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HomeHomes
Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2005

The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Building a Home Theater

If you love watching movies, but don t enjoy the movie theater experience, you re not alone. According to an AP-AOL poll released in June, 2005, 73 percent of Americans would rather watch movies at home. Among the many reasons cited in the poll were crowded theaters, uncomfortable seats, expensive tickets and pricey concessions.

With so many complaints about theaters, it should come as no surprise that one of the hottest home improvement projects there is these days is to transform a family room, extra bedroom, basement or even a garage into a home theater. If the idea sounds enticing to you, but you don t want to spend a small fortune, you may want to do the project yourself.

Seating

A good place to start is by deciding how realistic you want the experience to be. Try thumbing through a home theater magazine for ideas. If you re going to set the room up in a wide open space, like a basement, for example, you ll have room to go so far as to install authentic movie theater seats, complete with the tilting backs and drink holders. If your space is limited, a sofa would make a better seating option.

The Screen

As far as the screen goes, they come in various fabrics, sizes and prices. At the high end are cloth screens that roll up and down at the click of a button -- at the low end, square-shaped screens like those your teacher may have rolled out of the closet when you were in school. The type of screen that s best depends on the projector, the viewing angle, the amount of ambient light in the room and the distance from the projector to the screen.

The Projector

The big ticket item for this venture will be its key component -- the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) or Digital Light Processing (DLP) video projector, which range in price from $2,000 to $10,000. Since this type of equipment projects images, it s necessary to have an adequate amount of distance between the projector and screen. The projector can be located on a table, shelf or special stand, but the most popular way to set it up is to attach it to the ceiling via a ceiling mount. You can pick up a custom one from your projector s manufacturer, or save money by going with a Universal Projector Ceiling Mount. It was designed to simplify installation for virtually every projector available for ceiling mount application.

Surround Sound

When most people think about "watching" a movie they think of the visual image. But what really differentiates a home theater from a big screen television is the audio. According to Dolby Laboratories, innovators and leaders in sound technology, a good home theater set up has at least five main speakers: a center speaker, usually on top of or just below the screen or TV; two speakers in the front of the room on either side of the screen or TV near the corners of the room, generally about ear level for seated listeners and placed at the same height as the center speaker; and two speakers placed slightly behind and above ear level but facing horizontally and not down toward the listener. This gives the valued surround sound effect. The speakers can be placed on bookshelves, on speaker stands or mounted right to the walls or ceiling.



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