Manu admits that he has fulfilled a childhood dream. A cinephile and DIYer, he has transformed his unused attic into a home theater! Over a 6-month period, he first coordinated the project before carrying out several jobs himself. Now he can watch movies and sports in his 7.2.2 channel private cinema room.
How big is your home theater? And the technical area (electronics)?
My room measures between 26 and 28m2. I don’t have a specific technical area.
How long did it take you to build this home theater room?
It took me about 6 months. Once I was able to find an electrician, we were able to make significant progress. For three months, I spent many evenings and weekends working intensively on the project.
When did you decide to design a room dedicated to home theater? Why create a personal movie theater?
I caught the virus as a teenager, when I bought my first hi-fi system. Sanyo, it had a ‘tv’ button and I tried a connection so I could enjoy stereo sound, I thought it was magical. Then I was able to buy my first real Sony Dolby Pro Logic receiver and then an Onkyo Dolby Digital. All this in my little room at my parents’ house. This Onkyo system with Sony speakers lasted almost 25 years, until this new project in fact!
When I moved into this house, I was struck by an idea when I saw the unoccupied attic. But the task was immense, as the room was totally unfinished. I went into it thinking that you only live once. I was fulfilling a childhood dream that I never thought I’d achieve.
When I moved into this house, I was struck by an idea when I saw the unoccupied attic. […] I went into it thinking that you only live once. I was fulfilling a childhood dream that I never thought I’d achieve.
How did you organize the construction work? What was the most challenging part?
The biggest dilemma is having to think of everything to make things easier for one tradesman after another. I wasn’t present during the day when the insulation or plasterboard was being put in place, and I often had to pester them with phone calls to make sure that this or that sheathing was in the right place, and so on.
First, we did the insulation and the steel structure. Next, the routing of audio cables and sheaths. Electrics, drilling holes in the walls for the air-conditioning and installing the partitions all followed in quick succession. From there, I did the rest: painting, installing the acoustic fleece, the acoustic foam on the back of the canvas, laying the stretched fabric and the carpet tiles.
How much of the budget was for the equipment? How much for the construction work?
To date, I’ve spent around 9,000 euros on equipment. For all the work, I invested around 7,000 euros in converting the attic.
Can you list the equipment used and tell us why you chose these brands?
- 2 x SVS Prime Pinnacle floorstanding speakers
- SVS Prime Center center speaker
- SVS Prime satellite + bookshelf surround speakers
- 2 x SVS PB-1000 subwoofers
- 2 x Elipson IC8 Atmos speakers
- Epson EH-TW9400W 4K UHD projector
- Multivision 240 screen
- Denon AVC-X4700H AV receiver
- Onkyo PA-MC5501 power amplifier
- Panasonic DP-UB9000 EG1 Blu-ray player
- Philips Hue lighting
How do you control the system (applications, universal remote controls, etc.)?
At present, I control my system with the original remote controls. I like it this way. Maybe I’ll opt for a home automation system later via Amazon Alexa voice control, for example.
Did you use an acoustic treatment? If not, do you plan to use one in the future?
I chose to prioritize thermal insulation with a thin layer of rock wool. The acoustic fleece under the stretched fabric made a real difference. Behind the canvas, I placed 8cm of honeycomb foam. I’m satisfied with the result, even if some outside sounds are still audible. One day, I’d like to install an acoustic panel for both sound optimization and aesthetics.
What was the first movie you watched in this room? Which one gave you a taste for home theater?
My favorite film, the one I can watch once a year, is Dances with Wolves (1990). This film stands head and shoulders above anything I’ve seen to date. Everything is perfect, John Barry’s music, the scenery, the script… I once read a review that said Kevin Costner had achieved perfection with this movie. I agree!
I also recommend Open Range (2003). This film is less well known, but still very enjoyable. I also love James Bond and period and adventure films. I admit I have a harder time with Marvel or DC Comics blockbusters.
How often do you use this home theater room?
If possible, I go up there every night!
Do you watch anything other than movies? Sporting events? Series? Video games? Concerts?
Yes, I also use my private room to watch sports.
How would you like to upgrade your system?
For the moment, I’m going to enjoy the room as it is. If I’m going to take a step forward, it will be to get professional advice. I’d like to have this expertise to possibly recalibrate the projector.
What piece of advice can you give to someone who wants to make a room like this?
First of all, it’s vital to have a clear idea of your project, using a plan to anticipate the best possible placement of cables and equipment. You also need to be able to look ahead to the system’s future development, thinking in terms of cable sheaths to protect audio cables, for example.
Next, you need to estimate your budget for the work and the materials you’ll need, based on your needs. This allows you to avoid spending a fortune on equipment that will be under-used or in poor conditions. By keeping an eye on the second-hand market, you can find some great bargains and improve your equipment, or simply make a nice saving that will allow you to reinvest in a nice power amp, for example.
Finally, take the time to find out more on dedicated forums. By confronting different points of view, you sort through the various ideas and make your own decisions.