A Meridian Cinema that delivers high performance audio on a modest budget was delivered for this previously unloved box-room.
With the support of Meridian Audio, BrownHen Solutions transformed a small unused box room in a family home into a powerful cinema room that is used to enjoy movies, music concerts, sporting events, and TV.
A husband-and-wife duo had purchased this five-bedroom property near the atmospheric town of Glastonbury in Somerset, England. At one end of the house is an average sized 4.3m x 3.7m room, in which the previous owners had installed a pull-down screen, speakers in the corner, and beanbags and had used it as a home cinema.
The new owners liked the idea of having a cinema space, as they regularly invite people over to watch films and sporting events, but they wanted a more advanced set-up. They immediately knew that they wanted the space to allow for 10 people, but they were not sure of any other aspects or what could be achieved. With this in mind, they approached BrownHen Solutions to present ideas on how this unused room could be transformed into a 10-seater cinema room.
BrownHen Solutions invited the client to visit their demo facility to discuss the brief, explore what was possible, and experience various options. The integrator presented a proposal with three different price points. During the meeting, the team demonstrated various speakers, lighting, blinds, acoustic panels and control.
Having explained that the audio is one of the most important elements in creating an immersive home cinema experience, the client selected Meridian DSP speakers as they recognised their superlative sound quality.
With Meridian surround sound selected, other aspects of the cinema room were proposed. With the challenge of fitting 10 seats into a room of this size, BrownHen Solutions worked on several iterations of design and utilised the Meridian Design and Specification Service to finalise the design. Detailed CAD drawings were produced by the integrator to enable the carpenters to construct the seating platform, false front wall, and the coffer ceiling prior to first fix and subsequent install stages by BrownHen Solutions.
Getting the work done
Work began in June 2019, with the aim of completion in time for the 2019 World Cup Rugby finals.
The size of the room also presented BrownHen Solutions with a challenge for acoustic treatment as the team were not able to reduce the size of the room any further with bulky treatments.
However, the client appreciated the importance of good acoustic treatment and after much deliberation and advice, the integrator came up with a solution that was approved by the client.
Sound insulation was installed in the front wall and within the seating platform to increase acoustic mass. Having used the Meridian Design and Specification Service, BrownHen Solutions identified Complete Acoustic Treatment System as a good acoustic option for the ceiling and a mix of diffusion and absorption panels were covered by stretched fabric. For the side walls, rather than hiding the acoustic treatment, the integrator chose to make it a part of the aesthetic design statement and used Artnovion to create a striking yet functional interior. An automated blackout blind was added to the window, which also provided slight absorption.
With the client wanting artwork on the back wall to give the impression of a larger room with more seating, no insulation could be added to the rear of the room. Acoustic measurements were taken at each step of the way to ensure the right RT measurements were being hit.
“The Meridian Design and Specification Service provided us with ideas for what treatment we needed and ultimately, helped shape our decisions,” comments Jools Browning, Director, BrownHen Solutions. “We found it incredibly useful on this project as the acoustics were vital in ensuring we would provide a great sounding space within this small room.”
The room set up
The room features a 5.1 audio solution, which includes three Meridian DSP520 in-wall loudspeakers for the LCR channels. The DSP520 in-wall loudspeakers inherits the latest technologies from Meridian’s
Meridian’s floor-standing loudspeakers including Enhanced Bass Alignment and Centre Elevation, providing lifelike and spacious sound. These powerful, full range in-wall solutions require only a 100mm mounting depth and produce wide sound dispersion over the listening area. Enough space was left around these speakers in case the client decides to upgrade to the Meridian DSP640.2.
Third-party rear and subwoofer channels were installed, with the design offering the ability to update these to the Meridian DSP speakers in the future. BrownHen Solutions used the DSP capabilities of the Meridian Room Correction and Centre Elevation to enhance the audio performance even further and provide a precise listening experience.
“We used Meridian Room Correction to calibrate the room — making a good space sound great,” adds Jools. “Before doing so, the client had come in for a demo. Once we had calibrated it, they came back in and after playing them a clip, they asked us what we had done to the room and expressed that it sounds like a completely different system — there was a massive improvement in the subtleties and level of immersion.
“The Centre Elevation feature in the speakers also proved beneficial in this project. Due to the distance between the seats and screen, it was not possible to have a centre speaker behind an acoustically transparent screen. With Meridian’s Centre Elevation feature, we could place the speaker below the screen and have its sound image match perfectly with the on-screen action, creating an immersive movie experience.”
A Meridian Audio UHD722 HDMI Processor and G65 Surround Controller are also part of the solution. The UHD722 HDMI Processor links all HDMI sources with the Meridian systems in the space. It can coordinate up to seven sources and has the capacity to split the HDMI DataStream from a selected source into separate audio and video signals, giving the homeowner the option to choose for a video signal to be sent to one or two display devices, whilst the audio is directed out of the unit itself.
The G65 Surround Controller integrates Meridian Room Correction, high resolution up-sampling and other Meridian technologies.
“In my view, the choice of Meridian massively contributes to the quality and immersive experience,” continues Jools. “The project demonstrates that you can achieve great things with Meridian, even with a relatively modest budget.”
The system also includes a Sony VPL-HW270ES 4K projector and a Projecta HD Progressive 0.9 4K screen. Control4 was selected as the as the control solution for this project. Four lighting circuits were installed with light fittings from Orluna and Collingwood.
The RGB strips that are hidden behind the seats were used to good effect during the Rugby World Cup where the team’s country colours illuminated the room before their various matches. Ten Premium Opus Glide seats from Ferco fit nicely into the room and allow all users to sit back and enjoy the cinematic experience, without any significant compromise to viewing angles and listening positions.
Once the room was completed, the client said: “Wow! Our new cinema room is utterly fabulous. I must confess, I was wary of the idea of squeezing a proper cinema concept into a relatively small space. I thought the visuals could be overwhelming and the acoustics virtually impossible. The design you adopted, and the equipment specified is sheer genius. The experience is totally immersive, and I love the fact that we can hear the subtleties of speech, as well as the jaw-dropping, through-body bass when needed.
“One of the big surprises for me is how much music we are listening to — the Hi-Fi reproduction is superb. I thought the room was going to be an over-the-top luxury, used on relatively few ‘movie night’ occasions, but I am happy to say that you were right in your prediction that we would use it a lot more than expected. It is our go-to for not just movies, but boxsets, music concerts and even regular scheduled TV. It is indeed a luxury, but rapidly becoming an everyday one! Many thanks for engineering — it is an absolutely fabulous bonus addition to our new home.”
Essential Kit List
Sony VPL-HW270ES 4K projector
Projecta HD Progressive 0.9 4K screen
3 x Meridian DSP520s
Meridian UHD722 HDMI Processor
G65 Surround Controller
Orluna light fittings
Collingwood light fittings
Ferco cinema seating
Complete Acoustic Treatment System