How One Integrator's Persistence Led to a New Surround Sound Option for Home Theaters

By Jeremy J. Glowacki June 23,2014

Auro’s 3D Audio System adds height channels and “voice-of- God” ceiling speakers to a standard 7.1 configuration, for a deeper, a more true-to-life surround sound experience.
Two years ago at an international cinema convention, Greg Margolis witnessed what he believed to be the future of home theater audio. The only problem was, the technology was intended for commercial theaters only.

The concept, which has already made its way into multiplexes under the Dolby Atmos brand, was designed to deliver a more immersive surround sound experience by adding ceiling speakers and extra height speakers to the room. It was a concept that Margolis, the president of Dallas-based integrator HomeTronics, went the extra mile to deliver to his high-end clients.

“I like keeping my pulse on technologies that could find their way into residential applications,” Margolis said.

After multiple meetings in multiple continents, involving engineering and design teams from several manufacturing partners, Margolis proudly unveiled the first completed installation of an Auro-branded 3D Audio system in a stunning home theater owned by a Dallas tech entrepreneur. The theater, he said, is the “biggest improvement to sound since the creation of 5.1 digital surround.”

The side channels viewed without walls

Auro’s 3D Audio System adds height channels and “voice-of-God” ceiling speakers to a standard 7.1 configuration, for a deeper, a more true-to-life surround sound experience. In this particular theater, which was designed longer (45 feet) than a typical home theater, two additional pairs of side surround channels were needed in the first place. The Auro design added one additional height-channel speaker above each of the standard front LCR, side, and rear speakers, and another three pairs of speakers were framed out in a ceiling hidden behind acoustical cloth. The height layer emits different harmonics from the main speakers, for a fuller sound. The voice-of-God speakers further extend the envelope of sound from the height layer to the top layer, reproducing sounds from above to mimic what the brain hears and interprets every day in real life.

For the top speakers, HomeTronics framed the ceiling down to maintain an acoustical deck for isolation without making any penetrations in the outer wall. The framed ceiling also allowed the design team to fit all of its acoustical materials behind acoustical fabric for a seamless ceiling design.

In all, there are 28 CAT speakers, 12 CAT subs, and 55 DSP and 55 amp channels.

More Than Just Audio

Audio is only half of the reason that HomeTronics’ Dallas home theater project is noteworthy. It also features Display Development’s Reference 4K projector and a RGB multi-view image processor to enable the tiling of up to eight live video images on a four-way masking 99 x 188-inch Stewart Director’s Choice perforated projection screen.

A Savant control system enables the homeowner to easily control and arrange up to eight sources at once, including PlayStation and Xbox video games, HD satellite from four DirecTV HD receivers, first-run movies from Prima Cinema’s streaming movie system, or DVDs or Blu-rays from an Oppo player. Because of the 4K projector’s resolution, a tiling arrangement of four images on the screen would result in four 1080p-quality images.



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