At CEDIA Expo 2019, three home theater masters put on an intensive, full-day training course yesterday titled “Home Cinema Design Masterclass” where they discussed home theater design best practices, in what presenter Anthony Grimani labeled as a “college senior-level discussion.”
The training was a day-long session with more than 100 integrators receiving in-depth insights on theater design from Theo Kalomirakis, often considered “The Father of Home Theater” and winner of numerous CEDIA Best Home Theater Design awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award and who currently serves as executive director at Rayva; Joel Silver, founder of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF); and the aforementioned Anthony Grimani, president of Grimani Systems.
The first presenter was Grimani and he focused his discussion on the importance of achieving better bass response in home theater systems.
Grimani stated that audiences—like customer installers’ clients —love good performing bass, and that 30 percent of what people like about an audio system happens between 20-100Hz, the bass region. If a system’s bass response and performance isn’t worthy, the entire system will suffer.
Of course, low frequencies are challenging and difficult to pull off correctly—especially across multiple seating positions, which should be the ultimate goal. And while getting good bass response from one subwoofer at one seat isn’t too difficult, getting that same bass response across 20 seats is.
One of the biggest legends surrounding bass performance is that bass is non-directional and installers can put the sub anywhere—but this is totally false, and measurements will prove it.
Achieving solid bass performance requires the correct use of equalization, in almost every case. “You can get it right with one sub at one seat, but then you should immediately go out and buy a lottery ticket, because it is your lucky day!” Grimani joked. Deep bass is possible for multiple listeners across multiple seats, but multiple subwoofers are always needed. Two subs are better than one, three subs are better than two, and four subs are better than three. However, adding more than four subs actually has diminishing results.
The solution to getting good bass is a six-part process, which includes calculating room dimensions, using bass damping methods, optimizing seating locations, optimizing subwoofer and speaker selection and location, correctly setting crossovers and tuning the room (time optimization, EQ, levels, etc.). You then need to follow all of this with testing of known material to verify the results.
Theo Kalomirakis, who over his many years in the industry has designed private cinemas for movie stars, sports legends and world leaders, followed with a session called “Uniting Design and Technology for the Complete Package.” Kalomirakis has designed over 800 custom theaters since 1990, and during his time he shared his experiences from his early theater designs and challenges he has faced over the years.
Kalomirakis spoke about how integrators can understand and work with designers and architects for the best results—balancing performance, aesthetics and usability in high-end home cinema. Developing a fruitful relationship with designers is good business for both sides, and we, as integrators, need to help them understand the requirements of technology.
The big debate facing many designers and installers today, Kalomirakis said, is the discussion between media rooms in common, shared spaces in the house versus dedicated theater rooms. While many people use media rooms for daily casual viewing, they will never deliver the isolated, focused movie watching experience of a dedicated room.
Joel Silver concluded the day by offering an in-depth session “How Bright Does a Projected Image Need to Be?” This was intended to help integrators determine the appropriate brightness levels of projected images. Silver, the 2018 CEDIA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, detailed the impact of emerging video standards and technologies on desired home cinema brightness levels, focusing on HDR in a projection-based environment.