Recently I had the pleasure of being called to a beautiful home in Northbridge NSW to investigate the possibility of replacing some older Bose Cube 5.1 surrounds with an updated sound system including Dolby Atmos speakers 5.1.2.
As technology advances, our home entertainment systems become more integrated into our homes and in some instances just disappear into the walls, and that's exactly what our client was after, a discrete system, but one that packs a punch!
Our client was very interested in adding Dolby Atmos to the mix of his home theatre setup so he could take full advantage of all the new content available with 4k streaming and on 4K UHD Blu-ray, these come with the latest surround sound formats (Dolby Atmos). You can see this is not a traditional home theatre rather it is a living space with limitations for speaker placement, so a traditional speaker layout or even in-wall speakers were ruled out straight away. Dolby Atmos speakers are placed overhead with the idea of you receiving height from your soundstage and completing the Dolby experience.
The only option we had to keep to the client's requirements of 'discrete' was to look at an in-ceiling installation for all 7 speakers (5.1.2). Normally this would not be a problem however this room is on the bottom floor of the house meaning we have a floor above. After some investigating by our installer we noted we had enough height in the ceiling space to the flooring above to complete the job.
The next challenge was to get 7 cables down a very congested cavity, our installer
wanted to make this job as clean visually as possible and not need the use of conduits on the outside of the house itself. After a lot of patience and their combined experience with Daniel and Zoe, our installers managed to get everything down the cavity through the cabinets and up to the AVR.
The Speaker Choice
Our client wanted the best experience he could with all in-ceiling speakers and to support local businesses where possible.
The choice was easy, Krix a local South Australian company doing some amazing things and bringing high-quality speakers to people's home theatre experience without having to look outside our borders.
Krix has an amazing range of speakers from small bookshelf systems to fully integrated dedicated home theater systems. For this job, we used two types of speakers, for the CLR and surrounds we used the Krix Atmospherix A20 directional speakers, and for the Atmos speakers the Krix AS downward-firing in-ceiling speakers.
With the Ceiling speakers in place to Dolby specifications and wired back to the AVR the next part of the puzzle was a subwoofer to complement the room's needs. Having higher ceilings and the room being larger than it looks we decided on the REL HT1205 high-performance subwoofer, which would be the right fit. In keeping with discrete, the subwoofer was placed in the cabinetry with the speaker firing out into the room (not that that matters).
After a full day of installing (cabling took some time), it was time to complete the setup and calibrate the system.
After running the room correction software we made the appropriate adjustments to the AVR to achieve optimum settings to suit the room including crossover points, speaker distances, and speaker level calibration using an SPL meter.
Now for some testing, after playing some music and adjusting the subwoofer, the client had been patiently waiting all day to try out a new Blu-ray 'Bond - No time to die' with Dolby Atmos on the soundtrack.
We were all blown away at the sound, the timing and punch was right up there and very impressive. Although all speakers are in the ceiling, surprisingly there was enough separation to provide a wide and immersive soundstage. The sub kicked a lovely punch and complimented the total package.
This was a great experience rendering a terrific result for our client in being both discrete and high-quality. The customer received an amazing upgrade and the addition of Dolby Atmos 5.1.2, our client tells us he can hear the voices now, and feel the rumble!
Home theatre and surround sound is for everyone no matter how big or small your space.