Going to the movies used to be the ultimate cinematic activity: buy a ticket, get some popcorn and hope that the people around you aren’t talking too loud. But with advancements in mass production, the option to have a home theater recently became available to almost everyone. No tickets, no lines, no strangers – just top-notch sound and video inside your own home.
Unfortunately, with choices also came a difficulty of making the right pick. Home theater systems can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands: how can you know what’s right for you and your family?
Basics of a home theater
Sound and visuals form the basis of every cinema: the better those two, the more enjoyable the movie-watchers’ experience will be. Therefore, your home theater will need a decent-enough TV as well as a set of immersive speakers.
How immersive? Speaker configurations are incredibly varied and can range from two simple speakers opposite against one another to ten or more pieces connected and positioned for optimum sound reproduction. The amount of speakers you should have and the optimal strength of the amplifier depends on the size of your home theater room and its overall insulation.
In general, any decent 5.1 or 7.1 system of speakers should be able to produce impressive sound while still being easy to adapt to most homes. Unfortunately, these systems can get quite pricey especially when the home owner wishes to get a good amplifier and/or subwoofer. Try your luck on used audio equipment forums and in similar places – since speakers aren’t as prone to breaking down as many other electronical objects are, buying a second-hand set is a good way to save some money.
Getting back to the image, the picture device you get for your theater should be powerful enough to completely immerse you in a movie. How powerful is too powerful? Obviously, a bigger TV or a more expensive projector will create the coveted cinematic feel, but they will also drill a hole in your pocket – you don’t really need size as much as you need picture quality.
What else makes a home theater?
There’s no theater without a TV and speakers, but that’s hardly all there is to it. Every good home theater has something that you can’t buy: a perfect atmosphere for watching movies and socializing.
To achieve an atmosphere where the world seems to take a break, think about the room’s colors and furniture: what additions, if any, can improve your movie-watching experience without costing too much? A set of leather furniture is a nice addition, but a paint job might do just as much while costing far less.
There’s also the lighting in the room to think about: you’ll probably want to invest in some dimmable lights that will help you set the place up just right, making it darker for horror movies or brighter for colorful ones. Like furniture, improved lighting can be an expensive part of your home theater creation, so keep your costs in check.
Remember: even cinemas improvise before movie night and you don’t need the best of everything to enjoy a convincing home theater environment.