Cinepro and Custom Home Theater

Custom Home Theater featuring Cinepro

Evolution2 Speakers,
DTP-8 Theater Processor and
3k6-5 6-channel Amplifiers

Those of you that follow our show coverage, like CEDIA or CES will know the name Cinepro and its’ President and Vice President Michael J. Panicci and Gus Cossifos respectively. Cinepro’s dynamic demonstrations are very much talked about during the show. Although many of demonstrations are loud, what sets Cinepro apart is their commitment to playing back at “Dolby Digital Reference Levels”, which cannot be done accurately without tons of power. So with their ever increasing “how about another 10dB?” volume adjustments, if Gus & Michael were chefs, they’d be saying BAM as they added more spice!


We’ve never managed to hook-up for a review but Gus managed to get me an afternoon with a recent theater installation of Cinepro’s complete Evolution 2 LCR speaker system, pre/pro with 2 amplifiers, along with a power product and speaker wire. There are times when the equipment doesn’t come to you but rather you go to it! Besides Princeton is such a pretty drive anyway as I headed down the highway from my northern New Jersey office.

The setting is a very elegant traditional New England Colonial under renovation but as time was short, I was there to see the substantial installation on the lower level.

Without making too much of the space which in it’s own right is very nicely done and completed by Robert Stevens of Real Life Designs in Hamilton, NJ. I’ve included a floor plan to give a sense of the size of room as it contributes to the overall sound (and vision). The size of the room is roughly 24 ft across, 36 ft deep and has 9 ½ ft ceilings measured from the “pit”.

Cinepro and Custom Home Theater

Walking in you’re immediately struck by the warm inviting yet subdued colors. A full bar (complete with kegerator and wine refrigerator) is to the left and a raised bar-height table and stool sitting area to the right.

Cinepro and Custom Home Theater

As you continue towards the screen you arrive at a lower table with chairs facing the 166” screen. The basement slab had been excavated to lower the floor and by doing so, a stage was built to house the subwoofers and give some architectural presence to the screen. Created then is an inviting and intimate sunken area for a couch at the lowest level and individual recliners, complete with D-Box Motion system, at an intermediate level. Wrought iron railings delineate the sitting area.

Structural columns were hidden by placing Cinepro’s Evolution-2 full speaker system in columns behind screens. Removing the screens, (no easy task) the enclosures were filled with foam to prevent any internal resonance. The matching center channel was placed above the screen in a dropped soffit. Well hidden it was surprisingly well balanced with the left/right mains. Of course room size has a lot to do with it.

Cinepro and Custom Home Theater

Cinepro and Custom Home Theater

On the side walls and in the back are additional enclosures to fit surrounds and rear speakers behind custom acoustic treatment.

Cinepro and Custom Home Theater

The entire room was treated with a custom wall acoustic system from FABRITRK®. I thought Bob got it just right. The room never sounded dead yet reverb was nicely controlled.

Oh – Quite the Rack!!

Hidden in a closet is the equipment rack with a full compliment of Cinepro’s gear… Impressive!
The rack includes Cinepro’s DTP-8 multi-channel processor. This is their flagship multi-zone processor with low distortion and high dynamics. When I inquired about the new codecs from Dolby and DTS, Gus said quietly, it’s coming soon – likewise for HDMI, none on the processor.

Cinepro and Custom Home Theater

A pair of impressive 3k6 Mk5 6-channel amplifiers capable of delivering 455 wpc (8 ohms) and if you’ve ever heard Gus and Michael give a demo, every bit of it gets used. Thankfully Cinepro’s RPC-30240 regulated power conditioner oversees this setup capable of outputting 30 amps and 240 volts.

Blue-ray playback is from Sony, the BDP- 5200ES.
The back of the rack can also be accessed from a door in the neighboring room, also impressive!

Cinepro and Custom Home Theater


Completely out of view hidden in column enclosures is the speaker package from Cinepro – their Evolution 2 system. Across the front in left-center-right are Cinepro’s Evolution -2 LCR speakers. Each LCR includes four 6” drivers. There are two mid-range drivers, one on each side of a 1” tweeter and two 6” woofers, one on each side of the mids. An entire 3k6 Mk5 6-channel amplifier is dedicated to bi-amping the front L/C/R’s while the other 6-channel amplifier for the Evolution-2 surrounds and subwoofers.

A pair of Evolution-2 “Iso-Barik” subwoofers hidden out of view in the stage includes dual 15” drivers and should dip to 15 Hz at -3db.

Cinepro and Custom Home Theater


Although I chased Bob away while I auditioned some 2-channel music, I enjoyed the spacious Tallis Scholars like I’ve never heard in my space. Immense and full, the group’s vocals filled the space like a cathedral. To say it was a full soundstage would be an understatement. Although I was concerned with the spacing of the Left/Right speakers as they were positioned far enough apart to accommodate the large screen, I was immersed.

Kelly Joe Phelps’ unique gravely voice and sweet guitar were both accurate and rich from his CD, Tap the Red Cane Whirlwind, a live recording from 2005. Again I was interested in the real life believability potential of the room which it accomplished.

Equally on the female side, the live recording from Rene Marie, Live at Jazz Standards presented nuisances only achieved during live performances. She smacks her lips to focus her voice, and her breath taken between choruses palpable.

So to attract Bob back into the room I promised him a show, and I asked him to drop in Shakira’s Blu-ray disc live performance Oral Fixation Tour. The last track Hips Don’t Lie is a visual treat (hmmmm) but the full percussions and intense stage presence of Shakira and her band is fully appreciated in this space.

The Evolution-2 surprised me with delicacy and finesse during the tunnel water scene in Ratatouille, a favorite demonstration these days. Preceding this scene is the old lady’s exploding shotgun as she tears her house apart over the rats. The subs thunder with attack and precision.

Likewise with the cannon fire from the Master and Commander, so deep and earthy is the bass that I felt it in my gut.

In the end I was impressed. Tweaking a room such as this must be constant to get the final settings just right. Bob did actually re-adjust the bass down during some 2-channel music but otherwise tonally, it was just right. In general I expected power and lots of it because I’d heard this before. I expected big and accurate but what I wasn’t expecting was the natural sounding piano or guitar and the warm vocals.


A couple of hours is truly not enough time to enjoy a room such as this, but the sun was setting and it was a Friday and the trip north was still ahead of me. The owners where away and I imagined how much they’d be spending time with their family and friends in such a space and I envied them.

I really like the room architecturally as it isn’t purely a dedicated theater room, yet is a far cry from an integrated family room with a kitchen to one side and a big view of the yard out the other side. It has a great bar area to get a drink or snack while watching, and an area to stretch your legs. In fact I think I’ll head over to the bar now.

Cinepro and Custom Home Theater

I didn’t let the good-looks of the room fool me though as this room was built for full-throttle audio and video performance! I’d expect nothing less from a theater designer who installs Cinepro gear.
Bob’s effort along with Gus and Michael’s superb equipment delivered a unique, “this is what it’s all about” kind of experience.