"Building A Home Theatre"
Kallay and Michael Coate
Nestled in a quiet part of the San
Gabriel Valley, outside of Los Angeles, Rich Greenhalgh, a 57-year-old
veteran of the entertainment and audio industry in Hollywood, has
quietly assembled his dream home theatre system. His isn't merely a
combination of a flat-screen television and one of those so-called
home-theatres-in-a-box. Rather, it is a combination of some high-end
equipment, a little remodeling ingenuity to his condominium, and a year
Over the years, the Greenhalghs have amassed a gigantic collection of
movies on both LaserDisc and DVD. He and his wife, Anna, are avid movie
buffs. Annoyed by the general lack of good projection and sound at most
local theatres, he decided to build himself a first class home theatre.
This way, he could enjoy excellent projection, have control of what he
and Anna want to see, and when they want to see it, and adjust the
volume to suit their taste. But how does one do this in a condominium?
Unlike those folks featured in many home theatre magazines with their
ultra-expensive home theatre set-ups, the Greenhalghs were realistic.
There wouldn't be the installation of a $40,000 video projector, a
$75,000 sound system and $50,000 of components. It would be a
combination of new equipment and some equipment they already owned
installed in an attractive and functional décor. They participated in
every phase of the design and installation of their home theatre. Unlike
many who have theatres of this stature (who can afford to just throw
money at it), they worked very hard to get the most bang from every buck
The Greenhalghs live in a condo built
in the late-1970s. As with most homes built back then, there wasn't any
consideration given to build a place for a home theatre, whether in a
den or a room addition. These days, many new homes have a special nook
or cranny built specifically for the addition of a home theatre. So how
does one convert a 20th century pad into a 21st century luxury cinema?
They decided to put their new home theatre upstairs. What was once an
open walkway with a vaulted ceiling and a view to the ground floor,
became the basis for the theatre. The open space was built over creating
additional square footage. A carpeted riser was built to accommodate
their version of stadium seating for their two reclining chairs. Four
comfortable tilt-rocking chairs with ottomans plus two antique
upholstered theatre seats are available for their guests. The seating
area was augmented with throw blankets and rare roll-a-way tables that
Anna found on the Internet. Some of the throw blankets are stitched with
famous movie characters, like those from the "Lord Of The Rings" series.
Rich has been collecting movie memorabilia for many years during his
career in the entertainment industry. One of their prize possessions is
an original Cinerama reel that has been restored to brand-new condition.
Another is a pair of original Bausch & Lomb CinemaScope lenses which
Rich found at the ArcLight Cinema bookshop in Hollywood. They were
simply marked "old projector lenses - $35"! He quickly snapped them up
and added them to his home theatre décor.
And then there is the framed poster
from "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" (1981) which was the first film the
Greenhalghs watched in their new theatre. It has been personally
autographed to them by John Williams, Rich's favorite film composer. The
film was released while Rich was working at Paramount.
The well-stocked snack bar, loaded with many types of movie theatre
candy and treats, and the equipment bay is located in a former hallway
nook right in the theatre, within easy reach.
In front of a hallway closet, a Stewart electric roll-down screen was
installed. Rich chose their StudioTek 130 white screen material, which
was developed by Joe Kane, rather than the higher contrast gray material
for the best color reproduction.
"There is a slight contrast trade-off
but you simply cannot get a good white from a gray screen," Rich
Housed in a cutout in the back wall is his Runco VX-1000d projector.
This high-definition 720p DLP projector throws out an impressive
picture, with the ability to project a variety of aspect ratios to match
any presentation requirement. Rich has many pre-widescreen movies, which
he doesn't stretch or crop to fit his 16:9 screen, as has been the case
with some home theatre owners (and many in-store demonstrations) these
days. And since movies coming out of the Runco projector shine onto a
real movie screen in a fully darkened room, Rich doesn't have to explain
to "newbies" why "Casablanca" doesn't fill the full width of the screen.
Both B&W and color movie images look terrific on his Stewart screen.
"The primary reason we picked the Runco DLP projector was not only for
its quality and reputation, but for the lack of the annoying 'rainbow'
effect which can easily be seen in less expensive units on the market.
We picked DLP technology over anything else because of the complete lack
of burn-in problems which all other types of technology can suffer
from," says Rich.
The centerpiece of the audio system is the new Integra 10.5 Receiver,
which delivers 1050 watts to their 7.1 channel speaker system. This was
the last piece of equipment to be installed, as it was only released
several weeks before our visit to their theatre.
"The reason we bought this model, aside
from excellent quality, was its new modular input cards, which will
allow us to upgrade for future technologies for at least some years to
come," says Rich. "We chose to stay with a receiver, rather than
separate audio components, so we could stay within a reasonable budget
for the audio system."
Rounding out his components are several
Equi=Tech power conditioners, a variety of DVD, LaserDisc and VCR
players, and a high-definition satellite receiver. (see sidebar for a
complete equipment list)
For the speaker system, Rich was looking for something that would fit
nicely into the walls and still sound good. He opted for Triad speakers,
manufactured in Portland, Oregon.
"That was a recommendation from our
dealer, and we could not be happier," says Rich. "They look and sound
great, but don't bust our budget."
The Triad InWall Silver Home Theater Series speakers, used for the left,
center, and right main channels, were installed above the screen.
Additional OnWall Triad surround speakers were mounted on the side and
rear walls, providing a 360-degree sound field. Triad painted the
speaker grills to match the color of their walls. No problem, as they have
an in-house department for exact color-matching to do just that. Rich
went the extra step to have them paint the air conditioning grills and
lighting rings in their home theatre.
The ".1" low-end audio comes from the
Triad Silver PowerSub which has its own 250-watt amplifier which brings
their total audio power to 1300 watts.
"What I like about this subwoofer is
that the amplifier is not built into the speaker cabinet which makes it
easier to adjust and service."
Going toward the back wall of the home
theatre, there is a velvet curtain that leads into the projection room,
which also houses their extensive movie collection. This room features a
full-size refrigerator with an icemaker for cold drinks, a microwave
oven and even a hot water dispenser for hot tea or coffee. Most
importantly, there is a theater popcorn machine. They serve genuine
theater popcorn, purchased from a commercial theme park supplier, made
with coconut oil and popcorn salt to their frequent visitors. It's the
Rich has amassed thousands of movies on LaserDisc and DVD. So large is
the collection, he has cataloged every title into the DVD Register®
database program which he uses and recommends, even for much smaller
collections. He has been contributing information to the author of this
software for many years. As for the films themselves, they've been
alphabetized and stored on shelves by genre. Over the years Rich has
found many oddities and rare titles no longer available on any current
Rich and Anna were very pleased with
the team from Evolution Audio Video, their home theatre consultants. While Rich did most of the
installation himself during their remodeling, he credits them for the
excellent design and technical assistance. They did the initial setup
and calibration, but Rich touched it up himself from-time-to-time with
his own sound pressure meter and video calibration discs.
Rich's experience with home theatres
began in the late-1970s when he supervised the installation of several
home screening rooms for the top executives of Paramount Pictures.
"Back then, there weren’t any home
theatres, so these rooms were installed with theatrical 35mm dual
projectors and Dolby Stereo theatre sound systems," Rich explained.
One of the neatest aspects of the
Greenhalghs' home theatre is Rich's attention to showmanship. He and
Anna have invited friends, co-workers, church and film cronies like Mike
Coate and I for an evening of short subjects, cartoons, demonstration
discs (like the THX WOW LaserDisc and a variety of DTS DVD demo discs)
before screening the feature presentation. Rich has designed and prints
a full-color program for each showing, including his guests' names!
His enthusiasm for showmanship shows.
The lights are dimmed and the Runco spreads light onto the screen. If
it's Walt Disney's Technicolor short, "Flowers And Trees" (1932), Rich
makes sure it's showing in 1.37:1. On more recent films, like his
showing to us of "Around The World In 80 Days" (2004), he makes sure
that the 2.39:1 aspect ratio is in full force.
"I grew up going to the road show
movies in Hollywood in the late-1950s and 1960s and believe that movies
should be shown with dignity, in a manner befitting the quality of the
show," Rich says.
The Greenhalghs' passion for movies is evident in their home theatre.
Having spent a year on this home theatre project, seeing movies here is
an event. From the staircase lined with framed vinyl album soundtrack
covers, to the film memorabilia lining the shelves, they have created an
environment that is better than many theatres showing first-run films.
Better yet, they've created this Hollywood nirvana on a relatively
The Greenhalghs' Equipment List
Widescreen Digital Light Processing™ Projector & DHD™ Video Controller
Stewart, Luxus Model A ElectriScreen, Aspect Ratio 1.78:1, Size: 78" X
44" Screen Material: StudioTek 130
Integra, DTR 10.5 THX Ultra2 7.1 Home Theater Receiver, 150
Triad, Silver Home Cinema Series InWall LCR Front Speakers
Triad, Silver Home Cinema Series OnWall LR & Rear Surround Speakers
Triad, Silver Home Cinema Series InWall PowerSub Sub Woofer, 250 watt
Equi=Tech, Son of Q Balanced Power Conditioner System, 1500 watt (2)
Sony, SAT HD-300 High Definition DirecTV Satellite Receiver
Integra, DPS 5.3 DVD Player (temporary - until Hi-Def units become
Pioneer, DVL-91 Elite LaserDisc/DVD Combo Player
Pioneer, CLD-D406 LaserDisc Player (2)
Pioneer, RFD-1 RF Demodulator (for AC-3 LaserDisc audio playback)
Sony SLVN-750 VHS Video Cassette Recorder
Sony SLHF 450 Betamax Video Cassette Recorder
Intel PC Computer (for showing PowerPoint presentations)
DVD Register® Software (a customizable catalog containing every
LaserDisc and DVD ever published)
IMAGES: Rich Greenhalgh
Special Thanks To Rich &