In this home theater showcase, we’re excited to share a new theater we recently finished in a brand new home. We will cover everything in the theater itself and discuss the room, equipment and acoustic treatment. We also give special attention to how we calibrated the theater, including showing you some tricks for getting the most out of your ...
5.2.2 Home Theater Tour w/ Full Timelapse & Star Ceiling Install
Featuring JBL Synthesis, Epson, SVS, Integra, & Vicoustics
5.2.2 Home Theater Tour
In this home theater showcase, we’re excited to share how we converted an upstairs bonus room into a unique theater space. What made this project so much fun is how many challenges we faced since this was a total retrofit in an existing space and home. Pretty much any homeowner can relate to wanting a great theater in their own home, but every time they think about where to put it, they just run into too many issues. In this article, we will cover the entire process from start to finish, including an in-depth overview of how we tackled the unique acoustic and design challenges of this space.
Home Theater Video
Epson 4050 4K Home Theater Projector
One of the key goals of this theater was to have a bright, strong image closer to what you’d get from a television screen. To achieve this, we used the Epson 4050 4K PRO-UHD Projector with HDR. Epsons are well known for having the highest lumen capability for the money. Combined with the gain of the projector screen, the 2,400 lumens easily fill this screen with a powerful image.
Home Theater Projection Screen
For this theater, we are using a 138” acoustically transparent Cinemascope screen by Stewart Filmscreen with a gain of 1.3.
Home Theater Audio
At 18 feet deep and 16 feet wide, the room is a bit too small for box speakers, so we used a variety of in-wall speakers & subwoofers to maximize the space.
The front left, center, and right speakers are JBL Synthesis SCL-6 In-Wall Speakers. These speakers have four 5.25-inch woofers, but what really makes them sing is JBL’s patented 1” compression drivers mated with a high definition imaging horn. These have two major advantages over traditional speakers. First, they have tremendous dynamics. Because compression drivers have force behind them, they are incredibly efficient and can go from the tiny sound of a pin drop to the powerful blast of an explosion in an instant. The second advantage is that the compression drivers are behind wave guides that control the dispersion in the room. The SCL-6 is an on-axis speaker — this means the wave guide sends the sound straight forward — enabling consistent, smooth frequency response across all four seats in the theater. This also minimizes reflected sounds bouncing off the side walls ceiling, and other features in the room. With French doors opening to the entrance and three large windows on the far side, the JBL Synthesis speakers helped us overcome these challenges by controlling dispersion before doing any calibration.
Atmos & Surround Speakers
The rear speakers are JBL Synthesis SCL-7 In-Wall Speakers, which are the off-axis sister speakers to the SCL-6s used up front. The SCL-7s have two of the 5.25-inch woofers and the same compression driver, but there is one big difference as to why we used the 7s in the rear — they fire off-axis at a 15 degree angle and have a 90 degree horizontal dispersion. This makes them ideal for situations like this where you want the rear speakers very wide since there are no sides but want to cover the full listening area.
For the atmos speakers, we chose the JBL Synthesis SCL-8 In-Ceiling Speakers. As you may have guessed, these have matching 5.25-inch woofers and the same matching tweeter as the fronts and rears. The SCL-8s are ideal for atmos as they play off-axis at a 45 degree angle with a 60 degree spread and easily cover all four seats while controlling the dispersion — just like we mentioned earlier. We custom integrated them into the star ceiling so they are completely hidden from view.
Now that we have smooth and controlled dispersion from all surround sound speakers, we need to provide powerful but consistent bass across all four seating positions. To do this, we used two SVS SB-3000 subwoofers. These each boast 13” high excursion woofers delivering 800 watts RMS with 2,500 watts of peak power each. We’ll go into more detail about the difference between continuous and peak power ratings in a future piece of content, but suffice it to say, these subs can move an enormous amount of air and fill this room easily.
Surround Sound Receiver
All of these speakers are powered by an Integra DRX 5.4 9.2 Channel Surround Sound Receiver. The Integra has 120 watts per channel of outstanding power. When you combine this power with the high efficiency of the JBL Synthesis speakers, you get incredible dynamics from this system.
Home Theater Acoustic Panels
The next thing we did was to utilize good acoustic treatment principles. Obviously, the thick carpet and heavy drapes help a lot. But to further address the reflective effects, we used a custom star ceiling that is also a large acoustic panel. It’s both aesthetically cool and acoustically functional. Then, we added eight Vicoustic Cinema Round absorption panels. So at this point, we’ve done everything we can to set up the room to sound good. The final piece of the puzzle was to use Dirac Bass calibration that comes with the Integra 5.4 receiver. Dirac Bass calibration analyzes the frequency response of the speakers, including the impact of the room, and adjusts everything to smooth out the response.
Another challenge in this room was that the room dimensions are not naturally good for audio. In addition to having the big windows on the side, if you look at the dimensions, which are 18 feet deep, 16 feet wide and 9 feet high, the depth is exactly double the ceiling height and the width is almost equal to the depth. If you were designing a perfect room, you would avoid dimensions that are multiples of each other or that have the same length and width because of the way that sounds bounce around the room and certain frequencies are cancelled or multiplied. If you are designing a room from scratch and want to learn more about this, check out our article on Home Theater Design Best Practices, which covers room dimensions and all of the major topics for designing a theater.
Many of you will find yourself in a situation like this where the room is not optimal. Yes, we could have created a fake wall and shortened the room, but then it would have tightened the space and made the length and width even closer. To avoid this, we employed a host of techniques that collectively led to a great outcome. The first thing we did was to use the JBL Synthesis SCL speakers that give us great dispersion control. The second thing we did was to use two subwoofers versus one subwoofer. The more subs you add into a room, the more you can evenly control the bass across multiple listening seats. In this particular room, it made most sense to position the subs towards the front left and right. We then set them up perfectly in phase with each other and despite the challenging dimensions of the room, ended up with a good bass curve. If you want to learn more about where to place your subwoofers or how to calibrate them to get everything in phase and evenly distributed, check out our article on subwoofer placement and setup.
To demo the final audio performance of this theater, we used the famous lobby scene from The Matrix, which we included in our rundown of the top 10 Dolby Atmos movies. This movie was remastered and released in Dolby Atmos. This scene really challenges a system because it has an aggressive electronic soundtrack overlaid on top of a shooting scene. So it is very easy for a system to get overwhelmed and lose imaging, particularly if you have an acoustically challenging room. Between the music, graphics, and everything going on in the scene, this theater’s sound system was put through the test and passed with flying colors —every shot and movement was imaged perfectly in the room. So one of the big takeaways from this home theater installation should be that you can take a less than ideal environment and with good design, installation and calibration, you can turn it into a great home theater room.
If you are thinking about building a home theater or updating yours, be sure to check out Home Theater Central, including our free 3D home theater designer where you can design your system, see lots of videos of complete installations like this one, and browse our inspiration gallery and how-to videos.
At Audio Advice, we've been designing and installing high-performance home theaters & smart home systems for decades. In fact, we've delivered more custom theaters than anyone in the Southeast! We are now offering Home Theater Design no matter where you live in the United States. If you are interested in a custom home theater or upgrading your current system, give us a call at 888.899.8776, chat with us, or stop by one of our award-winning showrooms.
We can't wait to help you build your ultimate home theater!
FREE Interactive 3D Home Theater Design Tool
Enter your room dimensions, audio, and video preferences while it designs your theater in real-time. Receive optimal screen size, seating locations, speaker locations, and receive precise measurements for your room layout. Work with our system designers via chat, email, phone, or in-store for expert advice, product selections, and more.
Explore some of our most recent custom install projects. From DIY to full custom install, our design and install teams are here to support you every step of the way.
In this home theater showcase, we’re excited to share how we converted an upstairs bonus room into a unique theater space. See how we used products from Epson, Stewart Filmscreen, JBL Synthesis, Integra, and Vicoustic to solve some of the challenges we faced since this was a total retrofit in an existing space and home....
In this home theater tour, we are excited to share a theater that has a lot of really cool custom elements, including backlit acoustic paneling & unique smart home integration. Featuring a Sony VPL-VW915ES, Bowers & Wilkins Architectural Speakers and In-Wall JL Audio Subs, this theater is the perfect retreat for the family....
This ultra-high-performance home theater has 177 speaker drivers and a 10,000-lumen projector! The customer wanted to update their previous theater to the highest audio and video performance possible. Given the size of the room and the sheer power of the audio system behind it, it truly was one of the most immersive theaters we had ever seen whe...
In this showcase, we are super excited to show you a killer 7.4.4 theater we just finished installing in an unfinished 3rd-floor attic. Watch our video, where we show you the space before we started and how we attacked the design challenges. Then, we show you a full timelapse of the buildout and installation. Finally, we demo the theater with ou...
For this tour, we are in a townhome that is being rented by one of our customers. When it comes to creating an immersive theater experience, a lot of construction can often be involved. This just simply isn’t feasible when you’re renting a space and don’t want to knock a ton of holes in your walls. Another challenging aspect of this living...
Heco 5.1.2 Home Theater Showcase w/ Sony KD-85X91J 85” TV, Vicoustic Panels, Integra, MartinLogan, & SVS
Watch our latest video featuring a near-field home theater that we recently installed in a relatively compact bonus room. While we have many home theater showcases, the majority of them cover homes with dedicated theater rooms. The reality is that many people don’t have that kind of extra space available, but still want to create a cinematic e...
In addition to residential services, Audio Advice has a specialty in audio, video, and smart systems in commercial spaces. Audio Advice recently installed incredible audio and video systems in the Bainbridge Aviation Crossings apartment complex in Morrisville, NC. The concept was to create a terrific ambiance in the common areas and great functi...
When we were approached by a long-time customer in 2017 about building an ultimate home theater, we knew this was going to be a fun project. The client had a small theater we installed in 2010 and had upgraded a couple of times. The couple was building a new garage and wanted to make the room above the garage a state-of-the-art theater with as b...
In this showcase, we illustrate the result of changing out traditional builder-grade canned lights with high-performance DMF fixtures. We will show you before photos as we go along so you can see how much better the light is just by implementing good design techniques in terms of color temperature, intensity levels, and using aimable lights. In ...