What to Look for in a Home Theater
Even before the pandemic had changed the way we all live, home theaters have been growing in popularity. Rising movie ticket prices and increasing rudeness from patrons, as well as shortened attention spans and sneaky, distracting looks at smart phones have made the old-school theatre experience less enjoyable than it once was.
Looking for the perfect home theater system for your available room could be a bit overwhelming. There are many brands, arrangements and other options all competing to be a part of your home and your family.
For instance, a home projector can take on many jobs -- showing movies and concerts, streaming series and projecting video games -- so you want to be sure to choose the one that gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
However, since -- like your home -- your home theater is going to be a long-term investment and get lots of use -- you’ll want to keep a few general rules of thumb in mind:
If you don’t have one already, you’ll want to consider a smart TV, which is able to connect to the Internet (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) and all the components you buy thereafter. This will increase your viewing and listening choices, and make streaming easier. Plus, it may allow you to enjoy viewing and sound elsewhere in the house.
Consider your room.
Be sure that the system you buy integrates seamlessly with the theater room you choose. This includes your room’s size, floorplan and decor. You want the theater to look and feel like it wasn’t an afterthought, but a well-planned system that syncs up with the space you chose for it. Don’t shoehorn-in a theater into a room that can’t handle it. Additional hint: see which part of your system can be hidden in your walls and ceilings, like screens, speakers, and especially wires.
Be sure to purchase the right-size screen.
When it comes to home theater, bigger is not always better. What used to be considered a big screen -- say 32 inches -- is now pretty common in most homes. It may be tempting to try to find a screen twice that size, but it may not be conducive to your room size or acoustics. Make sure that your screen is not so large that it looks like it has been jammed into your theater. Also, too big a screen may get in the way of a optimized viewing experience -- it could be disorienting rather than mesmerizing. The screen should integrate easily with your room size and ceiling height.
Don’t let your theater sound blow you out of the room.
What was said about size applies equally to sound -- louder is not always better. If your speaker system is too loud or too close, your enjoyment of the presentation will be impeded. The same goes for speakers that may be too small or too low -- you don’t want to have to strain to hear dialogue or good music. Like Goldilocks, you’ll have to find the speakers that are just right.
Ultimately, you want the sound to surround you -- yep, like Surround Sound. You want the room to fill with sound, but not overwhelm your ears or distract from the presentation.
One solution is to find floor stands or speaker mounts that allow speakers to work at their best capacity in rooms according to size. Smaller speakers are better for closer distances while the sound of larger speakers will reach further.
Take your time.
Some home theaters look good enough to buy on the spot, but don’t give into impulse -- do your due diligence. Remember that you will want this system to last a very long time, especially if you are buying the theater by the component (screen, speakers, projector). Doing your homework will help you make a better choice, even if it takes a bit longer to reach a final (but well informed) decision. In fact, researching may introduce you to new benefits and features of a home theater system that you may not have known before you started studying.
Ultimately, you have to find the home theater that is right for you, but avoiding impulse buying, educating yourself, and working within the limits and possibilities of your theater room can make all the difference in the enjoyment and long life of your new home theater.