A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO AN OUTSTANDING HOME THEATER
Steps to Success
Are you considering the addition of a customized theater to your home, or perhaps significant upgrades to an existing one?
First and foremost, please consult with an experienced Audio Video Integrator before jumping into this. Our team at AV Enthusiast is highly qualified to assist you with the careful planning of such a project.
So what’s the big deal, anyway? Can’t you just throw up a portable screen in your living room, set a portable projector on the coffee table with a connection to your BD player and some wireless speakers, and voila, you have a home theater as good as any? Frankly, NO. Not even close.
If you’re looking for an experience that rivals that of a commercial movie theater, there’s much, much more to it than that! Let’s explore the process involved in building out a theater in your residence, step-by-step.
STEP ONE: USE AN EXPERIENCED AV INTEGRATION TEAM FOR BEST RESULTS
The constantly changing technologies used in modern home theaters can be hard to keep up with. For this reason, we highly recommend that you use a professional, experienced A/V Integration team, such as AV Enthusiast, to install and maintain your home theater. You can schedule periodic maintenance visits with us so that all software is kept updated and any problems with hardware can be mitigated before they cause a problem. In addition, we will soon offer AVE Care, a touchless subscription support service, to all of our customers. See our blog, “The Advantage of Touchless Support” for details.
STEP TWO: ACOUSTICS, ACOUSTICS, ACOUSTICS
If the acoustical characteristics of the room that will house your theater aren’t carefully tuned, you may as well not waste your time and money on any of the other high-end components necessary to complete the project. The sound quality of any movie or show that you watch will never live up to your expectations. You can choose the highest-quality audio gear, but without properly-tuned acoustics, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
So whether you are building a special room to house your theater or are converting your living room or den for multi-purpose use as a home theater, the acoustics MUST be your first consideration. With this issue properly addressed, sound waves flowing through the space in the room deliver awesome audibility, rather than excessive echoing, irritating tinniness, and inaudible conversations. For a comprehensive explanation of the process involved in acoustic remediation in both existing structures and new construction, please see our previous blog, “Acoustics: An Essential Consideration.”
At AV Enthusiast, we offer products from vendors such as Kinetics Noise Control and AcoustiBlok to mitigate acoustical issues caused by reverberations off hard surfaces such as walls and solid objects in the room, and we can further advise you on the choice of theater-style furniture from Jaymar and heavy-fabric window coverings from Crestron or Savant.
STEP THREE: A HIGH-SPEED INTERNET CONNECTION AND A RESILIENT HOME NETWORK
Today, the chances are high that much of the content that you view in your home theater will be from streaming services, such as Apple TV, Amazon Prime, or Hulu, or maybe even from a direct-download movie/TV show service such as Kaleidescape. This makes it extremely important that you subscribe to a high-speed internet service plan with an ISP (internet service provider) that has a reputation for reliability.
Aside from that, the integrity of your internal home network must also match that of your ISP in order for entertainment content to load quickly and reliably.
Our team of integrators at AV Enthusiast can effectively test and tune your home network for optimum performance. If we find that the existing components of your network are not capable of performing as needed for the expected usage and number of devices on your network, we may recommend replacing them with products from Araknis Networks, our preferred vendor known for dependability in demanding network environments.
In addition, if you have a smart home automation system, its control devices must also be up to the task. For that reason, we highly recommend the use of Crestron Home or Savant Home automation systems. That will provide you with the high reliability needed to keep all of your smart devices in sync with minimum downtime, and that is very important for the operation of your home theater.
STEP FOUR: PROVIDE AN OPTIMIZED OPERATING ENVIRONMENT FOR THE A/V GEAR
Providing a “comfortable home” (called an AV closet) for all of the audio/video/network gear involved in your project will also help to guarantee its success. Electronic devices are very sensitive to heat, humidity, and particulates in the air, so it is necessary to provide them with the best environmental conditions possible. Whether your plans include an upgrade to an existing comm closet or the construction of a new one, please consult with your AV Enthusiast Integrator concerning proper climate control within the room.
In addition, this room should be easily accessible by your AV Integration Team and provide them with adequate “elbow room” to install the necessary equipment racks, cables, and devices without the need to squeeze into small spaces. This also facilitates the ability of the team to perform maintenance and troubleshooting activities later on.
STEP FIVE: OPT FOR QUALITY AUDIO/VIDEO COMPONENTS
Basically, the A/V gear needed for a home theater consists of an AVR (audio/video receiver), a surround sound system, a projector, and a screen (other devices, such as Apple TV, Kaleidescape, or a DVD player, provide selected content to the AVR).
For the best audio and visual experiences in your theater, opt for high-quality components from leaders in the industry. In our opinion, the A/V gear needed to provide you with an astounding home theater experience will consist of best-in-class components, such as an Arcam AVR, a Totem Acoustics Surround Sound System, a Wolf Cinema projector, a Screen Innovations ALR (Ambient Light Rejection) screen, and specially-designed audio/video cables from Tributaries Interconnects. Please contact us for a consultation on the best products for your specific situation.
STEP SIX: PROVIDE A COMFORTABLE VIEWING ENVIRONMENT
The amount of light that will be present in the room when you are using your theater is a big consideration in choosing the best screen for your situation. If you prefer to have some or all of the lights on for viewing, you’ll need an ALR screen to reject the ambient light in the room that would “wash out” the video quality. This type of screen provides a greater amount of contrast, resulting in brilliant colors and high resolution no matter the lighting conditions. And, of course, if you have any windows in the room, you’ll want to be sure to cover them with room-darkening drapes or shades. See our previous blog, “Immerse Yourself In Theater-Quality Video,” for further details on this subject.
You’ll also want perfect climate control for this environment, making it a haven of relaxation. Make sure that you have an easy way to adjust the temperature, humidity level, and air quality when you want to use the theater. If you have a Crestron or Savant Smart Home, this can be easily accomplished.
One touch on the screen of a touchpad, or a single voice command, will initiate a start-up process that includes setting the projector to deliver clear and vivid images, adjusting audio levels for optimum listening enjoyment, closing window coverings, adjusting room lights to the perfect intensity and luminosity, and adjusting the thermostat to a pre-determined comfort level.
Otherwise, you may be able to adjust those parameters quickly enough using individual apps on your phone.
STEP EIGHT: RELAX AND ENJOY
When you return home at the end of the workday, you just need “easy.” You need relaxation and distraction from the events of the work environment. Your new, outstanding home theater will do the trick for you and the family as well.
AV Enthusiast is located at 514 Madison Street, Huntsville, Alabama. Our office hours are Monday – Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM.
Please call us at 256.882.5081 to schedule a consultation with our Lead AV Integrator, Steven Douglas, for your Home Theater project.
We are a dealer for numerous AV product lines such as Arcam, Denon, Marantz, Wolf Cinema, Kinetics Noise Control, Acoustiblok, Jaymar Furniture (theater seating), Origin Acoustics, Totem Acoustics, SunBriteTV, Pro-Ject Audio, IC Realtime, eKey, Tributaries Interconnects, DoorBird, Araknis Networks, Crestron Home, Savant Home, Josh.ai, and Kaleidescape Movie Service, among others.
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