How They Did It: Balancing Performance and Budget

Ed Wenck | Oct 28, 2019

Archimedia won the Best Home Cinema, Level II EMEA (£40,000-£120,000) category for this brilliantly-engineered project that matched the client's vision and budget.

The mission here was to design and build a high-specification cinema room, with 3D capability, for a brand-new villa set within the exclusive Arabian Ranches Community in Dubai. The main focus was to create a space where the owners could enjoy a real cinematic experience.

At the core of the home cinema is a high-performance Barco Orion CinemaScope projector. This 1400 lumens model incorporates an all-glass lens and colour wheel that delivers exceptional color images with high contrast and sharpness. An auto-cropping feature detects the presence of the black bars in CinemaScope movies and automatically upscales the image to full HD (2560 x 1080) resolution. Although the customer initially considered a 4K system, the integrator advised that the size of the room and the exceptional quality of the projector meant that a more expensive option would not offer any additional benefit.

A Qalif handheld Spectroradiometer, in conjunction with the Barco CMS, was used to calibrate the video system and realise the finest image quality. For 3D viewing, Barco Edge RF glasses, linked to an ActivHub RF5 3D Radio Emitter, maintain the image brightness and color accuracy.

To help create an authentic cinema atmosphere, a Bowers & Wilkins audio system, using a 7.1.4 setup, ensures the audience feels that they are at the centre of the action. The B&W CT700 speaker system, designed specifically for the custom cinema market, produces a powerful 105db sound, with exceptional clarity, at the seating positions. Archimedia's experienced engineers have ensured that the speakers have been placed in the optimal positions around the room with calibration undertaken using a DIRAC Live system. 

The final key element to the AV system is an acoustically transparent Da-Lite 20418V 166" projector screen that allows correct screen channel positioning. The white surface offers true, vibrant color reproduction thereby enhancing the viewing experience.

The construction of the room is poured reinforced concrete, which was estimated to have a reasonable RT60. As Archimedia did not want to unnecessarily "over treat" the room, the RT60 was measured when the room was near completion to ascertain final requirements before the acoustically translucent wall materials were fixed. Ultimately, the RT 60 (1Khz) was reduced to 0.35s, the target for a 7.1.4 setup, using an inexpensive 75mm foam around the screen channel speakers and side walls along with a modest amount of isolation (in the form of ROCKWOOL).

The interior of the villa has been beautifully designed with a modern, contemporary look featuring lots of bright finishes and hard, reflective surfaces, which are not optimal for a cinema interior. The cinema room is decorated in dark tones to maximize contrast while the fiber-optic lights in the ceiling are programmed to be off while movies are playing. A combination of formal cinema seating and a casual sofa enables the family to relax according to their mood. Overall, the cinema room comfortably matches the specific styling of the rest of the house with minimal impact on video performance, and the final result is stunning, and one that the client and interior designer is delighted with.

The owner has a range of entertainment sources including a Kaleidescape Strato movie player with a 6T hard drive, capable of storing up to 180 movies, including 4K, Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD. There is also an Apple TV, Xbox, and Sonos Connect music streaming service. As ease of use is crucial to enjoying the space, control of all the key elements of the room, comprising entertainment, lighting, and climate, have been integrated through a Crestron CP3 control system. This means that the entire room is easily controlled using a simple app on the client’s own iPad.

The entertainment system has been designed with some flexibility for the future. The projector has been fixed outside the room, so it can easily be changed. Furthermore, there is a simple cable route between the rack and projector location for future bandwidth upgrades while the Kaleidescape Strato is already 4K-capable.

The client and his family are delighted with the project outcome. The main focus was to create a space where the owners could enjoy a true cinematic experience - as they had at the integrator's reference showroom cinema - but at 40% of its cost. Archimedia succeeded, and has achieved the ideal balance of cost against performance.

Bu Ameem Building
Umm Hurair Road, off Maktoum Bridge
Dubai, DU 113836 | United Arab Emirates