When we say home theater system, we can either mean a living room with a high-def plasma television and 5.1 surround sound, or we can say a room or basement converted into a full-blown movie theater. There are more of the previous than the latter. But there is a distinction between the two. Aside from scale, a theater room should be completely black, have theater-style seating and a 1080p projector. Sure, you can use a large plasma or LCD television, but when we talk movie theater, we start talking how many feet wide is your screen, not how many inches.
So what are the major differences between a living room setup and a home theater system surpasses your expectations?
TV versus Projector
A movie theater would use a 1080p projector capable of HD resolution of 1920 x 1080. You would want the room to be completely black with the projector mounted above or behind the seating. Again, you could use a television, but should consider a large high-end plasma with the seating being closer to the TV. A television would be ideal in an area less that twenty feet long. The larger the room, the farther the seats are away from the screen. This is where a projector has the advantage over the television. A good projector could throw a 12 foot image from twenty feet away.
Movie Screen or Paint
If you opt for an expensive projector, you will need something to throw the image onto. A normal wall just will not be good enough. If you have a completely flat wall without any blemishes or imperfections you can buy special theater paint that comes with a bright white base coat and a reflective top coat. This can be a cheaper method that looks great and gives you flexibility with your screen size. A prefabricated home theater system movie screen will often need to be assembled and can be damaged easily.
Blu-Ray Player vs Playstation 3
If you are going to invest in a full-blown movie theater, you have to get a dedicated Blu-Ray player. While it’s great to have a gaming console that doubles as a Blu-Ray player, the Playstation 3 is simply too loud to have directly behind your seating area. The PS3 would be fine if you have a standard home theater system in your room because chances are the gaming system is across the room from the seating area.
Audio and Video Cables
HDMI is the best option for great digital audio and video. The problem is most projectors will only have a single HDMI input. If this is the case, you should invest in an audio receiver that supports full HDMI pass-through. Some models will will only do video, which is fine if you plan on using optical for your audio. If you do not want to use the pass-through option, you can use an HDMI cable for your Blu-Ray player and Component cables for your secondary device–such as a cable Set Top Box. You will then need to use the optical inputs on the receiver for your digital sound.
As you can see there are a lot of similarities and differences between a living room home theater system and a full-blown movie theater in your house. If done properly, each can be a fantastic addition to your home entertainment needs.