Interview with an enthusiast: Alain A.’s exceptional cinema room.

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After’Guy T.’s 7.1 system and Sylvain C.’s 7.1.4 personnal cinema room, many of you reacted on Son-Vidéo.com’s Facebook page. It’s now Alain A.’s turn to present his exceptional personnal cinema room made up of two systems: a hi-fi system and a home cinema system. Each system is made up of exceptional electronics and loudspeakers.

How big is your home theater room?

My room is 28 m2, although it seems smaller given the amount of material. The main advantage is the ceiling height of 3.2m and 55 cm thick stone walls. For sound, it’s a big plus. It is my living room (in theory) that I dedicated to my passion, I can draw blackout curtains for a pitch-black room.

How long did it take you to make this home theater room?

We imagined the project with friends. Between the first meetings, that of the plans and the purchase of the equipment, as well as its calibration, 4 years passed.

When did you decide to design a room dedicated to home theater?

I have been purchasing hi-fi / home theater equipment for over 30 years. I put together my first system at 19. I have friends who like me are passionate and they helped me a lot for the choice and for the installation of certain equipment.

How did you organize the construction work? What was the most challenging aspect?

As I said, I did a lot of things with friends because I am a bit of a handyman and I asked a few professionals to intervene in particular for the acoustic ceiling part and the acoustic treatment of the walls. I also went through professionals for audio and video calibration, even though I have some basic knowledge in this domain. Some parts of the walls are reverberating and others are damping to obtain the best acoustics for this home theater room.

What was the overall budget for the system and construction?

We spent well over €100,000 on equipment. The Revel speakers alone cost over €50,000. The subwoofer (€10,000) is also an exceptional model with only 5 units available in France. Its 1700 watt amplification is designed by Mark Levinson and feeds a speaker coupled to a 38 cm passive radiator in closed enclosure. It is considered one of the 5 best subwoofers ever to be made. This Revel Ultima Sub 30 subwoofer comes with a specific calibration disc. The wiring is entirely made in Siltech. If we go beyond the speaker / amplification part, so including construction work and accessories / wiring, the overall amount is around €160,000.

Can you list the equipment used and tell us why you chose these brands?

I have two systems, one dedicated to music and the other one for films and series. The hi-fi system is based on high efficiency JBL S3100 speakers while the home theater system is composed of Revel Ultima series speakers. I use an Audio Research Reference Series preamp to power the JBLs while the amplification part is composed of McIntosh electronics. I also have the Focal Elegia and Focal Utopia headphones.

My home theater system is made up of:

  • Lumene Movie Palace 300c projection screen (3m base)
  • JVC DLA-X35 video projector
  • Oppo UDP-205 EU blu-ray player
  • McIntosh MX136 processor
  • McIntosh MC303 3-way power block
  • Two McIntosh MC2600 stereo power blocks
  • Revel Ultima Salon (main speakers)
  • Revel Ultima Voice center speaker (+ stand)
  • Revel Ultima embrace surround speakers
  • Revel Ultima Sub 30 sub

My hi-fi system is made up of:

  • JBL S3100 MK1 speakers
  • JBL 2405H loudspeakers (3-way evolution)
  • JBL M552 Active filter
  • Phase Linear 400 MK1 amplifier (50 years old and 100% refurbished)
  • Audio Research Reference 2 MK1 preamp (100% retubed)
  • Focal Utopia headphones
  • Auris HA2 headphone amplifier
  • Fiio M11 Music player with Focal Elegia headphones

For the hi-fi wiring, I spent a very long time (more than 15 years) with 100% Siltech G3 range and I am considering replacing everything to switch to Siltech G7.

Did you use acoustic treatment?

Yes, it is a suspended ceiling with acoustic tiles and starry sky. We kept a hard surface for the side walls and the walls at the back of the stage are covered with stretched acoustic fabric. The curtains are also acoustic models in velvet lined with a special weave and very sturdy iron rods to support the weight.

What is the first movie you watched in this room? Which one gave you a taste for home theater?

I have over 4000 films. The first film I bought in 1988/89 on Laser Disc was Fantasia. This is the one that gave me the taste for home theater, so in stereo on a cathode ray tube TV.

How often do you use this home theater room?

I sometimes leave the hi-fi system plugged in for a month and then I switch to the home theater part, it depends on how I feel.

Do you watch anything other than movies? Sporting events? Series? Video games? Concerts?

I listen to music in stereo, watch movies, concerts. No sports, video games or series (only on TV). I really like the physical CD (SACD, 24-bit) or Blu-ray media even though I have a NAS with a large library of content. I have two shelves 2 meters long by 2 meters high filled with music and movies. I have a few multi-channel musical recordings and I like to compare the listenings of the same disc that I can listen in stereo or in multi-channel on the Revels, in stereo on the high-performance JBL system and finally with headphones (Focal), in stereo.

How would you like to upgrade your system?

The next evolution will surely be a newer projector, perhaps in the long run, a McIntosh preamplifier. I would very much like aMcIntosh MX170 . I went to theSon-Vidéo.com store in Montpellier and staff did not try to sell me things I didn’t need. Instead they told me that my preamp was still up to the task given the rest of my setup. I am considering modifying all of my wiring to switch to a Siltech G7 series.

What piece of advice can you give to someone who wants to make a room like this?

From what we see, eight times out of ten the problem is that people favor aesthetics over quality. The budget is distributed 20% in the room and 80% in the material. I think we need to rebalance the material / room distribution.

Discover Alain A.’s home theater and hi-fi room.


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DJ à mes heures, grand fan de musiques Soul, Funk, Disco j’aime aussi le rock, le hip-hop, le reggae et la musique latine. The Temptations, Millie Jackson, Cerrone, Donald Byrd ou Hamilton Bohannon... Cinéphile à mes heures, je voue une passion aux westerns (Le bon, la brute et le truand, Jango unchained...), aux films de sciences fictions (Interstellar, District 9...) et films de guerre (La ligne rouge, 1917, Le soldat Ryan...). J’ai hérité de la chaîne hifi de mes parents que j’ai progressivement remplacé dès 2000 lors de mes débuts chez Son-Vidéo.com. Aujourd’hui je suis équipé avec un ensemble Elipson Planet alimenté par un ampli Yamaha en 5.1. Pas de TV mais un projecteur Epson et un écran Lumene motorisé. Deux platines Technics SL1200 avec table de mixage Ecler, platine cassette TEAC et Blu-ray Onkyo complètent mon système audio.

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