Home Theater Basics

When you set out to turn your living room, or any other room, into a home theater, you have to start with the basics.  It’s best to decide what type of projector you’re going to need, the type of sound system you want, and the receiver you’re going to use to tie it all together.  You’re also going to want to have a budget set aside with a set spending limit, because prices on home cinema systems can range anywhere from several hundred to many thousands of dollars.

You can use a television for your home theater, but most people go with a projector for that true movie going experience.  A cheap home cinema projector will run you about $500 at a minimum, and they can get expensive very quickly depending on how bright and large you need your image.  The measure of a projector’s brightness is “lumens.” Basically, the more lumens, the more bright the image is going to be.  If you are projecting in a room with a lot of light, it’s going to require a high lumens projector.  If you’re able to close the room off from all light sources, then you can skimp on the lumens a bit.  The other factor for your projector will be picture quality.  Like a television, projectors come in resolutions ranging from SVGA (800×600 pixels) to HD resolutions like 1080p.  Obviously a 1080p projector is going to cost a bit more than one with a standard resolution.

You also need to decide on a projection surface.  You can purchase a projection screen, or simply project onto the wall.  If you decide to project on the wall, you can purchase a product that will add a finish to the wall that is designed to give you a great projected image.  If you want to get really fancy you can get an electric projection screen that can be deployed at the push of a button.  If you need something portable or storable, look into a tripod projector screen.

Of course where there’s video, there must be sound.  Choosing home cinema speakers and sound systems can seem overwhelming because there are many choices and many ways to set them up.  Some people are real audiophiles and if the sound is not exactly right it will drive them crazy.  Once again, there are a range of prices here, from a very basic system that might cost around $100, to full blown 7.1 surround sound systems with powered sub woofers and enough wattage to rattle the fillings from the neighbors’ teeth.  Most people will be satisfied with the most typical set-up; 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound.  Make sure your home cinema receiver is adequate enough to fill the room with clear,crisp sound.

There are also a couple of choices when it comes to home theater seating.  Some people simply use standard living room furniture, but many purchase specific home theater seats.  These seats are usually very comfortable, reclining chairs with a cup holder.  They’re like super-sized versions of the seats you’d find in a theater, without the gum stuck under the armrest and the unidentified stickiness on the floor.  They can come as single chairs, or as a row of seats, often configured in a semi-circular pattern.

So there you have the home cinema basics.  There are many choices out there, so try to set a budget, and stick to it, but shop smartly so you get a great viewing experience regardless of your spending limits.  If you have no spending limits, go crazy, and make sure the neighbors know when you’re watching Die Hard for the 1000th time.

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