Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cinema Paradiso

Hot off the press! This extraordinary home theater just won CEDIA's 2013 Electronic Lifestyles Award for Best Overall Home Theater ($1m & up) and a Gold Technical Award for design and engineering excellence. Congratulations to our partners Audio Images, TK Theaters, and SH Acoustics!

This home cinema project is part of a drop-dead gorgeous entertainment wing of an extravagant estate in Irvine, California, which also includes a pizzeria, nightclub, and vintage arcade. The objectives with “Cinema Paradiso” were to create best-in-the-world audio and video performance along with motion-activated speakers, complete sound isolation, and simplicity of use.

PMI worked with integrator Mark Ontiveros and his company Audio Images, designer Theo Kalomirakis of TK Theaters. And we engineered the project in collaboration with Steve Haas at SH Acoustics.

The architecture of the wing was modeled after one of the homeowner’s favorite places: the center piazza in Sienna, Italy. The client wanted extraordinary design, technology, and performance, well beyond the typical box-shaped cinema. And he wanted complete sound isolation so the sound from the cinema would not be heard in any other space.

The very elaborate interior architecture of this room could have been a complete acoustical disaster. However, working with the interior designer, we found ways to minimize the acoustical presence of the visual features so that sound could flow through them and reach the full complement of acoustical tuning modules placed along the walls and ceiling. 



Extensive amount of conduits and wire pass-throughs run through this room from the main AV/mechanical room to other parts of the structure. Very careful design and construction of sound-isolation had to be implemented.




A full array of Steinway Lingdorf line source speakers blanket the front wall behind an acoustically transparent screen with PMI 2.0 4-way masking and multiple aspect ratio and resolution-matching size, controlled/linked to the projector with multiple zoom and focus presets.

Four mammoth subwoofer columns in four corners of the room provide bone-crushing bass dynamics while smoothing out standing wave resonances.


A careful acoustical work-up of the room's dome shape makes it virtually invisible to sound in order to avoid any possibility of uncontrolled reflected focus. The decorative canopy dome is, in fact, suspended from the resilient ceiling so as to not transmit vibration or sound to the neighboring spaces. It lightly rests against the secondary substructure of the columns and pilasters. All of the decorative elements are made of form glass, a resistant combination of plaster and fiberglass. 


Massive sound doors at the entrance of the room allow parties to happen simultaneously with full-on action movies. A super bright Christie HD projector lights up the screen to a reference 20-foot lamberts, with full contrast ratio and razor sharp detail.

The walls and ceiling conceal a multitude of speakers and microphones that turn it from a cinema to a concert hall. All walls, ceiling, and floor are resiliently suspended using Kinetics Noise Control devices. Ventilation was carefully designed for a very low NC15 background noise. All walls were built free of rattles and with some resiliency to absorb bass standing waves. All seats are on custom-designed and fabricated D-Box motion activated platforms.



As is often the case with a project of this magnitude, grandeur and beauty, there were many challenges, surprises, redesigns, re-engineering, and re-workings along the way. The team worked very hard to meet the exacting requirements and specifications for mechanical, electrical, ventilation, and audio/video systems. 

The fully-custom motion-activated D-Box platforms were re-designed and rebuilt several times. The interface for the decorative dome and sound isolation ceiling was re-worked to fully account for the weight of the form glass systems. Ventilation supply and return were all carefully concealed in the decorative elements of the ceiling dome. The return plenums were fully concealed under the riser. The lighting was carefully integrated into the d├ęcor and does a stunning job of highlighting the sculptured elements.

This is simply the most beautiful classical home cinema in the world, or at least on this side of the Mississippi. With top-flight audio and video, acoustics, optics, automation, and tuning practices, motion seats, and ultra-dynamic bass, it just doesn't get any better than this!  

Here's a great video of Theo Kalomirakis on HGTV's "Million Dollar Rooms"
giving a tour of this extravagant home theater and entertainment complex!

For more information on PMI projects and services, please visit our website