June 16, 2009
by Arlen Schweiger
Forget being acoustically treated—this home theater was artistically treated.
One step into the basement of this suburban New York residence, and you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of a hip-hopping nightclub. Its owner is a part-time disc jockey who wanted an entertainment space that could serve as a mini-disco, but that would also include a powerhouse home theater.
“A friend of [the homeowner] did the painting and it’s just so unique. It jumps right at you when you get in there, and you’re not even thinking that it’s a theater,” says Bob Ainley of electronics systems installer Robert Allen Multimedia. “In the New York metro area you grow up seeing a lot of graffiti, in some zones where it’s even condoned and they’ll let artists put on shows and demonstrate their work. In here with movies playing, it’s like artforms blending together.”
When the lights go down, the screen steals the show. After all, it’s 120 diagonal inches and can display CinemaScope-wide movies without the pesky black bars.
The Stewart Filmscreen model can also mask the sides for 16:9 HDTV viewing or even standard-def 4:3. When a disc is inserted into the LG Blu-ray player, the default screen setting is unmasked at 2.35:1; if the owner is watching TV, the default masks to 16:9.
To ensure a dark viewing environment, Ainley programmed the Crestron automation system to command the area’s blackout shades that descend over the windows at the press of a touchpanel button. The owner can also hit a button that draws a curtain to close off the theater room (though it’s not part of the MOVIE automation sequence that lowers the shades, dims the lighting and readies the electronics).
Other sections of the basement include a DJ mixing booth routed to “club” speakers, and there’s also a pool table, piano and bar. Ainley’s work focused on the theater itself, which employs a full-blown Niles Audio 7.2-channel StageFront speaker system. Plumbing in the right wall made for a tight work space, and also led Ainley to position the two subwoofers facing each other below the center channel rather than in the corners.
“Obviously he wanted the audio loud and dynamic,” Ainley says, “and he liked the kind of industrial, club look of the bare speakers in the front cabinet.” The side and rear surrounds were painted to blend into the graffiti scene, another creative mix of sight and sound.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.