If you would rather stay at home than go to the movie theater these days, you’re not alone. Are you frustrated by soaring ticket prices and talking (or texting) moviegoers? Do you often find the chairs uncomfortable, sticky, or littered with popcorn? Or perhaps you simply prefer watching movies in your pajamas with a home-cooked meal or your favorite take-out? Whatever the case, if you want to bring the magic of the cinema home with you, you need to learn how to build a home theater.
How to Build a Home Theater
With home theater technology becoming more affordable every year, you can create a lovely, cinema-like experience in your own home – you just need the right equipment. Once you’ve chosen or constructed an ideal space (thoroughly insulated, relatively isolated from the rest of the house, easy-to-control ambient lighting), you can start building your theater piece by piece.
To ensure that your excellent new sound system doesn’t bother someone in another room of the house, you will need to add sound barriers. Most homeowners choose to either use specialty drywall (effective, but costly) or regular drywall lined with sound-dampening materials (less effective but also less expensive). To soundproof existing walls, use acoustical treatments like sound panels, absorbers, and diffusers.
If you want your home theater to truly feel like a cinema, opt for recessed lighting in the ceiling and sconces on the side walls. Be sure to connect the lights to an RF dimmer to create that cinematic atmosphere. In addition, as we mentioned above, your home theater should be located in a space where you can easily control the ambient lighting.
Most home theaters use a 7.1 surround sound system comprised of seven channel speakers and one subwoofer. You must run audio cables from the hub to each of the speaker locations (center, left, right, two side surrounds, two rear surrounds). You might want to bump up the sound quality with 9.1 surround sound, which adds another set of speakers to the front of the room as height channels for an enhanced experience.
For a truly cinematic experience at home, you will want a video projector. It provides a larger image, it’s easier on the eyes, and it saves space if you mount it on the ceiling. For help selecting a projector, please review our blog post How to Choose a Projector. As we discuss in that post, you will need to take several factors into account, including all of the following:
- Type of projector (LCD, DLP, D-ILA, or LED)
- Light output
- Picture contrast
- Throw ratio
Of course, you can also configure your home theater with a television in place of a projector and screen.
Once you’ve selected a projector, you can purchase a screen to work with it. You can select from three different image formats: standard (4:3 aspect ratio), widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio), and cinemascope. Look for a screen that reflects back the right amount of light and accurately reproduces the colors emitted by the projector. Although you could simply project your movies onto a wall, experts don’t recommend this because the wall’s texture will affect the quality of the image.
You must connect your speaker and projector to the receiver in your equipment hub, and then add any multimedia devices you wish. For example, many people install a DVD player, Blu-ray player, cable/satellite feed, game console, and/or PC.
Like the conductor of an orchestra or the ringleader of a circus, the receiver pulls all of these parts together. All of your audio inputs, video inputs, and networking connections will be routed through the receiver, so make sure there are enough inputs on the device. Most people choose to place this critical piece of equipment in a cabinet or stand. Be sure to leave room for ventilation and many cable connections. In addition, plug your receiver into a power protection device to protect against power spikes and surges.
Finally, you can install your seating, transforming the empty room into a true theater. Consider elevating the back row with a pre-built platform so that everyone has a great view of the screen. You might also wish to disguise any acoustic panels with your favorite movie posters. Finally, to ensure your favorite snacks are close at hand, you could add a popcorn machine and a mini fridge.
Ready to Get Started?
If you’ve been wondering how to build a home theater, contact Southwest Audio-Visual today. Our home theater professionals can help you create the cinematic experience of your dreams. Whether you’re constructing a new room, redoing an old space, or just need a few components (like a projector and screen), we can help. We provide consultations, installation, and equipment, including all of the following:
- Flat-screen TVs
- Ceiling-mounted projectors (LCD, DLP, and D-ILA)
- Projection screens
- Surround-sound systems
- Unified remote controls
- Media servers
- 200- and 400-disc Blu-ray DVD changers
You might be interested in the new JVC DLA-RS40U 3D D-ILA Home Theater Projector, which we now have in stock. Whether you enjoy watching 3D movies, live sporting events, or concerts, this projector will provide unparalleled image quality. It is highly customizable, provides stunning 3D performance, and offers maximum flexibility for your convenience.
For help learning how to build a home theater, please contact us online or give us a call at 417-887-4900 (Springfield) or 636-225-4327 (St. Louis).