We have been a home cinema installer for more than two decades and we have relished every project. In this article, we look at a small dedicated home cinema that we created for a lovely family in Surrey.
For a home cinema, the colour grey provides a calming, sophisticated and un-distracting backdrop. It is an achromatic colour, which means it is a colour without colour, since it can be formulated from back and white.
Home Cinema Installer
We undertook this home cinema installation as part of a larger remodelling project. In a wide-ranging project, the owner extensively updated the whole of this stunning 1960’s grange house. In fact, the client commissioned us to provide all of the smart home technology, which included:
- Lutron lighting control system
- Crestron home control system (for lighting, underfloor heating, air conditioning, audio and visual systems etc)
- Crestron Audio Distribution
- Bowers and Wilkins Loudspeakers
- Crestron Digital Media Video Distribution
- Cisco Wired and Wireless Network
- BPT gate entry
- Media Rooms
- Lutron Sivoia Blinds
As we are a renowned home cinema installer (have a look at our awards here), our client also asked us to install a dedicated cinema.
The Video – Projector and Screen
The room was to be used exclusively as a home cinema, so we installed a Stewart fixed-frame, acoustically transparent screen. When a room has a dual purpose, it is often prudent to have a motorised screen that can be hidden away when not in use, but, in this instance, it would not be necessary to be so discreet. Indeed, this space was meant to be, unashamedly, a place to enjoy the big screen!
The screen was acoustically transparent, which meant that we could install the front loudspeakers behind it. This gave a clean aesthetic to the room. It also ensured that the dialogue and sound from the front array were closely associated with the image.
We installed a JVC 4K ultra high definition projector, with a brightness of 1,800 lm and a dynamic contrast ratio of 400,000:1. The projector was, in fact, located outside of the cinema room, installed behind specialist glass. This accordingly ensured that there was no fan noise within the cinema room. It also allowed us to carefully provide the right environment for the projector, in terms of temperature and humidity.
The video image is crisp and bright, which makes viewing a real pleasure. In fact, the family tell us that they have used the room for relaxed family movie nights, children’s Frozen parties and for watching football matches with friends.
The Audio – Loudspeakers
The loudspeakers were from Bowers & Wilkins; we used in-wall and in-ceiling speakers and an in-room subwoofer. Specifically, the height channels were Bowers And Wilkins CCM7.5s and the front and rear listening level speakers were Bowers and Wilkins CWM7.5.
These Bowers & Wilkins in-wall loudspeakers are constructed from an integrated backbox and a formed baffle, which is made from glass-reinforced ABS. They also have a Continuum cone driver and a Carbon Dome tweeter, coupled to a forward-firing FlowportTM. This consequently gives an outstanding bass response, from a relatively small footprint.
Finally, we used acoustic fabric (more on this below) to cover the in-wall loudspeakers, which gave a lovely clean and clutter-free look to the walls.
We often say that we want to create a cinema that gives the user an emotional experience. Specifically, we want the movie to completely immerse the user; so that they feel a connection to whatever they are watching. Having well-designed and well-calibrated audio is critical to this.
The Room – Acoustic Treatment
We are sticklers for getting the room right. This is because performance from the audio components is likely to be compromised if the audio characteristics of the room are not addressed. Conversely, by analysing the audio characteristics and treating the room well, the investment made in the audio components is realised.
We have an article explaining acoustic room treatments here.
In this room, we used a range of acoustic treatments, including BAD panels and absorbers, to provide predictable audio responses. The BAD panels provide an excellent balance of sound absorption whilst preserving the ambience of the room. They eliminate high-frequency absorption and significantly improve mid and low-frequency absorption. The selected absorber panels consist of a high-performance acoustical core, wrapped in an acoustical fabric.
By designing the room well from the outset and analysing, predicting and treating the acoustical issues, we were able to provide a comfortable room, with an RT time of 0.5s.
Finally, we installed stretched fabric throughout the room. This also gave a sleek and classy aesthetic to the cinema, with calming grey fabric to provide the very best viewing environment.
More Details – Installation and Environment
For a real cinematic experience, we housed the equipment, out of sight, beyond the cinema room. The projector was actually housed in a purpose-built enclosure, separated from the room by specialist glass.
The remodelling project on the house had included a full Lutron lighting control system and a Crestron home control system. Thus, we added touchpanel (or smart device) control to the system. This allowed the user to create a perfectly comfortable environment for their particular preference. The touchpanels also controlled the lighting, heating, blinds and air conditioning within the room.
Additionally, the cinema room was served by the house-wide wireless data network. As a result, users could operate their connected devices without interruption whilst in the room. We also provided a guest network, so that visitors could connect to a segregated part of the network, without compromising the security of the wider network.
To provide an unrivalled user experience, we used a Kaleidescape movie player. This allowed the homeowner to access his prized curated movie collection throughout the property. This was particularly important, of course, in the cinema.
Lastly, we installed Lutron Sivoia blinds. (We had also used these motorised blinds throughout the property.) They certainly were a natural addition to the cinema room. They are exceedingly quiet in operation and the client was able to select from a large range of fabrics to match the aesthetic of the room. At the press of a button, the client is able to close the blinds to create an atmosphere perfect for watching his favourite film.
Our principal engineer, Guy Singleton, says:
At Imagine This we truly believe that the devil is in the detail. It’s all about those marginal incremental gains. The sum of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
This isn’t a press of an “auto-calibration” button and we’re done. This is a deeper understanding of what’s required for the overall experience to be the very best it can be.
Do we like auto room calibration? I think it has its place.
But when you can create an environment that is as near to perfect as you can. Balancing those compromises intelligently. It’s that which makes the difference in the customers eyes.
In-depth EQ using the correct filters and delay settings will make a good system great. Looking at bass response and MSV to ensure good seat-to-seat uniformity. Matching the tonal characteristics of each loudspeaker to ensure the system “pulls together” in a cohesive way.
It takes skill, time and experience.GUY SINGLETON
This project bought us great professional satisfaction, as the client himself was such a delight to work with. He was very enthusiastic about the cinema, seeing it as the jewel in the crown of his home! It is also very rewarding for us to know that so many of his family and friends have enjoyed using the room. From parties to sporting events, the room has been the setting for many family experiences.
Technically, this cinema was a great success and the performance is stunning. With such a beautiful image and immersive sound, it possibly even surpassed our expectations. The home automation elements also added convenient and comprehensive control, which made the room extremely pleasant to use.
For further reading, please see another immersive home cinema installer project or perhaps a multi-use media room project. Alternatively, here is an amazing screening room that we built for a Hollywood director. Or for something technical, how about an article on bass?