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Three Things I Would Do Differently in My Home Theater

Apr 18, 2011 12:00 PM, by Jason Bovberg

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I've taken preventive measures such as inserting a heavy-duty air filter, and even covering that air filter with my own air-filtration cloth. And I even vacuum the filter area clean every third or fourth power-up. I shouldn't have to do these things, and I shouldn't have to worry. A little more research might have uncovered these anomalies. All this to say: Spend an inordinate amount of time finding the perfect projection system not only for your theater's dimensions and idiosyncrasies but for your geographic area! Every theater and wider environment is unique, and there is a projector out there that is ideally suited for your specific requirements.

Screen choice is also a weightier decision that I expected it to be. When I first set up the theater, I went with a recommended grayscale screen, but I quickly saw that in a fully dark room, that was a bad idea that significantly darkened the projector's image. In my black "screening room" type home theater, I needed a bright white screen, so I quickly upgraded—at a not-insignificant price. So, be sure to determine what screen type best suits the kind of theater you'll have, whether that's a pure dark "movie theater" or an open-environment "entertainment area."

Sound Dampening

While building the theater, I admit to being more concerned with features I wanted to include—the custom media shelves along one wall, movie posters here and there—than with the effect of these features on the transmission of sound. Those media shelves contain a whole lot of sound-reflecting DVD and Blu-ray cases, and sometimes I wonder about the effect they're having on my audio presentation. I don't want the majority of one wall to be absorptive while the other remains completely reflective.

This is not something that I notice in day-to-day viewing, but occasionally I'll detect something slightly off in the audio, and I'll wonder if I should have better researched some kind of audio-equalizing solution. The overriding problem is that the room itself is oddly shaped: A doorway to the left of the screen adds a sort of vestibule, and I still don't know how audio is moving in that space.

This is one area where I'll admit to remaining ignorant: Sound dampening and directing has always seemed to be an optional step. Or, at least, as long as I didn't do something crazy like blanket all the walls with sound-muting fabric (I've done this in the past!) or leave every surface absorptive, I considered myself generally in the clear. Bottom line: I wish I'd looked into it a little more. And I recommend that you do so. Be kind to your speakers and your ears.

Be Smart

Yes, it would have helped if I'd had a fatter wallet while building my theater, but when it comes down to it, I probably would have saved money in the long term by simply doing a little more research—particularly on those technologies that I know nothing about! So read articles and watch for forum discussions about every aspect of the theater you envision—saving money, time, and aggravation is a Google search away.

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