Delivering Luxury Loft Home Cinema
This loft-based project won the Media Room Level II CEDIA award last year and was expertly created by Pulse Cinemas installation partner Perfect Integration.
Chris Knight, Managing Director of the company, explains, “The client and his wife had just bought their ‘forever’ new-build house and with their kids away at uni and on the brink of flying the nest, the attic playroom/media room wasn’t going to be needed for family duties. “The client had never experienced a proper home cinema before, but was into two-channel Hi-Fi and vinyl, so has a good ear and knew that the proposal put to him by the local integrator who had done the multi-room and lighting control install for the developer, wouldn’t cut the mustard.”
Chris adds, “The client was very honest and said that he had no idea what his budget was or performance expectations, as he had no points of reference, but that they bought this house primarily to entertain (it’s 8500sq ft so quite big for just two people to live in!) so he’d like to be able to seat eight people comfortably for when they have friends over.”
The process of choosing the right equipment and getting the customer more familiar with what a really good system should be like involved a visit to the ISE trade show where the customer was able to get his first real taste of proper home cinema.
The room had been wired for a basic home cinema set up with points for speakers and screen, however the layout did not make the best use of the space, so the plan was flipped 90° from where the original TV screen was meant to go, allowing Perfect Integration to use the length of the room to get the multiple rows of seats needed and accommodate the bar area at the back of the room.
The room’s main physical features included a low-ceiling typical of an attic space with sloping walls. There was also a skylight and bedrooms below to consider in this not ungenerous 8.5m x 6m space. As well as accommodating up to eight people, the customer wanted to be able to enjoy sporting events and movies in equal high-quality. Brief set, the installation team knew their targets and were determined to hit them, with the help of Pulse Cinemas ingredients of course.
One of the first jobs was to protect the rest of the home from any audio leaking into the floors below, so the team used a 15mm thick multi-layer acoustic underlay below the carpet. Inner walls were created to house the speakers and acoustic treatments, which were cleverly isolated from the floor and ceiling with rubber feet. A baffle wall where the screen was to be mounted and provide space for the front firing speakers was also created.
Taking the multi-use of the room into account, blacked out for movies, but lighter for sport (when the bar was likely to be in use) a projector with enough power was needed, step in the Sim2 Nero 4S, which was also partnered with an anamorphic lens, the viewing system was also ISF Calibrated. The Sim2 model selected delivers a meaty 6000 lumens enough for this multi-use space.
Chris explains, “We specified a projector with significantly more lumen output than our calculations showed to be necessary. At the full 6000 lumens, we can theoretically achieve almost 100ft lamberts at the screen, which was way in excess if the 40-60 recommended, so we have two calibration settings that the client can choose – one for movies, which is ISF calibrated and circa 50 ft lamberts, and the full power version, which is only really used when ambient light levels are much higher.”
On to the speaker arrangement and this consists of a selection of Paradigm drivers; three-way in-wall CI Elite 7 speakers for the LCR channels, smaller three-way in-wall CI Elite 5 speakers for the two pairs of side channels and four in-ceiling CI-80R in ceiling speakers for the Atmos over-head channels. For the rears, the system employed Paradigm CI-80As. Based on careful room measurements, the installation team also selected four Paradigm Defiance X15 subs.
Chris adds some detail, “Due to the new inner walls we constructed, most of the speakers could sit in the perfect positions for the ‘money seat’ where the client planned to sit. The rears presented a problem, as the wall/ceiling sloped down at 45° meaning a conventional in-wall/in-ceiling speaker would be awfully off-axis. Thankfully, Paradigm make the CI-80A in-ceiling speaker designed for LCR applications, which has the woofer angled at around 30°and the tweeter able to tilt to 45°.
“As these and the Atmos speakers were open-backed designed, we spoke to Paradigm and between us designed sealed enclosures for them, which not only provide acoustic isolation, but also ensure that the speakers are operating at their absolute best.”
And the bass selection? Chris says, “Due to the size of the room, and the multiple rows of seats (three including the bar), REW showed that we needed four subwoofers to get good bass performance in all positions, and as the design of the baffle wall and bar joinery meant that depth wasn’t an issue, we selected four Paradigm Defiance X15 subs, each one roughly a 650mm cube, with a built in 900W amplifier. After all, there ain’t no replacement for displacement! These sit in the four corners of the room, and the bass is quite simply breath-taking, with that effortlessly deep bass that you can only readily get from big speakers with big power.”
Power and processing for the 9.4.4 Dolby Atmos speaker setup comes from Anthem, with the AVM60 processor and 13 x 225W of amplification from two five-channel and one three-channel Anthem amps. For image playback, the customer benefits from a Kaleidescape Strato 4K 12TB server system, simply the best playback and content sourcing system for a home cinema such as this.
Other system details include the front and side speakers being mounted on isolating rubber L brackets to the 2 x 4 stud framework and then surrounded by the acoustic treatments. The front baffle wall was completely covered in Vicoustic MD55 absorption panels, and the side channels were surrounded by Vicoustic Wavewood EPS diffuser panels. All remaining voids in the walls were filled with a heavy acoustic foam, with Rockwool fitted behind the walnut panelling and within the raised stage bass trap.
The room also enjoys some bespoke American walnut joinery in keeping with the quality of finish for the rest of the home, as well as luxury seating and a Starscape ceiling with 2500 fibre optic twinkling ‘stars’ completes the room.
Chris explains, “The biggest challenge was acoustic isolation, as although a high-end home, being new build, it was all stud walls and chipboard flooring over the timber joists. Thankfully, the joist void was already filled with Rockwool, and the 15mm three-layer acoustic underlay we sourced was very effective (and weighed 20kgs per square metre, so was good exercise for our engineers getting that up to the attic!). The Starscape ceiling also proved to be a challenge because when the team came to install the metal track that the system’s tiles magnetically attach to, it was discovered that the ceiling was far from level, with a 40mm dip in the centre of the room! However, patience and skill eventually prevailed, and the ceiling was finished.”
A great example here of how using Pulse Cinemas ingredients coupled to a dedication to customer support and really getting into the detail of what the customer needed, will deliver fantastic results.
Simon Schino, Sales Manager here at Pulse Cinemas, adds his input on this impressive project, "It was an absolute pleasure working alongside Chris and the team at Perfect Integration during this project. These guys are true professionals and should be commended for their desire to exceed expectations on every level. If you are a consumer looking to create a cinema of your own, I would highly recommend working alongside these guys for any home cinema project. I must confess to being blown away by the overall performance of the system and I understand the client was absolutely delighted with the results."
Projector – Sim2 Nero 4S with anamorphic lens (ISF Calibrated)
Processor – Anthem AVM60 with ARC room correction
Amplification – 2 x Anthem MCA525 5 x 225w, 1 x Anthem MCSA325 3 x 225w
Screen – Screen Research Supreme MMS-2 120in with side masking and 4WB ClearPix4 acoustically transparent material
Speakers – LCR Speakers, Paradigm Elite E7 x 3; Side Surrounds, Paradigm Elite E5 x 4; Rear Surrounds, Paradigm Elite E80-A with angled drive units due to sloping ceiling and custom enclosures;
Atmos/Height channels, Paradigm Elite E80-R (custom enclosures);
Subs, 4 x 15in Paradigm Defiance X-15 with individual room correction
Acoustic Treatment – Vicoustic MD55 absorption panels, Vicoustic Wavewood EPS diffuser panels.
Video Source – Kaleidescape Strato 4K 12TB server
Sky Q 4K
Apple TV 4K