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A 21st century installation

Jo Ruddock 14 September 2011

Residential integrator Home Cinema & Beyond decided that the best way to give potential clients a practical idea of just what can be achieved with a fully integrated home cinema and home automation systems was to create a stunning show facility within its owner’s home.

The entire complex, nicknamed the pod sits unobtrusively in the rear garden of Home Cinema & Beyond’s owner Justin Edwards in the Birmingham suburb of Sutton Coldfield.

“The idea was that when the project was finished, we would be able to sit here in the pod and show clients how we can control the environments in the house and pod – switching lights scenes and controlling all aspects of audio and visual systems right through to opening blinds and turning on sprinkler systems etc.,” commented Edwards.The pod itself took a little under four months to complete, with a linking ‘umbilical cable’ of various wires integrating control of the home automation and cinema sources with the main house.
 The whole space is fully wired for internet connectivity and uses multi-gauge five-core cabling throughout to create the five A/V zones: Garden, Kitchen, Reception Area, Bathroom and Home Cinema.


The cinema room (approximately 8m x 6m) and is walled with acoustically treated Soundbloc board alongside extra insulating material in both the walls and ceiling. The walls were then further treated with both a mixture of sound reflective and sound absorbent materials to ensure optimal acoustics, including the use of bass traps to better define the rooms’ low frequencies.

The cinema itself uses Klipsch loudspeakers in a 7.2 THX Ultra II Surround Sound System, with the front channels mounted directly behind an acoustically transparent cinemascope curved screen over 12ft wide with a 40ft radius ensuring optimum performance visually. This dedicated screen was custom made by Edwards and his team using acoustically transparent material from a specialist American manufacturer.

The cinema controls can be operated using iPhone, iPad, Philips Pronto or the various Niko eight-button wall mounted keypads distributed throughout the installation. The Niko keypads run all the lighting in the pod and house as well, featuring a host of programmable lighting scenes, dimming controls, and traditional lighting as well as running the low-level orientation lighting and controlling the Fibre Optic Star Lighting in the Cinema room. A truly impressive feature, this bespoke feature uses 1200 fibre optic lights in three sizes (0.5mm, 0.75mm, 1.0mm) mounted into 4ft-square panels and wrapped in black velvet. It can be run with various programmes from the Nikobus Lighting Control System.

The THX Ultra II cinema system includes a Optoma Themescene HD87 projector with a fully automated anamorphic lens system, DF Solutions Base3 media server + Link 3D (with an additional 8TB of storage from a Synology NAS), PS3, Sky HD, Xbox 360, Onkyo PAMC 5500 power amp, and an Onkyo PRSC 5508 network processor. A Pure AV mains filter cleans the electricity feed and reduces interference,

The dedicated cinema chairs were recycled from a previous install and, as a neat touch, the two rows of seating were fitted with Earthquake tactile transducers and a Buttkicker amplifier system.@page_break@

The reception area was constructed out of fully insulated panel walls in a very high-quality finish including a porcelain floor and lacquer-finished kitchen units with LED lighting. All the cabling is run into an electronics cabinet using Niko DIN rail-mounted modules to allow for maximum functionality, and a minimum of clutter.

A Panasonic Viera 42in plasma flatscreen TV is mounted on a motorised bracket to the wall, flanked by two on-wall stereo speakers; it can show the same film as that being shown in the home cinema, or a completely different one if desired.

A Nuvo in-wall iPod dock allows broadcasting using the Nuvo, Control4 and Sonos AV distribution systems, while IP cameras are located both internally and externally throughout the property to allow remote monitoring for security. There is also a Toshiba air conditioning unit to regulate the pod’s internal temperature.@page_break@

Fully customisable LED lighting in the kitchen area helps set the mood and can be programmed to run various mood cycles, washing the surroundings in an array of different colours for differing periods of time. This runs off the Niko RGB controller as part of the Nikobus system, and can be controlled and programmed from dedicated Niko eight-button keypads.

Finally, Polk loudspeakers are placed in the garden to bring the entertainment outside on those warm summer evenings and, in an ingenious solution to the threat of burglary, Edwards has included a Fog Bandit fogging machine within the security system, programmed to create a fog bank in the home cinema to alarm and disorientate an intruder in the unlikely event of a break-in.     

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