Hidden among the green pastures and rolling hills of the Cotswolds region in England is an old farmhouse from the 1870s. But, don’t let the classic stone exterior fool you, this house is packed full of some of the best audio and video equipment on the market.
The install, which was completed by the UK-based integrator Homeplay in conjunction with the L-Acoustics Creations team of the French audio company L-Acoustics, was just named a Global CEDIA Award winner in the media room category. The space has a plethora of unique features including a golf simulator which doubles as a 7.1.4 Dolby-compliant cinema, a DJ station, and a poolside immersive sound space with a movie viewing area.
Syncing with the Client
“The client got in touch and said I’m building a room and I want a system that can play loud and function as a party room,” said Ratcliffe. “He’s also into guitars and likes making music and entertaining. In the past, he’d had a lot of other Hi-Fi audio equipment from the traditional brands and thought that a good pair of floor-standing speakers just wasn’t going to cut the mustard for this space.”
This need for full-space audio sparked an idea in Ratcliffe, who had just been taken through a demonstration of the L-Acoustics experience by friend and Global Director of Sales for L-Acoustics Creations, Nick Fichte.
“I told [the client] ‘you need to come listen to this L-Acoustics Creations gear’,” said Ratcliffe. “He came and listened and within about 20 seconds of the demonstration he just went, ‘oh yeah, this is what I have been looking for’. It was that immediate.”
Once the floodgates to the L-Acoustics Creations gear were opened nothing was going to hold the team back. “Nick had mentioned that the pedigree of L-Acoustics was built through installing equipment outside and at music festivals,” explained Ratcliffe. “[The client] then suddenly had a moment of realization and said, Oh, maybe I could install these speakers around my pool and that became a big focus of the project, even though that wasn’t part of the original plan.”
Acing the Acoustics
The media room, which is a separate structure from the main house, provided a unique series of acoustic challenges due to its thin, dogleg shape and high-pitched ceilings. As a result, the Homeplay team was forced to divide the space into separate zones of audio and install a fabric ceiling complete with acoustic treatments “to bring the general reverberation time of the room down.”
“Getting the three auxiliary stereo zones to sync up with the main zone, all in the same space, was a real nightmare in regards to latency,” said Ratcliffe. He went on to elaborate: “In the end, we had to read what the storm processor was doing and then add the right amount of latency to the stereo zones based on whether it was decoding stereo, Pro Logic or Atmos.”
Soundvision Mapping Technology
Soundvision Mapping Technology from L-Acoustics played an intricate role in helping the Homeplay team design and lay out the complex arrangement of sound zones required for this install.
The interactive sketching model shows how each speaker will distribute sound throughout the room, allowing for an accurate estimate of how the acoustics will behave. Using the software, integrators can build a hyper-realistic 3D model of the space they are working with and position any L-Acoustics loudspeaker, line array, or subwoofer into the environment. From there, the program predicts the sound pressure level from any individual speaker or the system as a whole.
Golf Simulator Meets Home Theater
The first section of the media room dubbed the “cinema area” features a “7.1.4 L-Acoustics Creations sound system with Syva front speakers driven by a Storm Processor and a Sony Laser projector with a drop-down multi-aspect ratio screen.”
Ready for another curveball? Not only does this space act as a cinema, but it also doubles as an at-home golf simulator.
Creating a space that was able to accommodate both of these needs required a fair bit of creativity from the Homeplay team. Since sharing one screen for both the cinema and golf simulator was not a viable option, the team decided to go with a two-screen and two-projector setup. The final result was “a high brightness short throw projector for the golf simulator and a dedicated cinema projector for other media.”
The other major section of the media room, which houses the bar area, is anchored by a pair of L-Acoustics A15 medium-throw speakers paired with L-Acoustics KS21i subwoofers. This combo, which is typically used by nightclubs around the world, was chosen to optimize the client’s custom-built DJ booth to and his Pioneer DJ equipment.
Elsewhere in the room there are additional L-Acoustics X4i speakers with Syva Sub “to provide balanced sound wherever you sit or stand.” All speakers are custom RAL painted from the factory to blend into the interior design. The speakers can work independently as their own zone to provide background music with bar levels of SPL, or they can be synchronized with the other two room zones to create one mega party zone.
A Media Room Worth Living In
Despite challenges with the acoustic zoning in such a multi-functional room, the Homeplay team and the homeowners coordinated to produce a space that provides a next-level audio and video experience while preserving the rustic feel of the 1870s farmhouse.
However, if you were to ask James Ratcliffe about his favorite part of the project, his answer wouldn’t be about speakers, golf simulators, or even UST projectors.
“I can’t imagine better clients – they were both a joy to work for – kind, positive, happy people who embraced our advice and allowed us to deliver them a fantastic project that we’re all so proud of.”