An ultra-home theatre integrating Hollywood-grade equipment showcases the grand possibilities of cinema in residential spaces.

Conceived from the start to be eminently practical as well as aspirational, one of the main requirements for the ‘Cinema Delux’ installation at AV specialist retailer Surround Sounds in Nedlands, Perth, was for customers to be able to imagine enjoying a similar system in their own homes.

So while all the equipment is professional, commercial-grade gear chosen for performance and reliability against a reference standard of Hollywood film and music-mastering studios, the main function of the home theatre is to fully demonstrate what is achievable to potential clients making the move to full HD entertainment, and to be representative of what they can have for themselves.

“We wanted to show them the evolution of immersive home cinema,” says Mark Jeisman, chief designer of the theatre system and director of Surround Custom, which collaborated with Surround Sounds to bring this new theatre to life. It was an ideal pairing too as, between them, the CEDIA award-winning duo share vast experience in installation and integration work in the prestige new home and luxury shipping markets, making them no strangers to demands for the highest possible quality.

Out with the old…

Replacing an impressive but ageing multi-tiered home theatre that had served the guys at Surround Sounds well for many years, the experts wisely hired in yet more experts to help out. Butler Interiors, a Perth interior design firm, were tasked with providing cabinetry and interior decoration to the highest possible finish to achieve the essential ‘wow!’ factor for the build, working closely alongside the teams from Surround Custom and Surround Sounds. The old theatre room was gutted – only a single supporting wall remained of the previous structure – and a new room grew up in the space: a new timber floor, new ceiling and walls with double linings of high density fibre board and Gyprock and fabric-padded panelling throughout. Then every cavity was filled with acoustic insulation and, to cap the structure off, the team punched holes in every surface possible, to reduce resonance.

Not quite done with the walls, the Surround Sounds and Surround Custom teams wanted to surprise their customers with some surround spectacle of another kind, finally lining the walls with 180 metres of coloured LED strip lighting that can create a light show of over 16 million colours!

Ready now for the heart of the installation, a Crestron 7.1 surround and control processor was installed to handle the audio and route the video from the three-chip Sim2 C3X DLP projector with Schneider-Isco lens/Cineslide sled system. The projector, housed in its own ventilated enclosure, throws incredible images up onto the Stewart 158 inch Anamorphic Cine V Micro-perforated screen, producing a high definition, 2:35.1 Cinemascope picture and supported by true 7.1 HD sound. Oh, it will display in 16:9 too, if necessary.

Relaying that sound is the 7.1 Professional Genelec Active speaker monitoring system. This comprises three, 15-inch three-way LCR speakers, flush-mounted two-way surround speakers and a 4x 12 inch Genelec subwoofer sitting on its lonesome on a separate, isolating plinth (although the Genelec LCR amplifiers are nearby on their own rack). Some speakers are also installed behind the screen and all are balanced to produce a striking sound stage and perfect tonal balance.

A B&R 40RU equipment rack, hidden from view by cavity sliding doors and located at the back of the room, keeps everything tidy but also, crucially, accessible when it comes time for the demonstrations.

For those about to rock

Good for anything you throw at it, the Surround Sound team are able to demonstrate everything from Blu-ray movies, HD Foxtel and television, through to PlayStation 3 games in high definition. There’s a Kaleidoscope movie server system dishing out favourites for any prospective buyer, and even an Apple TV unit, chock full of content to sample up on the big screen.

All this gear is complemented beautifully by the sumptuous interior created by Butler Interiors. Centre stage are the two ‘burnt orange’ chaise longue-style reclining seats, finished in leather and placed proudly on a dedicated podium right in front of the screen. Behind this showpiece seating is an equally radical white leather sofa on another elevated platform that could seat an entire family.

But they won’t be thinking about how comfortable it is, as they’ll still be dazzled by the motorised Star Trek-style door at the entry and blown away by the introductory light show, powered by Clipsal C-Bus and DMX control. And that’s before they even switch the home theatre on!

A showpiece installation like this needs to be shown off, of course, so everyone can experience just how good home theatre can be when you go to the experts for advice. And it seems to have worked. For ‘wow!’ moments, it’s hard to beat the praise of a fellow AV professional. At the official launch of the Cinema DeLux, ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) calibrator Aaron Rigg declared the new theatre to be “the best facility of its kind in the country.” Better still, says Jeisman, “we even impressed the Bowers & Wilkins regional manager when he saw it on a recent visit – and we don’t even have anything from B&W in the room!”

Job done, we think.