Retro Sci-fi Theater
In 1970 I started a hi-fi company called Rogersound Labs. Manufacturing RSL Speakers and selling audio components for peoples’ homes was my life. I have always desired a home theater of my own, though had no vision of what it should be like. The idea struck me in 1991 when I was in Bar Harbor, Maine and saw the movie “The Rocketeer” with my oldest son at the historical Criterion Art Deco Theater. I loved the style of the theater and the film. It was reminiscent of the old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials I grew up watching, awestruck by their special effects (sparklers and strings, mostly) and sleek spaceships (which had a nasty habit of backfiring during landing). I knew then that I wanted an Art Deco Retro Sci-fi theater of my own. So, when we moved to our current home in 1998, we set aside a room that would be our theater
However, the project started off slowly. Turning a room into a rocket ship wasn’t the initial problem, it was the cost of projectors. In 1998, video projectors had 9” tubes and cost about the same as a large Mercedes. For nine years, the room lay dormant and undeveloped. During the lull, I collected home theater magazines for ideas. The work of Theo Kalomirakis (of T.K. Theaters) kept showing up, which I’d always save.
In 2007, I contacted T.K. Theaters in New York. I couldn’t really describe the specifics of the design that I wanted. So instead, I sent some images with a retro sci-fi flavor. These included photos of Flash Gordon in his rocket ship, lightning bolts, and the original 1930’s Frankenstein’s lab. Although I wasn’t initially optimistic, Theo really nailed it plus he was a joy to work with.
By this time, projectors were both smaller and more affordable, so I was finally ready to begin construction. The fixtures were challenging but two friends of mine, John Van Court and Bill Sherman, can do anything with wood and did an incredible job making and installing the finned columns, lightning bolt sconces and the proscenium. For the acoustics, David Conant (friend and acoustical consultant) specified the room dimensions (20.5 ft. by 14 ft.) to ensure even bass distribution. Auralex installed the attractive sound panels and Color Kinetics LED lighting beautifully illuminates the sconces, ceiling, and proscenium.
The sound system was another exciting prospect for me. The favorite part of my former business was designing speakers, and the theater gave me the incentive to re-approach design with some new ideas using my own speaker tuning patents. When the prototypes were built, they worked extremely well, to the extent that my oldest son convinced me to revive the RSL brand and offer them for sale, which will happen soon. Thus, the home theater also serves as a convenient testing room as well. We put two large dual 10” subwoofers under the screen. Small 4” two-way satellites speakers are used for the other nine speakers. The two side speakers are placed in the finned columns on either side of the theater.
At the present time, I'm using a Yamaha DPX-1300 DLP projector. I like the picture of this projector, even though it’s only 720P, due to its great build quality, lens, and the Silicon Optix scaler. I'm also using a Yamaha RX-V1600 A/V receiver, LG BD390 Blu-ray player, and a couple of Dayton Audio 500W subwoofer amplifiers.
I enjoy playing with and evaluating equipment, and plan to look at A/V receivers and processors from Rotel, Integra, Yamaha, and Amplifier Technologies, Inc. for potential upgrades in the future.
I’m really thrilled with the sound. The theater is now an incredibly fun room that pays homage to the bygone days of imagination and excitement (and some absurdity for good measure) of old science fiction.