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How Important Is Viewing Distance To Enjoying Home Theater

Aug 17, 2007
Is setting up a home theater system just a matter of putting in a television, dvd player and setting up a few speakers? Well, technically yes but if you really want to experience all the viewing benefits home theater offers then you need to consider some viewing aesthetics.

TV Viewing Distance

Have you ever considered the importance of TV viewing distance? Not many people do. I've lost count of the number of times I've walked into a home theater room and cringed at the distance the TV is set up from the viewing platform. Sure, personal preferences come into play here and I'll admit, my idea of the right viewing distance will vary from others but if you follow some well worn guidelines then you can enhance your viewing experience no end.

What Do You Need To Consider For Best Viewing Position?

When planning and setting up a home theater room consider the size of the room. This will be in proportion to the size of television you intend to install. Issues such as distance from the TV plus viewing angle will come into play. Set the viewing platform too close to the TV and you risk seeing details you don't normally see such as image build up. If you are too far away, then other than losing the effect of the image output, it will be harder to become immersed in the program because at too far a distance, you immediately invite the risk of being distracted by influences other than the creen you are watching.

Suggested Viewing Distance Guidelines

What you want is a distance you are comfortable with and where your eye to detail ratio will not be lost. Recommended guidelines suggest that between two to five times the length of your television screen will get you somewhere "in the ball park." Again this depends on your vision strength so if you have 20/20 vision, then the distance between you and your Tv will probably be further than say a person with less vision strength.

In the end, TV viewing distance comes down to personal choice so you'll probably want to spend a little time adjusting and testing distance levels. Sounds technical doesn't it? Also consider if you are a frequent home theater host: what about your guests? I guess not huh! My philosophy in this instance is "Hey, I'm providing the theater center for your enjoyment. You work out where you want to sit."

Next time you walk into a cinema go in as early as possible and watch the seating habits of people as they walk in. It will give you some idea of how individual viewing habits differ. Some will sit to the left, others to the right while the center aisle, usually at the highest level, is always a popular place to view from.

Viewing Angles

Taking TV viewing distance to the next level, the vertical viewing angle is another important part of the equation. The good news is that in a home theater set up, this shouldn't present too much of a problem because most rooms are not big enough to enable a discomfort level outside the recommended angle of 30-35 degrees. What is the vertical viewing angle? Simply put, it's the viewer's eye height from his/her seated position to the top of the screen.

When you are seated for a long time this becomes important because too high or too low and problems can arise such as physical discomfort like neck strain. So, if you're thinking of mounting your TV high on the wall think again, and pay particular attention to the 30-35 degree vertical viewing angle.

So what does all this mean? Probably nought if you "don't give a hoot" about TV viewing distance and viewing angles however, if you are going to the trouble and expense of setting up a quality home theater room, then wouldn't it make sense to do it right from the ground up?
About the Author
Dean Caporella is a professional broadcaster. Understanding the importance of TV viewing distance will enhance your home theater experience. Get the latest home theater tips and tricks at:http://www.hometheaterinfoline.com
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