Installations: Great Plains Theater Page 4

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Gordon says the homeowners' decisions about the home theater were influenced by all the things they didn't like about their friends' installations. "They had friends who had been overwhelmed by technology and underwhelmed by how difficult it was to use what they had. Both home-owners are very intelligent and knowledgeable in their fields, but they're definitely not technocrats."

While the finished theater looks beautiful, here performance trumped design. The projector is a $28,000 Faroudja 1080p HD model that's basically a three-chip JVC HD-ILA projector tweaked and calibrated by video guru William Phelps. Gordon says the couple had a friend with an LCD projector, "and they hated it." So Gordon had them come to his house, where he was able to demo several projectors. "We went back and forth between the Faroudja and less expensive single-chip models, and they preferred the HD-ILA projector."

Since the home theater is directly below the media room, Gordon knew he'd have to keep sound isolated within it. There's acoustic insulation in the floors and ceiling, both the upstairs plywood subfloor and the theater ceiling have rubber backing to isolate vibrations, and the ceiling consists of 6 inches of poured concrete. Acoustic panels throughout the room tame off-wall reflections. "When the theater is ripping pretty well, you can get the vibe of it upstairs, but if the sound is below 60 dB, you won't hear it there at all," Gordon says.

The husband went with a panamorphic projector lens, but opted for a 16:9 fixed screen rather than a 2:35:1 one. "I talked to him about how we have 1,080 lines of vertical resolution, and if you have a 2:35 picture, you're going to lose some of that," Gordon recalls. "I explained that if you have a 16:9 screen with a panamorphic lens, you can watch 2:35 and get full resolution, but you'll have bars on the top and bottom, and he said he didn't care. So there's a movable panamorphic lens in front of the projector and a 100-inch Stewart Studiotech fixed screen on the wall."