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Maximizing Pre-Wire Capabilities in Small Home Theater

Feb 4, 2008 12:00 PM

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The following information is courtesy of the 2007 CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles Designers' Choice Awards. For more information on how to become a member of CEDIA, or information on its awards program please visit or call (800) 669-5329.

2007 CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles Awards Entry:
Best Small Home Theater

We were commissioned on this project after the pre-wire and sheet rock was in place. The builder had guided another company in regards to the pre-wire, but we were hired to design the system and, more importantly, create the theater. The client was looking for as much of a dedicated theater feel they could get in a multi-purpose room setting. We were hired to design the seating, finishes, electronics, and accessories—and maximize the capabilities of the pre-wire. Furthermore, performance and ease of use were important, but ultimately the look of the room was most important.

The largest challenge was that there had been no guidance until we stepped in very late. The client had a basic idea of what they wanted, but no idea what the home had been wired for. One challenging aspect was the desire to create rows of seating in the middle of the room. To accomplish this, we started with a rear curved couch row from Lee Industries. In front of them we used two Upstage custom ottomans and completed the effect with a front row of recliner seating from Fortress Theater Seating, modified with lower seats and backs. All seating was covered in the same fabric. Also, they left little space for electronics in a small cabinet to the side of the screen. We ultimately had a larger cabinet built on top of the unit to expand the equipment storage capability. We were also able to use the single structured wire 2+2 bundled cable to expand the basic distributed audio system to a six-zone, six-source audio/video (four with video) distribution with two cable box DVRs and four tuners, and an Escient music server.

Loudspeakers were all placed in the ceiling. They retract for music listening and descend for TV and DVDs. The walls were Venetian plaster and off limits, so we used heavy roman shades on the walls and windows and covered the entrance with a working drapery that covers the entrance and helps acoustically. The subwoofer was hidden beneath the seating on the right side of the theater. After we expanded the system we needed to install a small cabinet ventilation system to cool the components.

Given the smaller scope of the project, most of the budget was put towards room design, furniture, and fabric treatments.

Equipment list

  • 1 Hitachi 55HDS69 HDTV Plasma
  • 1 Sunfire D-10 Subwoofer
  • 1 Denon AVR-2807 Receiver
  • 1 Denon DVD-1720 DVD Player
  • 1 RTI T1 Touch Screen Remote control
  • 1 RTI RP-6 Remote Control Processor
  • 1 RTI RM-433RF RF Receiver
  • 1 Escient SE-80 Music Manager
  • 5 KEF Ci200.2QT Motorized Loudspeakers
  • 1 Lee Industries Theater Seating
  • 2 Fortress Theater Seating
  • 2 Upstage Custom Ottomans
  • 2 Motorola HD DV Cable Box
  • 1 Monster Cable
  • 1 Monster Power

    Time and Expertise Worksheet
    Task Hours
    Client Interviews 8
    Electronic Design and Engineering: 8
    Proposal and System Documentation Preparation: 4
    Project Management: 10
    Pre-wire/Rough-in: 0
    Trim-out: 10
    Shop Time for Racking and Testing: 0
    Programming: 10
    Final Installation and Calibration: 48
    Client Instruction: 3
    Interior Design and/or Architecture by your Company: 145
    Interior Design and/or Architecture by Others: 0
    Project Management by Others: 0
    Other time: builder's interior designs, drawings done on paper: 0
    Total Hours to Complete: 246

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