The Man-Cave 1

Semantics, Evolution, and Possibilities

The term man-cave conjures images of men feasting on assorted meat products (napkins optional) and shouting at television screens. All, while they watch gladiatorial-esque sporting events in the cozy confines of a basement, decked out with carefully curated collections of sports memorabilia and shrines dedicated to the round-housing glory of Chuck Norris. As today’s homeowners strive to maximize usable space and enjoyment of their homes, it is common to see a basement dedicated to audio/visual media. Combine this with the rapid advancement of technology that has made quality audio/visual equipment both available and affordable to the masses and we find ourselves in the midst of a man-cave renaissance. That said, setting up a space for optimal sonic and visual performance can be tricky – factors like speaker design, placement and size, screen size and type all need to be taken into account in order to achieve optimal performance. As such, it pays dividends to consult with an expert. Bill Soderholm, President of StereoLand, has been Eden Prairie’s expert on audio/visual equipment and installation for over 50 years. Bill and the StereoLand staff specialize in fitting audio and visual systems to customers’ home environments – ensuring a consistently great experience for homeowners and their families. Recently, Bill was very kind to sit down with me to discuss the evolution of the man-cave, the shifting technological needs of today’s homeowner, and also offered some helpful tips on how to maximize the entertainment potential of one’s home.

Indeed, there are many basements that conform to the aforementioned example – that are designed with the intent of providing the ideal sports-viewing experience. However, homeowners are increasingly carving out spaces in their homes to meet their and their families’ entertainment needs which are not necessarily confined to the basement (e.g., spare bedroom or office space). Consequently, the man-cave has become much more inclusive and the term “man-cave” is being swapped out for terms like “home theatre,” “media room,” “gaming center,” or “my awesome basement where I hang out with my family.” For some folks, 
this might be a room designed to provide a movie theatre experience, complete with a drop-down projection screen and carefully tuned surround sound. For others, music might be a priority. Others still might be seeking a happy medium between sports, movies, and music. Regardless of the term that is applied, location, size, or specific purpose of the room, quality audio and visual equipment is a critical component in maximizing one’s enjoyment of the space and consulting with a professional is key.

As mentioned previously, Bill and the people at StereoLand have been in business for over 50 years and has been doing custom installations for over 35 years. As Bill walked me through the process of man-cave design, one thing became abundantly clear – exceptional customer service and expertise can make a potentially intimidating task into an exciting, easy, and budget-friendly process.

Planning Is Key

One of the most impressive aspects of Bill’s business model that struck me was the collaborative approach that he and the StereoLand staff use to meet their clients’ needs. At several points throughout the interview, Bill highlighted that the single most important step in installing an optimal man-cave, media room, or home theatre is planning. In order to do this, Bill related he likes to sit down with clients to get a thorough assessment of their entertainment goals and budget. For example, the needs of a client who is primarily interested in creating a theatre-like experience for watching movies in their basement are going to be very different from those of a client who desires to use their space for watching sports. According to Bill, these differences not only affect the type of equipment a client will purchase, but will also impact where screens and speakers will be placed in a room. Once this information has been gathered, Bill then works with the client to design an audio/visual setup that is custom-tailored to the physical space of their home, which oftentimes involves consulting building plans or onsite visits.

Size Does Not Matter

As a real estate agent, I have found that many believe that they need a 5000+ square foot house with a sprawling basement to accommodate a proper man-cave. On the contrary, Bill related that some of his favorite projects that he has worked on have been in “really small rooms.” As mentioned earlier, Bill bases his home entertainment designs on the physical space available in a given home. By taking into account variables such as screen size and distance, speaker size and placement, and room acoustics, a high-quality audio/visual experience is just as attainable in a small office or bedroom space as it is in a giant home movie theatre.

What About the Price?

The omnipresent budget. Just as when buying a home or remodeling a kitchen, budget is a critical factor to consider when outfitting one’s entertainment grotto with audio and visual equipment. The rapid advancement of audio/visual technology in recent years and fiercely competitive retail market, however, continues to benefit the consumer. Bill echoed this point asserting that home theatre and audio equipment has never been more affordable. During this discussion, Bill further related that he and the StereoLand staff endeavor to provide their clients the best audio/visual experience that fits within their budget – whether that budget is $2,000 or $50,000.

One Remote to Rule Them All

One of the unfortunate side-effects of the technological age is remotes – there are lots of them, we forget which one does what, they get lost, etc. I was almost giddy with excitement as Bill explained that with professional installation, consumers can have one remote to rule them all! To illustrate this point, Bill first used the example of a sports-centric audio/visual setup with multiple TV screens that allows for simultaneous viewing of multiple sporting events or programs. He noted that typically, people with this type of installation want to be able to toggle between screens (e.g., put the most important game at that moment on the biggest screen) or volume (e.g., be able to switch between which TV has volume). After laying out this scenario, Bill stated that all of these functions could be controlled by a single remote. He similarly discussed how a customer could have a similar level of control in a home theatre system, whereby he or she could dim the lights in the room, lower a drop-down screen, select the ideal pre-set surround sound setting, and start the movie by pressing a couple buttons on a single remote.

Closing Thoughts

Call it what you will, but a man-cave, home theatre, or media room can dramatically improve the enjoyment of anyone’s home (especially during those bitterly cold winter months). Consulting with an audio/visual expert can not only help homeowners to realize the potential of the space in their home, but also make the process easy, fun, and on budget. For further information on how to get the most out of your home entertainment system, contact Bill (phone: 952-829-9700; email: bills@stereoland.com).