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....
Home Theater with MASSIVE 179” Screen, 177 Speaker Drivers & 10,000 Lumen Projector
Complete with MartinLogan In-Wall Speakers, Sony VPL-GTZ380 Laser Projector, & JL Audio Subs!
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 when we were finished.
For those of you who subscribe to our YouTube channel, you know we like to show something new in every single video. For this video, we focused on how to solve both the space and design challenges of smaller room sizes, and then we show you how to fit an ultra-high-performance theater into a more compact space.
At the end of the video, we demoed the theater with our binaural mic setup to simulate the experience of sitting in this room. Hopefully, our video will give you a good sense of just how immersive this theater is. We chose every single component in this theater for its performance — so, in this article, we will tell you more about each piece of equipment, and why we chose it.
Before The Install
Home Theater Video
The customer came to us with the challenge of upgrading his home theater to the highest-level performance possible, while also still fitting everything into his existing room size. The dimensions of the room were only 18’ 3” deep x 15’ wide x 8’ high, which is a fairly compact-sized room. Because of the room’s dimensions and limitations, the first thing we knew we had to do was move all of the speakers into the walls, using our free home theater design tool,
With the dimensions of the room, the customers’ previous 140” screen provided a pretty average level of immersion. However, our goal for this new design was to increase the screen size to be as big as possible for the room. By moving to in-wall speakers, we were able to increase the size of the screen to a full 179” — which provides extreme immersion that felt more like the experience of an IMAX theater.
Sony VPL-GTZ38 4K SXRD Laser Projector
To achieve the highest video performance possible, we used the flagship Sony VPL-GTZ380 Laser Projector — which is the ultimate home theater projector. The Sony VPL-GTZ380’s provides 10,000 lumens and a powerful laser that requires a 240-volt outlet.
Since the ceiling was only 8 feet high, we needed to place this projector in a location that was far enough away forward, so that people wouldn't bump their heads on the projector whenever they stood up. Using a Future Automation mount, we were able to mount the projector 4” from the ceiling — which was no easy task for a 121-pound projector! A special short-throw lens is ultimately what allowed us to move the projector to be as far forward as possible.
Stewart Filmscreen StudioTek 100 Projector Screen & Balon Edge Screen Frame
Since the Sony VPL-GTZ380’s laser light engine provides 10,000 lumens, we were able to use a Stewart Filmscreen StudioTek 100 screen with a perfect gain of 1. Combined with the projector, this provided incredible contrast and a beautifully uniform image across the entire screen.
Next, we floated the screen off the speaker wall at about 8”, using custom mounts that Stewart made for us. These were based on our own designs and detailed each speakers’ specific locations within the wall. After that, we filled the wall behind the screen with Auralex absorption panels to address any reflections off the speaker wall.
By using Stewart’s Balon Edge Screen Frame, which is only ½” wide, we created an incredibly sleek look that allowed us to use the extra space from traditionally larger frames to further maximize the screen size. This also meant we had to absolutely nail the mounting of the projector and the setup since there was virtually no excess border to overscan.
Home Theater Audio
MartinLogan Statement 40XW In-Wall Speakers
This room sounded incredible with 177 speaker drivers!
The front three speakers are MartinLogan Statement 40XW In-Wall Speakers. The 40XW’s are MartinLogan's flagship architectural speakers, which leverage the same technology as their top-of-the-line floor standing speakers. These speakers have forty drivers each with sixteen tweeters, sixteen 3.5” midrange speakers, and eight 6.5” woofers!
The Statements are line source speakers, which means unlike traditional speakers, they have a vertical line of sound and a very controlled dispersion pattern. Having a line source with the folded motion tweeter allowed the speakers to control dispersion vertically and leverages 80 degrees horizontally. With this dispersion pattern, they direct more of the sound at the viewers instead of unintended spaces. It’s almost impossible to describe just how good the performance is with these speakers. Their imaging is just off-the-charts incredible, and they can move from a tiny pin drop sound to the most chest-thumping explosion in an instant.
One of the design challenges was installing the 7’ back boxes into a false wall — just in front of the load-bearing wall. If you ever work with our designers, you will see that we work through all of the calculations of sightlines and we even map out exactly how to frame your wall correctly.
In this case, we literally tore down the old wall and rebuilt it to fit these speakers perfectly. When we installed the back boxes, we had to custom frame the wall and the top braces to fit the speakers. These boxes then isolated and decoupled the speaker from the wall itself, so once we put in the insides of the box, the sheetrock matched up perfectly. Our final step was putting in the speaker driver box and then connecting the speaker cables. There literally wasn’t even one inch to spare when we fitted these into the space!
MartinLogan Edge Surround Speakers & Sistine 4XC Atmos Speakers
We installed four MartinLogan Edge In-Wall side surround speakers and a pair of rears that matched up with folded motion tweeters and matching midrange drivers and woofers. We used six MartinLogan Sistine 4XC In-Ceiling Atmos Speakers that have 8” woofers as well as midrange and folded motion tweeters. In total, there were 174 high-performance MartinLogan drivers in this system!
JL Audio 13.5” Fathom Subwoofers
Next, we augmented the MartinLogan speakers with dual JL Audio Fathom IWSv2-SYS-213 13.5” In-Wall Subwoofers in the front and one JL Audio Fathom 13.5" 300W Subwoofer in the back. We had exactly just enough space to design the front wall to fit the in-wall subs with the MartinLogan Statements behind the screen.
Only more recently, could you actually pull off this kind of performance in a wall. To get anywhere near this level of performance, you would normally have had to use floor-standing speakers, instead — which simply were not an option given the constraints of the space.
Home Theater Rack Components & Sources
A full stack of McIntosh gear
To power the speaker system, we installed a stack of McIntosh equipment. We used the McIntosh MX170 Surround Sound Processor as the brain for everything — and this was connected to a set of McIntosh amplifiers that were matched up for each speaker.
First, in the rack, we started with a McIntosh MC402 Amplifier to power the left and right speakers for maximum performance with two-channel audio. Next, a McIntosh MC255 5-Channel Solid State Amplifier is followed to power the center and surround speakers. Finally, there are two McIntosh MI254 4-Channel Digital Amplifiers that power the atmos and rear speakers.
For those of you who are audiophiles, you already know the reputation and the level of quality McIntosh equipment is known for. Their products are all made in the United States as well, which is pretty darn cool.
The McIntosh processor comes with room-perfect calibration. If you have watched any of our calibration best practices videos, you will know that subwoofer calibration comes first, and then full room correction — which is what we did in this room. However, since the rack is on a totally different floor of the house, we had to first run the subwoofer calibrations with the sub amp in the theater, and then subsequently move it up to the rack.
To achieve the desired screen size and our seating goals, there was absolutely no room to put the rack inside of the theater — or even close to it. So, we needed to run an HDMI cable to the rack, which was approximately 100 feet away. After testing several solutions for a run this large, we chose to use a 30 meter AudioQuest Cherry Cola HDMI cable, and this worked like a charm. To that end, we used AudioQuest HDMI cables throughout the system.
madVR Envy Extreme Video Processor
Another really cool component we installed is the madVR Envy Extreme Video Processor.
This box takes the HDMI output from the surround sound processor and processes the video feed before sending it to the Sony projector. The Envy Extreme is the most advanced video processor made, and it does a superb job of converting the video to the best image possible. We actually measured the exact brightness in nits, and then we put these settings into the Envy so that it could deliver incredible HDR tone mapping — which ultimately creates the best-looking picture.
The Envy has a host of killer features — but a few of our favorites are black bar reduction and non-linear stretch. In real-time, these identify the aspect ratio of a signal coming in. If the incoming signal is 2.0:1, the Envy will see the bars on the left and right, and eliminate them by following whatever adjustments you set it for. If you watch sports, you usually can cut off some of the bottom and the top without impacting the field of play or your view of the score. If you watch a movie in 2.0:1, then you can set it up to leave the center normal and stretch out the corners a little more. The end result leverages your full-screen size for almost any content and you will be shocked at how well it does this!
Another great feature is subtitle handling. Usually, if you are watching a 2.4 movie and the subtitles come up, they are below the screen. The Envy can see that they are below the screen, and in real-time, adjust the image to show the subtitles, and then zip back to normal once the subtitles are gone. This is almost impossible to describe, but it's really cool!
For the best possible picture, we chose a Kaleidescape movie server as the source.
Kaleidescape is the ultimate movie solution for experiencing bit-perfect copies of the original film. You can either purchase or rent what is essentially like having the actual movie file for your system, delivering spectacular video and audio. You do have to plan a bit ahead as these files are very large and take 20 minutes and up to download.
This home theater rack also includes a Playstation 5 and Roku 4K Ultra.
Kinetics Acoustic Panels
Kinetics makes custom acoustic panels for both residential and commercial use.
One advantage is their custom program where you can get the panel type you need made to any size with hundreds of fabric choices. These were the perfect choice for the spaces we needed to cover with panels in this theater.
Home Theater Automation & Control
Everything in the theater is controlled with one simple remote from Control 4. Control 4 gives you easy access to all the functions for everything from the lights, to the screen aspect ratio, and even motorized shades.
Lutron motorized shades were used for lighting control — which allowed the room to go from an open and airy look with the shades up — to a fully darkened movie theater with them down.
If you are thinking about building a home theater or updating yours, be sure to check out 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 our customers in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, and surrounding areas 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
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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.
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