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Dedicated Luxury Home Cinema Design and Construction Guide- Part 1

A dedicated cinema may seem like an inefficient use of space to some and they would rather make it into a multi-purpose media room; but to others it’s the crown jewel of their home. A place suited to make events that create lasting memories, from a genuine movie night in with the family, to watching the big game on a big screen with the best of friends. It’s a place that truly changes the experience, a place that allows you to suspend reality for those two hours and immerse yourself in the film the way the director intended.  

However, without proper planning, design, and execution, a cinema room could be disastrous to a home, disrupting the audio throughout the structure. Today we’ll go over general points and tips in creating a great cinema room. There is a lot that goes into a great cinema, so this article will be split into two parts.

Planning

Planning your cinema is key to a successful space. Every aspect of a cinema is harmonious and will feed into each other, so it’s important that every part is up to par and there are no bottlenecks.

Budget

With dedicated theater rooms, it’s important to start with a budget, or at least a range that that spans  +-20%. You need to start here because the cost of a cinema can vary drastically, mainly as a result of the wide range of products you are able to choose from. For example, an effective projector can cost as little as $5,000 dollars and go all the way to $100,000+. That’s why a full turn key cinema can go for as little as $35,000 and go as high as half a million. An accurate budget will let you choose the right products the first time. If you choose a high-end speaker system first, and run out of budget by the time you get to acoustic treatment, the cinema won’t be balanced, and you won’t have the best possible solution.  

Room

If this is a new build, or you have your choice of room to re-model, consider the following:

  • Shape- The room should be as rectangular as possible for good audio and video angles.
  • Size- This will be dependent on how many people you want to have in attendance at once, but at minimum you want a room about 20 feet long and 15 feet wide.
  • Location- If you have the option to choose where this room will go, place it as far as possible from sources of loud noises like appliances to ensure a low noise floor, and far from bedrooms for minimal disruption during evening viewings.
  • Décor- If you’re aiming for a more luxury cinema, consider adding an interior designer to the team, preferably with prior cinema experience. RSI will work closely with your designer and make sure décor does not inhibit the performance, and the electronics are blended into the décor.
Residential Systems Inc. Showroom Cinema in Denver, Colorado

Construction

Once you have your room picked out, it’s time to consider the construction aspect. There are three keys to having an acoustically sound room. Basically, you want to keep sound out, direct the right sound inside, and keep things from vibrating. Keeping sound out, and stopping vibrations are predominately accomplished during the construction phase.

Quiet Rock is only one part of the equation!

Many times, we are contacted after the room has been constructed. When we ask about the construction of the room the client gleefully tells us that quiet rock, a denser gypsum board, has been installed in the room. That helps, and we definitely recommend it to limit the sound transmission, but it’s not enough. You will still likely be able to hear the cinema 1-2 floors above.

The most effective way to stop sound transmission dead in its tracks is to “de-couple” the room. To accomplish this there are systems out there that act as spacers between the studs with padding. This space and padding joined with quiet rock will give sound a place to dissipate before traveling to other rooms.  

Tar that room up

The essence of sound and how it is made, is vibration. A specific vibration that our ears recognize as pristine audio, truly a magical act. However, when unwanted vibrations make it into the mix, it creates noise and disrupts the audio you want to hear.

Fixtures, seats, furniture, and then some can all introduce unwanted vibrations, especially when the bass hits hard. While sconces on the wall adds a nice look, it can introduce some nasty vibrations and making sure the screws are tight just won’t cut it. Make sure you surround fixtures and anything else that can vibrate with a tar sound deadening material like Dynamat.

Coming up next  

Stay tuned for part 2, where we discuss the different audio and video formats, acoustic treatment, and execution. In the meantime, give us a call if you have a room you’re thinking of turning into your dream cinema room!