It sounds like the summary for a demented DIY reality show episode: Build a killer home theater installation in a small room. Sure, there are bonus points for keeping things under budget and what not, but it’s the space that’s the problem. It’s like putting a ship in a bottle. It can be done, but it’s tricky.
In a perfect world, everybody’s got a room in the house that is absolutely flawless to build a home theater in. Since we don’t live in that world, we work with what we’ve got. And what most people have is a room that is square. Not bad, but double-check the walls to see if it really is a square or possibly just a squashed down rectangle.
Rectangles help carry sound better, which is why most theater auditoriums are that shape and not merely giant cubes. One of the shorter walls is where you’ll situate your home audio gear.
Lights and Sounds
Ideally, your chosen room has either no windows or ones that can easily be masked with drapes or blackout window treatments. Realistically, you’re going to have to balance how much the drapes are going to be blocking exterior lighting versus how much sound they absorb. It’s a small thing, but worth keeping in mind.
Another thing to consider is how light reflects around the room. Try to go with dark neutral colors and a flat or matte finish as opposed to a gloss or semi-gloss. Or, if you don’t want to get dirty, peel-and-stick carpet panels can be applied to the walls as a budget-friendly anechoic surface. Finally, check the floors and make sure there’s good wall-to-wall carpet with solid padding underneath it.
Speak To Me
Your sound system is the most flexible component to work with, but is also one of the hardest to really nail down. The general placement of speakers in a standard 5.1 home theater setup is the center speaker, two satellites and the subwoofer up front, with the other two satellites in the rear.
Finding the acoustic center of the room (which is not always the physical center of the room) is as much art as it is science. Obviously professional installers like Performance Audio have considerable experience in this area, and are worth calling for this sort of project.