Twenty years ago, while living in the UK, a dream was born: James was living in an apartment with a simple CRT TV, as most of us did. But being an engineer and a lover of all things digital, he wasn’t satisfied with that. He was dreaming of a lot more.
The day James drove 3.5 hours each way up to north of England to buy his first Denon AVR and 5.1 KEF Egg speaker package (available mid-end October), he knew he was getting seriously hooked on the idea of one day getting a dedicated home theatre.
Small steps were taken along the road, but it wasn’t until the end of 2015 that he saw his chance of fulfilling his long held dream.
James and his wife were planning to build a new home with all the bells and whistles. Including a dedicated home theatre. Until the painful reality of the quote presented by the building company crushed the plans.
But the couple didn’t let it get to them and they started scouting existing houses on the market. Until low and behold they found ‘The One’, sitting high on a hill.
The house is a beautiful old lady, completely done up with a gorgeous garden. The brand new open plan kitchen and living area was so large that James saw a way of getting his dream realized after all. Armed with a strict budget of $30,000, the hunt for a builder who wanted to work with the couple was on.
His software engineering background and a good amount of reading AVSforum threads had him very well prepared for what lay ahead. James knew really well what he wanted and was very capable of drawing up his own plans.
The challenge was to find a builder willing to work with the expertise James had assembled, rather than to try and convince James of the-way-of-the-builder. He found his partner in Darrell from NZRC.
The two worked really well together in finding the perfect balance between James’ knowledge of all things AV and home theatre, and Darrell’s building expertise. The process was a joy for both parties and the result inspirational to say the least.
James decided early on that his focus would be to get ‘the bones’ of his home theatre right and to upgrade his equipment as time went on.
His main concern was being able to watch movies at night when his family where upstairs in bed. This meant sound isolation was going to be critical and a lot of effort went into that part of the design. His plans included dual 13mm Gib wall bracing separated by Green Glue, the use of Gib Quiet Clips channel, acoustic sealant in every crack, a heavily sealed solid core door and the use of the best noise controlling insulation he could put his hands on.
As for the lay-out of the home theatre, a riser for his second row of seats was high on the wish list. Reading the AVSforums taught James how easy it was to get this wrong, especially with recliner seats. The same AVSforums mentioned a riser height calculator, which proved extremely helpful. An added bonus was that the same riser also allowed for some extra base absorption by filling it to the max with insulation.
Much to James’ credit, the amount of study that went into the design of the riser definitely paid off. The room just works and flows well. The seat lay-out is attractive, but it at the same time everybody in the room has a good view of the screen.
The only issue the team had to deal with was the presence of a window that they decided to Gib over rather than remove.
An equal amount of effort went into the research of furniture and equipment. James already owned an excellent home theatre reclining 3-seater. Thanks to a lucky Trade Me find, he managed to add an additional row of the same brand at a fraction of the cost.
It was after our Odeon Theatre blog that the Rapallo team were contacted by James. While searching the contributions on AVSforum, he could not ignore the feedback SVS gets as an excellent speaker and subwoofer brand with a moderate price tag. This was exactly what James had in mind. He wanted the quality, but he was not prepared to blow the budget.
James’ home theatre was pre-wired for full 7.2.4 Atmos/DTS-X and a future home theatre projector. For now, he has decided to settle for a Sony KD-75X8500C – 4k, HDR, 75” television, but the newly announced Epson TW9300 projector and fixed frame 110-115” cinemascope 2.35:1 screen is on his wish list for the not too distant future.
Initially, James planned on using some in-ceiling speakers for Atmos, but he was not prepared to penetrate his newly sealed room at this stage, so he decided on bulkhead mounted SVS prime Satellite speakers on a 90 degree downward angle instead.
His surround and rear channels are also SVS prime satellites placed exactly as prescribed by the Atmos instructions for speaker placement.
One of the things James gets most excited about is the amazing bass he gets from his dual SVS PB-1000 subwoofers when settling in his home theatre for a movie. ‘Together with the immersion you get from an Atmos set-up, the result is simple amazing. You really are there’, he laughs.
For low-frequency sound insulation, James introduced bass traps in the form of acoustic panels positioned in the corners.
Once he gets his new UMIK-1 microphone from MiniDSP, he will complete the sound set-up calibration with REW (Room EQ Wizard). ‘YPAO RSC has been great to start with’ he states ‘but I really want to see exactly what’s going on acoustically and make sure my bass response is nice and flat!’
Being the engineer that he is, James topped his home theatre experience off with KODI, a software application for home theatres, running on the Nvidia Shield. At the touch of a button, the ambient light in the bulkhead is dimmed (or changes colour) and a movie trailer gets the movie experience rolling.
Do we have to mention that James is a very happy (and lucky) man?