A Three-Year Theater Project Overcomes Nightmare Challenges & Nets High Performance Results
Maureen Jenson talked to Station Earth’s Scott Sherar about building an acoustically superior home theater next to train tracks.
High-end AV dealership, Station Earth Total Home Technologies in Fergus, Ontario, Canada, likes a challenge. Building a premium home theater in an 18th century heritage building, a mere 80-feet away from active train tracks, is the definition of a “challenge”.
“We faced a few challenges with this install, but the first was determining where to install the theater,” said Sherar (pictured above). “The owners wanted to conserve the heritage elements of the property and 18th century construction, but also desired the addition of a home theater. With no space in the house itself, they decided to build the theater below the garage, about 50-feet from the house. However, given the cold Ontario winters, the owners desired interior access to their new home theater, which meant a tunnel would need to be constructed between the theater and the house.”
Approximately 80 feet from the property lays a set of active train tracks with a regular freight train schedule. Station Earth brought in a team of professional acousticians and engineers who took a number of measurements when the trains went by using accelerometers. Said Sherar, “When you’re dealing with frequencies that low, you can feel them more than you can hear them.”
Sherar hired Paradise Theater from Maui, Hawaii to handle the theater’s acoustical engineering. “The level of soundproofing in this theater is truly world class. The room itself was designed for acoustical performance first, with the interior design features ‘colored in’ afterwards – a true rarity.”
The entire theater room is floating on a four-inch slab sitting on springs with a one-inch air gap in-between. The springs and the slab are acoustically tuned to combat the resonant frequency of the trains. The room is also 100-percent isolated from the exterior room envelope. The walls were built on the floating floor slab and the ceiling is hung from the walls’ top plates (pictured below).
Sherar turned to Paul Hales (pictured below) of Pro Audio Technology for all the speakers and amplifiers in the home theater. Pro Audio Technology AV equipment provides meticulous detail and super high-performance, reaching far beyond industry standards. Said Sherar, “After everything we put into the design and construction of the home theater, there was no way we were selling ourselves and the customer short when it came to picking the right audio equipment. Not only are PRO speakers and amplifiers as good as it gets in high-end home theater, they are also high-energy and high-output, making them the perfect solution for this project.”
Station Earth brought the customer to Pro Audio Technology in Southern California to hear a demo before he made his final decision. Said Paul Hales, President and Product Designer for Pro Audio Technology, “Having clients experience our products first-hand is an essential part of the sales process and is a major contributor to our success. Our dealers can explain the benefits of PRO loudspeakers and electronics, right down to the class-leading technology and advanced engineering, but honestly you have to hear it to believe it.”
Together with Station Earth, Paradise Theater built a cantilevered stage behind the screen to support the substantial SCRS-2215sm LCR loudspeakers at just the right height (pictured below). To deliver the best sound quality, Station Earth and Pro Audio Technology decided on an 11.4.4-channel Dolby Atmos layout anchored by the Trinnov Alititude32 surround processor. The speaker and subwoofer models were selected and positioned strategically in order to “paint” the entire room with uniform acoustic energy. Hales even flew to Canada to calibrate the system himself post-install – a white glove service included in the company’s PROCertified™ program available for PRO dealers to receive design and development assistance, including final system commissioning and calibration by PRO experts.
Considering the sheer size and complexity of the three-year project, the construction went smoothly, including the speaker installation and post-install calibration. Said Paul Hales, “The performance is definitely within the top three, maybe even at the very top, of any system we’ve ever deployed. The room has very pleasant acoustics. There is nothing too live, dead or funky about it.”
Concluded Sherar, “Quite honestly, I have never heard anything like it. The performance of the Pro Audio Technology system in a perfectly designed room is as good as it gets. Post-calibration, there wasn’t a single dead spot in the room, which is mind blowing really. This level of performance is only possible because of the incredible engineering of the room and exceptional AV equipment.” As for the customers, they are in home theater bliss, and their experience most certainly won’t be interrupted by any exterior noise.