Megaplex closed? Bring the theater home

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Better Sound

Not More Channels

What happens when a respected custom home builder becomes passionate about fine audio and home cinema systems, taking the plunge to open an A/V technology integration firm? We can ask James Kliewer of Performance Home Theater in Sanger, California, just outside of Fresno, who did exactly that.

After the economic downturn in 2007, James Kliewer felt like he needed a change away from general contracting and building custom homes that his company had been doing since 1984. Located about three hours Northeast of Los Angeles and a similar distance Southeast of San Francisco in the San Joaquin Valley, Kliewer had been nurturing a genuine enthusiasm for refined audio and home theater systems along with the science of acoustics and decided to make this the foundation of his new venture. Kliewer constructed a custom commercial-grade building that encompasses a lobby, offices, workshop, warehouse and most importantly, his 27-foot by 17-foot demonstration cinema. Just beyond the walls of the theater, Kliewer incorporated a wine cellar and an equipment room for the A/V racks.

The objective in creating the Performance Home Theater demo cinema was to illustrate to his clients the sonic nirvana that is possible when creating a custom solution that has been designed to uniquely suit each dedicate space. In his demo cinema, Kliewer delivers the video using Kaleidescape as a source, a JVC projector and a screen from Da-Lite. The room features acoustic treatment built specifically for the room. To deliver the insane dynamics required for modern cinematic content along with audiophile levels of balance and detail, Kliewer chose the Bryston SP4 16-channel reference preamp/processor mated to a Bryston T-Rex Active loudspeaker system powered by Bryston’s legendary, award-winning amplifiers. Subwoofers in the system are JL Audio Gotham.

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Bryston SP4 16 Channel Processor

The Bryston SP4 is an ultimate performance 16-channel preamp/processor that delivers full support for the most popular new surround formats. The SP4 is extremely configurable, offering a high channel count, 20 bands of EQ per channel, a large number of inputs and outputs, control system compatibility, and easy to use iOS and web apps. The SP4 supports up to 16 channel Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro3D immersive theater systems and is fully configurable with over 100 possible loudspeaker layouts. Room calibration is managed precisely using Dirac Live, Room EQ Wizard or manual channel EQ control. “The Bryston SP4 has been the ideal preamp/processor for us in our reference theater, giving us the outstanding performance, configurability and tuning capability that truly makes an expressive cinema,” Kliewer stated.

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Active Loudspeakers

Unlike most active speaker solutions that shoehorn a compact amplifier circuit into the loudspeaker housing, Bryston active speakers maintain all amplification outboard of the speaker, enabling the system designer to perfectly match the proper amplifier to each application and system design. The Bryston Model T-Rex Active loudspeakers are a monstrous floor-to-ceiling solution engineered to deliver maximum resolution for any type of music or cinematic content. With Bryston active loudspeaker solutions, no internal crossover is present—each driver section is powered directly from the connected amplifier. The T-Rex loudspeakers each leverage 14 drivers plus a powerful DSP engine, called the BAX-1, to optimize both the listening window and sound power characteristics simultaneously, achieving truly neutral in-room response across the entire frequency spectrum.

Kliewer designed his cinema with a pair of T-Rex speakers for the Left and Right front channels, and dedicated a Bryston TC-1 loudspeaker as the center channel flanked by a pair of JL Audio Gotham subwoofers, all around the perimeter of the Da-Lite screen. “There simply was no other speaker solution
that could deliver both the detail and the real-world dynamics I envision for this system,” Kliewer explained. To power the T-Rex speakers, Kliewer selected an amplifier that Bryston designed as a purpose-built solution for the active speaker systems—the 21B3 from the Cubed Series lineup. Each 21B³ contains three mono channels; a 600 watt bass channel plus two 300 watt channels—one for the midranges and the other for the tweeters.

“The sound flows from this front stage system almost as if it was liquid—the performance is effortless and causes zero listener fatigue even over longer sessions,” Kliewer added. The Bryston TC-1 center channel is powered by a flagship 1000 watt Bryston 28B3 mono amplifier. This impressive rack of Bryston electronics receives super-clean AC power from BIT20 transformer-based power conditioners, eliminating noise from the power line without restricting current flow.

Kliewer’s amazing cinema was designed using six Bryston TOW on-wall loudspeakers for the surround channels (two for surround/right, two for surround/left and two for surround/rear) powered by a pair of Bryston 28B3 amplifiers in a 6.1 configuration. “I really prefer to demo the system using well recorded concerts—I think the live music experience is most captivating using loudspeakers with the highest possible resolution that have been carefully placed and calibrated verses a myriad of lesser speakers throughout the space. The astonishing performance of the Bryston T-Rex active system complimented by the timber-matched TOW on-wall speakers is a presentation my clients will not soon forget.” Kliewer also constructed custom equipment racks to house all of the electronics, from the Kaleidescape gear, an Oppo Blu-ray player, a Kramer matrix video switch, all of the Bryston amps, power conditioners and the SP4 preamp/processor. All of the tuning and Dirac room calibration adjustments were managed by Kliewer except for the video calibration that he subcontracted to an outside firm. Audio wiring throughout the system is by Straightwire.

“I recently had a prospective client fly out here from Virginia to hear the system—and we landed the job,” Kliewer explained. “On this level, people really need to have a high degree of trust in the company executing the system. I feel strongly that demonstrating this theater and showing how carefully everything was constructed achieves that level of confidence and helps differentiate my services from other dealers. Bryston is an ideal partner for a specialist who wants to deliver unmatched performance from a company that stands behind their products. We are thrilled to offer Bryston here at Performance Home Theater.”

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Equipment List

Kaleidescape 4ea. DV 700 Disc Vaults
4 ea. DV Players
6 ea. Terra Movie Servers
Kramer VS-88UHDA 8x8 UHD Matrix
Oppo UDP-203
Bryston

SP4 Theater Processor

BAX-1 DSP Active Crossover

3 ea. BIT20 Power Isolation Transformers

2 ea. 21B³ 1200W 3 Channel Amplifiers

4 ea. 28B 1000W Mono Amplifiers

1 pr. Model T-Rex Loudspeakers

TC-1 Center Channel Loudspeaker

3 pr. TOW on-wall surround
Loudspeakers

JL Audio 2 ea. Gotham Subwoofers
JVC RS4500 Projector
Dalite HD DA Snap

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