How to create your own home cinema
There’s a lot more that goes into creating an amazing home cinema than simply mounting a huge TV on the wall…
31 Mar 2020
To create a true cinema experience in your home, there are a few things you’ll need to think about. The main considerations are the size and shape of your room, the lighting in the room and, if you’re using a surround-sound system, where you’re able to put the speakers.
So let’s take a look at each part in more detail…
Make sure your cinema room is the right size
There’s no perfect size for a home cinema; the most important factor is the shape of the room. It’s best to avoid square rooms when possible, though. This is for two main reasons:
- You’ll want the room to be able to fit all your equipment while still allowing you to sit a comfortable distance from the screen.
- The sound from your main speakers (or sound bar) needs room to project out from the TV. If you’re too close to the main speakers, they’ll overpower your satellite speakers. We’ll talk about sound in more detail later.
For a medium-sized room, dimensions around 10ft x 12ft are ideal, and if you have a much bigger room, something close to 16ft x 23ft would work best.
Get the cinema lighting right
The lighting for your home cinema is extremely important when planning your room. It’s best to avoid rooms with too many windows, but if that’s your only option, it’s worth installing some blackout blinds so you can easily block out any external light.
Create your own custom cinema atmosphere
The types of lights you use are important too, and dimmable lights are a must because you’ll want to be able to accurately control the light level. Philips Hue smart lighting is ideal because you accurately can set the brightness by percentage, or even create your own custom cinema atmosphere.
Combine it with Google Assistant and just say “Hey Google, turn on my Philips Hue cinema mode” to get the atmosphere just right without having to lift a finger.
Find the right sound system to your room
TV sound systems come in all shapes and sizes and if you’re creating a dedicated movie room, the type of system you choose is really important.
A soundbar is a simple option and much easier to set up. Some high-end cinematic soundbars, have multiple speakers that cleverly bounce the sound around your room to simulate a full surround sound system.
But if it’s the ultimate cinema experience you’re looking for, you’re going to want a full surround-sound setup.
When you’re looking for a surround-sound system, it’s useful to understand what the numbers mean. The most basic setup is ‘5.1’ and it simply represents the number of speakers.
The first number tells you how many speakers you get, and the second number represents the number of subwoofers. So a 7.1 setup would have 2 front speakers, 1 centre speaker and 4 satellite speakers, plus a subwoofer. And all those speakers have different jobs:
- Front speakers – there are usually two of these and they sit either side of your TV. They’re responsible for most of the sound, they also split the audio into left and right channels, so you get a sense of where the sound is coming from.
- Centre speaker – this is usually a relatively small speaker that sits in between the two front speakers and its main job is to handle the dialogue.
- Satellite speakers – these are the speakers that are placed around the room and they’re responsible for putting the ‘surround’ in surround-sound to put you right in the middle of the action.
Find the right TV for your home cinema
Now that you’ve got a room and sorted the lighting and sound, let’s look at the best type of TV to choose.
Picking a new TV can get pretty complicated, but there are a handful of things you should look for when you’re hunting for the perfect TV for your movie room:
What makes OLED better than standard LED?
Over the last couple of years, OLED technology has exploded onto the market, with all major manufacturers offering TVs using this cutting-edge tech.
The main difference is that an OLED screen isn’t backlit like a standard LED. Rather than the light being emitted from a separate panel and shone through coloured pixels, on an OLED screen, each pixel generates its own light.
The main benefits of OLED are:
- True blacks – each tiny pixel is controlled independently, this means colours are more accurate and pixels can be switched off completely meaning you get complete blacks.
- Ultra-thin screens – because there’s no need for the screen to be backlit using a separate LED panel, the screen can be very thin indeed with some TVs measuring just 4mm thick.
- Better viewing angles – because the pixels emit their own light, you also get better viewing angles with no loss of colour or contrast.
- More energy efficient – Traditional LED TVs need the backlight to be on all the time so the LCD pixels can let the light through. OLED screens just send power to the pixels that need it, which uses less energy.
Should I go for 4K or 8K?
Let’s face it, if you’re building your own home cinema, you’ll want to walk straight past the Full HD aisle and check out what Ultra HD 4K has to offer. You might not want to stop there either, 8K is on the rise and it’s worth considering if you’re looking at the ultimate in future-proofing.
If you're looking for the ultimate viewing experience, 8K is the way to go
To put it simply, 4K screens pack in four times as many pixels in than a Full HD 1080p TV, meaning you get sharper lines and crisper images. The difference is particularly noticeable on bigger TVs, and if you’re building your own cinema room, you’ll likely be installing a big screen.
4K delivers stunning picture quality, but if you’re looking for the ultimate viewing experience, 8K is the way to go. There isn’t much content available in 8K yet but these TVs use clever upscaling technology which scans the image and adds pixels to reproduce each frame in a much higher resolution.
8K is also worth seriously considering if you’re planning on installing a really big TV (65-inch or above). The bigger the TV, the more tightly packed you want the pixels.
Should I get a TV with HDR?
The short answer is yes, definitely. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and it simply means you get a better picture with deeper blacks, more details and better colour reproduction.
HDR expands the range of available colour
The key ingredients that go in to making a good TV picture are contrast ratio (the difference between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks), and colour replication.
HDR gives you a much wider range of colour and contrast meaning the TV can get much closer to replicating real-life. On a standard Full-HD screen you might see a dark area in the picture that just looks dark, but HDR picks out lots more detail in the darker areas giving you a better sense of depth.
Colours look a lot more natural too. On a standard TV colours can look washed out, you could turn up the colour settings, but this can make it look over-saturated. HDR expands the range of available colour, making it much better at reproducing the colour you see in the real world.