Home Cinema: 9 Critical Considerations Before You Start Your Project

Clients come in to visit the showroom everyday looking for a home cinema system. They may have a spare room in an existing home, perhaps building an extension or renovating their home, or, more often than not, building a brand new home from scratch. Some have been for demonstrations already and others have yet to experience a real home cinema, there are few locations within the UK to hear a real cinema.

Their architect or interior designer has talked to them about a home cinema and created a room on a plan. The interior designer, if on board, has then created “Mood Boards” and suggested some illustrious materials and finishes which are absolutely stunning and would look amazing in any room. Occasionally a visualisation has been prepared carefully, a stunning 3D rendering showing the room in all its beauty.

At this point I usually comment, “What a beautiful room this could be, however would it not be prudent to look at the fundamental elements of this room before we put the finishing details to it?”

Once the question is asked a blank look is usually returned by the client, who is sometimes accompanied by the interior designer and architect, and occasional I receive a defensive remark.

I then promptly remind that I have not raised the comment to cause argument but simply to discuss the dynamics of the room so we can proceed with the design for a home cinema.

We proceed with the demonstrations as we walk through the showroom discussing different options and different systems so we can gauge expectation, requirement and budget.

Once seated in our meeting room we start to look at the plans and the points below which will help anyone who is considering a cinema at home.

Take note on the items below as these points may help prevent a fatal mistake which could render the cinema room unusable in some circumstances:-

  1. Room Construction and Sound Isolation – How important is it to prevent the extraordinary sound that a cinema produces from leaking out of that stunning room? Is there a child’s bedroom above the room, or another Living Area next door to it? If this is the case sound isolation is going to be high in priority. There are many ways to stop sound transmission which we can help you with, however please be aware they all involve losing space within the room. How much space depends on how much isolation. Specialist doors will be needed also. You should be aware this also means additional costs.
  2. Creating the “Reference” Sound Pressure Level – For a “Home Cinema” Room at the listeners position requires the correct specification of speaker and amplifier to do the job. Small speakers and amplifier will have a low output at the speaker which means a lower performance at the listening position, usually some metres away from the speaker. Poor specification of speaker and amplifier will result in an underwhelming experience. More to the point the room would be a “Surround Sound” room and not technically a “Cinema”, which for some clients is perfectly acceptable, not all though.
  3. Sound Quality Not Just Noise – Some speakers can create high sound pressures and tick the box for the above however noise and quality are two different things! Some speaker manufacturers use lots of small speakers in a line, an array, to create increased sound pressure without the need for larger components which require more depth. Admittedly this saves space, however a group of small speakers all shouting together creates noise that the human brain will notice over time. This noise can cause you to shut down, often fall asleep or just want to get out of the room, not what you want at all.
  4. Speaker Placement – Usually a Home Cinema room will have multiple speakers. Dependant on the size of the room and the sound format required a relatively small room could have 11 speakers, Dolby Atmos 7.2.2 format 7 surround speakers, 2 height and 2 subwoofers. Some of these speakers would be built into the screen wall, losing more space in the room, however surround speakers should also be located on the side and rear walls, which requires more space!
  5. Room Acoustics – Sound travels within a space and if the space is not treated correctly problems can occur. Known as the three R’s in simple terms Reflections, Reverberation and Resonance all cause problems in Home Cinema Rooms. With treatment using absorbing and diffusing materials we can treat the issues making massive performance enhancements to your system. Usually these treatments are covered over with design lead stretched fabric treatments, now we can start with the room design and finish details!
  6. Projector Location – Some people are happy to have a projector bolted to the ceiling over head however again some careful thought regarding product and position here is critical. Throw distance calculations are needed to make sure the picture will fit on the correct size screen you require, the correct lens decision is important also, as well as the right projector for the job, brightness etc are also critical. A projector on the ceiling may create noise, if overhead this will be distracting, heat could also be an issue also. In an ideal world a projector should be housed in an enclosure which can be built into detailing within the room, or dependant on the size of the projector specified, sometimes the projector has a room of it’s own!
  7. Content – What are you using the cinema for? Movies, Gaming, TV, Sport, do you want a stage for other entertaining, Karaoke etc? All considerations could impact the design?
  8. Seating Location – There is a science with regard to seat placement. If an optimal cinema experience is required at all seating locations compromise should not be made. You may want to seat extra bodies so if it is important to accommodate extra secondary seating it must be known that these seats will not carry quite the same experience. Also what style of seating suits cinema seats are not for everyone, at Adept we have a wealth of suitable alternatives, all of the finest quality.
  9. Screen Size and Options – Screen size is critical for the optimum experience, too close to the screen and you cannot take all of the picture in, too far away and the immersive experience is lost. Usually in a dedicated room a fixed screen would be used, ideally a masking screen is preferred as when different formats are watched the screen size masks the borders, subject to budget.

Hopefully you have found the information within this blog useful? If we can assist you further on your home cinema project Adept offer a full design service where all aspects of the above and more are covered. Please get in touch to find out more or to book a demonstration. We look forward to hearing from you.

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