As audio and visual technology has rapidly improved in the past few years, the accessibility of home theater systems has continued to increase. Whether you’re a film fanatic or love seeing sports in great detail, you can create an affordable setup that gives you all the perks of going to the theater without the hassle. Get the immersive experience of going to the theaters from the comfort of home with the help of Madico®, Inc.
What to Consider for Your Home Theater Location Setup
Location is one of the most crucial design choices when it comes to planning out your home theater. From the lighting to the reverb of your walls, every little detail contributes to a more immersive viewing experience. You must consider several factors when designing your home theater, including:
It’s best to design your home theater in a part of your home with few windows to prevent light from distorting your picture quality and making your screen setup difficult to see. Windows also cause audio distortion due to their reflective surfaces. If you can’t choose a location with few windows, consider blackout window film treatments to stop light from interfering with your picture quality. Blackout window film for home theaters can add an extra layer of privacy and security to your home.
While many opt to invest in expensive soundproofing technology, regular drywall is still a great contender for your home theater walls. The worst technology to choose for your home theater walls are concrete or brick walls, and you should consider upgrading your room with studs and drywall if designing your theater in a concrete room. It’s important to remember to always keep your walls clear of decorations and art, as uneven surfaces can cause sound distortion in the room. Always choose low-gloss paint for your walls.
Home theaters work best with dark walls and low gloss paint sheens. Colors like tans, olives and browns can give your setup great reflection prevention while still looking homey, though some opt for dark greys or even shades of black within their home theater. If possible, choose a paint with a flat or reflection-fighting eggshell sheen.
To minimize sound reflectance, you should choose highly absorbent flooring, such as carpeting. Opt for wall-to-wall carpet if possible, or use accent rugs to help absorb more sound if you’re looking for a more affordable option. A comfortable flooring is also great for when kids are watching movies or want to have a sleepover.
While you may be brimming with home theater design ideas, your choices should prioritize room shape. Just like a regular theater, home theaters should be placed in rectangular-shaped rooms to prevent harmonic distortion. The shape of square rooms causes audio to bounce around the room and often produce an odd and undesired harmonic distortion.
Choosing the Right Technology
The more money you invest with a home theater tech setup, the better quality you’ll receive. Here are the most important visual, audio and other technology components you’ll need to recreate the theater experience in your home:
There are two main approaches when it comes to visual technology — HD televisions and projectors alongside screens.
Smart televisions are a great way to stream a host of movies in Ultra HD 4K, Full LED, Edge LED and Direct LED. Depending on the model, your TV may even support OLED streaming. With the rise of LED-backlit LCD TVs, it’s become easier to find a home cinema-worthy television at an affordable and accessible price point. The right size screen is large enough to create an immersive experience, yet not so large that it causes you to constantly move your head.
If you want to have a clear image that’s 50-inches or wider, a projector is the best way to reach your goal. Projectors can create images as wide as 150 inches in diameter and are usually more cost-effective than purchasing a larger television. When buying a projector, make sure to invest in a model designed for home cinemas, as projectors for business typically have different specs and inputs. You can purchase a full HD projector model for between $500 and $1,000 at most technology vendors.
Home theaters with projectors also require an accompanying screen. While many choose to use a projector without a screen, this only works on light walls and can leave you with a blurry and washed-out picture. Projector screens come in wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted configurations and can even be installed in manual or electric pull-down configurations. Ceiling recessed projector screens are great for hiding away your system when not in use. However, they are one of the most difficult projector screens to install.
If you opt for multiple speakers or surround sound, ensure that the television or project you purchase is outfitted with an AV receiver. Also, make sure that your screen has the necessary inputs for the media type you’re consuming. While HDMI 2.0 is the current standard for visual equipment, legacy equipment may require AV cords and newer smart devices and consoles may even require the newest HDMI 2.1 configurations.
Your home theater’s audio makes up half of its quality, and it’s important to invest in it as such. While options like sound bars are cost-effective, they don’t provide your setup with true surround sound. Instead, most home theaters use 5.1, 7.1 or 9.1 surround sound systems to reproduce the same dynamic audio quality as a traditional movie theater. These setups use five, seven or nine satellite speakers and a subwoofer to give you all-around audio quality with total absorption.
Your speaker placement is just as important as the quality of the speakers themselves. To set up your surround sound system, make sure to place the center speaker directly below your television or projector screen. This center speaker is responsible for providing dialogue, so you want to ensure it’s in an area where you can clearly hear it. Then place your directional speakers on either side of the television or even in the corners of your room. You can place your subwoofer anywhere in your room without affecting performance.
Now that you have all the technology to set up your home theater, you need the components to connect them. If you’re streaming in 4K, you’ll need HDMI 2.0 cables, which are powerful enough to deliver both the audio and visual signals you need to their proper equipment. Analog video cables are another option for high-definition video, though many newer pieces of equipment have HDMI ports instead. It’s also essential to understand that HDMI 2.0 and 2.1 are not the same technology and usually cannot be mixed.
In the age of smart televisions and digital streaming, many home theater owners decide to use extra technology for their home setup. Options like plug-in streaming devices and gaming consoles are extremely popular and can give you access to large media libraries for little money down. Digital streaming services allow you to save room in your home theater by eliminating the storage space needed for physical media. If you choose to go with streaming devices, you may also consider upgrading your internet to improve picture quality.
Depending on your setup, you can choose from multiple optional digital features such as all-in-one remotes, light dimmers or even app-controlled smart lightbulbs.
Creating the Best Viewing Experience for Your Home Theater System
When you’re installing your home theater equipment, a little attention to detail can go a long way and create a viewing experience that rivals the best cinemas.
If you’ve chosen to invest in an HDTV viewing experience, the best angle for your setup is usually somewhere between 30 to 40 degrees for seeing the whole screen with comfortable eye movements. To calculate your screen’s viewing angle, imagine drawing a triangle from the edges of the television screen to your nose. The angle of the apex — your head — should be located at a 30 to 40-degree angle.
Your viewing distance is another crucial element of your screen’s setup. The optimal distance from your seat to your screen is usually 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal width of your screen. For example, if your projector screen is 60 inches wide, it’s best to sit between 7.5 and 12.5 feet away from it. To avoid eye strain, make sure that you put your screen at eye level. If you must put your screen above eye level, consider tilting it down at an angle.
For speakers, the best setup distance requires orienting your setup as equidistant to your ears as possible. After you’ve placed your speakers at equal distances, now’s the time to tweak your setup to find the sweet spot for your seating arrangement. It might take quite a bit of experiment before you find the perfect speaker orientation for your setup.
Delay is another important element of configuring your home setup. The speed of sound traveling through the air is around 1,100 feet per second. That means there’s about a 1 millisecond of delay for every 1.1 feet that your speakers are away from you. To minimize this delay, you should reconfigure your sound system to synchronize what you see on screen with the sound coming from your speaker. For example, a speaker that is 3.3 feet away from your head requires delaying your picture by 3 milliseconds.
To stop you from getting up and down while your movie’s playing, you may want to invest in a universal control system. Control systems now come in new and innovative hybrid software — such as those used on iPhones and iPads — as well as traditional remotes. Control systems allow you to easily change your room’s lighting, picture quality, projector and sound without ever rising to your feet.
Decorating Your Home Theater
Since it’s best to leave your walls dark and free of any decor or embellishments, you should take full advantage of decorating the other elements of your home theater. Do you want to go with a traditional theater look, or do you want to create a space with more modern elements? Do you want to create a cozy, blackbox-like room, or do you need to incorporate modular elements that let you use the room for more than one purpose?
With the right decorations and details, you can transform your home theater into a one-of-a-kind setup. The following are some of the most popular and useful home theater decoration ideas:
- Seating options: When purchasing seating options for your home theater, it’s essential to prioritize comfort and viewing angle over aesthetics. Are you looking to add a contemporary touch or do you prefer traditional theater seats? Consider large, plush seats for increased comfort, and highly consider finding seating that allows you to recline so you can kick back and relax while watching your favorite films. Depending on your room style or size, you may even want to consider a conversation pit.
- Home theater window film: If your theater is in a room with multiple windows, blackout film may be the most cost-effective way to transform your space. Blackout window film does more than block light for the perfect home theater — it helps you create a private space in your home to increase safety. At Madico, we offer blackout films that block 100% of light transmission to improve the viewing experience and create a darkened theater look.
- Cord bins and tubes: A home theater setup can inundate your room with dozens of long cords that are both difficult to hide away and pose a safety hazard. Many companies create stylish cord bins and discreet tubing that elegantly hide your cables.
- Modular shelving: While you might dedicate a room solely to your home theater, many of us require a more modular solution that allows the room to function for many purposes. One of our favorite home theater setup ideas that makes this possible is using modular shelving. Modular shelving allows you to unveil your projector screen or large screen when you’re ready for movie night or hide it away in the daytime when you’re ready to get down to business. Modular shelving is also ideal for storing your DVDs, blue-rays and consoles so your room looks neat and uncluttered.
- Popcorn machines: If you’re an absolute theater fanatic, a popcorn machine is the perfect final touch for your home theater setup. Adding popcorn to your theater experience is a sure way to impress your friends and get your family excited.
Finish Your Home Theater With Madico Blackout Film for Theaters
At Madico, we offer blackout films that give you unparalleled privacy and let you create a more comfortable home theater. Our blackout films are proven to block out 100% of light transmission and reduce glare in your home theater by 99%. Check out our window film spec sheet to see just how effective Madico blackout films are.