Grammy Award-winning producer Don Was has had a long and storied career producing records for some of rock ’n’ roll’s most famous acts from the early 1980s to the present. Today, he also holds the title of president of the respected jazz record label Blue Note Records. Home Theater’s Steve Guttenberg recently sat down with Was to get his take on the role of a record producer and what it was like to work with so many great artists.
Spin a few of sound re-recording mixer Greg P. Russell’s movies on a proper 5.1 or 7.1 system, and you’ll soon realize that this guy loves home theater. Having worked on more than 200 movies, including every Michael Bay opus since The Rock (although he freely admits “Armageddon was over the top”), Russell has crafted some of the most thrilling soundtracks of our generation.
At Home Theater, we’re all about the gear, but our systems would mean nothing without the memorable films we watch on them. Barry Sonnenfeld has had a hand in a good many of those. A 1978 alumnus of New York University Graduate Film School, Sonnenfeld broke into the biz as cinematographer for 1982’s Academy Award–nominated documentary In Our Water.
Steven Wilson is best known as the founder, lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter of the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree, but he’s becoming the go-to man for remixing classic rock recordings into 5.1 surround for DVD and Blu-ray. His recent solo album, Grace for Drowning, proves he’s just as adept in creating new music that fully exploits the surround soundscape.
Like most Home Theater readers, I’ve known SRS Labs primarily as the company that does virtual surround sound and other audio solutions for HDTVs and soundbars—features largely dismissed by serious enthusiasts as lightweight hocus-pocus. So it was with some skepticism that, back in March, I rolled into the firm’s Santa Ana, California, headquarters for a private demo of some new surround sound technology.
Located in the Soho district of lower Manhattan, the Savant Experience Center is an actual living space complete with a media/living room, home office, master bedroom, kitchen, dining room and a dedicated 800 sq. foot theater. Close to the Apple store, the Experience Center showcases the latest technologies in home entertainment and control to dealers, architects, designers, industry associations, and prospective clients.
Homeowners love what technology provides but many prefer to keep its presence at a minimum. Such was the case in this beautiful Southern California home in the upscale Pacific Palisades area. "This project had a good sized budget of $100k to provide whole-house distribution of audio, video, phone and data," said Mark Schafer, President of Custom L.A. "Still we all encountered a few challenges such as the family room, where the client wanted a completely invisible Home Theater in a wide open space".
Who says you can't get quality work completed in less than a week? Talk to David Frangioni, CEO of Audio One Sound & Video in North Miami Beach and he'll tell you anything is possible. He knows because he's installed a world-class home theater with high performance AV in only three days.
In this brand new condo, the homeowner required something simple, primarily to watch TV and DVDs. He had a complex automation system installed by an inexperienced integrator in his previous residence and found it too cumbersome and complicated to operate.
"Simplicity and high quality components were the client's two main requirements", said Chris Abbott, the Project Manager for Abbott's Technology Design Group of Las Vegas, Nevada. "Normally we don’t do 2-channel systems but this was a long time customer with a very specific wish list."
Creating a home theater, be it a dedicated room or part of an existing living space, requires more than a general knowledge of AV technology. In actuality, that is only a small part of the equation. To maximize the performance of your AV gear, the overall design of the room is crucial.
We all know that California has it own unique car culture. Here a person's automobile and their personality are often closely aligned. One homeowner loved their Bentley so much; they couldn't get enough of it and choose it as the theme for their dedicated Home Theater.
Shannon McGinnis is one of the few people who has found that his hobby/avocation is also his vocation. In 1997, he started his Custom Electronics Design and Installation company as a one-person operation; it has grown to include three additional installers at present. Home Technology Systems, Inc., currently provides Wichita, Kansas, and the surrounding areas with a single-source solution for all custom home and small business electronics needs and desires, including home theater, systems integration, lighting control, structured cabling, multiroom audio, and security.
A kid who went from racing go-karts at age 7, to becoming the first Rookie of the Year to take home the Shootout victory at the 70-lap Budweiser Shootout, to scoring the highest-points finish ever for a NASCAR rookie in 2006, Denny Hamlin, age 27, is loving life. And with that success has come the means to enjoy his home in a way that suits his ultra-fast-paced lifestyle. For Hamlin, that means technology.