Creating a great home theatre experience doesn’t have to cost the earth, however it can if you really want it to (just have a read of this Guy). Before you rush out and buy a projector here are a few things you should consider to ensure you get the best experience for your money.
Firstly, a bit of a background; home theatre design breaks down into four major components: room shape, construction, acoustic treatment, and system setup. In most cases the first three factors might be outside your control, but still there are a few things you can do to improve this without rebuilding the whole room.
If you have a choice opt for a rectangular shaped room and place your display and speakers along the shorter wall. Square rooms and tend to produce odd sound harmonics.
Windows can be a problem as well – they are hard and therefore will reflect the sound and depending on your screen setup will also let in light. So the fewer the windows the better. Curtains can obviously help fix the window issue and also make your room look pretty.
Is your room hard or soft? Are there a lot of hard reflective surfaces that will make the sound bounce around? These are materials like wood floors, mirrors, windows. Or do you have a soft surfaces that will absorb the sound? These are materials like plush carpets, sofas, heavy curtains. Too many of either can cause problems with your audio.
Generally the front of the room should have more soft materials that can absorb the sound, and at the back of the room you may need to break up the sound or add diffusers (a bookshelf will work just as well!). How much you do here just depends how serious you are but a few simple considerations can make a big difference without a big investment.
We definitely recommend having sound. It makes movies heaps better.
Most home theatre setups will use a 5.1 speaker setup. 5.1 means you have five full range speakers and one sub. You will have three speakers at the front, consisting of a left & right and a centre speaker for dialog. The other two speakers will be located behind the viewing position (or off to the side).
Rooms are always different so you might need to experiment and find what is the best location is.
Other speaker setups like 5.2, 6.1, 7.1 and 7.2 exist. But for most situations 5.1 is likely to provide a just as good result, and in many home situations you will be hard pressed to tell the difference between a 7.2 system and 5.1 unless you have a larger space (and want to spend more).
The left and right front speakers should be placed at ear level (when you are seated) and at an equal distance from you and the screen. The centre speaker should be located in the centre (no surprises there). But again it should be either above or just below the screen. The Sub being low frequency and a lot less directional can be placed in a number of positions – just avoid putting it right in a corner which can cause you problems. And lastly, the rear speakers can be behind or to the side but again at ear level – or a little higher.
Experiment to find what works best for your space. Sometimes only a small change in speaker placement can make all the difference the listening experience.
When it comes to the screen you have the choice of a projector or a panel. Then within those two choices you have a myriad of other options.
Projectors allow for a much bigger viewing screen but have the down side of light and for best results will often be best in a darkened room. Also mounting the projector will require additional work to ensure it isn’t in the way – usually a ceiling mount is going to be the best, which will require power and data connections cabled. For a true home theatre experience a quality HD projector is probably the best.
Visually a projector will work best if it is projected onto a screen but in practical terms using the correct grey colour and projecting onto a wall will work fine and allow you to save some dollars.
Using a 50” or larger TV is the other alternative, which allows for easier placement in the room, is less critical of the lighting, and usually requires less installation.
There are lots of choices for the type of TV: Plasma, LED, LCD, 3D, Smart TVs – the list goes on. It just comes down to how big you want the screen and how much money you want to spend.
With all this kit now installed don’t forget to get a good quality multi-function remote. This will allow you to use all the equipment from a single unified remote. Some of the better ones will support radio-frequency and so will work even if the equipment is shut away in a cabinet, and will also support multi-commands, so a single button could turn on the projector, the amp, the sub and the DVD player.
So if would like to upgrade your audio visual or even just to have a chat to find out what is possible and what the best solution is, get in touch with us, we are always happy to help.