We pay a visit to an affordable cinema room that was almost an afterthought
The owner of this smart-looking media room didn't originally set out to own it. He'd actually called upon custom install outfit The Big Picture to establish home automation electronics throughout his house, with the idea of constructing an additional space for a dedicated cinema. But when this proved untenable, The Big Picture suggested turning the family snug into a movie palace. 'Being open to ideas, I challenged them to impress me,' he tells us.
This wasn't to be a carte blanche to deck the room with cost-no-object hardware, however. The space was refitted and the kit specified to a clear – and eminently affordable – budget. In fact, the cost of the whole makeover, including hardware, came in at under £15,000.
Other criteria included the inclusion of the family's consoles, that the setup was simplistic to use and, most importantly, that it was a discreet solution – albeit one tied into the dramatic black-and-white colour scheme that had already been chosen.
To meet those discreet needs, Midlands-based The Big Picture specified a drop-down projector screen, in-wall speakers and bespoke cabinets, thus keeping the cinema-specific gadgetry out of sight.
The screen is an 80in model from Screen Excellence, employing acoustically transparent fabric to allow the centre channel speaker to beaver away behind. The speakers are from the US brand Leon, driven by a five-channel Rotel amplifier – once the owner had been impressed by a demo – with Profile 505s used for the L/C/R soundstage, and housed in custom blocks. These are then hidden via specially designed cloth grilles made to match the striped décor. As you can see from the picture below, the finish is nearly invisible.
Firing at the screen is an ISF-calibrated Panasonic projector, mounted to a bulkhead at the rear of the room, flanked by the Leon Vault 114 in-ceiling surround speakers.
All the electronics are buried away in a cabinet at the front of the room, which uses Middle Atlantic racks and snug face plates for a smart finish. An Oppo Blu-ray player handles movies, with an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii adding bigscreen gaming fun. The owner's Linn DS is also housed here for music playback.
Despite the modest budget, the room still features acoustic treatments, Smart lighting and integrated control. The former includes heavy blinds on the left wall and a framed rock-wool absorber opposite to tackle reflections. A Control4 system, meanwhile, oversees the lighting array, automated screen and AV electronics, either by a regular handset or iPad. A mounted LCD touchpanel just inside the door is also programmed with common lighting scenes, and a three-second push will turn everything off including the electronics as the owner leaves the room. Another button turns on the hall light so he doesn’t end up flailing around in the dark.
The owner is understandably impressed with the end result. 'To suggest they succeeded would be a huge understatement. The situation is perfect – snug by day, entertainment hub come the weekends.
'The picture is stunning but what really blows us away is the sound, while the fully integrated game stations in custom rack-mounts just finish the effect amazingly, and our four- and six-year-olds have no trouble using any part of the equipment. Everybody loves it. The only problem I have is that I can never get in there myself...'
Panasonic: PT-AE4000 projector
Rotel: RSX1550 five-channel AV receiver
Screen excellence: 80in automated acoustically-transparent projector screen
LEON: 3 x Profile 505 in-wall speakers; 2 x Vault 114 in-ceiling speakers
Velodyne: 2 x CHT-12Q subwoofers
Oppo: BDP-93EU Blu-ray player
Control4: HC200 system controller; SR250 remote control
Linn: DS network audio player
Sony: PlayStation 3
Microsoft: Xbox 360
Price: £13,000 Approx
Installer: The Big Picture
Another brick in the wall
Heat from the AV equipment dissipates into a brick and tiled void on the outside of the property.
The owner had heard a demo of the Leon speakers and Rotel amplification, and requested the same for his room makeover.
Taking it easy
Operating the system is done via an iPad with Control4 interface – pre-programmed one-button presses take care of all the room's main functions.
Loads of LFE
The speaker system uses two Velodyne CHT-12Q subwoofers, housed in the custom-built front stage cabinet. These pack 12in drivers and 225W amplifiers, and plumb the depths down to 25Hz.
Rack 'em up
Source equipment – including an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 console – is hidden out of sight in the low-slung rack. Custom rack mounts ensure a neat look, and the top of the cabinet is layered with a cloth-covered foam to soak up speaker reflections.
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