living well

Hollywood at Home
by Jennifer Burns
Are you tired of going to the movies and spending close to $20 per person on admission and greasy snacks, only to sit in a crowded theater with someone blocking your view and people talking loudly right behind you?

Do you enjoy watching movies with theater-quality picture and sound, but your hectic schedule leaves you tired at the end of the day, and leaving the house is the last thing you want to do?

Why not build your own movie theater in the comfort of your home? While this may sound like something only celebrities have access to, some local businesses are making it possible for area residents to have their own advanced home theaters, and more people are realizing it’s a quality experience without the hassle.

Sherman’s has more than 30 years of experience in selling appliances, electronics, and furniture. Started in 1976 by Jack Sherman, Sherman’s began by selling the latest in technology, which at the time was microwave ovens. In more recent years, Sherman’s has realized the need to meet the demands for increasingly more sophisticated design and installation services for home theater and audio/video systems.

“In response, Sherman’s began a large-scale effort to build a custom electronics and design installation organization unequalled in central Illinois,” said Paul Sherman, general manager of Sherman’s. “A team of existing employees, as well as outside industry professionals, was assembled and put through extensive design and installation training. Sherman’s partnered with manufacturers of the finest products available. State-of-the-art showrooms were built as well to allow easy demonstration of complex audio/video products and home control systems.”

This team became Sherman’s HomeWorks. “HomeWorks has the most accredited design and installation staff in downstate Illinois, holding the industry’s most sought-after certifications from CEDIA, THX, the Imaging Science Foundation, and more,” Sherman said.

Most customers who come to Sherman’s are looking for a custom system to fit their own personal needs and wants. “People seem to be spending more time in their homes than ever before,” Sherman said. “The advent of the DVD player and other digital media has unlocked the ability to have a true theatrical experience in the home. A properly designed home theater can provide a more intense (and convenient) movie-watching experience than can be achieved at the local cineplex.”

Kaiser Electronics Inc. is also offering customers the most recent in home theater design and installation. Three of the employees share more than 50 years combined experience in the field. “Kaiser Electronics started in 1986 out of home with audio/video and intercom systems,” Sales Manager Joe Winkler said. “We have expanded over the years to full-blown whole house audio, central vac, audio video intercom, complete home theater systems, and home automation.”

Winkler further explained that most home theater customers “want the movie experience and convenience in the home.”

However, there’s much more to a great home theater than a large television and surround-sound speakers. Simple home theater systems can consist of a plasma TV and surround-sound speakers in the living room. The more advanced theaters may include full soundproofing, acoustic treatments, a front projector, and theater-type seating. “The HomeWorks staff can take raw space, such as an unfinished basement, and do everything from design and framing to the final calibration of the sound and video systems,” Sherman said.

According to Winkler, homeowners seldom take on the challenge of a home theater project themselves because the installations are so advanced. They also receive the true experience of the system when professionals perform the installations. “More often than not,” said Sherman, “clients won’t experience the full benefits of high-performance products unless they’re properly installed by factory-trained technicians.”

Some of the latest equipment in home theater systems expands on the basics such as acoustical treatments; however, new technology also includes touch-screen room control, enhanced design elements, and better picture quality.

“On the technical side, our new Peoria showroom features a new projector that reproduces the ultra-widescreen 2:35:1 Cinemascope format,” Sherman said. “This format is the standard most high-profile directors use (Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, etc.). In the past, these movies could only be seen in their true form by going to the local theater—now we can bring that experience to the home as well.”

Winkler agrees exceptional picture quality is the latest trend, saying, “HD DVD are slowly starting to progress into our systems. Picture and sound are unbelievable.”

Other interesting products include those that help camouflage equipment throughout the home. Customers can purchase speakers in the form of a rock or planter to be placed in landscaping. Hanging plasma televisions can be masked with an art print that can be rolled down when the television is not being watched.

Keep in mind that while adding surround sound to your home theater will cost in the hundreds of dollars, a fully customized, advanced theater space can cost upwards of $10,000. But for those who really want the true movie experience, the cost may be worth it. “Most clients haven’t experienced a properly designed and calibrated home theater,” Sherman said. “Most are blown away by the performance. It’s one thing to see a big picture and hear loud sound; it’s quite another to experience a movie in the perfect environment, with the picture and sound exactly as the director intended.”

After your home theater is complete, you can put your feet up, talk without disturbing anyone, take a bathroom break without missing a scene, eat a healthier snack and not worry about having to sneak it past an usher, and schedule show times at your convenience.

For more information, call Sherman’s HomeWorks at 691-4100; or contact Kaiser Electronics Inc.’s home office at 263-7117, or its showroom at 691-2929. a&s

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