Award: Home Entertainment Magazine Installation of the Year for Best Home Theater
Tons Of Hidden Gear Combine With An Obstacle Course-Like Construction Zone To Create Our Favorite Theater Of The Year.
Publication: Home Entertainment Magazine
Text: Dennis Burger
Photography: Barry Grossman Photography
If you need to ask why this lavish fourth-floor private cinema in South Florida is being applauded as our favorite home theater for all of 2009, take a look at the Digital Projection TITAN Reference 1080p DLP projector, which is the heart of this unforgettable project. In addition to being colossal, the aptly named TITAN Reference 1080p is also the benchmark against which nearly every other projector in the industry is judged.
The lobby’s 450-lb. Noise-Loc door is hand-painted to resemble aged metal; the TV cabinet and handrails are accented with hand-tooled metal. Personal cinema lobby equipped with its own 5.1 surround-sound system and a 50" HD plasma TV.
The same praise could be lavished upon virtually every facet of this amazing home theater, which also boasts a full Kaleidescape System, as well as an elaborately designed theater lobby that is, amazingly, equipped with its own 5.1 surround-sound system and a 50-inch LG HDTV plasma TV. The television pops up out of a beautiful custom-designed cabinet that’s cleverly incorporated into the handrail of the stairs.
When the homeowner first approached theater designer Jeffrey Smith of First Impressions Theme Theatres Inc., he said he wanted to build something very special. “He used adjectives like ‘ritzy,’ ‘over-the-top,’ ‘classical,” says company owner Smith. “He wanted the detailing to be exquisite, with chairs that look like a king would sit in them.”
And indeed, the seats — a baker’s dozen of First Impressions’ custom CinePalaisLounger bathed in Belgian velvet with silk thread detailing — are regal, as is the rest of the room with its crimson fire-rated, movie-house velvet draperies and solid mahogany woodworking with burnished, hand-rubbed gold accents. The theater’s design is a nod to classic cinemas of old, yet it also boasts a decidedly modern flair.
A Digital Projection TITAN Reference 1080p DLP projector and Stewart Filmscreen CineCurve 2.40:1 aspect ratio masking screen are the powerful heart of this project.
Behind all of the carefully executed fabrics and trim beats the heart of a performance monster. The theater’s JBL Synthesis Atlas System also lives up to its titanic name with six Synthesis S4Ai Multipolar Flush-Mount THX Surround Loudspeakers — extremely versatile speakers that can be operated in either dipole or bipole mode for movies, and switched to direct radiating mode for music. There are also three Synthesis SK2-1000BT Dual 10-inch 3-way LCR speakers behind the Stewart Filmscreen CineCurve 2.40:1 aspect ratio masking screen and 3,840 watts of amplification. “It’s a very cinematic sounding system,” Smith says. “Very powerful. I really like that JBL sends out a tech to tweak the system. Who knows the system better than they do?”
Elaborate woodworking and red velvet prevails throughout the theater.
But even with elite, tried-and-true technology, building this home theater was no easy task. The room itself is located on the fourth floor of an oceanfront villa.
The equipment racks for this elaborate home theater are tucked away in a well-ventiIated closet within the home office that’s adjacent to the lobby. Opening the office door involves a bit of magic. Only pre-approved guests can gain entry by swiping his or her thumb across the thumbprint reader, which is built into the lobby's Crestron TPS-6L Touchpanel.
“Since the house has a very small four-person elevator, getting the materials up there was a feat in and of itself” says Smith, who hired a crane service to hoist the theater’s preassembled parts upstairs. And because backing a concrete truck up to a fourth-story window was out of the question, Smith’s installation team also was charged with mixing the concrete for the stage, a dead zone where the sub-woofers were positioned.
Thankfully, First Impressions’ standard room-within-a-room construction eliminated many of the sound-leakage and vibration problems that so often plague upper-story theaters. “The room is decoupled from the slab below which is something we do so that low bass can travel in between the slab and our floating wood floors and up into the seats,” Smith says. Here, the construction detail works double duty: It dampens any theater-related sounds traveling downward into other living spaces, and creates a live and dynamic chambered seat riser.
Working four floors off the ground wasn’t the only challenge for First Impressions. The installer that Smith originally contracted to design and implement the electronics plan failed to complete the job to the owner’s and Smith’s satisfaction. So he brought in Zachary Deily of Definitive Electronics to finish the project and perfect any previously installed gear.
“I pulled one of my best programmers and a couple of installers and we went in and revamped a bunch of things,” Deily says, adding that his team reworked the Crestron programming, as well as that of the JBL Synthesis system. “To be honest, it just didn’t sound like an $80,000 audio package should sound,” he says.
Additionally, Deily’s team reinstalled the projector because the image was keystoning, which means the image was distorted due to unparallel sides.
Another problem involved the 65-foot distance between the home theater’s equipment rack and the video projector: The previously installed HDMI cable wouldn’t pass a full 1080p signal that far.
Deily’s team tried several cables — running them on the floor between the rack in the office and the projector in the theater, both with and without power boosters in the signal chain. The best they could achieve was a 1080i signal, until Steven Hill of Straight Wire Inc. in Hollywood, Fla., entered the picture.
“I explained what was going on and [Steven came out] with one of his prototype HDMI cables,” Deily says. “It was the only one he had at the time. But we fired that thing up and it worked.”