Updating Art Sonneborn's Sun Cinema.

Mark Seaton

WBF Technical Expert (Speaker & Acoustics)
May 21, 2010
Chicago, IL
Hi all,

While there is a similar post on my own forum, points of interest here will differ, and I plan to later add some more info and measurements as the process continues the rest of this year. Two weekends ago I had made some mention on our Facebook page as I was kicking back with Art & Angela Sonneborn to watch Star Trek, and posted some pictures there last week, so I thought I'd copy those here for more to see and add some commentary.

I know many were not regular visitors to AVS years back when Art's theater was more visible and he had many impressively large meets and parties. You can see some of the history of his theater at the website where he has some past photos collected.

Many who have ventured to my forum or to other discussions of my products have seen these pictures from almost 6 years ago now:

The meets Art & Angela hosted were always fun events with the last few pulling attendance of 60-75 people with enthusiasts flying in across the country and even 2 from overseas. Art would have multiple demo sessions scheduled to allow everyone in attendance to experience the latest updates to the system. Here is Art giving a little intro to one of the groups through the 2007 meet:

The 14' wide screen and Sim2 HT5000 projector made for a full house at every showing:

And here it is again today, where you can just make out the tops of the new Catalyst 12C's with the lights on behind the screen:

Ever since the new screen wall was built and we hoisted the screen frame in and out to set the speakers in place, we've dreaded having to getting through the screen opening again. We can easily get limited access behind the screen through openings where the curtains retract to. What you see is a 14' wide, Stewart MicroPerf screen with motorized masking. When first installed it took 3 people pulling to get the last corner of the screen snapped into place with the fabric being new. With 5+ years on the screen Art was finally willing to chance unsnapping the screen, and fortunately it went rather smoothly with the screen now comfortably settled in place.

For those who might not have caught it, the LCR speakers in the first photo above are not my production Catalyst 12C's, but rather an early prototype of the Catalyst. I designed and built these for Art's theater with a production product in mind. Once we upgraded the subs to quad SubMersives, it was clear that while it sounded awesome, they were giving all they had when we really pushed the playback levels. Soon after I tested and implemented the 8" coax now employed in the Catalyst models and the Spark, and I proceeded to "kick it up a notch" by going fully active with the more robust 8" coaxial and much beefier custom woofers.

Last weekend I loaded up the Grand Cherokee and headed out Art Sonneborn's theater with the mission of swapping out his prototype Catalysts for production Catalyst 12Cs as well as updating his 4 SubMersives with HP amplifiers. Once the screen was very carefully removed it was time to update the LCR channels. Here you can see the prototype on the left and the center channel still on the shelf with the even more powerful production '12C ready to be set in place.:

With the new Catalyst 12Cs in place the SubMersives were up next. It's always gratifying to update nearly 6 year old products from the first batch or two of SubMersives delivered:

The Catalysts in place:

Updated SubMersive HP's back in place:

Closer shot with a flash light up some more detail:

...and finally everything back in place:

As seen above, everything came back together as planned, allowing us to relax and enjoy quite a ride watching the latest Star Trek movie. With just some quick adjusting of levels, we were up and running. All of us were rather surprised how readily noticeable the upgrade was, especially considering how good the system already sounded. The sound was noticeably more robust, dialog a bit more articulate, and everything much more at ease and effortless at fun playback levels. It was a nice change from my normal analysis mode to be able to relax and enjoy the movie with that stunning picture less than 12' away and not be critiquing the sound and system while figuring on the next improvements.

Thank you for reading along... We're considering some further improvements to the system with some more broad band absorption up front around the LCR, as well as adding some more low frequency capability to the rear where currently 3 10" Triad subs do their best to fill in an upper bass modal hole from 3 column locations at side and rear. The old Triad surrounds built into the columns are also on the agenda once I complete a shallower surface mount family member to the Catalyst family. We've long wanted to update the surrounds and the column subs, but those are also cosmetically and dimensionally constrained. Knowing all the work involved in the fabric walls, it's no surprise Art wasn't too eager to tear things up. We were originally going to do the full upgrade of all the speakers at once, but timing and amount of work warranted separating it and getting the 12C's in and SubMersives upgraded as their own step.

I'll be sure to post more as we make further progress and updates.

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high-end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing