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Episode #3 Get Real Theatre Like experience at home. Build An Immersive Home Theater
Listen To This Podcast Show here on this site or on your favourite apps. The written transcript is following this section.
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Here Are The articles and references mentioned in this episode
Here are the articles and references that I promised in this episode.
- How Far Apart Should Home Theater Speakers Be (Discussing Angles Too)
- How To Optimize Home Theater Audio? (In 5 Simple Steps)
- Read this review guide about the best in-wall speakers for home theater. You will know to use what type of speaker for each channel position in your home theater.
- Watch this YouTube video to learn how to install in-wall speakers.
Here Is The Transcript If You Love Reading
What is immersiveness?
This is the borderline that separates real theatre from home theater. If you achieve this in the comfort of your home. It will transform both your life and home entertainment. You can then ditch visiting your nearest cinema hall.
This word is self-explanatory. The sole purpose of any theatre system is to make you feel the movie or TV show.
If the scene is shot in the jungle. You need to feel the ambiance of the jungle. The rain from above or the monkeys on the trees, the roaring of other animals, the running of the wild animals, or the birds flying by. You need to feel them all. After that, the movie and theatre will be called immersive.
Professional cinema halls are built around this concept. The better a brand can tackle this matter the more viewers will flock to their cinema halls.
We need to bring this immersiveness to our home theater. Don’t worry. This podcast can bring 95% of this magic to your home theater.
Let’s start discussing each step that can bring this magic to your home. These steps are crafted in a way that they can save you money and can still bring the best to your home.
Ch1 & Step 1. Go For 9.2.4 Surround Speakers Or At Least 7.2.4 In-wall Speakers Layout
If you can spend a good budget on home theater and you are comfortable with seeing physical speakers in your theater room then I will recommend going for the 9.2.4 speakers layout.
If you are a complete newbie let me explain this terminology. The 9.2.4 indicates that you will use 13 speakers and 2 subwoofers. The first 9 indicates the surround sound speakers, the 2 indicates subwoofer, and the last 4 indicates Dolby Atmos speakers.
Let’s get back to the main topic.
Why am I saying that if you are comfortable with seeing physical speakers? Because these speakers have bigger cabinets. They need to be placed on the floor and a little away from the wall. Here you see the whole body of each speaker.
When they deliver the sound you feel like the sound is coming from the speakers. There are a few speakers that sound like the sound is coming from the walls and not from the speakers.
If you find such speakers then I recommend leaving In-wall speakers for them. You will love the 9.2.4 layout with those speakers. But don’t forget to listen to this section thoroughly before doing this.
In this layout, you place three speakers at the front. The center speaker and the front left and right speakers. Then you place a wider surround left and right speakers a little away from each front speaker. Don’t worry if it is getting a little confusing.
You can read the article from the description of this podcast. In that article, I have explained the angles of each speaker with a diagram. Now, just listen to these layout settings.
After wider surround speakers you install surround sides left and right speakers at your sides then you install rear left and right speakers at your back. After that, you install 4 ceiling speakers for Atmos effects and at last you install the two subwoofers.
The recommended placement is to place a subwoofer at one corner of the room and the other at the opposite corner. They need to align in a diagonal. In this way, you get more filling bass in your theater room.
Why do I recommend dual subwoofers? Because in this way you eliminate the dead bass spots from your room. These are spots where you experience no or little bass. By placing the subwoofers in opposite directions of each other, You are killing these dead spots. The bass becomes more immersive.
Why do I recommend 9 surround sound for immersiveness? Because here you get two extra speakers than the 7.2.4 layout. Here you place two extra speakers between the front and surrounding sides, left and right speakers.
These two extra speakers along with the front speakers create the sound image of the visuals of the screen better than any other layout. It creates a canvas of sound that is wider and better surrounds you. You can feel the movement of a fast-moving bike or train on the screen from the left wall of your room to the right and vice versa. It widens the sound transition for you.
Why do I recommend in-ceiling Atmos speakers and not elevated speakers? The elevated speakers are installed above your head on the walls. They are good at delivering Atmos effects but they are not the best. The one argument is that some of their sound collides with the ceiling and then it hits your ears. The negative point of this is that you get another flavor of sound. The nature of the ceiling material adds flavor to the existing sound. Another negative point is that you are not getting sound actually from above but from elevated sides.
The in-ceiling speakers throw the sound directly at you and it hits your ears directly without colliding with another object. Also, the sound feels like it is actually coming from the above and not from speakers. That’s what makes the home theater more immersive.
Why do I recommend in-wall speakers 7.2.4 layout for immersiveness? If you can find speakers that make you feel like the sound is coming from walls and not from speakers then go for 9.2.4. You can find them by reading their online genuine reviews or traveling to the nearest home theater showroom and testing them there.
But if you can’t find such speakers then go for an in-wall speakers layout. These in-wall speakers can be installed in the walls. You can DIY this process because most of the speakers provide easy-to-follow instructions and templates to drill holes in the wall for them. I will attach an instruction video to the description of this podcast if you are interested in DIYing this process.
When you listen to movies or TV shows with these speakers. You feel like the sound is coming from your surrounding environment and not from speakers. It gives you strong feelings of immersiveness. There is a pro tip that can transform your front LCR speakers to feel like the actors are talking straight to you. That tips in the next chapter of this podcast.
Also, you don’t need to place the subwoofer inside the wall. They sound bad there. You can have dual subwoofers but place them on the floor away from the wall. I am saying don’t go for in-wall subwoofers. But place these subwoofers on vibration-absorbing pads. You don’t need the vibration to reach the floor or cabinet. You can find these pads for 5-7 dollars on Amazon or Walmart.
These vibration sounds can ruin the immersiveness of your home theater.
Ch2 & Step 2. Go For A Projector And an Acoustically Transparent Screen. Best Will Be To Go For 3D Projector.
The reason I am insisting on going for a projector is because the projector can deliver an immersive experience. It can give you 150 inches of screen size way way way cheaper than a TV.
There are a few points in which a TV is the better option but we will not talk about that here.
This 120 to 150-inch screen size can immerse you in the movies and TVs. The best will be to choose a 3D projector. You might already know about 3D video experience. Here you feel like you are in the movie. Just imagine having a 3D video with Dolby Atmos speakers setup. You will get object-based audio with 3D visuals. This means you get a completely immersive experience.
Okay, what about that pro tip for front LCR speakers? You need to have an acoustically transparent screen for the projector. You can install regular or in-wall speakers behind this screen. This screen can filter out the sound without having wrinkles on it.
You feel like the sound is coming straight from the screen and the actors are talking to you. Not every projector screen is acoustically transparent; you have to ask for it.
Also, use the ALR screen or black projector screen. They can boost the black levels of the projector image and it will boost the immersiveness of the movie respectively.
Ch3 & Step 3. Avoid lightning designs or posters in your home theater
Don’t bring designs that have lightning in them to your home theater. The designs of fancy lighting in the ceilings. You might have spotted them on Pinterest. You don’t need any lighting in your theater room. This lightning can create a reflection spot on your projector screen.
These reflections on the screen frustrate you and kill the immersiveness of the movie. Also, you need to remove the reflective property of your home theater. You don’t need to spot the faces of the actors on your home theater seating or the walls.
You need to paint the walls black and install dense dark-colored seatings.
Also, you might have spotted colorful luminous home theater posters on Pinterest. You need them out of the theater room to show off to the guests and not inside.
You need complete darkness inside to compete with professional cinema halls when it comes to immersiveness.
If you want to go easy on immersiveness obsession and to impress guests and friends from your theater room. Then you can install Rolls Royce-style ceiling designs. In this design, you get very tiny lights in your ceiling which look cool and premium like Rolls Royce.
But you should use the ALR screen with them. These Rolls Royce styles don’t interfere with the image of the projector screen and also give your theater room a premium look.
Ch4 & step4. Go For 4K & Dolby Atmos
I recommend 4K & Dolby Atmos for both setup and content.
I will recommend forgetting about 8K for a while unless it becomes a mainstream thing like 4K is. 4K is a mainstream thing and you can get a lot of content in it. In the case of 8K you can’t get a lot of content.
4K can give you real-life images with crispness and sharpness that boost the realism of the movies, TV shows, or sports, and that too on the 120 to 150-inch projector screen.
Along with 4K, Dolby Atmos audio will make the whole process feel realistic. You get audio that rains over you from all sides. Not just normal audio but object-based audio.
This means the Dolby Atmos is free from speakers to speakers audio transition but it follows the motion of the on-screen objects and makes its sound-imaging in your home theater.
Get a true 4K or native 4K capable projector. Make sure you check the description of the 4K projector you are buying. Many brands claim that their projector delivers 4K images. But investigate whether their projector gives you 8.3 million individual pixels or not. Whether they provide native 4K or just pixel shift 1080p to 4K.
If you can find the evidence that their projectors provide 8.3 million pixels then you can go with it.
Also, remember that many brands claim that their receiver provides Dolby Atmos which is not true. They usually talk about virtual Dolby Atmos but they hide it from you and show you only the Dolby Atmos word in their product title or description.
Check if they provide support for 5.1.2, 7.2.4, or more. If you have listened to this episode you will know why I am referring to Dolby Atmos with these numbers.
Also, when you have 4K and Dolby Atmos setup then you must play 4K and Dolby Atmos content on it to have the best out of it.
There is plenty of content on the market and on streaming platforms that has 4K and Dolby Atmos Quality.
Chp 5 & Step 5. Acoustically Treat Your Home Theater Properly
Now, you know about all the other things to make your home theater more immersive. This last one is the most important step of all.
You need to properly block the outside sound coming into the room and the inside sound going out.
You need to soundproof your wall, your door, your ceiling, and your floor, if there are rooms above and below it. You also need to soundproof duct pipes if there are any in your room.
You will also need to install acoustic panels all over the walls with bass traps at the corners. Along with this, you need to install soft things all over the theater room. Soft and dense things like soft home theater seatings and soft and dense rugs or carpets.
If you want to know about the acoustic treatment of home theater you can read the attached articles to this podcast episode. A few are step-by-step guides.