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 ...
7.2.4 Home Theater Tour
Featuring Sony, Bowers & Wilkins, Anthem, JL Audio, & Stewart Filmscreen
7.2.4 Home Theater Tour
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. In this article we give special attention to how we calibrated the theater, including showing you some tricks for getting the most out of your surround sound.
Home Theater Video
Sony VPL-VW715ES 4K HDR Home Theater Projector
The Sony VPL-VW715ES has 1,800 lumens but more importantly, has great colors and processing. Since Sony makes the cameras used to shoot films and has its own film studio, Sony projectors are known for their image quality. In particular, in fast-motion scenes, you see no jitter or blocking. Since the ceilings are 11 feet tall, we have the projector mount dropping down to exactly the top of the screen to get the best picture possible. We’ve integrated calculations into the home theater design tool that show where to mount the projector. We’ve recently added the ability to also calculate all of the sightlines based on riser height and depth so we know how high to mount the screen off the floor to get maximum impact.
Home Theater Projection Screen
For this theater, we are using a 140” acoustically transparent 2.35 widescreen by Stewart Filmscreen. It is a Studiotech 130, meaning it has a gain of 1.3, so 30 percent more than standard white.
Home Theater Audio
LCR Home Theater Speakers
The front three speakers are all B&W CWM 7.3 S2 In-Wall Speakers, which are terrific in-wall theater speakers. They come with back boxes that both improve the bass and reduce sound transmission outside of the theater room. These each have a 1” carbon dome tweeter, a 4” continuum cone midrange, and two 6” aerofoil bass drives. As a general rule, when you are allocating a budget, you want to get the best front left, center, and right speakers and then have surround, rear, and atmos speakers with matching tweeters and timbre.
Rear Surround Speakers
For the rear surround speakers, we used the Bowers & Wilkins CWM 7.5 S2 In-Wall Speakers. These have the exact same 1” carbon dome tweeter along with a 5” continuum cone driver for midrange and bass. In this case, you don’t see the surround speakers because we have them covered with full-length acoustic panels wrapped with acoustically transparent cloth. Using this process, we cut out the absorptive material where the speakers are. We use this technique when customers want a clean look with the speakers fully hidden. The panels serve as both aesthetic and acoustic elements in the room.
The 4 atmos channels utilize Bowers & Wilkins CCM 7.5 S2 In-Ceiling Speakers with the exact same 1” carbon dome tweeter and a 7” continuum cone for bass and midrange. These are ideal for atmos because they are angled, so the fronts are playing towards the back and the rears are angled forward. This match-up of B&W speakers is one of the most commonly used in theaters because it achieves an incredible performance for the price–you are sort of maxing out the value proposition. We talk about these more in our overview videos on the entire Bowers & Wilkins in-ceiling and in-wall speaker offerings.
To continue this same look, we hid two JL Audio in-wall 8” subs in the front walls. These are part of the JL Audio IWS-System 208, which includes a 600 watt amplifier and two full bass enclosures that fit inside a regular 16” wide stud bay. The design is super cool the way they mount in the wall and provide full high excursion for the 8” woofers.
Surround Sound Receiver
We are using an Anthem MRX 1140 Receiver to power the system. This provides 140 watts per channel continuous power along with sub outs for the JL Audio subwoofers. If you are into theaters or audio, you know that Anthems receivers have been sold out and backlogged since they launched over a year ago. Audio Advice is the largest seller of Anthem for two main reasons. First, they simply sound amazing with great design, power supplies, and DACs. And second is their Anthem Room Correction software called ARC Genesis. We really can’t overstate how impressive this software is. Historically, good calibration systems were extremely expensive and very complex. Anthem has done a superb job making this software very user-friendly. So, if you are a do it yourselfer, you can easily learn it and calibrate your own system. Many of our DIY customers figure it out without ever calling us and those who want to go to the next level usually give us a call and we show them how to throw it into pro mode and tweak it to another level.
Calibration Tips & Tricks
When you set up your receiver, you want to first set all your distances. Now if you really want to do this right and have subwoofers with digital processing, then you want to increase the distance in your receiver to account for the delay in the subwoofer processor. In this case, the JL Audio processing adds 12 milliseconds of delay which converts to adding 12 feet to the distance. When you tell the processor that the subs are 12 feet farther away than they are, the processor then delays all of the other speakers by an extra 12 milliseconds so that the sub sound hits the main listening position at the same time as the other speakers. If you don’t know the delay in your subwoofer, check out our subwoofer calibration video where we show you exactly how to find the delay and phase align your subs.
Now that we have the distances right, we want to run room optimization on the subwoofers if they have it. In this case, the JL Audio subs have a great calibration system that is relatively automated. You essentially put the mic in the main listening position and hit one button to calibrate the subs. By doing these first, we free up processing power in the Anthem for the room correction. If you are setting up your own system or want to go back and get the most out of your own, be sure to watch our video on how to best set up a receiver that walks through the details of these steps. Once the subs are set, we run ARC Genesis on the Anthem. To do this, you start with your microphone in the main listening position facing upward with the small white dot facing forward. It is key to make sure you’ve turned off all extra noises when you run ARC Genesis, including your HVAC system and anything else creating excess noise. ARC Genesis will have you run test tones with the microphone in multiple positions. Remember that the first position is the most important as it will set the levels of the speakers. Once you are done, ARC will show you the before and after curves. Once that is done, be sure to quickly run through the Audio Advice audio and video calibration tones and patterns. These adjust the center channel speaker, get all of the video settings, correct, etc.
Once we are done with those calibrations, we listen to some movie clips we know really well. Oftentimes, we want a more powerful impact from a gunshot or explosion. For this, we go into ARC pro mode and bring up the room gain slightly. Most rooms sound really good with around 3-4db room gain. We then add a slight amount of deep bass boost. In this room, we added just 1 db of deep bass boost. If the room has an acoustically transparent screen and B&W speakers as this one does, we also will increase the maximum correction frequency all of the way up to 20khz vs. the default 5khz because the screen is slightly impacting the sound and has a greater effect at higher frequencies. This is also true of the acoustically transparent fabric covering the sides and rears. By recalculating the curves all of the way up to 20khz, you immediately get better imaging and highs. Anthem will be releasing an improved version of Arc Genesis that we have been beta testing that includes phase alignment. When they do, we will release a full video going through best practices on how to get the most of it.
Another important feature in this room is the utilization of good acoustic treatment principles. In this case, you don’t see the sides because we have them covered with acoustic panels. We used full-length acoustic panels wrapped with acoustically transparent cloth and then we cut out the absorptive material where the speakers are. We use this technique when customers want a clean look with the speakers fully hidden. The panels serve as both aesthetic and acoustic elements in the room.
When you only have a small location to place a rack, you have to come up with some innovative solutions. In this case, our team had to work with a small cabinet located inside the room on the side wall. Since this is such a tight space, our team designed a small rack with all the components needed and placed the rack on a rail system that slides out of the cabinet very easily. Underneath the rack is a small button that you can press and easily spin the rack around to access the cables and inputs without crawling inside the cabinet. This will allow the customer to make future upgrades and our techs to service the system with ease. Checkout our video to learn about best practices when designing an AV rack.
A good control system can add a lot to a room so everyone in the home can easily control the system without having a dozen remotes. In this case, the homeowners can use their phones or the Control4 260 remote to control it. You simply push the watch button and the system turns on. You’ll notice that we have three main layers of lights in the room, which follows the standards that we outline in our home theater design best practices video. We have the overhead can lights that we refer to as task lighting. Then, we have sconces that are designed for aesthetics and ambiance. Finally, we have step lights for safety and low-level lighting for movie watching. Each of these can be controlled separately from the remote, but more importantly, we have lighting scenes set up that control all of the lights together. For instance, a brighter scene for watching the big game with friends to a darker scene for movie watching, and then totally off when leaving the room.
The Control4 system handles everything from turning on the processor and projector to volume and navigation. Because the Sony has lens memory, we can also use one button press to change from a 16:9 aspect ratio to widescreen for watching movies. I got into this in more detail in our video on how widescreen works, but what is really happening here is that the projector is zooming out and there is actually a full 16:9 image being projected but since the top and bottom are black, it fills the screen for widescreen movies like this one. And finally, we’ve got one button press to turn everything off.
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!
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