There's no shortage of video options in this spacious New Jersey home. It was designed that way by Electronic Design Group pros who wanted to be sure there was never a family conflict when it came to watching one of the household's half dozen TVs. From any of the six networked viewing stations in the house, family members can plug in an iPod, queue up videos from Apple TV, view a high-res Blu-ray movie, stream movies on demand from Netflix or Vudu or select from hundreds of DVDs stored on the home's Kaleidescape server. The family is even covered if two people want to watch a certain movie at the same time. Three zones of Kaleidescape video allow one person to start Twilight, someone else to begin the movie an hour later and a third person to rewind a selected scene without disturbing anyone else's viewing. A sophisticated audio/video network makes the whole-house video system click. But while accessibility rules in most of the video zones, the home theater is the go-to space for serious movie screening and sports events. Volume is key to a killer home theater experience, but careful planning and tuning of room acoustics are what makes exceptional theaters stand apart from the pack. Here, EDG designers treated the oversized space beneath the garage as a bunker, lining the ceiling and walls with a foot of concrete as sound insulation so that no one could hear the theater's booms and crashes from outside the space. The back side is a double-layered wall and the door to the theater was sealed to prevent sound from escaping to the rest of the house. Even air ducts were padded so that theater sound wouldn't travel throughout the home's ductwork.
A high-performance home theater is as much about controlling the sound inside the space as about preventing sounds from leaking out. EDG designers measured the room using precise audio test equipment and then managed the acoustic by applying sound panels that diffuse frequencies in some spots and absorb them in others to eliminate echoes and reflected sound that can distort a soundtrack. The added challenge in this large 50 x 24-foot cave was the owner's wish for "sweet spots" at every seat. Most theaters are designed so that one or a few well-positioned chairs experience optimal sound. In this performance screening room, the owner wanted everyone seated in each of the 15 plush recliners to experience unparalleled audio quality. Even counting the bar chairs in the rear of the tiered space there's not a bad seat in the house. Taking such care to treat a room ensures that the equipment will perform to its best. Nine B&W speakers are spread out to cover the theater in a 7.2-channel surround configuration with an additional side pair used to ensure adequate coverage of the three rows of seating. The speakers are powered by a pair of Rotel amplifiers. Two B&W powered subwoofers round out the low end of the audio spectrum. Source equipment throughout the five-level house is a hybrid of analog and digital worlds. In addition to the iPods and Apple TV for iTunes content, the owner, a born tinkerer, likes to scan the world via the Internet to pull in any of thousands of radio stations that might suit his mood. The source for Internet radio is a Slim Devices Squeezebox that streams from the home network. Managing all the sources might be a challenge if each had to be controlled separately. EDG removed the complexity by programming various Crestron touchscreen controllers to operate audio, video and lighting from simple, intuitive menus that everyone in the home can use. The world is at their fingertips from the comfort of home.