What’s your dream?

Marvelous media rooms

Story by Eddy Hoyle

Is the ultimate media room with a huge “wow factor” something you dream about? There are so many options in technology and automation today that nearly any realistic budget can be accommodated. Optimum experience depends upon what your personal goal is in designing your media room. Are you a gaming guru or a movie buff? Will the room be used as a family play space or an elegant theater for entertaining? Are you a sports nut who would love multiple screens?

Hidden assets

Curt Hubner of Advanced Integrated Controls said, “Today everybody wants the best electronics, but nobody wants to see them. Creativity allows us to hide TVs by using motorized art lifts, and mirror TVs. We can use radiant (invisible) speakers, in-ceiling mounted screens and projectors and in-wall subwoofers. Combined with unique woodworking and faux panels, the room doesn’t have to be a dedicated media room. It will look like a beautiful room, but with the touch of a button it becomes a media room.”

Screen time

If money were no object, what would the ultimate media room include? Sean Stewart of Custom Audio Video recommends, “A large screen that can convert to various applications depending on the media being displayed. Great sound, probably seven speakers around the room, four more in the ceiling and two to four subwoofers. Great amplification, and not all power amplifiers are the same. Lighting control, media control, room control all brought into one. And comfortable seating where every seat has a great line of sight.” He offers this tip as well, “Talk to an expert and know that a media room is like most things in life. Price and quality cover a large range, but they are correlated for a reason.”

Get smart

Home automation at its finest goes a long way in creating the ultimate media room. A smart room can bring it all together. A universal remote or a smart device can lower lights, close window shades, lower the thermostat, turn on the projector or TV and the sound system all simultaneously.

“We can make a home theater that is intuitive and easy to use with our ELAN home systems integration,” said Erika Krieger of Advanced Integrated Controls (AIC). “We know it is important to get the right ambiance and light; that’s why we offer Paladiom by Lutron. Lutron has been known for its lighting control systems for decades.”

Sound investment

The “where” is also a decision. Consider the location carefully because how much sound-proofing you’ll need is a consideration. Sound treatment isn’t the same as soundproofing. It is a big endeavor because it’s installed within walls, but sound treatment does help absorb excess sound to create a crisp sounding room. Sound treatment absorbs sound in the room with panels installed on the walls. You might also consider carpeting with thick padding to cut down on vibration and noise. Lighting is a key design element, and lots of windows may cause glare. Square footage is another big factor since it will determine how large your TV or screen will be as well as how many seats will fit in the room.

Three Cs

Most of us think of a large-screen TV as the cornerstone of a media room. Stewart explained that today’s screens are not just a white square like the vinyl ones we remember from school. “A good screen catches the light and reflects it back to the eyes. Screens range in price from $1,000-$15,000 and must be paired with a projector. A good projector can go up to 120” and is cheaper than an 85” TV. Projectors start at $3,000 and go up to $60,000. When considering a projector, it’s about the three Cs: contrast, clarity and color that will enhance the full-color spectrum.”

Ask the experts

One of the biggest costs is retro-fitting a room with wiring, sound-proof tiles in the walls and speakers. The best advice is to consult an audio/visual pro and an architect to accomplish your goals and complete your wish list. It’s good advice no matter what size your budget might be. There is a significant price difference between designing it from scratch and retro-fitting a room. “The main difference is that retro-fitting a room usually requires more labor and more invasive labor,” Stewart explained. “It’s a lot easier to design from scratch and run wires through walls early on. Retro-fitting goes one of two ways: labor is more in depth and costs more if walls and ceilings have to be opened up, etc., or alternative solutions are found usually at the expense of quality. Don’t sacrifice quality for convenience.”

Hot seats

There are a lot of options in designing your media room, which means a lot of choices in terms of products. For example, seating sounds like a simple decision, but with today’s technology and designs, it may not be. Your options go from beanbag chairs for the kids to elegant chaise lounges or high-quality recliners – some are even available with butt rockers that vibrate with the action in a movie. If you love to entertain, you will probably include a bar and small tables at your guests’ seats or cupholders.

Explore your options

Stewart’s favorite project was one that Custom Audio Video designed with four TVs in the wall behind the screen so that the client could choose between one big, beautiful image or having multiple shows or sporting events on at once.

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