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Audiophile Boosts Sound in Near Perfect Theater
This home theater had it all—until the owner brought in additional high performance speakers.
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August 07, 2008 by Steven Castle

What could be better than a seriously fab audiophile theater designed by home theater guru Theo Kalomirakis and served by Revel front speakers? Try the same theater upgraded with B&W’s advanced CT8 custom series speakers. Then bi-amplify them—meaning separate amplifiers feeding the high and low frequencies—with 300-watt-per-channel Mark Levinson #436 power amps. That means 600 watts are delivered to each front speaker. Even sweeter, the glorious sound waves are fed from a Mark Levinson #40 audio/video preamp.

“It’s a large theater, about 24 feet wide, 36 feet long, 15-plus feet tall,” says Brian Hudkins of audio/video installation company Gramophone, of Timonium, MD. “The Revel speakers are extra high performance, but they were dynamically limited for the volume of this room. The homeowner loved the sound. He just wanted more out of it, and when we heard what the B&W CT8s could do, we knew we had a solution.”

“The homeowner really loves great music and great audio. First thing he wanted to focus on was improving dynamics of the audio system,” Hudkins says. 

To make the system perform optimally for both music and movies, the B&W electronic crossovers separate the frequencies to the drivers of the 3-way speakers for music, and for movies those are turned off in favor of the low-frequency effects channel on the Mark Levinson No. 40 processor.

Gramophone was able to match the six Revel M20 surround channel speakers with the B&Ws, as well as the B15 Revel subwoofers. Existing Proceed amps HP2A amps continue to power those channels. 

Acoustician Steve Haas of SH! Acoustics, who designed the acoustical treatments of the room when it was first built in 2001, returned to tune the upgraded system to the room, using digital signal processors.

The room is acoustically isolated from the rest of the house and is located below the kitchen, where Hudkins says the powerful home theater could never be heard, until now. “We got a gain of about 15 decibels in the theater,” says Hudkins.

Another recent upgrade was the addition of a Kaleidescape movie server that stores DVDs to an array of hard drivers and can call them up instantly. 

Not to be forgotten in this theater is the 3-chip Runco VX-3C 720p DLP projector and massive 165-inch GrayHawk screen from Stewart Filmscreen. The homeowner has his eyes set on a 1080p-resolution upgrade as well, but want to be sure the Kaleidescape system can support Blu-ray Disc and its 1080p resolution. And that, friends, would be sweeter than sweet. 

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

Equipment

Runco VX-3C 3-chip DLP projector
Stewart Filmscreen 165-inch GrayHawk Fixed Wide Screen
B&W CT8-LR Speakers (2)
B&W CT8-CC Speaker
Revel M-20 Speakers (6)
Revel B15 Subwoofers (2)
DirecTV HR20-700s satellite receiver
Kaleidescape 5000 Movie/Music System
Lexicon RT-10 DVD player
Mark Levinson #40 A/VPreamp
Mark Levinson #436 Power amps (6)
Pioneer CLD-53 Laser Disc
Proceed HPA2 Power amps (3)
Symnet 8x8 DSP Audio Processor
Symnet Break In 12 Audio Processor
Symnet Break Out 12 Audio Processor
Crestron Control system
Monster M1000 Interconnection Cables
Monster Power HTS-51000MK2 Surge Protection (2)
Minuteman E1500 Surge Protection

System Design & Installation
Gramophone, Timonium, MD
www.gramophone.com


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