Technical Meets Traditional in this 7.2 Channel Dedicated Home Cinema Setup at an Erode Private Residence
On first look at the dedicated space this customer wanted to convert into a Home Theater Room we were delighted to see the dimensions were perfect for a home theater space. The room had a large width which would give us two rows of comfortable seating and a 45 to 60 degree listening angle from our front speakers for every seat in the house. This was to be the main viewing area for television and movie watching for the entire residence. Our clients didn’t plan to keep televisions in other parts of the residence and wanted this dedicated cinema space to be there primary entertainment zone.
Speaker placement was not going to be too great a challenge with the rectangular shape of the room. Our front speakers could be placed ideally for the best listening angle from the seating position. Similarly our surround and rear surround speakers would also be optimally placed so that the listeners would not experience any kind of exit door affect or localization from having speakers placed too closely to them. Our side surround speakers would be placed at a 90 degree listening angle from our listeners between the first and second rows of seating. And our rear surround at a 130 degree listening angle directly behind the second row of seating.
Two problem areas which affected the acoustics of the room would be glass doors and windows on both the left and right sides of the room. After a discussion with the client though, they agreed to help us with some absorption for these locations by adding thick curtains to cover the glass.
We also placed 4 feet x 2 feet acoustic panels of two inch thickness to absorb the second and third side reflections from our front speakers and subwoofers. Similarly absorbtive material was placed in specific locations in the ceiling to tackle the ceiling reflections which would affect the final sound stage for this room.
Sporting Events and Movies would primarily be watched in this area and we knew a Television would not give the screen size required to give the complete Audio Visual experience. Our clients informed us that they don’t want many 3D movies so we focused our efforts on giving them the best Full HD projector for their cinema space. We’ve always been huge fans of Panasonic projectors from our work with them in previous installations. The Panasonic PT-AR100U delivers stunning cinema quality visuals with a 50,000:1 contrast ratio and 2400 ansi lumens of brightness. But just a quality projector would not bring the complete home cinema experience, we needed a quality screen to amplify and resonate the visuals. We chose the Da-Lite Cinema Contour Motorized Projection Screen with a large 137 inch diagonal viewing area in 16:9 HDTV Format.
With a room of this size a prolific sound stage is crucial to provide the detailing and sense of realism to the cinematic viewing experience. We did not want to compromise in audio quality and choose entry or even mid level speakers which would not accurately deliver sound to the sweet spot and provide a strong sense of focus and envelopment. We trusted our favorite speaker brand James Loudspeaker to do the job for this particular Dedicated Home Theater Installation. James Loudspeaker is not a brand we always get to work with because of its price point. But these speakers are custom made and hand crafted in Napa Valley, California and are some of the best sounding speakers we’ve had a chance to work with for home cinema integrations. Taking into consideration the room size, we felt the 7.2 on-wall setup of the James Loudspeaker 630OW combined with two of the James Loudspeaker EMB12 subwoofers would provide the most audiophile grade cinematic experience for this space.
James Loudspeakers speakers are very power hungry speakers and require good amplification to perform at their maximum potential. Since the James Loudspeaker 630OW speakers could be driven by up to 200 Watts of Power, we wanted to keep a dedicated power amplifier to power our main LCR and Surround Speakers. After doing a lot of research we felt very strongly about the combination of the James Loudspeaker speakers with the Emotiva XPA-5. The XPA-5 was a powerhouse and puts out a true 200 Watts of power to each channel. This would be a perfect match to ensure each James speaker would receive the power it needs and would not leave our setup under powered and our audio suppressed.
Since the Emotiva XPA-5 was strictly a power amplifier, we also needed a intelligent and state of the art pre-amplifier to complete all the audio and video decoding capabilities. The two rear surround speakers still needed to be powered as well, so the best all around solution for our requirement would be an AV Receiver. We considered using the Emotiva AV Receiver but found it very minimalistic in its decoding capabilities after using it in previous installations. One of our top choices in AV Receivers has always been the Marantz brand, and we planned to add the Marantz SR5009 to this setup to take care of all of our pre-amplification needs.
To get the most out of the amazing hardware combined to create this solution, we required a source that would not maintain the high standard of audio and video quality we had created with this setup. We integrated the Oppo BDP-103D Darbee Edition Region Free Blu-Ray player. This high end blu-ray player would serve as a excellent source for DVD or Blu-Ray watching and also a dedicated CD player if our client wanted to relax and listen to their favorite hits. Another bonus feature was that it has Netflix built-in and our client could easily stream Full HD TV Shows and Movies from Netflix in Dolby Digital Surround Sound.
A room of this caliber would certainly not be complete without adding automation solutions to enhance and simplify the experience. Our customer wanted to focus on complete automation of their Audio/Video Equipment as well as lighting for the room. Our top choice for providing automation solutions to any of the residential or commercial integrations we integrate are with Control4, and we chose a Control4 Automation Solution for this project as well.
There were only three loads of lighting for this room, and we added 2 dimmable lighting switches and a 6 Button Keypad to enhance the control and lighting experience. Different Audio/Video and Lighting Scenes were programmed and could be easily implemented with the touch of one of the buttons on the 6 button keypad. Some of the most exciting scenes for our client involved a movie watching scene which would automatically dim the lights over five seconds when the projector came on. Replicating a real movie cinema hall feel. Similarly we programmed a few specific lights to come on when the pause button was pressed, and the room to become completely dark again when the play button resumed any video in the room.
A Control4 SR-260 remote control was also used as a universal remote control so that our client could easily hide away their multitude of remotes for this system and keep it simple with just a few custom commands. Watch could turn on the projector and any sources to follow. Listen would allow them to listen to any of their home entertainment sources and listen to their entire audio setup without having to turn on the projector or have the motorized projection screen come down. Everything became extremely simplified and user friendly, leaving our customers raving about how easy their overly complex looking system was to operate.
Network and Media Streaming
Media streaming needed to be flawless with the high res music and movie collection the client wanted to be able to stream. We stuck with one of the most reliable brands we know for solid network throughput, Engenius. The Engenius ECB350 was set up to serve as an Access Points so that a fast and efficient WiFi Network which can be easily roamed from any location was at the client’s disposal. For LAN distribution we installed three Netgear GS108PE 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch with 4 Port POE.
A media player had to be added along with the Oppo Blu-Ray Player and Cable Box sources already integrated into this system. Our favorite media player by far is the Apple TV with its multitude of apps and easy airplay solutions. The Apple TV was a huge hit with our client as well once they discovered they could mirror photos and videos from their phone directly to their large projection screen. Soon the room would serve for conferences or meetings as well when discussing upcoming projects using power point presentations or excel spread sheets for their business on the big screen.
Components and Cables
Amplifier: Emotiva XPA-5
Pre-Amplifier: Marants SR5009
Front LCR Speakers: James Loudspeaker 630OW
Side Surround Speaker: James Loudspeaker 630OW
Rear Surround Speakers: James Loudspeaker 630OW
Subwoofers: James Loudspeaker EMB12
Projector: Panasonic PT-AR100U
Projection Screen: Da-Lite 70319V Cinema Contour 137” Diagonal Motorized Projection Screen
Home Automation Controller: Control4 HC-250
Universal Remote Control: Control4 SR-260
Network Switch: Netgear GS108PE 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Switch
WiFi Access Point: Engenius ECB350
Media Player: Apple TV 3rd Generation
Speaker Cable: Tributaries 12 AWG Speaker Wire
HDMI Cables: Tributaries UHDP-010B
Stereo Analog Cables: Tributaries 4A-010B
Optical Cable: Tributaries 2AO-010B
RCA to XLR Cables: Emotiva RCA to XLR 3 Meter Cable
Digital to Analog Converter: FiiO D3 Digital to Analog Converter
We had extremely high expectations for this room, both in terms of the way we designed it and the equipment we chose. It most certainly did not disappoint. The movie watching experience was one of the best we had ever set up for a Dedicated Cinema Room. The James Loudspeaker on walls were so dynamic and realistic the cinema stage completely enveloped you, leaving you feeling encapsulated in the ongoing movie scene. Effects and realism shined bright with these speakers and the powerhouse Emotiva XPA-5 drove each chord like a champ.
Musically the setup was excellent in multi channel stereo but the James 630OW being primarily Home Cinema speakers could not deliver a complete blend of mids highs and lows in stereo. The Control4 Home Automation system was flawless and made controlling the entire setup a breeze.
The biggest contributing factor to take this system over the top though was the Oppo Blu-Ray Player. If placing a lesser quality blu-ray player in place of it, the entire experience is changed. The Oppo brought out nuances such as the grass rustling and background scores in theatrical scenes which could not be delivered to such a high level by other Blu-Ray Players. The Apple TV also made a big impact with allowing easy airplay of video and music directly to the system without having to connect any cables or wires.
The Final Verdict
This system was the best cinema room we had designed to date, but we learned a lot about the equipment we used and how to improve even further on this setup in the future. One major factor which we felt could have been improved on was the James Loudspeaker EMB12 subwoofer. They provide localized bass and don’t provide the tight punch we have come to expect from sealed subs of their price point. In the future we would definitely change out these subwoofers with Rythmik Audio or SVS.
For amplification the Emotiva was amazing and rock solid. We have been partial to Audiocontrol in the past for setups such as these, but the Emotiva really delivered and at a cheaper price point as well. The Oppo BDP-103D is a true star performer and took the setup to another level.
We regret not using the BDP-105D for its saber dac though, but being that this setup was immensely focused on the movie watching experience and not stereophile grade audio, we felt the BDP-105D would be overkill.
The James Loudspeaker 630OW are some of the most expressive and detailed speakers we have listened to till date. At their price point they can make even the most learned audiophile have a second listen. Our client was thrilled with the cinematic experience and till date uses his room almost every day for all his entertainment experiences.