Classic Cinema 20 years on....


Glad you enjoyed reading about my home cinema journey and thank you for your
kind words. I’ve just looked at your garage conversion which is both impressive and cost effective! As you saw my original garage was too far gone for anything except demolition!😀

As I’ve written, there have been considerable advances and improvements in av over the last 20 years and in particular since I retired 8 years ago.

We now have true 4K projectors with a choice of bulb or laser light, object based lossless Dolby atmos and dtsx audio, AV processors with advanced digital room correction and state of the art video processors like the lumagen 5348.

Depending on your budget some or all of this is readily available at whatever level you desire and can afford.

It was my love of watching films that motivated me to build my cinema room at the bottom of my garden so that whatever the time of day or night I could watch films for however long and loud I wanted to without disturbing anyone.

Whilst I was working that worked out at around 1000 hours a year and since I retired around 1500 hours a year although in the last 18 months due to Covid restrictions it’s getting on for 3000 hours. So since it was built it’s had a lot of use and given me my wife and family and friends a lot of pleasure!😀

As far as further upgrades are concerned I think the law of diminishing returns has well and truly set in for me!

Since I upgraded my Lumagen pro to the 5348 and keces linear power supply a couple of months ago the picture I now get from my Epson LS 10000 projector from my seat 12ft away from my 8ft wide 2.35.1 Damatt 1.0 screen which was pretty good before is now even sharper, more detailed and more three dimensional that I couldn’t justify the considerable extra cost of an upgrade.

On the audio front after having had to replace all my 25 year old speakers and subs a couple of years ago because the foam surrounds of the drive units had turned to mush, my most significant upgrade was last August when I bought an Arcam AV40 through Gordon Fraser and first experienced the sound of Dirac as set up by him. I always thought that my room sounded good but the increased detail, speed, and transparency coupled with the cleanest tightest and most powerful bass I’d ever heard and felt from my subs was for me truly awesome!

The sound of the AV40 was further improved by connecting it to the ultra low jitter audio only output of the lumagen 5348 when I bought one a couple of months ago.

The fact that I have a 5ft square lighting consul around a 3ft square hush box over the centre seat precludes the installation of an atmos system without major surgery to the ceiling which I’m loathe to do, though Dolby virtual and dts virtual x give me some idea of what a true atmos system would be like as I’ve never heard one.

I’m hoping to go to @mb3195 open day in August. Maybe after I’ve heard his atmos system I might tear out the centre consul on my ceiling and install a full atmos system of my own being fully aware that if I do that my wife will be tearing me a new one!🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
Glad you enjoyed my cinema story.
I think we are both going to @mb3195 open day in August. I’m really looking forward to meeting with you and other forum members then.
Glad you enjoyed my cinema story.
I think we are both going to @mb3195 open day in August. I’m really looking forward to meeting with you and other forum members then.
Yeah, your cinema is older than most that we see, and a great labour of love.

I'd certainly like to come to Mark's open day, but it's quite a trek for me. 160 miles, each way.
I sincerely hope that you can make it though I appreciate the long drive. It’s over 100 miles each way for us.
It would be really good to meet you if you can make it.
As part of what now feels like a country wide tour of cinemas, I managed to visit Tony and his lovely wife today, and their Classic cinema :)

I know technology will have improved the room over the years (new processors, projector etc), but I bet it was great even when it was built, thanks to the room acoustics, and what I imagine at the time was fairly state of the art gear. I'm not sure how much bass it had available then, but it's got it all now, with the benefit of modern calibration and the skills to use it. The room doesn't have ceiling speakers, but the diffusion in the rear of the room makes it feel like it does as a sound-field is created behind and above the seats. Only when something is supposed to be directly over the listeners head can you tell it's not there, and that's when listening out for it, rather than watching a film as you normally would.

The second best part is that Tony and his wife both get to enjoy the room together so much. I can only dream that my good lady will be half as interested.

The best part however, was the bacon and egg sandwich :love:

I sincerely hope that you can make it
I didn't (well, not until a month late anyway). But then neither did you!

It would be really good to meet you if you can make it.

Thank you for all the demos Tony, and please thank your lovely lady for me :)

Thank you for coming over. Apart from Gordon who has been a regular visitor over the years and consistently worked both his video and over the last year audio magic on the system you are the first forum member to visit.

It was a real pleasure meeting you and being able to share our respective av experiences from which I learned a lot.

I look forward to the time when you have finally finished your cinema room and hope I get an invite to see and hear it for myself.

My wife enjoyed meeting you too and is glad you enjoyed the bacon and egg sandwich. Gordon likes them too so you now know what to offer him the next time he comes to you! 😂
Thank you for coming over

It was a real pleasure meeting you and being able to share our respective av experiences from which I learned a lot.

I look forward to the time when you have finally finished your cinema room and hope I get an invite to see and hear it for myself.
You betcha, and your better half too.

My wife enjoyed meeting you too and is glad you enjoyed the bacon and egg sandwich. Gordon likes them too so you now know what to offer him the next time he comes to you! 😂
Well yeah, but I won't make them so well, so maybe you'll have to come when Gordon's here, so he's not disappointed :D
First off, may I pass on a huge thank you to Tony for the opportunity to experience his excellent home cinema build and not only that but allowing me to bring along my UMIK-1 and REW in order to analyse it and hopefully learn something from it, I doubt many forum members would feel happy with anyone doing that. I was especially interested given that our rooms have almost identical dimensions but are polar opposite given that his is a purpose built cinema room whereas mine is our lounge with some serious issues, a floor to ceiling 3 metre wide bay window with floor to ceiling windows either side of that to mention just one. It also doesn’t help that my centre channel is placed on top of my subs, both of which are placed centrally within that bay. Certainly not ideal.

Tony was actually fully open to the idea of my using REW and what I might find and given that both his speakers and seating were moveable, was happy to move things around if need be if it was going to improve things.

Tony mentions at the start of this build thread why he had initial difficulty getting the necessary authority to build it, requiring foundations that could probably support a block of flats. As you approach his house you are taken aback by just how steep the incline is along with a superb view of the Thames and the east end of London. On a clear day that must be quite amazing.

I was greeted at the door by Tony and introduced to his wife Maggie (an amazing lady who could not have been more hospitable and who rustled up a great bacon and fried egg sandwich) and then taken out into the back garden where after a short walk you come across his impressive purpose-built cinema that given the rise of the ground towards it looks all the more imposing because of that.

As can be seen from the first post in this thread, you initially enter into the equipment room and from there into the cinema itself. The room has electric underfloor heating which must be a real boon on cold winter days. As you walk in there is no evidence of any speakers, just an enormous hush box for the projector and a screen that is placed quite high up on the far side. Tony explained that in 2000 when the room was built the maximum width that his CRT projector could handle was just 8’ and that dictated not only that but the placement of his very large hush box. It also now limits the effectiveness of Atmos speakers should he want to install them.

His seating is provided by five relatively modest chairs which are surprisingly comfortable (and heavy), although I didn’t get to sit in them for protracted periods so their long-term comfort was difficult to assess. Just ahead of the front row of seats were three flat-topped sturdy foot stools / small leather clad tables, more of which later.

Prior to my coming over Tony had already provided me with all the measurements of his room, seating position and speaker positions and so I was able to have a look at how he had it set it all up in REW Room Sim.

This revealed a potential issue which I was eager to check out, a steep null centred around 33Hz.

Actual MLP.jpg

After a short initial chat I suggested to Tony that I get the measurements out of the way and then we could sit down to some listening. However Tony quite rightly argued that I might then be influenced in what I heard by the measurements I had obtained and he was quite right, so we kicked off with the intro to Oblivion (what else?) from the 2K disc given its much better audio track. We listened up to the point where the Alien pod takes off from the stadium whereupon Tony asks what did I think?

My initial thoughts were that it was firstly an excellent picture although somewhat higher than I was used to and that also the sound initially seemed to be coming from below the screen. When Tom started talking in the Oblivion intro, I felt his voice was coming from about two feet below the bottom of the screen. That having been said, once we had got about five minutes into the film my brain had adjusted and providing there was a character on the screen at the time, the voices weirdly were now coming directly from them. However where there wasn’t an object on the screen to relate to, the sound once again seemed to be coming from below. Probably given time my brain would adjust so that even those sounds would start appearing to come from the screen itself.

At the time of this build some 22 years ago Tony was advised to avoid AT screens and so had no option but to place things as he did above the speakers, he also did not have access to REW or anything similar as we do now. Another ‘difference’ that I noticed from mine, was that given his 3.8 metre viewing distance, this allowed for just a slightly more than 1:1.5 screen width to viewing distance ratio as opposed to my own very nearly 1:1 screen/distance viewing ratio along with a much lower screen. Another clip we used was the rope fall clip in Oblivion – a steady sweep from 100Hz down to 26Hz where that dip around 33Hz was indeed audible.

The sound of his system in general though was very good with a particularly detailed midrange from his Proac DT8 mains and a ‘fast’ and punchy bass provided by the twin ported JBL 4645C THX subs. His surrounds, also Proac DT8s, were not localisable at all. I initially thought they were mounted fairly high up on the side and rear walls but was surprised to find out they were actually mounted just 20cm off the floor. When the imaginary crowd roared out in the stadium scene of Oblivion the sound appeared to be coming from all around in exactly the position one might have expected it to be. Likewise in the engineer confrontation scene in Prometheus, the surround sound was emanating seamlessly from all around up to about 45 degrees above you. Tony seemed very pleased with that as it confirmed his decision not to go down the Atmos route due to the major work needed to removing the very large hush box and reposition the air ventilation system.

It was not quite fully Atmos-like in that there was nothing directly overhead, but not far off. I think for me personally I would turn the surround channels down about 2 or 3dB as in some scenes such as that clip from Prometheus, I felt they were in danger of overpowering the mains. I found the same later when we played some clips from the Hans Zimmer live in Prague BD.

We then played the intro part of Lucy and some of the later chapters and here the picture was absolutely stunning. The colours had an almost OLED like quality to them in their intensity and as might be expected the contrast was almost JVC level in this completely light-controlled room. I thought it was pretty good in mine but this was a step beyond. I seriously wonder just how much better the new JVC lasers could be in all honesty but the numbers speak for themselves, double the lumens, native 4K chip and in the case of the NZ9 that amazing 100mm lens and rave reviews everywhere. I can’t wait to see it. But for now I find it difficult to imagine an image much better than this one here.

I showed Tony what the Room Sim app revealed about the positioning of his seats and demonstrated how moving them had quite a beneficial effect on the bass.

As it was initially.

Actual MLP.jpg

Moved laterally across the room.

Central MLP.jpg

Moved to the very centre of the room.

MLP centre + centre.jpg

This is not normally recommended, however it does improve things at the lower frequencies, but then introduces more of a dip at around 80Hz which may in fact be more audible. Something worth trying though.

Tony was interested in taking this further so we then worked together to eventually come up with this, by also moving his JBL subs into the corner.

MLP best compromise 3.jpg

It also had the beneficial effect of increasing the immersion factor with the screen reducing the MLP to screen ratio from a little over 1:1.5 to 1:1.25.

Some time was spent moving things around with the subs being placed in the two front corners and with the MLP moved forwards 60cm and placed centrally. We then took some measurements in a box grid pattern of 30cm points around the new MLP. Measurements confirmed that movements laterally had only a slight effect whereas movements longitudinally had a very noticeable effect. We settled on about 30cm either side of the centre line of the room as being the best which worked out well for having the two main listening seats placed side by side in those positions and at the optimum distance from the screen according to the REW Room Sim app.

I then carried out a Dirac 3 calibration using the focussed image measurement pattern and the default Dirac target curve and then created another one with a +3dB bass boost ‘House Curve’ for films etc. Tony then asked whether raising the level of his Crown amps powering his subs would involve an unwelcome step in the FR so we tried it. It didn’t, instead it provided a useful additional slope from around 150Hz down. A useful tool for giving that bit of extra bass if needed. Finally we added a -3dB cut to the HF to maintain the overall 1dB per octave drop and taking a little of the ‘brightness’ out of the Proac tweeters.

Shown here are the three Dirac alternatives; default, bass boost and +3dB on the Crown sub amps, with the non-Dirac sweep offset below.

Without Dirac v Dirac alternatives.jpg

We then carried out some listening tests in this new position and the ‘punchy’ fast bass coming from those dual corner-located subs completely laid waste to any previously held beliefs that ported subs were somehow ‘slower’ and more ‘boomy’ for want of a better word. While they lacked a certain weight/depth compared to my own twin 18” sealed subs, dropping rapidly as they did below the ~20Hz port tune they were amazingly ‘fast’, even more so than my own in fact, which I thought were pretty good in that respect. I can only imagine just how good the latest PSA TV range of subs are given all the excellent feedback from owners and the fact they have a port tune in the low teens, which in turn gives a predicted room response down into the single figures. They seem to combine the best of both ported and sealed and I can’t wait to hear them at Ricky’s when the opportunity arises.

So, what about the room, given the complexity of the build? Well the thing I first commented on to Tony as we chatted initially was that his room didn’t seem to be like some purpose-built cinemas I have experienced, it felt completely natural. Some I have visited have felt quite unnatural, not because of the complete absence of any outside sound, but more a feeling of having cotton wool in your ears due to too much damping and not enough diffusion. For me personally I feel that sucks any life out of the sound.

Tony’s room was completely silent other than for a very slight fan noise that could only be heard slightly when everything else was silent. That sound was not from the projector itself, which I originally suspected, but from the cooling fan to the hush box. Given the short distance from projector to screen and the fully light-controlled nature of the room Tony only has to use the eco mode setting of his LS10000. In fact when he turned off the cooling fan I had to walk up to the opening of the hush box to be able to hear anything such was the effectiveness of it.

The RT60 graph of his room showed excellent control remaining below 200ms all the way to 80Hz other than for a slight peak around 125Hz that even then never went beyond 400ms.

RT60 Tony 2.jpg

The RT60 decay graph was also very good showing excellent control down to 125Hz, I would love to have similar results in my room.

RT60 decay Classic 2000.jpg

The Group Delay graph clearly shows the effect of the sub’s port tune around 22Hz.

Group delay - Classic 2000 20Hz port tune.jpg

One interesting point I also noted that initially puzzled me was an apparent echo almost equal in amplitude to the original signal at 3.8ms that was present on some measurements but not on others.

Impulse with reflection.jpg

Impulse without reflection.jpg

It then dawned on me about those flat-topped footstalls immediately in front of the MLP. For some sweeps they had nothing on them, but for others they had coffee cups, biscuits, sandwiches etc. that must have broken up those reflections. So when watching films just make sure that either your feet are on them or some refreshments or similar in order to break up those unwanted reflections. Whether or not this would actually be audible however is open to debate of course.

So, there we have it. I found it really useful to be given the opportunity of measuring a room that whilst similar in size to mine, was completely different in both layout and construction.

May I take this opportunity to pass on a big thank you to both Tony & wife Maggie (with her lovely bacon and fried egg sandwiches) for their excellent hospitality shown to me today, I wish you many hours of happy cinema. :D

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First off, may I pass on a huge thank you to Tony for the opportunity to experience his excellent home cinema build and not only that but allowing me to bring along my UMIK-1 and REW in order to analyse it and hopefully learn something from it, I doubt many forum members would feel happy with anyone doing that.
I would :D
In the 21 years since my cinema was built neither I nor anyone else had actually measured its acoustics. There were no computer simulations like REW or forms of digital room correction available then. Movies looked and sounded pretty good to me, my family and friends as the room was initially configured. Apart from Gordon Fraser, who for the last 14 years has installed and set up my Lumagens, projectors and Arcams, I have had no contact with any AV enthusiasts until I joined the AV Forums in August 2020.

When Gordon came round last August to recalibrate my Lumagen 5348 after I had fully blacked out the front half of my room, I asked him if he knew anyone who lived fairly locally with a Trinnov based Atmos system who would be happy to give me a demo. He suggested I PM Ringnut who he thought I would get on well with and whose system was in his lounge which was of similar size to my cinema room.

I contacted Ringnut (Jon) in mid December and it soon became apparent that our rooms, although of different construction, were identical in size and that he knew an awful lot about room acoustics. Also, prior to the Trinnov he had owned an Arcam and was very familiar with setting up and getting the best out of Dirac.

He was particularly interested in measuring the acoustics of my room so I invited him over to do all the measurements he wanted and to see and hear my system. I also wanted him to give me his honest opinion and constructive criticism of it and my room and suggest any improvements that could be made, short of gutting the room and remodelling it or buying a new system!

As can be seen from his post above, his visit turned out to be very informative, challenging and constructively critical, the result of which led to the most profound upgrade to both my room and system’s performance, producing a degree of synergy I have never experienced before, for which I am truly grateful. Thanks also to Gordon Fraser for encouraging me to contact Ringnut.

After we had finished reconfiguring the room, the measurements and Dirac calibration, we were now ready to see and hear the results of Jon’s handiwork. Visually the first thing that struck me was how much more involving and immersive the image was.
As good as the improvement to the image was, the most profound improvement was in the sound. The soundstage seemed significantly wider and more 3 dimensional than the room itself with increased detail, resolution and transparency. This was particularly noticeable in those movies where dialogue had previously been indistinct and muffled. The bass, as well as seeming more even, seemed faster and punchier than ever before with significantly more slam, readily experienced in both body and seat!

I have made a number of upgrades over the years which have given me significant improvements in both audio and video but the most profound upgrade I have experienced to date was achieved by Jon through the optimum placement of speakers and MLP in my room. I now feel that I have truly excellent synergy between my room and my AV system and it didn’t cost me a penny!

I do not consider my room or system to be either high end or cutting edge. It is after all a basic 7.2 system but thanks to Jon, it is now as good as it will ever be and gives me, my family and friends even more enjoyment than ever before. My only regret is that I didn’t join these forums in 2004 when Ringnut (Jon) did and have the opportunity to meet him then. Who knows what I would be watching and listening to movies on now if I had?!
After we had finished reconfiguring the room, the measurements and Dirac calibration, we were now ready to see and hear the results of Jon’s handiwork. Visually the first thing that struck me was how much more involving and immersive the image was.
As good as the improvement to the image was, the most profound improvement was in the sound.

I see from above that you moved the seats closer to the screen. Did you change the screen at all (change the material, size, or position) or do anything else to improve the image, or just move closer?
My room is also the best it's ever been (so far) as Ringnut sold me his XTZ M6's (we'll gloss over that whatever he's got now will be immeasurably better)!

I’m not being hasty I’m just being realistic. I’m retired and coming up to 75 years of age.

The only high end component in my system is a Lumagen 5348. My projector is an Epson LS 10000 which IMHO is a really good projector which punches well above its weight but it’s not a JVC NZ9.

My ProAcDt8 speakers are good hifi speakers not specialised home cinema speakers each biamped and driven by separate Parasound 1500A power amps which are 25 years old but still going strong. My JBL 4645c THX subs driven by a crown xti 4002 power amp can certainly move some air but they are not in the same league as ascendos. I only have an Arcam AV40 not a Trinnov and no Atmos or other height speakers.

What Jon ( Ringnut ) has done has helped me to get the best out of my room and system than it’s ever been to the point that I can’t wait to get down there and rewatch all my favourite movies with significantly greater pleasure and satisfaction than ever before. For me that’s what having a home cinema is ultimately about.

If I were 25 years younger and my wife and I were still working then I would without a doubt gut the room remodel it and install the best high end cutting edge system I could afford but as I’m not I am more than happy to go on enjoying what I have and admiring and supporting those members who do.👍

I know it was tongue in cheek Mike and I certainly didn’t take offence at it. I just wanted to explain why neither my room or system are high end or cutting edge compared to those of some members of this forum.
Thought id’ drop in to this thread as i was lucky enough to be at Tony’s again yesterday. He had booked me in a long time ago to update and check over his system before christmas so i made him my last stop before i have to fire up the reindeer for my busy evening ahead. Santa’s a Scotsman you

Tony's system really is quite amazing considering the cost. Yes, he has the highest spec Lumagen video processor but he also has what would now be considered a very affordable Epson projector in the LS10000 and he puts the hours on it. His is a system that gets regular use and i can see why. The picture quality in his room is just way beyond what you expect. I honestly smile very time i look at content in there it’s so good.. However another transformation has occurred since i did initial installation of his AV40 some time ago pre covid. That optimisation of DIRAC and the roll off curves for Tony’s preferred presentation that Ringnut did is really superb.Tony's system now sounds extremely integrated with that impactful wheft and slam you get on great balanced systems. Even though there are no in ceiling Atmos speakers you don’t really care. You are just drawn in to the actual movie. Before i left we put on the opening scene of Maverick and i could have easily stayed for the whole thing. I get to see many many cinema rooms in my day job and even though some of them are crazy money only a few i think i’d like to have for myself. Tony’s is up there. As are a few others on this forum.

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