HOME THEATER ROOMS TAKE VIEWING TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL

Trying to compare Glen Watase’s home theaters to the multimillion-dollar multiplexes of today isn’t fair… to the multiplexes.

For starters, the multiplexes are still showing movies on film, a product even your grandmother no longer uses, while Watase’s JVC DLA-RS1 projects a digital image in 1080p, providing 2 million pixels of high definition brilliance.

The commercial theaters have their quaint static lines and cigarette burns on the image that always serve as a reminder that you are watching a movie. In one of Watase’s soundproof caves, when his Blu-ray player floats Nemo out on the screen, you reach for your regulator.

Even if you are not ready to commit to a fully dedicated room with a JVC or Marantz projector, Watase also can install plasma screens from Pioneer and LCDs from Mitsubishi to help assure the best viewing possible for your budget.

For sound quality, only the Dole Cannery theaters with their THX certified system can compete with Watase, who received his THX certification after training at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch.

They have several options including Polk Audio, whose RM10 can accommodate up to a 7.1 channel system, or the Velodyne DD series that has digital room correction with its subwoofer.

As for the seating, while Frodo may have enjoyed the tiny folding seats at the commercial theater, even Gandalf would have to rave about the motorized Bass loungers that Watase installs in his theaters.

Armed with this knowledge, why don’t we all have a home theater?

The first obstacle obviously is cost. For Watase to transform a room in your house into your own theater starts at $45,000 and has run as high as $500,000 depending on how much money you want to spend on equipment.

But before you decide between a $20,000 Halcro audio surround sound processor or a $1,700 system from Onkyo, the most important step for Watase is soundproofing the room.

“When you have a dedicated room like this, there is no joy for the family if you can’t soundproof the room,” says Watase, who has been working in home theater installation for 13 years.

“If you can’t watch at night then you can’t utilize the room. It is so important because we want the customer to use the room, if there are limitations on the room they won’t use it as much.”

They aim to soundproof it to a STC (sound transmission class) of 75, which to normal folk means if you are watching a movie at 110 decibels, people in an adjoining room will only hear a light muffle. They accomplish this through installing QuietRock walls to the room and by breaking up any hard corners with multiple soffits to diffuse the sound.

To give home theater walls a unique aesthetic, local companies like Applied Fabrics Hawaii offer fabric wall coverings that enhance the experience of soundproofed walls.

Once audio pollution is minimized, they keep the theater visually clean by hiding all the speakers in faux pillars behind black screens on the wall so that all you notice in the room is the overstuffed chairs and that brilliant Stewart Filmscreen.

Another knock on home theaters has been the ubiquitous black bars on the screen that are necessary to show the film in its original format. Thanks to leaps in technology, Watase now can install a Panamorph anamorphic lens that allows the picture to be seen in its original 2:35 full aspect, stretching the image with zero distortion.

This not only makes for a more enriching movie viewing experience, it also enlarges the picture by 30 percent to a full 135-inch diagonal screen.

Finally, one may ask how many movies can one watch, which is why Watase sets his theaters up as a dedicated media room. Not only can you enjoy films, but it is wired so that you can surf the web, watch cable TV or shoot aliens in Halo 3.

“We want to involve the whole family, whether it is movie night or game night,” says Watase, himself a father of four. “With a room like, this, if the whole family cannot enjoy it, then this room is useless.”

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