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One thing that is a constant in designing your new Home Theater, it is the room! If you want to build a great home theater, If you are trying to design a GREAT theater room, the size of the room, and shape of the room, both will have a significant impact on the performance of your home theater. The room really is the key “component” to the entire project. And one thing you must understand is the seating will have huge effect on the audio performance, and even the video performance… more later.

The room is the most important part of your entire system if true audio reproduction of the directors intent is to be accomplished. You can take audiophile rated equipment and place it in an acoustical nightmare room, and it will sound like you bought it at some discount Box Store! Or, you can make sure your room is acoustically as optimized as possible and buy quality electronics and speakers and have incredible performance. Here is were so much money is wasted or lost, due to bad acoustics!

I know, you don’t have control over the dimensions of this spare bedroom or the existing living room/den, but with a little knowledge and acoustic treatment, you can solve some of the issue of your room. Placement of speakers and sub-woofers are key. Moving things slightly could make a tremendous difference. If you are building a room addition, than there are some specific room patterns you will want to take into consideration. For most home theaters, the shape should be a rectangle, which is the easiest to work with, so that is a good thing. Small bedrooms, open dens and basements might be the only option and the shape is locked in.

One school of thought that is you can build a room with a “golden ratio”, which means the ideal and perfect ratio of length to width to height and your room will be wonderful. The reality however, is that there is no perfect ratio. If there is a golden rule, than each of these guys breaks it so, forget the “golden rule”. All rooms will have modes, sonic holes or spikes, all rooms will have acoustic issues to deal with, and all rooms have challenges. Since you cannot build a room without these, unless your in the recording industry and have an unlimited budget, the issue then is to work with a ratio that is known to give you the least amount of trouble at the least amount of cost.

In Alton Everest’s Master Handbook of Acoustics (which is the best reference on these subjects) lists the ratios of four industry experts. Here are the four ratios:

Sepmeyer: 1.0 : 1.28 : 1.54
Louden: 1.0 : 1.4 : 1.9
Volkmann 1.0 : 1.5 : 2.5
Boner: 1.0 : 1.26 : 1.59

Back to my point about the furnishings in the room. Many of these sophisticated processors/receivers have computers in them to acoustically or electronically equalize the room. These send a signal of white noise into the room listening to the reflective answers it receives and adjust for anomalies. That’s all fine and good, but must be done when all seating, decor and nik-nak’s are in the room. Seating, especially Home Theater recliners are huge obstacles, and their covers of leather and fabric will effect the sound, One reflects and one may absorb. Paint color is another huge factor in the reflective screen material. Light from your projector will reflect off leather and paint colors and totally change the color on the screen…

You are probably ready to give up, don’t. This is just added education and answers to, “why does my system look r sound so bad?” Use it as a starting point and jump in. The enjoyment you will receive, the security to being at home with friends and family is way better, cheaper and most times better than any public theater.

Michael Laurino

Premiere HTS Home Theater Seating www.premierehts.com