Home Cinema Equipment - suggestions?

Hi, after a dreary lockdown one wish I had is to create a home cinema in attic of our home - but I lack any experience in this field. I am starting with a complete clean sheet, as I have no equipment

My question is;

  1. What components do I need create a good quality home cinema ?

and

  1. Which if any, of these can be provided within the naim product range?

I hope to buy speakers for 3 location ( for front, side and rear) to help give that rich movie sound experience.

I admit I know nothing on home cinema and my question seems basic but want to learn all I can before buying - I just want to be able to access and enjoy live terrestrial Tv, bbc iplayer, channel 4 catch up, sky sports, blue ray movies, Amazon prime movies, Netflix and have some capacity to access other streaming services at a later date.

We are going down the route of a large OLED Tv rather than projector as the attic space does not work for a projector system.

I’d also like the option to easily access and listen to dab/internet radio/podcasts etc.

All ideas welcomed.

M

Primary requirement in my view is a BIG screen! (Though of course relative to viewing distance.) My screen is 12ft wide, doubling as a blind in front of a very large window, with viewing position approx 12 ft away. It gives a good cinema feel - I wouldn’t want a smaller screen. It was surprisingly inexpensive, brand Platinum through Amazon, a 160” 16x9 electric screen costing less than a blackout blind made to fit the window (I can’t remember the cost - somewhere just under £300 in 2015.) we chose matt grey because the room is not perfectly light tight and that was the advice - and we certainly don’t notice that it isn’t white.

Projector - ours is only standard HD by Benq, but is plenty good enough for an engrossing cinema experience(I’m sure 4K would be better, but silly money. Cost last time I looked was £500-ish

That of course doesn’t fit with your plan to use TV - but the key thing is for the screen to be large enough - I would say no less wide than the distance between you and the screen. So a 60” TV from 5 feet away, 84” from 7 feet - but a projector and screen is cheeped than a huge TV!

I’ll come back on sound side later.

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Hi IB

Your insight on screens is very useful. Certainly I need to think more about this.

Will be interested to hear what components you suggest or recommend are needed to complete the home cinema equipment package.

M

Sound wise it all depends on budget.

Naim no longer make an av processor. But Naim amplification can be integrated into use with any av processor that has line level outputs for each sound channel.

I am half way through my journey to Naim cinema.

Arcam 550 av processor
Naim supernait 3 for front land r channels.
Naim napv 145 (one channel of a nap250) for centre channel.
Back surrounds still powered by the arcam 550.
Subwoofer from rel.

I also have a Naim nd5 xs2 for streaming music.

The two channel system functions in music mode completely inderpendent from the av.

Apple TV and oppo Blu-ray connected to the arcam take care of all watching needs.

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A LONG time ago, I wrote an FAQ for Naim Forums on integrating Stereo and AV systems, because I tired of explaining the same thing multiple times to different questioners. Then I could just tell them to look at the FAQ.

Alas, it seems to have disappeared into thin air since the “upgrade” of the forums a few years ago.

I don’t know how to access it myself - if I did I would just copy it and repost it for others to use.

IIRC it was called “Stereo and AV Integration” - although my memory could be faulty.

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Here you go:
https://forums.naimaudio.com/topic.php?oid=2833539985312821&coid=159503632588890

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Just read your archived Av thread. Lots of useful info though I think for anyone with a sub setting the stereo speakers to small in the av setup would be more normal. That is unless your speakers are full range 20hz to 20khx.

Also saw your guitar collection postings - great collection. My son and I have shared some similar ownership journeys. Now reduced to a Martin d28 and om-28 modern deluxe. :slightly_smiling_face:

Thoroughly endorse the advice of @Richardw in terms of set up. I use a combination of Arcam / Naim in the same way and it integrates very well.
I believe more recent Arcam devices are less popular so you may do well to look for a pre-loved item (or an alternative like Anthem).
I would advise matching your centre and L&R speakers as anything else really damages the breadth of sound at the front. Just don’t turn a sub up too high!

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I posted these two pictures a while ago.
image
image

The room is only for cinema use.
65inch Sony although I think I will move on to 77inch oled. Bigger is better. I watch at least one film per day if not so mobile two.
Sony mid range blu ray and av. Netflix and Prime although I prefer blu ray.
Three fronts Neat Iotas
Two rears pmc db1
Q woofer although a rel 5 is in the offing.
Comfy Stressless recliner.
Not practical to incorporate my Naim system.
Local cinema is due to re open in the spring. Can’t wait
image

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Key components are a Multichannel processor, a screen, a subwoofer and speakers (the number of which you need will depend upon which processing modes you use.

The NAP250DR in my music system drives front speakers, and an Anthem AV processor (connected to a NAC282 by pre-outs) drives surround (Miller & Kreisel), Centre (Sony) and Atmos (KEF) speakers. If you’re really keen on Home Cinema, a quality subwoofer is also a key consideration. My combined AV/music system works a treat. Enjoy the journey.

If the OP is proposing to make a dedicated “home theatre space”, then he might be better off looking at a “proper” home theatre 5.1 or 7.1 audio system. In which case, systems from Arcam or Meridian should be investigated.

I like the idea of @Innocent’s 160” screen :slight_smile: .

Thanks. The guitar collection has grown a little more, but “the boss” now says that I’m not allowed to get any more (take up too much space, she says!). Guitars in use this week? PRS Core Custom 22, PRS Core Custom 24 in Leprechaun Green (really beautiful to look at and hear). I just wish that my playing was better, but I enjoy what I can do.

Plus 1 regarding wanting to play better but enjoyment is a pretty good consolation :slightly_smiling_face:

5watts of leo fenders 5f1 champ in tweed pushed by a custom shop 52 tele messing with first few bars of Layla!!! :slightly_smiling_face:

Adding to what is suggested above, I have 4 speakers in the ceiling for the atmos.
They’re not just for hearing helicopters and missiles flying over your head (that never gets old though). As the name suggests, they add atmosphere to just about all scenes.
Also, bear in mind that the majority of what you’ll hear will come from the centre speaker, so bear that in mind when choosing/budgeting for your main L/R speakers

I had read somewhere (this going back to the 90’s) that when viewing a movie at the cinema, the brain absorbs 75% of the information from the audio and only 25% from the visual. Hence far more R&D has gone into progressively improving audio in the auditorium than improving the screen.

And indeed, when put to the test in the dem room, A massive screen with stereo was no where near as immersive as a tiny tiny television with a mid-high end 5.1 system.

Certainly when I went from an 80" screen down to a 55" screen it was actually an upgrade because the quality of the AV processor was changed at the same time for a much better one.

Anyway, with a lack of budget is nearly impossible to recommend. For generalisation, I’d suggest a dedicated AV system with all speakers from the same range. High end but mismatched speakers easily get trumped by lower end but matched speakers when it comes to the integrity of effects panning around the room. Also, if there are many people in the house, being able to control the entire AV system from the TV remote via ARC will ensure a bit of domestic harmony and avoid the shouts of “I can’t get the bloody sound to come out!” from a significant other while you’re in the loo.

Although there are some very high end AV preamps out there, I think you can get superb results from a Denon AV receiver and something like Qacoustics AC speaker packages.

I’m going through the trouble to have an architect design AV focused living room currently and even with all that effort, I still plan on modest Denon AV amp and fairly modest speakers to build a 7.2 or possibly a 9,2 system.

One thing to be careful of is define your goal and stick to it. My dealer and I do not see eye to eye here at all. When I told them I wanted to build 7.2 on a budget of X, they said, “you’d be much better off with much better speakers and 5.1”. Which is sort of true up to a point. So in the course of discussion I proposed upping my budget to the better 5.1 speakers but to include 7.2. Again, “so you’d be better of on budget Y allocating funds to even better 5.1”. … Sigh. You can recycle that argument ad-infinity. You have to get off the merry-go-round somewhere. As such, decide what surround model you are aiming for (5.1, 7.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 9.1 etc etc.) and find things that can build that in your budget.

Are you intending to integrate 2channel or buy a full set of kit for the set up ?

The real challenge with home cinema and audio is you need to spend a lot to avoid the harsh, thin and boomy sound most systems produce. How big is your budget and assume you are thinking projector ?

If you decide to go 5.1 that’s fine, but some choose to go 9.4.6 in modest sized rooms (I disagree with this approach), personally I am 7.4.0 (floor bed.subs.height and ceiling)

I suggest deciding on a number of things and then raising questions on AVForums, naim is no longer interested in AV, I am still using an AV2 and control the subs with a 10x10 HDminiDSP.

PJ or TV
Room light control if PJ will be required
Some Acoustics worth considering
Channel choice
Source choice
Number of seats
etc

PS quality over quantity I agree with as you avoid selling sub par when you decide to upgrade, say the cannel count. How many times have you said I am listening to the band in front I wish I had two pairs of speakers when playing music ?

Further to my last post outlining the video aspect of my home cinema system, the audio is centred on a 7.1 ch receiver (Sony STR-NA1040. Video goes through it as well, whether from a DVD player (an old Panasonic), or a Google Firestick feeding either online streaming sources like Netflix, or local streaming from a computer running Plex.

As for speakers, originally it was a Tannoy 5.1 FX, which has mini ‘satellite’ type speakers for 5 channels - L & R mains on stands that look a bit like microphone stands with spiked glass bases, centre sits on the radiator immediately below the screen, on a drink mat for heat insulation, and L/R sides ate hung direct on the room walls. Rear speakers are Wharfedale NX flat ‘picture frame) speakers on the wall which is well behind the prime viewing sofa. That changed during COVID when I started streaming opera from NY Met, which revealed the, poor sound quality on music, so mains are now fed from the Sony through an old MF preamp to my hifi system active speakers, which for that purpose sit right at each side of the screen. The receiver, 5.1 speakers and flat panel speakers were all bought cheaply through eBay some years ago.

I love the whole immersive experience, making me only want to go to the cinema if it is IMAX and with suitable seats being available. To a large part that is because the screen is large in relation to my field of view, just like in a ‘proper’ cinema with a big screen, with things seen only with peripheral vision unless one moves one’s eyes or head. (I hate cinemas with small screens - I grew up in the days of single screen cinemas, with a very large screen, and sitting closer to the front than the rear. When they started being split up into multiple rooms with small screens I stopped going to the cinema unless it was to the West End to a proper cinema. (Thankfully big screen cinemas later started to make a comeback.)

I remember watching the film 2010 (follow up to 2001: a space odyssey*) in a big screen cinema when it was first released. At one point there is a space walk, and the astronaut looks down, the camera following his gaze, and the viewers saw his booted feet, much the size of their own feet as if they were looking down - and the planet far below gave such a feeling of vertigo despite not being in 3D that the whole audience gasped. I saw it again many years later on a television, and it was just two little feet in front of a disk. No feeling of the viewer being high above the planet because the feet were far too small and so not like looking down at their own.

Not my experience with movies! (As opposed to music videos.)

With reference to my last post, I found my setup using what is a very low budget speaker system quite adequate and thoroughly enjoyable with movies, and it was only for video where music is critical that it fell down. Reverting to the Tannoy sats in place of the hifi speakers doesn’t make films noticeable less enjoyable or engrossing.

Well I think there is a threshold though I’m not sure where it lies. What I am planning on installing is by many AV enthusiasts’ standards decidedly low end. But as you say, it reaches a point where it is sufficient to fully enjoy a film.

When we used the 75% rule, it was really, “Here is a massive projector screen with a $250 5.1 setup from brand cheapoX. And here is a proper 5.1 setup.” That proper setup could have been Linn at the time or (more often) just a Bose 5.1 setup, but the difference over the throwaway 5.1 toys that people were installing of either was sufficiently large as to make an argument for getting that sorted before buying a massive screen.

Right now, I’ve just got a sound bar (temporary living arrangements) and while massively better than the TV, I can’t even bring myself to seriously watch a film. I have a large screen and over a thousand BlueRay and DVDs, but without the same sound as I had before, it just isn’t immersive enough for me to even bother (I’ve not watched a single one since the AV amp and speakers went away 18 months ago). And not just big blockbusters. It’s the subtle things that make the most difference. Like getting the right echo of two people talking in a school corridor or a sense of wind outside in autumn as characters talk on a bench. Get these subtle things wrong and it changes from me “observing events” to me simply absorbing sequential facts of a story.

I’d call it a home cinema hygiene factor. The audio must meet a minimum level of effectiveness. Below which, no big screen is ever going to make up for it. Beyond that hygiene factor, how much you spend and how big your screen is is up to you.

I’m a big believer in the fact that projection is the only way to go if you’re building a serious home cinema. It’s also domestically the most acceptable solution to the big screen issue.

Personally if I was limited on budget I would buy an AV processor by Pioneer, Denon, Sony, Yamaha or Arcam. I have a high end Pioneer and love it but I think they have suffered some financial/distribution issues of late. Then team it with a decent and ideally brand matching 4k or blue ray player and one of those 5.1 speaker combos that are regularly offered for sale from a reputable speaker manufacturer. Buy an Amazon Firestick for Netflix etc and a freesat or freeview box for live TV.

4k obviously offers the best quality but at significantly increased cost in both hardware and software terms. You need to seriously consider if you really want to spend £25 a pop on 4k movies or if a £10-£15 blu-ray is good enough for your needs. Personally I have stuck with blu-ray so far as moving up to 4k will require a new player and projector at the very least and that won’t leave much change from £2k.

I currently run an 80"x60" projection screen and view from around 11 feet away so ideally I would like it bigger however the issue I have is that widening the screen would mean me moving my front channel ATC SCM40’s further apart and they are currently positioned ideally for two channel listening. My AV system you see is actually fully integrated into my naim 2 channel system in the main lounge of the house. This means the NAP250 is actually driving the front channels leaving the Pioneer AV to drive the surrounds and send a signal to the sub.

I have been very happy with Optoma Projectors and my HD33 has served us well for years - and they’re pretty affordable. If you can get a projector that’s 3d compatible as it works very well in the home although film choice is limited. Speaker quality is very important - if you have the budget I would go ATC - SCM40’s at the front, SCM C3C center and SCM19 or even SCM11 at the rear, but that won’t leave much change from £8k! There are cheaper options from Monitor Audio, B&W, Dali etc. You could even just buy some decent secondhand hi-fi speakers (4 of them) and then buy a brand matched center.

Jonathan