Passionate about cinema and video games, David designed his own personnal theater with the help of a friend in his basement in order to play video games on PS5 and watch movies for optimal picture and sound quality. The particularity of this installation: a dual projector system, with a Full HD model for video games and a UHD 4K HDR compatible projector for movies.
How big is your home theater? From the technical area (electronics)?
My personnal theater is 20 m2 in total (5.3 meters long and 3.90 meters wide). The technical area at the back occupies an area of 2 m2 on a shelf.
How long did it take you to build this personnal theater?
With painting, floor covering, acoustics management, installation and adjustments: 5 intensive days.
When did you decide to design a personnal theater? Why create a dedicated room?
I decided to design a room dedicated to cinema when I bought the house. It was precisely my primary motivation: to have the liberty of turning the volume up without disturbing the neighborhood, even at night. This was an important parameter in the purchase of the house, in particular because the house had to be made of concrete and not of wood. The dedicated room makes it possible to optimize sound and image without the concessions and constraints of a living room.
How did you organize the construction work? What was the most challenging aspect?
since I’m not very handy, it was mainly management and ideas to then have them applied by a friend. The main problem: the management of two projectors in the same room. It was necessary to adjust the settings the just right and especially the placement. The Benq is the most complicated projector to adjust because it does not have a lens shift, while the Sony does not allow a horizontal shift of more than one meter. Then the acoustics of the room were also complex. Knowing how to make it more neutral and limit reverberations with a calibration mic took a lot of time.
What was the budget for the equipment and construction?
I spent around € 2,000 for the construction: red carpet, matte black paint, Philips HUE spotlights, etc. I already had a satisfactory base: three concrete poured walls of 26 cm. For the equipment, I invested around € 13,000.
Can you list the equipment used and tell us why you chose these brands?
- Sony VPL-VW270ES 4K projector: remarkable machine for games and movies. It combines both low latency and a formidable level of detail with its Reality Creation technology, a proprietary upscaling algorithm allowing a high level of detail and without visual interference. For movies, the Motionflow 4K provides great fluidity without the camcorder effect of some competitive models.
- Benq W1090 Full HD projector : nice alternative for gaming sessions that do not require high end image quality and the high performance of the Sony VPL-VW270ES. This allows you to preserve the life of your lamp and to play without worrying about it. DLPs have are reputed to be indestructible.
- Paradigm Studio 100 V5 front speakers and Paradigm Studio CC690 control unit: versatile choice for home theater and stereo music. The center speaker is a 3-way model, which is very important because in films and games it makes for 80% of the sound restitution. It is fairly easy to drive with its efficiency of 93 dB.
- Focal Bb surround speakers: good value for money for surround effects speakers.
- Cambridge 650R amplifier: difficult to find an amplifier for hi-fi and home theater with a good toroidal transformer. This one is a bit old and is there fore not compatible with 4K HDR content but allows ensure good musical performance. In order to get around the problem of the 4K image to the Sony VPL-VW270ES, I use an 18 Gbps HDMI matrix which separates the sound and the image, thus making it possible to send the sound to the amplifier and the projector without any loss. A preamp with two HDMI outputs would avoid this matrix, but I have yet to find a model which is convincing with both music and movies.
- PS5: the reference of the moment if one want to play the exclusive licences
- HTPC: this is my home theater and sound source. I digitized my entire Blu-ray collection with a software in order to move to dematerialization and especially to use MadVr, an open source video rendering engine that allows you to play all videos in very good quality, with details and HDR that can compete with the best sources on the market. It requires a lot of computing power, in my case an RTX2060 takes care of this task successfully. One can find a plug and play product which is the Madvr Envy. This HTPC also serves as a hi-fi audio source with a USB DAC to the analog part of the Cambridge 650R. Dematerialization requires a hard drive with a lot of space, for that I have nearly 50 terabytes to store movies. Finally, the HTPC allows acoustic treatment via DIRAC.
- Fixed projection screen Lumene Movie Palace 240C : 234 cm basic screen, perfect for a beautiful cinema and gaming experience. It offers good value for money, a gain of 1.00 and 150 ° directivity.
- BK XXL-400 subwoofer: a good all-rounder that goes down to 20 Hz (-3 dB).
Did you use an acoustic treatment if not, do you plan to use one in the future?
Yes, the DIRAC via the PC (HTPC). With the miniDSP microphone this allows high level processing and especially configurable, unlike some on-board processing on AV receivers. The contribution is also important in HiFi. The rest of the processing is passive and is carried out using a bass trap and acoustic foam panels which act on the midrange and upper midrange (from 900 to 3250 Hz). This treatment optimizes the reverberation time which is called the RT60. A value greater than 0.5 second is problematic and it is necessary to add panels to reduce the increase and thus facilitate the polarization work. With this processing, my room is only 0.18 seconds (at 500 Hz) which is the equivalent of Studio quality!
What is the first movie you watched in this room? Which one gave you a taste for home theater?
The first movie I watched in my theater was Aquaman. The one that gave me a taste for cinema was Jurassic Park back in 1993, it was a real eye opener to me. A revelation !
How often do you use this home theater room?
Every other day and every time for many hours.
Do you watch anything other than movies? Sporting events? Series? Video games? Concerts?
I use my personnal theater room a lot for video games. It’s a hell of an immersive experience.
How would you like to upgrade your system?
No doubt with a new AV receiver to avoid the HDMI matrix and simplify connection.
What piece of advice can you give to someone who wants to make a room like this?
Make sure it is adapted to your needs! This is the key to building a successful room. Remember to matify the acoustic rendering so as not to tire the ears with overly analytical or sibilant highs. The same goes for the image, wanting to get absolutely closer to the original rendering is not necessarily everyone’s goal, what matters is an image that pleases. I prefer a wow effect rather than an absolutely faithful image that would be a bit dull. In this the Sony VPL-VW270ES and recently the new Sony VPL-VW290ES fulfill this role wonderfully.