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Cinema’s Coming Home

Welcome back folks.  Still looking at all things digital, Today I wanted to tell you about an exciting home entertainment project I’m planning to work on and hopefully share a few ins and outs with you about the process.  We moved house recently and it just so happens that we’ve gained an additional spare room at the back of the house, which is perfect for converting into a home cinema.  It’ll take a bit of preparing the room before we look at installing the TV (or projector) and speakers but I’m sure we’ll have everything up and running, in no time.

Home cinema 

Under normal circumstances, utilizing a professional to consult with, who would also carry out the installation would be a wise decision, but as we live in the countryside in rural Cambodia, so chances of finding such a professional are wafer thin.  It’s looking like I’ll have to source all the individual pieces of kit and fit it all myself.  It’ll either be a complete disaster or I’ll scrape by with relative success. So first up:

Acoustics 

It’s essential to consider the acoustics before installing anything.  It’s as much about keeping the sound in as it is keeping any unwanted noise from outside, out. Keeping in mind that you’ll ideally want to try and cover the ceiling and walls with some kind of acoustic paneling, which are relatively inexpensive (egg boxes if you’re on a budget), you’ll also want to fit a good, thick carpet to absorb the sound from the floor.  Tiled or wooden floors are fatal. 

Once this is complete, it’s also a good idea to finish the walls with a touch of colour.  A dark ceiling and slightly lighter walls (wine red or navy blue for example) is generally a good option, as is choosing a lighter-coloured carpet.  All this helps to enhance your viewing experience. 

Lighting also plays a big part.  You’ll obviously need enough lighting to see what you’re doing before and after the movie and a completely different ambience during the film.  The bet option here of course is to use a dimmer controlled system, ideally via remote control for convenience.

The Equipment

TV and speakers 

We’ll start with the video aspect as it’s the heart of your home cinema, the focal point of your room so choosing the right equipment to use as a display is no easy feat.  There are hundreds of technologically sophisticated TVs on the market nowadays, but once you’ve taken size and cost into the equation, it’s a lot easier to settle on the screen that’s most suitable.  It’s also worth considering a projector.  Modern projectors nowadays offer exceptional quality and are generally less expensive than modern TVs.  The picture they give is also softer than the harsh light from a TV and the size advantages as you can imagine, are hands down, a winner.  For me, I simply don’t have the space to warrant purchasing a projector, so I’ll have to settle for a TV.  I’ve already found it as it happens.  It took a while digging on the net but I ended up finding a great deal on a top-end used Samsung home cinema at http://www.for-sale.ie I’ll also need to use the TV for regular viewing through cable, it’s just more practical.  In an ideal world however, I’d go with a projector. 

As for the sound system, believe it or not, you don’t need to get your hands on the most expensive system for your home cinema.  Most domestic room sizes generally lend themselves better to smaller systems.  You certainly don’t want to go overboard.  I know this first-hand from my recording studio days.  I had a small studio set up in the spare room.  You’d be amazed at the punch and clarity a decent pair of medium-sized monitor speakers will give you.  But for a small home cinema application, I’d recommend opting for a surround sound system, rather than a pair of speakers. The most popular format I believe is still 5.1, which basically means the system consists of five directional speakers plus a larger sub-woofer to handle and produce the bass.  It’s better to keep this unit on the floor in the corner, as it’s not necessary for it to be directional.  After all, low frequencies and bass are generally felt rather than heard.

5.1 Speakers 

And finally there’s the receiver.  This will allow you to accept audio from your entertainment source and send the amplified signal to your speakers. Keep in mind that the receiver will need to support 5.1. 

I hope this has helped or given at least a bit of insight folks, I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the progress.  Until next time..