Looking for an immersive experience when watching movies, cheering on the Seahawks, gaming or just binge-watching your favorite show? There are a wide variety of options — let’s start planning yours.
Although the term ‘home theater’ can be used several ways, it’s generally used when homeowners want to reproduce an experience similar to their local movie cinema (without the extra noise and sticky floor) in their home. This immersive experience combines a vibrant picture, superior sound, and comfortable seating – all in one aesthetically pleasing space.
When choosing the perfect room for your home theater, start by thinking about what kind of space is ideal for you. Answering these questions can help shape the vision for your project:
- Do you have a dedicated space for your home theater, or do you want to utilize a more open, multi-purpose room?
- Do you want to entertain large groups of people or is the home theater primarily for your family use?
- Do you want your viewing to be part of a larger entertainment experience – ie: a home bar, poker or pool table, hosting the Super Bowl?
- What is your budget? Dedicated theater spaces with optimum sound and picture naturally cost more.
- Do you want to enjoy music in this room?
- How important is it to you that wires, speakers, and home theater components are hidden?
The Big Screen: Choosing Between a Television or Projector
Really, both options have their pros and cons. A quality video projector will give you a true cinema-like experience at home, and the biggest advantage is the screen size. Generally speaking, most home theaters residing in a multi-purpose room use a television because of ambient light, ceiling heights, and flow of traffic in the room. However, today there are options that overcome these challenges. The Sony Ultra-Short Throw Home Theater Projector is a great option as it can sit close to the wall and still display an 80”-120” screen.
Televisions are suitable for nearly any room, and the good news is prices have come down for large-format viewing. A quality 65” television starts at $3,500.
Whether television or projector, it’s important to think about where you will be sitting in relation to the screen placement. The last thing you want after a movie is a neck ache. To find the ideal screen size, use this simple formula: Viewing distance in inches / 3 = recommended screen size. Of course, your budget, aesthetics or personal preference may ultimately be the deciding factor.
Surround Sound Setup
Choosing a quality speaker with correct room placement will make you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action. It will also allow you to hear sounds from the movie in different parts of the room – providing clear dialog, movement of sound (was that millennium falcon that just flew by?), and immersive sound effects.
When setting up your surround system, we recommend five to seven dedicated speakers along with a subwoofer. How you arrange them has a big impact on the final sound. Some common mistakes when setting up your own home theater are:
- Speakers are too low or too high.
- Center channel is on the ground
- Subwoofer is under a table
- Speakers placed at different distances from the listener
And, to make the sound and picture work together, your AV receiver or processor will be key. Home theater components and speakers can vary in size, performance and price. It’s best experience them first hand before purchasing.
Have a room that is challenging? Here are a few solutions to common problems:
- If you are limited on space or have accessibility challenges for the speaker wire, we recommend a high-end soundbar. You will sacrifice a bit of performance, but it’s still a viable option and will sound better than your tv speakers!
- Do you have an open space that’s bouncing a lot of sound around? Acoustical treatments are not only for dedicated home theaters, but there are discrete options to improve any space.
Home Theater Seating: Comfort is Key
What atmosphere are you hoping to create? One where each person has their own reclining seat complete with cup holder, or a more casual sectional sofa for the whole family to lounge on? Either way, you will want a seating that will be comfortable for 2+ hours.
Be sure to consider the number of people you’d like to host and how to provide the best visibility for all viewers. For dedicated home theaters, homeowners often go with custom home theater seating arranged in rows. In this scenario, we recommend tiered seating for groups of 6 or more.
Aesthetics & Finishing Touches
What touches will your theater need for a cozy personalized experience? Maybe you’ll go all out and with a dedicated Star Wars themed home theater or maybe you prefer to curl up with your kids on a comfy sofa in your family room. With new advances in technology and innovative products, design and functionality are not mutually exclusive — even in your home theater space.
Design Consideration for your home theater:
- You don’t want a lot of bright light, ambient or in-room lighting. This can cause glares on the screen and washed out pictures. Consider manual or automated window coverings, dimmers and home automation for convenient lighting control.
- High-quality AV cabinets can hold you’re your audio & video equipment and are available with modern finishes.
- Skip the wires and black boxes by moving components to an AV equipment rack in a nearby closet.
There are many ways to design a killer viewing experience at home, no matter your budget or space. The important thing is to plan ahead and find the components and design that will make going to your local cinema a distant memory. Drop by our showrooms or contact us if you have questions.