Photography: Peter Evans

Audio/Video + Lighting: Case Study

The Big Screen: Encore creates a cutting-edge home theater with bells and whistles galore

When Ian Williams of Encore Custom Audio Video was asked to install a Crestron home automation system in a new house in Leesburg, part of the job was to design a state-of-the-art media room on the lower level. His clients, who wished to entertain there, specified a luxurious space that would accommodate as many as 20 people.

Because the room was irregularly shaped “getting that many people into it was not possible,” Williams recalls. He devised a way to fit 16 by using 10 theater seats and six bar stools along a granite countertop at the back.

With help from interior designer Diana Johnson, Encore gutted the existing space. A bulkhead in the ceiling was concealed by peripheral soffits, and three-dimensional, interlocking ceramic tiles by ModularArts were installed on the ceiling; they also clad the decorative columns around the room.

Williams used computer analysis to determine speaker location, screen size, seating height and distance from the screen. Four subwoofers with dedicated 1000-watt amplifiers produce the sound, while fabric-covered, acoustical wall treatments reflect, diffuse or absorb it depending on their size and location.

Each seat has an unobstructed view of the 110-inch screen, which has dual masking capability to allow for different aspect ratios. An automated Lutron curtain system can conceal the screen, while eight lighting zones—more than 40 light sources—include gimbals that swivel to illuminate the screen.

HOME THEATER INSTALLATION & DESIGN: IAN WILLIAMS, ROI-certified, CEDIA Member, Encore Custom Audio Video, Chantilly, Virginia. INTERIOR DESIGN: DIANA JOHNSON, Ashburn Interiors LLC, Chantilly, Virginia. PHOTOGRAPHY: PETER EVANS.

IAN WILLIAMS’S TRADE SECRETS:

  • Homeowners always want the biggest screen they can possibly have. But bigger is not always better. The size of the screen should be relative to the distance between the nearest seat and the screen.
  • Treat all home theater walls with absorbent panels for sound. If you don’t, the room will echo from sound waves. Drywall does not absorb sound.
  • The second row of a home theater is the optimal distance for viewing. In this project, the second row was 17 feet from the screen and the first row was 11.
  • Install multiple levels of lighting with dimmers. Also, use multiple subwoofers and make sure they are placed strategically around the room. They will equalize and balance the sound waves, making for better acoustics.