Integrating without compromising

by Bruno Cardinal

“Powerful sound” and “discretion” are two concepts that are difficult to compromise with in a residential environment. Indeed, in as much as power is the prerogative of large-sized loudspeaker enclosures, how can we have one without sacrificing the other? We had the opportunity to reflect on this issue as we designed this home theatre room that had to be fitted in the basement of a magnificent Boisbriand residence. With the highly valued collaboration of a designer, we conceived this space to accommodate the 5 members of this family.

To reduce the visual impact of the large speaker enclosures and subwoofers (B&W brand), we concealed them in two cabinets located on each side of the screen. As for the central speaker, it was built-in in a drop designed for this purpose (note the surface angles are oriented towards the listening position to optimize the diffusion of sound). The lateral effects speakers were dyed in beige to match the colour of the stone wall.

The source equipment and the audio-video receiver were installed at a comfortable height in the storage cabinet unit behind the sofas.

For the video, we opted for two devices that have become genuine classics in our installations over the past few years (and which probably constitute the best price-quality ratio on the market at present), i.e. a 100’ retractable Stewart Filmscreen projection screen and a high resolution Panasonic video projector (PTAE series).

As for the acoustics (my craze!), we needed to find a way to install the equipment in a discreet way as the clients wanted us to create a living-room rather than a “theatre” look. To minimize back scattering and provide acoustic comfort to the “audience, the clever bit was to use mixed materials for the surface finishing (wood and carpet on the floor, stones, wood and wallpaper on the walls, gypsum, wood and sound stops in the ceiling).

The system is very easy to use thanks to the great RTI “T4? remote control (called affectionately “King Kong” by our programmer…). The lighting scenario was entrusted to a Lutron Graphik Eye system module.

On the upper floor, we designed a “floating” piece of furniture to incorporate various devices (52’’ Sony television, Bose LS-321 system, Illico, Wii) and to conceal storage spaces for DVD’s, CD’s, video games, joysticks, etc.

We also installed an Élan sound system with touch-senstive control panels in various rooms of the house. The works!