- On September 17, 2018
How do you show off a premium home cinema source like Kaleidescape if you don’t have a premium home cinema demo space? That’s a question that you as a dealer may have asked if your showroom is less than ideal in this respect. And it’s a question we on the Kaleidescape team mulled over frequently in the months leading up to the unveiling of our most ambitious CEDIA booth to date.
So, we thought it might help you to overcome flaws in your own demo space if we described how we turned an inherently compromised room into a reference-quality home cinema.
Atypical Room Geometry
Having an oddly shaped room can be one of the biggest obstacles to creating a great demo space. We would have loved to have had a listening room with perfect proportions and slightly non-parallel walls and ceiling, but the inside of our demo space was largely dictated by the requirements of the booth’s exterior.
The demo TVs on the outside walls needed to be visible from as many angles as possible, and the booth was meant to draw people in by evoking a classic movie theater lobby. That left us with a cinema space best described as an irregular hexagon—in other words, a box with the two back corners bitten off.
Because we knew there would be large groups of people in the relatively small space, we needed to create the largest possible sweet spot, so it would cover as many seating positions as possible. We decided to go with GoldenEar Technology’s MPX MultiPolar In-Wall Loudspeaker as the best solution for the rear of the room, since it combines the sonic advantages of a direct-radiating speaker with the wide dispersion of a bipolar speaker.
We matched these with a trio of GoldenEar’s Invisa Signature Point Source (SPS) in-walls for the front of the room. The SPS’s rotatable High Velocity Folded Ribbon tweeter meant it would work well whether it was placed as a vertical speaker behind the screen or a horizontal one beneath it. We ultimately went with the latter configuration, and thanks to the rotatable tweeter we were able to create a wide, enveloping front soundstage instead of a thin beam of audio that would have only sounded good from one or two seats.
A quartet of GoldenEar’s Invisa 650 in-ceiling speakers went a long way toward blending the front and rear soundstage seamlessly. They also allowed us to demonstrate the full-fidelity Dolby TrueHD Atmos soundtracks for action films like Baby Driver without compromise, showing one of the many advantages of Kaleidescape over streaming video sources.
Non-Standard Wall Construction
All of the speakers in our booth were designed for typical stud-and-drywall installation. But the booth was made up of beMatrix modular wall frames, which are frequently used in trade-show construction. While the modules allowed the booth to be quickly assembled and taken apart, they are essentially metal frames covered in fabric, without the depth, solidity, or substantial surfaces of typical wall construction. That meant that none of the speakers would have an optimum volume of air behind them.
Also, our relatively low ceiling height was dictated by the size of the modular wall components. And the positioning of the surround speakers was limited not only by the modular frames within the walls but also by the fact that they needed to be placed high enough that they wouldn’t be blocked by people in the rear of the room.
All of this meant we needed an AV processor with sophisticated crossover, room correction, and even speaker remapping capabilities—functions that could be deftly handled by Trinnov’s Altitude 16 Home Theater Preamp/Optimizer.
The Altitude16 not only compensated for the odd speaker placement but provided a beautiful blend between the speakers and a pair of GoldenEar SuperSub X subwoofers, each of which was EQd to perform its best in a space with asymmetrical entry and exit ways. It also allowed us to design our own target room curve to compensate for our semi-open listening space and the fact that we would be competing with constant loud noise from the show floor.
The beMatrix modular frames were covered with PVC foam board inside our demo area—which is not the ideal wall surface for a home cinema system. To tame those surfaces while shifting some of the burden from the Altitude16, we brought in Anthony Grimani, world-renowned acoustics expert and president of Media Specialty Resources, Inc., manufacturer of acoustical treatments for professional recording studios and home theaters.
After reviewing our 3D renders of the booth, Tony recommended a complete suite of affordable acoustical treatments for the listening area. We hesitated at the idea of covering the walls with treatments since we wanted the space to feel like a living room instead of a sterile man cave. But several of the people who experienced the demos thought that the MSR Sonata Plus DR6 diffusers were wall sculptures, so the diffusers actually helped to enhance the appearance of the room.
(Tony has done a series of YouTube videos that explain the purpose and intended installation locations of MSR’s treatments, which you can find linked from their respective product pages.)
Our experiences with the Kaleidescape CEDIA booth showed that with the proper selection of gear and a deft application of room correction and acoustical treatments, you can transform almost any space into a compelling home cinema demo worthy of a high-fidelity source like Kaleidescape.