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Home Theater Design

Home Theater Design Home Theater Design

This room was designed to seat the entire extended family comfortably, combining bar stools, motorized reclining seats and large throw pillows, custom-made to match the wall fabric, for seating grandkids on the floor.

The speakers are concealed behind acoustic fabric in the columns, and the center channel is behind a perforated screen. Fiber optics provide the starry night on the ceiling.

Try to find the seating for your space that creates the best viewing environment. Whether you prefer buttery leather or plush velvet, comfort is key. (Bonus points if the seats recline or have built-in cup holders.)

• Flooring. Wall-to-wall carpet, with a new cushy pad underneath, absorbs ambient sound and contributes to coziness. Kids like to sprawl on the floor to watch stuff, and you never know when some romantic comedies might get you and a loved one rolling on the carpet. With laughter, of course.

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• Speaker placement. A typical home theater features 5.1 surround sound, meaning there are five full-range speakers and one low-range specialist, the woofer. You’ll place three speakers and the woofer toward the front of the room, and the two remaining speakers on either side and slightly behind your viewing position. Keep speakers at least 20 inches from walls.

To create both the great sound and the clean look of this theater, acoustically transparent fabric was used on the walls to cover acoustic treatment that’s 6 inches thick in some places, including absorption, diffusion and reflection materials.

The entire space was lined with a heavy vinyl barrier and two layers of soundproofing drywall, and all joints were acoustically sealed.

The front speakers in this theater are hidden behind an acoustically transparent screen, an arrangement that provides a very accurate sound stage and optimal visual impact. The entire room is treated with just the right amount of absorption and reflection, completely disguised behind sound suede fabric attached with an invisible track system.

The 12-inch riser for the rear row of seating is filled with insulation and framing running from the front to back of the room, with the front face left open to act as a bass trap; the carpet hiding the opening allows low frequencies to be absorbed under the riser.

A technology expert offers tips and tricks on how to create the perfect home theater.

Custom-fabricated acoustic panels absorb and diffract sound in this theater, in addition to concealing the surround speakers and the subwoofer. And double drywall board provides a degree of sound isolation.

Go with neutral browns, tans and olive. Stronger colors, such as red and blue, will give an odd cast to any ambient light and may affect the colors you see on your screen.

Experts from DIY Network’s hit show Hollywood Hi-Tech provide insight on how to set up the audio system in a home theater or media room.

This theater boasts a stage large enough to host classical-music concerts for charity. At the front of the theater, a red main-stage curtain opens for live events. For movie presentations, the main-stage and Roman screen draperies open to reveal the 16-foot-wide screen at the command of a timer.

The theater-style architecture is appropriate to a home with an extensive art-deco collection. Due to large surface area of the side walls, all are covered with soundproofing drywall for both isolation from external sounds and improved bass response.

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Note that if you stay the same distance from your display but move off to the side, the viewing angle gets narrower. If you plan to have multiple seating, make sure all chairs have an optimum viewing angle.

Speaker technology is wonderfully advanced, and competition among top speaker manufacturers has helped turn home theater sound reproduction into a fine art. Which means a system you choose for your home theater is likely to be of very high quality.

Remember sound abatement cuts both ways. Controlling the sound in your home theater room means peace and quiet for the rest of your house.

And don’t forget to elevate your center speaker, too. When Bogart says, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” you don’t want it to seem as if he’s talking out of the side of his mouth.

Whether you’re converting a space or building a new home, these theaters are sure to inspire as you plan your own dedicated theater: A 360-degree custom oceanic mural was the springboard for the design of the theater pictured here.

An asymmetrical ceiling creates the impression of a smooth rolling wave, and the screen seems to float before the audience (they’re actually attached to custom-made quarter-inch steel brackets attached to the back wall).

Dimmable LED lights glow behind the screen and spill down the walls, providing the sensation of being in an aquarium. The thick-pile carpet and pad absorb some of the sound energy in the room.

Most home theater speaker systems (and movie soundtracks) are designed to provide specific sounds from specific areas of your listening environment. When a train goes thundering through a scene, you hear the sound move from one side to the other. However, speakers labeled as bipole or dipole aren’t compatible with this essential feature of home theater, so check before you buy.

To create a dark viewing space, try what designer Kari Whitman did. She used custom gray fabric panels that matched the seats to cover the walls. Not only does it make the space darker, it enhances the style and sound quality.

There are so many variables to consider, both technical and financial. Consider, for example, that a home theater can set you back anywhere from $1,000 to $25,000 — and more. Or that Amazon lists more than 700 possibilities for home theater speakers. With so many options, rigging up your home theater can be a head-spinning exercise.

Massive rough-hewn lumber, stone, hardwood floors and hand-applied plaster are prevalent throughout this lodge-style home, and for the theater, faux-finished box beams and supports were created to match.

The columns were placed strategically so that the rough, open joint cladding would be appropriate acoustically. The room features full decoupled construction. The floor is entirely floated with an engineered system.

The walls are decoupled and then rest on the decoupled floor. Inner wallboards are mounted on a treated resilient channel system that prevents vibration and enhances the already smooth bass response of the room.

Viewing height. The best viewing height is to have the center of the display screen at eye level. While that might seem elemental, some folks are tempted to elevate the display so that it lords above their theater set-up. If you do elevate your display, tilt it so that it faces your seating area. If your seats recline so that you’re square to the display, so much the better.

High-mass materials and mechanical isolation were used on the walls, ceiling and floor of this theater to create a sound-isolation envelope. All trim, acoustic materials, platforms and stage materials were chosen based on their soundproofing qualities.

Acoustic materials included specialized diffusion and absorption products, some of them custom-designed for the space. Surround speakers reduce seat-to-seat variance in sound, and the seating platform was designed to function as a bass trap.

The design of the solid mahogany ceiling facilitated high- and mid-frequency diffusion while also preventing image reflections from the screen.

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Let’s not forget that each room is unique, and the best sound for you may come only after experimenting with speaker placement. Fortunately, speakers are moveable.

You think you don’t have space for a home theater? Move it to the garage, like Rate My Space user embry28 did to accommodate his nine seats and 106-inch movie screen.

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Optimum angle. HDTV manufacturers and home theater experts place the best viewing angle between 30 to 40 degrees. Meaning, if you would draw a triangle from the edges of the display to your nose, the angle of the apex (the angle that points at your head) would be 30 to 40 degrees. This lets you take in all the action with minimal, comfortable eye movement.

Carter Oosterhouse transforms a messy basement into a combination home theater and game room.

Learn how to makeover your living room or family space into an enviable media room.

Concrete or concrete block is simply a no-no. If you’re setting up in a basement with concrete walls, consider installing studs and drywall.

You’re ready for a home theater set-up, and you’re quivering with anticipation at the thought of a fully immersive movie experience right in your own home. But there’s that one nagging question:

Heavy curtains and shades help, but that means closing blinds or drapes every time you turn on your home theater system. If you must, opt for blackout-style window treatments that track tight against window jambs to seal out light.

Sometimes overshadowed by a pair of sexy tower speakers flanking it, the center speaker shouldn’t be downgraded in your home theater budget. Spend time adjusting your center speaker so that dialogue seems to come directly from your display.

This home theater offers guests plush chairs and a contemporary setting for their in-home moviegoing experience.

• Ideal distance. In a perfect world, your ears would be equidistant from each speaker. Given that your ears are on opposite sides of your head, it’s safe to say you won’t ever achieve this kind of perfection. Nevertheless, come as close to the goal as you can.

Most likely, you know where you’ll locate your set-up. It might be the main living area, a spare bedroom or a basement movie palace complete with a popcorn machine. While each of these spaces has special considerations in terms of comfort and sound quality, there are many common factors.

But take heart. Even the most non-tech-savvy home theater newbie can do a whole lot to maximize their home theater experience, no matter what the price range. Here’s what you need to know.

Gaze into the future of the Ultimate Media Room. Here, we uncover 10 hot new innovations to give you the home entertainment experience you crave.

A great way to re-create the ambiance of an actual theater is to add ceiling details reminiscent of vintage Hollywood style and old-fashioned movie palaces.

From high-tech projectors to the latest apps, find out what’s new in home cinema.

The crown jewel of any home theater set-up is a high-definition display screen. The temptation is to equate size with increased viewing pleasure, but there are limits. You want an immersive experience, but not a display so big you’re swinging your head from side to side in an effort to take in all the action. You’re looking for the right combination of display size and viewing angle.

• Room shape. Square rooms tend to produce odd harmonic distortions. If you have the choice, opt for a rectangular room, and plan to place your display screen and main speakers along a short wall for best sound projection.

Learn how to lay out a home theater and what materials you should use in order to get the best the visual and sound quality.

This mountain-chalet theater features decoupled inner-wall and ceiling construction to minimize sound transmission into and from neighboring rooms and the floor above. The interior acoustical materials offer a balanced sound field despite the small size of the space.

The variegated acoustical palate is neatly concealed behind a stretch-fabric system.

You could try re-shaping your home theater by adding platform seating and moving parts. The painting in this room motorizes up to reveal a theater screen and back down to conceal it when not in use.

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Tailor your home theater to your preferred viewing experience and how you plan to use the space. This theater is immersive and has been optimized for gaming and sports viewing as well as movie watching to make the owners feel like they’re part of the action.

A cabinetmaker was called in to help create a design in which the hard surface detailing on the wood in this theater would disperse sound and minimize the wood’s impact on audio performance. Significant sections of the walls are covered with fabric, and rich cashmere with excellent acoustical properties conceals the surround speakers and acoustical treatments.

• Wall/room color. Paint your walls as dark as you can stand them: Bright colors reflect light that’s especially distracting when there’s a brightly lit scene on the screen. Stay away from gloss or semi-gloss sheens, choosing reflection-fighting eggshell or flat paint instead.

• Woof, woof. Your woofer goes up front, but there’s only one, so you have to decide which side. The low bass ranges reproduced by a woofer will permeate the room, so angle is less important than with other speakers. A corner location helps distribute your woofer’s sound evenly but, as with all components, experiment with different positions before settling on the ideal location.

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This home theater harkens back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, entrancing guests with plush velvet theater chairs and ornate lighting.

This theater achieved an architectural consistency with the ornate trim and plaster details in the rest of the house while maintaining a subdued level of finish that wouldn’t detract from the video presentation.

And moving the right wall in 30 inches allowed room for a buffet that blocks the entry door from view for the seating area.

Optimum distance. Ideal viewing angle can be expressed simply as distance, too, usually 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal width of your screen. That means you should sit no closer than 7.5 feet from a 60-inch-wide TV, and no more than 12.5 feet away. A viewing distance calculator can help when math skills falter.

This theater’s decor follows the rustic Tuscan theme of the house and adds a custom-fitted star-field ceiling made of more than 1,000 fiber strands of varying thicknesses. The strands are stood off from the acoustically transparent ceiling on spikes to allow placement of acoustical treatments and avert over-deadening the sound.

The stretched fabric dress and custom-finished woodwork structure float 7 inches in front of the sheetrock and conceal acoustical treatments, speakers, the projector and wiring. Motorized acoustical transparent drapes hide the 120-by-68-inch woven-microfiber screen, also acoustically transparent.

The front speakers are mounted in curved baffles for best bass-response coherence, and the center speaker is behind the screen.

Compare the difference in an all-in-one unit or separate components.

Follow these tips to find out how interior design elements can improve a home theater experience.

• Windows. The fewer, the better. Windows are a double bugaboo: They’re hard surfaces that reflect sound-causing audio distortion, and they admit light that can produce reflections on your viewing surface.

• Playing center field. Of all your speakers, your center front speaker is perhaps the most influential. It bears the responsibility of projecting sound directly from the screen. This is especially important for dialogue — you don’t want to see the actors talking in front of you while the sound of their voices is coming from the side.

Recreate the magical feeling of a movie theater at home with high-tech lighting. Here, lights give the illusion of a starry night sky on the ceiling. But in case you want the comforts of home, you can always add a sofa in addition to the theater-style seating.

• Walls. If you’re tempted to staple inverted egg cartons all over your walls to muffle sound, relax. Regular drywall is a decent surface appropriate for home theater walls. However, break up large flat surfaces with furniture or drapes. Don’t add framed art with glass — it’s too reflective of sound and light.

Audioholics Online A/V Magazine even gives a formula: a 1 millisecond delay equates to 1.1 feet of distance. A speaker 5.5 more feet away from your head than your other speakers would require an advance setting of 5 milliseconds.

Learn how an audio system works and the best way to set it up in a media room or home theater.

This theater’s distinct seating “zones” include dual-motor theater recliners and, in the front of the room, living-room-style seating, resulting in an attractive yet functional design. The theater’s integration with the home’s tropical design involved the use of acoustical plaster on the domed ceiling to defeat sound-focusing effects.

The loudspeakers are positioned within a specially designed baffle wall for optimized imaging and to defeat comb filtering behind the perforated screen.

Some speakers — certainly your woofer — will have individual volume controls you can tweak. More sophisticated speakers provide millisecond adjustments, called delays, that time sound projection from each speaker so that everything arrives in your ears at precisely the same instant, a handy feature for large rooms with speakers at various distances.

Other options include acoustic wall panels designed specifically for home theaters. These panels are called “sound absorption” panels, and they help modulate low and high frequencies, preventing echoes. Panels come as 1′ x 1′ or 2′ x 2′ squares costing $4 to $20 per square foot.

At $2 to $4, peel-and-stick carpet tiles are the budget-minded alternative. You just don’t want to end up with a room that looks like Lloyd and Harry’s shaggy van from Dumb and Dumber.

This formula works in reverse, too. If you know your viewing distance — say it’s 8 feet — then you can select an optimum display size. Eight feet is 96 inches. Divide by 2 (a nice round average of 1.5 and 2.5) and you’ll get 48 inches. So a good HDTV display for your viewing distance would be about 48 inches wide (measured diagonally).

This striking media room features sloping red chairs and burnt orange walls.

In an ideal world, everyone could have a mega screen, killer sound system and rows of seating for their home theater. If that’s not the case, try to keep it cozy and make the screen the main focus.

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