The Greatest Show on Earth!

Kipnis' outer limits theater, or what $6 million will buy.

When it comes to home theaters, I thought I'd seen it all. But nothing's come close to this. First, I'm going to try to describe the sheer magnitude of Jeremy Kipnis' theater. His Stewart Snowmatte laboratory-grade screen is the biggest I've ever seen in a home, and in the back of the theater, there's a Sony ultra-high-resolution (4,096-by-2,160) SRX-S110 digital projector. I'm looking everywhere, jotting down questions, and Kipnis sounds almost giddy talking about his theater's capabilities. He refers to his baby, the Kipnis Studio Standard (KSS), as "The Greatest Show on Earth." And from the looks of it, he may be right.

While the KSS is technically an 8.8-channel audio system, it uses a lot more than eight speakers and eight subwoofers. Kipnis felt that a lone center speaker sounded a tad undernourished compared with the eight Snell THX Cinema & Music Reference towers, so he opted for three Snell LCR-2800 center-channel speakers. The original contingent of eight subs sounded "really good" but, unfortunately, didn't deliver the full earth-moving-under-your-feet effect he wanted. So, he wound up with 16 18-inch Snell subs! To balance the other frequency extreme, and for the ultimate in transient speed and transparency, the Snell speakers' treble has been augmented with MuRata ES103A super tweeters. Thus, from the deepest deep bass (10 hertz) up to the extreme high-frequency range (100 kilohertz), the KSS is the most full-range system I've ever heard—and felt. The speakers are fed by a well-balanced combination of audiophile solid-state and vacuum-tube amplifiers. The KSS is astonishing in the way it delivers power, but with 11,315 very high-quality watts on tap, that's hardly surprising. Not only can it play ungodly loud, the KSS sounds phenomenal while doing so and never hurt my tender ears. The theater is big but far from huge. Its vaulted ceiling ranges from 8 feet high at the rear end to 16 feet at the screen end of the room (which is 26.5 feet wide and 33 feet long). The 18-foot screen fulfilled my IMAX fantasies, and the projector's va-va-voom color and brilliant light were transformational. I just tried to take it all in as I scribbled notes, afraid I might miss some of the juicier details.

AC power conditioning for the KSS is, again, done to the max. Next to the garage, there are two mammoth General Electric 13,800-volt/800-amp step-down transformers; all of the cabling is audiophile-grade wire, and every aspect of performance and presentation is scrutinized, even down to the 40-amp cryogenically treated circuit breakers for each and every component in the system.

How It Came to Be
I first met Kipnis in the early 1990s when he worked for Chesky Records as an engineer/producer. And later in the decade, I followed his exploits when he started his own classical music label, Epiphany Recordings Limited. Hooked on video at an early age, he was the first on his block to buy a laserdisc player in 1980 and went on to amass a huge collection of players and discs. He watched them on one of the very first projectors in the market, the Kloss NovaBeam Model 1, with a 6.5-foot curved silver screen in his Redding, Connecticut, home, where he still resides. The projector's legendary inventor, Henry Kloss, was a neighbor and good friend of Kipnis' parents, so you might say the seeds of the KSS were planted long ago. The man's passions run deep. Kipnis tells me, "I've been watching movies since I was four on really big screens in movie theaters, and three years ago, those experiences inspired me to design a home theater with the absolute best picture and sound."

But it's more than that. Kipnis sees the KSS as a laboratory, an ongoing experiment to advance the state of the art. And it's not just for himself; he's dead serious about selling the KSS to movie-industry professionals and wealthy home theater aficionados. He sees his huge screen as an intrinsic part of the experience. "It's an unprecedented level of immersion that I'm looking for." The mix of brands and models for his customers' KSS systems will be site specific, and he imagines that, unlike his installation, the componentry and speakers will be stealthily deployed. The KSS pictured here is Beta Ciné, so yes, there's an even bigger KSS, the Alpha Ciné, in the planning stages. It's intended for much larger venues, such as screening rooms or perhaps even actual movie theaters. The Gamma Ciné will be a scaled-down KSS for smaller living rooms, bedrooms, or kitchens. The Gamma Ciné will likely utilize rear-projection techniques. (When not in use, the screen will look like a wall, and all of the equipment will live behind the screen.) The philosophy of all three KSS systems is the same—nothing but the best picture and sound. Price estimates will be site specific, but the cost of Kipnis' home system would be in the $6-million range.

Scaling the Heights
Setting up the Sony SRX-R110 digital cinema projector is a demanding job, and Kipnis has invested a lot of time into maximizing its potential, all in an effort to advance the state of the art. He's an Imaging Science Foundation–certified technician and studied with video-tweaking legend Joe Kane.

The Sony projector doesn't have HDMI inputs that are HDCP compliant, but it upscales Blu-ray and HD DVD players' component outputs to its native 4K resolution. So sure, it might look even better if he could use his HD player's digital outputs, but Kipnis feels the picture quality he's getting right now is "far more outstanding and realistic than any other movie theater I've experienced on the planet." Pressing the question about keeping the KSS' video all digital, he admits that he's also considering commissioning a custom-built scaler from Silicon Optix or Snell & Wilcox. The ultimate goal is to produce a picture that's an open window to the world.

With a bit of luck, Kipnis will get to play the KSS for the likes of George Lucas, Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese. And who knows—they each might be so thrilled, they'll buy one on the spot. That would be great, but I wonder out loud, "Would you have done all of this if you didn't hope to turn it into a commercial enterprise? Would you have done it just for yourself?" Without hesitating, Kipnis says, "Just to see what's possible? Yes, I would."

For more information about the Kipnis Studio Standard, please visit www.kipnis-studios.com or call (203) 938-3767.

Partial Equipment List for the Kipnis Studio Standard Beta CinE:

Picture Elements:
Sony SRX-S110 Professional Video Projector
Stewart 18-by-10-foot Snowmatte 1.0 Gain Laboratory-Grade Motion Picture Screen

Players and Sources:
Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray Player
Sony PlayStation 3 Gaming Console
Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD Player
JVC HMDH-5U D-VHS Recorder
SATA Drive (72 HDTV Hours Total)
Mark Levinson N° 51 DVD/CD Media Player
Pioneer HLD-X0 Hi-Vision HDTV MUSE Laserdisc Player

Surround Processing and Decoding:
Theta Digital Generation VIII 32-bit 8x Oversampling Dual Processors (13)

Amplification:
Mark Levinson N° 33h Amplifiers (2)
McIntosh MC-2102 Amplifiers (30)
Crown Macro Reference Gold Amplifiers (3)

Speakers:
Snell 1800 THX Music & Cinema Reference Subwoofers (16)
Snell THX Music & Cinema Reference Towers (8)
MuRata ES103A Super Tweeters (10)
Snell THX Music & Cinema Reference LCR-2800 Center-Channel Speakers (3)

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COMMENTS
Peter Kinahan's picture

Wow the System looks great, but why not use Wisdom Speakers?, or get a custom job?

elwisdram's picture

Home Theater Shack Forums covers all aspects of home theater systems including electronics equipment, design, construction and acoustics. If you are looking to achieve the ideal viewing and listening environment... then you have come to the right place.

Stig's picture

Nice to see the kind of solutions this man is using.I watched the interview and walkthrough of his system on youtube.Especially his focus on vibrationdamping of the equipment was inspirering.I have just myself experienced how proper damping makes a huge difference.He also inspired me to look seriously into how current is supplied to my system.Im thinking about his balance power-supply.So his investigation into what makes a difference, helps me decide what will make a difference in my system, thereby saving me money.His system is a statement, but also an experiment.If you read his homepage, you can see how he compares an insanely expensive MarkLevinson player to a logitech streamer and states that the Logitech achieves almost the same low level of Jitter. Now I can go out and test a Logitech player at a fraction of the price a MarkLevinson costs. Again, saving me money.

Joey's picture

O God I wish I could wacth a movie in that he should also have a xbox 360 and PS3 in there that would be so cool, although I think it's to cluttered but I understand y that is neccesry.

Kimbal's picture

It's good to see vacuum tubes are still considered to be on the CUTTING EDGE of Audio Technology in the lives of some people. Despite the fact its out of the ability of many to ever own such a system "I give credit where credit is due". If I had the money to blow on such gear I would be no better - but implement a few changes, like a bar fridge next to the couch, and much bigger subs, etc. I have noted one small flaw in the acoustic design. He has no drapes nor carpets to dampen the reflected sound - unless I am blind and the picture is not clear. Polished floor boards are not the best for acoustics nor are flat walls. The filled book cases do help matters but could be improved on. Obviously room acoustics were not given a top priority. Either way, it would still be vastly better than even many professional systems I have seen in Commercial Theaters.

Aaron's picture

The superbowl starts in a few hours...Can I come over? I have owned a few projectors for the past 20 years and without a doubt would be moving in my fridgebedphonetoilet invention to complete the room!

Alfonse P. Cocker's picture

I just want to know if he used Monster Cables.That room could suffer from a lot of RF cross-talk.Stereo?

pug's picture

Yuo cannot afford. Deal.

emmanuel's picture

Waouh Jeremy !!! 6 M$ while peoples are dying all over the world. Shame on you guy!

Regis's picture

Truly an amazing system, but to be honest it is probably the most incredible overkill I've ever seen. The human ear probably isn't even so acute as to make any distinction in quality between this system and one that cost 10% as much. A much cheaper system may sound different, but not necessarily worse. And, as an afterthought, how much time do you have to spend watching movies to justify blowing $6 million on a home theater system? $200k will get you a system that is just as good.

sam's picture

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but several factors in this newbs room severely affect the acoustic environmenta) wooden floorsb) non-soundproofed wallsc) again, ceilingthis guy is a newb with lots of cash but very little brains.Spend some more cash on books imo

Simo's picture

That

kevyn's picture

is it just me, or is none of this connected? there are no cables showing anywhere (which is great) but I can see lots of empty connections on the back of speakers... no leads for the floor amps...etc

Chris's picture

Too many reflective surfaces and too much ambient light from valves and everything else = crap movie experience. He has more money than sense, or taste, or.. pretty much everythin..I bet it sounds as bad as it looks; bold, brash and ugly.BTW alfonso i think this set up is in a little too pricey to be using 'monster cables' bought at the local deli... :)

FunnyWorld's picture

I guess someone thinking you're a jealous moron because saying this isn't 6 million worthwhile has a problem with his/her subconscious... ;-)

Nate's picture

What's funny is, many of you FAILED TO REALIZE the fact that he said Kloss was a neighbor and close friend from a young age...so how much of that do you think he really PAID for, at the very least, cost? Plus he's an engineer/producer now record label owner...do you really think he PAID for any of that? Get real...The guy has money, so what. It's a hobby, some people spend more money on worse things, like vintage stamps...wtf, you can't even use those. But so what, it's his money and a hobby...money gets spent.If any of you had the opportunity to HAVE all that, you would. Now, what you do with it would be your own prerogative, but he chose to utilize it all. I eprsonally would sell almost all of it, and less is more. But remember, it's his hobby, much like how many of us headphone geeks drop serious cash on headphones, he drops it on amps and speakers. Only a few can TRULEY understand the mans passion...Don't hate, congratulate, lol.

Vince's picture

This is really just an advertisment for someone who said "I'll buy the best of everything, put it in a room and try to sell it to the people who make movies. Because it costs so much they will want this trophy."George Lucus has already developed a standard. He already knows what a great theater experience is because he set the standard so we could realize it too. If he wants better than what he has he would hire someone and TELL THEM what to put in it. Everyone here has already picked out the flaws with this system and we're no experts. So, what will people who are experts do to this conglomeration?

A Nonny Mouse's picture

Wow, someone bought as much "stuff" as he could and crammed it into one room---and that's just how it looks. Maybe he should have sought a little acoustic design help and he could've gotten a better sounding system for MUCH less. No acoustic wall treatments, hardwood floor , glass table all giving multiple reflections, the tube amps in direct line with speakers for maximum vibration distortion, A/V library shelved against walls, and "wireless" connectors. Oh please. Along with the ugly lighting system, this whole thing looks like the dreamchild of every 19 year old know-nothing dorm-dweller. "Dude, it really makes my Xbox ROCK" A monument to waste and nonsensical overkill. I bet, done properly, a system costing 1/2 of 1% of this could sound better----after all, that's still 30K!!!!

BrickMcLargeHuge's picture

I'm going to have to agree with some of the FPs:Excessive consumption is not a virtue.

Angela's picture

To David : ( Posted Tue Feb 5,2008, 1:50 PM

ytb's picture

wheres the wires ? .... no power , no speakers ..umm I call fake ..

Mike's picture

Where's mine?

Wayne's picture

My issue with this is, regardless of how good it sounds, it's a cramped, unpleasant-looking space. Like the visual manifestation of OCD. Which would prevent me from enjoying what is being projected on the screen.

Drobi's picture

Wow, it's crasy.Drobi

Mr highfi's picture

Does anyone out there have any good 8 track tapes they want to sell?

Brandon's picture

You're the King, Kipnis!But I don't know this is kind of overload for such a room size. It'd be better for me to stop by to audition it sometime lol. I have an extra good carpet made by hand 24"x24" and couple recliners. Would you like me to bring them over?

Cornelius's picture

Watching Koyaanisqatsi on this must be brilliant, wonderful Nautilus replica also. But no Wii! ;)

Ron's picture

The Kipnis's can spend their money as they wish to... if it is to fulfil a home theater dream, more power to them. This definately isn't a "Theater-in-a-Box". I would enjoy experiencing a 'demo' of this theater and I'll even bring the 'pizza and beer'. I was very sad to read some of the personal assults on the Kipnis's. Mr & Mrs Kipnis...I am sorry for these unthoughtful comments some people have made.

Tazaroo's picture

Wow David, spoken like a true socialist. Welcome to America where you can spend your money as you please. David, please change your last name to Marx which will be more fitting.

keith's picture

No cables or wires?

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