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Home Theater: Choosing and Preparing Your Home Theater Room

Aug 17, 2007
So you've finally decided to venture into the exciting world of home theater? Well one of the first steps in getting started is deciding on a room for your new system and preparing it for the optimal home theater experience. Preparing your room can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor and for those interested in an ultra high-end system, this can even include building an entirely new room altogether. However this doesn't have to be the case and is overkill for most of us. Instead, here are a few simple tips for taking an existing room or unused area of your house and tweaking it a bit so you can get the best home theater experience for you and your family.

Whether you're converting an existing area like a basement or you're using your current family room for your new setup, you'll probably have to do some sort of room preparation before setting up your home theater. For those with a big budget, this could include custom equipment for automation, new material for the walls and ceilings and other structural changes. But for the "Regular Joe", you can take a simpler approach and follow a few guidelines to improve the audio and video experience you'll have while enjoying your new system.

Windows and home theater lighting
Obviously too many windows could cause lighting problems, especially if you're using a projector as opposed to a television. Either way, try to avoid having your video display situated opposite a window. This will help to reduce or eliminate glare. Also, opaque drapes can work wonders for keeping excess light from entering the room.

Open floor plans affect sound quality
When choosing a room, it will ideally have as few entrances as possible...for instance, a room with a single window and door (or windows on just one wall). Preferably the room will have level ceilings that are relatively low also (as opposed to an open ceiling that's level but extends up to the second floor or a vaulted ceiling). Those high ceilings are great for giving you a sense of openness in the room, but the extra space also keeps the sound from your new system from being confined in a tighter area. This effectively disperses the sounds and might require a more powerful system to compensate for that effect. Then again, it may not be an issue at all if you are satisfied with the sound, so take this as a general rule and something to be aware of, but let your ears be the judge.

Smooth floors or carpet-Which is best for your new room?
If you're converting a basement, be sure to cover the floors, preferably with carpet. Smooth surfaces, like the concrete that might be in your basement, act as reflectors when sound waves hit them. Keep this in mind if you're converting an existing room also, especially if that room has hardwood or tile floors, which have similar reflective properties. Too much reflection can degrade your home theater's sound quality or possibly cause an echo.

By following these simple guidelines, you'll be able to improve the audio and video experience from your new home theater room. And remember, in the end, it's not the name brand of the equipment or how many bells and whistles they have that matters. The true test is how enjoyable your new system is for you and your family.
About the Author
Kevin Nelson is a home theater enthusiast and writer for HomeTheaterForDummies.com - offering advice for consumers looking to buy home theater system equipment. Visit the site to read more articles, product reviews and home theater design tips.
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