Heading out to the movies these days might be great for special occasions but 99 percent of what you watch is from the comfort of your own home.
We’re in the golden age of epic TV shows and there are more ways to get the shows and movies you want at home than ever before. So don’t waste it on a small screen when it’s easier than ever to put together a home theatre.
No, we’re not suggesting you cordon off a room or create a whole new one — we’re talking about some affordable and simple ways to get that theatre experience in your own lounge room. It’s easier than you may think, so here’s how you can get started.
How to choose the right TV screen size
The TV is clearly the centrepiece of your home theatre and most important question to ask yourself is “how big should my screen be”?
It’s a question a little like “how long is a piece of string” – the answer will depend on a lot of factors. But when we’re talking home theatre it’s better to go big, so we recommend a minimum of 55-inches, which is fast becoming the most popular screen size in Australia. From there, you can basically go up and up until you run out of room and budget.
Lynne Bradley is the principal designer at Lynne Bradley Interiors and an expert when it comes to designing your home theatre.
Lynne notes that when choosing a screen size, you need to consider the optimal seating distance.
“The right distance will depend on the size of your screen and how big your room is,” says Lynne. “You want to maximise the resolution of the screen and, generally, the higher the resolution, the closer you can sit. If we take a 60-inch screen as an example, you might want a seating distance around four and a half metres.”
If money and space are no issue, Lynne suggests choosing the largest screen you can afford. The Hisense Series 9 ULED TV, available in 75-inch or soon to be released 85-inch is a fantastic option for the ultimate home viewing experience.
The height of your screen also matters, according to Lynne. “You should look slightly downwards at the centre of the screen and remember that comfortable viewing is paramount.”
Lynne recommends a height of around one metre, based on the eye-level of an average size adult while seated.
How to choose between a wall mounted TV or a media unit
This is another popular question. There’s no doubt that a wall mounted TV looks impressive, but is it right for you?
The layout of your lounge room be a major factor in this decision. It’s worth taking some time and figuring out the ideal place for your TV— it may not be the position you have it in now.
“Think about your floor plan to maximise room flow, seating, reflections from lighting — even storage needs,” says Lynne.
Once that’s done, you can determine if the wall can take the weight of your screen and whether you’ll need an electrician to hard-wire the power or even install more power outlets. Don’t forget to factor in the distance and height issues previously mentioned.
“Contemplate if you want your screen to pivot or pull out, if you’re not able to sit directly in front of the screen,” adds Lynne. “And remember that if you decide to go with placing your TV on or in a media unit, make sure it securely placed to prevent injuries to children.”
How to create the perfect sound
That’s the screen taken care of, but vision is only half of the home AV experience. A good surround speaker system can turn a simple movie into a truly immersive show.
It’s easy to get hung-up on the numbers when you’re looking at 7.1 channel speakers and high-end AV receivers. Even the experts agree that this can get very confusing. Much like TV size, the number of speakers you want around a room will depend on how much space you have and how much cabling you’re willing to have running around.
If you have the space, you should be looking at 5.1 channel surround as a minimum. That gives you rear speakers and a heavy bass blast from the subwoofer — and if you like your action movies, you’ll really notice the difference that brings.
However, a good option for people with limited room is a soundbar. These replicate surround sound rather cleverly, despite usually being a single speaker unit with a subwoofer. A soundbase is similar, but designed to sit under your TV instead of in front.
How to watch your favourite movies and shows
Unless you’re only watching Freeview and video on demand services like Netflix or Stan, you’ll want a media player. If you’ve got a 4K ULED TV — and you really should — then you’ll want to splurge on 4K Blu-ray player to get the most from that pixel-packed screen. The Xbox One S is a good option here — it not only plays 4K Blu-ray, it’ll keep you entertained gaming wise as well.
#HisenseHack: If you can, make sure you hardwire your TV to your network with an Ethernet cable rather than relying on Wi-Fi. These days we’ve got so much connected to our wireless networks, they can get a little unstable.
Finally, think about the seating arrangement and make sure that the couch and chairs all get a good view of the TV, with as little angle as possible. It’ll make family nights a lot more fun.
By Nic Healey.