March 3, 2024

What Goes Into The Perfect Home Theater

Home theaters are sometimes a very extravagant addition to any home, taking up both space and a lot of money. In Bay Area cities such as Hillsborough or Atherton with massive multi-million dollar homes, they are quite common. Home theaters are a very technical venture that goes beyond putting a projector and some speakers in a lower level room, and can be very complex. There’s a lot that can go into a home theater, from a simple Sonos system to a much more complex surround speaker setup. Here’s some of the main aspects one needs to consider when building a home theater.

Right at home, and not in some uncomfortable theater chair with a baby screaming behind you.

The construction aspect

One needs to consider how much space a home theater needs to take. The minimum size of a functional home theater needs to be at least 20x13ft. Anything smaller gets a bit too cramped to function correctly. Proper placement of this room is essential, as it needs to be somewhere outside of the regular movements of your home. Make sure you put it somewhere off to the side of a major room, and not in the middle of the home.

Sound is another major factor with a home theater. It must be soundproof. Otherwise you’ll end up with a plethora of issues — ranging from your sheet rock falling apart from the bass to trying to talk to each other over some Michael Bay style sound effects. Insulation and soundproofing is something not to be taken lightly. A soundproof rating of R30 is essential unless you’d like to feel like a real life War of The Worlds when the kids want to watch a movie.

Very importantly, don’t forget the lighting! You’ll need to wire and pick out appropriate home theater lighting in order for your home theater to work as you’d like it to. Connecting to a Savant home automation system and some Lutron switches can also make things work just as they would at the movies, so don’t skimp out when it comes to your home theater lights.

Wiring is the last essential item that you need to consider. Lots of wires go through the 7.1.2 Dolby surround speaker system and AMP, along with the projector and the screen themselves. Proper wiring and voltage is nothing to be taken lightly, unless you like blown fuses and electrical fires. You’ll also want to mark the location of each component of your speaker system, as cutting holes after the fact can get quite messy and expensive. If you’re unsure of where to place your speakers, feel free to read our article focusing entirely on sound systems.

A fully functional Savant and Lutron enabled home theater system, complete with the best in home automation. Palo Alto, CA

What about the projector and the screen?

While it may seem like your screen may not be terribly important, trust us when we say it is. The initial cost of the construction aspect of your theater room may throw you through the roof, but it is important to understand that if you buy a sub-standard projector and/or screen, you’ll regret it. Make sure you have something that matches the size of your room, at the very minimum 80 inches in screen size. Otherwise you’ll be squinting at what you’re trying to watch, and you might as well have just bought a TV instead.

There’s many types of projectors and screens, and they’re all very differently focused depending on situation. As we previously wrote about, there’s lots to consider. A theater room would most likely benefit from an LED projector, which unfortunately is the most expensive as well. In the long run — it’ll be worth it however, as they last much longer than standard projectors.

The speakers are the most important part

Now that you’re fully immersed in this project, the speakers need to be considered carefully. Cheaper quality is going to do anything between giving a full speaker blowout — to terrible quality when connected to a home theater system, and possibly also giving a bad connection to everything else in the home theater setup. Thankfully, speakers are easy to come by and they come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. Check with your local AV provider for some insight into the best speaker selection.

Don’t do these things

In order to create the home theater you’ve always dreamed of, you’ll need to avoid some important mistakes. It’s essential that these are considered, as they can turn your home theater dream into a nightmare.

  1. Don’t over budget — you want to spend a lot of money on this to last decades, and add value to your home, but there’s a lot of things that you don’t necessary need to spend all your money on. Make sure to do your research, and make informed purchases when it comes to your home theater.
  2. Don’t fall for package deals — some companies offer so called “specials” in order to trap people into buying only their products. A lot of the time some if not all of these components are not built to proper standards and will lead to a lot of disappointment the longer you get into your project.
  3. Proper placement is essential — don’t be tricked by the idea of an IMAX experience, or else you’ll end up with neck issues. What works in a theater doesn’t always work in a home theater, and make sure your screen is placed at a level height with your posture.
  4. Don’t squint, and don’t overload your eyes — when you spend tons of money on your home theater chairs, make sure you put them in a sensible distance from your screen. Having proper screen size and distance from chairs is essential and if its improperly done it’ll lead to lots of literal headaches the more you watch. Be sure to test out some different placements until you have the right one.
  5. Don’t put your door somewhere that doesn’t make any sense — this may seem like a given, but if you don’t put your door in the back of the room where the light won’t shine on the screen when it’s open, then get ready to be annoyed when someone needs to use the bathroom.

Proper door placement is essential to a perfect home theater

With lots of proper research and a lot of time invested in doing everything properly, its possible to build your own wonderful home theater. Considering the ability to never need to purchase $10 popcorn again is definitely a good motivator to get everything right from the start. Make sure not to rush through the design and construction process, and to do everything else slowly to make sure its right. In the end, your new home theater room system will last your family a long time, and will be well worth the purchase.