Home cinema install: Stairway to heaven

What happens when you transform a dusty old loft into a stylish six-seat cinema room?

Completed by Bournemouth-based installer Dawsons, this attic conversion has quickly become the pride and joy of its owners – and, frankly, we’re not surprised. It mixes high-end AV with inventive lighting, clever control and, most importantly, a minibar...

Making it simple

The brief from the owners was to the point. They wanted a simple-to-use cinema system built into the space available, and one that all the family could enjoy. To meet that end, a Kaleidescape Cinema One DVD server and Crestron smart control were installed, as well as Sky HD and a PlayStation 3. The server is also viewable from the owner’s own computer, letting him monitor what the children are watching upstairs.

Other neat touches, such as the motorised blind on the Velux window that automatically shuts when the cinema is in use, make this room almost idiot-proof.

Because of the attic’s dimensions, the projector screen from Screen Research is only 80in. It’s also acoustically transparent, allowing the front three Procella P6 speakers (and the 2 x 10in driver active subwoofer) to be mounted behind it in the custom-built wall. A Runco LS5 projector serves up the hi-def visuals, while amplification comes from a rack-mounted Rotel 1650 AV receiver.

Dawsons admits that the layout of the room and overall size restricted the placement of the Procella cabinets. The front left and right speakers are placed as wide apart as possible behind the acoustic screen, and the rears on the back wall are at a level with the seating zones to maintain the best performance. However, calculations found unavoidable standing waves that needed to be rectified by acoustic treatment, hence the panelling at either ends of the room.

Take a seat

With the electronics sorted, the final jobs were to install the two tiers of cinema seating (the rear three are raised up) and fit the lighting, including colour-changing LEDs around the seating stage and bar.

As you’d expect, the owners are very happy with the finished result: ‘The installation is fantastic, and we have thoroughly enjoyed the cinema so far. It has become a bit of a family event that we all sit down and pick a film – and all we need to supply is the popcorn!’

Kit Checklist…

Screen: 80in Screen Research ClearPix 3 AT 
Projector: Runco LS5 standard throw
AV receiver: Rotel RSX-1560
Speakers: 5 x Procella P6 ; 1 x Procella P10 subwoofer
Sources: Kaleidescape Cinema One; Sky HD; PS3
Control: Crestron Prodigy PMC2+ including PTX3; Crestron Prodigy TPL4 in wall keypad
Lighting: Lutron four-zone Grafik Eye; RGB LED lighting strip & driver

Price: £undisclosed

Installer: Dawsons

Five facts about this install...

Come on down!
Converting your loft to a home cinema is all very well if you can’t easily get up there. Dawsons’ solution was to install a motorised staircase (right), incorporated into the Crestron control system. The wall-mounted Crestron PTL-4 keypad also has PIN protection, meaning the owners’ children can’t sneak in and cause mayhem when they should be doing homework...

Simple selection
With the brief being to make the system as easy to use as possible, it’s unsurprising that a Kaleidescape player lurks in the Middle Atlantic rack – this provides slick, searchable access to the family’s DVD collection

Seat of power
A Rotel 1560 AV receiver provides 100W-per-channel amplification to the Procella speakers, and provides lossless audio decoding of the PS3 and Kaleidescape sources

As big as can be
The sloping roof of the cinema room means that 80in was the limit in terms of projector screen – the model chosen was a ClearPix 3 from Screen Research

Wall of sound
The left, right and centre channel speakers are housed in a false wall, sited behind the screen. The wall has also been fitted with suede-covered acoustic panels

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