Home Theater Design – a Simple Guide to Optimizing Your Home Theater
What is a Good Home Theater Design?
A properly equipped home theater design is the holy grail of any home movie viewing experience. It seeks to take the best of a movie going night, surround sound, perfect lighting, and a massive screen minus the long lines, ticket prices and the occasional screaming baby. Unfortunately creating your own home theater isn’t quite as simple as standing in line for tickets and popcorn. Movie theaters spend thousands to create the right balance of sound, lighting and ambiance. Thankfully for you, we’ve got you covered. Here are the three crucial components to any home theater design and some tips on how to optimize your own viewing experience.
First and foremost you must consider the room you have or will choose for your home theater design. It might seem like any old room will do but there is a lot involved the room itself. Knowing a bit of science will help. First, rectangular rooms are better than square ones. The shape of your room matters because of the sound. It bounces in strange ways in a square room cheapening the effect of the great surround sound speakers you invest in. So in a rectangular room, place both your screen and center speaker on one of the short walls. That will optimize both sound and lighting for your home theater.
Another aspect you must consider are windows. A simple rule: the less windows the better. Windows typically made of glass will also bounce light and sound in unpredictable ways. They let light in, which unless you only plan on watching at night would create less than ideal viewing conditions.
Last on your room specifics come the walls and floor. For the floor, carpeting is a no brainer, especially on with a layer of padding that is conducive to lounging. The carpeting works on two fronts: first it’s a place for the kids or adults to be comfortable if cushy armchairs become too sophisticated. Second, the carpeting and accompanying padding will insulate your home theater, containing explosions of your movie within the room. This concept holds true for your walls. Dry wall is good but soundproofing wall panels are even better. A worst case scenario would be concrete walls, bouncing sound throughout your house, taking the meaning “home theater” to a new level. As for color, take a note from real theaters and go as dark as possible; gray, olive, or black is ideal.
What separates a home theater and a room with a really big TV is a proper surround sound system. However, a good surround sound system isn’t just loud, it works in concert like an orchestra. If a car motors across your screen from left to right, a good sound system will mimic that movement by rocketing that engine sound from the left to right of your room. That is why it is important to be consistent with your speakers, buying them from the same manufacturer or at least, make sure they will work together.
Your average surround sound system is labeled as 5.1, which means 5 speakers and a subwoofer for low range sound. These sound tips may be a little technical but utilizing them improve your home theater design by leaps and bounds. First, don’t skimp on the center speaker. Many people splurge on accompanying towers and fail to realize the center speaker is in charge of dialogue, which is why it’s called the center speaker. Put it directly in front of your TV, in the center.
On the other end of the spectrum is the subwoofer, also commonly overlooked. The subwoofer is key, especially its placement; a corner is where it belongs. Putting the subwoofer in the corner will help fill the room with the bass effect as opposed to an explosion sounding like it came from cabinet. If you have a larger room, consider two subwoofers to really set the mood.
Last but certainly not least comes the screen, the coup de grace. This is obviously the centerpiece and gets all the fanfare for good reason. Your first consideration must be projector versus a TV screen. It is an age old question that has changed drastically with technology. The old school bias for the screens are that “Projectors don’t have the same quality, they hurt your eyes, they are difficult to install.” In 2016 none of those are true. Projectors produce a much larger image at the same quality, giving you the true home theater experience with a 12 foot screen! In reality, a projector is the way to go unless a few key factors relate to you.
First factor, light. If you can’t control the lighting in your home theater. A projector with bad lighting is like a ship almost in the ocean. It won’t sail until it’s all the way in the water. So whether it’s a windowless room or blackout curtains, a projector has to have optimal lighting conditions.
Last factor, price. While there are many affordable projectors, the technology requires a replacement bulb every X amount of hours of watching. Most projector owners claim to change their bulb every year or so. That doesn’t sound too bad until you find the cost of a bulb can be $200. So if lighting isn’t an issue nor is the expense, get a projector.
Home theaters are a luxury and not everyone has the financial means or space to create a true home theater. But if you do, it’s critical to consider three elements, the room you put it in, the sound you use, and the screen you watch. Do your product research, use our simple tips and your home theater design will be the envy of everyone you know.