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The Home Theater Experience


Introduction:

The home theater experience can be a great one and these days you can build your own home theater at a reasonable price. If you're a true movie/entertainment lover, there's nothing better than to build a theater of your own, right in your living room! Every home will have its own unique design because of each room's different dimensions and the wide array of different types of media equipment out there for you to buy but in general, you'll need at least four components to build a home theater system. This includes a TV or digital projector, a DVD player, and a home theater speaker system, which lets you, hear movies the way they sound in big theaters, and lastly great seating.

The first thing you will need to do is figure out what the main intention for the room is going to be. Is it going to be a family setting for movies, a room for friends to watch sports, or a combination of many things. After figuring out your needs, you will then have to figure out the best way to use your given space in your home. You'll have to ask yourself, how many people can the room accommodate? You'll also have to ask yourself things like, will you use the theater for only movies or will you watch other programming such as sports and TV shows too? Will it be used by kids, adults or both? Will it be a gaming facility? Will it be part of a whole house audio and video system or a stand alone home theater? Do you want to incorporate elements of your home's existing décor into your theater or do something completely different? Do you have any ideas on what you would like your theater to look and or function like or are you pretty much undecided?

After that, you will have to ask yourself things like, do you have equipment you will be incorporating into your new home theater or are you buying mostly new gear? What are the dimensions of the room or are you expanding a room or even building a new addition to the house? What is your budget? Do you want dedicated theater seating or couches and loveseats? As you can see there are many things to be taken into account when conceiving your home theater project. Once you've answered the basic need questions, you can begin the design process.

Design

Today's home theater experience implies a real "cinema experience" and therefore a higher quality set of components than the average television provides. A typical home theater includes one or more audio and video sources. Some home theatres now include a home theater PC to act as a library for video and music content. You will need a receiver or a Pre-amplifier and Sound Processor for complex surround sound formats. You will need a system that consist of at least 2 speakers, but can have more speakers then that with additional subwoofer too. For your television you will have options of a video projector, a plasma TV, rear-projection TV, or a traditional TV. For seating, you will want a comfortable and organized layout to capture a movie cinema feel. Higher end home theaters commonly also have sound insulation to prevent noise from escaping the room, and a specialized coating to ensure correct absorption of the sound in the room.

The TV

The first component you'll need for your home theater system will be a television set or digital projector. For this there are a wide range of options available! In general, high definition sets offer a much sharper picture when viewing DVD movies and also present a fantastically good picture when tuned to a high definition channel. Most high definition sets also offer a wide-screen aspect ratio which is much closer to what you're used to seeing in movie theaters. It will be up to you to choose a wide-screen or standard display when watching your high definition set. There are so many high definition sets and projectors to choose from that come in different screen sizes, prices, and other factors important to your home-theater experience. There are many different kinds of technologies you'll find in high definition displays.

Plasma Sets are the best of home theater TVs. They come in jumbo sizes up to 60 inches diagonally, with bigger ones are on the way while only a few inches thick. Because of this you can hang one on the wall like a high-tech masterpiece. They are expensive but if you can afford one, it will for sure take your home theater room to a much higher level! LCD TVs look a lot like plasma sets and are built with technology found in flat-screen computer monitors. LCDs are only a few inches thick, so you can hang them on a wall or elsewhere in a room without using up much space. Unfortunately, though, LCD sets don't offer the jumbo screen sizes that plasma TVs do with the biggest LCD sets being about 40 inches. This is definitely a little small for your ultimate home theater use, but it's still pretty good. Other drawbacks are higher cost and visibility decrease from the sides; Rear-Projection TVs are your best bet for getting a big HD picture without spending a lot of money. The set projects images onto the back of a screen and if your screen is large, then the picture will be large as well! Lastly, if you really want that movie-theater experience, your best option isn't a TV set at all, but a digital high definition projector. These projectors can typically be installed on your ceiling or some elevated spot behind the sofa, and they can project images onto a white screen or nearby blank wall. Images generated by a projector can get very big so they dwarf even the biggest high definition plasma sets. Without a doubt, a projector is your best bet if you're looking for the ultimate big-screen experience. The drawbacks to a projector system are, their images don't hold up very well in anything but a very dimly lit or dark room and also they are very expensive. Extra television equipment you'll need will be a high definition receiver that can receive TV signals and a DVD player.

Home Theater Sound

For your home theater sound you will want a setup that is a multi-speaker sound system that will deliver a jaw-dropping, theater-quality sound to your living room and often to your neighbor's living room if played loud enough! You will want a surround sound system so you will be able to hear explosions and other loud audio effects from your movies and you'll want an audio system good enough so that you feel those sounds in your bones! Also you will want your sound experience to have directional audio so that if someone is yelling off screen, you'll hear that audio from a speaker behind you so you'll feel very involved in the movie's sound and environment!

The most popular and affordable surround sound setups use Dolby 5.1 audio technology. The "5" stands for the number of speakers in the setup, and the ".1" refers to the presence of a subwoofer or speaker like device that produces low-frequency audio. This is typically the deep bass sounds that you can often feel when you're watching movies like Star Wars with big engine and explosive sounds! Finally, the system's speakers and subwoofer are accompanied by an audio receiver, which is like the brain of the audio system. When you play a movie, your DVD player passes the DVD's audio signal to the speaker system's audio receiver, and the receiver decides how to split all the audio information to the various speakers.

When buying your sounds system, again, there are so many options and different kinds of products available. You can buy each piece separately or you can buy it in an all-in-one package that contains all the needed elements in one box and ready to go. The main difference that distinguishes your entry-level system from more costly options is the receiver's wattage output, which dictates how loud your system can play. In addition, a more expensive sounds system will have better speaker quality, which is the speaker's ability to reproduce subtle sounds that enhance your movie-viewing experience. So finding the happy middle ground between price and performance will be up to you in your search for your sound system.

Now that you have your audio system, it is now time to set up your surround Sound! The most important step in setting up a surround-sound system is speaker placement. Each speaker does a specific job and should be positioned in a particular spot in your "theater" relative to where you'll be sitting. For example, to position each speaker of a 5.1 home theater system you will need a center speaker which is the speaker that handles most movie dialogue, and should be placed directly in front of the viewers and at about ear level. Next left and right speakers tend to handle the bulk of a movie's non-dialogue sound, and should be placed at an angle from where you'll be sitting, again at ear level. These are typically smaller speakers and handle directional audio like effects that should seem like they're coming from a specific place in the movie. With your Subwoofer, it should be placed on the floor. Positioning isn't so important with a subwoofer, because its bass audio is non-directional.

Place each of these speakers as best as you can and if existing furniture won't let you put a speaker in the ideal spot, you can make small adjustments. Keep in mind that moving speakers even a few inches can subtly change the audio experience. Also, keep in mind that some rooms are better suited for surround sound than others. Big rooms with bare hardwood floors can create unwanted echoes, whereas rooms with carpeting, rugs, drapes, or lots of plush furniture are well-suited for audio. Once you have your speakers positioned, you'll need to connect all your audio components together. You can typically do this with the speaker wire that shipped with your sound system. Just plug one end of a wire into a speaker, and the other end of the wire into its corresponding jack or port on the surround-sound receiver. Repeat this process for each speaker. In general, higher-quality connectors can improve your sound experience.

Finally, you'll need to plug your sound receiver into your DVD player using a digital fiber-optic cable. Now you can power up your sound system, put in a DVD, sit back, and enjoy the show!

Room Lighting

One of the biggest advantages to a home theater room is the advantage of light control. Most home theaters have very little light leakage and sometimes no windows at all. Controlled lighting has a profound impact on the performance of your projector and the quality of your screen's picture that will wow your audience.

Choosing Your Home Theater Seating/Furniture

A great home theater requires a comfortable seat. Home theater seating can be one of the most important but overlooked elements in your entertainment space. A comfortable seat for two to three hours of viewing is essential to your home entertainment enjoyment. Comfortable seating can provide a better experience while uncomfortable seating will yield unpleasant experiences, no matter how well the audio, video and other elements.

There are many types of seating, from traditional theater chairs to recliners to couches, etc. Your pieces should be designed specifically for home theaters and media rooms and come in leather or fabrics and colors of your choice. Some companies also offer different grades of leather. Many chairs feature cup holders. Some even have hidden cup holders that pop out from the front of the seat or from beneath a sliding panel in the arm. Lounger seats often have motorized controls to allow your upper body to recline and your feet to be raised. Manual recliners have levers and are less expensive, though they don't offer the range of settings as motorized chairs do. If you have two or more rows of seating, keep the back row in mind. With your home theater seating it is important to think about the layout. Some seats can be coupled with shared armrests to build entire rows of recliners! Also, check for options like storage compartments and swiveling tables like the ones that come out of the armrests.

Conclusion

The home theater experience can be a great one and these days you can build your own home theater at a reasonable price. If you're a true movie/entertainment lover, there's nothing better than to build a theater of your own, right in your living room! From the TV, video system, audio system, lighting system, and to the furniture, all play a unique and key role in making your home theater experience a great one! With so many options to choose from there is sure to be a perfect combination of all the components that will fit your unique room and make your home theater experience a great one!