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Another AVS HTotM! Reimagining Home Theaters in Small Spaces

by Nyal Mellor January 19, 2024

Another AVS HTotM! Reimagining Home Theaters in Small Spaces



JM, an avid movie buff and software engineer living in California, fell in love with movies during his teenage years at a local cinema showcasing the Dolby Surround system during a Star Wars marathon. The immersive surround sound sparked his fascination with audio technologies.


In 2018, JM and his wife bought a new house lacking a designated space for a home theater. Converting the garage to extra living space proved to be impossible due to California building regulations. At an impasse, and recommended by other home theater enthusiasts, JM reached out to Acoustic Frontiers.




Acoustic Frontiers provided a 41-page plan covering the following elements: Complete Home Theater Design Package, along with the following additions: Sound Isolation, HVAC, Electrical Design, Hush Box, Home Theater Layout, Audio/Video Equipment Engineering, and Acoustic Treatment Design. To execute the plan, a custom standalone structure was constructed inside the garage, featuring interior dimensions of 11'6" wide, 15'10" long, and 7'6" tall. This structure was pivotal in achieving top-notch sound isolation, employing an innovative room-within-a-room design engineered to eliminate direct connections between the home theater components and the garage's joists, studs, and concrete base, all while complying with State building regulations.



Acoustic treatments, including our exclusive WAVE Diffusers, POLY Absobers, and Bass Plate Bass Traps covered the walls, while a hushbox was built for the projector.


JM initially intended a 7.1.4 configuration but, after discussions with Nyal Mellor at Acoustic Frontiers, opted for a 9.1.6 setup to streamline future additions and simplify the integration of front wides and overhead channels.


The creation of the new room-within-a-room and strategically positioning all equipment outside the listening area to maintain an undistracted zone, transformed JM’s space into a sanctuary for cinematic immersion, earning recognition as the AVS Forum Home Theater of The Month in October 2023.


9.1.6 Setup: Interior Dimensions: 11'6" wide, 15'10" long, 7'6" tall.


Exclusive products provided: Acoustic Frontiers Custom Subwoofer System, WAVE Diffusers, POLY Absorbers, Bass Plate Bass Traps.

Equipment provided: Trinnov Altitude, ATI amplifiers, madVR Envy video processor, Seymour Screen Excellence screen, JVC RS4100 projector

Calibration services provided: 2-days onsite audio/video calibration, including four Trinnov presets and three madVR Envy presets



“Unlike most typical theaters you see pictured on most sites, I didn't have the luxury of space. And small spaces aren't kind to the acoustics, the laws of physics apply to you no matter what your budget is. So I knew it was crucial for this project to work with a company that does this for a living. And by "this" I didn't mean a company that's just there to push brands for speakers and processors or home automation, like you see out there. I meant that I wanted to work with a company that could do a simulation, that has experience creating a great sounding space, and the perfect home theater experience. Numerous recommendations pointed me to Nyal Mellor at Acoustic Frontiers, and he delivered! This was a challenging project given the space. Also the (ex) garage that houses the theater is right under the bedroom, and we're next to a busy street. So the work was about preventing sound from coming in, from coming out, and making it sound awesome.
The construction details that Acoustic Frontiers delivered helped the contractor understand how the project differed from a normal build. Everything was properly detailed (even for instance the part numbers) and the contractor noted that several times during the build.
The end result met all my expectations, but after calibration, the experience went well beyond my expectations. To really take advantage of all the gear, nothing beats having a professional dial it just right so it meets your tastes. The bass is exactly as I was hoping it to be, tight and tactitle, but not overdone. The picture is gorgeous. The sound is fully immersive. Another example of the end result: English is not my first language, and I used to watch movies with subtitles enabled. Since having this room, I haven't turned the subtitles on a single time, that's how clear the sound is. It can be loud without any hint of distortion, it's clear, effortless, directional and enveloping.
I highly recommend Acoustic Frontiers and working with Nyal for your future projects. His experience will save you many mistakes and precious time; time in the design, and time not spent messing with settings and acoustic trial and errors, hoping whatever you changed or bought will make things better.” - JM



  • You'll have a system you love.
  • You'll experience audio-video like never before.
  • You'll have no doubt you got the best performing system for your budget.


Nyal Mellor
Nyal Mellor


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Nyal Mellor, Founder, Acoustic Frontiers

  • (415) 524-8741
  • Serving USA & Canada
  • Fairfax, Northern California, USA

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