You’ve heard of do-it-yourselfers. But Richard Charschan has something on them—he’s a pro. The president of AcousticSmart—a family-owned company that specializes in the design and fabrication of acoustically treated custom home theater interiors and home theater seating—Charschan has gone without a dedicated space of his own for quite some time now. “It’s like the shoemaker who has holes in his own shoes,” he says. “I wanted something that would serve as a corporate showroom, as well as be a great addition for me and my family.” A quality theater needs complete sound isolation. His house has only two levels and no basement. He immediately ruled out the main floor, which has no suitable spaces. The construction team found the answer where Charschan parks his car: the two-car garage.
“It sounds simple enough,” says Charschan. “I measure the garage and give the dimension to my designer. The team will overlay every square inch of surface—from wall to wall and ceiling to floor—with a wide variety of textures and materials, ranging from carpeting and acoustic panels to a fantasy twinkling-starlight ceiling.
The first phase of construction was very intense due to various structural problems, and phase two will be equally intense because of the fine detail required. We turned over the interior designs to the Acoustic Smart wood shop. These professional craftsmen are handcrafting frames to hold together our acoustic panels and treatments, pillars to house the speakers, decorative moldings, and more. Much of our design called for custom millwork, which is also performed in our shop. We also selected, matched, and applied the finest furniture stains. Piece by piece, wood components were delivered to the theater for installation. We made the final adjustments on site, thus assuring a seamless, tight fit.
A Team Effort
A wide variety of skills were required to guarantee the perfect environment for enjoying a true theater experience. Many professionals spent countless hours in our home. At any given time, you might find electricians, carpenters, audio engineers, video engineers, and carpet/seat/panel installers. We left nothing to chance. A great theater depends on everything working together as a unit. It is not enough for the A/V components to function properly. The room itself has to work in harmony with the premium electronics to allow these components to achieve their maximum potential. At the same time, I wanted an environment where I could be totally relaxed and comfortable so I could fully appreciate the benefits of all the great A/V equipment we have on order. It pays to assemble a team of experts if you want to achieve exceptional results. What an amazing adventure. Starting with a design, cement, and sheetrock, we have come a long way and now have a beautiful theater. It’s almost time to roll out the red carpet for the premier of the AcousticSmart showroom theater—after we take care of a few final touches.
Everything is now in place. The equipment is connected, the carpeting is in, the woodwork is completed, the seats are installed, and the lighting is hooked up. It’s now time to see how well everything works. We called in a team of specialists to give our theater a thorough inspection prior to our first demos.
Audio Interiors tested out the components in our rack. Confident these were working properly, they now had to program the Crestron remote so that my family and I could easily operate and enjoy our theater.
Norm Varney of AV Room Service arrived to calibrate the sound and tune the room acoustics. Norm created the acoustic treatments used throughout our theater. They were shown and described in Part II of this feature (see the September issue of Audio Video Interiors) before they were covered with our custom fabric. While he was testing the sound from every angle, Norm discovered that two of the side-wall tweeters were not functioning. That is something that could easily have been missed if not for his detailed sound mapping.
All that’s left is the fine-tuning of our projector. Kevin Miller of the Imaging Science Foundation was kind enough to give us a hand. It’s important to get the right balance of white and black level. Many projectors are set too bright and do not create a true movie theater experience.
Let’s Get Ready to Rock!
I have always had a love of music and the guitar. After I graduated from college, I went to work for a major recording label. Ever since that time, I have always wanted a recording studio of my own. Shortly after I moved into my new house, I joined a local band. We call ourselves Rock Stars of America. That’s me seated in the middle. To find out what we sound like, you can find us at: cdbaby.com/cd/rockstarsofamerica. Now my dream has come true, and our band has a home in my new “garage.” With the professional recording studio that I always wanted, we can rehearse and record in a great acoustic environment without disturbing our family and neighbors.
The next day, I found my children and their friends in the theater playing a basketball video game on their PlayStation 3. When I first walked in, I thought I was watching TV. The game and reproduction was that realistic.
We’ve rolled out the red carpet and invited our friends and family over to see the new showroom. Many of them have never been in a home theater of this magnitude. They couldn’t believe it. Several of my dealers and future clients have also stopped by the AcousticSmart showroom. In just a short period of time, I have been commissioned to build at least three more theaters. Everyone keeps talking about how great everything turned out. I don’t think any of them knew they were sitting in what was once a garage.
Carefully Chosen Equipment And the Reasons Why
Krell HTS Five-Channel
Krell is not only known for great theater Amplifier and Audio Processor surround sound processing, but also for two-channel audiophile listening quality. Concerts sound lifelike and detailed, giving us the best of both worlds.
Parasound Two-Channel Amplifier
To create 7.1 sound and power the side surround speakers.
Used for all speakers and interconnections. Compared with other cables, the performance level of these cables created such a noticeable difference that you have to hear it to believe it.
Arcam DV 139 DVD Player
In addition to solid video reproduction, it has audiophile-quality sound. Even old CDs are brought to new life as if you are listening for the first time.
Pioneer Laser Disc Player
I still have a very extensive collection of laser discs. They now look even better.
Stewart 117-Inch CineCurve Screen
We were blown away by this product’s technology and performance. This screen gives you total control of every aspect ratio in the book without the black bars. The screen’s curved shape really draws the viewer into the experience.
Runco VX2C Cine-Wide Lens Projector
Although this is only a 720p three-chip projector, when combined with the Stewart CineCurve screen, the effect is incredible. Movies shown in original CinemaScope are a treat for any movie enthusiast.
When hooking up a Blu-ray or HD DVD player or the PlayStation 3, the pictures are crisp and detailed. Picture quality is equivalent to, if not better than, a commercial cinema.
Coming from a recording-studio background, I was quite familiar with Tannoy’s quality. Although not laid-back in nature, the overall detail and instrumental separation involves the listener immediately.
Monster Power Conditioner
A secure, level power source is a must for true A/V reproduction.
All of our seats come from our own exclusive line. The rear seats are manual wall-hugging recliners to bring the viewer away from the screen, while the front-row seats have heat and massage built in. Our dual motors control the back and footrest independently for the ultimate in comfort without the neck strain.