At a party held in his Brooklyn loft on July 17, 2014, the world-renowned theater designer christens his own cinema sanctuary, the Roxy 2.0
A couple of months ago, I had the great fortune of previewing Theo Kalomirakis' Roxy 2.0 theater
in his Brooklyn loft. At the time, it was still a work in progress, albeit with most of the parts already in place. Now, it's a fully operational home theater. To celebrate the grand opening of the Roxy 2.0, Theo threw a party, and I was there to see its official debut on July 17, 2014.
An overview of the party and Theo's spectacular Brookly loft, home of the Roxy 2.0.
Eight years in the making, Theo's latest theater is starkly different from the multi-million-dollar themed extravaganzas he's designed for the super-rich. The Roxy 2.0 is meant to serve as a showcase for a more pragmatic approach to home-theater design and construction, while still preserving the trademark elements of a Theo Kalomirakis home theater—an environment that lets you get lost in the experience.
At the event, I spent some time talking about the future of home theater with a number of guests, including Angelica Stalman, Vice President of Marketing at Kaleidescape. The Roxy 2.0 uses a Kaleidescape Cinema One as one of its primary sources, and that includes Blu-ray-quality downloads from the Kaleidescape store. As Angelica explained it, Kaleidescape is positioning itself as the primary provider of the highest-quality movie downloads available—actual Blu-ray quality. In fact, the company recently settled a longstanding legal battle with numerous studios over ripping DVDs
, which will allow Kaleidescape to significantly increase the size of its catalog of Blu-ray quality titles. For AV enthusiasts who want the convenience of the connected home theater along with the quality of disc-based content, Kaleidescape's solution is uniquely compelling.
"Theo's new home theater provides that perfect platform to showcase how far home-theater technologies have come in delivering an immersive movie-watching experience, bringing together both quality and convenience. It simply doesn't get any better than this." - Cheena Srinivasan, founder and CEO of Kaleidescape
Another view of the party and Theo's loft.
In the world of home theater, expensive and high-end are always relative concepts. To many movie lovers, the prices of the components in Theo's relatively modest home theater are still in the high-end category—just take a look at Theo's partners in building the Roxy 2.0: Kaleidescape, Digital Projection, Stewart Filmscreen, California Audio Technologies, SH Acoustics, Crestron, and Prima Cinema. That is a very different price bracket compared to a system based on a premium AVR and an Epson projector. Even so, a significant element of Theo's approach to the Roxy 2.0 was keeping the cost of the room itself down, while still providing an optimum environment for home theater.
The Roxy 2.0 with the lights dimmed.
The Roxy 2.0 with the lights on.
Theo readily admits that the AV gear in his theater is out of most people's price range, including his own. Fortunately, that's one of the perks that comes from inventing the concept of home theater—in exchange for hosting an occasional demo for his partners' clients, Theo gets to have top-notch equipment in his rack. However, the room he designed provides the same overall benefits—a dedicated space that isolates the viewer from distraction—regardless of the equipment used within it.
Theo's rack, front and back.
According to Theo, the epicenter of enthusiasm for extravagant home theaters is no longer located in the USA. Instead, he says places like China, India, and Dubai are among the new hotspots. That doesn't mean home theater is dead in the US, but it has evolved. It's almost as if home theaters are following the same evolutionary path as commercial theaters—as movies themselves become more immersive, the need to wow the audience with architecture decreases. Instead, technical considerations form the foundation for the latest home-theater designs.
Furthermore, even at the ultra-high end, costs are dropping. For example, IMAX, in partnership with TCL, will be offering a private IMAX package in China for about $400,000—and that's for a complete system including, audio gear, video-processing gear, 4K projection, and a giant screen. In the US, the current cost of a private IMAX is in the millions.
Six years ago, during the real-estate bubble, home theaters were standard features in new luxury homes. Today, the trend seems to be more toward casual viewing on a large flat-panel TV. Theo wants to help people reclaim the magic of cinema by promoting the idea of dedicated home-theater environments—a concept that he pioneered.
"With more and more people viewing movies on laptops, video tablets, and cell phones, and in rooms filled with distractions, most of the qualities that make a film great are compromised in exchange for quick access and convenience," says Kalomirakis. "Consumers today are on the verge of losing the majestic experience that happens only when they devote their full attention to a movie, in a room designed to put them right in the middle of the action."
In my own experience writing about home theater, I've run into a number of AVS members who have achieved remarkable results in their basements, on very tight budgets. In light of that experience, and having experienced home theaters designed by Keith Yates and Theo Kalomirakis, I have to ask: In this modern era of inexpensive 1080p projectors, ubiquitous 1080p streaming, cheap Blu-ray players, and websites like Monoprice, Parts Express, and Amazon—are designer home theaters worth the investment? Of course, there are many small details that go into a proper home theater, and not everyone is willing or able to expend the effort to design and build their own space. Besides, Theo's minimalist theater design also looks a lot nicer than most DIY spaces I've visited, especially the way it hides all those speakers and subs.
It will be interesting to see if the Roxy 2.0 can spark interest in relatively affordable yet high-end home theaters. One thing is for sure—the enthusiasm at Theo's event was infectious. I hope the Roxy 2.0 inspires people to take a greater interest in their AV viewing and listening environment.
Theo, at the party, in his Brooklyn loft's garden.
Since the event was really about the theater itself, here is a list of the equipment that went into Theo's Roxy 2.0:
Contributors to the theater's construction
Chris Wylie of Seal Solutions—AV Integrator
Jakub Paszynin of Teknamat—Theater Builder
Marc Cote and Steve Haas of SH Acoustics—Theater Acoustician and Audio Calibrator
Prima Cinema movie server
Kaleidescape Cinema One movie server
Oppo BDP-103D Blu-ray player
Panasonic DMP-BD60 region-free Blu-ray player
Toshiba HD-A35 HD-DVD player
Digital Projection M-Vision Cine LED 1000 projector
Panamorph anamorphic lens
10-foot (diagonal) Stewart Filmscreen Studiotek 130 CineCurve 2.35:1, acoustically transparent with variable masking
Crestron Procise preamp
CAT power amps (2)
Symetrix SumNet DSP
CAT CMBX8.7 Trinity 2005 architectural speakers (7)
CAT CMBXS4 Miramar 2005 architectural subwoofers (12)
Automation & Control
Crestron DM-MD8X8 8x8 4K multi-source switcher (1)
Crestron DM-MD32X32 4K multi-source AV switcher
Crestron DMC-HD-DSP HDMI input card w/downmixing for DM switchers (4)
Crestron DMC-VID-RCA-D RCA analog-video input card w/SPDIF audio for DM switchers (2)
Crestron DMC-VID-RCA-A RCA analog-video input card w/analog audio for DM switchers (2)
Crestron DMCO-23 output card for DM-MD8X8 & DM-MD32X32, provides 2 DM CAT5 w/1 HDMI & 2 receivers (1)
Crestron DM-RMC-100 digital media CAT5 receiver & room controller (2)
Crestron TPMC-3X wireless remote controls (2)
Crestron TPS-6XNL-Black wireless remote control (1)
Crestron CEN-HPRFGW wireless gateway for TPS-6XNL-Black remote (1)
Crestron CEN-WAP-ABG-POE-PWE wall mount wireless access point for TPMC-3x remotes (1)
Crestron CNXRMC CAT5 video receiver for kitchen and master bedroom control (2)
Monster 25ft HDMI (2)
Monster 12-2 speaker wire
Crestron Cresnet cable
Cinematech Valentino series