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How to Convert a Regular Room to a Home Theater

by April 17, 2017
Audioholics Hometheater Room

Audioholics Hometheater Room

So you've got  the itch to put in a home theater. But, how does one go about doing this and what room should you use?  This quick guide gives you a step by step procedure on how to make it a reality.  Be sure to watch our related YouTube video and check out all of the embedded article links to dive further into each topic.

How to Convert a Regular Room to a Home Theater YouTube Video

Step 1: Choose the Right Room in Your House

  • This is usually a family room or den, or preferably any medium to large space that has 4 walls.
  • A rectangular shaped room is the easiest for setting up a home theater and getting good bass but square or irregular shaped rooms are not impossible!
  • Choosing a room that opens to other rooms can make it difficult to get good sound or predictable bass response.  It can also annoy occupants in adjacent rooms trying to study, cook, etc.


Cable Management

Step 2: Prewire your Room

  • Plan out your speaker locations and how to route cables to them.
  • Route your data and cable/satellite connections as closely to your HDTV and/or equipment rack as possible.
  • Route RCA level cables to designated subwoofer areas or plan on going wireless.
  • If possible, have an electrician install a dedicated 20A line to where your power amplifiers will be installed.
see:  Home Theater AV Cable Prewire Basics

Step 3: Fix your Room Acoustics

  • If your room has tiled floors, vaulted ceilings and glass doors, you're gonna need to tame all of the reflections.
  • Consider thick padded throw rugs at first reflection points, heavy draping over glass doors, and thick padded couches and furniture to absorb.
  • If aesthetics allow, consider corner bass traps and other passive room treatments, but don't go overboard!
See: How Does Listening Room Acoustics Affect Sound Quality and Early Reflections & Bass for Small Room Acoustics


LCR Speaker Placement

Example of optimal front LCR speaker placement

Step 4: Plan out the Speaker and Furniture Positions for Optimal Performance

  •  Follow our guidelines on Speaker Placements and 5.1 Speaker Set Up.
    • Remember don't block line of sight from the speaker drivers to the listeners.
  • Keep the couches or theater seats off a back or side wall of possible. Follow our 1/4L placement if you can.
  •  Subwoofer positioning is critical for good bass.
See: Subwoofer Placement Guidelines and Multi-Subwoofer Connection Guide

    HVAC before insulation  HVAC after insulation

    HVAC with think pocket door (left); HVAC with solid core door and acoustical insulation (right)

    Step 5: Control Lighting and External Noise Sources

    • Whether you're using a fixed pixel display or front projection, low light is the best environment to preserve picture dynamics.
      • Have the option to kill natural room light sources with drapery, curtains, etc.
    • Reduce HVAC and other external noise sources to preserve audio dynamic range.
      •  If air handler is in the same room as your theater, use heavy insulation to mask sound.
    See: Reducing HVAC Noise

      curtainsStep 6: Configure and Calibrate your Home Theater

      • Set bass management properly per our guidelines to optimize performance of your speakers and subwoofer(s).
      • Properly calibrate levels and delay either using auto-setup or old fashion SPL meter and tape measure.
      • Calibrate your display using test disks like Spears/Munsil or THX, etc.
        • Getting black level right is paramount and you may need different calibration settings for viewing at different times of the day depending on room lighting.
      See: Bass Management Settings Made Simple

        BarStep 7: Make your Room Look Like a Home Theater

        • Dress up the room with movie props, posters, popcorn machine, etc.
        • Always make sure you have plenty of drink coasters and cup holders or your friends may use your speakers for that purpose.
        • Go for a theme (ie. Star Wars, Star Trek, Mafia stuff, etc).

        Well there you have it.  Follow these basic steps and you can convert any room to a home theater.  Please share your stories and images on the related forum thread below for the benefit of fellow Audioholics.  We'd love to also hear your tips and tricks on how you converted your room to a home theater.


        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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