Bringing the THX Experience Home

Doherty Design Group's client had an affinity for two things: elliptical shapes and Biedermeier furniture, along with the explicit desire to contain the sound within the theater. 1/02/2007 7:00 AM Eastern

Bringing the THX Experience Home

Jan 2, 2007 12:00 PM

The following information is courtesy of the 2006 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.

2006 CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles Winner
Designers Choice Awards: Best Large Home Theater
Level IV ($400,000-600,000)

Doherty Design Group's client had an affinity for two things: elliptical shapes and Biedermeier furniture, along with the explicit desire to contain the sound within the theater.

Space limitations and acoustical performance concerns prohibited an entirely elliptical room. The design features a theater with a rounded front and rear that are amplified by the three overlapping elliptical ceiling features. The convex acoustical panels nested between the columns in the sidewalls serve as a visual counterpoint to the ceiling feature.

Inspired by the Biedermeier style, stained cherry and burled walnut along with ebonized accents are orchestrated with a color palette of black and tan and achieve an almost jewel-box effect to the room. Multiple layers of lighting complement the architectural features and are controlled to create varying scenes for pre-show, movie viewing, and intermission.

One challenge was controlling sound transmission to adjacent spaces and the family room above within a limited ceiling height. In addition to isolating the theater space from the rest of the home, additional isolation techniques were used to eliminate unwanted vibrations from within the room. The ceiling, walls, and floor are completely isolated from each other using several techniques.

The client (installers included) marvels at how loud the theater can be, yet when the door is shut it is very difficult to know that the system is on, much less playing at THX reference levels. Vibration to the above room is simply non-existent.

Since this theater was designed with the advantage of a “blank sheet of paper,” Doherty Design Group had no problems integrating equipment, nor with placement. In fact, the room’s architectural design was implemented with optimal speaker locations, site lines, viewing distances, etc., in mind prior to initial architectural design. The architect really earned their fee accomplishing what they did with these requirements along with a fixed envelope defined by the unfinished space.

There were several mantras for this project. It needed to be an architectural space that transports the clients to a place where everything was left behind. It had to provide visual and audio performance that entertained at the highest possible levels. And, most importantly, the experience had to be effortless. The system had to be so simple to operate, that one did not even have to strain with thought or concentration to operate it.

A basic Crestron control system with a touchpanel was used and leveraged the house-wide PRO2 controller. The system was purposely simplified for maximum client enjoyment. The Kaleidescape onscreen UI along with the cable service guide provides sufficient and reliable control utilizing simple up, down, left, and right cursor control via the Crestron panel utilizing a bare minimum of page flips.

A dedicated air conditioning system was provided to control the home theater due to its unique loading from occupants and equipment. Additionally, the equipment and projector rooms have an exhaust duct connected to a remotely located, continuously operating, in-line ventilation fan to extract the warm air from these spaces.

The surround- and side-channel speakers were placed at ear level for the second (primary) row. The LCR are at this same level with the center channel speaker behind the perforated screen. Subwoofers are placed at the front of the room under the left and right speakers.

The video portion of the system was calibrated by an ISF-certified technician. Each of the source input memories were calibrated. The geometry and overscan were set for each of the aspect ratios. The calibration encountered no problems.

Equipment list

  • 1 APC UPS S15 power conditioner
  • 1 Crestron STX-1700CXP touchpanel
  • 1 Crestron video touchpanel
  • 1 Crestron PRO2 professional dual-bus control system
  • 1 Crestron TPS-RFGWX 2.4 HGz spread spectrum 2-way RF gateway
  • 1 Crestron power supply
  • 3 JBL Synthesis LCR SK2-1000DG 3-way dual 10in. center speakers
  • 2 JBL Synthesis S1S-EX 18in. THX Ultra2 subwoofers
  • 6 JBL Synthesis S4Ai flush-mount THX surround speakers
  • 1 JBL Synthesis SDP-5 THX Ultra 2 surround processor/system controller
  • 1 JBL Synthesis SDEC-2500A THX digital equalizer
  • 1 JBL Synthesis S7150 7-channel amplifier
  • 2 JBL Synthesis S800 2-channel amplifiers
  • 1 Kaleidescape KSERVER-2500
  • 1 Kaleidescape KMUSIC-4000 Music Player
  • 1 Kaleidescape KPLAYER-2500
  • 1 Lutron Sivovia QED curtain track
  • 1 Lutron HWI-Q96 interface
  • 3 Lutron HWI-RP-4U dimming module
  • 1 Middle Atlantic Slim 5 rack shelf
  • 1 Middle Atlantic rack shelf
  • 1 Middle Atlantic misc. blank kits
  • 1 Motorola HD DVR set-top
  • 1 Runco VX-2c projection system
  • 1 Runco Cinewide with AutoScope
  • 1 Runco ViVix II video processor
  • 1 Stewart Filmscreen CineCurve screen

    Time and Expertise Worksheet
    Task Hours
    Client Interviews 16
    Electronic Design and Engineering: 42
    Proposal and System Documentation Preparation: 18
    Project Management: 120
    Pre-wire/Rough-in: 40
    Trim-out: 24
    Shop Time for Racking and Testing: 40
    Programming: 32
    Final Installation and Calibration: 24
    Client Instruction: 8
    Interior Design and/or Architecture by your Company: 32
    Interior Design and/or Architecture by Others: 530
    Project Management by Others: 72
    Other time: builder's interior designs, drawings done on paper: 0
    Total Hours to Complete: 998

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