SVS Featured Home Theater:

Steve in Virginia

After moving into a new home, Steve L. realized the area he wanted to transform into a home theater had a major issue. The presence of a waterfall style staircase leading into the basement created safety issues for family and reduced the amount of space he had for seating and foot traffic. With the help of some fellow AVS Forum members and a few builder acquaintances, he was able to conceptualize a design and transform the staircase to create his ideal home theater.

Even with the staircase fixed, something major was missing. After integrating the speakers and other electronics from a previous set-up, Steve noticed a lack of palpable and impactful bass. The new space was larger than his previous and his old subs simply could not create the room energizing bass effects he coveted from his system. Bringing in a pair of PB-2000 subwoofers more than did the trick and now he is hearing and feeling things he’s never experienced before.

The Setup:

  • SVS PB-2000 Subwoofers (2)
  • Apple TV
  • Definitive Technology Pro Monitor 800 Speakers (5)
  • Definitive Technology ProMonitor 1000 Speakers (2)
  • DragonFly 110-inch High Contrast Screen
  • JVC DLA-RS46 3D Projector
  • Marantz SR5008 7.2-Channel Receiver
  • Palliser Elite Series Seating (5)
  • Sony PlayStation 3
  • URC MRF-260 RF-to-IR Base Station
  • URC MX-880 Universal Remote Control
  • Verizon FiOS

Questions And Answers:

Where did you draw inspiration from when designing you home theater?

As a member of the AVSForums, I spent a lot of time researching different style and color designs, and learning lessons from what others had done previously. Over time, I just pieced together ideas and pulled all of it together based on what the measurements allowed and what others recommended. I did a graph sketch first to get a solid concept and then followed up with more detailed models in Microsoft Visio. In the beginning phases of estimation, I quickly realized many of the contractors I reached out to for quotes didn’t offer any flexibility on requirements being revised or changing as construction moved forward. I decided to contract the project to a seasoned professional named Barry who performed the heavy lift of the project (excluded the low voltage work that I performed).

Any major challenges you had to overcome when installing the home theater?

When you come into the house, the main level has the formal living room off to the side and grand waterfall style staircase greeting you. It looks great upstairs, but they duplicated the look in the basement which really cut off access to an adjacent hallway and made it unsafe since you couldn’t really hold onto the railings when walking down the steps. As a part of the construction phase for the theater, the waterfall staircase was cut and modified into a traditional staircase. This alteration allowed me to expand the hallways and reshape the entrance slightly as you walk into the new theater.

I also have framed movie posters hanging that were rattling against the wall with especially bass-heavy music or movies. My “hack” for this was to attach 1/2” foam on the back of the frames around the borders which provided a layer of cushioning between the surfaces. The frames are also screwed into studs to prevent vibration and both light boxes are controlled by a switch on the wall that turns them on/off.

This before/after from the main hall shows the significant change in the staircase structure and the redesign of the hall to accommodate a couple backlit poster frames.

What’s the story behind the rock wall?

I knew I wanted a natural looking accent wall and I’ve never seen this specific architectural feature in a theater before. It works well with the lighting and has the added benefit of helping to diffuse the sound through the room since it’s not a reflective surface. As you walk down the stairs into the basement, you can see the wall which adds that extra piece of design element that truly finishes the space.

What made you decide to replace your existing subwoofers with SVS?

My original subs were fine in the smaller room they resided in before, but the new space was too big for them to handle, especially with some of the newer movies with really aggressive soundtracks. The bass I was hearing didn’t produce the lows needed in the room, didn’t fill the same, wasn’t tight enough and couldn’t keep up with the mid and high frequency playback, so everything just sounded off.

I did a lot of research online and discovered it doesn’t matter what brand subwoofer you pair with speakers since bass from a great subwoofer improves the sound of any speaker. Many positive reviews steered me towards SVS; but the biggest decision maker was the 45-day ‘buy it and it try it’ with free shipping. Other companies had great reviews but required you to paying shipping or restocking fees. It’s a really bold statement to say, “Once you get this in your house, you’ll want to keep it.” For a company to have that level of confidence in their product, was the deciding factor on my decision.

What were you first impressions of the dual PB-2000s?

Well, I knew these subwoofers were more substantial than what I had before, but when I first saw the boxes in my garage, I couldn’t believe the size. They were huge! I unpacked them that day, hauled them down to the theater, hooked them up, and re-calibrated the system. Once everything was setup and in place, I ran a couple extensive tests. I was beyond impressed to say the least and instantly knew that these subs were not going to be shipped back and that they’re here to stay.

Anything surprise you about the subwoofers after having them installed?

It’s funny, as I was researching subwoofers, I was also looking into getting those Buttkicker systems that go into seating to accentuate the audio playback. Well, I’m glad I didn’t. I actually feel the bass from the PB-2000s going all through my body. It’s truly unlike any other subwoofer I’ve heard and it saved me from spending money on something I definitely don’t need.

Another thing I realized, when you have a truly powerful subwoofer, you find out where all the loose picture frames or rattling light fixtures are pretty quick. My wife jokes a lot that someday I’m going to crumble the foundation and the whole house will come crashing down on top of me. I can’t imagine a better way to go and if I survived, I’d get to build a solid cement, enclosed theater space for even better acoustics.

Why is having a home theater important to you?

I am very passionate about movies but I don’t like to just watch them for the artistic value or as passive entertainment. I want to experience movies with a sense of realism and feel like I’m actually entrenched in the story. When we first moved in, before the theater was set-up, my wife and I did a chart on the ROI of a home theater versus a new deck. Unlike a deck, the home theater would get used during all seasons, regardless of weather and add considerably more resale value to the home. I actually did the math to figure out that if we went to the movies once a week for 52 weeks over the course of 20 years, that’s roughly a thousand movies. And when you factor in the cost of tickets, travel, food and the general hassle of going to the movies, not to mention all the TV, music and other entertainment we enjoy at home; it was really an easy decision.

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