On a recent trip I found myself sitting next to an quiet gentleman in business class using a set of custom IEMs, as opposed to the typical Bose noise cancelling headsets you often see business travelers using. So I decided to strike up a conversation with him initially regarding his headphones, with topics first ranging from living in Mexico part-time, the state of health care in the U.S. and Mexico, and finally meandered over to music. He had mentioned that he had a couple of businesses, and when I asked him which one paid the bills, he said he had a home automation company.
Our (me, wife, 2 kids) family has a modest AVS style basement home theater and an Elan automation system, and I described the setup, and started talking about how tough it was designing the space on my own, soundproofing, overseeing contractors, the need for equipment that could handle high dynamic range, when he finally spilled the beans on his little business. Turns out he does these huge high-end theaters and automation for all sorts of folks, many of whom are in the Hollywood scene. He said that his company at this point only does around 5-6 big projects per year, plus maintenance of other installed systems, and these projects are ridiculous! He typically starts with a room with 4 concrete walls, acoustically measures the room with some specially designed hardware-software package, then designs the room virtually with custom made engineered room-in-a-room walls/ceiling, acoustic treatments, down to specifying the build and fabric porosity of all of the furniture. Equipment wise, he uses Meyer Sound for audio, Christie projectors, and Screen Excellence 4K screen material. Projector has it's own booth that is separately cooled and exhausted. Speakers are all active, and each has it's own EQ. I couldn't tell from pics exactly what he used for LCRs for one project, but he pretty much uses horn-loaded tweeter, a huge driver for the mid-range, separately EQ'd dual 18" for mid bass, and what must have been 16 18" drivers for low frequency. All of those were behind the AT screen. He then installs several slim subs around the room that may or may not be used to tame room modes depending on how everything measures once installed. They then go in and tune everything with measurements, and if necessary will tame or augment certain frequencies depending on any hearing issues the client has. And of course, the final product must be controllable with an iPad!
I could tell that he really loves what he does, it's practically a work of art for each client. So I asked him if he gets to enjoy the theater for the day before he hands over the keys. Of course they have to test it with demo material! He puts the room through it's paces with Master and Commander and Star Trek among others. He said it stills blows his mind that with the amount of audio firepower these rooms have available, each driver is barely moving during reference playback. Surely a thing of beauty.
I wasn't sure where to post the story, but figured you guys would appreciate it. If I had the dough, I'd bring him to my house for a gut-reno, that is for sure