This impressive project ‘Hampshire Cinema Seduction’ by Cyberhomes picked up the Best Home Cinema £120,000 – £340,000 category at this year’s CEDIA Awards.
Ion Smith, founder and director of Cyberhomes, explains, “This customer wanted the ‘ultimate home cinema room’ with no compromises. He wanted the biggest screen possible and calculations showed that the largest screen that would fit would just meet recommended viewing angles from the seating positions. The sound had to be Dolby Atmos and if possible, he wanted more than the popular 7.1.2 arrangement.”
Ion adds, “Also the screen image had to be bright enough to use during the day with lights on for general sports/TV as well as in evenings/darkened room for movies. Control needed to fully integrate into the Savant Pro system that was being installed into the rest of the house, and although there would be dedicated video sources for the cinema room, it should also be able to access the video matrix for viewing the shared sources that the whole house can also use.”
So in order to allow the cinema room to be used with the lights full on, a high brightness projector was required.
Ion explains, “Initially we recommended the Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 4K-UHD single-chip DLP projector (7,500 ISO Lumens) and took the client to a demo of this. At the demo an A/B comparison was done with the Digital Projection 4K-UHD HIGHlite 3-chip DLP laser projector (12,500 ISO Lumens) and, despite a considerable increase in cost, the client wanted the higher spec version.
The A/B comparison was carried out at Pulse Cinemas’ demonstration facility, with the distributor supplying much of the equipment which went into the cinema and supporting Cyberhomes with a complete sales service as the project progressed.
Lead designer at Cyberhomes, Chris Morley, explains, “While the Digital Projection projector has sufficient brightness for high dynamic range, it does not have built-in HDR, so a Lumagen Radiance Pro 4444 processor was included to provide HDR compatibility (including HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG). The Lumagen also allowed for separate calibration settings to be stored for each different video source.”
A Screen Research XLR3 acoustically transparent screen was also included which allowed the main LCR speakers to be in the ideal positions behind the screen. Motorised side masking allows automatic aspect ratio change of the visible screen area and also provides full closure to protect the screen when not in use.
Chris adds, “Aspect ratio detection is automatic with the motorised masking and Lumagen processor responding accordingly; although we also provided the ability to override the aspect ratio from both the Lutron wall-plate and the Savant Pro app and remote handset.”
A Celerity active optical fibre connection between the Lumagen processor in the plant room and the projector was also included which is 4K 4:4:4 60fps capable, although projector only supports up to 4:2:0 colour depth. A second active fibre HDMI allows local connection of a games console in the cinema room feeding back to the Lumagen processor.
Other features include Riello UPS units within the AV racks to allow for safe shutdown of equipment in event of a mains power failure and a Pakedge IP-controlled PDU allows remote rebooting of devices if required.
Domotz network monitoring is in place to deliver notifications of any devices on the network that aren’t responding so the team can remotely reboot. Cyberhomes has also provided the client with the Domotz Violet app so he can also remotely reboot a specific device.
Getting it right
The room was acoustically treated using a bespoke acoustics package designed and installed by Vicoustic. To assist with acoustic isolation of the cinema room from the rest of the house, an acoustic isolating door was also installed for the cinema room (to recording studio standards) which was designed to match the other interior doors of the home.
A StormAudio ISP 3D 16 Elite processor provides the Dolby Atmos decoding. Initially this was going to be a 9.1.4 implementation, but part way through the design process an update was made available for the processor allowing it to support 9.1.6, so the height speaker positions were redesigned to accommodate an additional pair of height speakers. The full Atmos 9.1.6 spec did not come out until after the cinema had been finished.
A 16-channel StormAudio PA 16 Elite amplifier provides amplification for the main speakers (using 15 of the available amps) and each of the four subwoofers have their own dedicated James Loudspeakers M1000 amplifiers.
All the speakers are from the James Loudspeaker range. The main LCR speakers (James Loudspeakers QX830) are located behind the screen with all the surround (James Loudspeakers QX530) and height speakers (James Loudspeakers QX520) correctly located according to Dolby’s Atmos design guidelines.
There are two James Loudspeakers M122 12in dual subwoofers at the front of the room in bespoke low-level cabinets and a further two QX1020 10in dual subwoofers at the rear.
The team used two-channel outputs from the Storm processor allowing them to manipulate the equalisation and set the crossover settings so that the front subs take more lower sub bass, whilst the rears offer more sub bass punch.
All speakers and the acoustic treatment panels are located out of sight behind bespoke stretched fabric acoustically transparent walls from Desmond & Sons.
A ‘shark fin’ design was created to give the room aesthetic appeal, with LED strip lighting integrated into the ‘fins’. These LEDs dim automatically whenever video content is playing, leaving just the floor lights dimly illuminated (unless in daytime viewing mode).
Dedicated air conditioning unit in the plant room with temperature probes inside the racks are also included automatically maintaining a maximum temperature of 24° in the racks. The AC unit is connected to Wi-Fi and so can generate Savant Pro notifications if rack temperature exceeds the limits.
Some of the challenges involved dealing with the considerable size of the projector, in fact the ceiling had to be reinforced to take the combined weight of the projector and housing. A special cabinet housing had to be built (by Vizbox Enclosures Limited to the team’s specification) to house the projector.
Forced ventilation is built into the housing and this was designed to ensure it aligns with the ventilation grills on the projector. Fans were dislocated from the housing to minimise any vibration noise.
The cinema room has its own air conditioning and heating to maintain comfortable conditions with no natural ventilation as well as being connected to the house’s air recirculation/heat recovery system. Vents are discreetly located in the coffer.
When the cinema room is turned off, a ‘purge cycle’ is activated with the air conditioning and air circulation systems to refresh the room as many of the homeowner’s friends are smokers.
Chris explains some of the other challenges, “The room layout design necessitated that the main seating position would be almost exactly in the centre of the room. Therefore, to minimise standing waves, the rear subwoofers were moved in from the corners to give greater flexibility when calibrating them.
“At full brightness, the projector would be too bright for the screen under traditional movie viewing conditions. However, the brightness was necessary to meet the requirement for using the cinema in ‘daylight’ conditions. Therefore, two brightness levels were programmed into the projector and ISF calibration undertaken at each setting. The required vertical height of the projector meant that it was lower than the height of the door, so a clever coffer design was required to accommodate these different heights while making the integration of the projector appear seamless with the room.”
Other special touches included a bespoke starfield ceiling created with star positions carefully planned before the custom optical fibres were installed. This ensured that all the ‘stars’ avoided the speakers and other items above the false ceiling.
The room that was being used for the cinema originally had an external window in it which was ‘bricked up’ to remove any natural daylight from the room.
However, the client didn’t want it to look bricked up from the outside, so a fake window was installed, complete with double-glazing, motorised Lutron blind and integral LED lighting; so from the outside it looks like a real window maintaining the aesthetic balance of the house.
Topping the whole experience off are bespoke leather seats from U.S brand Fortress seating.
Essential Kit List
Celerity, DFO-60P active fibre HDMI x3
Desmond & Sons, room acoustics package
Desmond & Sons, wall/ceiling fabric tracking system/stretched fabric installation
Digital Projection, Hermes ll HighLite Laser 4K + 2.17-2.90 long throw primary lens
Fortress Seating Lexington cinema seats with bespoke leather x 6
James Loudspeaker M1000 amplifier x 3
James Loudspeaker M122 – 12in dual subwoofer x 2
James Loudspeaker QX1020 subwoofer x 2
Loudspeaker QX520 in-wall speaker x 6
James Loudspeaker QX530 in-wall speaker x 6
James Loudspeaker QX830 in-wall speaker x 3
Savant Savant Pro Remote
Screen Research XLR3 side masking screen – 235 aspect ratio – 140in
Storm Audio ISP 3d 16 Elite Processor
Storm Audio PA 16 ELITE
Vizbox Enclosures projector airflow system
Vizbox Enclosures sound isolating projector enclosure
Shared with rest of house
Amazon Fire TV 4K media player x 2
Apple TV 4K x 2
Atlona AT-UHD-PRO3-88M 4K HDBaseT video matrix
Kaleidescape Strato 4K movie server
Lutron Homeworks QS processor
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-Ray player
Savant Pro Smart Host control system
Sky Q 4K satellite receiver x 2