This month our newsletter is all about home theaters and what you need to consider if you are planning to add one to the plans for your new home. Home theaters can be as simple and straightforward as utilizing an all-in-one system that you purchase from one of the department stores for your home’s family room. While other consumers will want to have a dedicated room for their home theater, which not only has the latest in electronics to provide the best video and audio you can buy, but also the comfort you want to provide your guests while they enjoy watching a movie with you.
Home owners must make many choices when they are planning their new home, and when it comes to home theaters the first one, of course, is the scope of your home theater in terms of both room size, dedicated or not, electronics and budget. We will try to cover these, as well as installation techniques in this newsletter and, as always, provide links that will provide more information and references to assist with planning and installing your home theater.
Some Useful Links:
What is a Home Theater and What Does it Do for Me?
What is a Home Theater? What is a Home Screening Room?
One of the first decisions that most home owners need to consider is a combination of both budget, location, room size and whether you are dedicating a room for your video and audio listening pleasure. These factors must be considered, simultaneously, prior to selecting a home theater system, since if you do not have the budget or the space, then the type of home theater system you select will be much different as a result.
The extremes can be a dedicated room, complete with lounge chairs for relaxed viewing of movies displayed on a large screen TV or projection system with appropriate speakers hidden in the room or along the walls. The other extreme is, of course, your family room, where the family congregates to watch a good movie, and so the room must double as a home theater room as well as a room for relaxing and entertaining guests.
Once you have settled on the above, selecting your home theater system is probably the next most important thing. You must take into account your budget, location within your room, fitting with existing furniture and wiring requirements. Speakers are obviously important and you will need to consider location, as well as wiring, as you locate your speakers around the room or on the walls to optimize your sound.
One of the most important general elements to consider when looking at a home theater is matching the size of your system to the size of the room that you have. There is no sense from a video and audio perspective to purchase a home theater system that does not match your room size and acoustics.
Since our newsletter is focused on new home construction, it is very important at this stage to remind builders and homeowners that the time to plan your home theater is before the home is built and even designed. A properly planned home theater means that you can HIDE the wiring behind the walls for your speakers and other requirements.
Some useful links to check out
Home Theater Aesthetics
Plan Your Home Theater
There are a huge number of variables that homeowners and builders must take into account when planning a home theater. In this section, we will list many of these variables with a short explanation. The references and links will provide you with more detail, should you wish to explore that area.
TV placement in your home theater is a balance between the room design, the furniture that will be in the room and a location within the room that is sufficiently large enough to accommodate the TV without appearing to be oversized.
The size of the TV viewing screen is also important. No sense in placing a large screen in a small corner wedged between two other pieces of furniture, when it would be better placed against a large wall.
Screen size and viewing distance go hand in hand. The larger the room and the distance from the screen, usually dictates a larger TV or projection system. If you are planning to use a projection system, room color can enhance your viewing pleasure by making the picture appear more crisp and clear.
Furniture in your home theater is just as important as the electronics. It should provide comfort, multi use, if necessary, and support the overall décor of the room. Stands should be strong enough to support all components without worrying about being able to support the weight.
Plan the placement of your speakers in your room to maximize the acoustics of your room. Five or seven speaker systems must be placed in such a way to compliment each other and take into account the reflective and absorption of sound by furniture in the room. Some systems provide algorithms to assist you with speaker location.
Select the appropriate level of Surround Sound, in Dolby format, to match with your speaker systems and other electronic equipment. Dolby provides multi-channel digital audio format, multiple discrete channels, stereo surround sound and dedicated subwoofer channel for deep base sound.
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Wiring is a critical component and must be considered for both speaker placement, as well as the location of all of your home theater electronic components. Hiding the wiring in the walls will enhance the aesthetics of your homes décor.
Home theater aesthetics is a huge subject and an extremely important one. The choice of your system must blend into the style and format of your home, existing or planned furniture and the room that you will use as your home theater. Viewing distance, angles and sound listening must also be taken into consideration.
Power outlets are items that are often overlooked in planning home theaters. There should be sufficient outlets to plug all components into an outlet, and depending on the amperage requirements, sufficient circuits are also required to support the amperage load of the system.
Lighting is important, both natural and light sources in your room. Dimmer switches are often a good idea to allow you to set the ambient light to provide the best conditions for viewing movies and TV programming. Dimmer switches can even be purchased that can be controlled remotely. Blinds on windows are equally important for daytime viewing.
If you are planning a dedicated room and using a projection system, you will need to consider projection systems with sufficient light power for your room. Refer to an expert to help select the appropriate size and power of the projector, which are typically from 700 to 2000 lumens and will depend on the size of the room.
As you finalize the design and draw up a plan, make sure that all wiring is shown, and then put the wiring plan away in a safe place for future reference. Always label all wires and add the numbering scheme to your documentation for future reference; you never know when you may need it.
While we have identified a lot of topics for your consideration, many homeowners will want to review the details provided in the links in this section or refer to an expert design team. There are many aspects to take into account and to successfully achieve home theater installation, proper research and use of experts will enhance your viewing pleasure.
Useful Web Links
Planning a Home Theater
Home Theater Aesthetics
Home Theater Projectors
Front Projection Home Theater systems
Dolby Surround Sound
The basic components of a home theater system are outlined here and, of course, you can spend a relatively small amount of money or you can purchase top-of-the-line equipment for your home theater system.
There are really two major components that you need to focus on and these are the display system and the audio components. You could be sitting in the best room, but if you are unhappy with the TV or the audio, then your viewing experience will not measure up to expectations. Most new systems are coming equipped with HDTV - High Definition TV. HDTV systems display high quality pictures from DVD players, as well as off air, satellite and cable TV systems.
A DVD player is an important component, especially if you plan to rent movies. Consumers will want to ensure they have the latest in capabilities so that your TV will display high quality images. Many DVD movies are in HDTV format as well, so that you can view excellent video quality content.
Home Theater Receiver
Home Theater Receivers act as the control center for all of your audio and will amplify the signals to send them to your speakers. They support surround sound capabilities so you can listen to CD’s, TV programs etc., in a surround sound format.
Simple systems use the speakers in your TV, while others add a subwoofer and locate as many as 5 or 6 speakers around the room to enhance the surround sound of the entertainment to which you are listening. Advance planning and wiring can be very important, depending on location and number of speakers. Some systems can be electronically balanced to create a listening sweet spot in your home theater room!
Cables, Power, Furniture
There are always lots of cables associated with home theater systems and power requirements for the various components. No one wants to see this wiring, since it is unsightly and should be hidden away were you cannot see it. Plan for power outlets and furniture for your room to enhance your listening and viewing pleasure. Power and surge protection is very important, as well, especially if you live in an area were there is a lot of lighting storms or power fluctuations.
One area that many people do not think about is the entrance location and wiring for your satellite feed or cable TV feed. Most cables will enter the same location in the home near where the hydro cables enter, and from there they are distributed throughout the house. It is a good idea to pre-wire the coax cable from the entrance to the appropriate location for your home theater and your digital cable TV receiver. If you happen to be using a satellite dish, you must locate the satellite dish where you can obtain the best signal and then run the cable to your digital satellite receiver in your home.
Useful Web Links
Components for your Home Theater
Directv Demos and Tutorials
Installing Your Home Theater
Once you have made all of the decisions regarding your home theater, the installation should go relatively smoothly, if you have planned all aspects properly. Pre-wiring your home for speakers, power and coax feeds for cable TV or Satellite will ensure that everything is available for your installation.
Even so, many consumers will find that the prospect of dealing with all of the wiring associated with a home theater system will be a bit daunting. Often, qualified installers can be recommended by the store or company from which you purchased the home theater system. Above all, read all of the instructions and follow them step-by-step, if you plan to do it yourself.
Take your time, and recheck all connections. Label the wiring and use the wiring diagram that is provided with the system or the one that you have drawn up for yourself. Use cable ties to organize the wiring so that the wires are held together in an organized fashion.
Many systems will benefit by using a test movie or CD to check that the speakers are arranged in optimum manner, so that the sound quality is maximized for all of your usual locations in the room where you are sitting. Some systems come with an algorithm and microphone to assist in optimizing the power levels for every speaker, based on their location in the room, the rooms acoustics and the location were you will sit while watching the movie or listening to a CD.
Useful Web Links
Home Theater Installation
What Makes Live Music Sound "Live"?
Designing, purchasing and installing a home theater can be as complex as building a dedicated virtual movie theater in your home, with its own dedicated room, to something as simple as adding a large screen TV with a Dolby surround sound system in your family room. Your decision comes down to a number of factors that only the consumer can assess and decide upon. Room size, house size, dedicated room, budget, supporting furniture, wiring and power are all elements that every consumer must take into account.
Large home theater rooms and systems will normally require the design expertise of a home theater expert, while small family room installations can be accommodated by most local stores and even the consumer themselves.
Even if you plan on using a home theater designer, we encourage you to read the material contained in many of the links in this newsletter to arm yourself with the questions that you need to have answered, so that you will be completely satisfied with the eventual system that you select.
Thought For The Day
"The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it." - Elbert Hubbard
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