Audio Video Interiors Article
 

Story by Valerie Coghill, Installation by Jones Industries, Inc.,
Photography by Ira Montgomery and Jennifer Jordan

An Amazing THX Theater in an English Country-style Home


"I wanted to create a peaceful country environment in the middle of the city," says Larry Truitt, a Dallas businessman, of his 3,000 square foot townhouse in an inner city Dallas neighborhood.
"We completely gutted the interior of existing house down to it's 2x4 studs and built it up to an 18th-century English country home." The period details in Truitt's home, affectionately call Mallard Hall after the two ducks that inhabit its garden fountain, feature custom-cast gargoyles, impressive trompe l' oiel and faux castle stone walls that were a senior thesis project of the Dallas Institute of Art.

Although Truitt was interested in making Mallard Hall look like an 18th-century English county home, he didn't want it to act like one. Throughout the house, he has juxtaposed the fine workmanship of centuries past with all the technological advances the 20th century has to offer. Truitt describes the theater's projection room, which is anchored by a glass-enclosed equipment case in the center of the room, as being "straight out of Star Trek." The security keypad, which is flush-mounted on the glass, protects the theaters THX Fosgate processors and 4-channel amplifiers, Sony VCR's and CD player, and Pioneer laserdisc player from unwanted intruders. After the security code is entered, visitors can witness the high tech stainless steel equipment rack and it's bounty automatically roll out into the center of the room.

Opposite the equipment rack stands the control center, where four source monitors and the computer that runs the home and theater are concealed behind blacked-out panels. "Visitors love to use the computer control system because they do not need any training to operate the home automation software," explains Truitt. "The existing home automation software on the market lacked the freedom to customize the screens, was limited to the functions it could perform, and would not interface with all systems and hardware. Jones Industries designed a Window-based home automation master that was superior to all we looked at. It is more versatile, people do not have to be trained in it's use, and the house does not need to be prewired because all the functions are done through radio waves."

As visitors enter Mallard Hall's magnificent theater, it's the dramatic stage that immediately draws their attention. The stage is a three-winged Italian Renaissance building with a palazzo. It is complete in every detail, all the way up to the slanted roof lines with uplit domes and the Florentine gargoyle that protects the building.

After the theatergoers have gotten their popcorn and soda from the concession area, they are invited to sink into one of 10 Irwin Marquis cinema theater seats made in Canada. Truitt gets the party started by touching the button marked "Theater" on the projector cabinet's control screen by his seat, which is linked to home's computer. With just a touch of the button, the house lights dim, the music fades, the custom Kashmir draperies open, and the palazzo opens up to reveal a Fosgate MC220 THX center-channel speaker.

"My motto is not have you seen a good movie lately, but have you heard a good movie lately," says Truitt. When the Sharp XV-H30 LCD Projector fires onto the 10' x 8' glass beaded Draper Cineperm M2500 screen and the viewers are enveloped by the sound of the latest action movie's car chases coming through the Fosgate SD 180 THX dipolar surround speakers and the NHT SW2P active surround subwoofer housed in the faux balcony, visitors get an indication of what Truitt means. But when the same movie's explosions come thundering through the pair of Fosgate FS 2000 THX subwoofers, they know Truitt has achieved his goal.

Truitt did not solely rely on the equipment to provide him with theater-quality sound. "The coffered ceiling, which is accented with gold leaf medallions, acts as a built-in bass trap and baffle for the surround channels," explains Truitt. "The walls are also angled out slightly toward the rear of the room to eliminate standing waves. Consequently, there is no slap echo." The center channel speakers' tweeters are specifically aimed to ear level of each seating area, so the dialogue appears to actually come out of the mouth of the characters on screen. The theater walls have also been double sheetrocked and padded to totally soundproof the room.

The drama doesn't end when the tape in the Sony SLV 595 HF VCR stops playing. Along each wall, Truitt has added massive floor-to-ceiling fluted pilasters with uplit bases and capitals and custom-cast gargoyles used as sconces. As the lights come up, the theatergoers have Notre Dame's devil dog starring down on them from several points in the room. When visitors leave the theater, they do not leave sound quality behind. "Systems good for video are not good for music," says Truitt, a self-described classical music nut. "I wanted to hear hairs on bows of violins."

He chose the stylish European Bang & Olufsen Beosystem 4500 to be the nerve center for the rest of the house. Whether the Beosystem pumps a violin concerto to the elegant Bang & Olufsen Penta II towers in the master suite or to the Bose 101 outdoor speakers in the formal English garden, Truitt can easily control the volume with the Niles Audio volume controls conveniently located throughout the house.

Mallard Hall, which was originally expected to take three years to complete, took more than five years from start to finish. From one look around this fabulous showpiece, Mallard Hall was definitely worth the wait.

 
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