How do you ensure that you are working with the right expert to get the best home cinema install? In this article, we look at the points you should consider to ensure that your home cinema install is the very best you can get, whatever your budget.
A quick google search will tell you that there are lots of companies who can install a home cinema for you. Whatever your budget, there are many options for installers and, in this article, we explore the main considerations when selecting one.
In this article, we look at:
Skills Needed to Create the Best Home Cinema Install
To obtain the best home cinema install, your professional should be able to demonstrate skills in these key areas:
- General Skills
Organisations such as THX and HAA provide comprehensive training and certification programs. These are globally recognised and demonstrate that the company has a serious approach to acquiring a high skill set.
Imagine This has the following audio accreditations:
- THX Home Theatre Technician
- HAA (Home Acoustic Alliance) Level I
- HAA (Home Acoustic Alliance) Level II
CEDIA also provides extremely high-quality Home Cinema training programs. Our principal designer, Guy Singleton, is an instructor for CEDIA, delivering Home Cinema training to other companies in our sector.
In video terms, THX and ISF are the gold standard. Accreditation by THX and ISF demonstrates that the home cinema installer has been trained to the very best standard and achieved the relative status of an approved installer.
Imagine This has the following video skills:
- THX Video Calibrator Level I
- THX Video Calibrator Level II
- ISF Video Calibrator Level I
- ISF Video Calibrator Level II
Our MD and principal designer, Guy Singleton, is a Certified ISF Instructor for the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa).
One of the most important elements of home cinema install is calibration. Your investment in the products for your home cinema system may not be realised if the system is not correctly calibrated. In fact, careful calibration will bring out the very best in performance, giving you a stunning audio and visual experience.
ISF, THX and HAA go into great depth about the requirements for correct home cinema calibration. Indeed, if your expert can demonstrate qualifications from these organisations, they will appreciate the need for meticulous calibration and will be able to deliver a correctly calibrated system.
To perform a good calibration, your professional will require a specialist set of tools and should be able to explain what they are using to achieve the best results.
Depending on how turnkey the work is to be, there are some general skills that may be useful to consider. If the installer will be working on the power, for example, they should be approved by an organisation such as the NICEIC, which ensures that their competency is checked. If they will be providing or integrating with an existing data network, they should be skilled to do so. It would therefore be very worthwhile to explore these at an early stage, to satisfy yourself that they have the skills to work in these associated areas.
Experience is Everything
Competence is usually demonstrated by skills and experience. Once you are satisfied that your home cinema installer has the skills needed, your next consideration should be their experience.
Not only should the expert have ideally spent many years delivering home cinemas, but they should also have experience in a range of types of installs.
For example, they should have the experience of installing in large and small rooms, rectangular rooms and more awkward irregular shaped rooms. They should have installed dedicated cinemas and multi-use high-performance media spaces (for example living rooms). You should also consider their experience in installing in newbuilds and retro-fitting in older properties.
Further important considerations may relate to the type of install you are looking for. For example, you should satisfy yourself that your installer is skilled and experienced in other areas, such as electrical installation, room construction, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) etc.
Finally, home cinema install isn’t just about selling screens and speakers. Your expert should be able to provide you with an environment that is suitable and comfortable. They should give you a means of controlling the cinema which is simple and intuitive to use (for example a control system and remote).
Imagine This has over two decades of install experience and we think we have covered most eventualities. We have provided budget solutions for modest rooms and we have provided award-winning screening rooms for A-list, film industry heavyweights. Our team have worked in new-builds, Grade I listed buildings and have even installed cinemas on yachts. We take care of everything, from the design through to the handover. We build the walls and we calibrate the video. Imagine This know home cinema inside-out, its in our DNA!
To ensure that your professional is regulated, you should check that they are registered with a governing body. The obvious one to look for is CEDIA, but they may also be regulated by NICEIC, CAI etc.
Being a member of a trade organisation usually shows that the company has been assessed by a third party. They will have been able to demonstrate their professional competency, financial stability and their insurance status to achieve membership.
Reputation for Best Home Cinema Install
An invaluable source of information would be client reviews and testimonials. What better arbiter of an installer’s ability than a client? Your installer should be able to provide evidence of their previous work and client reviews to support them. Third-party review platforms, such as Trustpilot, may provide a valuable reference.
“I engaged Guy Singleton and the team at Imagine This to design and build a cinema room for me in the UK. The team there took my brief and extremely high technical standards and delivered a superb room, which not only looks and feels amazing, but performs at the highest technical level. They were dependable, reliable and efficient and their professional approach ensured the project was a success. We have since also asked them to help with a number of other smaller projects that have also shown how flexible Imagine This can be.”Sir Peter Jackson
A further source of information may be manufacturer endorsements, although you may need to consider what this infers. Some manufacturers work closely with home cinema installers, because they are new to the market or inexperienced with the particular product or system. Whilst this means that the installer has (and may need) a good deal of upstream support, it often also means that the installer is tied to a particular brand or set of products. The outcome could be that a product that is less than suitable is “jemmied” into a design, to satisfy the manufacturer, rather than because it is the right product for the job.
Imagine This is completely brand agnostic – we will always select the right product for the design.
Another important marker of the credentials of an install company is its portfolio of awards.
Each year, industry bodies such as CEDIA and many various manufacturers run awards programs for installers. Obviously, an award win demonstrates that the company is operating at the very highest level.
Our cinema awards include:
- 2013 – Winner CEDIA “Best Home Theatre Over £100,000″
- 2012 – Finalist CEDIA “Best Media Room Under £15,000″
- 2011 – Finalist CEDIA “Best Media Room Over £15,000”
- 2011 – Highly Commended CEDIA “Best Home Theatre £40,000 – £100,000″
- 2010 – Finalist CEDIA “Best Home Theatre Over £100,000”
- 2010 – Winner Home Cinema Choice “Installer of the Year”
- 2009 – Winner Crestron Integration Awards “Best Home Theatre”
In recent years, our MD Guy Singleton has been part of the CEDIA awards judging panel, and so we have not entered our projects into the awards program. Guy actually spends many hours each year volunteering within the industry, to raise standards and provide education for our peers.
In fact, in 2016 Guy was given a CEDIA Special Recognition award for his dedication to the industry and, in 2017, he was awarded CEDIA Global Volunteer of the Year!
To ensure that you get the very best home cinema install, we recommend making careful enquiries into the areas outlined above. This will give you a good insight into the suitability of the installer and stand you in good stead to make a selection.
For further reading, here is a modern style home cinema install, this is an article showing a themed room and here is an opulent screening room. For something technical, here is an article about noise floor. For something completely different, here is Guy’s article about content driving the need for Home Studio spaces.