A Terrific Home Theater? Here’s How To Start
You’ve visited friends’ houses and seen their amazing home theaters – or you’ve salivated over photos of dream A/V setups online – or you’ve just gotten tired of watching your (relatively) small TV with its tinny sound. In any of those scenarios, you know that the answer is building your own gorgeous home theater. But the problem is often figuring out where to start.
Here’s how to go about it.
Choose The Right Location
A home theater doesn’t have to be immense; in fact, it doesn’t even have to be bigger than your current TV room if that space has all of the proper elements. It might even be your current viewing area.
Your first move should be to find a room that’s large enough to comfortably seat the number of people you’ll need to accommodate, and one that’s as dark as possible so ambient light doesn’t interfere with the quality of the video. That’s why many people choose their basement for a home theater, but an upstairs location is also fine if there are shades which will shut out all of the outside light or if you’re willing to install blackout shades (motorized shades are perfect for this purpose).
The location should also be well-insulated and completely dry, both for comfort and for the purposes of audio acoustics. Again, you can add insulation if necessary and if you’re willing to add the cost to the price of your installation. You may also want to invest in new seating for the room. Comfortable furniture can create a homey atmosphere, but plush theater-style seating can add the perfect look and feel for an upscale home theater.
Choose the Right HDTV or Projector
It may take a while to decide on the centerpiece of your new theater: the video display. As long as it’s within your budget, it makes sense to focus on newer 4K HDTVs (often known by others names such as Ultra HD) even though many movies and regular TV shows aren’t transmitted in 4K resolution yet. After all, a home theater is a big investment, and the last thing you’ll want to do is upgrade your HDTV in a year or two; you’ll be able to watch 1080p full HD video on your 4K TV until the time comes. You’ll also want to decide if 3D or an internet-enabled Smart TV are important to you.
The other key decision is the size of the screen, and that will largely depend on how far from the screen your optimal viewing position will be. For example, a 43-inch 4K HDTV screen is considered suitable for viewers sitting four or five feet away while a 70-inch 4K is best viewed from six to nine feet away. If you have a big space and want a really big screen, that’s when you should look into video projectors.
You’ll also need auxiliary video sources; at the very least, you should include a Blu-ray player (for movies) and an Internet streaming device like Roku or AppleTV (if you’re not buying a Smart TV).
Choose the Right Audio System
No home theater is going to provide a true immersive experience without surround sound, and selecting the proper system will depend greatly on your room’s acoustics and layouts. A 5.1 audio system is easy to accommodate in most spaces since it only requires two surround speakers, while a 7.1 or even an 11.1 system may be the proper choice for a large home theater where numerous speakers can be ceiling- or wall-mounted. However, small rooms can still be served well with the use of a quality sound bar.
Once you have determined the size of the system, you can decide on an amplifier or receiver, do the installation (or better yet, have qualified professionals work with you on the design, configuration and construction) that will give you the home theater you deserve.