Woodbury, Tenn.-based integrator Cobb Home Innovations was called upon by a client who was looking to convert the third story of his Greensboro, N.C. home into both a haven for two-channel audio listening as well as a top-of-the-line home theater where listeners and viewers could share the entertainment experience in comfort. Only the ultimate would satisfy this tech-savvy aficionado, said Cobb Home Innovations’ owner, Hugh Cobb.
Cobb’s team scoped out the approximately 24-foot-by-36-foot room. In the run-up to the start of the project, he and his client even did some research together, visiting the Chicago-held AXPONA Show exhibits and demos featuring high-end audio and aimed at two-channel connoisseurs. “We spent two days moving from room to room, because he wanted the very best he could get,” explains Cobb.
The goal: to create a no-holds-barred, Dolby Atmos home theater and two-channel listening space that was comfortable, easy to operate and sacrificed nothing when it came to acoustics, system performance and automation. “We were absolutely up for the challenge but the job required a full reconstruction project including demolition right down to the studs,” said Cobb.
Custom construction work was required to accommodate the A/V equipment and design concepts, such as special wall and ceiling lighting features, and the installation of a deep front wall to allow for the Pro Audio Technology front LCR speakers behind the projection screen, and an enclosed but accessible housing for the overhead projector. It was also necessary to run new plumbing from the floor below for the addition of a bathroom and concession area. A mechanical room was installed to provide access to the back of the A/V rack, along with all kinds of above-and-beyond HVAC requirements in order to keep the electronics running cool throughout the entire system. “We did a push-and-pull ventilation system – an independent ducting system that pushes cool air and pulls out warm air with a fan,” said Cobb, explaining that the system automatically kicks in when triggered by excessive heat. “And we put the fans away from the room so you don’t hear a thing.”
Cobb’s team also needed to accommodate a spot to show off the homeowner’s Pro-Ject turntable, vinyl record collection, and Ayon tube preamplifier and amplifiers, while also ensuring that the hand-built high-end two-channel Lumen White Kyara speakers were not only showcased, but placed in a way that would optimize their performance. In addition to vinyl, the client also wanted to have the ability to stream high-resolution audio content from Tidal through the two-channel system.
A Room for Star-Gazing
All lighting installed throughout the theater room is low voltage, including the border LED lighting tucked into the crown molding. The spectacular custom Epic Sky Technology star-lit ceiling gives the illusion of looking out into space and star-gazing at constellations, shooting stars or fireworks, making the experience even more immersive. Cobb chose Lutron for the remainder of the room’s lighting and shading, which he programmed into the automation system. RTI was Cobb’s choice for its ease of use, ability to program and control all electronics in the room including A/V equipment, lighting and shading, as well as for the system’s cosmetic appeal. The homeowner can operate the system using a one-touch remote, iPad or voice control via Alexa through an Amazon Echo.
Because the client was insistent that Cobb install only the finest A/V equipment, he spec’d a 7.4.4-channel Dolby Atmos surround sound system complete with a 12-foot acoustically transparent Display Technologies screen, a Barco Balder Cinemascope projector, and Pro Audio Technology custom install speakers, subwoofers, and amplification. “I’ve been doing this for over 40 years so I’ve essentially heard it all,” said Cobb. “When a client tells us they want the absolutely best we can get for a home theater system, there is only one option, according to our ears, and that’s Pro Audio Technology.”
Having been in their fair share of tight spaces to install and troubleshoot electronics, Cobb’s team insured ample room behind the A/V rack to provide additional air circulation and to allow easy access to the electronics. They also built out a space behind the front wall, to allow access in behind the projector screen and front-channel Pro Audio Technology speakers. “All of that is illuminated for servicing, and it’s very aesthetically workable as far as getting access from the back,” Cobb said.
To finish off the two-channel system, Cobb’s team designed special shelving with lighting to highlight the client’s tube amplifiers and turntable. “The tube amps, when they are lit up, are really cool – and warm-sounding, too. They just draw your attention. We used upper-line tubes to enhance power and sound quality, since he wanted the best.”
The client specifically noted how much he loves when anyone who sits down to experience the home theater feels as though they are totally immersed in what they are watching, and Cobb said he was not at all surprised by this. “We sell a lot of cinema brands, but Pro Audio Technology gives you the real-world effect,” said Cobb. “When you watch a movie you aren’t just watching it; the experience is so immersive and it makes you feel as though you are actually in the scene.”
The entire project took Cobb’s team four months to complete, and the result is completely over the top, with multiple “wow” factors such as the star ceiling, and the remarkable audio and video quality. After all was said and done, the room and combination of home theater and two-channel system not only met, but exceeded, the client’s expectations.