Immersive experience

by Sean Hannam 12

A home cinema is the ultimate dream for movie lovers, and the latest technology means clients can enjoy an experience as good as – if not better than – going to a commercial screen. We look at the latest AV tech and get some expert advice on how to offer an extra-special viewing experience

WHEN YOU VISIT the cinema, you want to lose yourself in a great fi lm but also enjoy a truly stunning and immersive audio and visual experience. This is also true for consumers who want

to incorporate cinema into their homes according to Owen Maddock, owner of CEDIA award-winning home technology consultant ConnectedWorks in Bristol. “‘Home cinema’ is a funny term – it’s been hijacked by some of the mass-market companies,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with a 65-inch TV and a soundbar, but that’s not really a cinema experience, especially not for a larger space – and clients who use designers and architects will often have bigger rooms.” Paul Hilditch, brand manager for multi-

room audio brand Systemline, elaborates. “Top-end cinemas need to be designed to create an experience – from the moment you enter the room to the end of the fi lm, homeowners want to go on a journey within their own four walls,” he says. “A dedicated home cinema installation needs to perform in terms of video, audio, user interaction and control. The design of the room now considers the audio performance, from the dimensions of the room itself to specially fi tted acoustic treatment panels.”

Ultra High Defi nition When it comes to picture performance, at the top end of the market consumers are looking for bigger and better displays. “The innovation of 4K [Ultra High Defi nition] TV

screens and associated services from Netfl ix and others, as well as 4K Blu-ray, has allowed homeowners to experience a higher level of picture quality than ever before,” says James Drummie, product manager at residential technology company AWE. “The rise in home viewing of movies and box sets on demand means more homeowners are increasingly wanting a system that requires a projector to get the largest screen sizes.” Sony’s latest range of home cinema

projectors, including the premium VPL- VW870ES model, features 4K Motionfl ow technology, which enables smoother and clear motion by adding extra frames to reduce blur and maintain brightness – ideal for watching fast-moving scenes, such as in sporting events. “There are some fantastic laser projectors available now which are bright enough to use in daylight and super- quiet, as no fan is needed in the unit,” says Steve Moore, founder of award-winning custom installation company SMC. According to Pip Evans, managing director

of CEDIA member NV Integration in London, the cost of 4K projectors has fallen dramatically over the last 18 months, opening up the market. New on the horizon are 8K-resolution projectors, but they will initially come with a hefty price tag. However, 8K TVs are now commercially available – Samsung was fi rst to market them in the UK last year, with its Q900R QLED model. This year, the Korean mega- brand has expanded its offering, with the new 8K Q950R range which includes sets

from 65 inches to 98 inches. The company also offers 4K models: the Q90R, Q85R, Q80R, Q70R and Q60R, which range in size from 43 to 82 inches. The new line-up further offers Ultra

Viewing Angle technology, which allows the backlight to pass through the panel more evenly onto the screen. This is claimed to offer a great viewing experience wherever you’re sat in the room.

3D surround sound Dolby Atmos and other 3D surround-sound audio formats, such as its rival DTS:X, are becoming more popular in home cinema set-ups. As a result, brands including LG, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung have launched soundbars that support both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Many home theatre AV receivers – from

brands including Denon, Marantz, Arcam, Sony, Onkyo and Pioneer – support both. “Object-based surround-sound systems

such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X provide immersive sound quality like nothing else for the main TV area, or within a dedicated home cinema room,” AWE’s Drummie says. “By utilising overhead ceiling speakers in combination with a conventional layout, the sound travels around and through the room, providing a truly immersive audio experience – just like the very best conventional cinemas. These speakers can be seamlessly integrated into the room and hidden from view, meaning there is no compromise to the interior design.”

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