For film buffs, the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown are a double whammy. Movie theatres are shut, productions are stalled, and release dates have been pushed back indefinitely. Even when the lockdown is lifted, there’s no guarantee that people would want to enjoy a movie flanked so close by other people. So, what’s the solution? Do as the celebs do.
Celebs seldom visit theatres. If they do, they do it incognito (unless it’s an invite-only movie premiere). It’s seldom that the rich and famous movie buffs do not have a home theatre at home. The ready-made ones don’t count, for the space called home theatre in the house of a celeb has the feel of a proper movie theatre. And for that do they splurge!
Of course, if the celeb is an actor, then they can always justify that expense as a necessary investment for their craft. Rumour has it that Amitabh Bachchan has arguably the best-appointed movie theatre at home and the sound quality is top-notch (maybe that’s where he reviews the modulation of his deep baritone).
The captains of industry aren’t far behind. Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani is believed to be a movie buff who enjoys many a blockbuster with friends at his 50-seater home theatre at his Antilia residence in Mumbai, reports say. Wipro Limited’s Azim Premji, who hung up his boots in July 2019 to focus on philanthropy, is also said to be fond of watching movies.
A massive screen is a given for these home theatre set-ups, besides comfort and convenience. But does any television screen make the cut? No, and nor does any projector with a projection screen. For those who demand the very best, one option is Samsung’s The Wall.
When I laid my eyes on The Wall, my first thought was: How does one move it to one’s place, and more importantly, how does it go through the doors? As the name suggests, the device takes up a whole wall. And mind you, I was looking at the smallest iteration, the 146-inch, 4K version. But I soon learnt its no logistical nightmare. The Wall is made up of 16x16 inch MicroLED panels, which are assembled LEGO-like and installed on the wall.
“With The Wall, we set out to create a product unlike anything else—matching the lifestyle and taste of those looking for the most exclusive and premium visual experiences in their personal and professional spaces,” says Puneet Sethi, vice president, consumer electronics enterprise business, Samsung India. (The Wall also has a professional version for retail spaces and high-end businesses.)
The Wall (prices start at ₹3.5 crore, excluding taxes) comes in two other sizes: a 219-inch, 6K-resolution version, and a massive 292-inch, 8K-resolution version. It is practically bezel-less and when not in use, can display artwork, act as a gigantic photo frame, or blend into its surroundings.
The TV is pretty thin, thanks to the MicroLEDs, which also make for vivid colours and brilliant blacks with absolutely no pixelation. I watched some clips from Jurassic World. The experience was just as that in a movie theatre. I cannot stress enough how cool gaming using this screen felt. I played Forza Horizon 3 on the Xbox. It’s just out of the world.
But there’s one thing: The TV doesn’t have built-in speakers. Anyway, customised solutions from professional system integrators generally need to be built in, so how about trying something that enhances the décor of the room, also? Speakers from Bang & Olufsen not only sound good. Veering on the brink of being pieces of modern art by virtue of their beautiful design, they are excellent conversation starters, too.
For the front speakers, one could consider the BeoLab 90 (₹75 lakh for a pair), which can be customised to the room’s décor. Featuring 18 drivers on each speaker and the ability to be connected to other speakers wirelessly, the pair packs enough ‘punch’ and has amazing clarity.
For the rear speakers, consider the sleek BeoLab 18 (₹8.2 lakh a pair). Made of aluminium, the over-sized candle-stand-esque speakers can be placed on the floor or can be installed like a wall sconce. For the thump, there’s the BeoLab 19 subwoofer (₹3.75 lakh).
Now, say you are more into music than movies and are a discerning lover of it like Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra—who is trained in filmmaking and a fan of the blues—you’d surely like to get your hands on the Sennheiser HE 1 ($55,000 or around ₹42 lakh), which is arguably the best pair of headphones in the world. The electronics and the vacuum tube amplifier are housed in a single block of Carrara marble. The Renaissance masterpiece David by Italian sculptor Michelangelo was made in the same stone. There’s more to using this particular type of marble than evoking thoughts of the Italian genius. It eliminates the distortion caused by the hybrid amplifier system.
Sennheiser co-CEO Daniel Sennheiser, whose grandfather started the company, believes the HE 1 is the best pair of headphones one can buy “in the next 10 years”. A man with an eclectic taste in music, the co-CEO obviously uses this pair every day. He tells Fortune India that when one listens to music on an HE 1, “it doesn’t really matter what you’re listening to; it will always sound great”.
This story was originally published in the May 2020 edition of the magazine.