Cinema in style

A demand for more traditional aesthetics

Last issue we reported on a growing trend within high-end home installations towards modern designs and multi-functional rooms, yet this top-spec theatre shows there’s still a demand for more traditional aesthetics and that real home cinema feel.

And with Dolby Atmos audio and Ultra HD visuals from numerous sources, this picture palace is state-of-the-art, too.

The project was undertaken by UK company Cyberhomes, and was part of a whole-house AV, automation and control installation. The owner wanted a home cinema that reminded him of the vintage movie house he used to go to as a child; he also wanted the room to double as a ‘theatre’ so that his own children could put on shows.


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Return to render

The install firm began by producing mood boards and concept visuals to work out the desired overall look and feel of the cinema room.

This was followed by a 3D rendered animation, meaning the owner could see exactly how the room would appear—and give his approval—before any construction began.

As is often the case, the brief was for the biggest screen possible. Cyberhomes accepted the challenge, specifying a 130 in model from Screen Research, with a 2.35:1 ‘Scope aspect ratio. Acoustically transparent, it enabled the LCR soundstage of loudspeakers to be mounted behind in the optimum position.

Automated masking means the system is flexible when it comes to presenting content in different ratios. Playing a part here is a Panamorph anamorphic lens that works in tandem with the cinema’s projector, a 4K-resolution Sony VPL-VW1100ES. This is housed at the back of the room in a custom-built bulkhead behind a projector glass mounted at an angle specified by THX. To ensure the IR sync signal for the 3D glasses was ‘visible’ at all the seating positions, an additional IR sender was mounted behind the glass.

The room features a 7.2.4 speaker system, with all models coming from US marque Triad. The dual woofers are InRoom Gold Sub models, using 15in long-throw drivers. InRoom Silver enclosures handle front, left and centre channels; the surround and height channels are delivered via the brand’s InWall Mini/4s. A combination of amplification and processing from Procella Audio and Integra drives the system.


Acoustic adventures

In order to fine-tune the Atmos soundfield, acoustic treatments were introduced.

The cinema is in a basement location, giving the installers an initial concrete shell to work with. Plasterboard was installed onto the walls, isolated from the concrete, with the space between filled with mineral wool. A stud frame was added on top of this to house the speakers and acoustic treatments. For the latter, audio specialist RPG Europe supplied a ‘Behind the Scenes’ system, comprised of 100 mm panels to deliver bass control, mid-range absorption and high-frequency diffusion. This, explains Cyberhomes, provided ‘a balanced and controlled room—rather than just high-frequency absorption which can leave a room feeling too dry, muddy and boomy.’

To keep the room as sleek as possible, a hung ceiling frame was employed (also acoustically fettled), above which cabling could be run. And the two stud walls that flank the entrance and form the alcoves for a bar area and the twin AV racks were filled with concrete to isolate. Doors out of the entrance also use acoustic seals for improved sound isolation.

For the front aspect, a full baffle wall was constructed, again using mineral wool in the cavities, with triple layers of plasterboard separated by green glue. All the room’s speakers are housed in bespoke boxes made from double-lined MDF and plywood. Acoustically transparent fabrics ensure that none of the speakers or the acoustic panels are visible.

With a 4K projector in situ, it’s no surprise to see 4K video sources in the kit rack, with a Kaleidescape Strato 4K the most premium option. This new addition to the media server specialist’s range debuted at CEDIA in September, and supports 4K/60p content with Dolby Atmos soundtracks.

Currently, there are over 100 4K titles available for download from Kaleidescape’s movie store, thanks to distribution deals with studios such as Warner Bros. The player is also ready for HDR content, should the owner choose to upgrade his projector in the future. As well as the Kaleidescape Strato, the cinema room can be fed Blu-rays from an Integra deck, and stream from Amazon, Apple, Sony and Roku media players, including 4K from both Netflix and Amazon Video. Also in the video chain is a new-for-2016 Lumagen Radiance 4K Pro scaler, providing an additional level of image processing. This was calibrated by an ISF-certified boffin to deliver  the optimum picture quality and colour accuracy with each of the video sources. All content is scaled to 4K resolution by the Lumagen (if they are not natively 4K) before being sent on to the Sony projector.


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Scarlet fever

Away from the droolworthy hardware, the interior design of this cinema also catches the eye.

It’s the kind of room that aims to look good even before anything is switched on. Cue up a flick or stream a TV show and the motorised front curtains–in traditional movie-theatre red–open to reveal the screen, using a suitably heavy material to give them a pleasing sway as they draw apart. And there are more curtains at the rear of the room, employed to limit any light reflections and reduce bass pressure peaks at the bar area. These automatically close when a film is playing and open again if the movie is paused or stopped.

Lighting is managed by a Lutron control system. This allows different scenes for the different uses of the room: entertaining, movie mode, live theatre, etc. Nor does the theatre descend into complete darkness when it’s film night–low-level lighting remains to make the steps visible and provide a degree of bias illumination for improved picture quality. The whole cinema is controlled via a Savant system, which also manages the AV, lighting, security and heating in the rest of the property.

A wall-mounted iPad outside the door allows pre-selection of the use of the room (cinema and source, theatre, etc) prior to popping in. The Savant interface is also accessible from the homeowners’ own smartphones. Feeling chilly during a screening of Everest? Just nudge up the heating from the comfort of the vintage-style cinema chairs.

This project has been shortlisted for a CEDIA Award in the heavyweight Best Home Cinema over £100,000 category. Whether or not it scoops a top prize will be revealed in July, but it’s obvious that the owner already feels like he’s a winner, saying that he believes it offers a performance that it is ‘superior’ to a typical cinema experience.

Cyberhomes built our home cinema to the most advanced possible specification—the Ultra HD and 3D sound combination is truly spectacular!‘ commented the homeowner.


Kit Checklist

  • SCREEN RESEARCH: 130in, 2.35:1 acoustically transparent projector screen with automated masking
  • SONY: VPL-VW1100ES 4K projector
  • PANAMORPH: FDC1SYS anamorphic lens
  • SONY: FMP-X5 4K media player
  • TRIAD: 8 x InWall Mini/4 LCR speakers; 3 x InRoom Silver LCR speakers; 2 x InRoom Gold Sub subwoofers; 2 x RackAmp 600 amplifiers
  • PROCELLA AUDIO: 2 x DA-05 DSP power amplifiers
  • INTEGRA: DHC-80.6 AV processor/amplifier; DTA-70.1 power amplifier; DBS-30.3 Blu-ray player
  • KALEIDESCAPE: Strato 4K Ultra HD movie server
  • LUMAGEN: Radiance 4K Pro 4242 scaler
  • AMAZON: Fire TV 4K media player
  • APPLE: Apple TV
  • ROKU: Roku 4 4K media player
  • SAVANT: Integrated control system
  • LUTRON: Homeworks QS P6 lighting control
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