EI takes a tour of this high-performance and very plush home cinema project in the company of Angus Murray, Projects Director at New Wave AV.
For over 18 years, New Wave AV has specialised in designing and installing home technology, whole home audio visual systems and dedicated media and cinema rooms. The company was founded in 2003 by Kevin Whysall, who was joined by Angus a few years later. The team is based in Sevenoaks in Kent and tend to work on high end residential projects across the South-East of England.
For this project, Angus explains, “The client initially contacted us to discuss some issues he had with the performance of his self-installed cinema room. This led to an email exchange where a number of ideas and suggestions were given for the client to look at. Three months later the client advised he was moving and wanted a professionally installed dedicated cinema room and asked us to put some initial designs and costings together.”
Angus adds, “When we are asked to quote on a new cinema room we always put together a technical design document to provide an understanding of the performance standards we are looking for the room to achieve. This allows the potential client to understand why items have been specified as well as giving an introduction to the design and detailed work that is required to deliver their room. Once issued we had discussions with the client regarding the speaker range which led to a revision of the proposal with a higher speaker range specified.”
For this project room renders were also produced to ensure the client could visualise how the room was going to look when completed. The decision to proceed was made within a week of the initial proposal being issued, pretty impressive.
The original brief was for a reference level cinema room with Dolby Atmos sound. The client wanted to achieve two rows of seating and was very clear that he wanted the audio to really pack a punch. The brief didn’t change significantly during the project, most design elements were confirmed on the first onsite meeting – the biggest change was the decision to ‘dig out’ for the front seating. The client had studied audio engineering so was very clear that he wanted reference level audio performance. The room was specified as 9.1.4 to ensure an immersive experience and this was delivered by using a Trinnov Altitude16 processor with Procella amplification and speakers.
Angus says, “Procella was chosen due to the performance levels they could achieve as well as their heritage within DTS and BAFTA. The P815s were specified for the front left, centre and right channels meaning that six channels of power amplification were required for these speakers alone. Four subwoofers (two behind the screen and two behind the rear seats) ensured the required bass performance and minimised the potential issue of a bass null at any of the seating positions.”
The client is a real film enthusiast, so a Kaleidescape 4K Movie server was specified along with a 2.40:1 Cinema Build Systems acoustically transparent masking screen. A Sony VPL890ES laser projector was specified due to its performance, brightness and lens memory. The client wanted to be able to simply control every element of the room and so the team chose Control4 delivering control of all AV sources as well as Lutron lighting. DALI light fittings were specified to ensure smooth dimming was possible right down to 1%.
Angus argues, “Cinema rooms really start with the seating as this dictates so much of the room design, so we discussed with the client how many seats were required and in what configuration.
“Cineak were chosen because of the flexibility of their range as well as the quality of their fit and finish. Due to space restrictions, the back row was designed with limited incline whilst the front row did not have arm rests between seats to provide a more modern, relaxed look.”
Getting the right treatment
Room treatment and fabric wrapping were based around the Cinema Build Systems Halo product. Angus explains that this allowed the team to hide all of the absorption and dispersion panels and even to adjust the level of treatment mid-way through the project. Each panel was backlit with tuneable white tape whilst the coffer was lit with both RGB and TW tape, this allowed total control of the colour in the room. Challenges wise, Angus reveals, “The room had a low ceiling with very little void which created a number of technical issues including creating a suitable height difference between the seating rows. This was achieved by digging out a 150mm deep ‘pit’ for the front row seating and having a 150mm seating platform for the rear seats. The lack of a suitable ceiling void meant that surface speakers had to be specified for the four Dolby Atmos channels and adequate task lighting had to be achieved without the use of downlights.
“The specified speakers were deep, so this meant all four walls had to be built out prior to acoustic treatment and fabric wrapping. We used the Cinema Build Systems Space Frame to achieve this build out,” explains Angus.
The room also originally had two unattractive radiators that were in the wrong location so these were removed and an MVHR system was installed. The system was programmed to go into boost mode when the projector is on to ensure a suitable number of air exchanges whilst the room is in use.” The system utilises 7 x 4 channel power amplifiers, so it was essential the hub room was suitably ventilated.
The BTUs were calculated, and suitable extraction was installed, in addition an IP PDU was installed to ensure the amplifiers were only ever on when in use, this PDU also had a temperature sensor added that will email the New Wave team if a pre-determined temperature is reached. Angus continues, “The performance objectives and low ceiling meant every design decision was critical to making the room work as well as required. Any good cinema room starts with a good design and this room was no different and was therefore designed to Dolby and CEDIA’s full cinema specification. We have a range of software solutions that allow us to do these designs such as The CEDIA Designer and Cinema-Tools. These applications ensure a level of predictability in the room’s final performance.
“The focus for the client was performance above anything else and as a keen film fan and gamer we had to ensure the room worked for all applications. The laser projector ensured bright images with a quick on time whilst the masking screen meant the projected image was always correct for the ratio. The Kaleidescape 4K Movie Server, PS5, Xbox Series X and gaming PC (configured to 2.40:1 output) means that he is never short of content. To ensure the room’s performance Trinnov were invited to calibrate the audio system and the Sony projector was calibrated by an independent ISF calibrator.”
So favourite part time, what does Angus think? “To be fair this room has a lot vying to be your favourite part. The audio performance is exceptional and that meant a lot of fun was had during calibration where we really tried to push the system. Having said that I am probably most pleased with how the room design came together using the two contrasting fabrics and the backlit Halo Panels.
“For the client this room was always going to be about the audio, he wanted to ensure it had real impact and performance. He is a massive film fan and has already downloaded over 190 movies in the six weeks he has had the room!
Essential Cinema Kit List
• Sony VPL-VW890ES Projector
• Cinema Build Systems 3.5m Wide Side Masking AT Screen
• 3 x Procella P815 LCR Speaker
• 6 x Procella P8 Surround Speaker
• 2 x Procella P18 Subwoofer
• 2 x Procella P10SI Subwoofer
• 4 x Procella P5V Atmos Speaker
• 7 x Procella DA2800 4 channel Power Amplifier
• Trinnov Audio Altitude 16 AV Processor
• Kaleidescape Strato 4K Movie Player
• Kaleidescape Terra Movie Server 24TB
• Cineak Largo Seating
• Cinema Build Systems Space Frame & Halo Frame System
• Lutron HomeworksQSX Lighting Control
• Control4 EA1 & Neeo Remote Control
• SurgeX Surge Protection