When it comes to planning a Home Theatre the best advice I can give is to contact a specialist as early as possible. There are various considerations that will affect the design and planning of this space. We work closely with Audio Architex and they have helped me to put together an outline of the process involved in planning your home theatre.
The best place to start would be to plan your budget. Once you have the total figure in mind you can start to divide this up into 3 categories:
- The Audio/ Visual equipment
- The Interior Design
- The Seating
Try to establish what your end goal is for the home theatre when allocating funds to each of these categories. This exercise will help you with all of your decision making, and it will be a good starting point for your Audio Visual specialist who will then quickly point you to the equipment that suits your needs and your finances. However, you might not know what budget to allocate to a home theatre, so start chatting to the specialists as soon as possible so they can walk you through the different options and pricing so you can start planning.
- THE AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT
For this category I have relied on the expertise of Audio Architex: “What creates a home theatre in terms of today’s latest technology is a speaker layout called Dolby Atmos, this is created by placing 3 Speakers in the front, 2 Subwoofers, then there are 2 Rear speakers and either 2 or 4 in-ceiling speakers above the seating area. This Dolby Atmos speaker configuration gives the most impressive surround sound experience”.
You also get “invisible home theatres,” this is where there are in-wall or in-ceiling speakers for people that don’t want to physically see the speakers. The leaders in theatre speaker options at the moment are Klipsch from the USA, Bowers & Wilkins and Monitor Audio matched with Denon Theatre amplifiers which have won amplifier of the year for the last 4 years. Brands like Yamaha and Marantz also give great results.
When it comes to the screen there are really two main avenues to explore:
1) A projector
2) A large sized TV
The advantage of the projector is that it can create an extremely large image anywhere from 2 to 5m wide with the same quality as a 4K TV, therefore giving you a proper cinematic experience. Ensure you contact your specialist regarding the correct screen size for the size and shape of the room to obtain the optimal viewing distance.
- THE INTERIOR DESIGN
When it comes to the spatial planning try to avoid a perfectly square room as this is not the ideal shape for the acoustics, rather plan for a space which is more rectangular. Of course you may already be restricted by having an existing room that you want to convert into a home theatre, and in such instances as you can rely on the acoustic treatments in the interior décor to make up for any sound imperfections and still experience great results. You might want to consider adding an acoustic drywall onto the existing walls to adjust the shape of the room slightly and this also adds to the acoustic performance of the room while stopping the sound spreading to other areas of the house.
Designing and planning the size and shape of the space also depends on the number and type of seating. You will need a walking space down the one side of the room or the centre of the room, and you will normally require some steps as the room will need higher platforms for the back and middle seating rows to get the correct viewing heights. The chairs themselves do not need a large amount of space between them or on the side near the wall.
Room acoustics play a very important role when it comes to a home theatre. Carpeted floors, curtains, wall panels and soft furnishings are vital to the sound quality as they absorb the unnecessary high frequencies. If possible stay away from hard surfaces such as tiles, glass sliding doors and concrete which reflect the high frequencies around the room. I love the floating acoustic wall panels, I use these to create interesting features in the room, as they can be designed to have interesting patterns (they can also be backlit to give an interesting glow).
The lighting is an important design element as it helps to create the final ambiance of the room. Dimmable lighting and concealed strip lighting are great for giving the room a fine glow. Personally my favourite design method for a home theatre is a charcoal or black painted ceiling with very little lighting here, therefore relying on wall lights and low stair lighting, this lighting then becomes one of the main décor features of the room. In some cases fibre optic lighting can also be a fun touch on the dark ceiling.
- THE SEATING
The final touches which bring the whole room together are the décor, the lighting and of course, the seating. There are different types of seating to consider:
1) A formal seating arrangement with upholstered cinema chairs. These can be joined together in groups or as individual chairs (with or without cup holders and clever accessories).
2) An informal cinema seating design which can include an L shaped couch or large daybed at the back and a few big bean bags for the children in front.
For either of these to be really effective you need to have raked seating, so having the back section of seating on a higher platform, with the next level lower down and so on.
There are so many design and décor considerations which will all dramatically change the final look and atmosphere that you will create in your interior. These tips are just the starting point but they will hopefully help you with your planning. We hope you have found this information useful and wish you the best of luck for designing your ideal home theatre.
For more information on Home Theatres and Audio Visual equipment please contact Audio Architex. For more information on Interior Design please contact Jossi Design. Photos supplied by Audio Architex and Jossi Design.
Audio Architex: Shop A4 Lillies Quarter, Old Main Rd,Hillcrest | 031 765 8792 | www.audioarchitex.co.za