Home cinema install: Lofty ambitions

Climb the stairs to a comfortable cinema eyrie where soundproofing is king

When an avid film-watcher came to St Albans-based FAB AV with plans for a cinema room under his roof, it didn’t look like the easiest of installs. Fitting in a 2.37:1 projector screen and seating for three people, and specifying as close to reference-level 7.1-channel sound as could be achieved, would be a challenge. But with the help of an anamorphic lens, FAB AV managed to live up to his lofty ambitions…

The main concern was sound-proofing, as the room is above the bedrooms in this semi-detached house. Ultimately, the quality of the sound isolation would determine how loud the system could be run once installed.

An eye on the future
Though the owner enjoys films of every genre, he didn’t see any call for a dedicated video server, as he was counting on HD content being available to stream from internet suppliers in the future. That certainly helped keep the budget down, but there was no avoiding the necessity for a lot of building work.

Stud walls were constructed at the front and rear of the room, and isolated from the rest of the roof structure using 1cm thick isolation strips made from recycled car tyres. The walls and sloping ceiling were covered with two layers of 15mm plasterboard, sandwiching a layer of Green Glue, the wonder soundproofing material.

The floor comprised 22mm flooring chipboard, glued and screwed to the new floor joists. This was then covered with another layer of Green Glue, and an 18mm marine ply floating floor was laid on top to provide mechanical decoupling from the house structure. A gap of 10mm was left around the room so any vibration on the floor would not transfer to the walls.

The front wall hides the chimney breast, and also houses three Klipsch KL-650-THX speakers behind an 100in Screen Excellence acoustically-transparent, fixed 2.37 format, projector screen. surround duties are taken care of by two Klipsch KS-7800-THX speakers mounted in the sloped ceiling, adjacent to the three seats. Two further Klipsch KL-7800-THX speakers have been mounted in the rear wall on either side of the door.

There are two Klipsch KW120-THX subwoofers at the 25 per cent marks on the front wall, and two Monitor Audio GSW 12 subwoofers at the 25per cent marks on the back wall. All speakers and seats are carefully positioned to meet industry standards. Audio is delivered via an Onkyo SC-5507 processor, working in tandem with a Sherbourn 7/200 power amplifier. The system has been optimised for the environment by carrying out a HAA (Home Acoustic Alliance) sound calibration.

As for pictures, the JVC HD990 D-ILA projector and Panamorph anamorphic lens are suspended from the ceiling. Since the projector had to be located inside the room, the JVCwas chosen for its low noise performance – as well as its HD flair.

The whole system is controlled by an RTI XP-8 processor and RTI T-3v touchscreen remote, and lighting is part of the whole-house system also installed by FAB AV. As a source is selected, the projector and amplification turn on and the lights dim.

Two 24U equipment racks house all the electronics in an actively cooled cupboard constructed in the eves. A thermostat behind the equipment turns on an extractor fan when the environment reaches 25°C. The main cinema room also has a wall-mounted air conditioning unit installed above the screen, but sprayed Satin black to blend in with the environment.

The wall behind the screen is covered in an acoustically-transparent black cloth to improve the perceived contrast of the picture. The lucky owner has a choice of video sources, including an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player, Humax FOXSAT HDR, a Topfield HD satellite box and a media PC.

Wow factor
On final calibration, the room had achieved the owner’s desires, with a level of 109dB being delivered to the centre seat. ‘I had always wanted to dedicate the loft space to a home cinema of some type,’ he says, ‘but always had major doubts about how far we could really go because of soundproofing issues. I raised my doubts at the planning stage, and was assured this could be dealt with.

‘Now it’s finished all I can say is: wow! I can sit in the cinema with sound turned right up and you can only just hear a faint rumble in the bedroom directly below. The neighbours are still speaking to me, and assure me they are not inconvenienced, even at full volume!’

He’s also impressed by how the technology has fused together: ‘Everything “fits” perfectly and works exactly as it should. The image quality is superb and the sound is flawless. The amount of science behind many of the decisions, such as the choice of certain construction materials, was eye-opening.

‘However, I have had my questions answered and a range of options or solutions presented to me clearly at every stage. I couldn’t be happier with the finished room and now spend as much of my time in there as possible. In fact, I have a hard time leaving!’


Stewart: 8.5ft screen
Klipsch: 3x KL650 THX LCR speakers; 2x KS7800 THX surround speakers; 2x KL7800 THX rear surround speakers; 2x KW120 THX subwoofers; KA 1000 THX subwoofer amplifier
Monitor Audio: 2x GSW12 subwoofers
Sherbourn: 7/200 power amplifier
Onkyo: PR-SC5077 audio controller
JVC: HD990 D-ILA projector
Panamorph: Anamorphic lens, sled and mount
Screen Excellence: 100in wide acoustically transparent fixed Reference screen with 4K fabric
Oppo: BDP-83 Blu-ray player
Topfield: TF7700 HD satellite receiver
Performance: Media PC
RTI: XP-8 control processor; T3v remote
Helvar: Digidim lighting control system
Middle Atlantic: 2x 24U equipment racks
Signature: 3x home cinema recliner seats

Price: £56,000

Installer: FAB Audio Visual Ltd.


Getting comfy 
Available in three standard colours and five to special order, the Signature reclining chairs are modular and interlocking

Padding up
The speakers housings were fitted with isolation pads so they could be run loud without break-through into the bedrooms below

Super glue
Green Glue is not glue, though it is green. FAB AV got through 60 tubes of the visco-elastic damping compound on this job

Room with a view
A JVC HD990 projector provides the bigscreen visuals

Big stud
The stud walls constructed at the front and rear of the room were isolated from the rest of the roof structure using 10mm thick isolation strips made from recycled car tyres

This feature first appeared in the December 2011 issue of Home Cinema Choice.