Photos by Eric Bakke
City: Denver, Colorado
Installer: Ultimate Electronics
A lot of people dream about having a dedicated home theater room, but Chris Mauzy's customers wanted him to do something different: move the home theater out of the basement and into the more social environment of the main living space.
Mauzy, regional installation manager at Ultimate Electronics, says that a growing number of their customers don't want to retreat to a dark basement room for TV and movie viewing. "The owner, an entrepreneur, said he wanted us to take some of the cool things we did downstairs and bring them up to the family room where he could entertain, throw football parties, or have people walk around and always be within view of a big, beautiful picture."
Mauzy took an unusual approach to achieving that goal, installing both a 73-inch Mitsubishi WS73711 rear-projection HDTV ($6,600) and a Sharp XV-Z10000 DLP (Digital Light Processing) front projector ($9,000). The Mitsubishi, mounted in a rock wall and tilted toward the sofa, serves as the room's focal point. The massive TV was elevated off the floor so the KEF Reference 204c center speaker could be flush-mounted in the rock below it. Floor-standing KEF Reference 205 speakers flank the set, while two Klipsch SCW-3 in-wall speakers handle the surround channels.
The projector is almost completely out of sight, hidden behind a cutout in the soffit molding near the ceiling. A 106-inch Draper screen drops down directly in front of the Mitsubishi set when the projector is being used. "When you walk into that room, you don't even know there's a projector in the ceiling," observes fellow installer Trevor Jefferies.
The decision to go with both front- and rear-projection setups might seem like overkill, but Mauzy says the owners can't get enough of large-screen viewing. Because the front-projection setup is more sensitive to ambient light, they typically use the rear-projection TV during the day, saving the front projector for movies and special sporting events during evening hours and at night. As Ultimate Electronics has grown - the 58-store chain now employs 400 installers - it has shied away from traditional three-gun CRT projectors "due to the complexity of setup and maintenance," Jefferies says. "We now opt for LCD and DLP models."
Mauzy calls Denver "one of the most challenged HDTV markets" in the country because no programming is available via cable, and the off-air reception is spotty due to the city's proximity to the mountains and a local "anti-tower" movement. That's why he wired the house for both satellite and off-air HDTV, in the hope that cable will soon come on board.
The owners' high-def viewing doesn't stop when they leave their home theater room. The $100,000 installation has HDTVs throughout the house, including a 50-inch Mitsubishi plasma display mounted above a fireplace in the adjacent living room and a 37-inch LCD screen mounted on a pivot in the wife's office.
While this installation posed a lot of challenges, both Jefferies and Mauzy are pleased with their solutions, particularly the way they concealed the front projector and how Jefferies distributed the HDTV signal between the rear-projection set and the front projector using an MTI commercial-video distribution module. But one more job is still pending: the owner wants his laptop computer wired into the main entertainment system. "He wants to be able to play his flight simulator on both the rear-projection TV and the big Draper screen," Mauzy explains.
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