Home Theater Room Design
Overall room layout for best video and audio
Your home theater layout is a significant consideration when preparing your home theater layout. You’ll want your friends and family to savor the home cinema experience entirely. That means you’ll need the video display in a central location and the surround “sound” stationed so that there’s ample availability of seating spots with good viewing of the screen, can hear the audio tracks clearly, and allow surround effects to move uniformly around the room.
If you plan a dedicated area, such intentions may easily be more accessible to achieve than incorporating home cinema gear into a present space.
A Dedicated Home Theater Room is a luxury that not all of us can afford.
Some new development houses are incorporating dedicated HT rooms in their designs. If you are lucky to be one of those building a house with a dedicated space – be sure to get expert advice on pre-construction wiring with provisions for equipment placement and overall layout. You will need to make sure you have sufficient cabling pre-installed into your walls and ceilings for your audio and video gear signal arrangement. Pre-wiring should be done before the drywall goes up. Be sure to use CL2 or higher rated speaker wires and in-wall rated cabling where required by local insurance and building codes.
Those who cannot have a new home built and designed are destined to make do with available space. If you can set aside an area of your basement or an unused den, you have an advantage over those who must incorporate their home theater room design into their living room.
There are advantages to having a dedicated theater as well. A dedicated home theater adds to the unique feel of movie night. Also, a dedicated room allows for more freedom of home theater room design and layout. An unused basement area or extra bedroom is a fine place to design a cinema in an existing home. You can design it exactly the way you want and can start simply from bare walls and then add elaboration as funds and time permits.
Regardless of room size, your home theater room design’s basic layout should be rectangular in shape to provide the best theater seating and digital surround sound field. Your video display should be located centrally on one of the short walls to offer all guests a better screen viewing angle. A small square space lends itself to a diagonal home theater room layout and is better suited with the video display placed diagonally in a corner. That provides more flexibility in seating distance from the video display with diagonal rows of seating to obtain the optimal viewing range. Most people would prefer the more traditional rectangular layout.
Speaker placement should be as follows:
- The Center channel can be placed either over or below the video display.
- Right, Left channel speakers to be placed on both sides of your screen, slightly close to the screen but far enough apart to provide a unique spatial feel to the left and right effects. You will want to angle them somewhat towards the center seating area. That achieves two functions – focuses the sound on the main seating section and aids to cancel “standing waves.” That is an acoustic artifact wherein a soundwave “build-up” occurs when sound bounces from a smooth surface and back to the sound origin frequently. In addition, you need the sound absorbed by furniture and other padded coverings – more on that can be found in the home theater room acoustics section.
- 5.1 Rear-Surround channel Audio speakers need to be placed in the corners behind the seating section, somewhat above ear-level, and placed at a downward angle towards the central seating area.
- 6.1 The Rear center channel Audio speaker should be positioned behind, slightly above, also angled down towards the central seating area.
- 7.1 Side left and right channel Audio speakers can be positioned on each side and angled down towards the main seating section.
- Sub-woofer position is not crucial since low frequencies are Omnidirectional; however, some prefer the sub-woofer at the front near the screen. On the other hand, some favor them right at the back of the main seat section so they can feel the extra rumble – test and find which arrangement you prefer – or operate twin subwoofers for some significant thump.
Your home theater seating area is best centrally positioned in relation to your display and not closer than one and a half the breadth of your screen for the most enjoyable viewing.
If your room size allows – you may want to have a couple of recliners and two sofas arranged in a “U” shape. If you are planning a dedicated room, you could put rows of either recliners, sofas, or a combination of both or even custom home theater furniture if your budget allows. Furniture selection should, of course, include comfort as a significant factor. Options include a visit to the local furniture store for matching comfortable recliners. In addition, there are quite a few custom Home Theater Furniture models available nowadays for the ultimate HT seating experience. You will find more detailed information on custom seating in the Home Theater Seating section.
In summary – regardless of your room being dedicated or multi-purpose, you will want your video display central on one of the short walls of a preferably rectangular-shaped room. In addition, your speakers are adequately placed for the best acoustics, and your seating to be in either an “L” shape, “U” shape (or a combination of rows or “L” or “U” for dedicated rooms) for best viewing, listening, and for the most effective overall home theater room design experience.