DREAM THEATRE

WIth no ad­e­quate space in his fam­ily home for a de­cent home theatre, this movie en­thu­si­ast’s so­lu­tion was sim­ple — he knocked down the house.

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We head to WA for a bigscreen Krix in­stal­la­tion that roars...

Mark M. de­scribes him­self as ‘de­tai­lo­ri­en­tated’, so when he em­barked on a plan to build a dream home theatre in his fam­ily’s Western Aus­tralia home, he did his re­search first.

“I knew broadly what I wanted in the room de­sign — I wanted it to look like a bou­tique cinema”, he tells us. “I dis­cussed it with sev­eral hi-fi bud­dies and they all agreed that I needed the di­men­sions of the home theatre room to be right, to avoid lots of room treat­ment down the track. So di­men­sions — on the list. I wanted two rows of seat­ing — point two on the list. And num­ber three, a con­stant im­age height screen. List com­ing to­gether nicely.”

Lock­ing down the di­men­sions for the room at 6.15 × 5 × 3.25m, and teach­ing him­self CAD along the way, Mark faced one small prob­lem — there was no such space avail­able in the home. His so­lu­tion?

“Well I’d had the house for some time, and we re­ally wanted a fam­ily home with cer­tain fea­tures that were miss­ing — top of which was a space for a home theatre. We all en­joy watch­ing movies, so a ded­i­cated space was a must. I did some sums — and came to the re­al­i­sa­tion that a knock-down and re­build was the an­swer.”

So the re­sult­ing home re­ally was de­signed around the planned theatre.

“I went through many dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the house, each one evolv­ing out from the home theatre as the start­ing point,” he says. And as the plans pro­gressed, Mark con­tin­ued sketch­ing out the theatre space with his CAD soft­ware (see right), us­ing dou­ble brick cav­ity walls all the way around, and mak­ing sure noth­ing got in the way of his care­ful plan­ning.

“By law the room must have a win­dow,” he says, “so I had de­ter­mined the min­i­mum win­dow size per­mit­ted and then worked out the di­men­sions that would ac­com­mo­date the rear speak­ers the best. There was some back-and-forth get­ting plans ap­proved, and I re­mem­ber get­ting an email from the builder’s rep say­ing that Coun­cil had ap­proved them. The first thing I did was check the theatre di­men­sions — and they had been changed to one brick lower, be­cause the over­all height of the house was 8cm too high. But since that would po­ten­tially im­pact the theatre acous­tics, I had the en­tire house dropped one brick course so the theatre di­men­sions could be as planned.”

Did we men­tion Mark was de­tail ori­en­tated?

Seek­ing a sys­tem...

By now, Mark had be­gun his search for the per­fect equip­ment to pop­u­late his dream theatre.

“I pawed through var­i­ous build threads and web­sites look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion”, he tells us. “I kept an eye on

tech­nol­ogy and re­searched speak­ers mostly, as the changes there are slower than with other com­po­nents. This is where Scott and the lads at WestCoast HiFi be­came a big help.”

Scott Stay is the pro­pri­etor of WestCoast HiFi Mid­land in Western Aus­tralia.

“Mark had been rec­om­mended to visit my store by the gents at Broad­way homes, a very high qual­ity Perth based builder,” he told Sound+Im­age. “And from the start it was clear this was all about the ul­ti­mate cinema for Mark. With this be­ing Mark’s dream room, he was on top of ev­ery­thing, so as well as our ad­vice, the most use­ful part of the process for him was our abil­ity to have it all set up in-store in one room. Au­di­tion­ing ex­actly what the cus­tomer will be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in their own home is key.”

”They re­ally let me have my space”, agrees Mark, “I was ag­o­nis­ing over speaker and amp choices for the long­est time, and I was also try­ing to save a lit­tle coin in the process — they showed me the var­i­ous dif­fer­ent lev­els that they could ac­com­mo­date. They also gave ideas and acted as a sound­ing board. This was good as I could bal­ance this against what I was see­ing from some of the high-end shops in Sin­ga­pore” [where Mark was do­ing work off­shore].

Great Scott!

So with the main plans for the theatre locked in and wiring be­ing pre-laid, it was time to start firm­ing up the equip­ment list.

“I had heard of Krix through my own re­search,” says Mark, “and I knew that WestCoast Hifi sold them. Then I saw a pair of Krix Phonix speak­ers for sale in the US on an auc­tion site, and need­ing to know more I rang Krix — this was

around 1pm on a Christ­mas Eve. I asked about the speak­ers and the re­cep­tion­ist didn’t have the an­swers so she put me through to the tech depart­ment, where a man an­swers and he ex­plains that while the speak­ers are old they should be fine, and that all parts are still avail­able if any re­place­ment was needed.”

As the conversation con­tin­ued, Mark got rather more as­sis­tance than he had ex­pected.

“We con­tinue chat­ting and clearly this guy is right into home theatre,” he says. “So I de­scribe what I am try­ing to do, the room di­men­sions and that I wanted an At­mos sys­tem, and how I planned to go with large speak­ers. But this chap ad­vised that it wasn’t needed — it would be too much for the room. Then he of­fers to look at the room stats and sug­gest for me what might work. So he’s spell­ing out his email and it’s ‘ s... k... r... i... x...’ and I am like, ‘Are you Scott Krix??’”

Scott Krix is, of course, the founder of the South Aus­tralian com­pany, a leg­endary speaker de­signer and the man who came up with the in­fi­nite baf­fle con­cept for com­mer­cial cin­e­mas, as used now through­out the world. By Box­ing Day Mark had re­ceived Scott Krix’s re­sponse by email, sug­gest­ing the use of Krix Pix for LCR at the front, two Phonix for the side and rear walls, At­mo­spherix for the highs, and a Cy­clonic sub­woofer.

“Let me say, I had not de­cided ex­actly what equip­ment I wanted,” Mark tells us, “but based on that in­ter­ac­tion, I knew it would def­i­nitely be Krix. Just the pas­sion with which Scott spoke re­ally sealed the deal — and he was not even try­ing to sell the speak­ers to me. Just two en­thu­si­asts chat­ting.”

Wall of Sound

Then came a chance to meet Scott Krix when he was vis­it­ing WestCoast HiFi Mid­land to demon­strate the com­pany’s Se­ries MX ‘Real Cinema at Home’ con­cept — unique mod­u­lar be­hind-screen speaker sys­tems which have been nick­named the ‘wall of sound’, us­ing that Krix In­fi­nite Baf­fle Wall with thick, acous­tic ab­sorp­tion ma­te­rial min­imis­ing both re­flec­tions and sound leak­age be­hind. It’s a so­lu­tion which has taken our Sound+Im­age in­stal­la­tion prod­uct award for two years run­ning — and it was West Coast HiFi Mid­land’s in­stal­la­tion of one of the first Se­ries MX cin­e­mas that won them a 2017 Sound+Im­age In­stal­la­tion award too. Mark was clearly sim­i­larly im­pressed.

“Yes, ini­tially Mark had or­dered the Krix Xtreme Pix and Cy­clonix front sound­stage”, con­firms Scott Stay. “But af­ter at­tend­ing the Krix MX-30 event and meet­ing Scott Krix, we were swiftly told to change the or­der! Then the room was beefed up with an ex­tra pair of Krix Phonix wall speak­ers so the two rows of seat­ing would fully en­joy the sur­round — it’s a 9.2.4 sys­tem sim­ply be­cause of the two seat­ing rows.”

“As soon as I saw and heard the MX-30 wall of sound, I was like ‘me likey!’ — swap that out and mail me the costs,” says Mark. Mean­while he con­tin­ued se­lect­ing the rest of the sys­tem.

“Amps wise I have used a num­ber of Yama­has over the years, as well as Denon, Onkyo and Sony,” he says. “Scotty from WestCoast was more than happy for me to shop around, ask­ing only to be able to at least quote — and with my first pref­er­ence of Yamaha, the price Scott gave me was well ahead of all other quotes. De­ci­sion made sim­ple.”

Want­ing “plenty of head­room” he went with the Yamaha’s Aven­t­age MX-A5000 11-chan­nel power amp (an­other award-win­ner) paired with the CX-A5100 pro­ces­sor. But to power the MX-30 front chan­nels, he added the 5 × 200W Mcin­tosh MC205 home theatre am­pli­fier.

“It was our rec­om­men­da­tion to run the MC205”, says Scott Stay. “It’s able to pro­vide the all-im­por­tant de­tail and head­room to the wall of sound. Although as al­ways when build­ing a lux­ury home, bud­getary con­straints were im­por­tant, Mark was very care­ful not to cut im­por­tant cor­ners.”

“It was a splurge but I am very happy with the se­lec­tion,” con­firms Mark. “My rea­son­ing was that while the pro­ces­sor and pro­jec­tor and disc play­ers will in­evitably be­come ob­so­lete through ad­vanc­ing tech­nol­ogy, good amps and speak­ers and ca­bles have a much longer ser­vice life. So I ap­por­tioned more bud­get to that.”

The pro­jec­tor se­lected was the Sony true-4K VPL-VW550ES, “which projects an in­cred­i­ble im­age”, says Mark. “I left it to the last pos­si­ble minute to pull the trig­ger, but I didn’t want to keep wait­ing for the next re­lease. You end up just chas­ing tech­nol­ogy.”

WestCoast also as­sisted with con­tacts for the cinema’s fit-out — the cur­tains, the join­ery, and the car­pet.

“I was very picky on what car­pet I wanted,” says Mark, “and Scott helped me with a firm that sup­plied won­der­ful Axmin­ster to cap the cinema look. Other lit­tle de­tails are the walls

and ceil­ing be­ing SoundChek plas­ter, with the ceil­ing cav­ity filled with acous­tic batts to help with some of the bleed through the ceil­ing. The starlight ceil­ing also helps with sound, and it looks pretty cool too.”

Re­build­ing the house

We’re pleased to say that Mark and his fam­ily also ex­pended at least a mod­icum of ef­fort on the rest of the re­built home as well!

“The house is very open plan down­stairs,” he says, “and other than the door to the theatre, you wouldn’t know it’s there. The lounge, din­ing and kitchen ar­eas all flow into each other with a large cen­tral is­land an­chor­ing the space. This leads to an al­fresco area suit­ably equipped to en­joy Perth’s lovely weather. The lounge has an 80-inch UHD TV with cus­tom mount­ing, and cab­i­nets that house my mu­sic amp and player to play mu­sic for the down­stairs area. We have a sec­ond re­treat up­stairs that has a 65-inch UHD TV for oc­ca­sional TV and gam­ing. All the TVs and the theatre are smart wired... only the op­er­a­tor is not so smart! But I can link them when needed, if needed.”

And re­lax...

We usu­ally ask in­stall­ers what prob­lems they en­coun­tered, what was the trick­i­est part of the build. In this case, how­ever, Mark’s care­ful plan­ning and hands-on ap­proach had meant that there re­ally weren’t any big is­sues.

“No, none,” says Scott Stay. “Very sim­ple, well planned, and dou­ble bricked to keep the sound in the room. He kept us well in­formed of progress on the build, and with a great cabi­net maker, an awe­some cus­tomer, and our Sound+Im­age award­win­ning in­stal­la­tion team, haha, all good!”

“The build would not have hap­pened with such suc­cess with­out Scott and his team,” says Mark. “They re­ally did help with de­ci­sions, even if if some of it was me just say­ing yes to new ‘candy’ be­ing shown!” And he’s happy with the fi­nal re­sults? “Just ask him!” laughs Scott Stay. “Yes very happy — and that makes us even hap­pier.”

“Hon­estly it came to­gether much bet­ter than I imag­ined — and I am very picky,” con­firms Mark. “The sound is amaz­ing — a true ‘cinema sound’, and although I wanted it to be ded­i­cated for movies, the set-up is quite mu­si­cal as well. I guess that’s the de­sign of the ‘wall of sound’ — horns and vo­cals, mmmm! With the full cus­tom-curved leather chairs it is cer­tainly a nice place to grab a movie. Of course there are al­ways tweaks and things you can change. But be­cause of the help from all in­volved, and re­search­ing well be­fore, I am very pleased with the out­come. I think whether you are start­ing out with your first home cinema, or any­where there­after, it is im­por­tant to part­ner with a team that is pas­sion­ate and can land the vi­sion. Scott and the team are able to do that, no ques­tion.”

FO­CAL WALL (top): Fo­cal Utopia Stella EM / So­pra No. 3 speak­ers, McIn­tosh C2600 tube pre-am­pli­fier, 2 x McIn­tosh MC601 monoblocs, McIn­tosh MCT450 SACD trans­port, Pro-ject Sig­na­ture 12 turntable and Kiseki blue car­tridge, Isotek Mo­saic Ge­n­e­sis power...

BE­HIND THE SCREEN: The mas­sive Krix MX30 mod­u­lar be­hind-screen sys­tem in place, with the elec­tron­ics be­ing fit­ted into cus­tom cab­i­netry.

The com­plete 9.2.4-chan­nel theatre and (be­low) Mark’s orig­i­nal CAD ren­ders.

ABOVE: “Just two en­thu­si­asts chat­ting...” A Christ­mas Eve call for in­for­ma­tion led to the per­sonal in­volve­ment of Scott Krix (left) in this home cinema in­stal­la­tion by WestCoast Hi-Fi Mid­land.

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