Frédéric M’s private movie theater


Frédéric has always been passionate about cinema and the Star Wars universe. Over the years, he has built a sophisticated home theater installation. First in the living room of his apartment, then in a dedicated room that he built with the help of his brother-in-law. After several months of work, he can now enjoy an immersive experience on the big screen with his 9.1 channel system.

Frédéric M.'s private home theater seen from the stage
Frédéric did the work himself for his home theater room. A fan of the Star Wars saga, the decor of the room is just as important to him as the choice of his equipment.

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

As it stands, the room measures 4.15m x 4.70m, or 19.505m². I don’t have a real technical area, the devices are arranged on a specific piece of furniture with tempered glass shelves, just to the right of the couch, slightly behind the viewer to avoid light pollution.

Lumene screen and Eltax speakers
My Lumene screen is on a platform. It is surrounded by two Eltax Concept 400 floorstanding speakers, an Eltax Monitor Centre speaker and a Jamo Sub 210 subwoofer.

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

It took me a year and a half, on the weekends and part of my vacations, from the beginning of 2006 to the summer of 2007.

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

I started thinking about it in the early 1990s. I started with a large, square Thomson TV, a TEAC AV receiver, a Panasonic “Surround” VCR and the JM-Lab image pack, which included two rear speakers and a center one, to which I added two Pioneer hi-fi speakers. All installed in the living room of the apartment where we lived. Then, in 1997 we moved to a small house in the country. It had a large mezzanine upstairs, which I equipped with the same system, except for the Pioneer front speakers that I replaced with two JAMO Studio 180s. For the movie viewings, I installed two small convertible sofas arranged in an L shape.

BenQ W1070+ projector and Eltax Concept Mini surround speakers
I use a BenQ W1070+ projector and Eltax Concept Mini compact speakers for surround effects. For the amplification, I chose the Pioneer VSX-924-K.

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

I already had a precise idea of the layout and the colors, I wanted it to be the same as the movie theaters of my childhood, very dark blue and red. I designed the room in the old grain storage room of the house, which used to be a small working farm a long time ago. Before we did any work, the available surface area was approximately 5m x 5m. I had three walls with a thickness of about 60cm (2 side walls and one at the back) and a brick wall (on which the projector bracket is now mounted), but there was no ceiling, because you could go from this “storage platform” to the rest of the attic via a huge ladder.

With the help of my brother-in-law, I started by tearing out the old floor and replacing it with two 22mm chipboard panels that sandwich a thick layer of acoustic panels. Then, because the original walls were not perfect, I built a cube: I leveled the three existing walls to lay the joists that were used to design the ceiling.

View of the work on the wall
I used 3 original walls to design my room. I installed partitions with BA13 plasterboard plates in between which I added glass wool insulation.

The partitions are not in contact with the original walls. The space between the room’s partitions and the walls varies from 5 to 10cm. Once the rails were installed, I integrated the electrical and audio conduits before laying all the cables. The partitions are made of 2 layers of 13mm plasterboard overlapping each other, behind which I added glass wool.

Then, for decoration, I finished by building a platform which is compartmentalized and filled with stone wool, on which I laid carpet squares. It houses the two front speakers, placed on decoupling spikes, and the subwoofer.

The original rear wall has been made thicker to ensure acoustic insulation with the rest of the house. The four walls are covered with an acoustic treatment that is about 5mm thick. The door was manufactured specifically to guarantee the acoustic insulation of a projection room. It was ordered from a local cabinetmaker.

Frédéric M.'s private theater: painting
In love with the movie theaters of my childhood, I wanted to reproduce the same effect with red and dark blue walls.

Once the major construction work was completed, I laid the floor on a layer of soundproofing. I also had to cut through a wall to create a hallway inside the house, upstairs, to access the room.

This summarizes the “major construction work” phase. I didn’t have any real problems, because I benefited from the sound advice of my brother-in-law, who has a perfect command of all the trades involved in this type of project. In fact, he was the one who made the electrical connections from the cinema room to the house’s electrical panel.

Finishes and electrical connection of the home theater room
This picture is now the location of my Pioneer VSX-924-K AV receiver. At the bottom are the electrical cables and the audio cables are above.

What was the overall budget for the system and construction?

Since 2006, I must admit that I have a little trouble remembering the prices. However, the total bill for materials (joists, chipboard, rails, plasterboard, glass and rock wool, electrical sheathing and cables, electrical outlets and switches/dimmers, wall connections for audio cables, acoustic treatments, paint, spotlights, parquet flooring) was expected to be around €3,500. The soundproof door cost me €800. Concerning the price of the material currently in place, it amounts to approximately €3,500. Not everything was acquired at the same time.

Mad Max projection on a very large screen
After a year and a half of work, I was able to enjoy my own private home theater installation. I continue to perfect it as time goes by. I now have a 9.1 channel system.

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

I chose Pioneer equipment because of the quality of the brand’s products that I had already used, in particular the LDP CLD 310, 515 and 925. My first DVD/CD player was a Pioneer DVD Player DV 535, and the previous receiver was also from the Japanese brand.

Frédéric M.'s private cinema room, furniture and decoration
I chose not to use acoustic panels. I relied on the installation of furniture to limit the effects of reverberation. I placed a large rug on the floor.

How do you control the system (applications, universal remote controls, etc.)?

I control my system with the Logitech Harmony 1000 universal remote.

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

I do not use acoustic panels. I covered the walls with a specific coating (about 5mm thick) to avoid sound reverberation. I also focused on the design of the room with shelves and furniture.

Logitech Harmony 1000 Universal Remote Control
Very practical, my Logitech Harmony 1000 universal remote control centralizes all the controls of my home theater installation.

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

It was Episode IV of the Star Wars saga. I own the film on VHS in a beautiful box set (but I don’t have a VCR anymore…), on DVD, Blu-ray and Laser disc (three different editions). I discovered the film in the summer of 1977, when it was released in Scotland. I was 14 years old, and since then I’ve been a huge fan!

How often do you use this home theater room?

From time to time my wife enjoys it alone, so does my son with his partner. As for me, I am often away from home. But when I am here, I use the room almost every night.

The Son-Vidé home theater experience

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

I also watch series, but on DVD or Blu-ray. Because my mistake, at the time, in 2006, when building the room, was not to have foreseen an Internet connection…

How would you like to upgrade your system?

The next step is to connect the room to the home internet network in order to enjoy films or series via digital supports.

Star Wars projection on Lumene screen
Combined with my BenQ W1070+ projector, my 234cm x 132cm Lumene screen allows me to enjoy my favorite movies with a great picture.

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

Modestly, I would say that you really have to think about everything, because the devil is in the details. You have to be able to picture your room, to have the images of the layout already in your head. Ideally, you should draw a plan of what you want, even if it is simple and not done by an architect.

Most of all, if you have a modest budget like me, you have to be patient. Design your cinema room or facility with a view to the future and taking into account the desired developments. For example, I had already pre-equipped the side walls with cable outlets for the left and right surround speakers, but I didn’t acquire them until much later when my budget allowed it.

I had a small budget, which is also one of the reasons why I wanted to build my room myself. So you’re really proud when you watch your first film on the screen, alone, to check that everything works perfectly, and then with your family. One is even more satisfied with the work done when you see your friends’ faces when entering the room, then after the movie when they take the time to visit it by asking questions, and conclude with: “you really have a beautiful room, it’s great, congratulations!”.

With what I learned while building it and with a bit of hindsight, if I were to create a new one it would certainly be in the same spirit but “technically” more accomplished. That said, it’s always the budget that makes the difference.

See Frédéric’s full installation.

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