May 16, 2011

What is a Home Theater (or Home Theatre)?

Series Article #1 – What is a Home Theater (or Home Theatre)? 

Home theater (or theatre) is the term that most often describes a dedicated space in a home that is set aside for a high quality movie experience.  This room is normally in an area with no outside light and is typically installed in a room in the basement or above the garage.  However, we have installed home theaters in all kinds of spaces such as spare bedrooms, rooms on the main floor, in pole barns or in man caves.   The ideal dimensions acoustically for a dedicated home theater space is 16’ wide by 21’ long with 9’ ceilings according to THX standards.

A front projector and a large projection screen are generally used for these spaces as they provide a high quality image, the largest size for the money while also providing a cinematic experience similar to or better than a commercial theater!

In times past, a home theater was dedicated primarily to the movie watching experience.  However, these days a home theater is often used for sporting events, birthday parties, gaming parties and special events to name a few.

Typical sources for a dedicated home theater are satellite or cable TV, a BluRay player, and some sort of gaming system such as an Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or Nintendo Wii.  An additional source that has gained in popularity is a media streaming device such as an Apple TV or Roku or to simply utilize this feature on the gaming system to allow clients to stream movies from Netflix, Blockbuster and other online movie services. 

A 7.1 or 7.2 speaker configuration is typically used in these environments to provide the best sound for the money.  One thing to note here is that sound is the movement of air and so a properly configured home theater room will be designed with the appropriate number and size of speakers to accommodate the air volume within the space.  This way, a speaker system can provide the owner with a smooth, efficient and high quality experience without over driving the speakers or over working the amplifier or receiver.  Intelligibility of speech should be a high priority as this accounts for over 80% of a movie’s experience while overall balance within the rest of the speakers will provide you with a consistent experience for the life of your home theater.

A simple and easy to use remote control is vital in bringing the entire package together.  Try to stay away from fancy and look more for functional and intuitive as this can make or break a system.  This is one area that you don’t want to skimp on.  From our experience…If it’s easy to use, you and your family will use it and get a lot of enjoyment from your home theater investment!  If it’s not, it will be an adventure that will bring you frustration and stress and this is not what Home Entertainment is supposed to be about!

Acoustics, room treatments, seating configurations and sight lines are just a few of the many additional elements that bring a high quality, dedicated home theater experience to your home.

Trust the Certified Experts at Automation Design + Entertainment to help you design, select, provide, install, train and support your next Home Theater project.  Their professional team of certified designers and installers will help you put together a home theater that you’ll be proud of for many years to come!