Step 2: Seating Position

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series How to Design a Dedicated Home Theater

There are a number of rules of thumb that will help you determine the optimal seating locations within your dedicated home theater:

1) The 38% rule. I am not an acoustics guru, but I have learned that the primary seating location can be optimally placed at 38% of the room length, or, conversely, 62% of the room length. This will yield a favorable acoustic response. In all but the largest rooms, you’ll probably end up at 38% off the back wall. In my room, that was the only option, since 62% off the back wall would put my head practically in the screen and made it impossible to balance viewing angle for 2 rows.

If your room is of a length similar to mine, you’ll put the front row at 38% off the back wall and then jam another row behind it with whatever room you have left. That sort of takes the mystery out of seating placement, and makes it pretty easy. Of course, it’s not ideal to have your back row right up against the back wall, but sometimes you have to make due with the space you have.

2) If you want the people in the back row to be able to fully recline, allow at least 1.5 feet inbetween the foot of the back-row chairs when fully reclined and the back of the front row chairs. Some people have long legs and big feet. And a stinky foot seems bigger than it is.

3) 30 inches is a good width for a side isle. 36 inches is roomier, of course, and 4 feet is very nice if you have the extra width. I do not.

4) As I mentioned, if you can, try to keep your seating off the back wall.

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