Why is Theater Design Important?
Who wants a new in-home theater installed in their house this summer?! With the popularity of having a home cinema room growing more and more each year, it is important for those of you who are newbies, to know, “Why is theater design so important?” Where do you start and why does it matter? Which options are better to have in your home based on budget, available space, and which aesthetics are important to focus on?
The room is one of the most important things to take into consideration when you start designing your in-home theater. Most have a reserved room and know exactly what area the system will go in, of course, it can also go in the basement area, the living room, or even a spare bedroom. Each room may be similar in shape and size or may be very different, but there are several common factors that should be considered as you start to prepare:
- The shape of the room- This is important because if the room is square-shaped, rectangular, or even oval, the sound and frequencies will bounce off of the walls differently for each shape. With a square-shaped room, the sound can be distorted when it comes to different harmonies. Avoid perfectly square rooms, whose parallel walls make them more prone to unnatural sounding peaks (and dips) at certain frequencies that can make bass boomy or create annoying resonances and other sonic problems. With an oval room, it is not recommended to turn this into a room that will have focused sound. Due to the shape of the room, it actually has been known to diffuse the overall output. Rectangular rooms are generally recommended to be used as theater rooms.
- The walls in the room- Rest assured that regular drywall is a decent surface to have in your theater room. Ideally, you should place your furniture strategically to break up the larger flat surfaces throughout the room. Your theater screen should be placed or hung against the smaller of the walls. Also, be sure that the art you are hanging does not contain too much glass, it can cause too much reflection and end up messing with the quality of sound.
- Stay away from concrete walls! The hard surface reduces the acoustic performance and then these wonderful pricey speakers that you purchased do not sound the way they are meant to (and that’s just disappointing). If you do have concrete walls, it’s not too hard to add insulation or there are now acoustic panels referred to as “sound absorption” panels, made to fix the entire issue of having these thick hard concrete walls.
3. The windows in the room- Windows are lovely to have in every other room except for the ones that are in the theater room. Theater rooms are meant to be dark and have the least amount of outside light let in for improved screen quality. So for your windows, the less you have the better! However, we recommend having no windows at all if you are looking to have a true commercial theater experience.
4. The carpet/flooring in the room- Now remember that we are trying to avoid hard surfaces, so having carpet is definitely a must! Installing carpet from wall-to-wall will be the best. Using carpet as padding is also recommended to improve the acoustics and it also gives the kiddos a great surface to stretch out on if they don't want to be in a chair or on the couch.
5. The color of the walls- As odd as it sounds, it really does affect the movie quality, your experience, and if you have a nice room with no windows (for that theater feel), paint the walls as dark as you possibly can. The lighter the paint on the walls the more reflection from the screen you will get. If it’s a bright sunny scene on your screen then you can guarantee that the room will be completely lit up. Try to stay away from semi-gloss and high-gloss paints to avoid reflecting light. The more neutral the shade of paint that you use, the better.
After you have decided which designated room you are going to design, the paint colors, carpet, and padding, the next thing on your list should be the sound. This is the key to creating an audio/video sanctuary! In-home theater surround sound speakers are specifically designed to work in unison and in specific configurations for precise audio control for that room. To feel like you are actually in the scene or can hear the running footsteps of someone behind you and quiet in front of you, as so displayed on the screen, is where this system gained its popularity. The transfer of sound in different rooms and conditions has really expanded from the “big ol’ Boom Box” that some used to carry around on their shoulder to look cool (it’s okay if you were one of those people). At the end of the day, the goal is to get your theater room sounding like a “real commercial movie theater”. Most of you will want the room to shake and rumble, and for it to feel like you’re there watching from the sidelines of the scene, breathing the same air as the actors! It sounds like an unrealistic venture, but it is very doable with the types of sound systems that we have available today. TruAudio actually provides awesome In-Home Theater Speaker Packages to take away some of the work.
Surround sound is the best way to go if you are looking for a truly immersive experience, all from the comfort of your own home. Surround sound is, “a system of stereophonic sound involving three or more speakers surrounding the listener so as to create a more realistic effect.” In the current industry, the Dolby 7.1 surround sound system is recommended to give you the best experience. This is often where people have to consider the budget that they have set aside for this specific room. Typical theaters will have a 5.1 surround sound design.
- 5.1 Surround Sound- The 5.1 design consists of five full-range speakers and the advantage of having 5 speakers is that it allows you to have two left and right speakers placed at the front of the room, and also two left and right speakers placed in the back of the room (behind your head) and then an additional speaker placed in the center of the room. Then to finish it all off, a woofer for the deeper, lower booms. The 5.1 sound system is the beginning of a quality system, as you move higher, like the 7.1, the quality increases.
- 7.1 Surround Sound- The 7.1 design consists of seven full-range speakers, of course. This is the sound system for those really dedicated “theater enthusiasts” (who attend a movie monthly and love the thundering sound while sitting in their seats at a theater). The placement of these speakers is simple: for the front, you place the two speakers (the mains) on the left and right and then a center channel speaker in between those, next two are the two left and right surround speakers that are placed on the sides of the viewing or seating area (not to be confused with the “back surround speakers”), and then finally the rear speakers that go behind the seats for a grand total of seven speakers! Pretty simple, but obviously this option will be more expensive than a 2.1 or 5.1 design.
In-Ceiling vs In-Wall Speakers
The position that you place your speakers in depends on how you are going to listen to them, utilize them, and which type of speaker you use depends on the architecture of the room, how loud you want them to be, and the size of the speaker. The options for theater speakers are endless and it can be quite difficult to choose which speaker is appropriate while planning a specific room like this.
- In-ceiling- This type of speaker is specifically for those who want great sound but without taking up extra space with big "boxy" speakers in the way of you’re footpath. They are definitely a space saver with their size as well as with the actual wiring of the speakers. The coolest thing about these speakers, when mounted into the ceiling they blend in and most people won’t even notice them. The TruAudio Revolve Series ™ Series is the absolute best if you really want them to flush with the ceiling. This Series is specifically designed for in-ceiling home theater. All ghost series speakers come with a patented 2-millimeter reveal magnetic frameless grill which helps to make the speaker virtually disappear into the installation environment (ceiling).
- In-wall- The in-wall speakers still are out of the way but you are able to see these. The ease of installation and general improvement in the overall acoustic quality has made in-wall speakers a competitive choice over regular speakers. On top of providing good quality sound, in-wall speakers save a lot of floor space as well and blend well with any interior too. The benefit of using the in-wall speakers (because they are placed in the wall), is that these speakers are allowed to be bigger, and give the user that wanted “BOOM” in the theater environment, and actually help the sound image/perform closer to what the movie producer intended it to. A few things to look for when it comes to in-wall speakers:
- Are they moisture resistant? This is to ensure that the speakers are relatively protected while sitting inside the wall of your home specifically for kitchen or bathrooms but also if the room that you place them in is not air-conditioned and you live in a humid area. Otherwise, the importance isn’t very high. The speaker isn't high-quality if they are not moisture resistant. It is essential.
- Are they enclosed speakers? The in-wall speakers that include an enclosure have an improved bass response, but often it is forgotten because it is being installed to the wall. Be sure that there is enough room in the wall to install them.
- Do they have surround sound tweeters? To improve the sound in a larger room with multiple rows of seating, it is best to get the side and rear speakers that have pivotal tweeters to focus the sound in different directions.
I just gave you a lot of information, but I promise it will help while planning or building your in-home theater. Having a contractor or installer who knows what they are doing will also be extremely beneficial if problems arise or if you have questions about which products to use and where they should be installed to get the best sound. TruAudio has access to these resources for almost any region and will also produce floorplans for you too-- visit https://www.truaudio.com/