The project came into the company from a builder Prestige
Audio has worked with many times who trusts the company’s ability and expertise
to deliver on the AV and automation needs of his clients and projects.
The property is a new build that resides on the grounds of the client’s former residence. The old house was demolished to make way for an impressive four-bedroom family home spread across three floors. The property is around 850² meters including a double garage and basement areas.
The basement hosts the wine tasting room, games room and the dedicated cinema room. The ground floor is where the media room resides, and the property also boasts impressive landscaped grounds (six acres) with a patio area where the exterior audio system has been installed.
The client had a budget in mind for the whole project – around £50K for some automation and AV – and at the beginning there was no exterior audio, dedicated cinema or bespoke media room planned.
With the expertise and knowledge the Prestige Audio team was able to bring to bear, supported by Pulse Cinemas, the project was transformed to a budget of £380K as the customer was excited and impressed with what could be achieved.
The Dedicated Cinema
This process began when the client indicated that they would like a ‘home cinema’. Again, the client had a figure in mind of £20K. Prestige Audio took the customer to Pulse Cinemas HQ and was able to bring to the fore the company’s sales experience and knowledge of the various options to really excite the client and reveal just what was possible.
Joe Carri, Commercial Director at Prestige Audio, explains, “During the demonstration, we were able to explore the client’s love of music and appreciation of good sound quality, and so getting the right audio was hugely important and a real challenge as they had very specific ideas about how the cinema and all the AV in the project should sound.”
Before Prestige Audio got involved, the cinema area had originally been planned as party area with lots of hard surfaces, some made from white marble, hardly an idea scenario for a home cinema.
Joe says, “We persuaded the client that not only would the room look better with a ‘darker’ design approach, but that it would perform better also. The clients also originally wanted a ‘clean’ minimal look on the ceiling; however, we explained that would create reflective issues so we created a ‘star-scape’ ceiling and also added Vicoustic acoustic treatments in the cinema to control reflections and add some absorption.”
Creating the right sound
All of the cinemas Prestige Audio creates conform to all the relevant standards, but for Joe this is just the baseline of really high-quality performance – and the room has to be created specifically to match the tastes of the customer.
Joe explains, “We always spend extra time calibrating and tuning the room to match the customer’s needs. The bass performance of this cinema was really important to the client – they don’t just watch movies in there, but listen to music, sometimes combining both with music videos and concerts.
“Even during the demonstration phase at Pulse Cinemas, although happy with the performance, it was clear the clients had very specific tastes. This process was not a 20-minute conversation, and it took time to establish where their specific needs were, but eventually we established they wanted a full Dolby Atmos surround sound system that performed as good as the Pulse Cinemas demo space, but with louder and punchier bass.”
Now Prestige Audio could set about putting the meat on the bones for the cinema. The bare room was 8.5m long x 10m wide x 3m high, the cinema was to have eight seats (two rows of four). The customers wanted the BenQ (PCL50KH) projector auditioned during the demo and a five-metre wide screen.
Joe explains, “The first part of the design was ensuring that the goal of the eight seats requested would have unrestricted views of the screen. This resulted in us actually specifying a four-metre screen due to the available space, and the desire for eight seats. We were also restricted by the bar area in the room. The client understood and was happy to go with a four-metre screen. When designing screen size, we take the client’s preferred seating position and make calculations from there, as set out in CEDIA’s white paper: Home Theatre Video Design CEA/CEDIA-CEB23-A.
After some more testing using the Room Simulation in REW, the room acoustics analysis software for measuring and analysing room and loudspeaker responses, the final speaker layout of 7.1.4 was established as optimal.
The clients also had very specific tastes in terms of the imaging they preferred. During the demonstration phase at Pulse Cinemas, it was established that the BenQ PCL50KH was the projector they preferred, balancing performance and budget. The Client had the opportunity to experience several projectors from £50,000 to £3,000, but we established that the 6000 ANSI lumens output of the BenQ was optimal for this cinema. A Prismasonic anamorphic lens was also added to the cinema for viewing in CinemaScope format (2.39:1).
Once the whole system was fitted and fully tested, the team spent an entire day tuning it and making 100% sure the clients loved it.
Joe explains, “Once all the usual measurements had been done, we had a listen, and the system lacked bass and high frequency. Technology is great for getting you close to where you want to be, but for us there is still no substitute for an experienced pair of ears, for delivering something really bespoke. We rested our ears for an hour and returned to listen and we continued to make manual adjustments to the system.
“The most important point here is that we strive to get the best in tonal balance, imaging, staging, dynamics in the primary seating position (the hot seat) but cannot compromise the other seating positions too much. Our eventual set up achieved all that was required, great, explosive cinematic sound as well as the great two-channel audio performance the customer also wanted. Following a full two-channel and cinema demo, this was the ‘mic drop’ moment for the project. The look on their faces was exactly what we had been striving for, they loved it.”
Joe concludes, “From a £20K beginning, we ended up with a £171K cinema that was really going to deliver the client an experience they had not previously thought possible, specifically designed to meet the needs of the building and their own tastes and habits. I would also add the help we received from Pulse Cinemas was a big factor here as without the world-class demonstration facilities and support we received, it would not have been as straight-forward to show the customer just what was possible.”
The Media Room
Prestige Audio also created a multi-function media room with a 5.1.2 audio system and large screen TV. This area was also inspired by the customer’s trip to Pulse Cinemas, as they really enjoyed the Media Room demonstration area where all of the AV is completely hidden until called on.
The brief here was to create a similar experience with the emphasis being on a high-level of performance, but the room had to look and feel just like a living space with no trace of the AV at all. The bespoke control interface for this area offers two main options, ‘Watch TV’ or just ‘Listen’.
Select the first option and the full reveal takes place; the TV, which is hidden in a specially created cabinet, is revealed and all the other systems to deliver the audio come to life, also hidden within the cabinet and in matching smaller storage areas to the left and right of the cabinet.
Sources available here include the Kaleidescape Strato Player, a Blu-ray disc player as well as the homes networked music system supported by Paradigm speakers. From the same control point, the user also has full control of the window treatments for the areas in case they want to limit the amount of ambient light entering the room.
The rear speakers are cleverly hidden in the wall behind beautiful wall decorative panels, which also help with the room’s acoustics and the front LCRs are hidden in the ceiling behind painted grills that match the room’s aesthetic.
Despite being a smaller space and ‘only’ a 5.1.2 system, the customer had the same exacting standards to audio as the rest of the property. After the usual room measurements were completed, the team again used a combination of technology and their own experience to get the room sounding right.
Lutron lights the way
The home also has fully automated window treatments throughout the property and Lutron automated lighting.
Lutron’s QS Sivoia blinds were specified. This was to tailor to the many different sizes required, ranging from half a metre up to just over three metres. The lighting solution is comprised of Lutron adaptive dimming modules, allowing different load types to be controlled seamlessly.
This is essential in today’s world of energy saving lighting and LED fittings. Control is provided by strategic keypad placement at entrances to rooms and by bedsides in the bedrooms. External circuits can be controlled manually or via the on-board astronomical clock, meaning the lighting reflects sunset and sunrise. Combining this with the holiday mode, where lights are turned on and off (reflecting the client’s user habits) whilst the client isn’t in residence, adds another level of comfort and security to the property.
The Secret Garden
This area of the project delivered what Prestige Audio believe is one of the best exterior audio systems in the UK. As night club owners and regular entertainers at home, the clients had a very specific idea of what their audio systems should sound like with lots of power, plenty of controlled bass and an even level throughout. Using the powerful NEAR brand to build a three-zone exterior audio system, this added a further £20K to the project.
The system consists of 13 speakers and three subs, woven around the property, to create a powerful, bass driven performance for the whole area.
The system is driven by two Near 7XL 700W 70V line power amplifiers which use a dual mono design to power connected speakers. The NEAR amplifiers boast onboard digital signal processing, meaning they can be optimised by adjusting the channel control of frequency response, crossovers, phase time and dynamic range. This allowed the bass to be cranked up and satisfy the client’s request.
The garden is split into three separate zones: the upper and lower terrace and the tree garden. Each zone is playable individually or any combination of the three playing at the same time.
Joe says, “The owners love to entertain, and we think this system has to be one of the most impressive exterior domestic audio sets ups in the whole of the UK. High-quality consistent audio can be experienced across one acre’s worth of the total space.”
The final result
The final word here has to go to the customer, who is glowing in his praise of Prestige Audio and Pulse Cinemas. He says, “We were introduced to Prestige back in 2018 to supply us with a smart home system for our new build. We also wanted a cinema installed and the team at Prestige were reluctant to specify a cinema until we went to experience a few and get an idea of what was available. We were taken to the demo facility with four cinemas ranging from £30,000 to £400,000 and were very surprised with the quality differences.
“We discussed what we liked and didn’t like out of these different options and Prestige Audio designed a bespoke cinema that would meet our needs. They worked well with our interior designer to deliver something that would perform well and met our interior design needs.
“Now that we have moved in, the results are impressive. Our cinema is ‘Epic’ and outperformed our expectations. The result exceeded the performance of the demo systems we listened to. We use the cinema room regularly and love the space. We added another mini cinema in our living room with a motorised TV that disappears in the wall when not in use. To top it all off, we added a state-of-the-art outdoor music system that surprised us by the way it performed.”
All images by Tim Fox Photography