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Why going to the Movies is Still Better Than Home Theater

by September 20, 2007
Puzzled Optimus

Puzzled Optimus

There is no doubt in my mind that just about any decent home theater system I assemble, using some of the better equipment on the market today, rivals most of the local Cineplex’s (IMAX and Disney theaters not included). Virtually anytime I go to one of my local movie theaters, I almost always find faults in the audio or video quality. 

Common Issues with Most Movie Theaters

  • Too much bass (usually boomy)
  • Too little bass or subwoofer bottoming (not enough subwoofer for the venue)
  • The center channel is either distorted or set too low
  • The audio dialog is out of sync with the video
  • The movie is played too loud making it almost unbearable during dynamic passages
  • The video is out of focus
  • The video image isn’t properly scaled on the screen
  • You can see through the screen

But despite the limitations of most local theaters, it is often still my choice venue when viewing full length featured movies. To better understand my pro argument for Movie Theaters, I have developed a point system and broken into the following categories: Sound & Video Quality, Convenience & Comfort. My point system is a bit biased towards being a married man, but I never claimed this article was objective or scientific in any fashion.

Sound & Video Quality

I’ve set up modest home theaters using equipment from our Recommended Buying Guides including satellite speakers, dual subwoofers, mid priced receivers and a sub $2k front projector that literally ran circles around my local AMC and Muvico Megaplex theaters. The experience was much more immersive, the dialog clearer, the bass tighter and the visual was so much cleaner.
Home Theater: 2 points for better audio and 2 points for better video

Convenience & Comfort

Star Trek TheaterBesides clearly better audio and video from a home theater, you also have one key feature no movie theater can ever have….. a PAUSE button. This is your passport to the bathroom without missing Jet Li open up a can of whoop ass on his foe. I was blessed at birth with small bladder syndrome and almost never make it through an entire movie without having to get up once to drain the lizard. At home, don’t be afraid to drink that 64 Oz Super Gulp, pause at will or hit stop to watch the rest of the movie another day should you be feeling tired or out of time.
Home Theater: 3 points for Pause feature

Ok, so far Home Theater has seven points and the Cineplex has a big fat zero. Let’s also not forget creature comforts. This is where home theater wins with flying colors. Choosing between sticky uncomfortable, dirty theater chairs and sharing arm rests with your oversized neighbor versus chilling on your couch or customized reclining theater chairs with nice clean wood or carpeted floors, I choose the later. No contest. Home Theater wins again.
Home Theater: 2 points for better creature comforts

Thing aren’t looking too good for the local Cineplex. By now you must be wondering my choice of title for this article. How on earth could going to the movies be better than your home theater?

The answer is: FREEDOM!

cry babyIf you’ve got kids, it’s difficult to find the time or isolation to sit down and watch a movie in your home, especially at THX reference levels. Thus going to the local theater forces you to hire a baby sitter. Despite the local theater is inferior in so many ways, and is usually plagued with too many obnoxious horny teenagers, it’s still your passport to uninterrupted entertainment making the wife happy since you now have a night out on the town for just the two of you.
Local Theater: 10 points for Kid free zone feature

Tabulated Scorecard Breakdown

Metric Home Theater Movie Theater
Audio Quality 2 0
Video Quality 2 0
Pause Feature 3 0
Creature Comforts 2 0
Kid Free Zone 0 10
Total Points 9 10

Until they invent a PAUSE button for your kids or figure out a way to instantly transform them into adults, the local Theater will always be superior to the Home Theater. Of course if you are single and have no kids than I see no reason to going to the local theater unless you urgently need to see the next Jackie Chan box office flop three months before it comes out on DVD.


About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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