The definition of a home theater is an audio/video system in your home that attempts to duplicate the movie theater experience. There are many levels of home theaters, but the biggest difference between a home theater and a media room is the commitment to providing a dedicated space within your home for the movie experience. Home theaters are made up of three essential parts; the audio system, the video system, and the design or esthetics of the space which includes the seating, lighting, carpet, architectural details, sound treatment, and system layout. When all three of these come together, designed and engineered by a trusted expert, the experience can be better than the movie theater.
The Audio System
The most important part of any home theater system is the audio system. The audio system allows for the impact, or feel of the theater experience. The better the audio system performs the better the overall experience. There are many options of ways to deliver the optimal audio system within your space. Traditionally tower speakers were used for the left and right speaker locations, with a dedicated center speaker for the dialogue, this concept delivers an amazing experience and is the way that most movie theaters still reproduce their soundtrack with speakers hidden behind the movie screen. Speaker manufactures have also created options for the tower speakers which consist of, custom installed in wall speakers, in ceiling speakers, or on wall mounted speakers. Each of these options have their place depending on the design of the space.
With the recent introduction of Dolby Atmos, there is a new way to enhance your theater experience. Traditionally, surround sound systems consisted of a 5.1 speaker system. What this means is 3 speakers across the front of the room (left, center, right) as well as 2 additional speaker locations behind the seating area for surround sound and a single subwoofer location (this is the .1 and where the impact comes from). Dolby Atmos introduces an additional 2 to 4 speakers installed in the ceiling above the seating area which allows for greater control of the audio experience.
The electronics needed to power and control a home theater consist of a Preamp/Processor. This controls the switching of the different video signals within the theater as well as controlling the surround modes with the built in surround sound processor. A multi-channel amplifier powers all of the speakers in the theater, and receives its signals from the preamp. Lastly, there are video sources that consist of TV signals (cable or satellite), UHD Blu-ray Player, Apple TV, Roku, and Game consoles.
THE VIDEO SYSTEM
There are two pieces needed to deliver an image in a home theater, a projector and a screen. There are many options in both of these categories. Projectors start in the $2,500 range and go upwards of $100K. The best value in a projector today is in the $10K to $35K range. These projectors are 4K compatible (2160 lines of vertical resolution, 4 times a traditional Bluray player) and offer an amazing video experience. Projectors offer a lot of flexibility in providing an extremely large image within a space. Flat panel TVs are affordable up to the 75” size. Projector screen sizes typically start at 92” and go up to 300” depending on the size of the space. The increased resolution in a 4K projector allows for stunning images on a very large screen.
The movie screen is the other factor in this equation. Today’s screens are more than just a smooth white surface. Modern screens use state of the art materials, light rejection technology, and more. There are three types of screens available, fixed, motorized, and perforated. Each of these options offers benefits to the design and the overall theater experience.
The first option is the fixed screen; this type of screen is assembled and permanently mounted to the wall. It typically has a black velvet border and makes the space look and feel like a movie theater. The second screen type is motorized and is installed in the ceiling or a soffit at the front of the room. The motorized screen drops down out of the ceiling when you want to utilize the home theater. The third option is a perforated screen. This allows for the front speakers (left, center, right) to be installed behind the screen and the sound is actually transferred through the screen. This is how it is done in the real movie theater. When building a full blown theater, perforated screens can be beneficial in the design of the theater without jeopardizing performance.
The quality of your Home Theater is normally dictated by the size of your space, commitment to the experience, and ultimately the budget. Home theaters have a screen size typically not less than 92” and go upwards of 300” depending on the size of the room. The design concept of the theater is endless and normally based on a theme. A well designed theater includes seating, lighting, carpet, architectural details, sound treatment, window shades, and precise layout of the electronics system. No matter what your budget is, consult one of our experts, to help you design and build your home theater, which will give you years of enjoyment.