What really makes a Home Theater? - Boca Tech and Automation

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“I want to build a complete Home Theater” - What really makes a Home Theater?

*By Ron Lennox

So, you want to build a Home Theater…

We get this request every day, “I want to build a complete Home Theater” sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Well, it can be but, without a professional that knows what a Home Theater needs to be a truly immersive experience, to be able to be called a “true” Home Theater, it can be a very difficult and time-consuming process.

I think it is a good idea to discuss just what a Home Theater is, and what it isn’t, to help you with your planning. So, because it seems to differ with every person that contacts us, without further ado here is what a complete Home Theater is.

Let me start with the easiest part,

  • A big TV is not a Home Theater.

  • A projector and screen do not make a Home Theater.

  • A TV and a sound bar? Most definitely not a Home Theater.

First and foremost, your space. Which room of the house is your entertainment room going to be in? Is it a dedicated space? Is it an open or closed space? Windows? These are just a couple of rudimentary questions and they’re all extremely important, things like sound treatment, carpeting, lighting, and actual room space are HUGE when creating your soon to be favorite room. For instance, the demo theater at Boca Tech and Automation’s 9020 Kimberly Blvd. showroom used to be a bank vault! The thick walls don’t absorb sound, there is zero natural light, and its large space made it ideal for a theater (except that drilling into the walls for speakers was not easy!).

A Home Theater is not just one aspect of entertainment, it isn’t just “my TV is huge” or “check out these bad*** speakers!” it is the seamless integration of these two minor parts, plus so much more. For the sake of this blog though, I’ll explain each piece in detail. Now, we get to choose a display. Either a large TV (these can be huge now, some over 100 inches!) or a projector and screen combination, this is so we know which components we can use in conjunction with the display and where we can place them. Speakers behind a projector screen could vibrate the screen or have air pushed back toward them, this would ruin your listening and viewing experience.

Next, we deal with the audio. We find out how powerful a system the client wants and decide which speakers to get them. We create a complete surround sound system, which includes at least three front speakers (Left, Center, and Right), two rear speakers, at least one subwoofer, and an audio/video receiver to power and chain them together. For a more complete and all-encompassing system, we would add two side speakers to completely encircle the user, four height speakers in the ceiling as a lid, and for the most realistic bass, we would, at the least, add a second subwoofer. This would be a complete Dolby Atmos system, an extremely lifelike and powerful way to listen to your music or watch your movies and shows.

You see “Surround Sound” as it is regularly called has come a very long way in the past few years.  Dolby Atmos for instance, is what we call an object-based system.  What this means is that a single item that moves on the screen can be heard moving around in the room, accurately matching the on-screen movements.  For instance, a Bee buzzing about on the screen will sound as if it is buzzing about in your room… right next to your ear.

Now, just the few things I have specified here have a pretty good number of parts (I haven’t even mentioned the misc. pieces that go into powering and linking all of these components together for control and continuity) and I can already hear people saying, “I do not want/need that many speakers/pieces of equipment in my room”, “I do not have enough space for all of this”, etc. don’t fret, I have good news… again.

The quality and performance of architectural or in-wall and in-ceiling speakers has gotten amazing over the last few years and I can assure you that, if need be, we can outfit a room without a single speaker sitting around on the floor or in a cabinet.  A room can now be designed based on the looks as well as the sound with speakers and even then, the speakers can be virtually invisible with no loss of performance whatsoever.  You can have your room and your Theater too! And with a localized equipment closet, all your appliances, and equipment stay in one place, almost anywhere you have space.

This article is meant just as a primer. There are a lot of considerations to take based on your room and how it will be used by you and your family. Will it be an area where you have meals? Will it be an area with multiple functions? Is it for recording things and must be completely sound absorbent? Here at Boca Tech and Automation, we love doing custom jobs and Home Theaters, in fact, that used to be our name, Boca Theater and Automation (we ended up changing it to better encompass everything that we do). We love bringing the dreams of our clients to life, creating one-of-a-kind rooms that all of their family and friends can enjoy.

So, when you’re ready to start the design of and build your dream room, give us a call!  We will set up an in-home consultation, or you can visit the showroom! Come in and get a glimpse at “The Vault”, our amazing theater, and get your creative juices flowing so we can work with you to design your own room!

Ron Lennox is VP of Business Development at BTA and is always trying to save the world from bad Hi-Fi!

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