Classic Cinema 20 years on....

Classic2000

Active Member
Although I have been an avid reader of avforums from the start I have only just joined. When I built my home cinema 20 years ago it was quite innovative and groundbreaking at the time but it’s pretty old hat now. The technology has moved so far ahead in the last 20 years that you can achieve much more than I did then for a lot less money.

Also these forums are a rich source of information, advice, help, experience and inspiration that just wasn’t there 20 years ago. If I were considering building a home cinema now, I would have saved a shed load of money by building a shed or having a loft conversion as some of you have done to very good effect.

I’m 73 years old and have been into high end audio since my teens. I got into home cinema in the early 90s when I put the soundtrack of a Star Trek movie I was watching on TV through my audio system. That was the real start of my journey. I had gone from VHS tape, Yamaha AVRs, a hotch potch of speakers and my TV to a couple of laser disc players, 7 ProAc Studio 250 speakers, 2 Snell 1800 subs, 6 Parasound 1500A power amps, a 6’ drop down screen and a SIM2 CRT projector, all housed in the lounge of my mid-terrace house.

We have a 60’ garden which at the time had a corrugated asbestos garage filled with junk at the bottom of it, so I said to my wife in early 1999, “Why don’t we pull the garage down and replace it with a Marley double garage, line it out and move the home cinema equipment in there”. She jumped at the idea, primarily I think so she could get her lounge back and also for the sake of harmonious relations with the neighbours!


F0416834-6290-4788-B877-B894E76DDDD8.jpeg


That was the beginning of the most expensive, time consuming and stressful time I had ever spent on a hobby! I contacted Acoustic GRG regarding ways of improving the acoustics in the proposed Marley garage. They suggested I build the cinema out of RPG DiffusorBlox designed by Peter D’Antonio, a high end American acoustic enguneer

62D1D1B3-320A-47A6-BE7E-BB61CD626351.jpeg


OK, I thought, that’s the way to go. So I got a surveyor friend to draw up some plans to submit to the council and they rejected them. Fortunately he knew one of the structural engineers on the council and he drew up some plans that were accepted. The reinforced steel concrete base they wanted laid on which to build the cinema was way over the top. In fact a friend of mine who was a university lecturer in civil engineering said that you could build a block of flats on that base!

I decided to go ahead anyway and my surveyor friend recommended a good builder who agreed to do the job but said as he’d never built anything like that before, I had to agree to pay whatever it cost on an going basis. Work started at the beginning of April 2000 and the builder had allowed 6 weeks to complete it. The cinema base would be 30’ x 15’ but because we live on the side of a hill the boundary walls had to be 9” thick and steel reinforced. The bottom half of the garden had to be lowered by 4’ before the base could be dug out. By the end of that 6 weeks, all I had was the base which had used up all the money I had allocated for the whole building!

C360C2AF-E0CF-46EC-9AC7-38935A0706FA.jpeg


Work resumed in July with the added complication that the diffuser blocks come in 2 types, diffusers and absorbers, and they are built in vertical columns so they cannot be keyed in like a normal brick wall. You have to build piers at each corner and lay steel rods in grooves in the blocks to tie them in for structural rigidity. Once the building was up there were 2 layers of acoustic grade plaster board on the inside of the ceiling, the space between the ceiling joists were filled with acoustic grade rock wool with one layer of plaster board on top of that. The eaves had plaster board on the inside, acoustic grade rock wool between them, 2 layers of acoustic grade plaster board on top, covered with marine plywood and then tiled. As one of the builder’s workmen said to me, “When you decide to do something, you certainly don’t f*** about do you?!”

D4FB0212-EBFC-49C4-853F-A7A0901FFD17.jpeg


By the time the building was built it had cost twice what I had budgeted for it and I still had to install the air conditioning, under floor heating, lighting, create the interior, decorate it and buy carpets and seats.

The interior walls have to be battened and covered in acoustically transparent fabric in order for the RPG blocks to work properly. I had originally wanted to have a black ceiling, black fabric walls and a black carpet but my wife vetoed that! She agreed to a black ceiling but chose light and dark blue fabric for the walls and a dark blue carpet. As a compromise I put the screen in a 3’ deep black hole.

By November 2000 it was ready to install the equipment.

798432DF-120D-4DEB-9540-AFD6532335CE.jpeg


You enter the foyer of the cinema through 2 doors, an outward opening security door and an inward opening fire door.

8EB0DA51-CF54-41ED-9665-C72A24492A86.jpeg


The foyer is 5’ x 13’ and contains the equipment, my Blu-rays and allegedly signed photos of some if our favourite stars.

488DC76E-76F8-48BB-894D-4DEA0C18D73E.jpeg


The cinema itself is 21’ x 13’ and is entered by a lead cored door. Initially I had a 6’6” 1.78:1 screen on the wall and because at that time acoustically transparent screens weren’t as good as they are now, the front speakers and subs hidden in front of the screen inside an acoustically transparent frame.

F4DFFC86-E59A-4C52-8F03-A5B7C74182DE.jpeg


The side and rear speakers are inside acoustically transparent columns.

5DF5A4B4-32B2-4557-9026-4F4B16BA6902.jpeg


As I am a lifelong Batman fanatic, I had this painted in the rear right hand corner of the ceiling. We decided to call the cinema Classic because when we were going out together as teenagers our favourite pastime on a Saturday evening was to go to a little cinema called The Classic which was sandwiched between 2 shops in the High Street and specialised in showing old classic films.

I must say the room sounded pretty amazing given there was no additional room correction. There was no Dirac or Trinnov then so all you could do was use a graphic equaliser on each speaker and sub.

00F81743-0C1E-4C94-B2ED-C2459ED702F2.jpeg


The cinema was featured in the April 2002 issue of Home Cinema Choice.

I have made a number of changes to the system over the years. The first change in 2003 was to replace the screen with an 8’ 2.35:1 screen with electric masking. I later ditched my laser discs and replaced them all with DVDs. Then when Blu-ray came out I did the same with the DVDs.

The system remained unchanged until 2008 when I bought my first Lumagen from Gordon Fraser and he has been the most profound influence re the changes I have made in the cinema since then.

Gordon is not only a really nice guy, he has a great deal of experience and really knows what he is doing. He will tell you like it is if you ask him, will readily admit if he doesn’t know and is totally devoid of any hint of b******t.

In 2009 I replaced my Meridian processor with my first Arcam. When my SIM2 projector developed a fault in 2010 I bought a JVC950 which was so much better than the SIM2. In 2014 I replaced the Arcam with an Arcam 950. In 2015 I bought a Lumagen Pro and at the end of 2016 I got a new Epson 10,000 and Oppo 203 from Gordon. I must confess, after he set it up, the Epson/Lumagen Pro combination is superb and for the money I paid, a steal.

Last year I had to replace all my speakers. I’d had them all for over 25 years and they all had drivers with foam surrounds which had all turned to mush. I now have 7 ProAc DT8s and 2 JBL4645Cs driven by a Crown XTI4002 power amp.

I have just replaced the Arcam 950 with an Arcam AV40 supplied by Gordon and discovered the joy of Dirac when he set it up! As well as the increased transparency, clarity and increased detail resolution, the most profound change is in the subs. They are now operating to their full capability and potential to the point of being truly scary in terms of their speed, transparency, power and dynamic range. It was good to see the smile on Gordon’s face when he had finished!

That’s my journey so far and I don’t think I will be making any more significant upgrades to my system during what’s left if my lifetime. The only thing I am hoping to do is to have some black velvet curtains made so that I can black out the front of the cinema which my wife has now agreed to!

If you have read this far, thank you and I hope you have enjoyed sharing in my home cinema journey.
 

Nayfne

Distinguished Member
Although I have been an avid reader of avforums from the start I have only just joined. When I built my home cinema 20 years ago it was quite innovative and groundbreaking at the time but it’s pretty old hat now. The technology has moved so far ahead in the last 20 years that you can achieve much more than I did then for a lot less money.

Also these forums are a rich source of information, advice, help, experience and inspiration that just wasn’t there 20 years ago. If I were considering building a home cinema now, I would have saved a shed load of money by building a shed or having a loft conversion as some of you have done to very good effect.

I’m 73 years old and have been into high end audio since my teens. I got into home cinema in the early 90s when I put the soundtrack of a Star Trek movie I was watching on TV through my audio system. That was the real start of my journey. I had gone from VHS tape, Yamaha AVRs, a hotch potch of speakers and my TV to a couple of laser disc players, 7 ProAc Studio 250 speakers, 2 Snell 1800 subs, 6 Parasound 1500A power amps, a 6’ drop down screen and a SIM2 CRT projector, all housed in the lounge of my mid-terrace house.

We have a 60’ garden which at the time had a corrugated asbestos garage filled with junk at the bottom of it, so I said to my wife in early 1999, “Why don’t we pull the garage down and replace it with a Marley double garage, line it out and move the home cinema equipment in there”. She jumped at the idea, primarily I think so she could get her lounge back and also for the sake of harmonious relations with the neighbours!


View attachment 1357404

That was the beginning of the most expensive, time consuming and stressful time I had ever spent on a hobby! I contacted Acoustic GRG regarding ways of improving the acoustics in the proposed Marley garage. They suggested I build the cinema out of RPG DiffusorBlox designed by Peter D’Antonio, a high end American acoustic enguneer

View attachment 1357405

OK, I thought, that’s the way to go. So I got a surveyor friend to draw up some plans to submit to the council and they rejected them. Fortunately he knew one of the structural engineers on the council and he drew up some plans that were accepted. The reinforced steel concrete base they wanted laid on which to build the cinema was way over the top. In fact a friend of mine who was a university lecturer in civil engineering said that you could build a block of flats on that base!

I decided to go ahead anyway and my surveyor friend recommended a good builder who agreed to do the job but said as he’d never built anything like that before, I had to agree to pay whatever it cost on an going basis. Work started at the beginning of April 2000 and the builder had allowed 6 weeks to complete it. The cinema base would be 30’ x 15’ but because we live on the side of a hill the boundary walls had to be 9” thick and steel reinforced. The bottom half of the garden had to be lowered by 4’ before the base could be dug out. By the end of that 6 weeks, all I had was the base which had used up all the money I had allocated for the whole building!

View attachment 1357406

Work resumed in July with the added complication that the diffuser blocks come in 2 types, diffusers and absorbers, and they are built in vertical columns so they cannot be keyed in like a normal brick wall. You have to build piers at each corner and lay steel rods in grooves in the blocks to tie them in for structural rigidity. Once the building was up there were 2 layers of acoustic grade plaster board on the inside of the ceiling, the space between the ceiling joists were filled with acoustic grade rock wool with one layer of plaster board on top of that. The eaves had plaster board on the inside, acoustic grade rock wool between them, 2 layers of acoustic grade plaster board on top, covered with marine plywood and then tiled. As one of the builder’s workmen said to me, “When you decide to do something, you certainly don’t f*** about do you?!”

View attachment 1357407

By the time the building was built it had cost twice what I had budgeted for it and I still had to install the air conditioning, under floor heating, lighting, create the interior, decorate it and buy carpets and seats.

The interior walls have to be battened and covered in acoustically transparent fabric in order for the RPG blocks to work properly. I had originally wanted to have a black ceiling, black fabric walls and a black carpet but my wife vetoed that! She agreed to a black ceiling but chose light and dark blue fabric for the walls and a dark blue carpet. As a compromise I put the screen in a 3’ deep black hole.

By November 2000 it was ready to install the equipment.

View attachment 1357408

You enter the foyer of the cinema through 2 doors, an outward opening security door and an inward opening fire door.

View attachment 1357409

The foyer is 5’ x 13’ and contains the equipment, my Blu-rays and allegedly signed photos of some if our favourite stars.

View attachment 1357414

The cinema itself is 21’ x 13’ and is entered by a lead cored door. Initially I had a 6’6” 1.78:1 screen on the wall and because at that time acoustically transparent screens weren’t as good as they are now, the front speakers and subs hidden in front of the screen inside an acoustically transparent frame.

View attachment 1357415

The side and rear speakers are inside acoustically transparent columns.

View attachment 1357419

As I am a lifelong Batman fanatic, I had this painted in the rear right hand corner of the ceiling. We decided to call the cinema Classic because when we were going out together as teenagers our favourite pastime on a Saturday evening was to go to a little cinema called The Classic which was sandwiched between 2 shops in the High Street and specialised in showing old classic films.

I must say the room sounded pretty amazing given there was no additional room correction. There was no Dirac or Trinnov then so all you could do was use a graphic equaliser on each speaker and sub.

View attachment 1357469

The cinema was featured in the April 2002 issue of Home Cinema Choice.

I have made a number of changes to the system over the years. The first change in 2003 was to replace the screen with an 8’ 2.35:1 screen with electric masking. I later ditched my laser discs and replaced them all with DVDs. Then when Blu-ray came out I did the same with the DVDs.

The system remained unchanged until 2008 when I bought my first Lumagen from Gordon Fraser and he has been the most profound influence re the changes I have made in the cinema since then.

Gordon is not only a really nice guy, he has a great deal of experience and really knows what he is doing. He will tell you like it is if you ask him, will readily admit if he doesn’t know and is totally devoid of any hint of b******t.

In 2009 I replaced my Meridian processor with my first Arcam. When my SIM2 projector developed a fault in 2010 I bought a JVC950 which was so much better than the SIM2. In 2014 I replaced the Arcam with an Arcam 950. In 2015 I bought a Lumagen Pro and at the end of 2016 I got a new Epson 10,000 and Oppo 203 from Gordon. I must confess, after he set it up, the Epson/Lumagen Pro combination is superb and for the money I paid, a steal.

Last year I had to replace all my speakers. I’d had them all for over 25 years and they all had drivers with foam surrounds which had all turned to mush. I now have 7 ProAc DT8s and 2 JBL4645Cs driven by a Crown XTI4002 power amp.

I have just replaced the Arcam 950 with an Arcam AV40 supplied by Gordon and discovered the joy of Dirac when he set it up! As well as the increased transparency, clarity and increased detail resolution, the most profound change is in the subs. They are now operating to their full capability and potential to the point of being truly scary in terms of their speed, transparency, power and dynamic range. It was good to see the smile on Gordon’s face when he had finished!

That’s my journey so far and I don’t think I will be making any more significant upgrades to my system during what’s left if my lifetime. The only thing I am hoping to do is to have some black velvet curtains made so that I can black out the front of the cinema which my wife has now agreed to!

If you have read this far, thank you and I hope you have enjoyed sharing in my home cinema journey.
Hats off to you Sir, what a great read and what a fantastic cinema!!!

As they say, age is nothing but a number..you are 73 and I'm 38, but our passion for home cinema remains equal... i blame my grandfather for setting me on the slippery slope, with his NAD/Tannoy Hi Fi setup. It blew me away for Hifi, and after that, there was no turning back, HiFi became my hobby, but the home cinema bug came and took over..I've never looked back.

My grandfather is now 90, and he's still in love with his fantastic HiFi system. :thumbsup:
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
Sounds like it could be repurposed as a shelter when all the bombs start flying!

Serious, amazing build and a great story. Thanks for sharing. :)
 

Classic2000

Active Member
Thank you all so much for the emojis and the written replies. They are all very much appreciated!

To MISSION
Yeah and there’s so much steel in the base and walls that it’s almost a Faraday Cage so you should be pretty safe from the electromagnetic pulse as well! 😂

To Nayfne
Thank you for your reply and how you got into hifi as a prelude to your getting the home cinema bug. It was my dad who got me into hifi. In the mid 1950s my dad and his brother decided to build their own radiogram and put much better electronics and turntable in it than those commercially available. After a while he became more and more aware of the shortcomings of the radiogram concept and ended up upgrading to a quad preamp, power amp and tuner, thorens turntable. Shure v15 cartridge and kef speakers. I ended up buying more records and making more use of it than he did!!

In 1983 when my wife and I moved to London my hifi obsession really took off. After numerous upgrades I ended up with a system comprising meridian amplification, linn so deck and proac loudspeakers which I thought was the be all and end all of my hifi quest and it was. Until the mid 80s when I first heard an audio research preamp and power amp. I arranged to borrow the combination from the dealer over a weekend so I could try it in my system. I was totally blown away by it and suffered my first attack of total upgraditis where I found myself saying I can’t listen to this meridian stuff anymore I have to buy this! We had just bought a brand new car and this audio research combo cost more than the car. When I saw my bank manager to negotiate a loan to buy it he looked at me as if I was crazy and I was!! I think my wife thought so too though she didn’t say so!
I still have the audio research SP10 preamp. The power amp suffered a catastrophic failure a few years ago and I replaced it with a pair of Icon Audio mono locks as I wasn’t prepared to pay the exorbitant cost of the equivalent Audio Research Power amp when to my ears the small difference in sound quality didn’t justify the extra cost.
My current audio system which is in the lounge is definitely the one that will see me out.

As I wrote in my first post when I first moved the equipment I had at the time into the cinema I was blown away by how good the room made it sound. I had always thought that the most important component in any audio system is the room you put it in and that a less expensive system in a good room will sound better than a much more expensive one in a bad room.

This was borne out by the guy from Sim2 who came to set up the projector in the cinema. We put the pod race from Star Wars 1 on and the bass caused momentary losses of picture so he had to glue the relevant boards in with silicone.
He went home and sold his entire audio system and replaced it with a very expensive ATC active speaker and active sub system. He invited me to his house where his projector and audio system were installed in his lounge. It had a parquet floor with no mats or carpet, leather furniture and virtually the whole of one wall had trifold glass doors in it. In my cinema his system would have sounded a little too clinical for my taste but in his room it sounded awful! I made some polite comments because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings!!

The only attacks of total upgraditis I’ve had in the cinema have been software ones. When dvd came out It soon became impossible for me to watch laser discs anymore so I replaced them all with DVDs. I had 2 pioneer elite laser disc players and around 330 laser discs which in the end I took to the local tip. I think some of the guys there must have thoughtChristmas had come early!! 🤣

When Blu-ray came out I replaced as many of my DVDs with Blurays as I could, though I still have some that haven’t yet been released on Bluray. This time the dvd section of the local charity shops reaped the benefit! 🤣

Having Just experienced the benefits of Dirac though I know I coudnt live without that!
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member
What a lovely read Classic, congratulations on all your upgrades over the years, you have a fabulous setup now and one that will surely see you out, hopefully a ways down the road :thumbsup: .

I am not too far behind you at 68yrs old and like you since my first foray into hi-fi at about 18yrs old with a Sony TA1010 amp Goldring GL75 turntable later upgraded to a Garrard 401/SME arm shure V15 and Pair of Large Wharfdale speakers.

Since then have had umpteen setups with like you a progression through vinyl CD VHS Laser Disc DVD Bluray and finally UHD and viewed on tube tv/flat screen/rear-projection and sd/hd/uhd front projection setups and lots and lots of money consumed on the way and not regretted any of it.:D

May the force be with you friend😍.
 

Classic2000

Active Member
What a lovely read Classic, congratulations on all your upgrades over the years, you have a fabulous setup now and one that will surely see you out, hopefully a ways down the road :thumbsup: .

I am not too far behind you at 68yrs old and like you since my first foray into hi-fi at about 18yrs old with a Sony TA1010 amp Goldring GL75 turntable later upgraded to a Garrard 401/SME arm shure V15 and Pair of Large Wharfdale speakers.

Since then have had umpteen setups with like you a progression through vinyl CD VHS Laser Disc DVD Bluray and finally UHD and viewed on tube tv/flat screen/rear-projection and sd/hd/uhd front projection setups and lots and lots of money consumed on the way and not regretted any of it.:D

May the force be with you friend😍.

Thank you so much for your very kind words. I am with you all the way. Although like you I have spent so much money that most of my friends think I’m nuts which I freely admit I am they still enjoy coming round to watch films. Sometimes I think that they enjoy that more than my company! 😂

Though there have been heartaches and frustrations along the way I too have no regrets as next to my wife and family this has given me more pleasure than anything else in my life.

May the force be with you always too 👍
 

Classic2000

Active Member
Dear mb3195

Thank you very much for the emoji you sent in response to my post it was good of you and very much appreciated.

I have followed your threads from the start with interest and I must confess more than a touch of envy, wishing that I was 20 years younger and considering building a cinema in my garden because I would have certainly followed your lead and saved my self a shed load of money! 😂 As I have more space in my garden I could still have made it as big as the one I have.

I must say that from the outside it looks more like an upmarket summer house than a shed! Nice one!,

Inside I’m very impressed that you were able to completely black it out. I wanted to do that but my wife wouldn’t let me!!

I’m also amazed at the amount of gear that you’ve been able to pack in a room that’s half the volume of mine. That with the Trinnov and Sony projector and all the other stuff in there makes it the best equipped shed in the country with picture and sound quality to die for!

It’s also good that you share your experience on these forums and invite people to experience what you’ve done for themselves with your demos and open days. It gives them something to aim for or maybe weep over when they next fire up their own systems. 🤣

I fully understand you replacing your CinemaScope screen with a 16.9 one so you can get the best of both words. I have roughly the same size CinemaScope screen and do at times wish I could put in a bigger CinemaScope screen so that I could have a bigger 16.9 option.

Unfortunately when I built my cinema crt was the only option available and an integral cooled hush box was essential, so my projector has to fit in there and taking it out would make a real mess of the ceiling. When I mentioned this to Gordon he smiled and said that Sony make a projector like yours with a wide angle lens which would fit in the hush box and so enable me to put in a bigger screen. When he told me how much it cost l just smiled back thinking of my wife’s reaction if I did that!!

I have also toyed with the idea of atmos but again because of the hush box and the ac vents in the ceiling coupled with the problem inherent in cutting holes in it due to the way it’s constructed I decided against it. If I were 20 years younger and starting from scratch I would have followed your lead and put in the same air con as you and gone Dolby atmos. Who knows with all the money I would have saved I could have bought aTrinnov and 4k projector as well😂

I think you can be justly proud of what you ve achieved and the help and inspiration you’ve given to others. I look forward to seeing what other improvements you can make to a system that is already at the limit of the law of diminishing returns unless of course you win the lottery !!!😂
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
Dear mb3195

Thank you very much for the emoji you sent in response to my post it was good of you and very much appreciated.

I have followed your threads from the start with interest and I must confess more than a touch of envy, wishing that I was 20 years younger and considering building a cinema in my garden because I would have certainly followed your lead and saved my self a shed load of money! 😂 As I have more space in my garden I could still have made it as big as the one I have.

I must say that from the outside it looks more like an upmarket summer house than a shed! Nice one!,

Inside I’m very impressed that you were able to completely black it out. I wanted to do that but my wife wouldn’t let me!!

I’m also amazed at the amount of gear that you’ve been able to pack in a room that’s half the volume of mine. That with the Trinnov and Sony projector and all the other stuff in there makes it the best equipped shed in the country with picture and sound quality to die for!

It’s also good that you share your experience on these forums and invite people to experience what you’ve done for themselves with your demos and open days. It gives them something to aim for or maybe weep over when they next fire up their own systems. 🤣

I fully understand you replacing your CinemaScope screen with a 16.9 one so you can get the best of both words. I have roughly the same size CinemaScope screen and do at times wish I could put in a bigger CinemaScope screen so that I could have a bigger 16.9 option.

Unfortunately when I built my cinema crt was the only option available and an integral cooled hush box was essential, so my projector has to fit in there and taking it out would make a real mess of the ceiling. When I mentioned this to Gordon he smiled and said that Sony make a projector like yours with a wide angle lens which would fit in the hush box and so enable me to put in a bigger screen. When he told me how much it cost l just smiled back thinking of my wife’s reaction if I did that!!

I have also toyed with the idea of atmos but again because of the hush box and the ac vents in the ceiling coupled with the problem inherent in cutting holes in it due to the way it’s constructed I decided against it. If I were 20 years younger and starting from scratch I would have followed your lead and put in the same air con as you and gone Dolby atmos. Who knows with all the money I would have saved I could have bought aTrinnov and 4k projector as well😂

I think you can be justly proud of what you ve achieved and the help and inspiration you’ve given to others. I look forward to seeing what other improvements you can make to a system that is already at the limit of the law of diminishing returns unless of course you win the lottery !!!😂

thanks Classic, that’s what is great about this hobby, it doesn’t matter if your are 18 or 80, anyone at any age can enjoy it!!

I’ve got a couple more upgrades planned, new subwoofers arriving at some point in October, and will be changing to trinnov power amps at some point, once I’ve changed these, I think it will be the end of the road unless I move house and get a bigger building!!!

My open day was a great success, I think I’ll do another one next year 👍🏻

A small tip for you, if you want to tag someone in on a post, stick a @ sign in front of their name, otherwise it’s only luck if they see it. 😎
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Great read. Thanks for detailing it so well and it looks brilliant. Oh for a flat garden, don't find many of those on a mountain side.
 

Classic2000

Active Member
Thank you Baseley09. I see you are in Portsmouth. Both my wife and I were born and grew up there. We moved to London in 1973.
I will be posting more details and images soon when I have installed my latest upgrade which my wife has vetoed for the last 20 years!
 

Classic2000

Active Member
@Baseley09 I think you are supposed to tag someone if you want them to see your reply. Sorry. I’m still not very computer literate. When I was growing up the closest thing to a computer was a slide rule and a set of log tables and I often had trouble using those!!

.
 

Baseley09

Active Member
Thank you Baseley09. I see you are in Portsmouth. Both my wife and I were born and grew up there. We moved to London in 1973.
I will be posting more details and images soon when I have installed my latest upgrade which my wife has vetoed for the last 20 years!

That's great, you've probably got more room In London for these sort of projects than we do all squeezed together on this island!
 

Classic2000

Active Member
In the light of the interest and positive comments I have received from you I thought I would like to share some more images and details of the cinema itself and my upgrade journey to date.

As I mentioned in my second post, apart from one visit to the house of the guy from SIM 2 I have no firsthand experience of anyone else’s home cinema rooms or their systems.

I was lucky up until I started building my cinema in 2000 in that a very knowledgeable guy who worked at the high end hifi dealership that I used to regularly frequent when we moved to London went to work for another hifi dealership that was branching out into home cinema. The original system I had that first went into my home cinema was largely due to him. Unfortunately he never got to see and hear it as he left and moved to the USA whilst the cinema was being built and I lost contact with him.

9EAC4874-5D1A-4A8C-9416-9EE5A998BBF7.jpeg

The cinema has its own independent consumer unit via an 80 amp armoured cable from the house.

C71E3527-DD93-482A-A0BA-CE4E6BDE3221.jpeg
An Xpelair multi-speed ducted fan system is installed between the foyer and auditorium to ensure that there is adequate continuous airflow throughout the building at all times to avoid the possibility of mould formation. It is inaudible at normal fan speed but can be significantly increased when the cinema is not being used for extended periods.

The inlet to the ducted aircon system in the auditorium is in the foyer because it is quite noisy. When the lead cored door into the auditorium is closed the aircon is virtually inaudible. I have a 3KW thermostatically controlled heater in the foyer which provides background heating to the interior of the building.

Lighting is controlled by a 6 zone Lutron system. Emergency lighting is installed in both the foyer and the auditorium.

I have 3 separate ring mains installed behind the equipment racks: one for the power amps, one for the Lumagen, projector, Arcam and my 2 Oppo Blu-ray players and one for the Apple TV box, WiFi and Ethernet.

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As my speakers and subs are purely passive there are no power points in the auditorium. I have very thick OFC cables with 4 multi-strand conductors so that I can bi-amp my speakers.

The only components I have left from my original system are my 6 Parasound 1500A THX approved stereo power amps. They are over 25 years old, built like tanks, sound superb, supply 300w per channel into a 4 ohm load, have had at least 25,000 hours of use and have never gone wrong! 🤞

I have a 7.2 system. My original ProAc Studio250 speakers were driven by my 6 Parasound amps, LRC and rears bi-amped, sides not. The 2 Snell 1800 THX approved subs were driven by a 1KW per channel Crown power amp.

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My current speaker system comprises 7 ProAc DT8s and 2 JBL 4645C subs designed for use in commercial theatres as well as in home cinemas. The ProAcs are driven by the Parasound amps as above and the JBLs are driven by a Crown XTi 4002 650 watt per channel power amp but because they have a 97db per watt sensitivity it is more than enough as they are capable of producing 110 db with 3db of headroom in the power amp.

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One of the rear ProAc DT8s inside its acoustically transparent column...

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This was state of the art audio in 2000...... How things have changed in the past 20 years! We now have Dolby TruHD and DTS HD Master plus Dolby Atmos and DTSX but for me, the most profound changes are the advances made in digital room equalisation.

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About a month ago Gordon Fraser came round to update my Lumagen Pro and when he’d finished, I asked him to give me an honest opinion about my audio system. He said that whilst it was good, I was not getting as much out of the subs as we both felt I should be. After talking it through I decided to take a punt on an Arcam AV40 to replace my Arcam FMJ 950, even though Gordon did warn me that although he had no first hand experience of the AV40, some of his clients had found them very buggy, confirming what I’d already read on avforums.

After Gordon had spent a day setting up and installing Dirac in the AV40, judging by the smile on his face I realised for the first time what I had been missing in terms of clarity, detail and transient response throughout the system but especially re the subs! Now they are really working as they should with truly frightening bass - fast, detailed and so powerful you feel it in your body, face and hair like never before! If I ever develop kidney stones, I think these subs could stand in for a lithotripter! 😂

Unfortunately there are a couple of bugs which can be easily worked around for the time being until hopefully they can be fixed by future firmware updates. I sincerely hope so because having experienced Dirac I cannot live without it and if the Arcam turns out to be a “lemon” then I will be in for a very expensive upgrade!

I think I will pass on Dolby Atmos because of the 4’6” square feature in the ceiling housing the hush box and the difficulty of putting speakers into the ceiling due to it’s construction. As I have never heard a Dolby Atmos system I sincerely hope that if I ever do, I am not as blown away by it as I am by Dirac and can’t live without it. Otherwise.................?!

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Initially I had a SIM2 CRT projector in the cinema. In 2010 it developed a fault and after 15 years or so with CRT projectors, I thought it was time for a change. Having previously bought a Lumagen from Gordon and from reading about people’s experiences of JVC projectors on avforums, I bought a JVC 950 from him.

After he had set it up, I thought the image was much better than that from my SIM2 with the added advantages of less heat, noise and weight and no convergence drift.
I loved the JVC. It worked flawlessly for the 6 years I had it and I put over 5,000 hours on it. The only thing about the JVC I didn’t like was the inevitable degradation of the bulb.

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When I first learned about the Epson LS 10,000 from avforums and I read that the half life of the Epson laser in eco mode was 30,000 hours, I thought, “This is the way to go as I am very likely to go before the laser!” When I first broached the idea to Gordon his response was, “Yeah. But it’s an Epson!” But the more of them he saw and calibrated, especially with the Lumagen Pro, the more highly he thought of them so at the end of 2016 I decided to buy one. To my eyes it was significantly better than the JVC and for me, a projector with a laser light source coupled with a Lumagen Pro is another piece of AV kit I couldn’t live without. I am looking forward to the time when hopefully Epson bring out a true 4K projector with a laser light source.......

For the last 20 years the front of our cinema has looked like this.....

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As I said in an earlier post, my wife wouldn’t let me have the all black interior I wanted. (“I don’t mind you building this but I’m not going into it if you turn it into a dungeon!”)

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As you can see we have just got some MVEL22 black velour fabric and put it up. I can now actually appreciate at first hand why so many of you have done this as it really does make a considerable difference to the picture and my wife actually agreed with this. “Yeah!” I said, “It sure does. We’ve been missing out on this for the last 20 years because you wouldn’t let me do it then.”

“OK!” she said, “but as soon as we can, I want us to turn the MVEL into curtains so that we can pull them back and only close them before we start watching a film because I still prefer the look of the original decor.”..... “OK babe. Will do!” (The things we do for love! 🥰 😂) Never has the phrase “Better late than never“ been more appropriate! 😊

What MVEL does, as many of you have pointed out, is highlight how unblack the black paint on the ceiling is. Putting MVEL on it isn’t really practical so what I’m hoping to do is get the front half of the ceiling sprayed with Black 3.0 which is claimed to be the world’s blackest black acrylic paint. I know someone who can do this but because of Covid it probably won’t happen for a while.

I will keep you posted and post some pictures when it gets done..........

Thanks again for the interest you have shown in my cinema and the positive comments and Emojis. They are as always very much appreciated.
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member
Love it love it love it😍😍😍 You sir are a true enthusiast to have had such kit 20yrs ago was a real achievement.

My only criticism is you need a BIGGER screen, especially now you have higher resolution kit. An even bigger image to go with the big and now improved sound.:thumbsup:
 

Classic2000

Active Member
@kbfern
Thanks for your post. I am, as you say, a true enthusiast and for the last 20 years I have spent far more time watching films than listening to music. For most of my hifi days I fell into the trap of listening to the equipment rather than the music, which my wife often pointed out to me.

When I built the cinema, which incidentally I think is the only one in the UK built from RPG diffusor blox, I made a vow that I would focus primarily on actually watching the films rather than continually evaluating and finding fault with the equipment. That, coupled with the fact that I didn’t know anyone else who was into home cinema, and those dealers who were weren’t up to much either IMHO, meant that on the plus side your wife and your wallet breathed a huge sigh of relief but on the downside you tended to be behind the curve regarding updates and upgrades.

Your criticism that I need a bigger screen is a valid one with regard to what is readily available now but wasn’t then. With CRT projectors a cooled hush box was mandatory because they are big, heavy, noisy and run quite hot. As you can see from some of the pictures I posted I made the box an integral part of the design of the ceiling. It’s also placed so that a standard throw projector will project an 8’ wide image which was considered to be as large as you could go without significant image degradation.

Interestingly, at the time THX were recommending an optimum viewing distance of 1.5 x image width, ie 12’which is how far away I sit. Now it seems they recommend optimum seating distances in relation to screen height.

When I used to go to the cinema I always sat near the back so the earlier THX recommendations suited me better. I appreciate that for some people a truly immersive experience is to be close enough to feel that you are in the midst of the action, whereas I prefer the image to not exceed my field of vision and for me to be drawn in by what’s actually happening on the screen.

For me then 8’ is about right for CinemaScope movies but not so good for 16:9 movies and programmes because with the masking down, the image is only as big as that on a 84” TV! I could put an 8’ 16:9 screen in now but I do like the added width provided by a 2.4:1 screen.

I would love to install a 10’ wide 2.4:1 screen which would give me a 7’6” 16:9 image and if I were starting from scratch now, that’s what I would do. As the cinema is now, I could fit the screen in OK but to use my existing projector I would have to take the whole hush box assembly down to get the necessary throw distance. I must confess, I am loathe to do that as I do love the look of the cinema as it is. Alternatively, I could buy a laser projector with a short throw lens which is an awfully big outlay for an extra 2’ of screen! For the time being I will leave things as they are but will explore both options when I next meet with Gordon and who knows where that might lead........?!
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
Great write up, and yeah MVEL22 completely transforms the immersion factor 👍🏻
 

Classic2000

Active Member
@mb3195 many thanks for your reply. You’re damned right it really is amazing! It’s akin to a projector upgrade! That coupled with Dirac have been I think the 2 most profound upgrades I’ve ever made.

Thanks to Dirac my audio system has never sounded better. With the volume set at normal conversation c68 on the arcam I’m hitting 110db of clean undistorted sound on some discs according to my spl meter! I sincerely hope that the bugs in the arcam can soon be resolved. If not I could see myself upgrading to a trinnov if necessary because I can’t live without digital room correction!

I see you are enjoying your new amps. How are your new speakers? I’ve found they need a good few hours of continuous use before they are well and truly run in and really sing!
Enjoy😊
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
My system is sounding pretty amazing really, not sure what I can do to improve anything now, both from a visual and audio side, although I am changing my subs next month to the new arendals.

In terms of Arcam and Dirac. There are other alternatives out there that offer a more reliable option than Arcam if the bugs get too much. I’d look at the NAD M17, monoprice htp-1 or dare I say it, the Emotiva xmc-2 - the new firmware with Dirac seems to have ironed out all of the kinks and is supposed to sound amazing.

The trinnov is incredible, but to get the most out of it, I’d suggest a higher channel count, don’t get me wrong, it will be amazing with base channels only, but it will be like driving a Ferrari on English roads. You really need to be going for 11-15 channels to use it to its potential.

Feel free to let me know if you’d ever like to hear a full Atmos setup, once you experience one, you’ll definitely want one! 😎
 

Classic2000

Active Member
@mb3195
I agree. You have virtually all the best kit out there and 19 channels in a room that’s half the volume of mine! If as it seems you really like the speakers and subs you have then I don’t think there’s any where else for you to go IMHO other than build a bigger room which as you’ve said would mean moving to a house with a bigger garden.

You are right about the trinnov. Thanks for your suggestions but at the moment I can work round the bugs on switch on and it stays stable all the time it’s on. I just have to repeat the process every time I next switch on which is a pain but liveable with.

My wife has just seen your post. “No! You’re not going over there. You’ve spent and done enough down there already! Given time there’s a work around that too so when this Covid thing is over I may well take you up on that if only to know first hand what Im missing! 😊
 

Howard0000

Active Member
Christ, is that a home cinema or a nuclear bunker?


Very impressive. Nice work.
 

Harkon321

Well-known Member
Really enjoyed reading that. Started building our room yesterday and I can only hope it’s still standing and being used in 35 years time. Great that you’ve maintained the passion for the hobby over the years. Here’s mine, currently just a hole in the ground.

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