Sound Associates was formed in 1958 to provide sound recording and dubbing services, initially as a small independent consultancy. With a move to larger premises in Bayswater in 1966, we then offered more extensive recording, editing and preview facilities.
In 1977 Sound Associates was awarded the contract to install the first twelve Dolby four track optical stereo cinema sound systems in the UK, including in the Odeon Leicester Square, for the premiere of the original Star Wars.
The company’s ties with cinema exhibition continued to strengthen and develop until 1984 when we were appointed the sole authorised distributor for Cinemeccanica projection equipment in the UK. As a result, in 1985 we were awarded the contract to install the projection and sound equipment in the first purpose built multiplex in the UK at The Point, Milton Keynes.
Sound Associates has continued to be at the forefront of cinema development as the preferred equipment supplier for major operators such as Apollo (now part of Vue Cinemas), Odeon, UCI (now part of Odeon) and Vue Cinemas (formally SBC, Warner Village and Ster Century), as well as for smaller independent and Local Authority run venues.
We have been at the very forefront of digital projection in the UK - in 2005 we formed part of the consortium awarded the contract to install the first 50 digital cinema projectors for the UK Film Council’s Digital Screen Network. Since then we have converted over 1200 screens to digital projection – and have added satellite, automation, Theatre Management Systems, 3D and content delivery systems to many of these screens.
Our services to the cinema industry have expanded in recent years and we now have Support and Service Agreements for approaching 2000 UK screens – where we offer reactive and pro-active maintenance support.
Sound Associates is an authorised dealer or distributor for all major cinema industry manufacturers and suppliers, including:
- Digital Cinema Projectors – Barco, Christie, NEC and Sony SXRD
- Digital Cinema servers – Dolby, Doremi, Qube
- Cinema Sound Processors – Datasat, Dolby, QSC, USL
- 3D systems – Dolby, XpanD
- Cinema speakers – JBL, KCS, Crown Audio, QSC
- Disability Access equipment – Sony, Williams Sound
- Immersive Sound Systems – Barco Auro, Dolby Atmos
Peter Lodge, Sound Associates 1958
Why use Sound Associates?
Sound Associates is a second generation family firm, having been started by Graham’s father, Peter, in 1958. At first the company operated uniquely in the world of sound, but for more than 30 years, we have been at the forefront of cinema specialising in both picture and sound.
As exhibitors moved from 35mm to digital cinema, so our expertise changed. We remain the UK’s leading supplier and installer of digital projection and audio systems, including the latest immersive sound systems like Dolby Atmos and Barco Auro. Many of these multi-channel audio systems have benefitted from the additional use of QSC Q-Sys audio processing and routing to give the maximum flexibility for conference and other live requirements outside normal cinema uses.
We have a deep knowledge of the cinema industry, the products that it uses and the services that it requires to help our clients get the very best from their auditoriums. Our fully trained team demonstrates a passion for achieving the very best image and sound and we have a deserved reputation for a flexible approach, a “can do” attitude and always achieving the planned opening dates.
Sound Associates currently has a large team of engineers, many of whom have worked for us for over 15 years. They are based all over the UK allowing us to work on projects all over Britain and overseas. It also enables us to offer support and maintenance packages to ensure minimum amount of dark time due to breakdown.
At our Head Office just outside London we have a professional team in the sales, operations and finance functions; they understand the needs of our customers and can help with enquiries and can offer information and support.
We are located in West Molesey, Surrey, just inside the M25. In addition to the office and administration functions, we also have extensive storage, workshop and testing facilities.
We stock a wide range of spares and consumables ensuring a quick response to call outs or sales requests.
Our workshop is an area where we build sound racks, carry out refurbishments and repairs and prepare all the equipment for installation. Our engineers also use this area to develop in house designs for anything from digibases to automation systems.
Finally there is a large test area, which is effectively our own cinema. This is where Sound Associates assess and evaluate new equipment, run training programmes and test and configure all equipment prior to installation.
Our long history in the cinema industry enables us to provide our customers with the level of support that best suits their needs. Sound Associates can help with the initial design process, we can make informed and impartial recommendations for product selection and we provide an installation service that is professional, efficient and right first time.
Our customers range from large multiplexes, independent cinemas in the UK and across Europe, to post production houses, theatres, museums, hospitals and hotels, and we are proud to maintain the cinemas in British Forces bases both here and overseas.
Being a part of this group of European cinema integrators, we believe that together, we can strengthen co-operation and collaboration and pool our many years of experience and local knowledge to better serve our customers.
We are proud to be the authorised distributor of all leading manufacturers, and as such, we can offer our customers an impartial solution that best fits the needs of their venue, providing a range of products and solutions to create the very best digital sound and visual experience possible.
Sound Associates are proud to offer a wide range of services to assist during the entire life cycle of your cinema:
- Consulting and Design - Whether you are starting with a blank page or upgrading an existing venue, we know how to get the best from your space.
- Installation and Commissioning - For more than 30 years Sound Associates have installed cinema and sound systems in all sorts of locations. We help you show all types of content from Hollywood blockbusters to ‘Event Cinema’ performances with satellite broadcasts of live theatre, opera and music concerts from across the globe.
- Building on Quality - We have applied our knowledge, expertise and experience to perfect a process that has been proven in hundreds of installations.
- Support and Service - SA engineers are always at hand to help in the unlikely case of a breakdown. We can diagnose remotely or offer a callout where necessary. For all cinemas, we now offer a range of support and service options, so you can chose the right level of care according to your needs and budget.
- Spares and Consumables - We offer an extensive range of spares, consumables, lamps, and specialist equipment - all designed to ensure that your screens keep running and that your customers enjoy the best experience.
- Innovations – We continually test and assess forthcoming innovations, such as immersive sound and vision, remote diagnostics and support, automation systems and server and storage breakthroughs.
Click here to download the 'Why use Sound Associates?' leaflet
Graham Lodge - Managing Director
Graham joined the family business, initially as a cinema installation engineer - working on the installation of the UK's first multiplex in Milton Keynes, over 30 years ago.
Having worked in all areas of the business, he took over as Managing Director in 1996.
Graham is very well known within the cinema industry and, having a keen interest in the mechanical and electronics of cinema technology, Graham is regularly consulted by many cinema operators to help specify projection and sound systems and advise on their installation and on-going support.
During the last 21 years he has overseen the installation of well over 1200 screens. Today, this knowledge and experience is used to assist in the design and specification of cinemas worldwide and to develop new areas of business.
Mark Foreman - Sales Director
Having served the cinema industry for over 26 years, Mark gained his experience initially as a projectionist in one of the busier London West End cinemas. He then moved to a position with one of the key UK cinema integrators, initially as a cinema engineer and more latterly as a project manager – running projects for UK multiplexes, independent cinemas and a number of overseas projects – including being the rushes support engineer for a number of Hollywood blockbuster films.
Following a spell as an independent cinema engineer Mark became the Technical Manager for a 3D company covering EMEA and Russia supplying support for Sales, Contracts and technical departments.
George Daniel ACCA, MBA, BSc (Hons) - Finance Director
George has twenty-seven years’ experience in finance. He has a successful track record of linking finance with operations to improve productivity, efficiency and bottom-line results.
Until recently, George worked in North Africa and the Middle East, where, as Finance Director / Vice President of Finance, he played a leading role in providing innovative financial solutions for some of the landmark developments in Egypt, Dubai, Bahrain and Oman.
He joined Sound Associates in 2015 to create a solid financial infrastructure and support corporate growth as the company develops in this exciting, ever-changing cinema industry.
Steve Case - Engineering Manager
Steve’s career started in cinema in the South of England and he quickly moved to the West End of London. As the projectionist at the “Empire” Leicester Square he was responsible for screening many of the premieres (and has a number of interesting stories to tell as a result!)
In 1991 Steve joined Sound Associates as a trainee engineer and he has now completed 100’s of installations - both 35/70mm and Digital -throughout the world.
With over 1000 UK cinema screens now contracted to Sound Associates for reactive and proactive support, Steve was recently promoted to the position of Engineering Manager. This now puts him in charge of one of the company’s most important resources – our team of 12 cinema installation and service engineers . Steve is responsible for ensuring that Sound Associates retains its proud heritage of never opening a cinema late!
Derek Soden - Project Manager
Derek moved from a career as a professional musician to becoming a sound engineer to finally holding the position director of a 24 track recording studio.
He joined Sound Associates in 1984 initially as a cinema installation engineer. Since then he has progressed within Sound Associates and has been an engineering supervisor, the team leader for the Northern installation team, the project leader for the Vue digital rollout and is now a Project Manager.
Derek’s audio background has led to him providing the EQ for 1000’s of cinema screens over the years and his detailed knowledge of cinema projection rooms has allowed him to manage 100’s of sound and projection installations during his career.
What is UNITIA?
UNITIA is a group of European cinema integrators, set up in 2015 by Ciné Digital Service (France), Kelonik Group (Spain) and Cine-Project (Germany) in order to “bring to cinema exhibitors the guarantee of working with highly skilled, experienced and recognized companies.”
Sound Associates are very proud to have been invited to join this group, together with Cine-Project (Italy) and Cine-Project (Poland), and it is our belief that, together, we can strengthen co-operation and collaboration and pool our many years of experience and local knowledge to better serve our customers.
Click here to read the Press Release June 2015
Click here for the Unitia website
Some of our clients
Alderney Film Society
A 66 seat cinema on the beautiful Channel Island – Visit Website
Beehive Centre, Honiton
A new Community & Arts Centre in Devon – Visit Website
Capitol Horsham, Horsham
Theatre, Arts, Cinema and Music entertainment Centre – Visit Website
Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
Theatre, Cinema and Arts venue, Next to the river Ness – Visit Website
Gwyn Hall, Neath, Port Talbot
Theatre, Music, Cinema and contemporary arts centre in the heart of Neath – Visit Website
A Three screen cinema in the heart of Wimbledon – Visit Website
Kino have Two cinemas based in Rye and Hawkhurst, Kent – Visit Website
SSVC Forces Cinemas have a circuit of 14 cinemas worldwide and a “Movie Machine.” Visit Website
Based in Cornwall award winning WTW has cinemas in Newquay, St Austell, Truro and Wadebridge – Visit Website
Picture House, Uckfield
This Three screen cinema in 2015, voted best independent cinema in Europe by the ECA – Visit Website
Kino Teatr, Hastings
A cinema/Theatre within the site of the Baker Mamonova gallery – Visit Website
Warwick Student Cinema
Warwick Student Cinema (WSC) is a nationally acclaimed, student run, professional standard cinema – Visit Website
A five screen centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film in Manchester – Visit Website
Olympic Cinema, Barnes
The former Olympic studios now has a two screen cinema with café and fine dining – Visit Website
Philharmonic Hall Cinema, Liverpool
Recently refurbished to include 4K projection using the unique Walturdaw cinema screen – Visit Website
A private members’ club for people in the creative industries. With cinemas across Europe & North America – Visit Website
Exclusive Hotel chain in the heart of London with private cinemas – Visit Website
Other UK multiplex operators including:
12 cinemas with over 30 screens across the UK, specialising in art house releases.
18 boutique cinemas across the UK with a total of 42 screens , offering a mix of first run and art house films, special events including Event Cinema and live Q&As.
Operating throughout the UK, the Republic of Ireland and across Europe. It is the third largest UK cinema chain with over 800 screens.
Sony Digital Cinema
We have various service and support contracts for over 600 screens across the UK.
The Office, Facilities and Test Area
Our Office: Our 16,000 square foot freehold building
Main Office: The Main Office houses our reception area, together with our sales, marketing, accounts and administration departments.
Warehouse and Storage: Across two floors we have over 8000 square feet of storage.
Workshop Area: Our fully equipped workshop allows us to construct sound racks, assemble projectors and test equipment prior to installation. We also offer service, refurbishment and repair facilities.
Increasingly we are used to “stage” digital installs – all of the equipment is assembled and tested as a complete multiplex prior to installation. This ensures all of the bugs are eliminated off-site.
Test Area: As part of our office facility we have a fully operational test department with a permanent digital projector installation for reference material and two screens (silver and white) for 3D testing. The equipment for most installations passes through this area where it is tested and configured prior to shipping, installing and commissioning.
We are always looking for capable and reliable people with technical know-how to join our engineering team.
We have no immediate vacancies but If you would like to register your interest in future opportunities with Sound Associates, please complete the form below.
Why do I need a DCI projector?
It is only with a DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) compliant projector that you can show Hollywood movies. www.dcimovies.com
Who/What is DCI?
“Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC (DCI) was created in March, 2002, and is a joint venture of Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal and Warner Bros. Studios. DCI's primary purpose is to establish and document voluntary specifications for an open architecture for digital cinema that ensures a uniform and high level of technical performance, reliability and quality control.”
This group was essential for the roll-out of Digital projection systems across the world as it sets the minimum standard of quality and security that the Hollywood studios need before they will release their movies to be shown on these projectors.
I would like 3D. Which system should I choose?
There is no doubt that there is a 3D system to suit every type of venue.
Active – Active 3D systems utilise glasses with high frequency shutters to close off the left eye while the right frame is displayed and vice versa. An active 3D system can be used on a standard white screen surface. These systems tend to be more cost efficient for the emitter but have higher costs for the glasses that have to be collected, cleaned and battery charged or battery replaced. Manufacturers include XpanD and Volfoni.
Passive – Passive 3D systems utilise polarised glasses, where each eye is polarised differently to show the respective frame. Polarised 3D systems used a silver surfaced screen. There is an initial higher cost of the system. This system can use disposable glasses that are cost efficient and over time will recoup any initial costs.
Manufacturers include Master Image, RealD and Volfoni.
5.1, 7.1 or Immersive Audio?
What’s the difference?
Surround Sound is achieved by placing speakers around the auditorium and behind the screen.
A 5.1 system consists of Left, Centre, Right, Left Surround, Right Surround channels and the Low Frequency Extension (LFE) channel is the .1
A 7.1 system adds Left Back Surround and Right Back Surround channels to the 5.1 configuration and allows sound effects to move around the auditorium in a smoother fashion.
A fully immersive sound system such as Dolby Atmos, Barco Auro and the new DTS:X system involves additional audio channels with speakers on the ceiling and walls.
The shape and size of the auditorium has an impact on the choice of sound system. A long and thin auditorium does not lend itself to 7.1 configuration due to the problem of getting audio from the back of the room to the front rows of seats. Cost also has a big impact on the decision as to the most appropriate system.
2K or 4K?
The majority of Digital cinema projectors installed today are 2K resolution but there are many more 4K models from Barco, Christie, NEC and Sony now available. 4K resolution projection can help with image quality for large screens and can also be beneficial with smaller screens when sometimes a ‘moiré’ effect can be seen when the 2K DLP pixel structure can interact with the perforations in the cinema screen.
Not all feature films are released in 4K resolution – in this case a 4K projector will show the 2K version – some 4K projectors will upscale the 2K resolution image to make the projected image as good as possible.
Lasers or Xenon?
Currently a very hot topic in the cinema industry.
RGB lasers have a capability to illuminate extremely large screens at very high light levels – including 3D images. This was previously very difficult to achieve even with high power xenon lamps. 6P RGB lasers have the ability to project left/right 3D images from a single projector.
More recently, Laser/Phosphor based projectors have started to appear on the market that offer very long operating lifetimes with little maintenance required and no xenon lamp changing. Power consumption is also a huge benefit with some laser/phosphor projectors consuming only 50% of the electricity required for an equivalent xenon based projector.
These projectors are more suited to smaller screens where space for a projector is typically more limited and the possibility of ceiling mounting projectors running at low noise levels is desired.
Xenon lamp based projectors are still available and selling in huge numbers – the operating costs are still very competitive as new longer life xenon lamps are now being introduced to the market.
There is a fourth light source that is also being introduced into the DCinema market – Metal Halide. These small long life lamps have been used in the business projector market for many years and are now being offered for use in cinema projectors as well. NEC, Barco and Christie have introduced 2K models using twin Metal Halide lamps in parallel to illuminate small to medium sized screens whereas Sony have a range of projector options for small to very large screens using between 2 and 12 Metal Halide lamps. One of the benefits of Metal Halide is that with multiple lamps there is a backup in the case of a single lamp failure and the lamps can be easily changed without the necessary safety mask, jacket and gloves required for changing high pressure xenon lamps.
Do I need a Support and Service Agreement?
It is important to maintain your equipment especially these days when there are few technical personnel at a cinema to maintain the equipment. Remote monitoring as part of a service agreement allows us to keep a check on the status of the equipment and react appropriately when something is going wrong – possibly before the site are even aware of an issue
Can I install my projector myself?
Manufacturers sell DCinema projectors through an established network of dealers with trained cinema engineers who not only know how to install these projectors but also have the skills to align and commission them correctly and ensure that they adhere to the specifications laid down by DCI. Manufacturers ’ warranty may also be affected if they have not been installed by trained, certified engineers.
What type of screen do I need?
The type of screen required depends on seating proximity and type of projection being installed – 2D or 3D. If seating is close to the screen then a micro perforated screen may be beneficial. Please contact us for more information and advice.
Where do I get my Feature Films from?
The distribution of Hollywood feature films is tightly controlled and you will need to book these through a specialised film booker who can advise you of the best route for this and the costs involved. Typically a film distributor will work on a shared revenue basis and will charge a percentage of the ticket price with possibly a minimum guarantee depending on the popularity of the film being shown.
What is Event Cinema?
A DCI compliant projector can also be used to show Event Cinema such as
- Live Broadcasts from the National Theatre, The Royal Opera House, The New York Metropolitan Opera House
- Live sport broadcasts
- Live gaming sessions
- Large scale presentations for AGMs etc.
Additional equipment may be required to receive satellite transmissions of live event cinema content. Some Event cinema material may be sent to your cinema as a DCP – like a feature film.
Talk to the ECA – the Event Cinema Association www.eventcinemaassociation.org
How do I pay for the equipment?
We can agree payment terms to spread the cost over several months or we work with a number of different leasing companies who can offer you 3 or 5 year leasing arrangements for the purchase of projection and sound systems. Some of the equipment manufacturers also offer long term finance arrangements for their equipment. Please contact us for further details.