Krix MX home cinema installation by Harvey Norman Home Automation Solutions QLD

Krix Series MX

The end result — a true cinematic experience with all the attention focused on the movie. Behind the action, however, lies a hidden speaker system that brings the real concepts of commercial cinema to the home.

Krix Series MX

A few years ago, Scott Krix, the founder of Krix Loudspeakers in South Australia, and Don MacKenzie, Krix’s National Sales Manager, were discussing (over a couple of bottles of lovely McLaren Vale reds, we gather), home cinema and the issues of integrating a high-end home cinema into the modern Australian home.

Scott Krix has been designing and installing audio systems for commercial cinemas throughout Australia and overseas since the early 1980s, and today Krix speaker systems are featured in more than 3000 commercial cinemas worldwide. He was bemoaning the fact that most home cinemas being installed today didn’t reproduce the overall experience or impact that a properly designed and calibrated commercial cinema does. In fact, most home cinemas were planned more on looks and budget rather than focusing the design on the overall experience and performance the end user desires — or would desire, were it known.

Don was able to add the view of audio-visual integrators, having had more than 30 years’ experience in that role, designing and installing home cinema systems in the residential market. So he knows the difficulties involved in working with the various trades — builders, cabinet makers and interior designers — as well as how costs can often increase, and compromises get made, especially when you are hiding the front main speakers and subwoofers behind an acoustic transparent screen, so all that you see is a stunning image rather than a stack of speaker boxes.

SERIES MX
Scott and Don discussed possible solutions to these problems, and as the red wine flowed, they came up with the Series MX concept for home cinema screen speaker systems.

Fundamental to the Series MX concept is making the design of the front false wall less complicated, so that co-ordinating with other trades becomes a simpler process. With the Series MX the false wall is built with a single large rectangular cavity, for which Krix has created an easy-to-fit modular speaker system with five cabinets, all the same height and depth — three speakers for LCR (left, centre, right) plus two subwoofers. Krix also has spacer modules available (two are shown in the inset image above) for extending the soundstage to suit wider screen installations.

The speaker cabinets are also unusually slim, so that the screen depth can be more shallow and the length of the cinema room less compromised. Most behind-screen speaker systems require a minimum of 600mm depth, whereas the Series MX cabinets are only 295mm (MX-20) and 335mm (MX-30) deep.

ABOVE: An installation by West Coast Hi-Fi Midland showing the behind-screen
Krix MX speakers and BELOW the acoustically-transparent screen in place.

The infinite baffle wall
The whole concept of a full-size false wall is one that was pioneered in commercial cinema by Scott Krix. He solved a lot of the acoustic issues in commercial cinemas  by developing a floor-to-ceiling full-width wall behind the screen, into which speakers and subwoofers were flush mounted.

The wall was then covered by acoustic absorbent material to reduce reflected sound interfering with the direct sound from the speakers. This idea dramatically improved the clarity and intelligibility of audio in the cinema.

It became known as the “infinite baffle wall” and is now used in a large percentage of commercial cinemas worldwide. It’s this ‘infinite baffle wall’ that forms the basis for the design of the Series MX systems. So the front face of the speaker cabinets in the Series MX are covered with acoustic absorbent material to reduce unwanted reflections. The five speaker cabinets are installed in the rectangular cavity with the front baffle level with the false wall to replicate the “infinite baffle wall” that Krix incorporates in commercial cinema installations.

An acoustically transparent screen is then mounted in front of the speakers, so the front of the home cinema portrays a clean, uncluttered look, just like a real cinema.

Cinema horns
The technology utilised in the Series MX speaker systems is also derived from Krix commercial speaker solutions, incorporating high-performance high-sensitivity low-distortion drivers with extensive crossover networks. Krix’s patented horn and waveguide technology is also incorporated into the Series MX design, improving directivity of mids and highs to direct more sound energy to the listening position with less reflection off side walls and ceilings. This results in further improvements to clarity and intelligibility of dialogue.

Layout dimensions for the MX-30 (top)
and MX-20 (below).

Two sizes plus spacers
There are two sizes of MX modules — the MX-20 and the MX-30, and Scott Krix says that the choice between them should be determined from room size rather than budget. The Krix engineers have utilised the same principles as for a commercial cinema audio system, determining the ideal Series MX model and power requirements for a given room size.
In short, the MX-20 is designed for rooms around four to seven metres in length, while the MX-30 is designed for rooms from five to 14 metres in length. Krix also has the spacer modules mentioned above for extending the soundstage for wider installations. These modules are constructed in the same way as the speaker cabinets, and are filled with acoustic absorbent material.

The subwoofers in both models are passive — they don’t have their own built-in amplifiers. This aligns with commercial cinema, and has the advantage of keeping electronics out of the behind-screen area, which can be relatively hard to service, whether in a home or a real cinema. A power amp connected to the LFE output of the electronics, whether processor or AV receiver, will therefore complete the solution.

It’s a solution that needs to be seen to appreciate its size — to give some sense of scale we include here (pictured below) a picture of Krix’s Michael Cox and Don MacKenzie by the MX ‘wall of sound’ they brought to last year’s Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show. Similarly the sheer slam and punch of the sound is something to be experienced — as it can be in demonstration rooms at key dealers.

The system’s cunning concept and its powerful performance has netted the Series MX not one but two Sound+Image Awards, with a third going to an installation of the MX-30 in a home cinema by West Coast Hi-Fi Midland. (A second MX cinema by this Western Australian dealer is pictured opposite.) Other Krix dealers across Australia can be found through the Krix website, along with full details on installation and amplifier power requirements.

Perhaps the most remarkable achievement of the MX range is how it applies real cinema technologies to the home while making their installation faster, easier and more convenient — with the potential of saving labour time and costs for an installation. Then it hides behind the acoustically-transparent screen, so that only the wonders of your favourite movies are on display. Just like the real thing, in fact.