Home cinema install: Underground retreat

We dig deep into an award-winning subterranean cinema room

Designing a home cinema installation can be challenging enough, but having to do the work in a short time really sorts the men from the boys. St Albans-based installer FAB Audio Visual won a CEDIA Award for Best Home Cinema under £40,000 for this stunning system, designed for a client who was big on expectation, but short on time.

He had just brought the property from a developer and the basement room intended for use as a home cinema had been pre-wired for a basic media room set-up. When it became clear that he wanted something more ambitious, the positioning of the electrical points and to how to incorporate his AV requirements had to be decided within 48 hours. FAB AV was able to deliver an impressive solution, which also enabled the room to be used as a family living area. 

To keep the floor space uncluttered, a false wall was constructed to hide the three front speakers. A Digital Projection iVision30 projector provides the video signal, and is suspended from the ceiling behind the seating. Featuring a high light output of up to 3100 ANSI lumens, the projector produces stunning picture quality on the large screen, and was ideal for this installation as it is compact and practically noiseless.

The room is controlled by a Phillips Pronto TSU-9600 touch screen remote, a Crestron CP2E processor and a custom software module that FAB AV created to interface between the two. The video is switched by a Kramer Sierra Pro video controller, which is also part of the house-wide video distribution system. The spacious feel of the room is retained as all the equipment is hidden inside a full-height 19in rack in a mechanically-ventilated cupboard at the back.

As the room is also used for entertaining, the walls have been painted in light neutral tones to increase the impression of space. The Lutron lighting is controlled as part of the whole-house lighting system, including low-level floor washers below the screen to add impact. When a movie is selected on the controller, the amplification and source equipment power up, the lights dim and the environment is transformed at the touch of a button from a living room into a state-of-the-art home cinema.


Digital Projection: iVision 30 DLP projector
Screen Excellence: 110in fixed 16:9 acoustically transparent projection screen
Onkyo: PR-SC5507 AV processor
Onkyo: BD-SP807 Blu-ray player
Sky: 2 x Sky HD receivers
Nintendo: Wii games console
Lutron: Homeworks system
Phillips: Pronto TSU-9600 touchscreen remote
Crestron: CP2E processor
FAB AV: Custom software module
Kramer: Sierra Pro video switcher
Genelec: 3 x AIW26 active speakers, 2 x AIW25 active speakers, 1 x HTS4B active subwoofer

Price: Under £40,000

Installer: FAB Audio Visual Ltd.


Lights out
Mood lighting controlled by the whole-house system turns the room from a day-to-day living space into a dedicated home cinema

High Sierra 
A Kramer Sierra Pro video switcher selects which of the multiple sources in the rack is routed to the cinema

Sky’s the limit
There are two Sky+ HD boxes, as well as an Onkyo BD-SP807 THX Blu-ray player and a Nintendo Wii games console, in the equipment rack

Silent runner
A Digital Projection iVision30 projector is fixed on the ceiling behind the seating position. It was chosen partly because its near-silent operation negates the need for a cabinet housing

Subterranean sub
Compact but powerful, Genelec’s HTS4B subwoofer claims a frequency range of 18-120Hz, and offers sensitivity, bass roll-off and crossover phase-matching controls that can be adjusted to suit different acoustical environments and positioning

Heard but not seen
The rest of the Genelec active speakers are housed in-wall, adding another level of stealth to the system

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