Die Zwei is a company specialized in High-End Home Cinema based in Germany. One of their projects made it to the 2021 CEDIA Awards final in the Best Home Cinema category. Ahead of the CEDIA Award Ceremony that will be held in London on November the 11th, we spoke to Thorsten Koehler and Stefan Becker, the two company owners.
Could you tell us about your company’s background and history?
Yes, « Die Zwei – Heimkino GmbH » is a small company based in Northern Germany focused on delivering high end home cinemas throughout Germany and the neighbouring countries.
We provide full service from planning to realisation. Every project is custom-built based on the very specific requirements of the client. We strive for quality rather than quantity and are committed to even the smallest detail.
One of our most valuable assets is our own brand « beckersounds » with a complete line-up of « no frills » active home cinema speakers combined with our puristic « beckersounds » power amplifiers available in several configurations with a Trinnov Altitude being a perfect match.
Room design and technical planning is based on the latest 3D CAD technology, project management is following agile principles to ensure flexibility, a smooth rollout and efficient operational support.
About the project
What was the original intent of the project?
The client already had a home cinema setup integrated into his living room, but now wanted to take the step to a dedicated Home Cinema room by adding an extension to his existing house just for that.
We were asked to consult right from the beginning to interface with the architect and the 3rd party construction companies. Since the client lives 700km away from our company location, the plan was to use local construction companies that we orchestrate remotely.
An extension was built specifically for the home theater
The client has an audiophile setup for music in his living room and asked for a no-compromise ("in-the-face") cinema sound in his new cinema room. In addition to that, the image should be as big as possible within the room limits.
The room design should not harm the picture and sound quality in any way ("bat-cave"). The client prefers a clean and reduced design, but still being cozy.
Control for the AV and infrastructure should be as comfortable as possible, so a Crestron control system was part of the design right from the beginning. In the first step, the Crestron system is controlling only the cinema itself, but was already sized to take over other parts of the house. During the course of the project, some garden installations (sound, lighting, fountain) were already integrated into the new control system.
Control should automate as much as possible, but also provide manual control on some aspects. For instance, the client didn´t want to go for a fully automated masking control, but half-automated) Audio/video settings are all set automatically for the selected source, but the client requested some aspects to be controllable via remote, for instance direct Altitude preset selection or screen masking control.
The client gets feedback for some important audio/video settings on his remote control, for instance detected image aspect ratio, Altitude Remapper/Upmixer/Preset selection, etc.
Which were the challenges and objectives inherent to this home cinema?
Since we were involved in the planning of the room right from the beginning, we had a very comfortable position especially for the audio design.
In terms of video, the challenge was to integrate the already existing projector from the former living room cinema into the new room.
To achieve as much brightness as possible, especially for HDR content, we opted for a high gain screen material. To avoid a hot spot, we proposed to design for a curved screen. We have a curved screen on display in one of our showrooms and the client liked it so much that he even wanted to go a step further and go for a massive 10% curve. As you can imagine, for such a massive curve you need a geometry correction. That is a feature that was on the roadmap for the madVR Labs Envy Extreme video processor (a device we like to call the « Trinnov for video »), that was already part of the video design. However, being on the roadmap means « not yet available » and release date was to be defined. So we took a bit of a risk here.
The massive curve screen in the theater
But literally the day the projector and screen was installed, the first release of the geometry correction was released by madVR Labs and we were the first to use it in a real world project.
Another challenge was the relatively small technical room (actually more of a small niche than a room) : we had two 37HE racks to place and it turned out there wasn't enough space to include a door to reach the electrical enclosure installed inside the technical room. So we dropped the initially planned slide-out racks and opted for rollable racks that can be completely rolled out the niche to reach the electrical installation.
Tells us more about the speaker layout and technical journey/requirements
To fix a couple of requirements, we invited the customer to our showroom in Hamburg. Its 15.1.6 speaker layout together with the ability of the Altitude to quickly switch between presets allowed the client to listen to different layouts and finally pick one. Final decision was to go for an 11.1.6 layout, moving from the initially planned Altitude16 to an Altitude32.
Front L/C/R, two wides, four side surrounds covering the two planned seating rows and one pair of rear surrounds plus six speakers for a traditional Atmos top layout.
All speakers are angled towards the MLP.
3D render showing the speaker layout
To cater for the requested high « in your face « dynamics, we planned for our high end b500 active speakers as being the front speakers. This is a two-way horn controlled and constant directivity speaker with an additional 15 inch mid-bass chassis. Surrounds consist of a one-way horn plus a 12 inch mid-bass chassis. Tops are two-way coax speakers.
All 17 speakers are designed for a cut-over frequency of 80Hz and are supported by a 8 subwoofer double-bass-array (DBA) (so they are all actually satellite speakers). The DBA consists of four 18 inch subwoofers at the front and the same at the rear.
Another render showing the double bass array
All speakers are made in our own workshop, so shape and size can be fully customized to every project´s requirements.
To reduce the amount of channels required to drive our active speakers (39 channels in this setup), we added five Xilica XP-4080 DSPs to the design. using external DSPs – being in this case. The ability of moving the speaker « activation » to external DSPs gives us a lot of freedom to cater for different requirements and budgets.
Two of the remaining Altitude outputs are used for a set of additional outdoor speakers, configured in a separate preset.
Working with Trinnov
The rack showing the Altitude32-1624
How did the Altitude become the processor of choice for this luxury home cinema?
Well, the client wanted the best and the client got the best…
Actually it was clear that only an Altitude would be able to drive the planned speaker count and layout. The only question was using an Altitude16 or Altitude32.
How did the calibration go? and how did the Trinnov help on that particular project?
Calibration went smoothly and without any problems as usual. The client was interested to look a bit behind the scenes and assisted during the process.
Optimizer graphs showing the response of the front speakers
We created specific presets for the cinema speakers and the outdoor speakers and added a couple of different target curves we created to cater for specific listening scenarios. These presets can be easily selected by a finger-tip on the Crestron remote.
Were the network capabilities of the Altitude platform a key element?
Yes, indeed. The Altitude smoothly integrates into the Crestron control system. All important functionality is available via the remote control and also on the touch panel installed outside the cinema room and all important information about the operational state and settings are available to the client.
In addition to that, the remote support capability of the Altitude is a huge plus in providing world class support. Adjustments on the configuration can easily be made by us upon request of the client and even Trinnov support staff can be involved remotely in case of serious issue or to install updates.
What makes this project truly unique
This project has a lot of highlights.
In addition to the high end audio section already described in detail, the image is spectacular – being a 184 inch acoustically transparent screen with a massive 10% curve including a fully automated masking system, driven by a madVR Labs Envy Extreme for HDR Tone Mapping and geometry correction, providing visual immersion that is en pair with the outstanding sonics created by the Trinnov Altitude and our beckersounds speakers and amplifiers.
The whole system is controlled by a custom programmed Crestron control system that makes daily use of this complex system as comfortable as possible. The degree of automation is tailored to the requirements of the client. He wanted to have most aspects fully automated, but with a certain level of manual control on some aspects.
All this blends nicely together into a cutting edge audio and visual experience presented in a sophisticated room design that still allows the client to enjoy maximum audio and video experience without any distraction.
How has been the response from the client to the sonic of the final project?
The client expressed many times verbally and in written form that he's more than satisfied with the outcome of the project – let it be visuals of the room itself but especially the sonics.
Actually, it turned out that this installation does even sound better than our own showroom, so we are seriously considering some optimizations to keep up with our projects.
- Trinnov Altitude32-1624 AV-Processor
- 5 x Xilica XP-4080 DSPs
- 1 x beckersounds a1000-1 3-channel power amplifier
- 1 x beckersounds a1000-2 6-channel power amplifier
- 4 x beckersounds a250-8 8-channel power amplifier
- 8 x beckersounds a2500-1 1-channel power amplifier
- 3 x beckersounds b500p active speaker (front)
- 8 x beckersounds b300p active speaker(wides/surrounds)
- 6 x beckersounds b200p active speaker(tops)
- 8 x beckersounds b1000p subwoofer in a DBA configuration
- madVR Labs Envy Extreme videoprocessor
- Sony VPL-VW790ES projector
- Custom-made acoustical transparent curved-screen, 2.40:1 format, 184" with automated masking system
- Sony UBP-X1100ES UHD-player
- Apple-TV 4K media-player
- Dune 4K Reelbox media-player
Control: Crestron CP4 control processor incl. preview display outside the cinema room plus remote control
- 2 x Strong 19" Racks 37RU
- 2 x Gude EPC-8221-1 PDU
- Araknis AN-110-SW-R-24 LAN switch