A real cinema at home
The concept of a home theatre system was from the very beginning driven by one goal: the creation of a place that is better and more comfortable for the purpose of entertainment. What do you think, is the home cinema able to replace a real cinema as a social environment? Rather not, because a 'cinema evening' is still the most popular way to spend free time. Apart from this, the atmosphere of the cinema, experiencing the film together with others, or lastly - the ever-present smell of popcorn and the nice (?!) sound of someone chewing on their nachos all provide a great evening. However, why should you give up the comfort of watching films in your own home?
There is just one rule: the earlier you start planning on your home cinema, the better. The best solution is to think about it already when designing the house or apartment; at the latest when the place is still in the shell phase.
Remember, proper sound quality is very important in a room that is meant to be your future cinema. From the acoustic point of view, the room has to ensure proper propagation of the audio waves, not creating so-called standing waves. Parallel walls and a ceiling parallel to the floor often cause standing waves to arise. Therefore, in order to avoid unwanted acoustic effects, your project should foresee walls and a ceiling that do not converge at right angles or that at least have rounded corners, because it's in the corners that standing walls accumulate.
So, don't you think that your attic would be perfect for such conditions? The inclined walls will prevent unwanted acoustic effects from arising. The cellar, in turn, is easily adaptable, and also here it's easy to make the walls not parallel. Apart from this, a cellar usually has no or few windows, so any darkening of the room is simplified.
As we said before, acoustics are very important in a multimedia room, so one should also notice the material the walls are built of, and anything they are covered with (whether it is just paint, or wood panelling, wallpaper or some kind of fabric). 'Naked' walls influence the acoustics negatively - that is why we recommend soft finishes, with tapestry, or decorations on the walls... It's also worth it to pad or cover flat surfaces of any furniture or shelves. Also, consider the floor. It should best be covered with a soft, shaggy carpet, even 10 mm thick. Apart from dampening any unwanted vibrations inside the room it will isolate the room acoustically, preventing the passing of sounds to other rooms, if the cinema is in the attic.
There are many myths surrounding cabling. You will come across the opinion that it does not influence sound quality at all, and elsewhere you're bound to be told that it is the cables that most influence the sound of an audio system. There are differences, however they are usually heard only in case of very high-class, meaning - expensive - audio systems. Of course, it's better to buy brand cabling together with the equipment, or decide to make the purchase at a professional audio/video store than get your goods at a market stall selling gold-plated cords.
When designing the cable layout for the cinema you also have to know where each component of the cinema system will stand. Plan this ahead. The distribution of cables, mounting points for the speakers, the projector or large screen television, as well as the placement of power outlets should be thought through in the building shell phase. This will allow the cabling to be hidden under the floor or using beams.
Remember however that you also have your weapons against cables. Lighted covers are wooden beams mounted on the wall in order to mask the cables running underneath. The lighted version creates such a good atmosphere in the room that it should be used for the sole effect of the light.
Why is it worth it to utilise lighted cable covers?
* They aesthetically mask the cables running to the speakers, TV, any extension cords, etc.
* They allow for fixed installation of the cables away from the reach of children or animals
* They create beautiful light effects giving the room a nice atmosphere.
When the cables are laid, it's time to take care of the walls, floor and ceiling. Remember, insulation and acoustics are the most important, however do not forget about the necessity of spending time in aesthetically pleasing interiors that are adapted to their function and your taste - but of course you probably don't need to be reminded of that...
The walls of a room foreseen for projections should be matte and dark. This will limit any reflections of the light emitted by the display projector on the walls, and make it reflect only on the screen. Sound-absorbing coverings (i. e. quilted, velvet) on the back walls and ceiling often also serve a decorative purpose, giving the interior an unmatched look.
Lighting is a very important component in the arrangement of a cinema room. It builds the atmosphere, influences the aesthetics, and the comfort of watching films (or the lack of it). Daylight decidedly hinders proper visual reception and that is why it's so important for it to be completely eliminated from the room. We have mentioned that a good solution is the construction of a cinema room in the cellar or basement, where there usually are no windows, but if the room should have them, we suggest covering them with thick, dark curtains or blinds, external or internal. You will then be sure that sunlight will not penetrate the hall, and that reception will be comfortable. It is also important to eliminate any contrast between the screen and any other part of the room. For this purpose you can use discrete lighting that disperses the darkness. Low power wall-mounted sconces are best, as is floor-level lighting or small light points installed in the walls or ceiling. A row of point lights running along the length of the wall - just like in a cinema - looks very stylish even during the day.
If the cinema room would have all windows shut tight, and correct acoustic insulation of the walls, then a ventilation system is necessary, foremost to provide a proper microclimate (fresh air, temperature, humidity). Ventilation will also offtake the excess heat from the persons inside the room. When creating your home theatre use ventilation that isn't louder than 30 dBa, distributing air evenly across the whole room, in order to avoid generating noise at levels hindering the watching the film.
At the cinema, comfort is provided by nice armchairs with stands for drinks. One should also choose appropriate furniture for their private cinema in order for the screenings to bring the necessary, expected relaxation. Armchairs are found in the centre of the cinema. They can be convertible, manually or automatically, with special foot supports, heated, and enriched by special effects. In order to achieve full comfort select those made out of the best materials, designed according to the rules of ergonomics.
Set-up of the equipment
A home theatre system is composed in most cases of a television set, or in a growing number of systems - a screen with a projector - and sources of sound and images, i. e. a DVD player, a multichannel amplifier with built-in surround sound decoders, as well as at least five speakers and a subwoofer. In a living room that is not supposed to be just the cinema room, the most flexible solution is an LCD or plasma screen. Notice that it requires less work than a projector and screen, and there is no need to make the room completely dark. Of course, the larger and more modern the television set, the higher the comfort of watching films, especially from a digital source like Blu-Ray discs. For more expensive systems, recommendations we meet often include a large projection screen that is easy to hang on the wall or hide in a suspended ceiling. The projector will provide a larger image to the viewers, thus ensuring absolute comfort.
Speakers are a very important component of the home theatre system. After all, it's upon them that the quality of the music depends (if you should treat the cinema set as a hi-fi set as well), as does the quality of reception of the film. You know that in most cases, five speakers and a subwoofer, responsible for the basses, are used. Remember that if the room is not of grand proportions, you shouldn't install large speaker sets. Front and central speakers should be of the same class in order to avoid changes to the sound tone and character when the surround sound passes between the speakers.
Distribution of the speakers is the basis for proper use of the home theatre system. The listening point should be set centrally in relation to all of the speakers - the couch should be placed in the centre, in front of the screen. Two main speakers (music, special effects) should be flanking is, whereas the central speaker (speech, whispers, breath) should be placed as close to the screen as possible - above or below the screen, at best in one line with the main speakers. The two surround speakers (back, side) should be placed on opposing walls, ideally one metre behind the viewers, ca. half a metre above the head. The subwoofer (for powerful blasts of low tones) can be installed anywhere you like.