Panama Escape

Photos Plinio Rangel

This theater is located in our beach house in Punta Barco, a popular vacation spot in Panama. Resources in Panama aren’t as abundant as in the U.S., so I consulted with Chris Huston of Rives Audio in Coralville, Iowa. I was very impressed with his simple solution. My first priority was to ensure the room was treated for optimum performance. Following Huston’s design, I gathered materials locally to build the theater.

It measures 23 by 15.5 by 10 feet, which follows the recommended rectangular proportions of 2.33 x 1.56 x 1. This ratio provides good distribution of room resonances. These dimensions also give the sense of a very cozy environment.

We treated all of the walls with fiberglass board panels and constructed soffits. To reduce bass in the rear seating positions, Huston designed field-built bass traps. The floor is carpeted wall to wall, and there’s a 12-inch step to reach the second row of seating.

The wood panels are not only decorative—they also serve as acoustic diffusers. When combined with the absorptive walls, this setup results in a pleasing and perfectly balanced environment.

The theater’s centerpiece is the 2.35:1 screen, paired with a JVC DLA-RS35 projector and a Schneider anamorphic lens.

I used transmission-line speakers throughout the theater, along with an 18-inch Velodyne subwoofer. The electronics include an Integra DHC-80.1 surround processor and amps from Bryston, Krell, and Adcom. The system is controlled by an iPod touch with an adapter for the L5 universal remote app technology.

The image and sound are tremendous, and the cost was reasonable. This is our weekend home, and our theater is Saturday night’s entertainment for family and friends. We like watching concerts topped off with a late-night movie.