Please share a bit of your company philosophy and approach.
I feel strongly that the foundations of Erskine Group lie in our educating the client. In many cases, there are things they’ve read on the Internet that are just fundamentally wrong. So what we do during the design process is educating the client: what is going on, why it is going on; and how it is implemented into the entire system.
As you can understand, every single system has compromises along the way. Some of those compromises are client induced: “I want a separate pair of two-channel speakers in the same room.” Our approach to that kind of request is to inform the client as to the pros and cons of what he wants to do. We will tell the client what the pros and cons are of what we would prefer to do in that situation. And then we let them make that decision. They decide, but it is an informed decision.
What was the client’s original intent for this project? Did you make changes to its scope during the design process?
The client’s primary residence is in New York, but during the pandemic he realized that for his business, he didn’t need to be in New York. So, he decided to make Park City his permanent residence. At his New York home, he had a room he used for two-channel music listening. But for this project, he said that he wanted a room where he could enjoy listening to music and also be able to turn it into a home theater. We had a long talk about the limitations of two channel music reproduction and once he understood, he said, “Ah, so that’s why all [those limitations] are happening.” We educated him to understand that just because it was called a home theater you could not only listen to two-channel music but you could enjoy the music even more using ambience extraction technologies.
Tell us about the room design and speaker layout.
The client was thrilled with his stereo pair of Meridian DSP8000SE speakers, and was insistent on using them in the theater. To maintain the best consistent tonal quality around the room, we completed the system with additional loudspeakers from Meridian. We had 10 bed speakers, the LCRs, and 6 height speakers, with. That makes it a 13.4.6 system.
The construction techniques that we use, some of which are proprietary, are there to achieve a noise floor of 22dB in the room. This is once I tell them why it has to be done that way what I look at and there are several causes why home theaters get abandoned. One of those reasons is that they are too loud. The reason is that you have to turn up the volume to hear the whispers.
Why was a Trinnov Altitude selected as the processor?
Obviously, Trinnov was the best choice. Part of that came out of the fact that when I had the opportunity to visit Meridian’s headquarters in the UK, I noticed that their all Meridian digital theater was driven by a Trinnov. So, I felt very comfortable using a Trinnov in this system. A further benefit was that the client wanted to listen to music using Roon.
The other interesting thing for this system is that sound comes into the Altitude in the digital domain. It leaves the Altitude in the digital domain and enters and leaves our QSC Q-Sys system in the digital domain. So, the only digital to analog conversion takes place in the Meridian loudspeakers.
What technical challenges did you face in completing the cinema? How were they resolved?
We had to convert what was originally a kind of game room that at one end had a glass garage door that could be opened in the summer and when closed still provided a great view over Park City. We took the garage door out and built a wall. Then, because he wanted to keep a wet bar and refrigerator in the room, we ended up building a bar and counter at the back of the theater. We build our theaters to achieve a 22 dB noise floor, so keeping the refrigerator noise out was quite a challenge. We built bi-fold doors that are about 4 inches thick, with finishes that exactly match the rest of the room. It was quite an engineering effort that came off very well.
Then, the client presented us with two last-minute requests, after all the wiring was in place. He requested first of all that he wanted to have Karaoke in the room. So, we acquired the Karaoke machine and integrated it into the system. After that, he said, by the way, I play bass guitar. And, I would like to plug my bass guitar bass into the system and play along with the music through the Karaoke. Not through a separate bass amplifier, but through the system. Fortunately, because we had the Q-Sys DSP system, we were able to solve the problem of latency.
How was calibration? And how does it sound in the end ?!.
Well, the calibration was done by Adam Pelz, and he sort of lays down the law: nobody in the room when I’m doing calibration. Anyone else in the room is a salt water bag making noise.
And yes, the system sounds fabulous !