Designating a room in your home to serve as a home theater gives you opportunities to entertain guests as well as your family. Whether you tune up your living room, remodel a basement area or build an addition onto your home, you can give your family and friends an alternative to high-priced theater tickets, one that comes with a pause button for rest breaks and all the popcorn your microwave oven can produce.
The ideal home theater setup provides incremental control of light levels through dimmable fixtures. Energy-efficient LED lighting provides a straightforward way of saving money, increasing flexibility and reducing the heat produced by light fixtures. LED bulbs also outlast every other lighting technology on the market, including fluorescents. You can replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 10.8-watt LED bulb rated for 15,000 hours of output: 15 times the life span of a comparable incandescent. LEDs feature dimmable light with no need to warm up after you turn them on, making them common-sense choices for home theater use.
For the dimensions of an ideal acoustic environment for a home-theater space, multiply room height by 1.6 to determine width and by 2.6 to determine length. Within that space, a home theater audio system with 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound uses five or seven main speakers, plus a subwoofer for low-bass tones. Home theater layouts distribute these speakers throughout your home theater space to give sound directionality and depth. Some home theater systems use wireless connections for their subwoofers, which gives you greater placement flexibility. The dimensional effect of dividing the audio spectrum and sound content among multiple speakers comes into play to an even greater extent if you tie your audio system to a 3D-capable display device.
Today's big HDTVs make it possible to recreate the theatrical viewing experience in your own home, with sets that measure 70 inches or more across their diagonal dimension. Choosing one involves more considerations than simply buying the biggest TV you can afford. Optimal screen size relates directly to the viewing distance between seats and set. That distance should measure two to three times the diagonal size of the screen. A 3D-capable set uses special glasses to show you truly dimensional video. Smart TV designs take full advantage of wireless connections to your home network, displaying content from other devices, streaming live events and giving you access to the Internet for more entertainment options, including sports broadcasts and concert video.
Wiring & Connections
A home theater setup with Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth integration into the rest of your home technology—tablets, media players and computers—adds connection options without wiring these devices into the system. Look for audio/video furniture options that put all your playback and amplification hardware together on a shelf or stand, shortening the wiring and simplifying your configuration. If your budget extends to customized wiring, you can hide many of the connections for home theater equipment behind baseboards or inside walls. Without those options, use the same cable-management gadgets that handle computer wiring to conceal the HDMI and other cables that tie together your audio and video hardware.
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