Home cinema install: Magic of the lamp

Marvel at this transformation of a basement into a magical cinema

There are revolutions in progress going on in the Arab world at the moment, but they’re no more stunning than the work done on this Arabian Nights-themed install by St Albans-based FAB Audio Visual (and not a shot was fired).

 A winner in CEDIA’s Over £100,000 category, the project had a pretty simple brief: ‘There’s the basement, turn it into a cinema for 12 people’. Actually, the client had a bit more than that in mind, as he also had his heart set on a dance floor and a gym. The client’s background from the Arab Emirates suggested the theme of the décor, but it was pretty well up to FAB AV to come up with the specification.

The location was on their side in one important respect – the basement was already pretty well soundproof, and there was little danger that sound would leak into the rest of the house. But of course, it would need considerable acoustic treatment to get up to the standards of a high-value home cinema system, and the walls ended up being treated with 240 tubes of Green Glue visco elastic damping compound.

Another requirement (not unusual at this end of the market) was that the majority of the AV equipment should be concealed. While that might not be the first priority of the average AV enthusiast, it’s a common theme among high-end clients who are enthusiastic about performance, but don’t feel any need to see the source equipment!

Aesthetic fit
FAB AV’s specification aimed for an installation in keeping with the rest of the property in looks, but embodying award-winning performance. Genelec speakers were chosen for their overall quality and their ability to be concealed in-wall; two Genelec A1W312 active hidden monitors were concealed either side of the 120in Screen Excellence, acoustically-transparent screen, which also hides the HT312 centre speaker, and two Genelec HTS4B floor level subwoofers were fitted.

To hide the front speakers a false wall was constructed then covered with a black, acoustically transparent cloth. The void behind it was then filled with an open-cell foam to act as a bass trap. The internal walls were then fitted with acoustic absorbers and diffusers. Dark striped silk cloth was then stretched over the remaining walls, with dark wood pelmets and skirting boards fitted to continue the Arabian theme.

The system also boasts a total of six Genelec 1W25 active mounted speakers completing the 7.1 surround sound setup.

Considerable thought went into the choice and positioning of the cinema speakers, ensuring that the best sound was delivered, but a clean uncluttered look was still achieved. The active speakers were mounted adjacent to the two rows of seats and along the back wall, either side of the projection porthole.

At the heart of the audio system sits an Onkyo SC886 processor and a Dolby Lake sound equalizer, usually found in large live music venues.

Aiming for a video experience as spectacular as the audio performance, FAB AV specified a digital projection Titan 1080p DLP projector and ISCO 3 anamorphic lens and lens carriage, chosen for their immaculate imaging capabilities. The projector was housed in a mechanically-ventilated box in the ceiling void of the room next door, eliminating any intrusive noise. The projector is separated from the cinema room by an optical glass panel.

All source equipment was housed in a 42U Middle Atlantic Rack located in the air-conditioned communication room, which is also home to the rest of the house’s AV data and communications equipment. To maximise ease of use for the client, a number of sub-systems were integrated into the operation of the room, including a Helvar lighting control system for the entire house as well as the cinema. All aspects of the home cinema can be controlled by a Crestron TMPC-8X touch screen remote (with in-wall docking station) and AV2 processor. The system allows the projector and amplification to turn on and the lights to dim as soon as a video source is selected, with the client having a range of video sources to choose from including a Kaleidescape player and video server and Sky HD.

Tread Geni-us
The clever and systematic design of this cinema also includes raised seating platforms for the rear and centre rows of Elite HTS seats, which themselves feature bass traps to help absorb low level frequencies. For the finishing decorative touches, the client selected a purple carpet, with red LED marker lights to outline the step treads.


Genelec: 2 x AOW312B active speakers, 1 x HT312B active speaker,
6 x IW25 active speakers, 2 x HTS4B active subwoofers
Onkyo: PR-SC866 Audio Processor
Dolby: Lake Audio Equalizer
Digital Imaging: Titan 1080P DLP projector
ISCO: Iscoscope 3S Anamorphic Lens, Motorised lens sled
Screen Excellence: 120in wide acoustically transparent side masking projection screen
Kaleidescape: 1080p player, 3U server
Sky HD: Receiver
Crestron: AV2 control processor, TPMC-8X plus in-wall charging dock
Helvar: Lighting control system
Middle Atlantic: 42U equipment rack and custom shelves
Elite HTS: 12x Home cinema reclining seats in Black leather

Price: £100,000

Installer: FAB Audio Visual Ltd.


Arabian lights
LED marker lights illuminate the step treads

Touchy, feely
Crestron’s control touchpad ties the whole system together

Double function
The Elite HTS chairs aren’t just comfy, they also act as bass traps

Sky’s the limit 
The giant 42U Middle Atlantic rack houses source equipment including no fewer than eight Sky HD boxes

Hidden monitors
The 120in-wide Screen Excellent screen conceals the Genelec active monitors positioned to either side

Grand design
Luxury and opulence were the keywords for this design, as the richly colourful décor makes clear

This feature first appeared in the January 2012 issue of Home Cinema Choice.