With so many entertainment center options, how do you choose the best setup for you?
So much to consider with a Home Theater. Not just components, but also the space. This article by Guest Author Karl Kennedy dives right in and helps you look into some best practices, as well as best combinations for your own personal Home Theaters.
How to Build the Ultimate Home Theater
Home theaters used to be luxuries reserved for celebrities and billionaires. With the advances in projector technology, though, anyone can enjoy big-screen entertainment in their home—and if you have the budget, you can basically recreate a movie theater in your house.
So how do you go about building your own luxurious home theater? Let’s break down the basics (and the extras) that go into a truly epic home movie watching experience.
A high-quality projector is the centerpiece of any home theater set-up. Traditional projectors use a lamp to generate the light and picture, but this design has its limitations. The development of laser projectors has allowed for an even higher picture quality and more convenient installation than you could get from even the best lamp-based models. Learn more about laser projectors here.
What should you look for in a projector?
The most important specs for a home theater are:
- Resolution. A projector with 4K Ultra HD resolution will give you the sharpest, most detailed picture at large screen sizes.
- Contrast and color. Aside from resolution, these are the factors with the most impact on picture quality. Look for a projector with HDR10 or Rec. 709 color support, and a contrast ratio of 50,000:1 or higher.
- Throw Distance. The throw distance measures how much horizontal space you need between the screen and the projector. This distance needs to be unimpeded, allowing the light to reach the screen without interruption. A shorter throw ratio makes installation easier and gives you the option to create a home theater in a smaller space.
It’s possible to project an image onto any surface, but to get the best picture quality you want to have a theater-quality screen. These will give you the best picture from edge to edge, enhancing the contrast and color compared to a blank wall or hanging bedsheet. For a true movie theater experience, consider a motorized screen with adjustable aspect ratio.
Even with the best projector and screen, it won’t truly feel like a movie theater if you’re sitting on a couch. Theater-style seating can be expensive (usually around $500-$1,000 per seat), but it offers the amenities you’d expect in a theater, like reclining seats, an extendable footrest, and individual armrests with cup holders.
Ambient light is the enemy of a projected image. Ideally, the only light in your home theater will come from electronic light. If you don’t want to permanent cover windows in the room, invest in high-quality blackout shields. The best home theater setups take advantage of smart home technology, using dimmable bulbs with voice control capability.
Surround sound is as important to an immersive movie-watching experience as a high-quality picture. In smaller home theaters, a 5.1 surround system should be sufficient. Larger home theaters may want to consider 7.2 systems. Where you install the speakers matters, too; they should ideally be at ear-level to give the best experience. Smart speakers can be an advantage here, as well, allowing you to adjust the volume without getting up or turning on the lights.
How much space do I need for a home theater?
That depends on the throw distance of your projector and your ideal seating capacity. A two-person home theater using an ultra-short throw projector can fit in a standard bedroom. More expansive set-ups will need accordingly more space.
Keep in mind that if you’re going over 4 seats, you won’t want to cram them all into the same row. That will push the people on the outside into an uncomfortable viewing angle. Home theaters built for 5+ viewers work better if the seats are arranged into multiple, tiered rows that give everyone the same sightline to the screen.
What’s the bottom line?
A high-end home theater doesn’t come cheap. Even if you don’t need to do any construction, you should budget around $4,000-$5,000, with the bulk of that going to the projector and the seats. The good news is, setting up a home theater is easier than ever, thanks to the advent of ultra- short throw projectors and voice-controllable light and sound. We hope this breakdown has inspired you to take on your own home theater project! Movie lovers will find the investment well worth it in the long run.
About the Author
My blog is designed to share the knowledge I’ve picked up along the way, helping other movie buffs to set up their own ideal viewing space. If you’re interested in setting up a home theater in your own house, check out my blog at ProjectorTop.com.”