There are more to home theaters than just purchasing a whole bunch of audiovisual equipment and hooking it all up. There is also an element of design to it as well. Many people might think that you have to be an expert at interior design in order to achieve the best home theater design possible. Those people would be wrong. There are actually only a few (about 4) things that are absolute essentials when it comes to home theater design, and if you know those then you are going to have the best possible home theater, whatever your budget.
- Area. Despite what the salesman down at the local electronics store says size does matter. Simply put, you are going to need to know how large the room you are working with is. There are several reasons for this, some of which may surprise you. The size, or area, of your room is going to impact such things as furniture layout, how many items you can have in the room and specifically what type of equipment you are going to need. Different components are going to act differently in different sized rooms. For example, if you have a component that works great in a large showroom, but you are going to be placing it in a small bedroom, they are not going to react the same way. Know the area you are working with.
- Acoustics. Whether you are designing a room that is going to be dedicated to use as a home theater, or you are working in a multipurpose room (such as a bedroom) you need to know about acoustics. In layman's terms acoustics are the way that your TV or stereo is going to sound in any given area. In home theater design you are looking for that perfect balance between echo and absorption. Try to use such things as carpeting, acoustical wall paneling (or curtains for the financially challenged), soft furnishings and a hard ceiling. Basically put, try to shoot for about 50% of your room to be covered, or utilizing some form of absorptive material.
- Lighting. Have you ever noticed that when you go to an actual theater they always turn down the main lights, but at the same time there is some type of ambient lighting still in existence? This is because neither too much and too little light is wanted when viewing a movie. This is going to be just as true when you are designing your home theater as well. There are several different ways that you can control the lighting in your room. The first is to have any windows covered by curtains (be sure that you consider how this is going to affect the acoustics) and using something as simple as a dimmer switch. There are more expensive methods available, but why use them, when you can get similar results for less money?
- Placement. Placement of items such as the TV, speakers, projector (if your using one), furniture, and so on all interact with each other to affect your viewing experience. For the placement of the TV or projector and furniture, it is going to be largely up to your personal preference. If you have ever gone to a theater, you probably noticed how everyone is always sitting in different locations depending on their preference. Mostly, the placement of the different items in your home theater is going to be a matter of trial and error, but I would recommend that you try drawing out what you have in mind prior to implementing it. This way you can move things around to your heart's content without putting yourself through too much.
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