A home cinema system should be designed to give you an immersive cinema experience in your own home. In this guide, we will show you what to look for when purchasing your very own home cinema.
Whilst many homes in the UK opt to purchase a TV and perhaps a soundbar, a select few people want a more immersive experience and wish to upgrade from the norm’ and go for something a bit more special. Home cinemas systems come in all shapes and sizes. They can be as simple as a 2 speaker arrangement with a subwoofer right to a full 7.1 (seven speakers 1 subwoofer) system giving you true surround sound.
Read on and learn more about the different components available so you can purchase with confidence.
What makes a good home cinema?
Ease of use
A home cinema can build up a lot of individual remote controls and ways to control your system. A good home cinema should be easy to use. An app on a smart device (such as an iPad) is ideal as many remotes can be programmed into the one app.
Amazing sound quality
Any home cinema you go for should put a smile on your face. Look for the best quality you can afford when it comes to audio to help you become fully immersed in the action.
The best video possible
The visual element of a “true” home cinema comes from a projector and screen. Much like audio, try to go for the best quality your budget can allow and don’t sacrifice the screen either. Although a screen doesn’t have any electrical element to them, you will be surprised to see the difference between a poor quality screen and a good quality screen.
What home cinema audio setup should I go for?
2.1 / 3.1 systems
A basic home cinema system will only provide you with the sound being directed at you (not around you). These systems are not as immersive as their bigger counterparts but do a good job for general viewing. In a 2.1 system, you have one speaker placed left and right of the screen and a subwoofer placed elsewhere in the room to provide lower end support. A 3.1 system adds an additional speaker in the centre which assists typically for spoken word.
5.1 / 7.1 systems
These systems give you the true home cinema experience placing speakers in front and behind you gives the full range of sound available especially through the dedicated recordings on modern movie titles. 5.1 systems give you, in addition to a 3.1 system, 2 speakers left and right of the space behind where you sit. A 7.1 system adds an additional 2 speakers either side of your sitting position to fully immerse you in sound.
What home cinema video setup should I go for?
Projection is considered to be the quintessential home cinema experience offering you a deeply immersive experience on a large screen. The range of projectors available are vast so careful consideration needs to be taken into what environment you will be using your projector in, whether it is a lit room being used in the daytime or a dedicated cinema room with full blackout.
The market for TV screens is again vast. If your home cinema is to be used for general viewing of television as well as films then a TV panel may be your better option to go for as watching TV on a large projection screen can be tiresome and in many cases considered “overkill”!
Automation for home cinemas
One of the joys of owning a dedicated home cinema system is being able to control everything from one device. Lighting, blinds, AV equipment and even temperature can all be controlled in the palm of your hand. Do look to invest some of your budget in these creature comforts as it really adds to the experience of your home cinema system.
Lighting for home cinema rooms
Good lighting in a home cinema room is essential to creating the right mood. Lighting should be bright enough to navigate around the room but dim enough to properly enjoy the picture. It should also incorporate some level of brightness when required for times when you want to clean the room for example. Popcorn seems to get in the strangest places!
There are different styles of home cinema lighting including:
Converting a room into a home cinemas
Unless you are fortunate enough to be designing your home to incorporate a dedicated space for a home cinema, you will likely be looking at converting an existing space into a home cinema. Common rooms that get converted are:
Garage home cinema conversions
Loft home cinema conversions
Basement home cinema conversions
If you are considering a home cinema room in your property then it will be worth looking at acoustic treatments available to properly deaden the sound to the outside and also to create a perfect sound stage for your system. The acoustics in your home cinema room should be minimised to standing waves – essentially the sound from your speakers should dissipate naturally and not bounce around the room which causes a muddled sound.
Home cinema seating
One area typically overlooked in a home cinema is where you are going to sit. There is a huge variety of seating options for a home cinema.
As a general rule of thumb if your home cinema is likely to be most frequented by children a less informal seating solution such as a regular settee or sofa is recommended however if the cinema is more for adult use a more formal dedicated home cinema seating solution can be looked at.
The options here are nearly endless with motorised recliners, beverage holders, massage functions, and even integrated transducers to make you really feel the bass as it happens on your screen.
There are many things to consider when looking at a home cinema system, many of which may seem overwhelmingly complicated. This is why we offer free impartial advice to help you get the best from your home cinema system tailored to your needs and budget.