How to Design a Dedicated Home Theater

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series How to Design a Dedicated Home Theater

When you first begin contemplating building your own home theater, you might find yourself overwhelmed. I know I was. I spent two whole weeks hanging around the Home Theater Construction forum over at AVS wondering what in the world GOM was (GOM stands for Guilford of Maine, which is a type of acoustically transparent fabric, but more on that later.) The point is that I started out as a clueless neophyte and slowly stumbled my way toward success, gathering knowledge along the way.

If you would like to know the process I used, keep reading. This process worked for me, and while it’s not the only process out there, my hope is that if you’re looking for a way to bring your dream home theater to life, that it will work for you too.

Before we get started, I want to share a crucial piece of advice: Avoid the temptation to start with some pre-cooked idea of how big you want your screen to be. Believe me, I understand how tempting it can be to convince yourself ahead of time that you need a 125 inch screen plastered to the wall of your man cave, but this is a sure-fire way to hose up your design. Room dictates screen size. I repeat: Room dictates screen size. Say it one more time for me.

Generally speaking, the best approach is to find the optimum spot to place the seating, which is usually determined by room layout and acoustic considerations, and then to use horizontal viewing angle calculations to determine the proper screen size to achieve decent viewing angle in all rows.

There’s a lot of thought and computation that goes into this. Factors involved include the following:

1) Screen resolution
2) Source quality and resolution
3) Where do you like to sit when you go to the movies?
4) What size will get both the front and the back row into the proper zone, so that the front row isn’t too overwhelmed but the back row isn’t too disengaged?

I cover these steps in more detail, and in the proper order, in my 4 step home theater design process. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that. You’ll see what I mean as you read on.

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