HomeTronics is always looking for a competitive advantage. Right on the heels of having its services listed in the prestigious Neiman Marcus Christmas Book for 2013, the veteran custom integration company run by Greg Margolis in Dallas, is putting the finishing touches on what it says is the first residential cinema installation in the U.S to utilize the Auro 3D 13.1 audio system. The added use of height channels above all main speakers and ceiling speakers known as VOG (voice of God) produces a new dimensionality of realism, Margolis contends.
Utilizing a high-end consumer surround processor loaded with Auro 3D decoding firmware, this type of private cinema could set the bar for residential installations of the future. HomeTronic’s current theater utilizing the technology is 26 x 47 feet and is configured with six front main speakers, 16 surrounds, six height (VOG) speakers, and 12 subwoofers that are all powered by 59 channels of amplification. A 4K DLP projector, fitted with the Dolby 3D system will display onto a 200-inch wide four-way masking screen. Margolis told me that he designed a false acoustical wall two feet from the main boundary wall, where his crew mounted all the speakers. (Subs are mounted against the boundary wall.)
“This placement allows all of the speakers to behave as freestanding, so the room will be very enveloping and have depth of sound,” he said.
Cinemacon 2012 is where Auro 3D, Dolby Atmos, and Imm Sound introduced and demonstrated the new 3D Audio format.
“After hearing the first demonstration, I knew this was one of the biggest improvements of theater audio in two decades, and we need to start planning for it now,” Margolis said.
An elevation drawing of the first HomeTronics theater to feature an Auro 3D 13.1 audio system. The project is located in Dallas, and is nearly complete.
Post Cinemacon, Margolis met with the principles and engineers of Auro 3D and Imm Sound (which was acquired by Dolby in July 2012) at their respective headquarters in Belgium and Spain discussing the residential 3D Audio roadmap and how to incorporate the technology in projects going forward.
“Learning the consumer market release would be in the next 18-24 months, about the same amount of time it takes to complete a project,” Margolis recalled, “is really good timing. Theaters we design now will be ready when 3D audio becomes available.”
HomeTronics is ahead of the curve, designing, wiring, and placing speaker enclosures for 3D audio in every home theater project for the past 18 months.
“It’s a unique insight and competitive advantage in our market,” Margolis said. “Perspective clients haven’t heard about the technology from anyone else but us.”
Consumer 3D audio processors use HDMI and will up-convert standard 5.1 and 7.1 digital formats to an enhanced version of 3D audio—something their commercial counterparts are not designed for, and the reason HomeTronics had been holding out for the consumer version for their showroom.
“It would have been real easy to grab a commercial processor, and five-minute movie clip with native 3D audio to demo,” Margolis commented. “That’s something anyone could do, but it’s not an example of the content clients will be initially using. Movies with 3D Audio will lag behind. The ability to show the benefits and enhancements of up-converted Blu-ray audio is paramount; it’s what our clients will be using until 3D audio releases become more prevalent.”