Frédéric’s home theater installation

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Mis à jour le 14 January 2022.

Setting up a home theater system in a living room can prove to be a real challenge. A challenge brilliantly taken up by Frédéric who completely optimized the integration of the equipment to switch to video projection. No more TV cabinet, visible electronics or unsightly and dusty cables lying around on the floor. The result is a well-integrated home theater installation, but without compromising on the performance.

How big is your home theater room? From the technical area (electronics)?

My installation is in the living room which is 43m². The electronics are in this same room, but I chose to move them to the side of the sofa to avoid cluttering the field of vision. These elements are all placed in a hi-fi cabinet.

Frédéric has completely revised the integration of his home theater installation in the living room to make the most of cinema sessions, without altering the esthetics of the room.

How long did it take you to build this home theater?

The entire process took a little over a month, and I spent probably just as much time thinking about it. The living room being the main room of the house, it was necessary to be quick while taking the time to do well. A rather motivating and exciting challenge.

It took a little over a month to set up my cinema room in the living room, with a preliminary reflection period of a month as well.

When did you decide to design a room dedicated to home theater? Why create a personal movie theater?

In fact, idea came to me about ten years ago. I wanted to completely redo the integration of the equipment to finally switch to video projector in my living room. I find it great and convivial to be able to transform a living room into a movie theater to watch a movie with family or friends. There is something almost magical when the screen appears and the video projector turns on. Guaranteed wow effect for visitors!

The result had to be neat, clean and integrated as well as possible into the room. I wanted something modern and uncluttered, but with quality material. After some thought, I said goodbye to the TV cabinet, the electronics under the TV, the surround speakers on stands and the unsightly and dusty cables lying around on the floor. Esthetics and design are really important to me, which brings a real plus to the installation. I went for a modern, industrial-style decor. The final challenge was to have an spacious and uncluttered look despite the bulky equipment.

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

The main idea was to lower the projection screen to the level of the TV by integrating it into the wall, suspend all the surround speakers, hide the video projector and rethink all the cabling. First, we made an MDF counter-partition mounted on battens to delimit the TV space and integrate the wall niche. We did a scratched concrete effect finish on the outskirt.

The TV is placed in a wall niche with a scratched concrete finish. The projection screen slides along this niche.

To hide the motorized screen, I made a long casing fitted to the ceiling with spotlights. The casing is perpendicular to the beam of the house, which brings continuity as well esthetic depth. The custum-made canopy affixed to the wall does not cover its entire length, it stops to leae room for the projection beam. So there is a space where it’s only the frame without window. I wanted to keep the looks without the drawbacks of acoustic reflection.

The custom-made canopy affixed to the wall is only fitted with a frame without window. I wanted the look without the drawbacks of acoustic reflection.

For maximum discretion, the video projector was installed in an adjacent room, placed on a support above the door and projecting through an open skylight in the wall. Thus, when entering the house, everything seems almost invisible. All the surround speakers and as well as the center speaker are mounted on custom-made brackets. The two Atmos speakers are directly integrated into the ceiling.

One of the biggest parts was running all the wiring for the installation through the walls and ceilings, as well as adding wall outlets and cable paths. But the desired result is there: zero cables on the ground, no visible wires.

What was the overall budget for the system and construction work?

Like many enthusiasts, the equipment is (too?) often revised and evolves to adapt to the latest standards. The current installation represents a budget of around € 25,000. Te construction work wss approximately € 3,000.

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

Being both a home theater and hi-fi enthusiast, I chose to opt for two separate amps in order to get the best of both worlds:

An Onkyo TX-RZ840 AV receiver and an Emotiva XPA-5 Gen3 power stage paired with a Myryad Z142 amplifier for hi-fi listening. A Dynavox Amp-S switch allows me to switch from one to the other.

The warm and generous sound of the Onkyo amplifier coupled with the Emotiva power stage works wonderfully in 7.1.2 on my BC Acoustique Nil / Axios / Thames set (Atlantic Technology IC-6 for Atmos) with an XTZ 1X12 subwoofer.

As for the Myryad Z142, this small hi-fi amplifier has superb musicality, great dynamics as well as a rich and detailed sound. Paired with the Nile floorstanders, it is a real pleasure.

For the video, I chose the Sony VPL-VW590ES video projector for its stunning image. I added a Motorized Screenline Radiance screen fitted with a 0.8 gain technical screen for a 274 cm width. The gain in contrast and depth is striking.

CD / and 4K Blu-ray playback is handled by the famous Panasonic DP-UB9000 player, a Zappiti One 4K HDR player handles all digital files. It’s a real pleasure to have your entire video library just a click away.

As for the TV, I remained faithful to Sony with the Sony 60XF8305 LED model. Finally, for a vintage and nostalgic touch, a Thorens TD166MKII turntable equipped with a Grado Prestige Red cartridge sits proudly on the top of the Norstone cabinet.

How do you control the system (apps, universal remote controls, etc.)? Applications? Universal remote control?

All the lights and spots are controled by an automation system. Thus, the various hardware / lighting activities are managed by voice via Alexa, which itself controls the Logitech Hub. One word is enough to turn off / delay the lights and start the session. It’s like magic.

An iPad, my phone or a universal Touch remote control allow me to control all the elements while the film is playing. I find that creating routines and activities is completely part of the fun, this geeky side is pretty fun!

I control my entire cinema installation by voice with Alexa or using an iPad application.

Did you use any acoustic treatment? If not, do you plan to use one in the future?

While an acoustic treatment is rather simple to envisage in a dedicated room, it remains a real challenge in a living-room because of aesthetic constraints. Large blackout curtains and a large, thick carpet keep reverberation in the room to a minimum. To improve damping even more, I installed a homemade absorbent panel on the ceiling, consisting of a batten structure filled with acoustic foam and covered with an anthracite gray stretch fabric. Other acoustc treatment panels are placed behind the floorstanders. Despite the size of the living-room, these modifications made it possible to make the room quieter and improve intelligibility in the sweet spot. My dream would be to go much further in the acoustic treatment of the room while preserving its esthetics. It’s a real challenge …

I installed a homemade damping panel on the ceiling as well as panels behind the floorstanding speakers to limit reverberation and resonance.

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

I grew up with two important things: a multitude of kung fu movies (!) in VHS and hundreds of rock vinyl records. I just couldn’t escape the cinema and music bug. It also gave birth to my first passion, playing the electric guitar.

If I had to pick a movie that marked my home theater debut, I would say Return Of The Jedi!

How often do you use this home theater room?

Every night of the week as well as on weekends. My family loves the ritual of the sitting down after the meal. The video projection integrated into the living-room has this undeniable very user-friendly side, even if technically the result does not reach that of an optimized dedicated room. The pleasure is there and that is the essential. I am also fortunate that my wife is aslo a movie lover who understands and appreciate the quality of the material. The pleasure is shared, it’s perfect.

I use my home theater system every night of the week as well as on weekends. My family loves the ritual of the sitting down after the meal.

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

We mainly watch films, but also a few series and concerts, and sometimes even streaming videos. We play video games sometimes, including racing games for which we use a racecar seat with a steering wheel, and the (older) children really loved it!

How would you like to upgrade your system?

Like any enthusiast, I am often in search of the “best” despite a result that gives me complete satisfaction today. But if I had to develop the home theaterpart, I would probably go for a second XTZ subwoofer which would allow to have even more homogeneous lowss. Regarding the hi-fi part, I am already thinking about an excellent DAC or an audio network player.

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

Integrating equipment as well as possible into the living room is accessible to everyone.

In my opinion, what is absolutely essential is to take the time to think about it in order to have a solid idea of your project as a whole: the placement of the elements, the type of integration, wiring, the lighting, the general rendering …

It is also wise to think about the future evolution of the installation by adding extra ducts for wires.

One last tip for getting the most out of a video projector in your living room: associate it with a good technical projection screen that will control unwanted lights and provide excellent contrast. Once the installation is finished, there will only be one thing left: enjoy the show!

Check out Frédéric’s home theater installation

a personal movie theater at home

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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 remplacée 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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