Erskine Group not the best choice for a sub 100k home theatre... - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 227 Old 12-21-2013, 08:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Here are my original concept layouts and part of the 'brief' that i gave Erskine before they were contracted.





What we ended up with by their designs was the screen pulled forward from the wall by about 3ft, and a corridor to access the plant/furnace room behind the rear wall of the theatre, shortening the theatre by about 3ft at the back. Also, we lowered the floor/riser height from my original concept of having the rear riser to get head room and allow for the ceiling to be lowered to about 11ft.

I now know that the front row was too close to the screen, and that the projector cant be up higher than the top of the screen, and i guess we need a decent space behind the screen.. which are really all that have been changed by Erskine (and obviously speaker locations and stair locations)

We did have the option to make the room wider (by making the kids playroom smaller/narrower) but there is a steel 'i' beam that is supported by 3 steel columns within the room. These columns could be moved but obviously added complication / expense to the already budget constrained project so we didnt go down that avenue... it did cross my mind to turn the whole space into a theatre (25ft wide x 31ft long) but we really wanted to have a dedicated kids playroom in the basement too.
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post #92 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 05:29 AM
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Wow. I can't argue with anyone else's experiences but I'll tell a little bit more about my own plans and experience working with Dennis.

SInce reading this thread, I reviewed my old plans from Dennis as we were building a home at the time. I wanted a room that was uncompromising on performance with a Stewart Microperf screen, three rows and a rear projector and equipment in a rear projection room. It's been fantastic the last 10 years but today, I am making modifications. Like Mads, I drew a picture of what I wanted and he analyzed and modified it and made it into a technical drawing so that it would all work. After Dennis finished the plans, I simply gave them to my builder and architect and had them do the rest.

Dennis ordered the screen and integrated it into the plans so that it slid right in after the build out. Stewart made their own plan of my screen wall and worked with Dennis on it (it was a screen with masking). So, there were no issues there. In fact, due to the factors in design, my projector is a few inches above the screen's top. I know Mads mentioned an issue with his needing to be at the screen's height. Many projectors (like mine) have a vertical lens shift which makes for a perfect picture even if the projector is not ideally placed.

The architectural plan showed a framing layout with dimensions of the entire room including the proscenium, false walls for speakers, drywall, columns, where to cut out speakers, materials that should be used in flooring, walls and ceiling (including all pertinent measurements so anyone could look at it and build it). Insulation, batting, absorption materials, etc. The seating platforms were spec'd with a separate drawing. The builder had a few questions along the way I recall, but essentially followed the plans. I never got full size prints but the 8 X 11 sheets were enough for the builder. Dennis specked the racks, too.

The main difference here is I did have a quite a few conversations with Dennis along the way, but this was back in 2001 when he was a start up here. The forum was pretty new and he was, from my recollection, a one man show.

There was also a lighting plan. All lights, cans, etc and wiring to the Lutron Grafik-Eye (5 zones of lighting) were included. I recall needing a separate power supply for the Grafik-Eye that was not spec'd by Dennis but determined by my electrician upon installation (due to the large load). I suppose Dennis could've calculated the load that but ultimately, it is the electrician that should know what he's wiring and he caught it and ordered the part.

Acoustical work was all done by Showtime Acoustics as a referral from Dennis (I think Dennis later bought the company). Dennis forwarded the plans to them and they came out and did the entire room. I paid them separately for materials, labor and lodging for 1 week. They did a very professional job. They ordered the fabric and brought it all to the house. Panels would certainly have been easier and cheaper at the time, but there wasn't a lot available back then. After I have my room acoustically retested after adding new speakers and room processing, I may have to remove the fabric and place panels!

Dennis did not give me a HVAC plan per se but rather recommendations. For example, he cited a 9000 BTU/Hr spec for cooling as well as directions for placement of 5 returns and 5 supplies of an elongated, lenticular, slotted type along the left and right soffits. He also recommended insulated duct work and 4-6 90 degree turns in the duct work from the furnace to keep air flow quiet. There was no specific 'how to' in the design and that was OK as I would rather give the HVAC guys my requirements and let them design and be responsible for its performance. We have had no cooling issues and our room is NC-30 (very quiet). Where we fell a little short was in the equipment room cooling. We thought a large exhaust fan would keep things cool but at full tilt, the room got to over 95 degrees within an hour. So, I added a mini split AC inside which ended up being even more quiet than the fan and solved the cooling problem completely (8 amplifiers and a projector in that 4 X 7 X 8 space!

I spec'd and chose all sconces, lighting fixtures, fabric, etc. He recommended the lighting cans. The electrician placed them all per the plan.

All in all, I got a great room that, later, I had acoustically tested and certified by Terry Montlick Labs. I wanted a 3rd party assessment to insure excellence. It required some additional acoustical modifications to make his spec, but minimal overall. My greatest complement was when a client of my wife's came to dinner who had recently viewed a film in the one of the Weinstein brothers home theater and he said mine was a way better experience! Art Sonneborn has a wonderful theater designed by Dennis that is likely the best I've ever experienced.

I certainly won't argue with others' experience with Dennis but I can only say my experience was much different. I don't know what a 'Select' plan is but back when Dennis did mine, there was no such scale. I paid $2000 in 2001.

Good luck!
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post #93 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 08:32 AM
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post #94 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 08:49 AM
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I've dealt with maybe 50+ EG theater customers. At least with with anamorphic lenses but plenty with PJ's, screens, and equipment purchases. So in some respects EG is my competitor when it comes to equipment sales. But I don't have anything negative to say about them. I never saw anyone who wasn't happy with their theater, other than a one guy I recall who paid for small services (AVS) and didn't get full-service-6-times-a-day hand holding for them or their contractor. I've known customers who got barely more than the basic "AVS minimal plans", but received an inordinate amount of Email support (hundreds). Way more than I would have wanted to do without saying you need to step up to a different level. AVS didn't cut any ties with EG AFAIK. I know both parties and I see no reason they would other than EG not wanting to fool with small no margin work. I sell Quest products, and know the owners of both companies. I believe they have used the same 3rd party company to handle their ordering and billing, which is not unusual for companies their size. I even considered using them myself. I do not believe they are in business together in any way. I see lots of people her spouting "facts" that are no such thing. Presumptions at best. Plenty of sour grapes though from a hand full of people. I am also a Procella and a Triad dealer. Recommend both as well as DE's suggested list without reservation. I've never seen DG make a huge error specifying equipment budgets. I've not added up that list but $30k does not seem in line, I sense more to that story. I presume the Crestron listed was their low end system which isn't very expensive, not what people automatically assume when they see the name.

One thing I will say is that they believe strongly in their designs, and their design choices. I've seen lots of people who want to debate them, nit pick them, substitute equipment, or substitute other's acoustic suggestions into their plans. I believe their stock answer is fundamentally "do it the way we told you or it will not perform the way we say it will". And they are not keen on discussing the proprietary nature of their design choices, or the detailed reasons why you should do it the way it was designed. I don't think either is unreasonable. But some folks insist on making those changes and wanting the original designer to work around it, incorporate it, or explain in detail what the cons are to not doing what the design called for in the first place. Oh yeah, for free.

I predict what we will have next is all the reasons the theater was not built to plan, but another bashing as to why the room did not live up to the owners expectations when built to their own specifications.

I wouldn't have said anything at all in this roast except I'm compelled to give my viewpoint since some here are so very different than my experience. And I've had a lot of experience with them.

rolleyes.gif

EDIT: missed a couple of words by accident (in italic)
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post #95 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 09:32 AM
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post #96 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 10:31 AM
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I simply am not seeing the problems mentioned here with the EG. Dennis spent time on the phone with my HVAC engineering firm to get the HVAC worked out. I have received PDF files (which can be printed out on full-size paper at the local blueprint service), AutoCAD files, and 2 sets of full-size prints (as specified in my contract with EG). He has promptly answered every question I have asked him. I do not always agree with his recommendation, but I have to accept the responsibility for that.

Being in the middle of an extensive remodel project, I can tell you that the design costs are not inexpensive. I don't know what others on the forum expect for the fixed fee design service provided by EG (the Signature Plan, in my case), but it certainly doesn't include unlimited consultation, supervision or on-site services.

Unless you want the EG to turnkey the project, you have to accept responsibility for the execution, and for the changes you decide to make in the plan.

I have not experienced any of the unpleasantness described in the above posts, so I am suspicious that there is other information of which we are not aware.
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post #97 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GetGray View Post

I've known customers who got barely more than the basic "AVS minimal plans", but received an inordinate amount of Email support (hundreds).

I know that guy! smile.gif
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post #98 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by GetGray View Post

I've dealt with maybe 50+ EG theater customers. At least with with anamorphic lenses but plenty with PJ's, screens, and equipment purchases. So in some respects EG is my competitor when it comes to equipment sales. But I don't have anything negative to say about them. I never saw anyone who wasn't happy with their theater, other than a one guy I recall who paid for small services (AVS) and didn't get full-service-6-times-a-day hand holding for them or their contractor. I've known customers who got barely more than the basic "AVS minimal plans", but received an inordinate amount of Email support (hundreds). Way more than I would have wanted to do without saying you need to step up to a different level. AVS didn't cut any ties with EG AFAIK. I know both parties and I see no reason they would other than EG not wanting to fool with small no margin work. I sell Quest products, and know the owners of both companies. I believe they have used the same 3rd party company to handle their ordering and billing, which is not unusual for companies their size. I even considered using them myself. I do not believe they are in business together in any way. I see lots of people her spouting "facts" that are no such thing. Presumptions at best. Plenty of sour grapes though from a hand full of people. I am also a Procella and a Triad dealer. Recommend both as well as DE's suggested list without reservation. I've never seen DG make a huge error specifying equipment budgets. I've not added up that list but $30k does not seem in line, I sense more to that story. I presume the Crestron listed was their low end system which isn't very expensive, not what people automatically assume when they see the name.

One thing I will say is that they believe strongly in their designs, and their design choices. I've seen lots of people who want to debate them, nit pick them, substitute equipment, or substitute other's acoustic suggestions into their plans. I believe their stock answer is fundamentally "do it the way we told you or it will not perform the way we say it will". And they are not keen on discussing the proprietary nature of their design choices, or the detailed reasons why you should do it the way it was designed. I don't think either is unreasonable. But some folks insist on making those changes and wanting the original designer to work around it, incorporate it, or explain in detail what the cons are to not doing what the design called for in the first place. Oh yeah, for free.

I predict what we will have next is all the reasons the theater was not built to plan, but another bashing as to why the room did live up to the owners expectations when built to their own specifications.

I wouldn't have said anything at all in this roast except I'm compelled to give my viewpoint since some here are so very different than my experience. And I've had a lot with them.

rolleyes.gif


You've made some good points, but I still think they were following more of a script or cookie cutter. If someone tells them certain aspects that they want, and equipmet they wil be using, the design should be around that. As an engineer, I know first hand that we dont' always get designs from white page, and we have to work around existing limited choices or things in process.

If someone states, here is my equipment choices or here is my limit budget wise it has to be worked or designed around. A reply from a designer about the optimum theoretical or designs outside of what you are willing to do are academic solutions.

I’m in the automotive industry there are solutions to some problems we find that are outside of what we are willing to spend to make the design optimum. It is a cost benefit ratio that drives a lot of decisions. I can’t say that EG does this a lot or a little. I’m not close enough to their projects. I can say, that my expectations in a design would be the following: I’d expect a design within the budget I provided to them. I’d expect that if I gave them room limitations I was unwilling to change (speaker location, door location, dimensions, etc) I would expect a design that optimized my room based on those constraints. If I received a design telling me to change things I was not willing to change, or buy equipment I was not willing to buy, then the design would be not what I paid for. It would be acceptable for the designer to ask me if I wanted to do A or B and get X or Y improvement while they were doing the design and go in the direction agreed to. It would not be acceptable for them to just feel A or B was better and to flat out do that.
My opinion is that if the design group is not willing / able to go that way, then they are simply selling cutter versions of some optimum white page designs they have.
Personally, I’m not willing to spend $4k on the optimization of my theater knowing that I’d have to spend $4-8k in treatments. I’ve taken a few noise and vibration classes while getting my engineering degree that I’ll experiment with my treatments and take measurements to make myself happy. I’ve seen enough information put up in the public domain that I’m certain that I’ll be 90% correct. The extra 10% is not worth $6k to me. That is my personal cost / benefit opinion.

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post #99 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 12:27 PM
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For what it is worth this thread is now on the first page of results for Google searches of Erskine Theaters and Erskine Designed Theaters. I would encourage posters to be sure of the facts in their posts and avoid overstating issues. I've read the posts and I've seen some of the corresponding plans. Not all that has been stated here is true. But some is.

My experience with Erskine support has been outstanding. When ever I had a problem converting the plans to reality he answered my emails/phone calls. One time I was standing in the aisle at Home Depot with the client and we were picking up supplies and we said " I wonder what Dennis would think if we used this?" the Client whipped out his phone and we had his input and it was an approved variance from plan.
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post #100 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 12:39 PM
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In reading through these EG problem posts what I see is a common mis-understanding of how architects work. I use the term architect in a generic term, I realize EG is not a true architectural firm, but does have the same business model.

1) When you "buy" a set of plans it is a common practice to forbid public disclosure. In a truly custom design like a home, it probably doesn't matter as the design is so specialized. But in EG's case these plans have specific details that are transportable and therefore ripe for competition to copy. If you signed the agreement and it says no public disclosure, well that's what you signed up for.

2) As for "cookie cutter" designs, that's how the architectural industry operates. Huge high rise projects are done by using design blocks from other projects. And why not. The design is proven. It has been through the code review process. In some cases it may even be improved upon. "Well I paid X amount of hours for a cut and paste with a mouse". Well that's one way of looking at it but consider the initial cost of that design block. It's quite possible the architect took hundreds of hours to come up with that design and then had to modify / repair after it was implemented. They most likely ate that cost. So now they get paid back by charging a uniform fee for the same block of work. It's no different than the tooling cost of a new car design. Would it be fair that the first customer pays all the design and engineering costs and you pay nothing for a "mouse click"?

3) "Exact lumber dimension"? This here is not OTOH, a set of plans for a new car or similar engineering project. Again not even huge high rise buildings have this level of detail. An experienced contractor knows how to figure that out. Also keep in mind that there is no such thing as a square room. Especially in wood construction. Fitting parts on the job is the way it's done. When there are complex details such as acoustical concerns, a sub detail is included to aid the contractor in building it. I have seen enough of Dennis's work and know he does that. If "unlicensed Joe Handyman" doesn't understand it, that's not the fault of the architect.

4) Equipment pricing. Yes EG specs expensive gear. They are in the high end business. If you can only afford a $20k car what are you doing on the Mercedes lot? There is no way EG or their completion that is not part of a large retail conglomerate can compete on name brand electronics. And for them to endorse a particular opens them up to liability issues if the unit doesn't perform. So they are only going to recommend what they know works.

5) I believe EG will turn key a project. That means the end customer need not worry about the issues above. EG takes 100% responsibility for the project's success. Big business often goes this route just for that reason. Of course there's a cost for that.

What I see here is just normal homeowner lack of understanding as to how being a GC works. And unless a turn key job, you the homeowner, ARE THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR. The minute you say "do it this way" or "follow these plans" you have become the GC.

If I may make a criticism of the EG, it would be to get out of this sub $100K business. There are many smaller shops to fill this price region. EG, with their reputation doesn't need this business. Dealing at this level when accustomed to the higher end projects only leads to dissatisfied customers and law suits.
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post #101 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

For what it is worth this thread is now on the first page of results for Google searches of Erskine Theaters and Erskine Designed Theaters. I would encourage posters to be sure of the facts in their posts and avoid overstating issues. I've read the posts and I've seen some of the corresponding plans. Not all that has been stated here is true. But some is.

My experience with Erskine support has been outstanding. When ever I had a problem converting the plans to reality he answered my emails/phone calls. One time I was standing in the aisle at Home Depot with the client and we were picking up supplies and we said " I wonder what Dennis would think if we used this?" the Client whipped out his phone and we had his input and it was an approved variance from plan.

I agree with your points (as I almost always have)

Care should always be taken to clarify what is opinion and what is stated as true. Libel cases would not be fun to defend. (Note that in my posts I state things like: In my opinion or I suspect) Reference the Milkovich Standard that the US Supreme Court adpoted in 1990.

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post #102 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by doublewing11 View Post


I can see why AVS cut ties with this outfit...............................ie. Pro Theater Layout service......................

Has AVS store changed their service supplier?
It's not clear at all when I read the info here, if so when did that happen and why?
Was it mutual or one-sided?
No where does it mention who does the work, or is it AVS directly now?

Who exactly is "AVS" these days, as I believe the 2 founders sold their stake to Huddler (sp), or is that just the AVS forum and they own AVS store still?
No where does it state clear ownership of AVS forum or AVS store.

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Quote:
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Of course our primary goal is achieving the ultimate in sonic benefit, but we understand decor and aesthetics can be a very important issue. Our engineers have designed contemporary to traditional styled listening rooms. Some with no parallel surfaces and others with coffered ceilings. At level 3, there are virtually no limits as to what our designs can provide.

The biggest difference between level 3 and our first two levels is that our engineers personally go on site. Generally there are three trips to a level 3 project:

1. The first trip to measure the room and evaluate the construction applicable for the project. We will also meet with all parties involved in the process from architect to contractor where applicable. On this visit we generally have some basic concepts of what might need to be done and discuss that with our client. After this visit we return to develop the concept plan and then, once approved, the schematics for building.

2. The second visit is generally half way through construction to insure that all designs are being built to specification. If changes need to be made it’s far easier to do this at this stage, than have to redo a completed project. We make sure your investment is going to pay off with this second trip.

3. The final trip is at the completion of the project once all the equipment is in. We do final inspection of the construction and final tuning of the room, which includes tuning any of the devices in the room and work on speaker and furnishing placement. This is a very important step in maximizing the investment.

Level 3 is the ultimate. We take all the guess work out and make the process easy. The results are astounding.

Level 3 features

Acoustical engineering for Listening Room and Home Theater Design, combined with actual high resolution acoustical measurements, on site analysis and construction inspection.
Full size schematics including assembly drawings.
Rives engineers come on site for meetings, inspections, and final tuning of the room.
Price varies based on time, materials, and scope of work. Estimates will be provided prior to commencement.

Primarily new construction or complete renovation of a room
High end 2 channel or ultra high performance Home Theater Design
Outstanding visual appeal and acoustics with all details considered
Can include full sound isolation design, HVAC, electrical, lighting, and aesthetic details.

Call us toll-free at 877-823-4452 or Email us at: sales@avscience.com
to receive an application form and start your design process!
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post #103 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 02:08 PM
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The text in the "Home Theater Acoustical Design" description matches what is on Rives Audio 's web site.
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post #104 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 02:10 PM
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And the description for the Level 3 service says that Rives engineers come on site for meetings, inspections, and final tuning of the room.
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post #105 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wagnerc View Post

The text in the "Home Theater Acoustical Design" description matches what is on Rives Audio 's web site.

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Originally Posted by Spaceman View Post

And the description for the Level 3 service says that Rives engineers come on site for meetings, inspections, and final tuning of the room.

Ok, I went here, http://www.rivesaudio.com/services/servframe1.html, and clearly see what you mean.

Curious why there is not more transparency on AVS store switching from EG to Rives.....

There are always 2 sides to a story, and different viewpoints on truth also.....Dennis E has helped guide me a few times in various posts, I wish him and EG group success in the future.

btw, Rives Audio is listed in BBB, http://www.bbb.org/iowa/business-reviews/acoustical-consultants/rives-audio-in-coralville-ia-32047921#sealclick
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BBB Accreditation

A BBB Accredited Business since 03/12/2012

BBB has determined that Rives Audio Inc meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.

BBB accreditation does not mean that the business' products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business' product quality or competency in performing services.

Reason for Rating

BBB rating is based on 16 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.

Factors that raised Rives Audio Inc's rating include:

Length of time business has been operating.
No complaints filed with BBB.
BBB has sufficient background information on this business.
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post #106 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 04:54 PM
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I have used Rives (in my last theater) and was happy with the results. Note that their Level 3 descriptions says the price "varies based on scope, materials, and scope of work."
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post #107 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

What I see here is just normal homeowner lack of understanding as to how being a GC works. And unless a turn key job, you the homeowner, ARE THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR. The minute you say "do it this way" or "follow these plans" you have become the GC..

Love your quote above - you must live in very affluent circles if you consider normal homeowners being those spending the types of money we are speaking about building a recreational space in their homes. Anyone who does this, whatever their vocation, is either successful or has a huge passion (and therefore knowledge) on the subject of home theatres, and as such likely have offended the majority of enthusiast HT members of AVS.

With respect, i have worked successfully with a lot of architects for about 15 years in my business as a property developer and landlord. I have also contracted a lot of commercial and large scale construction, both on turnkey design&build contracts and on a traditional tender/contracting means where we specify every single detail. (in fact we are currently building one of each at the moment each being about 18month construction programs) albeit all in the UK.

I was fully aware of what contracted the erskine group to do, and the parameters and scope of their consulting. I dont have an issue as such with the final design that they did, however i do have an issue with how they have been to deal with, and their outright lack of consideration or respect for the budget i set for this theatre.
Simply put, i had an amount of money in mind to finishing an unfinished part of my home, and wanted to get the best bang for my buck, that i felt could be achieved by employing Erskine Group to design and specify the theatre. i had not preconceptions or specifc requirements on any of the equipment. Really very simple, however they were not willing to work to that. Not sure in any way how that is ok.

My original post on this thread was asking for advice on what equipment i should specify that would be achievable within the budget i had set, only because Erskine Group refused to help me with it, even though they were originally contracted to do so. Also my agreement with them included 5hrs of telephone support from a senior consultant/designer. I have not benefited from that support, and see no benefit in that support given the nature of the replies i have had from them regarding the equipment. Advice such as this QUOTE from a Dennis Erskine email to me: "We can supply Procella speakers and Quest products. Procella speakers would be outside your budget constraints. You can contact Quest for a dealer in your area.
We are not obligated to provide suggested equipment lists as a part of our engagements. When we do so, they are budget agnostic and are based entirely on the technical requirements which must be met based upon room size and seating distances." UNQUOTE

They specified Procella LCR speakers (that Dennis then advises are out of my budget!) and the specification of the AV equipment was expressly agreed to by them before we signed the contract because i had no idea what would be suitable equipment, or where best to spend my budget to get the best overall result.

I have however received lots of very helpful advice on equipment specification and design elements that would help me to meet my budget via this forum, which i am certainly appreciative of and will get me to my end goal of a decent theatre for our family to enjoy. Obviously it is now harder to get helpful advice as the topic of the post now has no relevant material / designs to relate to.
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post #108 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 06:33 PM
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I simply am not seeing the problems mentioned here with the EG. Dennis spent time on the phone with my HVAC engineering firm to get the HVAC worked out. He has promptly answered every question I have asked him.

I don't know what others on the forum expect for the fixed fee design service provided by EG (the Signature Plan, in my case), but it certainly doesn't include unlimited consultation, supervision or on-site services.

EG does provide consultation, supervision, and on-site services. Limited consultation is supposed to be available during execution per contract, or at least it was in mine (I had it added). Supervision and on-site service are additional, and understood not part of the design fee.

I was upfront with Dennis about my budget. If they could have built the room without equipment for $100k, I would have had them do it. The plan was to have the builder complete the shell, HVAC, and electrical pre-wire according to Dennis plan, then have EG finish the room. I was going to source my own equipment. I asked him to design the room for a $50k projector.

It took me 8 months to get plans. He was very unresponsive. I don't know what the hold up was... perhaps answering hundreds of questions from everyone else.

 

 

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post #109 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 07:36 PM
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Hello,

Why not all Triads?

Chiming in a bit late but I see you have gone from a Crestron Control to a Harmony. I would look at RTI or URC and there Apps working with the Ipad. Makes a great remote for under 1000.00 A Harmony while great for a basic room is not really what you are after.

I am not a dealer or many of the products Erskine promotes or sells but I see it unfortunate to push them to the side just due to your dealing with an outside company.

Have you talked with any local designers, AV people.

Tyler
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post #110 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello,

Why not all Triads?

Chiming in a bit late but I see you have gone from a Crestron Control to a Harmony. I would look at RTI or URC and there Apps working with the Ipad. Makes a great remote for under 1000.00 A Harmony while great for a basic room is not really what you are after.

I am not a dealer or many of the products Erskine promotes or sells but I see it unfortunate to push them to the side just due to your dealing with an outside company.

Have you talked with any local designers, AV people.

Tyler

thanks - i guess i dont really have an answer other than that using Triad LCR's has never been raised. I just assumed that there was better out there for a better price than what Triad offer. I like the in-wall bronze surounds as they can be hidden, and i believe that dipole speakers are needed (if i am to follow erskine advice) and from what i can find, seem to be as good value as anything else similar. JTR's have been recommended for LCR's by quite a lot of people, so thought that was a safe bet. As for the remote, i had thought some type of ipad app would probably be my preferred route, however, i like the harmony remotes we have for other rooms in the house, they are cheap, simple to program and use and relatively reliable. Havent tried any other variety.

I feel very strongly about not using Erkine products (even if that is at the detriment of my theatre) because of all the reasons i have quoted in this thread.
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post #111 of 227 Old 12-22-2013, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

2) As for "cookie cutter" designs, that's how the architectural industry operates.
For the base building blocks, but not the entire design. Sales talks about the industry problem, sells the design as the solution, and then the solution is just a requirement for someone else to figure out. I should go into the HVAC design business. "system shall operate at NC10 noise level". Booya. $5000, please. What, you want to know how? Those are implementation details.
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3) "Exact lumber dimension"?

I have seen them do it before for other clients. I had prefaced it "would have been nice" but removed for brevity. Fair enough.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

What I see here is just normal homeowner lack of understanding as to how being a GC works.

What I see is company that needs to better manage their customers expectations. If they choose to sell to homeowners, then they need to understand their market. If unrealistic expectations are being set because homeowner doesn't know how being a GC works, or lacks awareness of the the architectural design process, then those elements should be communicated upfront. Their contracts are vague. They should be more specific about what they're going to do, including what they're NOT going to do, and then consistently follow through.

 

 

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post #112 of 227 Old 12-23-2013, 12:55 AM
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OK, I see your point.

I do systems engineering and supervisory electrical engineering for color timing and screening theaters as well as broadcast and mastering facilities. Never worked with Dennis but I have worked with some top commercial acoustics firms. Not an expert myself in acoustics.

But tell a residential or light commercial HVAC shop you want NC10 and you will either get a deer in the headlights look or worse yet they'll say "yeah, yeah, we can do that" when they have no clue what it means. But give that spec to a mechanical engineering firm, they'll ask for a few more details such as heat load as they should.

I see two options here. Dennis needs to refer the client to a mechanical engineering firm that will do residential work, they do exist. Or provide some guidelines as to ducting materials and the use of over sized ducting to help this goal. But throwing an NC10 spec at a residential HVAC company is not going to produce results in most cases.

Overall dimensions should all be indicated like for a stage. But the exact size to cut the lumber is not required by a licensed or even a non licensed but experienced contractor. Now acoustic concerns must be outlined such as sand in a stage or felt layers between plywood on a riser platform. That must be detailed and is what you are paying an acoustical firm for. And if any structural features that must be done for acoustical reasons should also be detailed otherwise the contractor will do standard construction for the area. And speaking of that, EG should also make sure the plans meet local codes. What is legal in one place may not be in another. The UBC is just a guideline. Local jurisdictions can amend national codes strengthening or lessening them as they desire. If that's too much for a $4K plan set, then at least some allowance should be included for reasonable changes to meet local codes.

If the Erskine Group does this, and I believe they do just based on the free advice they gave here for many years, then I think they are working to the standards of the business. If not, then yes we have a problem.

Also note that based on their WEB page, they are not licensed engineers or registered architects. The certifications and professional affiliations listed are not recognized as a licensed or regulated trade. And even if they had professional licenses, they are only good in the state they are granted. That's why engineering firms often have PE's with multiple licenses in adjoining states. The point here is that there are legal limits to what they can specify in a plan set. Outside of basic residential work, most specialized projects require PE stamps in certain professions such as electrical, mechanical, and certainly structural. Perhaps liability limits the detail EG can do with construction plans - I don't know?

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post #113 of 227 Old 12-23-2013, 04:09 AM
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Dennis stresses in design seminars to contractually specify velocity and noise at the HVAC vents. And if the contractor fails to meet
those criteria upon measurement, it is the responsibility of the HVAC company to fix the problem at their expense, not the clients.
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post #114 of 227 Old 12-23-2013, 07:00 AM
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Mads1,
I'm pretty sure that if the Erskine Group were to come out and build this thing, it would be absolutely top notch. But it seems to me that they are trying to sell you a bunch of equipment more so than provide you with exactly what you're trying to acomplish with this room. I could be wrong about that but I think it shows just how out of whack this whole process has been when in your earlier post you mentioned that you would prefer to stick with Harmony remotes, since you and your family are familiar with them, and the designer specified Crestron. It doesn't matter if it's their low end Crestron or a $20K solution, it's still way too much for what you were trying to achieve with this room. And yes, a Harmony remote will operate a $25,000 Sim2 projector just like it will a $3,000 JVC. Will it be as elegant and customizable, no. Will it turn it on when you hit "power on", yes. Another thing that I find odd is you are being told that you have to spend several thousand dollars on acoustic treatments that only Quest can provide you. Then, you are being told to spend another $8K on QSC equipment to EQ the speakers. I don't know how much Quest costs but I've heard upwards $5 to $10,000 for a larger room like yours. I was always under the impression that you treat a room acoustically so that you don't have to EQ the sound as much as you would if the room wasn't treated. In fact, I've heard Erskine himself say that. Now why would someone need to spend that much money on acoustic treatments, and then turn around and spend another $8,000 on QSC equipment, and then pay no telling how much to have someone come in and calibrate all this stuff? It's a one word answer and it's not performance. It's money. Maybe this designer is only allowed to specify Quest acoustic materials due to contractual obligations with them, but it is obviously way overboard. Yes, I'm sure the room will sound amazing with a Quest/QSC combination. But it will also sound amazing with an Owens Corning Rigid Fiberglass/MiniDSP combination. I'm all for making money but I think it should be done appropriately. Taking $4K after a client tells you what his budget is and then specifying a bunch of equipment that is way over said budget, is a little inappropriate.
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post #115 of 227 Old 12-23-2013, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
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I was always under the impression that you treat a room acoustically so that you don't have to EQ the sound as much as you would if the room wasn't treated. In fact, I've heard Erskine himself say that. Now why would someone need to spend that much money on acoustic treatments, and then turn around and spend another $8,000 on QSC equipment, and then pay no telling how much to have someone come in and calibrate all this stuff? It's a one word answer and it's not performance. It's money.

This is entirely incorrect and highlights a significant lack of understanding of the issue. Treatments do one thing, EQ another, do treatments help with EQ? yes, but both are necessary for a high performance space. Several of the Quest products cannot be DIY'ed, I have seen Dennis spec DIY treatments as alternatives where possible and I have seen people use Minidsp (and others like Xilica) as an option over QSC......so what if he specs it, you don't have to buy it, you can get close with other options (except the treatments, even the alternatives like RPG are expensive)

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post #116 of 227 Old 12-23-2013, 11:02 AM
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For what it is worth this thread is now on the first page of results for Google searches of Erskine Theaters and Erskine Designed Theaters. I would encourage posters to be sure of the facts in their posts and avoid overstating issues. I've read the posts and I've seen some of the corresponding plans. Not all that has been stated here is true. But some is.

I will delete my post. I do not believe I posted anything untrue, but it is not worth going to court over.

I wrote my "review" based on my expectations of what I would get in the plans. My intent was to help others that might be considering using EG services. If my expectations were unrealistic in some cases, then let that be known. Maybe it will save others with similar expectations from being disappointed as well.

I would like to clarify a few things, though:

They were my expectations of the plans. Dennis did go "above and beyond" where he saw fit. For example, I got an e-mail that explained how to treat the other 2 walls after I complained. But that detail was not part of the plans, and new clients could not expect that it would be. The contract said "acoustic treatments for walls" in the form of CAD drawings. I assumed "walls" meant all the walls in the room, and that CAD meant a visual depiction, not just a line of text typed within a CAD program.

Dennis went "above and beyond" in some cases to provide measured locations for things like speaker locations after I complained. Again this is about expectations. I expected "locations" in the contract would mean measurable locations. I did not expect this detail to be above and beyond, provided at the discretion of the designer.

It's possible that placement accuracy doesn't matter. I don't know. But for measurements that were listed, they were specified down to 1/64 inch of precision. This implied to me that accuracy was important. If not, why include measurements with so much precision in the plans?

Molding & trim assembly. One of the things you almost always see in an EG room is beautiful and elaborate trim work. Some of the coffered ceilings look like they had to have been designed within CAD. Since turnkey theaters are built using Signature Designs, I expected the plans would detail that trim. I didn't think molding selection and build up would be something a GC or trim carpenter would come up with on the fly. Again expectations. The plans show trim as straight lines. Any additional detail comes from EG going above and beyond, at their discretion.

 

 

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post #117 of 227 Old 12-23-2013, 11:20 AM
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I don't really know what to make of this thread other than that Dennis has always impressed me with his knowledge and help he has provided on this forum for many years. I have never paid him a dime, and he has answered a number of questions I have had. As for Dennis pushing specific products and brands, I kinda get it. There are so many different speaker and projector solutions out there and Dennis most likely does not have experience with the majority of them since most of his builds are very custom and very expensive. Most specs on projector and speaker gear need to be taken with a grain of salt, and many specs (contrast for example for projectors, and speaker efficiency for speakers is another) are vastly overrated by the manufacturer and some brands fall far short of published specs. My point is that it is not really fair for Dennis (or any custom company) to recommend or sign off on solutions that they have never used themself and do not have trust with the product. I think once you deviate from the known (what he has used many times and recommends) it puts him in a tough position. I am not saying that Erskine Group is not at fault (everyone is human) but there are always two sides to the story and I think some of this has been blown out of proportion.

OP, if you are getting lawyers involved I would highly recommend you delete all your posts in this thread and shut it down. You could do more harm against your case than good here.
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post #118 of 227 Old 12-23-2013, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
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throwing an NC10 spec at a residential HVAC company is not going to produce results in most cases.

All good info in your posts Glimmie. Most of it I feel EG could address by communicating better during pre-sales.

The NC10 rating was an example. It did not come from my plans.

 

 

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post #119 of 227 Old 12-23-2013, 12:31 PM
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Mad1. Is the title of this thread appropriate?
Does it represent the contents of this thread?

Clearly you are no longer using EG services, therefore thread title, IMO, should be changed to reflect that.
You can change the thread title by edit.

Other forums have a community forum where these type of matters are discussed.
Unfortunately, AVS does not subscribe to having a community forum for open discourse, so these threads get buried among others.


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post #120 of 227 Old 12-24-2013, 06:29 PM
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IANAL but has anyone investigated if 'fair use' would cover the posting of the drawings as they would seem to fit the general parameters (non-commercial use of copywrited material)?
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