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Bringing Hollywood home.

Home theater tops home electronics.

"The '90s can be classified as the decade of cocooning," says Michael Stella, president of Soundpro in Carmel. "There are an awful lot of dual-income-no-kids families where the husband and wife after the work day don't want to go out to a bar. They want to go home and relax, and the home theater provides the perfect opportunity for them. We now sell more, dollar-wise, in video theater than in all other aspects of audio and video."

"It's a growing thing," agrees Dave Beckwith, general manager of Tri-State Satellite in Evansville. "We custom-design a lot of home theater media rooms for customers."

Home theater is a high-tech combination of audio and video. While it's been possible to hook a TV and stereo together for some time--Stella's been doing home media-room installations for 25 years--the real home theater craze really took off in the last few years with the advent of new audio technology.

Dolby Pro-Logic surround sound is the home theater's audio foundation. It's a five-channel system, with left and right speakers in the front and back, plus a center speaker right by the screen to carry characters' voices. The top-of-the-line systems follow what are known as THX standards, developed by filmmaker George Lucas after he watched his original "Star Wars" at a commercial cinema and was shocked at the poor sound quality. According to Stella, a THX system virtually duplicates the experience witnessed by those on the studio soundstage as the movie was being made.

Ideally, Stella says, a home theater will have five identical speakers--three in front and two in the rear--plus a subwoofer that augments the bass and lets viewers really feel the sound. All of the speakers can be hidden in the decor, including the subwoofer, which can be mounted in the floor (Soundpro, in fact, years ago pioneered the concept of floor-mounted subwoofers).

The other half of the home-theater equation is the video. "Depending on what the customer wants, we can do a 60-inch TV up to a 150-inch TV," Beckwith says. "We can do it where the TV is hidden or where it's seen all the time. There can be in-wall projection apparatus or it can come out of the ceiling."

The top-of-the-line here--at least until the much-touted high- definition television is marketed--is known as "improved- definition" television, or IDTV. IDTV uses a sophisticated "line-doubling" system to make the picture much sharper. The bigger the screen, the more desirable this becomes.

It goes without saying that such technology doesn't come cheap. Soundpro has a home-theater setup in its Carmel store that's worth about $40,000. It's a THX installation, complete with widescreen projection video and a remote control with scores of buttons. A demonstration in this theater is an awesome experience, and no doubt has helped Stella sell top-of-the-line systems. "I sell several $40,000 theaters a year," he says. "We just put in a $67,000 theater in Valparaiso, and we're doing a $45,000 theater in Columbus."

Still, he and Beckwith agree that customers can acquire home theater for $10,000 or so. And while most installations can be found in bigger, more-expensive homes, "I installed a system in a mobile home one time," Beckwith recalls. "There's not really any particular kind of person who buys home theater, just someone who really enjoys television at its finest."

"It's really amazing the wide group of people that are interested in home theater," says Tony Moreau of Home Theater in Rochester. Money spent on home theater is not simply money thrown away at the box office, he says. "It's an investment and an asset."

And, he adds, programming designed for these types of systems is increasing all the time. Indeed, one can watch "Star Trek-- The Next Generation," "The Arsenio Hall Show" and plenty of other shows and movies in Dolby surround sound. "No longer do people just watch TV. It's more of an event these days."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Curtis Magazine Group, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:home theaters
Author:Kaelble, Steve
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:658
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