As cold weather drives us indoors, a home theater can be a cozy retreat for entertaining family and friends. And with the holiday season right around the corner, fall’s a great time to add a home theater.
Home theaters can be rooms of their own, or they can be designed to fit in with other family activities. Here are some things to consider:
Will your theater be in a room of its own, or will it be in a multifunctional space, such as a living room or den? A dedicated room can be tailored for optimal viewing and sound, but a multi-use space may involve some compromises.
A separate home theater is designed for ideal viewing and sound conditions. It can be windowless and have theater-style lighting that lets you raise and lower the levels from movie-watching to cleaning up popcorn spills. It can also have theater-style seating with as much luxury as you want (or can afford), and incorporate sound-absorbing carpet and walls with dark, neutral colors that don’t reflect unwanted light.
That doesn’t mean that a living room or den won’t work as a home theater, you just may have to accept some trade-offs, especially with lighting and sound control. While drywall is decent at sound absorption, light-colored blank spaces, including windows and picture glass, reflect sound and light, as do hardwood and tile floors. Fabric curtains and rugs can help. But don’t let perfection stand in the way of good. Your movie nights will still be great.
The screen size is important for comfort and enjoyment. Too small and you’ll miss details (or strain to see them), too large and you’ll be moving your head back and forth like watching a tennis match.
The ideal viewing distance is 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal width of the screen. So if you have a 60-inch screen, that would be 7½ to 12½ feet. If you’re choosing a screen size based on viewing distance, divide the distance to the screen in inches by 2 to get the best average screen size.
Large screen flat-panel TVs are most popular, with a wide variety of sizes and display types to choose from. For extra-large viewing, front-projection systems are an option in large rooms that can be kept dark.
The Sound System
Most home theater systems have what’s known as a 5+1 surround sound speaker system with five full-range speakers and a low-range woofer. Newer movie soundtracks are often recorded to provide sounds from specific areas of the room, so speaker placement is important. You should have three full-range speakers in the front of the room, placing the one labeled “center” directly above or below the screen, otherwise, it may sound like your characters are speaking off-stage.
You can experiment placement with free-standing speakers, but if you’re installing built-in speakers, it’s important that your installer understands acoustics.
While not technically a home theater sound system, a good-quality sound bar with a separate woofer can be an acceptable substitute, especially in smaller rooms.
The components and furnishing for a home theater can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the equipment and design you choose. Hardwired and built-in components can be difficult and expensive to change, but plug-in components and furnishings can be swapped and upgraded as your tastes and budget changes.
Room Construction and Furnishings
All of your components need to be connected through wires, cables, or wireless networks. Proper room lighting and controls are part of the installation, too. The ideal time to run wires and cables is when the room is being built and the wall cavities are exposed, but professional electricians can install them in existing walls, as well. It’s important to determine the types of wiring you’ll need and their placement to avoid interference. An electrician can help you plan ahead for the system that will meet your needs.
Allstar Knows Audio-Visual
The pros at Allstar Electrical Services have helped design and build hundreds of audio-visual spaces for homeowners and businesses throughout Colorado’s Front Range. We can configure your home entertainment center, office, or any other room so there is enough stable power to handle all of the devices. We can help you power and locate routers or signal boosters so that your wireless devices work flawlessly. We can even bring more power to your home if it wasn’t wired to handle modern loads. In the hands of our experts, a home built 100 years ago can be wired and cabled safely for all your current and future needs.
Allstar Electrical has served the Front Range for over 15 years and is top-rated by the BBB and Angie’s List. We offer homeowners, builders and businesses reliable, professional work that is safe and up to code. Whatever your needs may be, call Allstar Electrical at 303.399.7420 or visit our website. Besides a thorough explanation of our services and information about our company, you’ll find timely articles in our Resources section about the latest developments in the ever-changing world of electronics. Then use our handy on-line forms to request an estimate or set up an appointment.
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