Selecting a home theater room is going to be the easy part – if you take the right things into consideration. Imagine that perfect setting for your home theater. You have the thought down, but there’s work to do. The first step is to determine how many people you intend to have over for a show, game or movie.
1. It’s best to base your home theater dimensions on who will use it. Just think of buying a car – a bigger family needs more seats and storage while singles can cruise around in two-seaters.
Home theater dimensions can accommodate several rows of theater-style seats or an expanded living room feel for a few couches and recliners. Perhaps the home theater will be a space for just you and that special someone, so only a loveseat-style sofa should fit. Regardless, the dimensions of the home theater should fit the intended audience. So before building your home theater room, make sure the space will accommodate your crew. Take time to think it over, and next lay out your scene just as if it was a movie set.
2. What sense should someone get when they walk into the home theater room? For a more intimate, enclosed feel you’ll probably incorporate low light or no light, but you’ll also want a smaller space surrounding your guests. In many opinions the home theater space should either convey a sense of being shut-off from the outside or being in a real cinema.
However more decorative custom home theaters are also trending as everyone wants a unique and distinguished feel. In any case, you’ll want to design a room where the right feel shines through, whether it’s tickets and popcorn, a sports lounge or some private time. How you can use your home theater will determine this.
3. Selecting for sound. Avoid square rooms and longer, narrow rectangular rooms because bass sound waves tend to pile up in square-shaped or long rooms. They produce standing waves which result in areas where you’ll hear too much bass, and, conversely, areas where you’ll hear virtually no deep bass. In some instances the differences are too obvious and awkward as areas of too much or too little bass occur one or two feet apart.
The shape to go with is a rectangular shaped room where the dimensions (length, width and height) are uneven and not divisible by a common denominator. This will be the key to minimizing standing waves. Choosing a room close to 25 x 13 x 9 may be a good starting point, but you’ll have to decide the specifics based on seating capacity and furniture.
4. Don’t sit too close! Another key to good home theater room dimensions is allowing for a reasonable viewing distance versus your preferred screen size. Sitting too close is not only uncomfortable for your eyes, it also reduces the quality of the picture images as fine details and pixel structures can stick out.
The dimensions of a home theater projector screen will depend on your home theater room dimensions plus your equipment. Conventional wisdom says the minimum optimum viewing distance for a standard definition TV screen should be 2 times the width of the screen. For an HDTV the optimum viewing distance is about 1-1/2 times the width of the television screen. If you have a plasma or an LCD HDTV with a screen size around 42 inches, the ideal place to sit is around 6 feet away. Keeping that distance will be a good start, and using movable furniture to measure your comfort level slightly further away will be a good method to plan for your room dimensions.
Finally, keep in mind that bigger is better only if you’re sure about it — the larger you strive for with your home theater dimensions, the larger the speakers and subwoofers you’ll require. A bigger amplifier will also be in order, and making sure sound stays in the areas it’s supposed to will be a bit harder.