Posts

What Defines An Immersive Home Theatre System

For the inexperienced, the difference between watching a movie and being immersed in a truly great home theater experience may seem minor, but the reality is far different. From a physical sense, the term home theater can be broadly defined. In one home it might be a 16-seat dedicated room with a 100-inch drop-down screen, but more likely it’s a multi-use media room with an AV system that handles music playback, TV, gaming and movie nights. Regardless of where it’s set-up or how many seats it has, the definition of an exceptional home theater experience is the same whether you’re in a villa or an apartment.

The end goal of any home theater should be to create an environment where the sensory content is so realistic, and rendered so accurately that it allows you to suspend your disbelief for a couple hours and accept what’s happening onscreen as reality. It could be a blockbuster movie, a big game, a TV series, or a first-person shooter video game, but the ability to truly immerse yourself in the experience is at the heart of a great home theater.

 

MORE ONSCREEN ACTION

So what does it take to create this sensation of suspended reality? The first thing most people think about is a TV or projector. The most important factor in choosing your video solution should be to find something big enough to fully occupy your field of vision. The more onscreen action you see, the less you’ll be distracted, and the more dialed into the content you’ll feel. Industry guidelines for 1080p HDTVs recommend a viewing distance of about 1.5-2.5 x the screen diagonal. For example, the optimal viewing distance for a 70” HDTV is about 8.5-14.5 feet. The enhanced resolution of 4K reduces that to 1-1.5 x the screen diagonal – so you can go bigger and sit closer for an even more immersive experience!

If you’re considering a front projector, it’s essential to have a room that can be fully darkened like a dedicated home theater room. If you want to use a projector in a living/family room where ambient light cannot be fully controlled, choose a model with sufficient brightness (lumens) and contrast ratio to prevent image wash-out in a lighted room.

 

VISUALLY AND SONICALLY APPEALING

Video is important, of course, but when it comes down to exciting your senses, three-quarters of the emotional impact, the dynamics, the energy and the engagement comes from the sound. A great home theater needs to convince you both visually and sonically that the on-screen experience is really happening.

For starters, the system needs to accurately cover the entire audible bandwidth at lifelike playback levels, from the deepest subterranean bass to the highest treble. All dialogue, every sound effect and all music needs to be accurately reproduced. Each speaker channel has a different purpose and all are equally important and need to work together seamlessly to deliver a convincing experience.

All of the speakers should convey a continuous and evolving field of sonic vision. You should be able to precisely detect the points in space where sounds are coming from and it should correspond exactly with the onscreen action. Also, each speaker should be sonically matched with similar voicing and tone. As the sound effects pan across multiple channels, the sonic character of the sound will not change and the listener then perceives the entire sound field as a single source – this is called the “precedence effect.”

 

Center AUDIO CHANNEL

The center channel is perhaps the most undervalued audio channel in a home theater set-up. The primary function of the center channel is to handle the hugely important role of dialogue playback, because typically in movies and TV, when a character is speaking, you see them onscreen. Center channel speakers have an incredibly difficult job, because they have to create the illusion that sound is coming right from a person’s lips, and failure to do so takes away from the realism of your home theater experience. But center speakers are not just for dialogue. They also serve as the sonic bridge between front main speakers and ensure seamless panning effect and continuity of sound across the entire front stage.

 

MULTI-DIMENSIONAL SOUND FIELD

The various surround channels (side, rear, overhead) need to create a multi-dimensional sound field that engulfs the listener. It might be a conversation happening behind you, the crack of a twig from an unseen stalker, an overhead helicopter or the faint pitter-patter of raindrops. Surround speakers create the illusion the listener is in the center of what is unfolding onscreen, which is critical for the suspension of disbelief.

 

THE SOUNDSTAGE

The subwoofer also has a critical role in the home theater system – it needs to realistically convey the full dynamic impact and pressure of the demanding low-frequency effects (LFE) channel in action, thriller and sci-fi movies. But a great subwoofer needs to be distinct too – anchoring the entire soundstage and accurately reproducing the music score and subtle deep background effects used for mood and creating tension.

The subwoofer also handles the deepest bass from the various loudspeaker channels (particularly the center and surround channels), allowing them to focus on reproducing the midrange and high frequencies for a more precise and articulate presentation. Routing the speaker channel bass to the subwoofer also conserves amplifier power in the AV receiver, which enhances overall system dynamics.

To create a convincing and realistic home theater experience, your entire audio system needs to accurately reproduce all voices, instruments, musical scores and sound effects and place them in their intended location in time and space in order to truly immerse and transport the viewer.

 

10 Ways To Get A Wow Home Theater!

Home theater technology has never been better; with the options available today you can even exceed the audiovisual quality of your local cinema. Whether you want to host the perfect film night, entertain after a dinner party or simply keep the kids busy during the holidays, there’s a home theater solution out there to suit your needs. Here are 10 suggestions for bringing Hollywood magic into your home.

 

  1. Designate a room. For those with the space to spare, nothing beats having a separate cinema room in your own home. It’s a definite way to make any film night unforgettable. Be warned though, your guests will be so impressed, you might have a hard time convincing them to leave!

 

  1. Integrate it into your living room. For those who don’t quite have the space for a designated room for their home theater, try integrating similar features into a living room that can create a comparable cinematic experience.Consider having your screen mounted on the wall, instead of perched on top of a cabinet. This way the screen will be less obvious and the space can be used like a typical living room, with the option of enjoying a superior home cinema experience when you have a film to watch.

 

  1. Choose 7.1 surround soundThe latest in surround-sound technology requires eight separate audio channels to truly immerse viewers in the film. But it can be difficult to decide whether you should try to disguise the speakers or make them a feature of the room.Plenty of speaker manufacturers make devices that both sound good and look beautiful. Wood paneling offers a great combination of acoustics and aesthetics. Remember to check the wiring options when looking to make a purchase; no matter how good the speakers look, a tangle of cables is always a turn-off.

 

  1. Consider in-ceiling speakers. You can have an entire sound system completely hidden from view with ceiling integrated speakers. This is an excellent way to have high-fidelity audio and free up space in your home to get creative with your design.When it’s time to watch a film, speakers integrated into the ceiling make viewers feel as though they are right in the middle of the action, perfect for a nail-biting thriller or spellbinding fantasy flick.

 

  1. Integrate your lighting. Home automation can help replicate that real cinema experience by adding those special touches, such as lights that automatically dim when the film begins, or LED step lighting that comes on when the film is paused for a bathroom dash or snack refill.

 

  1. Sort your seating. What good is a home cinema without cinema quality seating? Choose a recliner, love seat or even a comfortable sofa, whatever matches your space and style. With a home control system and D-Box technology, you can also have your seating rumble and vibrate in time with the action up on the big screen!

 

  1. Hide your projector. Another way to have the technology of our dreams without compromising on style is by using a motorised projector lift. A projector can be concealed in the ceiling or in a tabletop. Then, whenever you want to watch a film, your living room or kitchen can be transformed into your own private cinema.

 

  1. Keep the screen hidden, too. It’s not only the projector that can be concealed, but the screen itself. With a motorised projector lift, some ceiling-integrated speakers and a drop-down projector screen, the transition from living room to home cinema can be as smooth as it is impressive. The space freed up while the screen isn’t in use can be used to display artwork or any other more aesthetically pleasing pieces.

 

  1. Tuck away your TV. While a drop-down projector screen is great, it doesn’t get much more impressive than an entire drop-down TV. No matter its weight or angle, an experienced professional can mount a television wherever you want it.This is another option for those who want to make a seamless transition from dinner party to film night. When the after dinner conversation reaches a natural lull, you can adjourn to the living room and relax with the latest Hollywood hit or cult classic.

 

  1. Link multiple screens. If you have multiple TV screens, then it’s likely you’ll want to have access to the same channels, content and films on each screen. Traditionally, this required multiple set-top boxes and complicated subscriptions, but now centralised TV distribution offers a more elegant solution. It allows you to store all of your television sources and subscriptions in a separate AV rack. The content can then be sent directly to any screen in your home in high definition.