In years past, the symbol of a luxury home was defined by owning a dedicated home theater. As going to the movies is becoming more expensive, homeowners would rather experience the cinematic experience from their own couch; popcorn and drinks included for free! Home theaters are still desired by many, but others are choosing to opt to renovate a spare room into a media room, complete with cozy seating, a flat-screen TV, and a surround sound system. But don’t home theaters have all these features too? SounDesign is ready to explain the differences between a media room and a home theater, so you can decide which is the right option for your home!
Lighting: To best reproduce a cinema-quality image, you’ll need to recreate the subtlety of cinema lighting by ensuring nothing will cast light directly onto your picture. This means that windows or bright overhead lights could wash out your image. Investing in remote control dimmers for your lights and blackout curtains for your windows will create the same sense of anticipation and excitement as when the lights begin to dim at the movie theater.
Sound: It's important to save enough money for a proper sound system, so our suggestion is to cut your budget into three parts: the screen, sound, and room. When you have a dedicated home theater, you should have at least five speakers to achieve the surround sound effect, and you can embed speakers of different shapes and sizes into the walls, floors, or ceiling to maximize your space. Optimize your sound quality by installing acoustic panels and thick carpet to truly immerse yourself in the action of whatever you choose to watch.
Room: In a home theater, the screen is the centerpiece of the room, where everyone will focus their attention during the big game, a movie night, or a video game tournament. When you have a separate room for this kind of visual entertainment, you can specialize each piece of furniture. Reclining chairs with cupholders can be arranged in rows to replicate the cinematic experience. Take things a step further and choose a theme for your home theater, whether you want to bring Art Deco flair to your space or create a fun superhero-themed hideout.
Setbacks: Your space is perfect for screened entertainment, but unfortunately, not for much else. A surround-sound system makes it difficult to talk to each other; some critics call home theaters a space that encourages anti-social behavior. If you want to add screens in other parts of your home, you may need to decrease your budget. But if you want to raise the volume and experience the cinema, then a dedicated home theater is the right choice for you.
Content Options: A media room can do much more than screen a movie from a Blu-ray player. Today's technology allows you to access many streaming services, including YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify. You'll be able to watch cooking tutorials while you try a new recipe, listen to ambient music while you compete in a board game, or try a new workout video from your favorite fitness influencer. And if you want to watch a movie, you still can!
Screen: Your media room screen likely won’t be as large as that of a home theater; there’s no need to overwhelm your senses for your watching or listening habits. If you can sit back from the screen a distance of two to three times of its diagonal measurement, then you’ll have an optimal viewing experience that won’t strain your eyes or neck, and still allows everyone to see the action from a reasonable distance.
Sound: Media rooms don’t need acoustic panels, carpet, or speakers installed into your walls. A fluffy sofa, thick curtains, and a soft carpet should be plenty to create desirable acoustics. Instead of five speakers, two or three should be plenty to still create an immersive experience.
Room: You'll have more freedom of design with your media room than in a home theater. An open floor creates space for more social activities, meaning you can supervise other family members while you cook, clean, or do work from afar. You'll be able to entertain guests to game nights by hiding your screen behind artwork or a mirror. Your furniture can encourage conversation with loveseats, L-shaped couches, or armchairs around a coffee table.
Setbacks: A media room isn't usually enclosed by four walls, so you may end up disturbing other members of the household or even your neighbors while watching a loud action flick. You also can't get as creative with a media room's décor since you probably would like it to blend with the rest of your home's style. So if you want to build your homage to your favorite sci-fi series, you may want to choose something a bit more dedicated than a media room.
Whether you want to experience a horror movie just like the cinema, or you want to expand your activities to more social pursuits, there is a room right for you. Of course, you can mix our suggestions to build an entertainment experience that fits your lifestyle. Whether you prefer to install a media room or a home theater, contact our team at SounDesign today to get started!