Tall people can't even stand up straight in Terry Huntington's home theater, but once they sit down, it's show time.
When composer Terry Huntington (KBMAN) moved to his new house in Grass Valley, CA, he had to say goodbye to his 7.1-channel home theater/family room. He was determined to have a dedicated theater, but the house, which had been built in the 1930s, offered only one location for it—a small basement with a low ceiling.
The basement in Terry's new house was the only place to put a theater, but the quarters were quite cramped.
The first step was to remove the support posts in the middle of the room and reinforce the existing beams with "wafers." Then Terry and his father got to work with the help of contractors to do the heavy lifting.
Terry's father was amazed that the support pillars could be removed without compromising the structural integrity of the house. Low cinder-block retaining walls were installed to keep the dirt from intruding.
The water heater and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system couldn't be moved, so Terry had to build a closet around them. "The new wall includes heavy insulation," he says. "When the heater or even the A/C is on, it basically sounds like a projector; you would be hard-pressed to hear any hum or rumble."
The water heater and HVAC system had to be enclosed in a closet to tame their noise.
With the framing and insulation installed, it's starting to look like a theater just might fit.
One of the many challenges Terry faced was making sure his JVC DLA-RS20 projector with Panamorph PS-100U anamorphic lens would fill his Carada Precision 115-inch 2.40:1 screen in such a limited space. With no formal plans, he carefully measured and calculated ("and guessed!" he laughs), and found that it would—just barely.
Terry is about six feet tall, and his head brushes the lowest beam in the theater if he stands up straight—hence the name Duck and Cover Theater.
Terry decided on red carpeting and doors with off-white walls, so I was very glad to see that he created a black shadowbox around the screen. This reduces reflections from the nearby walls and especially the ceiling, improving the image dramatically.
Surrounding the screen with a black shadowbox really helps the picture pop.
Another problem Terry anticipated was acoustics. "I did not have high hopes for good sound," he says. "But with the carpet and seating installed, the sound totally exceeded my expectations; the acoustics are very good, and much better than my previous house!" In fact, the sound is so good, he disabled the Audyssey room correction in his Integra DHC-40.1 pre/pro and never looked back.
Speaking of the seating, it's now a few feet closer to the screen than his previous setup, because, well, he had no choice. "I have come to appreciate the closer, Imax-like experience," he notes. Actually, it will be even better when he upgrades to a 4K/UHD projector—assuming he can find one with the right throw range.
One and a half months and about $20,000 later, the theater was complete. "The best moment was when the carpet was finally installed," he recalls. "And working with my dad during the construction was a real joy."
The seating consists of three Salamander Designs Mateo recliners and two traditional movie-theater chairs on an 8" riser. Each row has a ButtKicker LFE transducer to shake your booty during intense low-frequency action.
The custom equipment cabinet in the left wall includes shelves that leave a 4" gap behind them for easy cable accessibility.
The finished theater is small but fully functional and beautifully appointed.
Several AVS members have told me they face the challenge of shoehorning a theater into a small space, and the Duck and Cover Theater is a perfect example of how it can be done. (Another excellent example is the Theater for Hobbits
, which was HT of the Month for December 2013.) Kudos to Terry Huntington for making the most of a tiny space. Now, it's time to lower the lights, grab some popcorn, and get lost in a movie...
For more detail about how Terry's home theater came together, check out the build thread here
If you'd like your home theater considered for HT of the Month, PM me with the details and a link to your build thread if available.
Apple TV 3
Sony PS3 Slim
Marantz CC-45 CD carousel
Integra DHC-40.1 preamp/processor
NAD 925THX 5-channel power amp
NAD 216THX 2-channel power amp
Panamorph PS-100U anamorphic lens
Carada Precision (115", 2.40:1, 1.4 gain)
Paradigm Studio 60 (LCR)
Paradigm Studio 20 (side and rear surrounds)
Epik Tower 15" subwoofer
Hsu MBM-12 mid-bass module (paired with center speaker)
URC MX-500 universal remote
Salamander Designs Mateo recliners (3, front row)
Traditional fold-down theater seats on 8" riser (2, second row)
Giant bean bag (1)
ButtKicker LFE transducers (1 in riser, 1 under front row) powered by BKA1000-N power amp
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