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Bold and Beautiful - CEDIA Award Winner

March 4, 2009 By Brooke Lange



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To replicate the stone columns used throughout the house, the design team installed stacked slate in the home theater. “The stone had to perform structurally and acoustically,” Cavitt says.
“While natural flagstone cannot be cut as thin as cultured stone because it splits, we did find one that allowed for a thin cutting.” The plywood beams are faux-finished to look like real wood, as are the leather-finish fabric grilles in the screen wall.
Bold and Beautiful - CEDIA Award Winner

2008 Cedia Electronic Lifestyles Award Winner

Large Home Theater: Level V Silver Technical Design & Best Overall Winner

Electronic Systems Consultant: Pacific Audio & Communications—Kihei, Hawaii

The inherent risk in designing a home theater—a beautiful-looking space that produces the requisite oooohs and aaaahs—is ending up with a poorly performing room. Add the musthave of incorporating the same architectural detailing used throughout the rest of the home and the risk expands tenfold.

To replicate the stone columns used throughout the house, the design team installed stacked slate in the home theater. “The stone had to perform structurally and acoustically,” Cavitt says.

“We were trying to achieve something that looks like the rest of the house—big timber, Venetian plaster,” says electronic systems consultant Phil Mulligan of Pacific Audio & Communications.

But many elements in this mountain lodge—cedar beams, and stone and wood floors—are hard, reflective surfaces, which aren’t always conducive to a greatsounding home theater environment.

“We had to come up with creative ways to bring those elements into the theater without degrading the performance,” says home theater designer Sam Cavitt of Paradise Theaters. Many of the design elements of this stunning theater, which guarantee a top-notch performance, are behind the scenes.

Bold and Beautiful - CEDIA Award WinnerConsider, for instance, the wall treatment in this 630-square-foot, 16-seat private screening room. While the Venetian plaster used throughout the home wasn’t acoustically sound, Cavitt found a solution in Baswaphon, an acoustical plaster that provides less highfrequency absorption than most acoustical fabric.

“Sam has used plaster on other jobs, but this is the first time we’ve used it residentially,”Mulligan says. “Performance-wise, it’s better than acoustical fabric, and we can do different things with it. You have some control with fabric, but you have more with stucco.”

To further elevate the acoustics in this home theater, the space is isolated as a room within a room (the home’s sleeping quarters are directly above the theater).

Additional acoustic considerations include the flooring: a combination of carpeting and Brazilian hard wood.

“The carpeting in the front of the home theater is [positioned] in the critical reflection points so it wouldn’t smear the sound, and it’s in all the seating locations,” he says.

“Our experience is that most home theaters are overly attenuated at the high-frequency range. We design rooms to provide a balanced sound field.”

Incorporating the maximum number of seats into a relatively small space, while creating the perfect sightline scenario, was another challenge. “With too many seats, your sightlines can denigrate—there’s a fine line between how many theater seats you can put in without causing issues with sound and video,” Mulligan says.

“While natural flagstone cannot be cut as thin as cultured stone because it splits, we did find one that allowed for a thin cutting.” The plywood beams are faux-finished to look like real wood, as are the leather-finish fabric grilles in the screen wall.

To that end, the room’s shell was extended downward by nearly 39 inches to accommodate the multiple tiered levels of Acoustic Innovations’ Charleston theater chairs. Several coats of rubberized compound were applied to the interior side of the concrete slab to waterproof the floor. In addition, the team installed a Runco VX-2, a long-throw 3-chip DLP projector, as far back in the room as they could: It’s enclosed within the back wall of the theater, and partially in the powder room.

The homeowners also demanded that their high-performance private screening room perform equally as well for soundtracks as for live vocal performances. “The JBL Synthesis II is the whole package—the amps, equalizer, processor and speakers,” says Mulligan.

“It has a surround processor and equalizer—it’s designed to work within a certain cubic size room. And it performs correctly and is much easier to calibrate. “It’s the biggest home theater we’ve done,” the electronic systems consultant continues, “and it is one of the best performing theaters we have ever done.”

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