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Media Room Design Considerations
Imagine a room with a medium sized flat panel TV for casual daytime viewing. Then, when evening movie time arrives, one simple button-push on a remote control causes sleek, motorized blackout shades to descend as the lights dim. Your theater screen quietly lowers from its ceiling hiding place. The screen is filled with bright, crystal-clear images from your hidden projector. As music from the soundtrack envelops you, the movie starts. This is the promise of a media room.
In many homes, the family room serves as the media room. The focal point in many family rooms is a fireplace in the middle of a wall with either blank wall space or cabinets flanking the fireplace. Placing a flat screen TV over the fireplace mantle is a very popular design option. This can be great, if (but this is a big if) you can position seats far enough away so you don’t feel like you’re looking at the ceiling to see the TV.
When you select your desired screen size, we suggest cutting a cardboard or poster board pattern to match the dimensions and placing it at the proposed location. Sit back in your chair and look at it for a few minutes. Does your viewing position feel comfortable? If it does, that’s great. If not, consider placing your TV lower: either to one side of the fireplace or even on another wall.
Speaker Placement Options
If you get one thing right, make sure to get the best center channel speaker you can and position it properly. All the dialogue in a movie comes out of the center channel speaker. If you can’t understand dialogue, you can’t follow the plot! Ideally, the center channel should be directly above or below the TV. If you decide to place your TV above a mantle, you can put the center channel speaker over it to get the screen a bit lower. Some center channels can be customized to match the width of your TV to create a complementary look. Paradyme has a wide selection of center channel speakers for every design consideration.
Follow this general rule for the best placement of your left and right speakers: create a 45- to 60-degree angle between the speakers and your main seating position. Each room is different, of course, and our trained staff can help you plot the best angle for you.
Your subwoofer (the speaker providing deep bass effects) can sometimes hide in a cabinet. Two things you should remember: the worst spot for a subwoofer is in the middle of your room, and the best place is along the wall or close to a corner. Again, we can help you with placement options.
Surround Speakers Placement
Surround speakers can be positioned on side walls or the rear wall. In media rooms, location usually depends on architectural elements of the room such as windows and doorways. In an existing home, wiring for wall-mounted speakers is typically much less time consuming and invasive than for ceiling speakers. Sketch out your room for us and we can advise you on your best surround speaker options. Speaker possibilities may be di-pole, bi-pole, or directional depending on your room and your seating.
If you are creating a media room from scratch or have easy ceiling access, there are many in-ceiling speakers that can be angled toward the listening position. If properly planned, these can be very inconspicuous while not sacrificing sound quality.
In situations where you absolutely have no room for a speaker anywhere other than at the TV, something you may consider is a speaker bar, also called a soundbar. These are a single wide cabinet with multiple drivers. They’re inconspicuous, and offer better sound quality than the TV’s internal speakers. Most come with a wireless subwoofer.
Surround speakers can be positioned on side walls or the rear wall. In media rooms, location usually depends on architectural elements of the room such as windows and doorways. In an existing home, wiring for wall-mounted speakers is typically much less time consuming and invasive than for ceiling speakers.
A typical family room usually has adequate acoustic properties. Window treatments are a plus, as are plants, furniture, rugs, bookcases full of books, wall hangings, or anything else that breaks up reflected sound. An example of a challenging room is one with very high ceilings and lots of sheetrock walls that reflect sound quite a bit, making it very difficult to understand movie dialogue tracks. When Paradyme calibrates a room like this, we make adjustments to provide the best possible dialogue reproduction. If you deal with this kind of room, consider adding enough furniture and fabric to absorb sound reflections and keeping the center channel height close to your seated ear level.
If you plan to enjoy your media room during the day for more than casual viewing, then consider how sunlight streaming through windows may shine on your TV. Sunlight glare can wash out a picture. It’s very easy to fix this problem with curtains, window treatments, or some impressively quiet and elegant motorized shades.
In many rooms, existing cabinets can be adapted to house components. However, it’s critical for your components’ life expectancy that they have adequate ventilation. Your amplifier or receiver will generate heat. The cable box, satellite box, or video game system will also radiate huge amounts of heat. Drilling holes for passive ventilation is usually not enough, so Paradyme typically installs a ventilation fan in the cabinet to exhaust hot air. A remote mounted, thermostat controlled fan is even better. We can mount one of these fans in your crawl space so you never hear the fan noise! It’s also worth considering home theater furniture from brands that specialize in TV stands and racks for A/V gear.
If no one knows how to turn the system on and select his or her options, it’s obvious that enjoyment will drop! A well-planned and programmed remote control makes all of the difference. Reliable system controls are available so you can conceal all your components and perfectly transmit signals to them. Paradyme offers a wide range of control options that are dependable and easy to use.
The Ultimate Media Room
The Paradyme design team can help you create this ultimate media room experience. Stop by and let us start making your home entertainment dreams come true!