Sunday, July 4, 2010

Five common mistakes to avoid in a home theater project

If you are building a home theater in your basement this summer, please pay attention to avoid these common mistakes.

1. Building the room with an incorrect length to width ratio
This can severely impact the room acoustics. A square room or 2:1 room will be an acoustic nightmare. Choose the ratio which can give the best acoustic performance.

2. Putting the door at the back of the room
This is OK if you have a long room with ample walking space behind the rear row of seats. Otherwise, it will rob valuable seating space.

3. Using a double door
This may look elegant, but sound insulation will be a challenge. With a single door, it is easier to get better sound insulation.

4. Selecting the wrong screen size
Having a huge screen, covering the entire width of the room may look impressive, but may not give you the best viewing experience. The screen size should be carefully calculated based on the room length, width, seating distance, type of video mostly watched, and projector light output.

5. Incorrect speaker placement
Most people these days go for 7.1 speaker system. If you do not place the speakers correctly, you will not get the proper surround effect. Ideally front center speaker should be at the same level as the left and right speakers. This is difficult with a TV. But if you are using a projector and screen, go for an acoustically transparent screen which will allow you to place the center speaker directly behind the screen.

Here is a piece of advice

Home theater can be a fun DIY (Do It Yourself) project. But to do it correctly, you will need a great amount of knowledge and will need to do a lot of research. Otherwise you may come up with faulty design, wrong equipment selection and incorrect set up. These are costly mistakes difficult to fix later. A modern home theater is a complex system which is beyond the knowledge and experience of most DIY homeowners. Due to this, it is wise to pay a professional to design, build and setup your dream theater.

Many people do the mistake of engaging a professional when it is too late. If the room is already finished, it is too late. There may be so many mistakes in the design which cannot be fixed. If the framing is done, but drywall is not installed, it is a slightly better situation. At least, the in-wall cabling can be done correctly.

The ideal time to engage a professional is at the planning stage before you finalize the layout of your basement.

If you decide to engage a professional, look for a company certified by CEDIA. A home theater is probably the largest investment in your dream home, so you wouldn't trust it to just any wire puller. Please watch this six minutes video ( to learn about the advantages of engaging a CEDIA member.