atmos surround-sound setup the brain and brawn to perform to perfection.
While audio was obviously a high priority for this project, the video presentation is completely on par. Sony’s flagship VW5000ES 4K projector pairs with an acoustically transparent 13-foot-wide screen from Seymour Screen Excellence. Nantucket Media Systems made sure the owners had plenty of 4K content to watch by adding a Kaleidescape Strato media server. Equipped with an internal 6 or 10TB hard drive, it can store as many as 180 4K Ultra HD movies, 330 Blu-ray quality movies, or 1,500 DVD quality movies.
All of the equipment is tied to a Savant control system, which allows the owners to operate the theater gear, as well as the lights and fiber optic star ceiling, from a custom-designed iPad interface. The system also automates certain features; for example, when it receives a cue from the Kaleidescape media player that the movie to be displayed is a wide CinemaScope format, it tells fabric masking panels on the screen to roll up so the entire 2.35:1 aspect ratio is available. When a narrower 16:9-formatted video is chosen, the Savant system instructs the masking to slide back over the screen. Then, as the movie begins to play the room lights dim and the heating and cooling fan activates.
In Control of the Entire Home
With so much A/V power coursing through this room, it’s hard to imagine thinking about anything else than what’s playing on the screen and speakers. Still, thanks to the Savant system, the owners are able to use the same iPad interface to monitor and manage lights, motorized window shades, thermostats, and security devices in other areas of the house. They can immerse themselves in the entertainment yet remain completely connected.
Systems Design & Installation
Nantucket Media Systems, Nantucket, Mass.
- Savant automation
- Wisdom Audio speakers
- Wisdom Audio amplifiers
- Datasat processor
- Sony projector
- Lumagen Radiance video processor
- Kaleidescape media server
- Oppo Blu-ray player