As cool as all of those things are, the home's crown jewel is the media room upstairs. Phil was very specific about his first priority - a big, clear picture. "Going into so many people's homes," he says, "I would walk into their projection room with its 90- or 100-inch screen, and it would be so fuzzy that I'd have to squint."
Accordingly, we chose Runco's VX-2ix projector, a THX-certified three-chip DLP model. Beyond a terrific picture, the Runco offers a variety of lens options and horizontal- and vertical-offset adjustments that ensured we could place the projector exactly where we needed. (A steel support beam running in the back of the room limited our location choices.) We paired the Runco with a 126-inch-diagonal Screen Research woven screen. I had used Screen Research models on other projects, and I felt confident that the image would look great without the screen material having any effect on the sound coming from the front left, center, and right speakers placed behind it.
Since Phil wanted the media room's speakers and electronics to be hidden, we chose B&W's flagship Signature 8NT in-wall speakers for the front channels, coupled with the matching acoustic enclosures. Two pairs of B&W Signature 7NTs handle the side and back surround channels. Rod and Sandy took my suggestion of using double-wall construction for the media room to help reduce the sound escaping from the space. But after I worked up a scale drawing of how the screen would sit on the wall and where the speakers would need to be arrayed behind it for the best sound, it was obvious that the front wall would need to be reframed - which Rod took in stride.
Denon's monstrous AVR-5805 MkII receiver drives the speakers, and since it has 10 amplifier channels, we biamped the front speakers for maximum effect. To make sure that low frequencies weren't overlooked, we turned to Definitive Technology's massive SuperCube Trinity Reference sub. The result is nothing short of amazing.
"The Runco system is so clear that I tell people they can go to any Carmike Cinema in town and they won't get the experience I've got," Phil says. "And the sound is so real that, if you closed your eyes, you wouldn't know if you were outside or sitting in my theater. You hear and experience all of the little sounds you normally miss. When bullets start flying in a movie, you can feel them in your seat. When glass shatters, you look at your arm to make sure you aren't cut - it's that real. You just don't get that experience in a commercial theater. After a movie or demo, my guests walk out of here just shaking their heads in disbelief."
Control of the media room is simplified by using a large Elan Via2 Wireless touchpanel controller. But this wasn't without hiccups. As Andrew Petroski explains, "Phil's dedicated theater remote proved to be a real challenge. At the time of the install, it was a relatively new product for Elan, and we had some initial-release problems. We spent several hours on the phone with Elan working out the various bugs, and after troubleshooting each piece in the control system - touchpanel, router, cables, and connections - it all came down to one piece, the Elan SS1 System Station, that was causing all of our grief. We replaced that, and so far we haven't had any more problems."
Phil has grown to love his media room. "We didn't initially watch a lot of movies, but we're starting to do that more now with the new theater," he says. "I love the convenience of being able to pause a movie if we get tired and then pick it up and finish it in the bedroom."
Song From My Soundtrack calls on audio professionals from the consumer electronics industry, the music industry, and from S&V's own staff to talk about one tune that made a big difference in their lives.
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