Home Theater of the Month: Pond Creek Cinema

home theater

Jason (jason4vu) has always been a big fan of movies. “After high school, a buddy of mine was an assistant manager at a Carmike Cinema. Another friend got a job working at a high-end audio/video store that had a couple of showrooms featuring CRT projectors and stadium seating. I was hooked. I joined AVS Forum in 2002 and shortly thereafter bought a Barco 808 CRT projector from AVS Forum member chuchuf.”

When Jason and his wife Stacy decided to build a new house in the Pond Creek area outside Nashville, TN, he made sure to include a home theater in the plans. “My dream was to have a dedicated theater with a separate lobby. I definitely wanted two rows of five seats each, a very large ‘scope screen, and Dolby Atmos sound. Also, I wanted the room to be sonically isolated with full acoustic treatments.”

After many months of research on AVS Forum, he contacted the Erskine Group, a well-respected home-theater design firm. “Shawn Byrne did the design, working with me to bring my ideas to life. He also calibrated the audio after the system was in place.”

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Shawn Byrne’s design includes everything on Jason’s wish list: lobby, two rows with five seats each, 7.4.4 Dolby Atmos sound system, large ‘scope screen, and full acoustic treatment.

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In the side elevation, you can see where the side-surround speakers and side-mounted subwoofers are located.

Like many home theaters, Jason’s was constructed using metal hat channels and clips as well as double drywall with Green Glue between the layers for sound isolation.

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Jason and Stacy installed metal hat channels over the 2×4 framing and pink-fluffy insulation.

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The drywall includes two layers separated by Green Glue. Along with the hat channels and clips, this prevents sound within the theater from escaping into the rest of the house as well as sound from the rest of the house from intruding on the movie.

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With two rows of seats, the theater would need a second-row riser. A coffered ceiling was also important to Jason.

Because Jason wanted as large an image as possible, the three front LCR speakers are located behind an acoustically transparent screen. The design called for the speakers and two subwoofers to be embedded in a baffle wall, in which the front faces of the speakers are flush with the wall. This affords several acoustic benefits. For example, there is no interference from the wall behind the speakers, and diffraction from the front baffle of the speakers is eliminated. The result is cleaner pans from one speaker to the next and more headroom at lower frequencies.

A baffle wall should be quite thick and highly damped to reduce any resonance with vibrations from the speakers. Toward that end, absorbent material should be packed between the baffle wall and structural wall. The baffle wall should also be covered with a black, sound-absorbing material to minimize reflections of light that passes through the acoustically transparent screen and sound that reflects from the back of the screen. Finally, the speakers should be decoupled from the wall using isolation pads.

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The baffle wall started with framing in front of the drywall. In this photo, you can also see the boxes for the two front-overhead speakers on the ceiling.

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Next, Jason and Stacy added R30 insulation behind the baffle-wall framing to reduce resonances. “We got our hands a little dirty and itchy doing that!”

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The entire baffle wall was then covered with 3/4″ MDF. Cutouts indicate where the three LCR speakers and two subwoofers will be.

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The final baffle-wall layer is black Linacoustic RC, which greatly reduces light and sound reflections between the wall and the back of the screen. The screen frame was then built in front of the baffle wall.

The acoustic treatments were supplied by Quest Acoustical Interiors. According to Shawn, “We used Quest acoustical treatments throughout, including Q-Fractor Plus and Q-Sorber. Q-Fractor Plus is a unique treatment tool that provides absorption, diffusion, and reflection at the first-reflection points—or more accurately, the ipsilateral points. Proper placement of this unique treatment expands the apparent depth and width of the room while taking advantage of off-screen sound embedded within the soundtrack. Q-Sorber is another unique engineered product that provides greater absorption of lower frequencies with a 2″ depth than off-the-shelf fiberglass of the same depth. It works in locations where we require significant absorption of frequencies to help craft the soundstage.”

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Quest Q-Fractor Plus panels were installed at the ipsilateral points on the side walls. Once that and the other acoustic treatments were in place, acoustically transparent fabric from Guilford of Maine was installed over it for a finished look.

The theater was built along with the rest of the house, which took a total of about six months. However, much of the work was actually done by Jason, Stacy, and their friend Bill. “My wife and I installed the clips and hat channels. We also ran all the speaker cables and installed the speakers, screen, projector, acoustic treatments, and fabric wall coverings. Our friend Bill is a handyman, and he did everything else, including building the room itself as well as all the trim work, etc. Our contractor for the home wanted way too much money.”

Even with their friend doing much of the actual build, Jason estimates the total cost of the entire theater and lobby (design, materials, construction, acoustic treatments, A/V equipment, etc.) to be nearly $90,000. That’s a lot, to be sure, but it could have been much more for such an ambitious build. According to Shawn, “The biggest challenge was a tight budget. We had to come up with some alternatives to help shave costs.”

Clearly, those alternatives worked out well. When I asked Jason about the greatest moment in the process, he echoed what many home-theater owners say: “Watching the first movie after everything was finished. I had never heard a home theater sound that good!”

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The equipment rack is located in the lobby, which prevents any noise from impacting the experience in the theater.

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Ten Fusion Escape recliners provide luxurious comfort for Jason, his family, and friends. At the far left of this photo, you can see the entrance door, which looks just like the other wall panels, making the door virtually disappear when closed.

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The woven, acoustically transparent Falcon Vision HD screen measures a whopping 160″ wide with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, providing a huge canvas on which the JVC DLA-RS500 projector paints a beautiful picture.

For much more detail about how the Pond Creek Cinema came together, check out the build thread here.


If you’d like your home theater considered for Home Theater of the Month, send an email to [email protected] with a few photos, a brief description, and a link to your build thread if available.

EQUIPMENT LIST

Sources

Panasonic DMP-UB900 UHD Blu-ray player
DirecTV HR54 4K satellite receiver/DVR

AV Electronics

Marantz AV7702 MKII preamp/processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen3 7-channel power amp (front LCR and 4 overhead speakers)
Emotiva XPA-6 6-channel power amp (side and rear surrounds)
Seaton power amps (2, 4000W each, for Seaton subs)
QSC DSP 322ua digital signal processors (2, used to EQ the system)

Projector

JVC DLA-RS500

Screen

Falcon Screens Falcon Vision HD (160″ wide, 2.35:1, gain 1.0, woven acoustically transparent)

Speakers

Triad InRoom Gold LCR (3, LCR)
Triad InWall Silver/4 LCR (6, side & rear surrounds)
Triad InWall Silver/6 Sat (4, overhead)
Triad InWall Bronze/4 SlimSub powered subwoofers (2, in columns)
Seaton Custom 18″ subwoofers (2, behind screen)

Cables

Mogami balanced interconnects
Beldon Series 1 HDMI
Beldon 5000 12 AWG speaker cables

Control

Simple Control app on iPad Mini

Seating

Fusion Escape (10 in two rows of 5, black leather)

Room Dimensions

26′ (L) x 20′ (W) x 10′ (H)

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