There’s something alluring about the big screen. Yet, in today’s seemingly non-stop world the thought of getting to the theater after a full day, finding parking, standing in line for concessions can severely dampen the idea. Enter the home cinema concept. The idea of watching movies from home first gained popularity in the fifties though things have come a long way from the original Kodak 8mm film projectors of that era. LaserDiscs made way for home video in the 1980’s, moving on to DVD, then Dolby digital audio or “surround sound” in the 90’s, eventually emerging about 2010 as the HDTV, Blu-ray and flat screen “smart” TV we all know and love today.
A true “home cinema room” includes:
Movie / Viewing Content: “Smart” Blu-ray players have become the most common way to watch. With Smart players, viewers are able to stream movies, TV shows and other content over the Internet. Many current DVD / Blu-ray players also have inputs which allow viewing of digital photos and other content on the big home screen.
Video / Audio Input Device: One or more high-resolution movie media format such as Blu-ray video/audio sources. The “Fully loaded” home cinema may even include a HTPC (Home Theater PC) with remote controlled media center + software application that facilitates as a content directory. Today, many of the more-expensive Blu-ray players “stream” movies and TV shows directly over the Internet.
Video / Audio Processing Device: Input signals are processed by either a standalone AV receiver or a preamplifier and Sound Processor for complex surround sound formats such as Dolby Pro-Logic and DTS-HD Master Audio, to name just a few of the many options. Home viewers select the input (e.g., DVD, Blu-ray player, streaming video, etc.) at this point before it is forwarded to the output stage. Some AV receivers enable the viewer to use a remote control to select which input device or source to use.
Audio / Video Output Devices: This is where it can get a bit technical: Preamplifiers, power amplifiers (both of which may be integrated into a single AV receiver) and at least two or more loudspeakers mounted in speaker enclosures are needed. The audio system will require at least a stereo power amplifier and two speakers, for stereo sound; most have multi-channel surround sound and six or more speakers, some have 7.1 Surround Sound. Those who really feel the need for noise can opt to have as many as 11 speakers with additional subwoofers. For Video, a large-screen display, (typically an HDTV, though some use a 3D TV is necessary. As of 2015, flatscreen HDTV is the norm with options ranging from Liquid crystal display television (LCD), to plasma TV and OLED. Some choose to also use a video projector and either a temporary or permanently mounted movie screen.
Seating / Ambience: Plush, comfortable seating is an integral part of the home cinema experience. The most luxurious home cinemas have theater-style, adjustable, reclining lounger style seating with flip-out footrests, cup holders, even snack trays. Others sport bed-like or sofa seating. Most high-end rooms include acoustic sound tiles and insulation and special wall treatments to balance sound within the room (such as the beautiful modular art ceiling and walls shown below).
Backyard Home Cinemas: Today, the option to create on outdoor viewing experience is even a possibility. Viewing devices and equipment are housed within safe and sturdy temperature-controlled compartments with remote operated sliding doors, allowing for integration within landscaping, patio, pool and BBQ areas.
If you already have the room and are looking for a custom designed home cinema (not HTIB or home theater in the box version), professional design and installation will run you anywhere in the neighborhood of $10k to $50k and up. If you must do an addition to make a cinema a reality in your current space, room buildout can range from $50-$250 per square foot, depending on location, design and materials. Considering bathroom and kitchen remodels can cost as much or more, a home cinema is an investment that can bring years of enjoyment and memories to the whole family. And, doesn’t the idea of being able to watch the big screen in your silk robe sound pretty sweet? In this modern age of ours, Amazon Restaurants or Uber Eats can even deliver the concessions!