What to consider when setting up your home theater
A Home theater is a great way to bring the cinema experience into your own living room. Getting the perfect set-up starts with the right location, projector, screen and speakers. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Location, location, location
The type of projector you choose is going to depend on the room you choose are your home theatre headquarters. If your new theater is in a basement living room that gets very little light, then you’ll be fine with a projector that doesn’t need to be super bright. However, if your room does get sunlight or other ambient light, you may need to spend the extra money for a projector that handles different lighting situations. Typically these projectors will come with more focus options.
Check out the ceiling
Ceiling height controls screen height and width and ultimately how far back your projector will need to be. Your home theater screen must be at least three feet off the floor. The shorter the ceiling, the smaller your screen needs to be. If you do need a short throw projector, try to pick one with a lens shift option as this will reduce distortion. Look for a projector with a lens shift option.
Formula for the big picture
The type of screen you need depends on your projector, the amount of light in the room, the size of the room and the viewing angle distance from the screen. To figure out what size screen you need (and whether you need a short throw projector) subtract three feet from your ceiling height. This is your maximum screen height.
Once you know the size needed then you need to pick the type of screen that suits budget and projector.
There are plenty of choices out there for screens and it can get confusing. Keep in mind there are only four basic kinds of screens:
- Electric: Versatile mounting on wall or ceiling. Easiest to open and most convenient but also the most expensive. Offers the most professional look.
- Permanent, fixed frame: Installed directly on the wall with protective curtains in front. Needs a dedicated space but after initial set-up no maintenance. Can be more expensive.
- Manual pull down: Typically seen in classrooms but works well for a home theater. Doesn’t take up space since it’s semi-permanent and usually installed on the ceiling. Great budget choice.
- Portable: Economical and easiest to transport if you are setting up in different rooms. Definitely the cheapest option. Major drawback is need to adjust the screen and aspect ratio every time you set up.
Speakers can make or break your home theater setup. You won’t want the speakers next to the projector so you’ll either need longer cables or a wireless connection that does away with unsightly cables. Some sound bar systems are great solutions that offer a surround sound experience in one speaker box. Be sure to check for an AV input to allow you to swap between different video sources such as your computer, DVD player or BlueRay device.