HomeownerEducational: A-M

Home Theater Systems

Home Theater Systems

Home Theater Features

Picture. Like a traditional movie theater, large home theaters may use a projector to display the video on a screen. Projectors are usually attached to the ceiling and provide a much larger viewing area than most flat-screen televisions. Modern home cinema projectors are typically either DLP (digital light processing) or LCD (liquid crystal display) projectors. Because most DLP projectors are not equipped with zoom functionality, they are often the best choice for smaller home theaters. LCD projectors, on the other hand, perform well in large theater spaces. If the room is too small and a projector doesn’t seem to be the right fit, several HD flat-screen television options are available in a wide range of sizes.

Sound. At least a five-speaker setup is recommended for a full-sound experience. A subwoofer, an additional speaker that produces deep bass sounds, is also necessary in order to experience the full effect of a film’s audio. Speakers can be installed nearly anywhere, including inside walls or on the home theater’s ceiling or floor. Home cinema systems also require a receiver that decodes and amplifies the various audio and visual signals.

Lighting. In order to fully create the movie theater atmosphere, it is necessary to control the ambient light in a theater room. The best options are recessed lighting or lights that are mounted on the walls or along the floor; lighting fixtures that hang from the ceiling or stand in the middle of the room can block or reflect on the screen and interfere with picture quality. Lights should be easy to dim—usually by automation or remote control—but still capable of providing enough illumination for tasks such as managing equipment and cleaning.

Other Home Theater Aspects

Layout. Ultimately, the dimensions of the room as well as the placement of the screen and speakers should determine the maximum number of seats in a home theater, as viewing conditions are affected by factors such as the distance and angle from the screen as well as the distance from the speakers.

Furniture. Home theater furniture can range from sofas or armchairs typically found in living areas to specially designed theater seating.

Soundproofing. In order to achieve quality, theater-level sound without disturbing other members of the household, soundproof materials should be incorporated into the design of a home theater. Options include zero-sound drywall, acoustic panels, sound-dampening drapes, and soundproof carpet underlays.

Additional Considerations

Custom construction. Since most home theaters are renovations of existing rooms, construction services are usually needed to install the required electrical outlets and wiring as well as insulation and soundproofing, carpet, and seating.