Theater Room

The room setup is as important a component of the theater as the rest of the equipment.  The following are suggestions to achieve the best results possible.

  • Great theater decor.  The sky is the limit here to make your theater yours.
  • I find most people prefer a 36 to 40 degree viewing angle for the screen this can be calculated using the link to the left.  THX guidelines for positioning the seating and display should also be considered.  Screen size is a very personal thing and you should consider what you like carefully before selecting a specific size.  If you cannot afford a larger screen sitting closer is a way to get there.  Sitting closer than 9 ft may make the audio very difficult for more than one person.
  • Follow THX guidelines for positioning your speakers.  When done properly no speaker should be obstructed by furnishings or people.  This does not apply to the subwoofer which does not need to be seen to work well.  Placing surround and rear speakers so tweeters are at ear level is a mistake in most systems and will result in the surround effect being too localizable.
  • Consider acoustic treatments if this is a dedicated theater with minimal furnishings.  These are sound absorbers and diffusers.  Curtains and bookcases can fill this requirement for example.  Be sure to place them so the majority are near ear level for all the seating positions.  If your voice echos noticeably in the room when you speak you need to add things to disperse and absorb the sound better.
  • Carpet, drapes and furniture will help the room sound better.
  • Avoid exposed glass, and tile for better sound.
  • Acoustically model the room to determine the proper level of room treatment, optimal speaker and seating locations.
  • Quiet rooms are key to a quality home theater.  This can be difficult to obtain, but at least try and keep home theater equipment noise to a minimum.
  • Comfortable seating should be selected.
  • Comfortable viewing angles make a theater more enjoyable.
  • Proper room lighting makes for a more enjoyable theater.  Consider dimmers, task lighting and remotely operated lighting.
  • The room needs to be thermostatically controlled or near a thermostat in a hall to avoid problems with being miserable while you are using it in the summer.  Wireless thermostats are a good option for some people.
  • Plan the room so you have power, video connections, audio connections and network connections where you need them.
  • Eliminate rattles by avoiding drop ceilings, tighten door fit, tightening light fixtures and putting felt pads between pictures and wall.  In-wall subwoofers are especially likely to transfer vibration to the wall.
  • Place subwoofers away from seats if possible to avoid dramatic level shifts with seat position.
  • Consider near wall or corner subwoofer placement to increase sound output with the same power level.  Placing one subwoofer close to the center of the screen can be optimal if you have the space and subwoofer capacity to do it.
  • Isolating the theater sound from the rest of the home can be done with various degrees of success.  Minimizing air leaks from the room is the easiest first step.  High levels of isolation will require special wall treatment and will still have difficulty blocking sound at 20Hz.
  • Don’t forget power for those theater seats, butt shakers and/or subwoofers.
  • Consider installing a surge protector to protect your gear.  Whole house surge protection is also a good option to consider.
  • HVAC Duct velecities should be less than 500 fpm and grill velocities should be less than 250 fpm to help keep the room quite.