Home Theater of the Month: The GMG Theater

As an electrical and systems engineer in the television-broadcast and mastering industry, Andy Delle (Glimmie) is ideally suited to design a home-theater system that rivals any professional setup and far exceeds most consumers’ dreams. When I visited his dedicated home theater in Santa Clarita, CA, I was astounded by the amount of gear in the isolated equipment room—which resembles broadcast and mastering studios, complete with floating floor—and the complexity of the system that nevertheless operates very smoothly and efficiently thanks to Andy’s system-design skills.

Starting with an empty shell that a contractor added to his house in 2003, Andy built the interior of the theater entirely with his own hands. He also built many other components, including most of the audio amplification, signal switchers, and all the speakers and subwoofers from DIY kits and plans with drivers obtained from ScanSpeak, Vifa, Morel, Dayton, and other high-end providers. The entire theater is a DIY masterpiece!

Even with all the DIY, the total cost of the theater—including the contractor’s work and all the equipment—reached about $120,000. That’s a hefty sum by any standard, but it would have been much more if Andy had needed to hire someone to do what he is so qualified to do himself. And judging from the audio and video quality, ease of use, and comfortable environment, I’d say it was worth every penny—and then some!

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.

EQUIPMENT LIST

Sources

Media Server #1 (HD/Blu-ray/DVD)

  • Motherboard: i7, 4 GB RAM
  • Software: JRiver MC20
  • Video: Nvidia FX3800 HDSDI
  • Audio: Onboard SPDIF, Lynx AES-16 for Blu-ray audio
  • Media Server #2 (uncompressed SD/LaserDisc archive)

  • Motherboard: Fujitsu Dual Xeon, 4 GB RAM
  • Software: BlackMagic Media Express
  • Video: BlackMagic Designs DecLink SDI
  • Audio: BlackMagic Designs DecLink AES
  • RAID: Internal 8 TB
  • NAS on gigabit-Ethernet dedicated network

  • RAID #1: 30 TB running UNRAID v5
  • RAID #2: 30 TB running UNRAID v5
  • Dish VIP612 HD satellite DVR

    Pioneer CLD-95 LaserDisc player, SDI modified (for ingest to server only)

    Mitsubishi D-VHS VCR (for ingest to server only)

    AV Electronics

    Lexicon MC8 pre/pro (AES-out modified, used only for AC3 and DTS audio; analog input and output section not used)

    DIY digital processor (3 miniDSP miniSHARCs, 2 miniDSP 2×4 DSP cards; generic Asus I5 with 200 GB SSD for miniDSP management)

    Lucid AES-88192 DAC (3, 8 channels each)

    DIY 24-channel analog master volume controller (sets all gain trims and master volume)

    DIY 110W power amps for LCR woofers (3, based on rebuilt Hafler DH220 modules)

    DIY 60W power amps for LCR mids (3, based on rebuilt Hafler DH120 modules)

    DIY 20W power amps for LCR tweeters (3, pure class-A)

    DIY 70W power amps for surrounds (5)

    DIY 75W power amps for heights (4)

    Yamaha P2700 power amp (500Wx2 for front subs)

    Stewart P600 power amps (2, each bridged for side subs, 300W each)

    DIY 8×2 AES distribution amplifiers (3)

    DIY monitoring computers (3, Windows 2000, running PAS Products Multimeter, RTA, Surround Meter; all with Lynx AES-16 I/O)

    Repackaged Tektronix 764 Audio Analyzer (VGA only, internal CRT section scrapped)

    DIY 16/2 analog mixdown unit for RTA

    AV Processing

    BlackMagic Teranex 2D processor

    Darbee Darblet processor (legacy version)

    Digital Vision DVNR-500 SDI image processor

    Technike DX210 SDI NTSC/PAL decoder (used for LaserDisc-to-server ingest)

    Sony BVX-D10 SDI color corrector

    Sony DSC-1024 VGA scan converters (3)

    DVDO VP50Pro scan converter

    Videotek VTM420 VGA scopes (2, HD & SD)

    Videotek VTM400 VGA scope (HD Only)

    BlackMagic Ultrascope running on Win7/64 with Nvidia Graphics and Thunderbolt I/O

    NEC 20″ CRT SVGA monitors (5, above main screen)

    Asus 24″ LCD monitors (4, below main screen)

    Samsung 19″ LCD monitors (2, equipment racks)

    Various SDI/HDSDI/AES interface cards and bricks behind rack

    AV Switching

    DIY 16×16 RGBHV (SVGA) matrix switcher for monitor wall

    DIY 8×8 HDSDI matrix switcher

    Sony DVS1616 16×16 SDI matrix switcher

    DIY 8x8x3 analog matrix switcher configured as 16×8 composite video and 8×8 AES (used for S/PDIF)

    Belken 16-port KVM switcher

    Projector

    Panasonic PT-AE4000

    Screen

    Stewart GrayHawk (130″ wide, 16:9, 0.9 gain, not acoustically transparent)
    DIY 4-way independent masking system

    Speakers

    DIY LCR (triamped with digital crossover)

    DIY front heights (2)

    DIY side surrounds (2)

    DIY rear surrounds (3)

    DIY subwoofers (4)

    Cables

    DIY using broadcast and IT-grade cable; equivalent to Blue Jeans cables

    Control

    DIY master controller (DOS computer, controls entire system)

    iPad running iRule interfaced to master controller for total remote control

    Power Conditioning

    DIY balanced 6 kVA house feed (handles all but the servers in HT plus all TVs and DVRs in house via dedicated outlets)

    Liebert GX2000 3 kVA UPS for servers, projector, storage (5-minute delayed shut off when system is off; dedicated 30A circuit)

    Eaton/Powerware 1500 750 VA UPS for Dish DVR and house network/Wi-Fi gear (always on, fed from balanced power panel)

    DIY balanced distribution power filter/controller with dedicated analog audio section (also includes power monitoring CPU)

    DIY 3600W 3-circuit power sequencer for all power amps

    DIY power controller for all servers and RAIDs (selected on/off depending on viewing source)

    Seating

    Octane XL400 (4, first row)

    Generic leather recliners (3, second row)

    Room Dimensions

    Building footprint: 38 x 19 feet
    Theater: 25 x 18 feet (11-foot ceiling)
    Equipment room: 10 x 9 feet (11-foot ceiling)
    Foyer: 10 x 9 feet (2-story ceiling)