Review Index:

Building a Home Theater - Part 1: Introduction and Planning

Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: General


Welcome to our new series: Building a Home Theater!  As the old saying goes "all work and no play makes an editor a dull boy"; well you get the idea. Trust me, after some long hours in the lab testing power supplies I like to kick back and watch a good movie to relax and recharge. Combine state-of-the-art hardware that we all love with stunning video and super surround sound and you have the makings for a great hobby that can easily be shared with family and friends.  And we suspect that just like the editors here at PCPerspective, many of our readers are home theater enthusiasts as well.  So join us now as we embark on our journey into the realm of home theater.

Overview of the Series:

•    Building a Home Theater Part 1: Introduction and Planning

•    Building a Home Theater Part 2: AV Receivers and Sources

•    Building a Home Theater Part 3: Video

•    Building a Home Theater Part 4: Speakers

•    Building a Home Theater Part 5: Calibration, Room Treatments and Remotes

•    Building a Home Theater Part 6: HTPC/Media Server

In Part 1 of our Building a Home Theater series, we will introduce you to the basics of Home Theater and go over many of the critical planning steps.

•    Introduction to Home Theater

•    Basic Design Goals

•    Room Layout and Component Placement

•    Balancing the Budget

Introduction to Home Theater (Home Cinema)

Let's start off by defining our topic.  According to the Wikipedia: A home theater is a theater built in a home, designed to mimic (or exceed) commercial theater performance and feeling, more commonly known as a home cinema. Today, home cinema implies a real "cinema experience" at a private home.  In other words the goal is to recreate the experience of going to a local theater, in your own home. 

There are several key attributes that make going to the local Cineplex a unique experience, which will typically carry over into the design of a home theater. 

•    Large image size (immersive)

•    Sound from all directions (surround sound)

•    Low ambient light

•    Good acoustics

Initially it may sound like the main purpose of a home theater is to watch movies.  For some, watching movies may be their main objective but for many others the home theater will be more versatile, enabling users to not only watch movies but also enjoy sports, TV and games.  As we will soon see, defining the purpose of your home theater will be an important step in making it a reality.

The term "home theater" also means different things to different people, depending on your objectives and resources.  A flat screen TV, a DVD player and a home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) plunked down in the family room may be the perfect solution for some.  On the other hand your idea of the ideal home theater might be a dedicated room packed with all the latest audio/video goodies that could make a Hollywood producer jealous.  And while some people will place more emphasis on video, audiophiles may focus their efforts on the sound reproduction.

Now let's take a look at the main components that make up a home theater system.  Most people will immediately identify a large screen TV and surround sound system as the two main ingredients.  Throw in a DVD player, cable box and a couple recliners and we're good to go, right?  Actually no; the room itself is one of the most important components in a well designed home theater.  How the room interacts with the audio and video components will significantly impact the final result. 

  THX Certified Premier Screening Room

(Courtesy of THX Ltd.)

The room should provide a comfortable environment but should also be able to control sound and light.  Both direct and ambient light must be controlled for optimum picture quality and the way sound reflects around the room will greatly affect sound quality.  The room dimensions will significantly impact bass sounds and various room treatments may be needed to help control sound reflections (rugs, acoustic ceiling tiles, book cases, sound absorber panels, bass traps, etc).  The shape and size of the room, color of the walls, ceiling and floor, furniture, carpet, wall treatments, and lighting all become very important ingredients in a well-designed home theater.

July 13, 2011 | 02:35 AM - Posted by Tman3x (not verified)

Great 2 articles, are the other ones gonna be published? I really like how detailed yet I can still understand it. Stumbled upon this wonderful article site while looking for tips on setting up a home theater system.

September 26, 2011 | 10:28 AM - Posted by home theater setup guide (not verified)

If one has a smaller physical space and still wants a home theater arrangement, what can be done? Are there any good guides out there for space confinement?

February 6, 2012 | 11:36 AM - Posted by Deo Persaud (not verified)

hello i have a room in my basement that i am thinking of building a home theater the size is 19 x 13.5 would this be enough space?

June 5, 2012 | 12:16 AM - Posted by wilbert (not verified)

I'm building a hom theater from the scrach. I do notg want to put windows in the room. Myh wife said tha we can put two windows of 2.13254 ft x 1.31233 ft (0.65 meter x 0.40 meter).
the room is 16.4041 ft x 13.1233 ft (5 m x 4m).
What do you advise? Regards

August 29, 2012 | 11:05 AM - Posted by Nain Maniar (not verified)

my home theater room 29ft long...14ft Width..&..height 9ft
is it ok....wht sys is used 4 this room size..& i want 12ft screen

October 7, 2012 | 03:48 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i got only 70sqm...second floor for my theater...with sony 3d bd system..and lg projector.i want space for toilet and a it possible?..please advice and if possible can i have a floor plan...exited:)

May 2, 2014 | 12:59 AM - Posted by glad i'm not you (not verified)

How does an entitled half-wit like you manage to afford enough space for a home theater? You want someone to draw up plans for your theater just like that? Unbelievable.

October 20, 2012 | 04:24 AM - Posted by Big T (not verified)

I am buildng a new home I am installing a 7.2 system. In my living room I have an area of 28' W X 18' L with vaulte4d cielings 36' High any speaker suggestions or placement suggestions. I am using a onkyo 818 receiver 7.2 3D w/ networking in home. Looking at monoprice speakers right know. Thanks

December 6, 2012 | 02:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Due to the limited amount of space in my current home my theater messures 14'x7.5'x8'. I am only running a 1000w system and projecting an 80" picture, but couldn't be happier. I agree with everything in this article, but it's mainly a matter of working with what is avalible to you. I utilize sound absorption and black velvet to get the best sound and picture possible, and I can still seat 6 people comfortable in the theater.

March 6, 2013 | 10:20 AM - Posted by Dr.C.B.Chiniwal (not verified)

my home theatre size is 18feet by 15 feet

June 24, 2013 | 06:07 PM - Posted by Tony walker (not verified)

About a year ago, my wife and I renovated our home in Fort Lauderdale. We wanted to enjoy a cinematic experience from the comfort of our own home, but we did not have a huge room to work with. Thanks to the team at Pure Audio Video, we got a beautifully designed room that looks and sounds far better than the local movie theaters! What I admired the most is that they listened to our priorities and delivered the room that we envisioned. Contact them today at or (954)-581-4434.

March 27, 2015 | 01:37 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wouldn't recomment them since if they are breaking the rules by spamming the messages, one can only imagine what their other business practices are.

December 6, 2013 | 05:59 AM - Posted by Faraz Khan (not verified)

My room size is 25Ft long width is 12 ft and height is 10 ft.
so how can i mannage a theatre in the room?

April 10, 2014 | 03:38 PM - Posted by micmid38 (not verified)

I would like a diagram for a screen that is 160 inches wide by 120 inches high. The room will have 5 tiered rows of seating able to seat 25 people and every row will have a line of sight view. I want each row to be 3 feet wide with a rise of 1 foot to accomodate line of sight view.

April 21, 2014 | 12:40 PM - Posted by Mychaelp (not verified)

I'd suggest going with the BenQ or Optoma for the best bang for your buck

July 19, 2014 | 02:14 PM - Posted by Warren (not verified)

I Have a living room 21'-0" by 14'8" and would like to place my 40inch TV in the Corner but would like surrounds sound that best suit my room area that was giving.

August 22, 2014 | 03:57 AM - Posted by methil69 (not verified)

I had been using yamaha rxv 2300 in 6.1 config. I had hooked up 5 subs to the 5 main channels thru speaker level inputs and had a sub for the .1, the system was giving great performance. Now after I upgraded to aventage 2030 running on 9.1 the sound stage is too bright and bass is muddy. I hv not gone into the manual peq yet, but hv been fiddling with Ypao only yet. Any advs?


Recv yamaha rx a 2300
Speakers yamaha ns 515 series and 555 series
Subs yamaha yst 300 x 2 on fronts yst 160 x 2 on rear surrounds
Yst 45 on centre and yst 800 for the .1
BD player samsung.

May 24, 2016 | 03:38 PM - Posted by jaleel (not verified)

i need my home arrange theater 2700cm with to 6850 is length with full setup please help me for this


September 10, 2017 | 09:23 PM - Posted by Anonymo (not verified)

Firstly.whst is the high of a standard cinema that can contain 100 people. And like how much can one budget for such cinema. What type of projection is better

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