Cinema Lusso: CEDIA Awards 2022 Winner
Partner interview with Ben Goff from Cinema Lusso
25 October 2022
An interview with Ben Goff from Cinema Lusso, discussing his latest project : The Expanse. A wonderful home cinema project based on the Altitude16 which won two awards at this year's CEDIA 2022 EMEA award ceremony, Home Cinema Level II and Global Home Cinema !
Please introduce yourself
I've moved to be a cinema specialist and we’ve been focusing on cinema for the past 3 or 4 years. We rebranded the company, since it is definitely not a multiroom company anymore.
Cinema is all we build now at Cinema Lusso, a smart home to me doesn't necessarily provide this experience where you can bring your family and friends in and have this incredible moment.
Ben Goff, Technical Director at Cinema Lusso
Tell us more about this special cinema project
The client wanted kind of a commercial performance, that was the goal. All of our speakers are perfectly within guideline angles. Even in a narrow room, we did a lot of technical stuff to have all the seats get that shared experience. We’ve created a pretty similar experience across all three seats.
This room uses the ITU recommended Listening Room reverberant's time so it's calculated and we used a formula for the volume of the room. We knew exactly how this room was going to sound across eight octaves, so we've planned it from 63Hz to 8kHz. There is about 10 pages of spreadsheets of planning every material. We’ve got bass traps in corners, broadband absorption, diffusers and it was all calculated in a spreadsheet.
This room has a pair of 15" subwoofers. Every single day as products, the walls and the fabric came in, we re-measured the room to make sure the prediction was actually bearing true until they did exactly what we expected. That process went for every single panel. The result is that the room is exactly how we wanted it. It is actually slightly better in the bass than we thought. We allowed a ramp up in the RT time for the last couple of octaves, that’s allowed inside that standard. During that build we were able to bring that closer to ideal. So this one's really flat, perfectly in those standards and it sounds great.
The Trinnov Altitude16 powering the Home Cinema
Using the power of the Altitude to design a cinema
In early conversations, bass was brought up a lot. Personally, I need to feel it, it’s visceral, I need to get that thump from the subs doing their job properly. The room was modeled repeatedly and then again confirmed because we don’t trust the models. We actually brought the client in and marked out different listening positions, played some music and sounds from video clips and thought it sounded superb. The subs were behind us, perfectly time aligned and you can only do it manually, I don’t believe any EQ can do that as well as an ear can do it. One of the things about doing it with the Trinnov is we can line up each sub with the center channel by ear and we know it is perfectly aligned.
There is 3500 kg of sound isolation in this room, so there is no way I am putting a pair of big Wisdom in-wall subwoofers into a wall with 3500 kg of sound isolation. So the subs are built into a frame, inside the sound isolation. They can turn at 115 dB while people are still asleep upstairs, so this room is quiet. Regarding the rest of the speaker layout, we’ve got Wisdom P4Ms, a bespoke baffle wall. The fronts are actually crossing slightly ahead the seats. The left seat is further off axis. Where we’re getting a natural roll off of the frequencies, it is closer. We are getting within about 1dB from all three speakers across all three seats. We engineered the angles in a position to balance distance versus axis, it took some time to get that right. That baffle was completely bespoke to do that.
The reason the room has this shape is for the surround speakers. Because the room is so narrow, the surrounds are angled in to point where we wanted them. All of this design behind us was created for the speakers to fit. The surrounds are close and what we’ve done for that is if one person's here on their own watching a film, there is a preset that microphone taken middle seat 100% waiting perfectly calibrated to this seat. If anybody sits in either of the seats, the control system automatically changes the preset. We call up a preset that use different microphone readings and we rebalance the whole sound to give a shared experience between two seats.
We’re using 16 different presets that are completely different, depending on why they’ve been recalled. Because the Altitude has remapping capabilities first but also got so many presets, we can recall them easily from the control system and then build up all the layers we need to guarantee that shared experience, regardless of where people sat in the room. There is just no other product that could have done that ! The way Optimizer works and the power it gave us, to do all of that completely manually for all those different presets, to do that remapping, it did all of that for us. By bringing different weighting, different microphone positions, that completely opened up how we created that experience, I don’t think anything else could have done it.
We’re also using different channels for different presets. If a film starts after 7pm, the Trinnov automatically goes into night mode, subs get dropped by 5dB and we turn the transducers in the seats on. We remove some audible bass and we bring back that natural feeling physically energizing the seats. You don’t lose the impact because you now feel it. In the day mode these subs thump, you really feel this energy, they are really powerful. So, we move between day mode and night mode using different channels. You can calibrate subwoofers and transducers independently. They operate differently in different seats because different people use them. Nothing else can do that !
The Trinnov is one of those products, when you first hear it you don't understand why it's great and it takes some understanding of the technical side like why does this film sound better than here than in any other room ? You know it's better, but you don't understand why until the Optimizer explains to you what it's doing and how it's doing it. Suddenly, it makes a lot of sense… Those things it does, they're crucial.
The CEDIA Awards Global Home Cinema Winner
Working with Trinnov as a partner
We still do a fair bit manually, it’s one of those things, Optimizer can tell you exactly what’s going on, but there are still things we manually want to adjust. In this room, we are not doing much above the transition frequencies. The room measures great because the speakers are in the right places and all in the right way. We’ve got the proper response, we are not trying to address problems that don’t really exist. We can go in, change the settings and basically roll back how much the Optimizer tries to do at all. Above 500Hz, we’re doing nothing in this room. We’ve aligned all the speakers to perform correctly. For the low-end, we used the Optimizer to get that perfect. We’ve adjusted settings, adjusted by ear, but the bass alignment was all done completely by using the feature set that you built into your product.
We struggle with some brands to get even basic data and it’s really difficult to use their products in an engineered solution. And then there are brands that fully understand that experiencing and engineering are the same. When a client has paid us a lot of money to design a room that only exists on paper until the day we start building it, we can't rely on an opinion. We have to work with brands that believe in engineering, that provide data, that have a solution that is repeatable and is going to always deliver the same thing. So much of my knowledge is absorbed in Trinnov stuff. For me, having access to some of the most senior Trinnov equipment globally from different territories, I've learned a huge amount. As a resource it's been incredible.
Would this particular project exist without the flexibility of the Altitude
There are so many films with that shock value, that jump shot that happens. In horror films and in action films, there's that surprise. That surprise comes from dynamics, from timing and accuracy. That whole experience is born from things working correctly.
We could use up to 29 presets but we’re only using 16, so we’re not even pushing it anywhere near the options available. I don't think any other product we work with can recall such significant differences so quickly, or can even create those differences. We are remapping the entire presentation when someone sits here ! We move the reference position to share an experience so they get the same. I don’t think anyone else can come close to that. This room has to be an Altitude, it can’t be another way.
CEDIA Awards Winner - Global Home Cinema
CEDIA Awards 2022 Two times winner
This room was recognized by CEDIA for following standards, and that's something we're really proud of. There is no ego for us in this, there is no opinion, we are not doing what, we think, is right, we are just following the recommendations. Every integrator can do what we do. We’ve now won 4 awards in 2 years. We found all the standards, we've worked out what will be required to generate the experience we want and then we just engineered something that fits that brief. I have a responsibility to my clients on the money they are spending and it's not acceptable to me to sell ever increasingly expensive equipment and get 80% of it. The clients paid for a brilliant product, they want it used brilliantly. We spend a lot of time engineering that, I guess that's why clients phone us : because they want that !