Cinematic superhero

Just because a room isn’t a dedicated home cinema doesn’t mean it shouldn’t incorporate the best technology to give a first-class experience. Amy Wallington investigates.

A multipurpose room can be a sensible option for many homes. Those who do not have the spare rooms to create dedicated spaces such as a home cinema or gaming room find that a multiuse area is much more practical.

Some people believe that a multipurpose room could not provide a truly immersive, cinematic experience because it is not planned as a dedicated room and thus sacrifices performance. This doesn’t have to be the case. Of course, a dedicated cinema often has more options for a complete cinematic experience, using acoustic treatments, dedicated cinema speakers, fixed screen, and ensuring no windows allow light to leak through. Nonetheless a multipurpose space can still support fantastic performance, and it helps having a good installer that can choose the right kit to create a room that delivers in various situations.

In this case, the room already had a 5.1 system from a previous installation, but the homeowner felt it was underwhelming and did not deliver the experience he wanted from the space. Calling on experienced integrator, SMC, to help, he wanted the best quality home cinema possible in a multipurpose room but also to still use it as a relaxed lounge area when entertaining.

Steve Moore, founder of SMC says that the existing infrastructure highlighted some challenges. “We reconfigured the room and put in completely new equipment. We were limited by some constraints of the original install. For example, as the screen was recessed within a concrete slab, this then defined the position of our screen.”

To meet the ‘best quality cinema’ brief in this multipurpose room, SMC had to concentrate on choosing the best-in-class technology and systems. “Steinway Lyngdorf was chosen for its reliable, bespoke, high-performance audio, compact size, and upgradeability,” says Moore. “The front projection screen and motorisation provided a top-quality customisable solution, particularly helpful given the tricky space and aspect ratio requirements.

“Lutron control of curtains and blinds allowed a versatile and silent solution with tailored options for differing levels of blackout and curved curtains for double-height openings. Crestron integration provided straightforward, reliable iPad control, delivering a fully flexible solution with content selection and simple operation of other key systems including video entry, temperature, lighting control etc. This media room wouldn’t have been complete without some gaming, so a PlayStation 4 was included for Fortnite and FIFA.”

Overcoming challenges

There were multiple challenges with this room, not just because of the pre-installed systems, but because of the shape of the room, the multipurpose brief for the room, and the fact that one wall was mainly glass, making it acoustically problematic.

“As this spec forms part of an interconnected double-height space, with one large, glazed external room, the acoustics were challenging,” Moore states. “The room has few soft furnishings and little natural sound absorption.

“In order to provide maximum impact whilst dealing with sub-optimal equipment locations (necessitated by the shape of the room), we had to push the equipment to their limits. The projector, screen, and lifts were either at their distance tolerance points or housed in smaller, custom enclosures. A variety of remedial building work was needed in order to recess loudspeakers which needed to be managed carefully as the client was in residence and needed other systems to remain operational. We specified a bespoke acoustically transparent, reverse (waterfall) roll screen with custom masking and ambient light rejection to deal with the tricky space and all aspect ratio requirements.”

“This multipurpose room now has amazing sound whatever is being played and works seamlessly with the whole home audio system or as a standalone cinema,” Moore points out. “With a wall-filling full-width drop-down screen, a silent and super-bright projector providing probably the best video quality we have ever installed in a space this size, and full Dolby Atmos using a compact, high-SPL solution from Steinway Lyngdorf, this project is truly unique.”

He continues: “To achieve the client’s brief various pioneering technologies were employed. Steinway Lyngdorf’s room correction and custom voicings adapts for the different room uses and acoustics, for example when blinds are open, closed, or when the room is packed for a party. The JVC Laser projector, with 4K HDR, allows custom set up for different light levels and is paired with an acoustically transparent, ambient light rejection screen. This huge screen is contained in an extremely compact custom housing concealed in a reveal.  The full-strength Dolby Atmos solution brings a powerful sound experience with beautiful small cabinet and flush-mount speakers.”

“The client wanted to have the widest projector screen possible,” explains Moore. “In order for the projected image to fill the screen, the throw distance needed to be carefully considered; it is close to the maximum that the room will accommodate and delights the client as a result.”

Other challenges arose relating to the projector screen, including various supplier issues, but the integrator made sure they were encouraged to find the best solution for the client. “Unfortunately, sometimes suppliers let us down,” admits Moore. “Following faulty products being delivered twice by the initial screen manufacturer, we worked closely with Stewart Flimscreen to ultimately provide what was specified, which delivered at the original, lower cost.

“Our project manager and technical team worked closely with the client’s project manager and contractor to coordinate the works. In the end, the whole team pulled out all the stops to get every detail right, including bespoke video calibration and audio configuration to suit various use cases. Custom programming makes this easy for the client to operate.”

Now you see it, now you don’t

Being a multiuse room, it was important that the space could seamlessly transform to what the client wanted to use it for. If he wanted to use it as a cinema room, he wanted the full experience with the projector and screen, but if he just wanted to watch regular TV, he did not want to use a big projector and screen. Also, he wanted some of the electronics and technology to be on show, so this also had to be considered.

Moore explains: “The client had the Superman and Batman figures and he wanted them to be kept as a focal point of the room. He also wanted to be able to see some of the electronics, so we needed to position some of the equipment, so it can be accessed from within the room, without taking away from the aesthetics. The amplification and AV head end are contained within a comms room. Therefore, we had to carefully consider video and audio paths between the media room and the rack area, especially important in an 8K, DolbyVision world.”

Result

Unlike with the original installation the client had from a different integrator, he is very pleased with the result from SMC. So much so that they are now working with him on other projects. “We are looking at a second home with them at the moment and have just completed a terrific remote working solution in their gym, allowing them to take part in Teams and Zoom meetings whilst exercising. We have also redesigned a dedicated gaming station with appropriate monitors, gaming PC, etc,” concludes Moore.

 

Tech Spec

Crestron DM Receiver

Crestron RMC3 Processor

Future Automation Custom Projector Lift

Future Automation Flat Bracket for 60-90” Screen

iPad Mini Running Creston App

JVC DLA Z1 4K Laser Projector

Lutron Contol

Oppo UDP-203EU 4K Blu-ray Player

Sony KD85XD8505BU 85” 4K HDR TV

Sony PlayStation 4 Games Console

Steinway Lyngdorf A1 Fully Digital Amplifier

Steinway Lyngdorf A2 Fully Digital Amplifiers

Steinway Lyngdorf Custom Dual 12” Boundary Woofers

Steinway Lyngdorf IW26V In-Wall Speakers

Steinway Lyngdorf P200 Surround Sound Processor

Steinway Lyngdorf Model S15 In-Ceiling Speakers

Steinway Lyngdorf Model S15 In-Ceiling Speaker Back Boxes

Steinway Lyngdorf Model S15 On-Wall Speakers

Steinway Lyngdorf Model S15 Speaker Grilles

Stewart Filmscreen 14’ Wide FireHawk Acoustically Transparent Drop-Down Projection Screen

Surge-X SEQ1213i Surge Protection Power Conditioner

WyreStorm 4K Point-to-Point Extenders