There was a time when only people with a lot of extra money could enjoy a home movie theater. Thanks to technological advancement in the last two decades, many people can now afford to install a high-quality theater system at home. You can either get a system made by someone experienced or try a DIY home theater to save cost. However, before you decide to purchase one, there are many factors you need to consider; you should also be able to distinguish luxury from home movie theater essentials.
Step 1: Identify the Right Location
Identify a location in your home which would be least interrupted by traffic and also cause the least disturbance to others. An isolated corner room, a first-floor room or your basement are perfect for installing a movie theater system. The area of the room should not be too small; ideally it should be 20 by 13 feet or at least 12 feet in length as well as width.
Step 2: Framing/Soundproofing
Once you have identified the room, it is time to work on acoustics. You don’t want a movie theater room that would shake the rest of your home or create an echo that your ears would find annoying. One way of minimizing these effects is to start with building a shell or a frame and insulating the exterior as well as the interior, ceiling and the floor.
For the ceiling, floor and exterior walls, insulation material which is rated R30 would do the job, while R11 would be appropriate for your interior walls. This will protect your walls from vibrating but remember when it comes to soundproofing this is just the first step and you may have to add more sound barriers after you are done with installing your movie theater.
If you do not want to build a frame, you can insulate the exterior and interior of the room by using acoustic tiles. The fiberglass panels which you may have seen in theaters and offices are not only affordable but also effective. If your current ceiling is already low, you may have to remove it and add a layer of insulation within the floor above; adding more than one layer would be even more beneficial.
When it comes to walls, both drywalls and plaster walls have bad acoustics. However, you can try installing acoustic boards on your wall and glue a layer of carpet on them for additional sound proofing. If you have built a shell, you can hang the drywalls while making clear incisions for routing your wires. You can use speciality soundproof drywall but that would cost you eight times more than the usual drywall. To save money, install an ordinary drywall lined with high-density vinyl; it is an effective sound proofing material.
Step 3: Colors and Lighting
One of the biggest problems that people face while watching TV or monitor screens is reflection. If there are various frequencies of lights bouncing off your screen you will not be able to get a clear picture; in fact you might witness blind spots on your screen that’ll make your visual experience irritating and annoying. Reflection will also cause unnecessary strain on your eyes and you will end up tiring or even hurting them. Two things influence reflection, the color theme of your movie theater room and the lighting. If you use very bright colors on the surrounding walls the level of reflection will increase, therefore it is advised to use darker shades. More importantly, using bias lighting will not only reduce light reflection but also greatly enhance your viewing experience. Bias lighting is simply a way of lighting up the rear side of your screen, this ensures that your screen’s ambient light does not shine directly on your eyes. Moreover, it improves the contrast ratio thereby reducing the strain on your eyes that is caused by sudden changes in brightness when a particular scene changes. It also minimizes the need to grab your remote control and change brightness/contrast levels again and again.
Bias lights are available in the form of LED strip lights which can adhere easily to the contours of your screen. They come in different colors and their brightness can be controlled. You’ll find them in different color temperatures and should get the one which closely matches the color temperature of your TV screen (which is usually 6500 K). Bias lights can be easily charged with the help of a USB cable plugged into the USB port of your TV.
For simple understanding, your theater system is made up of three parts: video system, audio system and wiring. When it comes to video options, you can choose among numerous types of projectors or LED TVs. A theater size smart LED TV is going to be much more expensive than a projector whereas a good quality HD projector is sufficient to offer you theater style entertainment. You will however need a screen for the projector which could simply be your drywall or if you can afford you can go for a dedicated screen. Smart LED TVs have their own benefits such as high-quality viewing and internet connectivity but they will increase your home movie theater cost.
Before buying an audio system, you must keep the size of your home theater room in mind. Don’t waste money on audio systems which you can’t even use to their fullest. The audio system usually comprises a set of different types of speakers and an amplifier/receiver. The most common audio system used in theater is the surround sound system which may consist of a number of speakers, for instance a 5.1 system means the system has 5 small speakers and one subwoofer. The usual arrangement for this system involves keeping two speakers on each side of the screen, one in the center and two in each of the rear corners while the woofer is installed in the corner. Whichever speaker layout you use, your amplifier should be powerful enough to support them. The type of system you use will greatly depend on the layout of your room as well as your budget.
Last but not the least, the best video cable is the HDMI; it is simple to connect and high in visual quality. No need to go for the branded or expensive ones, any ordinary HDMI would do the job. Your speakers will most probably come with wires but if they don’t you can easily get them from any hardware store. Arrange all wiring neatly so that your budget home theater room looks awesome.
DIY or Call the Experts
You will find countless home theater ideas on a budget while surfing the web; they can facilitate you not just in preparing a cost estimate but also in installation. DIY will no doubt save you money and be enjoyable as well but if you believe you do not have the necessary skills then it is better to hire an expert.
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