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Award-Winning PMI Project is More Than Skin Deep

One of our more complex projects has recently been recognized with several prestigious industry awards: the 2011 CEDIA Lifestyle Award for Home Theaters Bronze Level VII, Best Documentation, People’s Home Theater, and more recently the 2012 Electronic House Bronze Award in the Best Home Theater category ($15k+). While on the surface this project has all the beauty and glamour to win these awards, what you don’t see is all the engineering, creativity, problem-solving, and hard work that went into making it a brilliant success.

Nestled just outside the western foothills of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County is the quietly posh community of Hidden Hills. Its beautiful and peaceful ambiance make it an example of small town Southern California living at its finest. The project was brought to us by one of SoCal’s premier integrators, DSI Entertainment, and was a remodel from what was originally an ill-conceived home theater with a bar and a large sliding glass window. We were faced with a variety of structural and design challenges. Read on to learn about five of those challenges and the solutions that we provided.
Challenge #1: Along most of the left wall of the room was a large sliding window that looked out on a side garden. The homeowners wanted to keep the window open when the theater was not in use so we set out to design a solution that would control the acoustical reflections off such a huge piece of glass, as well as eliminate the light interference from outside. We devised a large sliding acoustical and blackout panel that was aesthetically integrated into the d├ęcor of the room.
Challenge #2: The room had an integrated bar that interfered with the noise control and acoustical character of the room, so we separated the bar from the theater space, and created an entrance atrium. This was the second step toward improving the acoustical envelop of the space.

Challenge #3: The original ergonomic layout of the room was inadequate for proper access to the equipment room and for seat locations relative to room standing wave resonances. Working with Portabella Interior Design, we redesigned, reorganized, and rebuilt the risers and the pathway to the equipment room, concealing the projector in a soffit hush box in the bathroom behind the screening room! We also added a coffered ceiling that also contains acoustical materials to complement the acoustical control on the side and back walls of the room. 
Challenge #4: We replaced original and incompetent sound system with a super-dynamic JBL Synthesis system with dual side speakers, quad subwoofers (two on the front baffle wall, and two concealed under the riser).

Challenge #5: We rebuilt the walls, floor, and ceiling for sound isolation to the living spaces above and lateral to the room. Isolation schemes included rubber bushing shock-mounted wall structures, dense rockwool insulation, carefully controlled ventilation silencing, and vibration control plumbing clamps.

To create a superior audio experience, we selected a Dimension4 Sonata acoustical tuning system from MSR Acoustics, which was custom-fitted for the room requirements. The total scheme included turning the riser into a giant Helmholtz perforated bass trap.

A massive PMI 2.0 acoustically-transparent screen rounded out the video display system so that the client can get the biggest and brightest picture in all conditions of resolution and aspect ratio.

Through a collaborative partnership of PMI, DSI Entertainment, Portabella Design, and an enthusiastic homeowner, we delivered on the promise of a stunning room with razor sharp picture and dynamic sound, without even a hint of visible technology. Integration mission accomplished!


  1. Tony, nice article. Was great to relive the experience, however harrowing it was at times! -Fehmers-


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