For most homes, a dedicated home theater space is all the rage. It's the perfect balance of functional living space without compromising any of the benefits of a home theater. David Athey, principal of A/V Creative Concepts in Orlando Florida was charged with creating an immersive home theater as part of a major renovation of a home in the Orlando/Longwood area, using a newly constructed marble fireplace as the centerpiece of the room and mounting location for a 75-inch Samsung display.
Athey's client was excited to enjoy the surround sound experience, but not at the expense of interior design and décor. Athey accepted the challenge and began planning out the location of each speaker in the system and interfacing with other contractors on the job, mainly the carpenter and the mason constructing the fireplace.
Etched in Stone
Athey consulted with the stone contractor and began to formulate a plan for the audio system.
First, he shipped a sample of the marble brick and flooring to the James Loudspeaker factory in Napa, CA. This would enable the team at James Loudspeaker to create the proper finish for any visible speaker components in the system.
Athey decided that the best way to get full-range clear output from an LCR speaker in this environment would be to insert a custom-sized soundbar into a shallow void in the brickwork created by the highly skilled mason. Because there was no original location to conceal a subwoofer, Athey sent James Loudspeaker the precise dimensions of space below a beautiful custom wood bench that went from one side of the fireplace to the other. With the sizes of the sound bar and the measurements for space under the counter, the engineers at James Loudspeaker went to work.
The whole point of buying a tailored suit is to achieve the perfect fit for your unique body type. James Loudspeaker knows that each home is different and each client has a wish list, and it is the integrator’s job to be the Saville Row tailor and make dreams come true.
In order to achieve the super-shallow 3-inch depth required for the sound bar in the marble fireplace, James Loudspeaker created a custom product called the SPL4QLCR. It incorporates three of the company’s legendary quad tweeter array modules with six 4-inch woofers to deliver right channel, center channel and left channel output into the room from an astonishingly scant 3-inch depth.
When the soundbar arrived, the aluminum enclosure dimensions were so precise that the mason had to shave some of the marble for the bar to slide into place. This process was accomplished under a tent of plastic sheets to keep the marble dust from permeating the home.
“Though more pricey than plastic big-box speakers, having the ability to satisfy the client by delivering high-performance speakers that fit each room perfectly gives me quite an advantage over competing A/V integrators,” Athey stated. “James Loudspeaker is a critical supplier to my business.” The client chose an elegant silver finish called Light Titanium for the soundbar verses a custom color-match, preferring a subtle color contrast to highlight the beautiful speaker sitting flush on the marble wall.
Below the Bench
For bass in the theater, Athey was concerned about getting proper performance from limited space while keeping the décor intact. James Loudspeaker engineers took the dimensions of the area beneath the wooden bench and created a custom version of their critically acclaimed EMB-10DF subwoofer to perfectly fit that location.
Constructing a tuned, calibrated aircraft-grade aluminum enclosure in their Napa, CA factory, James Loudspeaker solved the challenge of delivering bass in this theater with a custom form factor finished in powder coat to match the floor tiles that once installed, looked like it was made for the room—because it was. The EMB-10DF features Energy Multiplied Bandpass technology that leverages two precisely designed sealed chambers, a rear chamber with a high-performance internal driver coupled to a front chamber that focuses the energy through a spun aluminum pneumatically-coupled passive radiator.
This design reduces distortion to levels well below other active/passive or signal-compared designs while at the same time increasing sonic output and impact. The James Loudspeaker EMB10DF was powered by an outboard dedicated amplifier located within the equipment rack. Athey dropped the required speaker cable into the corner of the room to supply the subwoofer with the audio signal.
Over Your Head
The remaining task for the theater was to place the two-height-Atmos channel, two surround channel and two rear channel speakers correctly without making the ceiling look cluttered. Everything had to be proportional, symmetrical and measured precisely in conjunction with the lighting fixtures.
James Loudspeaker supplied square grilles for each of the SXC420 architectural ceiling speakers, which are compact yet offer clean, balanced output. Athey then placed them on the ceiling to both deliver a superb immersive theater experience while leaving the most discreet visual footprint overhead. The SXC420 loudspeakers feature a coaxially mounted 0.75-inch aluminum dome tweeter over a proprietary high-excursion 4-inch aluminum-cone woofer with durable Santoprene surrounds. Enclosures are constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum and include paintable aluminum round or square grilles.
Athey used Denon’s HEOS networked audio for whole-house entertainment with additional James Loudspeaker SXC620 architectural speakers in the dining room, sitting room, and kitchen. James Loudspeaker SXC320M marine speakers were used to provide entertainment to the BBQ/bar area outdoors.
To control the theater, Athey programmed an RTI remote system and iOS apps to run the TV, Blu-ray player, cable TV set-top box, lighting and custom motorized sliding doors that lead out to the pool. Luma security cameras provide a visual reference to what is going on in all zones.
The equipment rack, located in the back pantry/utility room, provides a secure home for the RTI control hub, the Denon 6000 series home theater receiver along with the sub amp, security camera processor, UPC power treatment, wireless access point and the cable TV set-top box.
"In Florida, it is not uncommon to have power outages for a few minutes or a few hours," Athey said. "For the shorter events, the UPC prevents annoying reboots of cable boxes, gateway modems, etc. for the client. I also go as far as having TV power loop back to the UPC in the rack to avoid sudden outages and giving the owner enough time to close sensitive components like projectors or raid servers down properly.”
"The system looks and sounds fantastic, and no off-the-shelf loudspeaker array could have achieved the same result. The client is thrilled with their theater and very pleased with the design and installation services that my company provided. James Loudspeaker helped me achieve that goal," he added.