So you finally talked your spouse into letting you spend some money on a kick-ass new home entertainment system or home theater?
Great work! Give us a call and we can have you enjoying Game of Thrones in glorious surround sound before the season ends! There are a few things you should think about. We’ll talk about some important factors when we visit your house and start to design the home entertainment system.
Here is the four things you should know about your home – and yourself – when shopping for your home entertainment system.
1. Room Size
How big is the room you want us to install this entertainment system? Is it the living room? A small study that you are converting into a movie room? Maybe it’s the entire area around the pool so you can have outdoor movie night every week during the summer.
Room size plays a big role in what we can do with the system design. Sure … we could pack an 11 channel system into an 80 square foot room, but it’s total overkill. And there would be so little separation between speakers that you won’t really notice you’ve got more than a few.
So here’s a guideline:
- Small rooms = 5.1 or 5.1.2 ATMOS systems
- Medium rooms = 7.1/(7.2) or 7.1.2/7.1.4 ATMOS systems
- BIG rooms = go for it! Ask me what we can do. The neighbors will love it.
2. Speaker Type
Now that we know about how many speakers you can fit in your room, let’s consider the type of speakers you should get.
Cabinet (bookshelf, tower, soundbar)
My favorite type of speakers! But I’m a speaker guy and love the art of them as well as the sound. I’d prefer to see a pair three-foot-tall speakers flanking my TV than not see the speakers at all.
These speakers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors and wood finishes. These are no longer those big black boxes. I even prefer them with their grills off, so you can see the color contrast of the woofers.
These also generally sound the best because they were engineered around a particular cabinet and don’t have as many outside influences affecting their sound.
These mount right into the wall, so we’ll cut out some large holes and place the speakers in them. These are somewhat discreet with their practically flush grills, which can be painted to match the wall.
Their placement and sound can be affected by stud width, insulation type and density, wall height, etc. Much of the audio reproduction of these will be lost in the walls. It can also transfer into other rooms.
There are a few things we can do to help alleviate this sound transfer like speaker back boxes and sound proofing, but we can only do so much in a retro-fit situation.
My least favorite type of speakers for surround sound, unless we are adding Dolby ATMOS. I’m a firm believer that while watching film, sound should come from around you. NOT overhead, unless overhead was intended (like in ATMOS).
As a bullet fires behind me I should hear it whiz past my ear, not fly 10 feet above me. Again we deal with sound transfer like the in-walls, but this time we are usually losing sound into the attic space, and most of the time there is a lot of space to fill up there.
But these are discreet. They’re in the ceiling, you’re not really going to notice them, and we’ll even line them up with the can lighting to make them even more aesthetically pleasing. In home entertainment systems, sometimes aesthetics is the most important thing.
Sonos is leading the category on this. If you’re a true audiophile or you’re looking for the best possible sound or true surround sound in your home entertainment systems, don’t start here. But they can be a good option to expand your home audio system or they can give you some pretty cool options. I’ve got a few stories about how I’ve used the Sonos for real-live home theater systems and audio setups here.
3. Component Placement
You’ve decided on your best speaker layout and what type of speakers you’d prefer for your entertainment system. Now where are we going to put all the other stuff? The stuff that makes the sound actually play and the image display on the screen. In other words all those ugly black boxes. This includes the TV wall mount too.
I don’t want to fight you for space, but these things can get hot. Hot electronics are not typically happy electronics. Too much heat can decrease the life span of components and we want this stuff to last until it’s obsolete.
Well, you’re spending all this money on it, so I assume you want to get the value out of it!
Preferably we’ll get a whole closet space that we can put a rack in, or perhaps there are already some open shelves in this closet. This isn’t always the case.
Maybe you’ve decided that the gear should all go in the entertainment center below the TV. You’ll shut the doors and then forget about it. Great! We can make this work, but I’m going to insist on some thermal management components (i.e. something to help cool it off).
Let’s try and keep this stuff cooler, so you aren’t opening the doors to a wave of heat that reminds you of pulling a roast from the oven (except this could smell like burnt wires).
And if we are putting these components in a closed cabinet, can we have two door spaces? Then we can spread the system out a little more.
Remember, cool electronics are happy electronics.
We’re almost there! You’ve figured out speaker layout, speaker type, and allotted some space for the equipment to call (a cool) home.
Now lets talk about how to control it all once everything has been installed. I’m sure the last thing you want is to have to pick up three, four, or five remotes just to watch a movie.
What do you want to do with the control system for your home entertainment system?
Are you just controlling basic TV watching and the occasional movie? If so we can install a basic Universal Remote and everything can work with a single button press.
But maybe you have grand ideas for what your house can do in the future and you might as well start it now and upgrade slowly over time.
Maybe you want to integrate the lights, shades, thermostat, house music, garage door, pool waterfall, front gate or anything else you can think of. We can probably do it. And not just control it! We can have these systems react to your lifestyle … automatically. Read here about voice control for a deeper dive into home automation.
There are plenty more things that I’m sure you’ll want to know (get our free detailed report here) as you plan for your new home entertainment system, this gets you something to think about before we ever set foot in your house. And if you have some questions or concerns of your own, feel free to call me at (559) 432-8600, I’m happy to help you!