Now that deluxe home theater systems are more plentiful and affordable than ever, it's hard to justify putting up with your local cinema's squalling babies, cellphone conversations, gum-bedecked floors, and overpriced snacks. Even so, you want to make sure you enjoy this considerable investment as much as possible, which means purchasing the right components and building them into the right kind of system for your needs. Here are four important steps on your journey toward the home theater system of your dreams.
Step 1: Selecting Your Display
Do you want a comfortable, cozy home theater that accommodates your little family nicely, or would you prefer a dedicated mini-cinema that can bring a big-screen experience to a houseful of guests? Matching your display size to your home cinema space is critical for ensuring that every pair of eyes can take in the whole screen easily — while still feeling engulfed by the experience. A more intimate setting will do just fine with one of the larger HDTV televisions on the market today, while larger spaces may require the 100-plus inches of image you can achieve with a projector. Keep in mind that some projectors can "throw" a wider image from a shorter distance than others, this fact may influence which model you buy for your particular space.
Step 2: Adding Audio
Stunning sound is one of the most absorbing aspects of a visit to your local cinema, so don't skimp on the budget line for your home audio just so you can have a larger screen. Multiple speakers can actually make your home theater seem bigger than it actually is by spreading the soundstage out to the corners of the room. It's important to purchase a multi-speaker system in which the speakers are designed to be used together for this purpose, to ensure a consistent sound across all channels. If you buy a separate multi-channel receiver, make sure that it has the right number of channels, wattage ratings, and video inputs to work well with your speakers and display.
Step 3: Devising Your Decor
Will your home theater room serve multiple purposes for your household, or do you intend to build it out as a dedicated cinema? If you want an addition to an existing den or game room, you may need to confine the chairs or sofas to the front half of the space, leaving the rest of the space available for that pool table or wet bar. On the other end of the spectrum, you might want think about creating an entire visual theme for a fully-dedicated theater. For instance, you could create a duplicate of the classic cinema environment, complete with popcorn machine. If you love one particular genre of films, such as sci-fi or Western movies, you might create a space that reflects those tastes.
Step 4: Automating Your System
Nothing can break the spell of movie magic more awkwardly than having to fiddle around with various controls to get the show on the road. If you really want to give your guests and family members the ultimate home theater experience, get a home automation system that can operate all of your components remotely or through pre-programmed instructions. When the lights dim, the screen lights up and the opening music starts — all at once, and effortlessly — you'll know that you've brought the big screen home in a big way.
Stop spending exorbitant sums on money on cinema popcorn, and start diverting those funds toward the creation of your own home theater. If you get homesick for the "real thing," you can always ask the person seated behind you to start kicking your chair!