Home Cinema Room Design Ideas
Starting with the room, to turn it into an exceptional Home Cinema involves juggling the following parameters:
- Screen / Display
An Exceptional Home Cinema Room allows you to be fully involved inthe film, without annoying distractions to take you out of the suspension of disbelief. To this end, we’ll go through each of these elements and share some of our techniques that help to turn a Home Cinema Design into an Exceptional one.
Home Cinema Room Design: Layout
The Layout is a fundamental element of the design, it balances the screen size and position, Seating positions, and determines where the speakers should ideally go. It is important that every seat has a clear unobstructed view of the screen, and has a balanced sound to go with the picture.
For an Exceptional Home Cinema Design, we augment our gut feelings and design experience with a 3D model, where we can check the sight lines and ensure there is space for the requisite number of seats etc.
Screen / Display
The choice of Screen can make the difference between a TV feel and a Cinema feel to the system. If you keep going up in size, it’s possible to get to the stage where you can’t take in all of the movie in your field of vision – it’s the reason few people sit in the front row at a commercial cinema!
For the true cinema feel however, there’s little to beat a large projection screen with a high quality image projected onto it in a darkened room. The choice between 4K / UHD (2160 lines) and regular full HD (1080 lines) is really a matter of the source material and any upgrade / future proofing plans you may have. At the time of writing the first UHD Blu-Ray players and titles are just becoming available, and this increased resolution is noticeable on the larger screens.
Home Cinema Room Design: Speakers
We are often asked to create a solution where the speakers are very small and unobtrusive. There usually follows a discussion where we talk about the laws of physics and the ability to get a quart out of a pint pot etc. which is largely true. There are two things that go into the cost of a loudspeaker: the sound quality it produces, and the look of it. Generally, we like to focus on the sound quality, as this generates the performance of the system, however you also have to live with the system, and if you can’t stand the look of it, then subjectively it’s never going to perform as well.
For pure sonic performance, a high quality floor standing speaker is typically going to sound the best. People often differentiate between a “home cinema speaker”, and a “stereo speaker”, however to our mind there is really no difference. Home Cinema Systems are sometimes driven harder (louder) than when listening to music on a stereo, and certainly the system has to not run out of steam for the size of room you use. Both Stereo and Home Cinema systems, have to faithfully replay audio at the best quality you can afford, so the difference is really the number of speakers deployed, and the addition of a Low Frequency Effects (LFE) channel.
Our highest performing systems sonically have the speakers outside of the image, with discrete floorstanding loudspeakers, however the highest performing systems aesthetically, have the speakers behind the screen, with an acoustically transparent screen. Part of the cost here is of course the installation, which is of necessity more complicated.
Home Cinema Room Design: Amplifiers
Home Cinema systems often revolve around a single integrated AV Receiver. This is a combination of Video Switch, DAC, Pre-amp and power amp, with of course decoding capabilities for the audio formats of choice. The performance of the AV Receivers has to be looked at closely however, with a great degree of specmanship going on. Frequently the Power output is quoted based around only two channels being driven, with a lower power figure when all channels are driven. The different use of channels means that manufacturers can often get away with this, however it means that the system has a compromise, and the channels will not necessarily perform equally.
We like to install Home Cinema Amplifiers with equal performance on all of the channels we use. It means you get a more reliable and phase coherent signal from all speakers, which means you get better steering and audio image. We suspect that manufacturers compromise on the audio image and phase coherancy, relying on the additional speaker channels to position the audio image crudely.
Exceptional Home Cinema Designs split out the Surround Processor from the Power amplifiers, with the power amplifiers all being equal and able to supply full power together. It’s the same principal as separates in conventional HiFi.
Home Cinema Room Design: Sources
Some of the sources are dictated by the customer and by available broadcast media. Typically these include terrestrial and/or satellite broadcast media. In terms of personal media, most customers have collections of DVDs and Blu-Ray films, and these are often augmented by streaming services.
Exceptional Home Cinema Designs however, may also include a video server. One of the best of these is Kaleidescape, and at the time of writing, they have just launched a series of 4K Servers and players, with 4K movies downloadable from their movie store.
There are a number of parameters of a Home Cinema Design that the Sources control: If the sources include disk players, then these need to be accessable to put a disk into. Ventillation is important for all of the Electronics, and some sources do not like to get too hot. Many sources need network and Internet access – if you are planning to stream 4K content, then a high speed Internet connection is a prerequisite.
Home Cinema Room Design: Seating
When watching a movie, it is likely that you will be sitting in a fixed position for a number of hours. A comfortable seat and good relation to the screen stops you from becoming stiff and fatigued, which will burst the bubble of being involved in the film. Whilst it is possible to get perfectly acceptable results with mass produced sofas, an exceptional Home Cinema will have seating that allows you to position the seat into the most comfortable posture, which will be slightly different for each person.
It’s possible to add features such as D-Box movement to the seating for a dynamic, tactile addition to the movie. D-Box Actuators requires seating that is strong enough to take the forces of the seat throwing you around, and high-end dedicated home cinema seats are able to have D-Box mounting brackets installed in the factory so they are strong enough.
The height and position of the seating controls the sight lines available to the viewers, so the seat dimensions are critical to the cinema design. Having said that it is possible to be somewhat generous with seating platform heights to permit a wide range of seating to work.
If the seating involves electric mechanisms, then of course provision has to be made in the cinema design with suitable power sockets, and enough space to cope with foot-rests coming up and seat-backs going down.
Home Cinema Room Design: Lighting
Good lighting within the Home Cinema, allows for a variety of moods and a nice warm feeling welcoming you to the room. The Lighting has to be able to cope with providing enough light to enable effective cleaning, and to also provide a subdued atmosphere for movie night. Features within the Home cinema such as movie posters etc. can be illuminated to good effect and help to set a mood of excitement for the movies to come.
Of course many Home Cinema Designs incorporate the Home Cinema into a Lounge, and the design in this case has to cope with the alternative uses of the room. In with lighting, we include ites such as curtains and black-out blinds. Light leaking into the room will distract you from the movie, and spoil the effect.
We’ve also incorporated star ceilings into a number of our Home Cinema Designs, and these add an ambience unlike any other. We’ve found that less is often more when it comes to star ceilings. Less that is in terms of light rather than number. Lots of faint “stars” produces an excellent effect, whilst few bright “stars” becomes a bit gaudy. The incorporation of colour and twinkle effects can also add, though it’s important to note that the twinkle effects on fibre-optic star ceilings employ a motor turning a wheel to interrupt the light, and these are sometimes a bit noisy, so need to be tucked away and mechanically isolated from the ceiling or structure of the room.
Home Cinema Room Design: Decor
A Home Cinema is all about the delivery of the movie to your eyes and ears, however the decor gives the feel of class and luxury to the room. The palette should be muted and neutral, as any large areas of vibrant colour will reflect back onto the screen and produce a colour cast to the image.
Its possible to include acoustic treatment into the room decor, and this can dramatically help prevent the room shape from adversely affecting the sound. The acoustic treatment can be as minimal as heavy curtains and carpets, to a full-on computer modelled acoustic treatment where carefully designed absorbers and diffusers are hidden behind acoustic wall coverings. These may be pannelled to cope with particular designs and themes, and can also hide loudspeakers and lighting for a full high-spec design.
We include heating, ventillation and air-conditioning in the decor – whilst you typically don’t want to see the vents, you do want air to be circulated so the room doesn’t get too stuffy. Slapping in an air-conditioning unit after the design will look out of place and it may be difficult to incorporate the pipework etc. We feel that the room decor shouldn’t be out of place with the decor in the rest of the house, however if the cinema room is a man-cave type of space, a unique decor may be part of the design.
Home Cinema Room Design: Control
Having a wonderful Home Cinema can be spoilt, if it is difficult and awkward to use. We think that designing in ease of use, is vital for the space to be used and enjoyed to the full. In our travels we have come across plenty of control systems installed in home cinemas, where they have been over specified, with awkward control designs. The control of a system should be intuitive, with simple controls that should not need any serious training to drive. The Design impact on the room may be minimal, however will typically involve some wires linking devices and control points. If these are designed in from the beginning, control may be easy and reliable.
Control can be split between dedicated remote controls and iPad / tablet based systems with costs from a few hundred pounds to many thousands if the system is incorporated within a whole house control system.
We think it is important not to go solely for a tablet based remote, unless it is dedicated to the job. iPads / tablets, being general purpose devices, have a tendency to wander off to different rooms. so a dedicated tablet or remtoe is more likely to stay where you want it.
If you have a Home Cinema Design project in mind, come and talk to us. We have a wealth of experience and are bursting with ideas for exceptional Home cinema Rooms at a variety of budgets.