What Home Cinema Screen Should You Purchase?

A home cinema screen can seem like a simple choice, it’s a bit of material battoned to a frame or rolled into a case, right? Well, I’m afraid it is a bit more complicated than just that. The home cinema screen market is very diverse and there are many different screens out there for different applications and requirements of your home cinema.

Purchasing the wrong screen for your home cinema means you will likely be selling your projector short even if you may have purchased the most advanced screen available.

What Home Cinema Screen Should you choose?

To start off with you should explore the mounting options you wish to have. There are two main types of screen mounting:

1/ Ridgid frame

2/ Roll-Away

The rigid frame option will give you a permanent screen affixed to your wall. This option is perfect for permanent home cinema rooms as the screen does not need to be hidden away when not in use. Many experts also believe these screens are more superior as they will stay taut longer without the movement whenever it is demanded use.

Roll-Away screens are a great for multi-purpose rooms as the screen can roll up into a case and out of view. In some cases, these casings can be hidden in the ceiling space so they are practically invisible when not in use. A motor will simply roll the screen up and down from the casing.

Projector Screen Aspect Ratios

Many new home cinema owners ask about the size and shape of the screen they should purchase. There are three aspect ratio options: 4:3, 16:9 and 21:9. In this day and age the squared 4:3 option is not worth looking at as all cinema is filmed in widescreen and will not be compatible with this screen.

If you watch any movies in HD your best option will be 16:9 as this screen ratio matches the ratio of HDTV content. If you are a die-hard (not the film!) film fan you might consider a 21:9/2.35:1 Cinemascope screen. Most big movie releases are now shot in 2.35:1 and the majority of blu-ray material is now produced in this aspect ratio.

Sadly the situation isn’t as cut and dry as that. Blu-rays don’t currently hold true 21:9 masters (usually adding black bars, top and bottom of the image) and projectors don’t have true 21:9 pixel ratios. To get pixel perfect 21:9 experience you will need a CinemaScope certified lens attachment which will add considerable cost to your home cinema setup.

What Size Screen Should You Choose?

Most people purchasing their own home cinema will want the biggest size screen they can get for the biggest impact. The reality is that having a whole wall of screen in a small room will be very uncomfortable for any length of time let alone a 3-hour feature film.

One of the first considerations is the viewing distance. This is the distance between the screen and your seating position. This, in a lot of cases will be dictated to you by the size of the room. When you visit your local cinema you may have a preference of seating, you may prefer sitting towards the front, the middle or the back. Consider this too is space is available to you.

The screen size also is somewhat dictated by the position and ability of your chosen projector. Sitting close to an image from a budget projector will only highlight it’s shortcomings. It is also a simple case of how large your projector can project it’s image. This will be down to the brightness of the lamp and the distance between the screen and the projector.

What Screen Material Is Best For Your Home Cinema?

One of the biggest variations available on the market is the type of material to choose on your home cinema screen.

One of the most obvious choices to make is if you need the screen to be acoustically transparent. If you want to hide any speakers behind the screen you will obviously need to choose a screen that doesn’t inhibit the sound dispersion in the room. The drawback is that these screens cause a reduction in brightness of your image and can cause back wall light reflections (especially if the screen is not a fixed frame).

Many white home cinema screens are “low gain”. This describes the ratio of light a screen reflects. Typical values are written as 1.0 – 1.3. A 1.3 gain screen will reflect around 30% light.

A popular option to explore is grey screens which boost the black-levels in your image rather than white. This all boils down to a matter of taste, consider the movies you typically watch and what image you commonly get. Action films tend to be darker and therefore a gain in blacks will make a notable difference. If you prefer dramas and documentary style films these are typically filmed mainly in daylight and a boost in whites will be a better option.

Your best option when choosing a home cinema screen is to talk to an expert who can advise you on the best solution for you and your equipment. There are a number of factors which affect the final decision and having a second opinion for such a major purchase is well worth the additional effort.

If you would like to discuss your home cinema requirements with us, please feel free to call us on 01732 758985 or contact us to book a free home cinema survey and consultancy.

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