Real Cinema at home – Sound and Image story
West Coast Hi-Fi Midland is celebrating 10 years since opening its doors to this town on Perth’s eastern fringe, which grew around the junction of railways and roads where the Great Northern Highway meets the Great Eastern Highway as it heads out for the long run to Coolgardie and the right turn to the Nullabor. The Midland store is part of what proprietor Scott Stay calls the “really cool chain of West Coast Hi-fi stores in Western Australia”, specialists in home entertainment, hi-fi and home automation.
“We pride ourselves on going the extra step for our customers,” says Scott Stay, “and we enjoy collaborating with not just great brands but wherever possible with good people. Home cinema, music and technology binds us, and we truly enjoy embracing it all. One of our favourite things to do is invite our customers and their colleagues or family members along to launch nights — we catch up, enjoy a drink, and experience cool new products, concepts and presentations.”
One recent event hosted in Midland brought over Scott Krix (pictured), who was identified on the event flyers as ‘the Godfather of Surround Sound’.
“Krix installs the very best commercial cinema speaker systems in the world,” says Scott Stay, “and it also offers the same great engineering and quality in home cinema and ‘real cinema at home’ ranges. But also they are just nice down-to-earth people that care about their products.”
The product being launched that night was Krix’s new Series MX solution, a unique new modular system that delivers a complete front speaker layout installed behind an acoustically transparent screen — left, centre, right and two subwoofers together (see panel overleaf). Midland was demonstrating the MX-30, the larger of the two front soundstage solutions, which Krix notes as suitable for room depths of five to 14 metres. It must have been a persuasive demo.
“Out of the hundred or so visitors at our launch night, five or six decided there and then that as good as our own theatre demo rooms sounded, this Krix MX-30 sound was what they really wanted,” says Scott Stay.
Real cinema at home
The home cinema pictured at the top of this article is the result for the first of those customers who booked in the MX-30 installation.
“This customer has been buying AV components from us for many years,” says Scott Stay. “We had already knocked down walls for his existing theatre a couple of years ago, making this a bigger venue with a lot more room to work than otherwise would have been possible, and so well suited to this Krix ‘wall of sound’.”
Indeed this client had already worked with Midland just last summer on a second theatre outdoors, that AV system taking its inputs from the sources for the inside home cinema.
“He was very happy with this, and with his original home cinema,” says Stay. “But I guess that all changed when he attended the MX-30 launch.”
So was it the influence of the great Scott Krix on site at the launch, or can the Midland store’s proprietor identify specifically what makes the MX30 system so persuasive a proposition? Scott Stay replies to this question with a single word.
“Punch!” he says. “It’s the only word to describe the experience when you go from a big scene in a typical cinema room demo to the same big scene demo in an MX-30 room demo! Of course we very much pride ourselves on offering a whole range of great home cinema solutions, and will always do so. But since we started auditioning the Krix concept in store, more and more customers are opting for this over more traditional home cinema systems. We have the MX-30 here, and also offer the MX-20, still a ‘wall of sound’ but one which works in slightly smaller rooms. We have that on display at our Cannington Store just 20 minutes away from Midland, so customers can easily compare between the two versions.”
The system for this owner’s home theatre was to be a full Dolby Atmos cinema, with the Krix MX-30 front modular system augmented by Krix Stratospherix in-ceiling Atmos speakers, and currently the owner’s existing B&W 805 bookshelf speakers on rear and rear surround duties, with plans for future installation of Krix Acoustix speakers in these positions.
“We utilised the skills of our brilliant acoustic design reps Mark Sheahan and Phil Winkler to ascertain what acoustic treatment would make the theatre sound perfect for the MX-30 and Dolby Atmos configuration,” says Scott Stay. “They then worked with myself and the customer to choose the right patterns and colours to keep the room in line with the décor. We had the challenge of designing cabinetry to house not only the impressive MX-30 front soundstage but also the numerous Musical Fidelity power amplifiers employed to drive this beast of a system.”
The various video sources include an Oppo Blu-ray player, Humax PVR and a Kaleidescape 4K video system — 4K because the projector here is one of Sony’s genuine 4K projectors, illuminating a 135-inch Stewart Filmscreen Cinemascope screen, which also has motorised tabs to convert it for use with 16:9 materials. The sources are currently distributed through to the outdoor cinema, and Midland is discussing a solution with the owners to extend this to the home’s living room and bedrooms.
The control system Push is by Schneider Electric (which also owns Clipsal); the PC1 used in this installation is a multi-zone automation controller which provides an intuitive iPad interface for the owners to control not only the entertainment system but also Environexus lighting and curtain automation.
“The customisation of this was co-designed by the owner here; our programmer helped recommend skins and scenes to suit his life-style,” says Scott. “It includes a cool hi-fi scene where lights dim to highlight the impressive McIntosh rig in the centre of the cabinet.”
Not just for the movies
Because there was a last-minute twist, when the owner decided to incorporate a hi-fi stereo system into the room — and a rather nice one too. This explains why there are separate floorstanding speakers in the room — these are two-way passive Krix Heritix One models, a very limited edition by Krix as a stereo model based on the Pix theatre speaker, and these are driven by a McIntosh C2500 and MC452 pre-power combo. It’s designed primarily for high quality vinyl listening, with a Rega RP10 turntable with RB2000 tonearm and Apheta 2 cartridge (the very top, in other words, of Rega’s turntable range), racked so that it slides out from the custom cabinetry for loading of the black stuff (image below right). The Oppo’s analogue outputs are also connected to this system with Chord XLR cables for CD playback. A streaming solution may be added later.
“Adding the hi-fi components of the system did change things quite a bit,”admits Scott. “As well as including the new components in the front cabinetry we needed to allow for smarter ventilation, and we had to reconfigure the rack that sits behind the room, plus an upgrade of the Push Control hub. But the owners were extremely helpful and interested in the transformation taking place, so my task was to efficiently co-ordinate the project so that our cabinet maker, the installers and the automation programmer could complete the installation in time for the deadline.”
So ongoing involvement and a happy customer?
“Absolutely yes,” says Scott. “Most importantly he uses the room all the time for movies, TV series and now for vinyl listening.”
We find ourselves just a little bit jealous…
Front speakers: Krix MX-30 modular system
Ceiling speakers: Krix Stratospherix x 4
Rear/rear surround: Bowers & Wilkins 805
Stereo speakers: Krix Heritix One (custom)
Sources: Kaleidescape 4K video system, Oppo BDP-105 Blu-ray player, Humax HDR-7510 PVR; Rega RP10 with RB2000 & Apheta 2 cartridge
Surround processor: Yamaha Aventage CX-A5100
Multichannel power: Musical Fidelity M8-700 monoblocs x 6; McIntosh MC205 power amplifier (Atmos channels)
Projector: Sony VPL-VW1100ES 4K projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 135-inch perforated CinemaScope screen
Stereo power: McIntosh C2500 / MC452 pre-power
Plus: Isotek Aquaruis power conditioner x 2; Isotek EVO3 Sequel cables; Push Control PC1 controller; Environexus lighting and curtain automation
With thanks to West Coast Hi-Fi Midland