In Simmerath-Strauch, a small village in the district of Aachen, Germany, an exclusive midsummer event was held in an old kindergarten school that’s been completely transformed into the new headquarters of Cinemike. In 2004, the company was founded by Michael Krehl and Michael Schiffers. Unsatisfied with the quality of standard audio and video equipment they started their quest to provide their customers with the very best picture and sound quality in the business. How? By dissecting already high-end electronics, replacing mediocre parts with better ones, shortening the signal path, fitting in additional filter stages, … . If you think about a possible improvement, they’ve probably done it. So what does the summer show has in store for us. Let’s find out.
I decided to explore the basement of the old nursery school so there I went, down the stairs. Almost immediately I saw some light emerging from the bottom of a door. Upon opening the door you’re presented with movie props and memorabilia. Beatrix’s sword from Kill Bill sure does make an impression on anyone’s trophy wall. I noticed there was an open seat on the last row of the auditorium so I buckled up for the next demo session. Michael started off by breaking up the Dolby Atmos 5.2.4 system into its smaller components. Those of you who want to jump straightaway to the impressions you’re missing out on an remarkable list of equipment and gear.
The first exclusive pieces of the surrounds set were the pre-release version of the ninth generation of Aurum speakers: namely the Titan R9 (front), the Titan Base R9 (center) and the Vulkan R9 (surround). The height layer consisted of Aurum speakers of the previous generation, namely the Phase VIII, but with some Cinemike flavor sprinkled on top of it. Furthermore they had brought in their own 15” T-1500 passive subwoofer, powered by a huge Advance Acoustic monoblock which was cut off at a very specific frequency to take care of only the kick drum, this in the best way possible. In the back corner a man-sized subwoofer, their custom infra-bass system, was clearly visible and should take care of all the subsonic bass frequencies with aplomb. In the heart of the system was the fully modified Marantz AV-8802A preamplifier. Several sources were visible on the rack, even a turntable, but for today only the Panasonic DMP-UB900 Cinemike edition was used. Unfortunately the new Advance Acoustic X-A1200 monoblocks didn’t make the deadline of the event so they decided to power all three front speakers with a tuned version of the Bryston 4BSST2 stereo power amp bridged into mono to have more headroom for these demanding speakers. The surround speakers were powered by Advance Acoustic X-A220 monoblocks again with the frequency cut above the heavy duty bass line. The ceiling speakers were driven by two Advance Acoustic X-A160 stereo amps. To top off this impressive list with yet another exclusive was the new uber expensive Sony VPL-VW5000ES 4K laser projector. It had a 4m canvas of Hollywood Screens to paint its images on. They really went all out this time.
Enough with the technobabble. How does it sound? Stunning. ‘Answer’ by Sarah McLachlan is a very emotional ballad and one that I know rather well. It only took a few strokes on the piano to give me goosebumps. It sounded just right. Then there was that beautiful separation of voices, the incredible amount of inner details, the fabulous spatiality. Remarkable. Is there still some room for improvement? I’m very sensitive to brilliance in the treble and to my liking the upper frequencies were walking a fine line between presenting the real deal or becoming too aggressive. I prefer the slightly smoother presentation from the Titan R9 as heard on the Munich High-End show. On that occasion they were driven by the Cinemike tuned Aurum M10 power amplifiers. The live rehearsal of ‘Beat it’ by Michael Jackson was a showcase for the T-1500 subwoofer. The kick drum had presence, punch and tone. It carried the song with the precision of a metronome.
The next movie part was shown twice: a non-commercial version of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and the commercial version with a 7.1-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The latter one sounded compressed by comparison. This was an eye-opener. The way the sound is mixed and recorded on the disc has an enormous impact on viewer’s experience even when the disc indicates to have lossless DTS-HD Master audio. Never thought a trailer of a movie could be so terrifying, but watching Conjuring 2 in such a room was just plain scary. It had no problem in building the mood and spooky atmosphere in under 3 minutes. Glad it was only the trailer. The last shown movie part, Jurassic World, propagated an incredible low end energy in the room. You could easily feel the air moving by the custom infra-bass system. The visceral impact was breathtaking. Did I mention that the picture quality was amazing. I was almost drooling on the screen. Motion handling in the fast action scene where the Indominus rex attacked the Ankylosaurs and the glass-encased gyrosphere was seamless. Colors and blacks looked terrific. On this positive note I concluded my visit. I would suggest to have a look/listen yourself when the next opportunity presents itself. Cinemike, a small company with a big footprint!
Vsit the Cinemike website.