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Partnering with Experts

When you align with companies that complement your business’ expertise, everybody wins.

Businesses in our industry all wear many hats. We are the AV company. We are the TV guys. We are the network experts. We are the smart lighting people. We are the shading guys. I’ve heard it all. We have a broad base of knowledge and know many things well, but we cannot know everything about everything. That is where partnering with experts within and adjacent to our industry comes in.

In an interesting coincidence, Mark was referred to a client by a contractor with whom he has worked with several times. When Mark got the address, he thought it sounded familiar. Then, when he showed up on site, he realized the apartment was one I had worked on early in my career (more than 10 years ago) for one of my first big clients. My client had sold the apartment and the new owner was now Mark’s client. It is a triplex unit with a sizeable outdoor space (at least for NYC) and the client will be redoing the whole home audio, the outdoor TV and audio, incorporating smart lighting, and completely updating the network infrastructure. As part of the scope of work, the basement is being converted into a home theater. For the prior owner, we had put in a 133-inch screen, projector, and 7.1 surround sound with a comfortable seating area, but it was still more of a multi-purpose room. This time the room will be a complete, dedicated home theater with an entry hidden behind bookcase doors, theater seating, risers, carpeting, a front stage, concession area, and 7.4.6-channel surround sound.

Also by Todd and Mark: Mark and Todd’s Excellent OvrC Adventure

Mark has a lot of experience in multi-purpose rooms, with projectors and screens of all sizes, but he has not done many dedicated home theaters — they just are not that common in Manhattan due to the size requirements. But this a large space (33 x 21 feet), and he knew he needed help to get it right. The client had already engaged AcousticSmart Home Theater Interiors, a theater design and build company based in Long Island, for the physical room and furniture. Mark is so excited he has met them. AcousticSmart is the perfect partner for any integration firm working on home theaters, but are not completely comfortable with the design and build out of the room itself. The company sees themselves as a white label or “OEM” partner for integration firms. They work strictly through a dealer and rarely contract directly with a customer (this client did find them directly, but that is very odd). They do not advertise to end users, because they do not want to have any conflicts with their dealer partners.

An example of an AcousticSmart-designed room.



AcousticSmart is a complete one-stop home theater shop for everything other than the electronics. It is a very synergistic relationship with the dealer — they cannot do what an integrator does, and many integrators can not do what they take care of. They handle everything from the studs on up and take care of many of the time-consuming and tedious tasks dealers either do not want to handle, do not have the time to undertake, or do not have the expertise to engage. Everything from architectural drawings for the room, sightline studies, acoustical analyses, sound isolation, visual renderings, room build out, and furniture is handled by them. Full documentation is provided for building permits, and builders love working with them because they speak the language and make the room completely turnkey for them.

AcousticSmart works all over the country and does everything from a simple star ceiling or seating layout (with full floor plan and sightline study) to rooms of all sizes and scales. For this project, they are doing the full room design, lighting design, furniture, decor, acoustic studies and treatments, and build out. Mark will be handling all the audio, video, and control.

Also by Todd and Mark: Industry Role Models

That leads us to the next set of expertise that Mark leaned on. As I mentioned, this is a really large theater and Mark wanted to make sure the audio would be robust enough to match the performance of the Digital Projection projector and 165-inch screen. Not having worked on a room of this size before, and being a Control4 dealer, he turned to the Triad Theater Design Group. This group serves to assist dealers with designing the best audio system for a theater or multi-purpose room to meet the client’s needs, the room design and décor, and the budget. The group will specify the speakers and amplification needed, the speaker layout, and will mark up plans for speaker location to share with the client, architect, and contractor. The Theater Design Group works on hundreds of theaters each year and Triad was a close partner with Dolby in developing the Atmos specification for home theater use. The expertise contained within this group is awesome!

Mark worked with David Bailey who spent hours on the phone with him over several days and even checked in while on vacation. They designed a 9.4.6-channel surround sound system (which ended up being reduced to 7.4.6 for budgetary reasons, but will be wired for the extra pair of speakers and amplification in case they are installed in the future). The big challenge was the height of the front stage — the only good place for subwoofers at the front of the room was in the fascia of the stage, but there is only 11.5 inches of clearance. David worked with Mark to move the main subs to the rear of the room, where a pair of 15-inch Triad Platinum in-room subs would go in a rear bar area. For the front subwoofers, they worked with the custom group at Triad to re-design the in-wall bronze subs and reduce the cabinet height to 11.5 inches so they could fit in the fascia of the stage, providing the sonic experience a theater of this size and design deserves. The Atmos will be delivered through Triad in-ceiling Designer Series speakers with only a 4-inch opening, so that they impact the star ceiling layout only minimally, allowing for the full visual impact of a gorgeous fiber-optic ceiling, complete with shooting starts. And the front and surround speakers will be Triad Gold series.

With design complete, the theater construction should begin in January once all permits and building approvals are completed. We will keep you up to date with future stories detailing how the process is developing, and will provide some final thoughts when the project is fully complete, and the clients are enjoying their new home theater.