Torus Power Dealer Acoustic Frontiers upgrades the modern minimalist Hillside House media room with a TOT Max to improve AV system performance

The people of Marin County, California recognize quality entertainment. This is almost a foregone conclusion, as the upscale Bay Area region is home to such legendary movie-making meccas as Disney Pixar Studios and George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. But with real estate at a premium in the region, most houses don’t have the space for a dedicated home theater. Instead, says Acoustic Frontiers Founder and President Nyal Mellor, many clients request a multi-purpose media room with the same quality sound and video found in most purpose-built, high-end private cinemas.

Hillside House, a modern minimalist style family home, was designed by one of the homeowners, architect Barbara Shands. The home was featured on for its environmentally sustainable architecture and construction, which includes the use of reclaimed wood from a dilapidated summer house on the site and daylight harvesting, along with other passive heating and cooling techniques.

Acoustic Frontiers transforms the audio experience in a small family room with the addition of a Torus Power TOT Max, showing how small changes yield big improvements for discerning customers.

While Shands and her partner, Dr. Rosenbaum, embrace the environment and their natural surroundings, they also appreciate technology and the total entertainment experience it can help provide in their home. In 2012, the couple approached the Acoustic Frontiers team to build a “kid-proof” media room for the family to gather, stream Netflix, and watch movies within a 12’ x 16’ space in the 2,450-square-foot house.

Media Room Design

Floor-to-ceiling windows across one of the 12-foot walls limited layout options. After considering several scenarios, the Acoustic Frontiers team decided it would be best to orient the theater across the narrow part of the room. The TV hangs on the long wall with the sofa and connected chaise on the opposite wall. The team specified three subwoofers to provide low frequency across the length of the couch—dual Triad On-Wall SlimSubs, and a JL Audio E112 to cover bass under approximately 40Hz. Procella Audio P6 speakers, along with the Triad subs, are concealed behind a 6-inch deep false wall to keep the room looking clean.

Room acoustics were managed by treatment hidden behind fabric stretched on the front wall, the couch, carpeting, acoustical panels on the ceiling, and floor-to-ceiling curtains—which also eliminate ambient light for a better movie experience. Acoustic Frontiers installed Vicoustic Multifuser Wood 36 panels on the back wall to minimize reflection from the speakers.

“Nyal Mellor from Acoustic Frontiers worked with us from design and acoustic modeling through final system calibration, helping to create an awesome space that’s a very capable home theater as well,” Rosenbaum said in an article published on the Acoustic Frontiers website.

Sound Improvements

With the original media room designed and built on a limited budget, the homeowner knew there would be room for enhancements later on. In mid-2016, Rosenbaum and Shands asked Mellor for recommendations to improve the overall audio experience in the room. Without hesitation, Mellor recommended a Torus Power Toroidal Isolation transformer to isolate power coming into the audio components, resulting in a lower noise floor and overall cleaner sound. Acoustic Frontiers installed a TOT Max based on the room’s power requirements and the client’s budget. “We use a CEDIA best practices publication, the CEB-24, to calculate the size of the Torus Power unit required based on the components in the system,” says Mellor.

The TOT Max, rated at 15 amps, delivers power to even the hungriest of amplifiers, speakers, and processors. With a smaller footprint and a lower price point than many of the other Torus Power isolation transformers, the TOT Max is ideal for single-room installations where audio / video performance improvement is the key consideration.

“We didn’t necessarily need to solve any problems with the addition of the isolation transformer,” says Mellor. “There wasn’t anything wrong with the system before the Torus Power went in. The client was looking for ways to take the system performance to the next level, and that was one of the improvements I recommended. I use Torus Power products whenever I can, because power really is the foundation for solid A/V performance.”

Such a simple upgrade provided audible enhancements to the system—a testament to the importance of clean power for those seeking the best audiovisual performance in any space. “Mr. Rosenbaum was very pleased with the improvements from the upgrade,” concludes Mellor.

Why This Is Important: Acoustic Frontiers transforms the audio experience in a small family room with the addition of a Torus Power TOT Max, showing how small changes yield big improvements for discerning customers.

JL E112 subwoofer
mini DSP DDRC-88A
Procella Audio P6 loudspeakers (LCR)
Triad On-Wall SlimSubs
Torus Power TOT Max