Building a Home Theater??
The Five Steps to Building a Successful Home Theater or Cinema Room
Our team of expert installers share their knowledge to allow you to build a successful home theater or cinema room. The key to success is preparation and planning – concentrate on getting the fundamentals right and a successful room will follow!
- Screen Size -This is obviously dictated to some extent by the size of the room but most people tend to think of home cinema as being over 100″ in screen size. If your room size means you have to go smaller then go for a TV rather than a projector. Assuming over 100″ then you should pretty much go as big as you can – we regularly install home cinema’s with screens over 4m! – the only caveat is the distance from the screen to the seats. This is covered below.
- Seating is crucial – Your room shape will dictate your seating to a large degree (after all you can only fit a certain number of seats in a certain space!) but dont forget to take in to account your family dynamic. We tend to install a day bed type arrangement for families with young kids, they can sprawl out and even nap if the mood takes. Small children don’t gel well with formal theater seating. Once you have decided on the seating type you need to consider distance to the screen, we have a dedicated blog post about this here. If you can’t go far enough back due to room limitations then consider shrinking the size of the screen – a screen which is too big and too close will be tiring to watch over time. If going multiple rows then either use different seating for the front and back rows (day beds are lower than traditional seating and people slouch on them) or consider building a step for the second (or third) rows. We normally work on a step riser of 30cm (12″) per row but it is easy to work out with either CAD software or old fashioned graph paper.
- Speaker arrangement -The front channels are easy, get them behind an acoustically transparent projector screen if you can (this ties audio and video together really well) and follow the traditional front, center, left arrangement. Install sub-woofers at the front too – preferably two if doing it “properly”. Most AVR’s have multiple options for rear channels – surround, surround wide, rears and heights. We recommend installing at least a pair of surround speakers per row of seating as this ensures a uniform experience no matter where you are sat. If budget, requirements and space allows then add in height and rear speakers as required. Surrounds should be slightly in front of or level with the listener with height speakers just behind.
- Room Decoration and Fit out – This is where you can have some fun, Google images is full of weird and wacky home theater rooms – from Star Wars and Star Trek inspired rooms through to dungeons and fairy tale spaces. You the world really is your oyster! There are a few technical elements to bear in mind though. Darker rooms mean images from a projector will seem brighter (less ambient light) and you should try to cut down on reflections so matt effect paints rather than gloss. Carpets work better acoustically than wooden floors, soaking up sound waves rather than allowing them to reflect which creates a muddled sound. We regularly wrap our rooms in acoustic cloth to hide away speakers and make sure the space performs at it’s absolute best but you can get a similar effect with strategically placed acoustic panels (even bean bags “stored” in the corners can improve things massively and provide great informal seating when required).
- Home Cinema Lighting – While your lighting levels will be very low whilst viewing a film you will need some ambient light for people to move around and find their snacks. Focus the majority of the light at the rear of the room (away from the screen end) and fit dimmers to ensure you can get the light levels just right. If budget allows then a single room lighting control system needn’t cost the earth.
If you have taken all the above in to account and either built the room yourself or paid a professional home cinema installation company there is only one thing left to do – sit back and enjoy your favourite films with the family! Fitting a home cinema can be one of the best additions to a family home, providing a unique space for the entire family to spend time together.