How They Did It: A Rescued Theater

Ed Wenck | Nov 12, 2020


There’s something to be said for a project when the client’s as proud as this one: The homeowner has asked for an extra CEDIA trophy to display just outside the room. The customer’s apparently very excited that the home cinema he commissioned from La Scala picked up the 2020 Award for Best Home Cinema, Level I, Americas.

The owner apparently has a sense of humor, too: Since he’s quite familiar with the finance industry, one of the posters that graces the walls of the combination game room and theater “lobby” is from the 1987 film Wall Street.

This theater had already been roughed in when La Scala came aboard, but it wasn’t designed properly — and more importantly, it had no consideration for room treatments to address sound absorption or reflection. The client wanted something unique, and needed enough amplification to really fill the space with sound and images. CEDIA’s judges were knocked out by what the winning firm achieved here for the budget.

La Scala tells us: “The ceiling was a large surface that needed to be treated, and the client wanted fiber-optic effects. Custom-painted speakers blend perfectly into the nicely painted ceiling.


Big Sound

“Our client wanted this room loud. The room is over 800 square feet, so we decided on a 9.4.4 immersive sound system with a ton of power. In order to achieve the sound pressure level desired we elected to use the larger Sonance R2 series for the nine primary and surround speakers.” Reference subwoofers, processing by Marantz, and Sonance high-powered amps deliver the goods.

“This room delivers a true 4K experience with a 4K Laser projector creating its amazing image on a 16-foot 2:35 acoustically transparent screen.

The other technical considerations not visible to the moviegoer here are great examples of La Scala’s attention to details: “Our electrician dedicated two 20-amp circuits with power management and suppression ensuring our amplifier had clean source of energy. Racks were in the adjacent room next to the theater ensuring cable runs were as short as possible and using 14 gauge to mitigate signal loss. Equipment BTU calculations and HVAC ducting was added to ensure good airflow and heat dissipation.”

The LED strip lighting in the room created some concern for the team, so La Scala returned to their lighting mantra: test, test, and test again. “The vertical LED wall strips were as decorative as function-able. The client wanted to watch movies with the strips on. Extensive sample testing of LED strips was done to ensure high frequency strobing wouldn’t fatigue the user’s eyes while trying to enjoy a movie. Many popular branded LED systems were rejected until we found a solution that would dim with no strobe to less than 1% and diffuse properly, giving the interior vision they were looking for.”


Final Touches

There’s a great blend of CEDIA tools and La Scala’s own expertise at work in this cinema. The team tells us, “The CEDIA Designer software was used to start the design but optimized by our in-house engineering team to ensure maximum performance of the room. Absorption, reflection, furniture layout, construction materials and fabrics were all considered with the performance of the room. ISF (Imaging Science Foundation video) and audio calibrations were done to ensure the room performed as it was engineered.”

After getting all the technical aspects down, La Scala then turned to giving the project a bit more personality: “We wanted to go a little further, so we added each family member’s own constellations of stars embedded in the huge 350-square-foot starlight ceiling — this was a little surprise from us.”

The little touches don’t stop there, though: “Walking towards the theater room you’re greeted by an on-wall candy machine which always includes your favorite movie snacks.”

La Scala


CEDIA Member Since 1993

Photos by Martin Knowles Photo/Media.

For a complete equipment list, check out the CEDIA Awards site here.