“Very nice… but… could you please turn down the volume,” I pleaded, as diplomatically as possible, to the salesman at Circuit City’s home theater showroom as he demoed the latest and greatest AV system. Blaring from surround sound speakers, the VCR played “Top Gun” VHS tape set to the jet-fueled, pulsating “Highway to the Danger Zone” opening scene. While I plugged my ears, my husband grinned broadly.
As a young newlywed, eager to please my handsome groom, I grudgingly accepted the ugly black boxes into the living room of our first home—the rear mounted surround speakers perched like ugly crows from their ceiling mounts and, worst of all, the big, black subwoofer box that Dear Husband refused my efforts to camouflage. With the television screen expanding as quickly as our children grew, I wised up. The unsightly black void of AV equipment that weighed down the south side of the family room, in exchange for the swanky new Theodore Alexander sideboard, which cost more than my first car, to store my family heirloom silver (which seldom sees the light of day.)
Fast forward three decades later and I am suddenly smitten—with a home theater! As Jo Parsons, my team’s real estate concierge, and I prepare the soon-to-be listed Galleria, we take a break to test-drive the home’s dedicated theater room. Nestling into the automatic reclining couch seats, we turn out the lights and in the inky blackness of the room, delight in the sensation of being transported to an actual movie theater as the drumroll fanfare of 20th Century Fox opener begins. Enveloped in the surround sound sensation and visual splendor of the gigantic projector screen, we giggle at the notion of binging on movies and popcorn for the rest of the afternoon.
An avid audio/video enthusiast with a vast collection of LPs, CDs and DVDs, homeowner Bob Hanson’s dream had long been to build a dedicated home theater in his retirement. While wife Cindy was captivated by Unit 19/Lot 30’s spectacular east-facing panoramic mountain views perched high above the verdant golf fairways, Bob fixated on his vision for the Galleria floor plan’s den conversion. Envisioning his dream home theater, he decided upon some non-standard builder options; extending the room’s length to create a desirable rectangular space, and omitting the room’s window to further darken the home’s den. Both options delivered key elements for a future home theater, including optimal distance for viewing the TVs and projection screens from the multi-level seating Bob had in mind, and the elimination of any detracting outside light.
Although the framework was ready, it would take more than a decade for the homeowner to follow through on his dream. Describing his brother-in-law’s procrastination, David Reier says, “Bob gave such copious study to all the latest in television technology, that he would vacillate all the time, convinced that the perfect TV was just one more year’s wait,” adding wryly, “His friends had begun a friendly wager as to when, if ever, Bob would finally build his home theater!”
Ultimately, Bob Hanson’s dream did come to fruition when the room was completed in 2010. Extra insulation was added to all four walls and the ceiling, and wiring was run to accommodate the room’s multiple built-in ceiling and wall speakers. The double pocket doorway was reduced to fit one 40-inch solid core door, improving both the room’s acoustics, and soundproofing it from the rest of the house. A soffit was added to the perimeter of the room for ambient lighting and multiple eyeball lights on dimmers were installed to highlight the Hansons’ collection of fine western artwork. A riser was built at the back of the room to accommodate a cushy reclining couch above the first row of ground floor seating, with rope lighting outlining the stairstep for accent and safe ascent.
Serving both form and function, the room was carpeted with handsome striped theater carpeting, underlaid with a heavy pad for further sound absorption and less reverberation, and the walls and ceilings were painted in “Black Walnut,” a dark, warm, dusty violet- black. The overall effect is a classic home theater that provides a full immersive cinema experience, lacking only a popcorn machine.
Although it was not a passion that wife Cindy shared, Bob says she eventually conceded and even enjoyed the space when it came to watching movies and streaming TV series. For Bob, the greatest pleasure was to sit in his recliner in his quiet, darkened man-cave, armed with multiple remotes that enabled him to watch three football games or a car race at once on as many Sony monitors.
To learn more about Bob and Cindy Hanson’s impressive home theater, I consulted with Jim Casner, who specialize in home theater, audio and video installation, as well as home automation systems, with over two decades in Tucson. Although his company has installed countless complex systems in exotic homes, businesses, government facilities and nightclubs, Jim was nonetheless impressed with what he deemed the most elaborate of home theaters he’s seen in the SaddleBrooke community.
I had done a little homework and surmised that the Hansons’ system was a 5.1 layout, consisting of a front left, surround right rear and surround left rear speaker, along with a subwoofer. But where was that ugly black box subwoofer? Jim clarified, “This is actually more than a 5.1 layout,” pointing to the four built-in speakers overhead, “those down-firing speakers make it a 5.2.4 layout. It’s a “two” because instead of a one box subwoofer, these really nice Golden Ear tower speakers each have a subwoofer built into their base.” He explained that more speakers divide the sound out which lends a more realistic, immersive cinematic experience.
Being that Bob Hanson either could not or did not want to remember what he’d spent all-told on his dedicated home theater room, I asked Jim what he estimated it might cost to replicate it today. He estimated the cost at approximately $50,000. When I asked what he might do to update the system, aside from changing out the three monitor television system to one large 85-inch screen, Jim suggested changing out the lighting control system.
Jim explained how simple and effective it would be, “The beautiful thing about Control four is that I don’t have to do anything special; just pull out the existing light switch and put in the new one and done! Now from one master control, which could be your phone or a tablet or your voice, you can have automated, personalized control of all the theater’s lighting and audiovisual functions.” I was fascinated to learn that the smart lighting keypads can also control other devices, allowing you to listen to your favorite playlist, adjust the shades, or control multiple other smart devices.
If you are interested in trying on home theater for yourself (and particularly if you are one of the gentlemen from the betting pool!) I invite you to experience Bob Hanson’s theater room by attending one of our open houses at 37119 S. Stoney Cliff Dr. We’ll be there most weekends until the property is under contract and, yes, there will be popcorn, and “Top Gun” will be loaded in the Blu-ray player!