McIntosh Mania

An all-McIntosh system is the apple of this homeowner's eye—and ears.

An all-McIntosh system is the apple of this homeowner's eye—and ears.

A room has to be pretty impressive for the president of one of the leading high-end A/V companies to declare it "one of the best-sounding rooms in the U.S." That's what McIntosh Labs president Charlie Randall said about Donna and Ivan Messer's McIntoshed-out home theater in Parkland, Florida. When Messer got in touch with Alan Fromowitz, president of Stereo by Design in Pompano Beach, Florida, his home theater habit quickly escalated. "We put the bug in his ear to upgrade to the McIntosh XRT2K speaker system," says Fromowitz.

Stereo by Design, along with their sister servicing company Space Age Electronics, is one of the 10 or so authorized McIntosh Premiere Platinum 2K dealers in the United States, so Fromowitz knows the value of the equipment. "Once you experience a McIntosh system, you become a believer." That's because the company is all about passion. For 55 years, McIntosh has been producing top-of-the-line components, mostly on the audio side. At this year's CEDIA show, they unveiled their first video projector, the MDLP1, a single-chip DLP projector that will hit stores soon, along with a companion video processor and audio processor. Skilled men and women build the parts that go into McIntosh gear. They hand-wire their own transformers and pour tar into the transformers to keep the noise down. "The specs on distortion are so low, you can't even measure it," says Fromowitz. Fromowitz also credits McIntosh components with retaining their value over the course of 20 to 30 years.

The home theater was a labor of love for Messer, who did the complete installation of gear himself. The impressive walnut cabinetry in the front of the room was a must for the homeowners, who had used it with a previous A/V system. Therefore, they had to design the room around the structure. "The room doesn't have the perfect dimensions for home theater," says Fromowitz. "It's 22 feet deep by 22 wide by 14 high. Two of those measurements make it almost a square, which we all know is not optimal for acoustics." With some tricky drywalling and the help of Acoustic Innovations acoustic treatments, the design team tamed the room's sonic anomalies and allowed the McIntosh gear to shine.

When you are working with 1,200- and 2,000-watt monoblock amplifiers, you need power maintenance and protection. Richard Gray power and surge control help manage all of that power. "The Richard Gray equipment adds the 'flywheel effect,' giving more power to Messer's 18 amplifiers," says Fromowitz.

A purist through and through, Messer chose the Sony VPH-G90 CRT projector, a Faroudja scaler, and a Stewart electric screen for the video system. He plans to purchase the new McIntosh MDLP1 projector when it becomes available, but he's planning to keep the VPH-G90, as well. ISF-certified technician Roger Galvin installed and calibrated the video, and it looks as good as the room sounds. Eight CinemaTech seats allow ample room for the family and their guests to spread out.

"The biggest challenge on this project was building a room in which so many people were involved," says Fromowitz. "Ivan was very hands-on, choosing the lighting, layout, trim, carpeting, an so forth, while subcontractors, managed by the A/V installation company Digital Arts, were all working together to tweak the equipment. Most of the subcontractors drove up from Miami, so it was also what Ivan calls 'playing the coordination game.'"

Messer, his wife Donna, and their two grown children use the theater every day, and they enjoy movies and music equally. They are even gracious enough to open up their home to Stereo by Design, who bring their clients by to show them how truly stunning a room can sound.

How It Works For You
• Don't want to lose a pre-existing architectural detail in the process of building or upgrading a theater? No problem. With a little bit of research, you can find a talented installer who can design around it and help you choose great-performing gear to fit it.

• If budget is a concern, you don't have to upgrade all of your gear at once. You may be surprised at what a difference just a few new pieces of gear can make.

Stereo by Design
(954) 537-3353