Entertainment at home

Last Updated 08 July 2010, 10:43 IST

If yes, first decide whether you’ll entrust professionals with the task or turn it into an exciting DIY project? Either way, you’ll require at least elementary knowledge about various home-theatre aspects - gadgets, acoustics, lighting, seating, etc.

Will you use an existing room, add on a new one or accommodate your home-theatre in a separate room in the house you are constructing? The first is the most economical, but also most constricting to idea-implementation. Prefer the last? But, parallel walls are conducive to echoes. Avoid echoes by using partitions to achieve ideal proportions.
Using an existing living-room, basement or bedroom for the purpose? Most prefer the basement for its window-free structure and soundproofing convenience. Converting a living room or a bedroom won’t be as efficient owing to light streaming in from windows and the lack of isolation. Having a dedicated room for your home-theatre lends greater freedom in setting up the system, manipulating lighting or acoustics and decorating the room.

Home-theatre systems being expensive, planning your budget and scouting for reasonably-priced equipment is a preliminary exercise. Compare prices and quality. Enquire about warranty. If your installation will proceed in instalments, your current purchases must be compatible with future additions or upgrades.

Match your system components carefully. If your home-theatre’s settling in a small, shared environment, opt for a HTIB - home-theatre-in-a-box. This comprehensive system also includes a DVD-player, surround sound decoder, amplifier and decoder. Does it have a subwoofer? Purchase adequate equipment power protection.
A major factor determining home-theatre design is room-size or the available space. If the location is in a shared environment, choose between keeping the system low-profile (concealing the components in cabinets) and flaunting it. Whatever your choice, arrange the system in consonance with the room’s general decor/furniture.

Pick compact satellite speakers and wall-mountable LCD and Plasma TV systems for a small room. Medium to large rooms demand more attention to design. A widescreen TV-set and components with higher sound-power are necessary. Providing extra electrical outlets and potential rack locations infuse flexibility. Select a unique theme and style for overall design concept. Use fibre optic and LED ceiling lights with dimmers.
Decide whether you want a projector, a rear-projection free-standing TV, an LCD monitor or a plasma display. Will the TV-set be free-standing, wall-mounted or placed in a TV cabinet? Viewing distance afforded by HDTV displays is closer than what standard ones do. Screen-size depends on room-size but 37" is perhaps the minimum for savouring the home-theatre experience. The viewer’s eyes should be at the level of the screen’s centre. Ensure that the screen is 30-36 inches above the floor so that it’s visible from all seats.

Position the centre-speaker behind the projection-screen and surround speakers on side-walls. All speakers should be two-three ft. above your seated ear-level.
Ensure at least 3ft x 3ft floor-space per seat, two feet between rows and three feet between seats and walls. Tiered seating allows better viewing. The nearest seat should be about twice and the farthest five times the screen’s width.

Absorptive surfaces for the room’s front part (carpeting, acoustic-wall-panelling, curtains, sofas, cushions) and reflective surfaces for the rear (wooden or ceramic-tile flooring, gypsum-partitioning, concrete-ceiling) is the norm. The ceiling-surface should be hard and painted black. Eliminate noise transmission to and from outside the room. Isolate the inside walls, ceiling and floor from the rest of the house. Soundproof the doors and windows first.

Install cabinets, shelves on side, back walls for media equipment or DVDs.
Stacking home-theatre accessories and blocking air circulation among cabinet-units leads to overheating. Choose rack-mounting solutions with power-distribution, thermal protection and cable management accessories.

(Published 08 July 2010, 10:43 IST)

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