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
ron's picture

Wow..."intellectual" critics who cannot spell, tree huggers from hell, audio geeks for weeks, and vitriol abounding. I think someone who is passionate about their music and video and can afford to do this, should, if they so choose. I have been watching Jeremy's posts on facebook for sometime, and I appreciate his boyish enthusiasm for that which he loves...music. I wish more of us had those positive attributes and less of the anonymous backbiting above. BTW, I'll not be anonymous. Ron Perron signing off...

expensive's picture

The problem with audio and especially video is that they evolve very fast. For instance, HD is becoming 3D --> new BR player, new projector. Btw, this article is marketing, the goal is to strike people's mind and it looks like it worked well. Did ML and McIntosh pay to be quoted?

Gordon's picture

I would like to see his carbon footprint when the volume is cranked up .. Ridiculous overkill..

Steve Mills's picture

Wow. A lot of people just don't understand why anyone would build a system like this; because they can. Overkill? Who the hell cares? How many Veyron owners will use its full potential when they could just buy a 911 for a lot less money? None, but that doesn't matter. Give the guy his due for having the love of audio and his equipment geekiness for even wanting to do this, much less pull it off.

Michael Lamon's picture

WOW! There sure are a lot of jealous fools posting negative comments on here. The way I see it is it's his money and he could do whatever he wants with it. I guarantee you if he were your friend you would want to watch your movies at his house.Jealousy is a disgusting trait to have people.

Slick's picture

Awesome looking (and I bet sounding) system. All people judging him for how he spends his money are just jealous. Who cares? He's made his money just like all of you. Get a life and put your energy into your own improvements and stop envying others.

Michael's picture

I personally cannot believe how many of you say that this is "Overkill" and "The money could be put to better use". This man has achieved his dream and how many of us can say that... Okay it may not be to your tastes, but it seems perfect for him and that's what counts... Plus who's to say that he doesn't make some hefty donations to charity... Do you know the man personally to say that he doesn't. I for one commend you Kipnis.

postmaster's picture

this is, without doubt, the worst looking room i have ever seen.who cares how great it sounds (or not... no mention of acoustic design or treatment, which is a worry) if the vibe of the room is so horrendous you'd never want to sit in it.i'm no stranger to audiophilia (i run a CD Mastering studio) but i would rather watch an old TV in the corner of a nice pub than sit in this room for more than 2 minutes. it is aesthetically offensive, a visual assault, and about as inviting as a dentists surgery.

David Blank's picture

I think Kipnis should have had an acoustic engineer design the room to be as acoustically perfect for a home theater first. Look at the dimensions and how the ceiling has a drastic tilt from 8 feet to 16 feet. I think if the room was better designed, he probably wouldn't need so many speakers. Plus aren't the LRC speakers supposed to be either right behind the screen or on the same plane? One can put a great system in a crappy room and it will sound crappy. Have a mediocre system in a great room and it will sound great. But put a great system in a great room and it will surpass anything. I just have a hard time believing that his room is a good sounding room, but that is just gut feeling based on the dimensions.

David's picture

Oh wait, how about the McIntosh 2K amps? What about some nice MTX Jackhammer subs put in a BIG cabinet? 22 inch subs... Maybe he'll only need 8 of them.

David's picture

I wonder how much better it would sound with a system based on the ADAM Olympus system. It certainly has enough power to blow the doors off this room. It's certainly much cleaner in appearance.

Kyle's picture

wow too bad i can see there is a lot more jealous people than i thought there could be. Stop crying out the fact some of you don`t have money to spend wherever you like, like this guy have. It`s not of your business, and most of you who talk crap about him are mad cz u wish u could have his money. If he owned his money fairly, he has the right to do whatever he wants with it. Thats why most people go after money. Because they want to spend the way it feels like. Get a job and quit trying to say how people are supposed to spend the money u don`t have.

Julian's picture

Ur all jellis!This guy rocks!Keep up the good work!

Chris's picture

Oh dear...More money than sense, I think - the phase problems inherent in a system with that many point sources of sound are, frankly, ludicrous. Even with the help of an experienced acoustician, the best you could possibly come up with is a sweet spot the size of a small pea (if that) - certainly a lot smaller than the size of the average human head, which rather diminishes the point, doesn't it!?What's worse, the acoustic minefield here doesn't appear to have been given any consideration at all. If you were to have that many speakers in a room, for the purposes of 'perfect' reproduction, you'd need almost as many speaker delay systems as speakers... In my opinion, the threshold over which spending more money makes no discernable difference in quality was crossed many, many, many times over...

frumper's picture

wow I cant believe he spent that much. he could save millions of people with that money and he blew it all on that. 10 000 could give you great quality. heck even 5 000 would be good. He should get one of the goggle things that have a tv in them, plug in all his stuff, get headphone, and if he wants to feel the rumble get a chair that reacts to sound spikes for whatever he is doing. oh well. I know that sounds kind of like a fantasy, but still, with 6 million dollars any of that could happen.

Anon's picture

A good home entertainment system:Late samsung 8 series 46" + any good 2.1 system, not newer ones, no digital crap.Small room:Samsung Syncmaster 900nf + Creative Gigaworks T40 Series II 2.0Anything else is for bragging, and seriously, not better.

Bo Knudsen's picture

didnt know that cool stuff could look so bad when mixed ! seriously if you got that kind of money.. at least make it stylish and not junkish :S speakers are cool .. but not 20 of them mixed with loads of other stuff.. comon.. this is a bit fail !

Kipnis Studio Standard's picture

Hi -I'm still watching this thread - so please, ask me any questions, and if I can offer you a complete hand-tailored demonstration of your personal favorites, then please just go to my website and give me a call!Cheers -JeremyKipnis StudiosMerry Christmas

Kodiake's picture

Hey Barry L.,$6,0,000 - $50,000 = $5,950,000 LOL

JBDragon's picture

I love the screen size, but for me it's a lot of overkill to me. The 6 million I really don't have a problem with, but I would have used less money on all the speakers and other stuff, and put more of it into making the room look a lot better, and some really nice Reclining Seats with at least a couple rows of seating. I like the Submarine, but does it really need to be there? I'd want my feet up in my 6M home Theater, siting there for a few hours. That 3 person couch just doesn't cut it for me!!! It just seems so wasteful, So much of everything for 3 people?!?! Myself, I'd have a group of friends and or family there watching "The Matrix" in HD DVD or something. If you have the money spend it. Sure it may seem like a waste, but the Rich BUY all this stuff, Cars, Boats, Homes, and where does it come from? Well it's Made by PEOPLE! All the people to get the Materials to the People who Design, who Build, Who Ship. That's Jobs, lots and Lots of Jobs for y

Anonymous's picture

Michael, did you really quote "Bioshock" to insult someone LOL

1latenite's picture

I was impressed until I releazed he didn't use Pear Anjou Speaker cables!

frank Zambito's picture

I agree with everyone else...overkill.Plus if you're going to spend that much money, at least hide the amps and speakers. Its all a bit distracting. When watching a movie, I want to see the screen and nothing else.

Anonymous's picture

Problem is, if he's done this all himself, it won't be THX certified.But if you go to any concert hall and look around, you'll know that good sound doesn't just come from what make the sound but what the sound reflects off.In this case, I think (as many above have pointed out), he's wasted a lot of money. To justify spending that much money on audio toys, you need to get the room properly architected.

mike's picture

The biggest sin is, with all that money spent, it looks as though zilch was spent on proper acoustic design and treatments. Book cases don't cut it on a 6 million dollar setup! That's a joke! Nevermind the tube hamps having severe microphonics from being placed in front of mamoth subwoofers and 10Hz signals!! No Rotary Subs either!! This theater is FAR from SOTA, he really should have hired a consultant LOL.

Ryan's picture

Biggest joke of all - He has a QuadHD projector (latest marketing term), and he's only feeding it (at best) 1080i. With all that money he wasted, I would have asked Sony to build a one-off that was HDCP compliant. He blew a fortune on that projector, and he's only upscaling 1080i, what a waste.This guy really blew his load thinking he knew what he was doing. Most of the 'audiophiles' out there don't really know squat (although, those that are actual engineers are the only ones I respect - they don't buy into the marketing fluff of "price = performance").He definately should have spent 1/100th of that ($60k) on building a better shaped room, and then spend some dough on accoustics. I question (with having all those speakers pointing in), how much signal cancellation is actually taking place, the "sweetspot" is probably just a jumbled mess of audio signals. He turned all his speakers to face the same spot, I bet it's more of a deadspot.Audioph

Mark's picture

What a sad, sad, simple-minded man. Same goes to all of you who applaud his efforts. I'm guessing evolving spiritually is not one of his priorities.

anonymous's picture

I dont understand how so many people can comment on the theater sound or video without having experienced it first hand.

Sam's picture

...my first feeeling especially seeing the overview is... you have to be an American, or some kind of new super-rich from the developing world, to find that too much stuff is cool and not a waste, or to find the idea of spending 6Mio that way is OK because it's your money so no one can judge, and better spend it in what you like the most etc etc... utterly selfish in my opinion, I will not argue about what could replace this best or whatever... but apart from the price, just the quantity of energy this must consume for the pleasure of 1-2-3 people makes me feel sick

Kodiakthejuggler's picture

To those of you posting comments...unless you are an audio engineer or a man with his connections and history in the industry, I'll take your opinions with a grain of salt.It's safe to say that NONE of you have heard this system, nor anything even remotely in the same arena, so I doubt you'd have much say as to what is a good expenditure on his part.I'm quite sure he has PLENTY of knowledge in room acoustics, and has thought of everything necessary to bring out the full quality of these components, otherwise he wouldn't be touting it as "The Greatest Show On Earth" and trying to market it to industry giants like George Lucas or movie industry professionals. If you look closely, you'll see that the walls are covered in acoustic foam panels, so it's not entirely a lost cause.

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