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A ‘showplace’ in every sense of the word, a home theater recently completed in the luxurious new 50,000 sq. ft. residence of a young Brazilian power couple reflects not only exquisite taste in furnishings and style, but an impeccable assemblage of state of the art technology guaranteed to provide this privileged couple and their guests with the ultimate audio and video performance experience.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL:  Though not particularly conversant with technology or acoustics, the client was committed to creating the finest home theater imaginable. And, he was singularly astute in his selection of a design team for his ‘dream theater.’ Extensive research and trusted personal recommendations led him to WSDG, Walters-Storyk Design Group, a global architectural and acoustic design firm. In addition to recognition for their home theater expertise, WSDG’s 45+ year history is distinguished by recording studios created for artists ranging from Jimi Hendrix (1970) to Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys and most recently Adele’s UK-based producer Paul Epworth. Credits also include performance venues as Switzerland’s KKL Luzern Concert Hall, Jazz At Lincoln Center, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, and such iconic NYC clubs as Le Poisson Rouge and 54 Below.

 The expansive (950 sq. ft.) home theater features a 16’ high ceiling and 15’ high, wood- framed, acoustically treated, telescoping wooden doors. Recessed within the walls when open, in closed position, these impressive portals provide Acoustic Isolation to and from other areas of the home. The room-facing facades of these doors are treated with QRD diffusors to further enhance the listening experience. Because aesthetics were of paramount concern to the owner, all these treatments are ‘invisible’ to guests.

To insure a definitive stereo performance AND an unrivaled feature film/video surround sound experience, the client stipulated that two distinct audio systems be installed. The primary stereo configuration is comprised of free standing Hansen ‘The King’ E speakers, Classé amplifiers, a Meridian 808 CD player and a Clearaudio Innovation vinyl player. For a superlative feature film and video surround sound experience, a secondary state-of-the-art system consisting of 7.4 B&W CT Series speakers for multichannel audio reproduction was soffit mounted to the acoustical treatments behind the 160” cinemascope perforated screen.

 This hybrid configuration inspired WSDG to create a unique Variable Acoustics solution to achieve optimal performance quality for both systems. The custom built 8’ high x 20’wide unit consists of sixty individual, rotating, triangulated 12” wide acoustic panels which provide multiple ‘room-tuning’ options e.g. reflective for higher reverberation time, diffusive for a denser sound field and absorptive for reduced reverberation, ideal for cinema sound.   Ceiling lights were recessed into custom designed, low and high frequency absorption units. The walls framing the giant flat screen mask racks that deploy a prodigious battery of easily accessible digital audio and video technology.

 WSDG’s Belo Horizonte-based, Partner/Director of Design, Renato Cipriano (a Grammy-winning recording engineer), reports the project established a new WSDG standard for overall excellence. “Previous clients and systems integration firm Versão Brasileira recommended us very highly, and we made every effort to meet the owners commitment to absolute excellence. The home itself took almost three years to design and construct, and bringing us on board at the earliest stage of development, was another astute decision by the owner. Our proprietary Room Simulation/Acoustic Modeling programs (developed in collaboration with our Basel, Switzerland-based partner, Dirk Noy) enabled us to correct acoustic problems before construction, and avoided potential ‘reconstruction’ costs. In addition to designing a fantastic home theater, we also created a new criterion for future acoustic excellence.

“This project engaged WSDG experts on acoustic modeling, from around the globe, and conceptual design contributions from our Founding Partner, John Storyk. As technology is constantly changing, our extensive experience enabled us to ‘future proof’ the system as much as possible,” Cipriano concludes. “We are confident that the owner will enjoy many years of outstanding performance without the need for any substantial upgrades.”

Photos by: Jomar Bragança courtesy of Versão Brasileira

1.Belo Horizonte House & Pool Ext.
2.Theater From Rear doors open
3. Variable Acoustic Panels
4.Variable Acoustic Panels (detail)
5. Equipment Racks
6. Rear doors closed (at left)


WSDG, a media facility design and consulting firm has collaborated on over 3500 audio /video facilities worldwide. Credits include Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios (1969); NYC’s Jazz At Lincoln Center and, Le Poisson Rouge; broadcast facilities for The Food Network, ESPN, and WNET; major education complexes for NYU, The Art Institutes and Berklee College of Music, Valencia and Boston (2015 TEC winner); and media rooms for such corporate clients as Hoffman La Roche, Cemex, and Sony. Studio projects include NYC’s Jungle City Studios for award winning engineer, Ann Mincieli, Green Day (CA), Jay-Z (NY), film composers Carter Burwell (NY), A.R. Rahman (India), Aerosmith (Boston), Bruce Springsteen (NJ), Alicia Keys (NY), and Paul Epworth’s The Church Studios (London).WSDG principals John Storyk, Beth Walters, Sergio Molho, Silvia Molho, Renato Cipriano, and Dirk Noy lecture frequently at universities and industry events, and contribute regularly to industry publications. WSDG has collaborated with such noted architects as Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Phillipe Stark. WSDG is an eleven-time winner of the NAMM TEC Award for outstanding achievement in Acoustics/Facility Design. The firm maintains offices in New York, Miami, Buenos Aires (Argentina), Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and Basel (Switzerland) with representatives in Barcelona (Spain), Moscow, Guangzhou (China), Florence (Italy), Mexico City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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