How and Why To Build a Hush Box For Your Projector
By Jerry Del Colliano
As long as video projectors have been in high-performance A/V systems, fan noise has been an unwanted byproduct. In my early 20s, while working at Cello Music and Film Los Angeles, Mark Levinson and the Cello design team rigged a way to change the fan of the Cello (rebadged Ampro) eight- and nine-inch CRT projectors that we sold. While this ultimately became a service problem for Cello dealers, the reduced fan noise on the projectors was warmly received by our well-heeled client base.
Today, nearly 10 years after my days of designing and selling systems at Cello, digital projectors are fast becoming the king of the home video hill. While ultra-expensive CRT projectors still produce the absolute best video image, their cost, size, weight, need for service and pathetic resale values make the brighter, smaller and less expensive digital projectors far more desirable for all but the most extreme videophiles. One of the biggest advantages of digital projectors is their impressive brightness output, but that performance advantage comes at a price, and that price is heat.
Almost every digital projector makes enough heat to require an internal cooling fan, and that fan cannot be shut off without risking the inside of your projector going Chernobyl. Adding to the complications is the throw distance of many D-ILA and DLP projectors, which often forces projector locations closer to your seating position than you would like.
The solution to many of these new problems is a hush box, which in most cases consists of nicely designed cabinetry that goes around your projector with the goal of muffling some of its noise and keeping it running cool. The concept is simple, but the application isnt always as easy as you might think. There are after-market companies that sell hush boxes, but they tend to be generic in design and large in size. I have yet to find a video company that makes a well-designed hush box specifically created to encompass a unique projector model. If you owned such a projector, buying a hush box from the manufacturer would be a no-brainer.
In designing my latest reference home theater and music playback system, I made a dramatic design change three-quarters of the way through a full renovation of my new house. I decided to move the orientation of the room from the short wall to the long wall. The good news was that my gigantic equipment rack could stay where it was and my seating position would be further from the screen (making the digital video look more filmlike). The bad news was that my projector and screen needed to be moved. Not only did I have to punch holes in brand-new drywall to run a beefy Transparent Reference RGB cable through my ceiling, I also had to custom design new solutions for my Madrigal Imaging D-ILA projector and Stewart Filmscreen 100-inch 4:3 screen. The front wall of my theater is floor-to-ceiling A/V software storage, so I opted to have my cabinet-maker build a soffet for me that extended an additional eight inches beyond the software shelves. From there, a hatch was made on the side of the screen soffet that allowed access to the screen for adjustments and possible service.