Dolby Atmos 2-Channel & 5.2.4 Home Theater System Tour

Dolby Atmos Home Theater System Featuring:
Bowers & Wilkins, McIntosh, Sony, Naim, JBL Synthesis, VPI, Kaleidescape, and more!

Dolby Atmos 2-Channel & 5.2.4 Home Theater System Tour


Today, we’re touring a great Dolby Atmos home theater that doubles as an incredible high-performance stereo music system. 

We know you’ll enjoy seeing how we pulled off such a cool system in an open living room without using a dedicated home theater room or listening room. For those of you who follow our home theater showcases, you know we like to show something new in every build so, in this video, we spend some time showing how you can overcome substantial room layout challenges like this completely open floor plan and still achieve both a great stereo and movie experience with a terrific look at the same time. 

The homeowners originally came to us with several challenges. They wanted a state-of-the-art music system, but also wanted a home cinema experience, and they wanted it in their main open living area so they could enjoy it every day.

The husband wanted top-of-the-line in-room speakers for the best sound possible, while his wife wanted the room to look modern and clean and did not want to see any wires. Like many rooms, this 27" by 22" space is not an ideal room for building a home theater — for instance — there is nowhere to place side speakers.

However, we're not ones to shy away from a challenge for creating a great home theater system.

Our Home Theater + 2-Channel Solution

Since the audio was the homeowner’s number one priority, the system was designed using iconic Bowers & Wilkins 800 speakers, which are the biggest speakers in B&W’s famous 800 series lineup. They use dual 10” Aerofoil bass drivers, a 6” Continuum cone midrange, and their famous Diamond tweeter. This very large speaker is only 3 decibels down at an amazing low point of 15 Hz. For those of you into high-performance audio, you know that this means the speaker can play deep bass that you can not only hear but also feel. These B&W speakers are powered by McIntosh MC611 mono block amplifiers. The MC611’s have won numerous awards for their fantastic sound quality. With 600 watts of Quad Balanced power, they drive the B&W 800’s with ease and really make them come to life. These amps and the 800’s are generally considered sort of a magical combination that were made for each other. When you experience a speaker at this level driven by an amplifier with this much power, the dynamic contrasts are just unbelievable! 

We are using a McIntosh C49 as the solid-state preamplifier for the stereo part of this system. Build quality is fantastic on this preamp and it's made in the USA in Binghamton NY. 

Many of you probably know that McIntosh is the iconic American audio brand known for its incredible sound and unique look. McIntosh is most famous and recognized for its blue meters and glass front plates. McIntosh produces fantastic products that have a gorgeous aesthetic to match its great sound. 

When the homeowner wants to listen to music, he generally streams high-resolution music through the Naim NDX 2. This streamer has great DACs in it capable of streaming audio files at up to 32bit/384kHZ. It can play virtually every single format from WAV and FLAC to Apple Lossless–you name it, it’s got it — including Roon ready. He has a Naim Uniti Core which rips bit-perfect copies of his CDs that he streams through the NDX 2. So he can literally sit down with his phone or iPad and dial-up any song in high res format and immerse himself as if he were front row at a symphony concert. We are even using the Naim XPS-2 outboard power supply which gives the music an even quieter background and reveals very small details other traditional streaming systems do not reveal. 

Like many people, the homeowners have fallen back in love with vinyl over the past few years. The analog side of the two-channel system is a VPI Prime Signature with a Koetsu Rosewood Signature phono cartridge. The Koetsu Rosewood is a legendary phono cartridge and the VPI precision turntable and tonearm enables it to extract all of the subtle details from the record grooves. The VPI sits on a custom-made Ginko isolation base with a custom dust cover. For those of you not yet into vinyl, it's important to note that turntables need special phono preamplifiers to adjust their low-level signals before sending them to your stereo system. This setup features a newly upgraded phono preamp — the top-of-the-line Sutherland Big Loco. If you want to learn more about vinyl, check out our series of articles & videos that cover all things turntables — from buyer's guides to setup guides, and the largest selection of turntables and accessories for everyone from the novice to the expert.

  1. Transparent Transparent HDMI Cable Transparent HDMI Cable
    $310.00 - $910.00

  1. Transparent Plus Speaker Cables Transparent Plus Speaker Cable
    $1,000.00 - $2,110.00

  1. Transparent Premium 75-Ohm Digital Link Cable Transparent Premium 75-Ohm Digital Link Cable
    $790.00 - $1,960.00

  1. AudioQuest Cherry Cola HDMI Cable AudioQuest Cherry Cola Active Optical HDMI Cable
    $799.95 - $1,299.95

Home Theater Speakers & Sound

We chose the JBL Synthesis SDP-55 16 Channel Surround Sound Processor & Preamplifier. The SDP55 is one of our favorite surround sound processors. It can handle 16 channels with up to 4 independent subwoofers! It has great internal DACs built-in which allow it to paint a very three-dimensional sound stage for movie enjoyment. What makes this room so cool is how we’ve integrated the great stereo system with the home theater system. The left and right channels from this surround sound processor go straight into the McIntosh C49 home theater bypass input which essentially allows the signal to pass straight through the C49 untouched and go to the McIntosh amps for powering the B&W 800s. If you are looking to do a theater with a combined two-channel setup, you’ll want to look for stereo preamplifiers that have this bypass capability. If you are not sure, give us a call or chat with us and we will help you out.

Since the dialog is so important in movies, we are using another MC611 mono amplifier to power the B&W center channel. We are using the B&W HTM1 for the center with its dual 8” aerofoil bass drivers, 6’ continuum midrange, and 1” diamond dome tweeter to deliver deep and powerful voicing that matches the left and right towers. We actually designed a custom acoustic enclosure to hide it into the new fireplace frame. 

We are using matching B&W 805 bookshelf speakers on stands for the rears. So all of the main bed layer speakers are high-performance speakers in the room versus in-wall and all have matching diamond tweeters and continuum midrange drivers. What this does is provide amazingly transparent sound and vocals. 

We are using B&W 7.3 in-ceiling speakers for the four Dolby Atmos channels. The rears and Atmos are powered by a matching McIntosh MC257 amplifier. These help create that sense of sound bouncing off the ceiling to create the signature Dolby Atmos home theater system sound. 

When the system is being used for surround sound versus just music, it uses two top-of-the-line B&W DB1D subwoofers. These massive subs each use two 12” Aerofoil drive units in a balanced configuration powered by a 2,000-watt DSP controlled amp. They get down to an unbelievable low level of 10Hz providing tremendous bass impact for low-frequency special effects. We used Dirac room calibration which comes with the SDP55 surround sound processor to phase and time-align the two subs to each other and the rest of the system. In our video series on how to get the best audio from your theater, we offer a video on how to calibrate your subs where we cover how to do this in detail.

  1. Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 Bookshelf Speaker, Gloss Black, front angle without grille Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 Standmount Speaker - Each

  1. Bowers & Wilkins DB1D Subwoofer - Gloss Black - Side angle no grille Bowers & Wilkins DB1D Subwoofer

Home Theater Video Setup

We installed an 85” Sony Television, which fits perfectly in this room layout. In terms of video sources, this system has an AppleTV, Sony BluRay player, and a Kaleidescape 12 terabyte Strato. You can rent or purchase movies and they will download at substantially higher bitrates than what you can get from streaming movies online. It is the creme de la creme of movie servers.

We have an in-depth video review on the Kaleidescape system if you want to learn more. 

Home Theater Layout & Installation Challenges

Now, let’s get into some of the room challenges. Since they wanted high performance in this room and hidden cables, we had to tear out an existing wall and install a new sleek-looking shiplap wall with a linear fireplace and hidden center channel acoustic enclosure. 

There was a small low voltage closet with no ventilation that never would have worked for a system of this level. We installed two custom equipment racks to hold all of the equipment and showcase the McIntosh. In front of those racks is a beautiful Salamander stand that showcases the turntable on its isolation base. We were then challenged with how to ventilate it. Luckily, the closet backs up to a mudroom.

We shaved the bottom of the closet door and installed active, thermostatically controlled ventilation to pull in cool air and dump the warm air into the mudroom. We then added five 20 amp circuits to more than adequately power everything. All power amps go directly into the wall and the Transparent PowerWave Power Conditioner handles all critical source and low-level components. We also used Transparent audio cables throughout the system.

You would normally think that having an open room like this would be a huge issue. However, the open concept turned out to sound very great with the addition of some heavy drapes. Since it was not a rectangle, standing waves and reflections were minimal. Then, once we ran the Dirac room correction software, it really dialed in nicely.

So let’s go back and talk about vinyl again. To make sure his records are in the best possible condition, he has an Audio Desk Ultrasonic Record Cleaner vinyl cleaning system which is one of the coolest record cleaning machines we have ever seen. One button push engages a bath of fluid that automatically scrubs the record surface while the fluid is ultrasonically excited to help remove minute residue from the record. Then it dries the record on both sides at the same time. If you are into vinyl you should definitely check out our video on it.

After living with the system, the homeowner was looking for tweaks that he could implement to improve the sound even more. He has subsequently added IsoAcoustic Gaia isolation feet to the B&W 800 speakers and subwoofers and noted a substantial audio improvement. The Gaia feet were developed by IsoAcoustics in conjunction with the Canadian National Research Center.

These are not hocus-pocus upgrades but based on real-world laser infermentry measurements of an extensive array of materials and designs to achieve the best outcome. If you have a good set of floor-standing speakers you should seriously consider looking at the IsoAcoustics system. They have a variety of custom thread patterns and weight ranges to fit just about any speaker. If you are not sure which ones to use, just give us a call, chat with our team or stop by one of our showrooms.

Home Theater Automation

Finally, the system is controlled using Control4 so there is one simple remote that turns on the television, and all of the equipment and makes controlling it a breeze. The homeowners can also use their phones or iPads for simple, easy control as well.

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!

Featured Products

  1. Sony BRAVIA XR 75" X95J 4K LED TV, front view Sony BRAVIA XR-X95J 4K HDR Full Array LED TV (2021)
    $1,998.00 - $4,498.00

  1. Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 Bookshelf Speaker, Gloss Black, front angle without grille Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 Standmount Speaker - Each

  1. Bowers & Wilkins DB1D Subwoofer - Gloss Black - Side angle no grille Bowers & Wilkins DB1D Subwoofer

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.

Installation Videos

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.

Copyright © 2022 Audio Advice. All rights reserved.