Experts say there are many details to
consider beyond the basic components when setting up a home
theater, such as lighting,
seating and acoustical design.
If your home is your castle you
probably prefer a night in to a night out. Staying in to catch the
latest DVD release is probably the comfort food of entertainment. Now,
many homes feature a theater room that comes as close as possible to
seeing it on the big screen.
"People are staying home more and
enjoying TV or home theater more," says Steve Kearns of Global
Sight and Sound in Wauwatosa. "Whether people are watching
Packers games or movies we can set up the room to get the most out of
Kearns says new home construction is
making a point of setting aside entertainment space. Whether it is a
game room with a big-screen TV or a dedicated room for screening
movies, people want a comfortable spot with sophisticated equipment.
Kearns says many of his customers are choosing between plasma and
rear-projection TVs. Plasmas can start at $3,000.
"Weíve done master bedrooms with
full-blown stereo and plasma TVs," Kearns says. "Most new
home construction is wired for music throughout the home. In my
opinion, the neatest thing to come out of TV is the High Definition
television. The resolution is excellent. It is night and day next to
regular TV. Most new TVs you buy now are HD ready, but the HD
programming is not there yet with too many channels, but that is
Jason Koziol, project manager with
Techteriors, has seen a growing demand for the plasma TV not only
because of the picture quality, but the size.
"It is a very thin TV between 3 to
5 inches deep with a 42-inch diagonal screen. A plasma is 16-by-9
format compared to the 4-by-3 of the standard TV. High-definition
images are filmed with 16-by-9 ratio camera lens that accounts for the
superior picture quality," he says.
He notes that plasmas are significantly
brighter than rear projection TVs. "Also, a plasma TV looks good
from any angle," he says. "With a rear projection TV you
have to be sitting pretty much in front of it to get the best
Koziol says another high-demand
technology is the liquid crystal display or LCD TVs.
"These are also very thin TVs with
a 15-inch screen that is great for a kitchen or a bedroom or any tight
spot," Koziol says. "They are also 16-by-9 so you have that
Jack Schroeder of Sound Designs in
Mequon says the effect on first-time HD viewers is evident in their
"People literally get glazed over
looking at it for the first time," Schroeder says. "The
colors are so vibrant and the picture quality is so good that the
average personís jaw just drops to the floor. That is the exciting
thing about my business - it is more technically advanced than just
buying a new TV."
Schroeder says his business is more
than half directed toward new home construction, but the newest
technology can find a niche in any home.
"I know people like to do this
themselves, but there are expensive mistakes to be made and itís not
as easy as some people think," he says.
"We donít want the customer to
be intimidated by the technology either. We would install an
easy-to-use universal remote control and make everything very
accessible to the customer."
The experts advise consulting a
professional whether you are building new or updating an older home.
"Weíve seen new homes wired, but
the wiring is wrong and weíve had to tear up walls to replace
it," Kearns says. "We take into consideration the size of
the room and how the system will be used to customize that job for
Koziol advises customers to define what
the room will be used for before making any expensive investments. A
media room is for TV, sporting events and movies. A home theater is a
dedicated space for watching movies.
"If you want a home theater, there
are many details to consider beyond the basic components," Koziol
says. "Consider how much natural light is in the room - the
plasma TVs are very bright, but you canít compete with natural
sunlight. If there is a lot of light we can help with shade and light
Koziol says from the screen you will be
watching to the seats you will occupy, every detail is important in a
"If you walk into a movie theater,
some people choose the back, some the front, some the side," he
says. "A lot of personal preference comes into play. The general
comfort of the seats and chairs is an important detail. You want to
choose something that you can sit in for three hours or more and be
Koziol says simplicity is important
even with all the technology available.
"We have a remote that controls
everything from the lighting and draperies to the system itself,"
he says. "There are so many factors to setting up a theater that
you are almost certain to fall short if you havenít done it before.
Even though you can purchase a surround system in a box and install it
yourself, it can be very frustrating to calibrate and set the
equipment properly. I liken it to tuning a race car engine for the
best performance. Many times Iíve come to a home and made a few
adjustments and the customer said ĎWhat did you do?í If it is not
correct, it can be just a lukewarm performance. There is a difference
between watching a movie and being a part of the movie."