Home Theater Room Design
Overall room layout for best video and audio

Overall home theater room design is an important consideration when planning your home theater layout. You want the majority - ideally all - of your friends and family to be able to fully enjoy the home cinema experience. That means you'll want your video display of choice to be centrally located and your surround "soundfield" to be deployed so that there is a wide availability of seating positions that have a good view of the screen, can hear the audio tracks clearly and allow surround effects to move uniformly around the room. If you are planning a dedicated room such goals may naturally be more easy to accomplish than if you are incorporating home theater equipment into an existing living or family room.

A Dedicated Home Theater Room is a luxury that not a lot of people can afford.

Some of the more upscale new construction homes are including dedicated HT rooms in their design. If you are fortunate to be among those whom are building a home with a dedicated room - be sure to get professional advice (like from this informational web site) on pre-construction wiring with provisions for equipment placement and overall layout. You will want to make sure you have adequate cabling pre-installed into your walls and ceilings for your speakers and video device signal distribution. Pre-wiring should be done prior to the drywall going up. Be sure to use CL-2 or higher rated speaker wires and in-wall rated cabling where required by local insurance and building codes.

Those who are not able to 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. I actually prefer the casual atmosphere of our living room theater. Our family spends a lot of our free time at home in the living room and incorporating our DLP projector, screen and surround system is unobtrusively and seamlessly blended into the decor.

There are definitely advantages to having a dedicated theater as well. A dedicated home theater adds to the special feel of movie night. In addition 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 your it exactly the way you want and you can start simple from bare walls and then add elaboration as funds and time permit.

Regardless of room size the basic layout of your home theater room design should optimally be rectangular in shape in order to provide the best theater seating and digital surround sound field. Your video display should placed central on one of the short walls in order to allow a better screen viewing angle for all guests. A small square area lends itself to a diagonal home theater room design and is better suited to having the video display diagonally placed in a corner. That allows a greater flexibility of seating distance from the video display with diagonal rows of seating to achieve the optimal viewing distance. I personally prefer the more traditional rectangular layout.

Speaker placement should be as follows...

  • Center channel should be either directly above or directly below your video display.
  • Right and Left channel speakers should be placed to either side of your screen not too far removed from the screen yet far enough apart to give a good spatial feel to the right and left effects. You will want to angle them slightly toward the central seating area. That achieves two functions - concentrates the sound on the main seating area and helps eliminate "standing waves". A standing wave is an acoustical artifact wherein a soundwave "build-up" develops when sound reflects from a flat surface back towards the sound source repeatedly. You want sound to be absorbed if possible by furniture and other padded surfaces - more on that will be found in the home theater room acoustics section.
  • 5.1 Rear-Surround channel speakers should be located in the corners behind the seating area, slightly above ear-level and at a downward angle toward the main seating area.
  • 6.1 The Rear center channel speaker should be located directly behind, slightly above and angled downward toward the main seating area.
  • 7.1 Side left and right channel speakers should be located directly on either side of and again, angled downward toward the main seating area.
  • Sub-woofer placement is not critical as low frequencies are omni-directional however I prefer my sub at the front of the room near the screen. Some folks prefer them right behind the main seating area so they can feel the extra "seat-of-the-pants" rumble - you may want to experiment and see which placement you prefer - or run dual subs for some serious thump.

Your home theater seating area should be centrally located in relation to your screen and no closer than one and a half the width of your display for best viewing.

In our home theater room design we have two recliners directly in line with the screen and a couch along one side of the right wall ("L" shaped). Since our recent move from Indiana to Oklahoma we no longer have a dedicated room (temporarily at least) so our living room doubles as our home theater. Therefore our home theater room design is of the "multi-purpose" variety. It once again goes fairly un-noticed until it is Movie Time.

If your room size allows - you may want to have a couple of recliners and two sofas arranged in a "U" shape. Or if you are planning a dedicated room you could arrange 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 major factor. Options include a visit to the local furniture store for matching comfortable recliners or there a 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 is dedicated or multi-purpose you will want your video display central on one of the short walls of a preferably rectangular shaped room, your speakers properly 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.

Home Theater Room Design

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