Ask the Expert: What you need to know about a home theater


What you need to know about a home theater

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Is it the right fit for your home?

To some, watching television is a form of entertainment. An escape from your daily routine and a chance to relax your brain. For others, it is an experience – an opportunity to fully engage in a visual and audio experience.

Television in today’s world is on the go – you can watch it on a tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop computer – streamed live from your cable provider or a streaming service. However, “watching” TV is not the same as the physical and emotional “experience” you have when you are surrounded by the components of a home theater.

At its core, a home theater system should provide a high-quality video experience and an immersive audio experience that breath life into your favorite movies – but a number of roads can lead to that destination.

In reality, a home theater doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. A modest home theater set up can be something as simple as a 55 to 75-inch television, combined with a stereo or home theater receiver, speakers and a subwoofer. There are other variations that include other components like a Blu-ray DiSC player and soundbar.

Choosing the right location is the first step in determining your home theater needs – and cost.  The ideal space should be relatively isolated from the rest of the home, as to not disturb busy areas. If you have a dedicated room that is sufficient in size, that would be ideal, however, it is not a requirement. If you don’t already have a perfect spot to dedicate your home theater, like in a basement or finished attic, there are other options.  Some ideas include closing in a second story loft, converting a spare bedroom or formal living space, even building an addition off the family room if it’s in your budget.

When you envision a home theater, your first thought may be a projection system with a very large screen – which is certainly the first choice for professionals when they are working with a large dedicated theater room. However, flat-panel TV’s are a great alternate, and thanks to falling prices, they are more affordable.  Whether your design plan includes an Ultra HD LED or OLED (which replaced plasma technology) TV, with or without smart television capabilities, a home theater is achievable with almost any type of screen.

To achieve that movie theater experience, you have to provide enveloping audio, which provides the sense of sound from all directions. At home, the most basic surround sound speaker system consists of 5.1 channels. The “5” stands for speakers in the front left, center, front right, rear right, and rear left positions, while the “.1” belongs to a subwoofer that helps flesh out the bass for explosions and other low-end effects. Some home theater installers recommend the use of multiple subwoofers to help deliver smoother bass response across a wider listening area. It’s also popular to go with a seven-channel speaker system, which uses two side-channel and two rear-channel speakers for a more complete surround experience.

If you like the idea of surround sound but simply can’t find a way to practically integrate a multi-channel speaker system into your room, the soundbar has become a popular solution. A soundbar incorporates multiple speaker channels into a single speaker bar that mounts above or below your TV. These soundbars use acoustic manipulation to create a sense of surround envelopment, sometimes through digital sound processing and sometimes by bouncing the sound off the walls – and sometimes both.

Aside from the audio-visual equipment and automation system, there are some important decisions that will have to be made about your home theater:

– Where will the equipment be located and how should the seating be arranged to enhance the viewing experience?

– If there are windows in the room where the home theater resides, how will you deal with the natural light? Even if there are no windows, what lighting will be needed to create an authentic theater atmosphere?

– One of the benefits of having a dedicated room for your home theater is the ability to isolate outside noise by designing the space to absorb sound instead of reflecting it or transmitting it. It is important to discuss this with the installing contractor prior to installation.

– Seating is typically designed based on the size of the room….and the budget. Make sure your seating is comfortable and conducive to the relaxing environment you want to create.

Once you’ve assembled all the different components of your home theater, you may want to invest in a universal remote control – that is, unless you enjoy having to use five different remotes just to watch a movie.

A well-selected, well programmed remote can make your life easier. An entry-level universal remote is limited and may not have flexibility to tailor the buttons to your personal needs. More advanced remotes provide more flexibility and are typically set up on a touchscreen, using computer software programs to integrate the audio and visual components, and lighting.

Home theaters can increase the value of your home. Even if you have a space as little as 200 square feet, you can install a premium and custom home theater system to enjoy for years. If you like entertaining, your home theater will certainly get your family and friends to the party. Game days to movie nights, slumber parties to special events, your home will be the go-to spot for all things entertainment.

If you have a fairly extensive movie collection, you might consider a video server that can store your movies in digital form, allowing for easy searches, quick start-up, and convenient access to cover art and other info. 

Imagine larger than life visuals, crisp sound and plush seating that makes you feel like you’re in a movie theater – without having to leave the house. Imagine a front row seat at a concert or sporting event – or having that blockbuster movie experience.

With the latest in technology, you can authentically replicate the movie experience right in the comfort of your own home. Remember, your home theater is yours alone, designed to fit your home, reflecting your personality – bringing both financial and personal value and enjoyment.

As with any home improvement or home service, use a reputable and insured company. Do your homework first, get at least two to three estimates and ask for references. Installing the right equipment, in the right application, can provide an experience of a lifetime.

Michael Bloomfield, President      Tekie Geek

(347) 830-7322

All our experts are licensed, bonded and insured members of the Home Improvement Contractors of Staten Island (HIC of Staten Island).  Homeowners should always consult with licensed professionals, check a contractor’s license through the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (call 311 for information) and ensure that their project complies with NYC DOB regulations before embarking on any home improvement project.

To ask your home improvement questions contact: [email protected]


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