High Performance Home Cinema: The Heart Of A Home

Meridian in-wall DSP750 Barco Balder projector Meridian DSW600 sub-woofers Meridian DSP640s Arcam AV40

Luke Newland owner of Newland Solutions gives EI the tour of this high-performance cinema that helps form the beating heart of a luxurious family home.

Luke explains, “Our client was made aware of our work through a personal recommendation. We’d installed a whole-house smart system for a friend of theirs, including a bespoke home cinema. They sought us out in the preliminary stages of their new build. This meant we had access to the cinema room from the very outset, when the building was just a concrete frame: this kind of early access is always exciting. The practical freedom it brings to the design and installation processes is nearly always a sign of promising things to come.”

Luke continues, “As the project had come through a recommendation, we didn’t find ourselves in competition with any other suppliers. We had been contracted to install the lighting and heating control systems throughout the building, so during the early site visits we were able to field our client’s many questions about home cinema installation. After showing him the demo cinema at Meridian Audio, he quickly became enthralled with the concept, and from there we were ready to get the design process underway.”

So, what was the original brief and did this change over time? Luke explains, “Our client wanted a home cinema space with the highest performance and tech specs available, but delivered within a space that had a relaxed, sociable dynamic and seating layout. It was a refreshing blend of cutting-edge tech and useability. On high spec briefs like these, clients can sometimes become fixated on performance, meaning that the way the room will actually be used becomes a secondary concern. However, with this project the emphasis was as much on creating a family friendly, relaxed space as it was on performance – the client was, for example, as adamant about the twin rows of seats for their children, friends and family to enjoy as they were about the expansive four-metre-wide fixed screen and scintillating audio system.”

Newland Solutions

The project

As the project began with a blank slate (a concrete basement room in a new build) throughout the design process the client became increasingly enthused about achieving the highest quality sound possible, so the team set upon a hugely capacious system with 15 DSP enabled Meridian speakers, perfectly calibrated for the space.

Luke says, “They wanted to feel as though the home cinema was an extension of the family home, rather than an addition to it. As such, they were keen to use seating from the same supplier as other areas of the house, so the bespoke seating became a key element of the install. Our client stipulated two rows of seating to ensure there was plenty of space for themselves and their young daughters to socialise within the cinema.”

Despite being a new build with all the advantages that can bring, Luke reveals it was not all plain sailing. “While working on a new build was a joy, particularly for the design stage, it threw up complications with the install process itself. We were installing the smart system throughout the property from the basement upwards, and the building contractors were working from the top down.

“This meant the cinema installation was a race against time. It had to be completed before work could begin on the remainder of the basement floor, which at that point was a building site. We had to secure the cinema space from any possible dust and debris from the ongoing work on site, and ensure the installation was completed against a tight schedule.”

Luke adds, “Further technical complications were thrown up from our client’s dual emphasis on creating a high-performance cinema incorporating the latest in technical capabilities while still in keeping with their sociable family home. Having two rows of seating was crucial to this dynamic.  However, combined with the steel girders and air conducts in the ceiling, this meant we lacked the height for a ceiling-mounted projector. With the high premium placed on sound quality, having the projector inside the room wasn’t an option. So, we resolved to enclose the projector in the rear wall alongside the rear channel speakers, transmitting the image with DT’s inimitable Mirror Mount to the dramatic four metre fixed screen ahead.”

Getting the cinema from very good, to great is never easy, but Luke and the team ensured they went the extra mile to deliver just that.

Luke takes up the story, “While we were up against a tight schedule with other contractors and the completion of the build in its entirety, when the building contractors fell behind, we found ourselves up against an even more crucial deadline: our client’s daughter’s 7th birthday! As a matter of course, we channelled all of our energies into meeting this critical milestone, and ensured the cinema space was ready for use (the only completed room on the basement floor) for a strategically critical showing of Frozen on her big day.”

Other notable aspects of the cinema include that it was one of the first in the country to feature Meridian’s new, flagship DSP 750 speakers.

Luke reveals, “They were released while work on the install was ongoing. We’d initially specified 640s for the front channels and had even installed their backboxes when the 750s became available, but with our client’s desire to attain the highest possible quality audio in mind, we checked to see whether the 750s were compatible. Thankfully, they were and the resulting audio system is one of the most satisfying we’ve installed to date.”

So, favourite part time, what is most impressive on the project? Luke decides, “The sheer quality of the sound would be impossible not to mention. The DSP 750s create the most high-performing, up-to-date front channels we’ve had the pleasure of installing, and the system in its entirety is perfectly calibrated to the acoustics of the room. It really has to be heard to be understood, but this was one to get excited about, and it left us with a very happy customer too.

“But for us, what we really loved about this project was that, throughout, it felt like a space that was going to be used and enjoyed as a part of a family home. On home cinemas like these, it’s easy to get wrapped up in maximising AV performance, and there’s definitely a time and a place for that. But many clients, designers and integrators alike can become a little too fixated on performance specs and forget that these spaces are there to be used, to be lived in and loved. And at the end of the day, that’s really what home entertainment is about: experiencing the joys of art and cinema with our loved ones. What this project really showed us is that you can keep a sense of that, as well as pushing the limits of performance.”

Meridian Audio

The equipment  

The sound system is powered by high resolution Meridian speakers, all DSP enabled. The front channel boasts three of Meridian’s brand new in-wall DSP750 loudspeakers, accompanied by two DSW600 sub-woofers for capacious depth. No fewer than six discreet DSP640s were encased in the walls for the surround and rear channels, and for the height channels four wide dispersing DSP 320s were installed overhead. On top of this, the room underwent extensive acoustic treatment. With panels applied along each wall to enhance and control reflection, and Foamsorbers used to control reverberation and harness resonance throughout the space. Each C-ats pack was discreetly encased within the Desmond fabric walling.

The DT four metre 235-1 wide-fixed cinemascope screen receives from a Barco Balder projector via the DT vertical mirror mount. The audio and visual processing is handled by an Arcam AV40 and a Meridian 271, respectively. User control is managed via Savant and also included is KNX enabled lighting and HVAC throughout, installing five lighting circuits. A Samsung NASA AC unit controlling ambient room temperature as well as the cooling of the projector room is also in place.

Essential Kit List

3 x Meridian in-wall DSP750

2 x Meridian DSW600 sub-woofers

6 x Meridian DSP640s (surround and rear)

4 x DSP 320s (overhead)

C-ats Acoustic Treatment

DT four metre 235-1 wide-fixed cinemascope screen

Barco Balder projector

DT vertical mirror mount

Arcam AV40 (processing/amplification)

Meridian 271 (processing/amplification)

Savant Automation

KNX enabled lighting and HVAC

Samsung NASA AC unit

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