May 01, 2008 by Lisa Montgomery
Living in the country suits the owners of this custom-crafted theater. “They can get away from the noise of the city, sit on the back porch and gaze at the stars,” says A/V systems designer Harry Blanchard of HiFi House Group in Broomall, PA. In keeping with the owners’ desire for peaceful living, Blanchard and his team designed the 375-square-foot, basement- level theater to be totally soundproof. Absolutely no sound seeps out of the space. “Our soundproofing technique worked so well that even when nothing is playing the owners can’t hear the doorbell ring,” says Blanchard. The crew solved that problem by installing a strobe light that flashes automatically when someone presses the doorbell. HiFi House Group hushed the space by implementing what it calls a “room within a room” construction. The technique involved building new floors, walls and ceiling within a specific space. Special suspension mechanisms were employed to prevent the interior shell from touching the existing outer core. “We had to pay close attention to every detail when floating the room,” says Blanchard. “If somebody had accidentally driven a screw through to the exterior walls, it would have defeated the purpose.”
The owners had a specific size of room in mind, so Blanchard had to build out the walls only a 1⁄2 inch from the exterior walls. “Floorstanding box speakers would have been too deep to recess into the walls without breaking the barrier we worked so hard to create,” he explains. So Blanchard used low-profile in-wall speakers instead and built his own floating boxes around them to prevent the sound from drifting out the back of the speakers. Similar floating boxes were constructed for the room’s recessed light fixtures. “Although lights don’t produce sound, audio will escape through them,” says Blanchard. Even the entrance to the room was beefed up. HiFi House Group utilized a solid-core door and an existing farmhouse door to insulate the space. “The double-door technique is one I had seen used in recording studios,” says Blanchard.
Once the shell was constructed, HiFi House Group carefully installed a Meridian D-ILA 1080p projector and a 110-inch Studiotek 130 Stewart Filmscreen screen. All of the audio/video components, including a Sony Blu-Ray player, a high-def cable box and Crestron 7.1 surround-sound processor are stowed inside a specially constructed closet. A 5.7-inch color Crestron touchpanel controls all of the equipment, and it couldn’t be easier to use. The opening page of the panel asks what the owners would like to watch or listen to. They enter their selection, and the Crestron system sets everything up, including the lights.
The last piece of the home theater puzzle was the artwork on the walls. The glass picture frames were calculated into the acoustic environment from the get-go, but the owners couldn’t decide what to display until the theater was almost complete. Blanchard found the ideal wall decor while surfing the NASA web site. The series of free downloadable high-resolution photos of planets, stars and comets was not only visually stunning but would fit the name of the farm, Starry Night, perfectly.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.
Meridian D-ILA MF1S 1080p video projector
Stewart Filmscreen 110-inch Studiotek 130 screen
Meridian MDMAX 121 HDMI interface
Sony BDPS-1 Blu-Ray player
Crestron C2N-DAP8 7.1 surround-sound processor
Crestron CNAMPX-7x200 7-channel amplifier
SpeakerCraft MT8four speakers (7)
Definitive Technology Super Cube 1 subwoofers (2)
Crestron CP2E control systems
Crestron STX-1700 CXP SmarTouch wireless touchpanel
Lutron Grafik Eye lighting system
Middle Atlantic equipment rack and shelves
Acoustic Innovations Charleton theater seats (8)
Tripp-Lite HTR-15-2U surge suppressor
Monster Cable HTPS-7000 PowerCenter
Systems Design & Installation
HiFi House Group
Arcer and Buchanan
West Chester, PA
Chester Springs, PA
Boca Raton, FL
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