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Installation of the Year Awards 2009 - Best Home Theater Installation

November 5, 2009 By Dennis Burger



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The lobby’s 450-lb. Noise-Loc door is hand-painted to resemble aged metal
Installation of the Year Awards 2009 - Best Home Theater Installation
Installation of the Year Awards 2009 - Best Home Theater Installation
Installation of the Year Awards 2009 - Best Home Theater Installation

Best Home Theater Installation

First Impressions Theme Theatres Inc. of North Miami, Fla.

Masterpiece Theater

Tons of hidden gear combine with an obstacle course-like construction zone to create our favorite theater of the year.

The lobby’s 450-lb. Noise-Loc door is hand-painted to resemble aged metalIf 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 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 and chairs that look like a king would sit in them.”

The lobby’s 450-lb. Noise-Loc door is hand-painted to resemble aged metal

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.

First Impressions designed all of the lobby’s furniture; the occasional chairs are positioned on swivels for ease of TV-watching. 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?”

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.

“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 subwoofers were positioned.

Installation of the Year Awards 2009 - Best Home Theater Installation

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.

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