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Spotlight on Home Theater

Inside the World’s Loudest Home Theater

We go inside Jeremy Kipnis' home theater that set a Guiness World Record for the Loudest Personal Gaming System. So, just how loud is it?


Photography by Robert Wright / Copyright Kipnis Studios © 2013. 

What’s the loudest home theater you’ve ever designed? There’s a good chance it doesn’t get anywhere near as loud as Jeremy Kipnis’ home theater.

His media room just won a spot in the Guiness World Records list for being the Loudest Personal Gaming System. How loud? This room gets to 132dB. Think of it like this, a jack hammer is about 120 dB, and a Boeing 747 is 140dB. The Kipnis theater falls in between that.

Kipnis doesn’t actually play his system at that volume. If he did it would shred his eardrums and turn his brains into grits in a short amount of time. He needs those eardrums because besides playing Xbox 360 games and watching Blu-ray movies, he uses that room for audiophile music mastering as part of his business, Epiphany Recordings.

Kipnis isn’t new to this award. His cinema space has been recognized by the Guiness people six times so far, and there’s little chance of anyone taking his crown away, considering this home theater, which is always a work in progress, has cost him about $6 million. But cinema is an obsession for him, not to mention a business. He runs Kipnis Studio Standard, which designs and installs high-end home theaters, though none quite as elaborate as his own, which is part home theater, part laboratory. Here he tries out new equipment and new concepts, and is always a little ahead of the curve.

For instance, while 4K may be a popular buzzword now (with few actual products using it), he had a 4K projector years before most people knew what that was. In 2006 he set up a professional Sony SRX-T110 projector which displays a resolution of 4096 x 2160. That’s greater than today’s accepted Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160. Kipnis also uses a Meridian 4K reference projector. Both projectors are serious light cannons, with the Sony boasting 11,000 lumens. But he needs firepower to light up his 24-foot wide Stewart Snowmatte screen. The screen employs 4-way motorized masking (controlled with an iPad) that will accommodate any image aspect ratio.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Kipnis home theater isn’t any ordinary basement renovation. This “home” theater is situated inside a 2,250 square-foot concert hall room, with vaulted ceilings and a balcony. It features a specially-designed floor and non-parallel walls to make it acoustically awesome.

His audio system, headlined by a Theta Digital Casablanca III preamp/processor and truckload of McIntosh amplifiers, includes two MC2301 monoblock tube amplifiers and 72 (yes, 72) McIntosh MC2102 stereo tubes amplifiers. With a few other scattered amps, this room is powered by 96,000 watts and 1,392 vacuum tubes. All that muscle goes into Snell THX Music & Cinema Reference speakers (14 towers, 24 subwoofers) plus 14 Murata Super Tweeters and three Snell THX Music & Cinema Reference center channel speakers.

He’s also picky about details and commissioned custom drivers for all his speakers. He customizes the wiring all the way down to the solder, plus custom designed circuit breaker and AC transformer wiring. Including the recently added height channels, he calls the room a 12.12 system that’s capable of playing from 100 kHz all the way down to 10 Hz.

imageThe Wall of THX Sound. Click image to enlarge.

His source components include a variety of disc players and DVRs, but mostly he watches movies from his five MacBook Pro computers with several terabytes of content stored on them. Of course, being a bit of a gamer (hence the Guiness award) Kipnis also has an Xbox 360 and a Playstation 3.

Delivering power to this room, in his backyard Kipnis has two General Electric high voltage isolation transformers (13,800 Volts to 240 Volts / 800 Amperes). One is set aside for the analog components, while the other gives juice to the digital parts of the system. The are also balancing transformers as well; “just like NASA,” he says.

If you think this whole system is a bit extreme, you’re right, and Kipnis would agree with you. This is a passion with him. You can hear the enthusiasm in his voice as he describes the thrill of watching actors 10 feet tall on his screen.  He notes with pride that his speakers can generate a steady 9 knot wind and gusts up to 12 knots.

“The purpose is to create a mirage effect - that you find yourself completely immersed,” he says. “It’s like having an IMAX in your home.”

In addition to all the audio/video overdrive, Kipnis likes the total experience he gets from a decorative lighting system, which his uses especially when listening to music. The custom designed lighting system includes a combination of Chauvet flood and spot lights (40 of each) in various colors, all computer controlled, so he can create any ambient scene he wants.

One would think keeping up such a complex system, especially with all the tube amps, would be a chore. In fact he explained that the vacuum tubes generate a chimney effect, so dust won’t settle on them. Nice.

While tweaking and upgrading is a constant professional infatuation with him, one of his biggest home theater dreams doesn’t even involve his own theater. “I’d love to redo the White House cinema,” he says. I don’t think President Obama has that on his agenda right now, but we’ll do our best to pass the word on.

View the 9 photos attached to this entry
Inside the World’s Loudest Home Theater

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Article Topics

News · Slideshow · Displays · Video · Audio · Amplifiers · Speakers · Projectors and Screens · Home Theater · All topics

About the Author

Grant Clauser
Grant Clauser is a technology editor, covering home electronics for more than 10 years for such publications as Electronic House and Dealerscope. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore.

10 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Not Again  on  03/15  at  04:45 PM

Again with the “louder than a jet airplane” analogy.  I normally don’t get to bent out of shape on this but besides being a lazy analogy it’s missing a critical specification. Distance.  A 747 @ 50 miles isn’t much of a problem, at 3 ft, a different story.

That said, 132 DB isn’t going to shred anything if the frequency spectrum is fairly balanced.  Nightclubs hit that, but are bass heavy so you feel the pressure more than feel the pain the 120db jackhammer gives you.

I accept this from USA Today or People magazine, but a trade mag?


Posted by AVGuys Houston  on  03/18  at  05:18 PM

Oh Boy! Now we as an industry can adopt the judging catagories from the Car Audio industry. We can have db Drag Racing formats for the loudest single frequency, and also Sound Quality judging from judges that also install the audio systems.
At least now there are more photos of this system… When the photo came out 2 years ago it looked like none of the amplifiers were hooked up with any wire at all, almost suggesting it was just PhotoShop… Good to know this is a real system!

Posted by mlafave  on  03/20  at  04:01 PM

“But it goes to 11!”

Posted by Greg Davis  on  03/21  at  02:54 PM

2 things: I need to call Guiness and tell them where they can go measure for a louder theater and sounds better, there are several out there and 2) someone let Mr. Kipinis know you instead of having a theater that’s like an imax, you can have an actual Imax , you want one, call them, they will design and install one for your home,  and with dual 4K projectors to boot, will look, perform better than this thing any day

Posted by joel degray  on  03/22  at  09:07 AM

The Ford GT 500 didn’t beat the Ferrari
with all of it’s Horse power, just some of it.
This system isn’t a Ferrari, it’s an F-18. Sorry for those who don’t get the quantum jump this system represents in it’s fidelity and finess…

Posted by greg davis  on  03/22  at  09:39 AM

this system is hardly an F18 and Ford GT500 never raced a ferrari (try GT-40) there are so many more private systems out there that are a starship compared to this turbo prop. Snell particle board speakers with plastic drivers is the only thing mac amps can drive, no doubt it can play loud, but leave quality and fidelity out of it. Being that I used to own a snell ref system 13 years ago, I know the cabinet resonance it creates when playing loud, this system will produce a ton of distortion just from the speaker cabinets alone. there are those who get high end audio and those that think they get it.  I had no idea guiness did such a stupid record, don’t expect to see it stand long, it will be too easy for someone to break.

Posted by joel degray  on  03/22  at  09:57 AM

Greg, do you have a spec for some of these systems? Also, have you ever visited Kipnis? We have all had many customers make comments on systems they never heard smile

Posted by greg davis  on  03/22  at  11:19 AM

you could easily pick from a dozen of CAT systems around the US that will run cirlces around this. The first one that comes to mind, has 36, 600 watt amps, fully differential.  64 DSP channels, LCR-s are 10.9.s44 with a full range 22” sub, 8 22” LFE subs, 16 12” subs for bass balancing, & 8 10.9S44 surrounds, All speakers are made out of Avonite, not plywood or particle board like the snells. so NO cabient resonance, speakers weigh 1200 lbs each (fronts weight more with the 22’s)  kicks the crap of your toy. Not only can this example play at ear bleeding SPL, it does it CLEAN, you can’t do that with plastic drivers and plywood snell boxes.

I have never been to Kipinis’s house, i mean “studio”,  though I know someone who has and interesting enough, the system wasn’t working at the time. I also belive he claims $6M in the room, I’d like to see that audit, if he’s got $6M, then some A/V dealer screwed him.  but better yet, nothing like promoting a room in which the speaker manfacture is out of business, must be planning on selling a lot of these

Posted by Robert Archer  on  03/22  at  12:20 PM

Greg, you are going too far with plywood comments. Snell’s products were made in furniture factories and utilized thick panels and baffles. The company’s crossover networks were designed to meet tolerances within .5dB

As for the drivers do you realize there are very few companies that actually manufacture their own drivers. Most buy off-the-shelf products, others design their drivers and contract with the factories that make those off-the-shelf drivers to build their drivers.

Yes Snell is out of business, but the company has a solid legacy in the world of speaker design with people like Peter Snell, Dave Smith and Joe D’Appolito designing products for the company.

Posted by Grant  on  03/22  at  12:33 PM

Can we all please take this down a notch? This is a story about a guy who’s very passionate about his hobby and is having fun with it. Isn’t that what home theater is for? Fun? Jeremy obviously loves what he’s doing and is proud of the system he’s built over the years. And for the record, he replaces most of the speakers drivers with custom drivers.

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