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I've just recently started browsing other people's home theater's and......


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#1 of 29 OFFLINE   Daniel Becker

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Posted June 16 2003 - 03:37 AM

.....i've noticed a few things that puzzle me. I guess you can consider this thread a discussion of common mistakes people make with their home theater's. Everyone should give their opinions and i'm interested to hear other's feedback on this topic.



From looking at many of the Home Theater Forum member's home theater's I was struck by the high number of people that seem to make big mistakes when it comes to the setup of their system. No, i'm not criticizing someone for not having enough money or anything like that. I'm only talking about mistakes in placement of speakers, placement of seating in proportion to the screen, and general chaos in room layout. I was actually quite amused while checking out other people's theater's. Some are just amazing and look to have cost $15,000. Others are more modest and do a great job with what they currently have.


I guess I was the most suprised by 3 things. I'd love to hear others feedback about my observations.

1) Many people seem to place their seating waaaay tooo far away from their screen. If your displaying your movies on a 27" screen you don't want to be sitting 10 feet from the screen! Am I wrong in this thinking? In comparison I just recently purchased my first HDTV and I got a Sony 36" HS510. I have my main couch situated directly in front of the screen and about 6.5 feet from the couch edge. IMO that is a great distance to watch movies on a 36" screen. Your not too close that you feel like your eyes are hurting but your close enough that the movies can almost draw you into their scenery. You really see a nice size screen considering a 16:9 image is 33" on a 36" 4:3 set. So, IMO this is a very important factor in creating your home theater. You want your viewing distance to match your screen size as best as possible.

2) Many people seem to focus heavily on their system sound and completely forget about the tv! It seems that many people spend several thousand dollars on a fantastic surround system and then they're viewing the movie on a $450 tv. Posted Image That sort of gets chuckle out of me but I guess it's a matter of personal preference. IMO the picture and sound are equally important. If your watching a movie with a pathetic image quality it doesn't matter how great your sound is your not going to be fully drawn into the experience. The same goes for the sound. If your watching the movie on an amazing 40" widescreen but the sound is 2 channel stereo your not really going to get that "theater like" feeling if you know what I mean. Posted Image So, i'd love other people's take on that topic as well. IMO I might even say I think the TV is a little more important than the sound. Just by a hair.

3) Lastly, I noticed some home theater's that seem to just be in total chaos. I'm talking surround speakers placed in no particular order. Left front speaker is 2 feet closer to the viewers than the right front and so on. Posted Image The same goes for the rear surrounds. Then I also noticed many people placing the seating and tv at opposing angles in the room. The tv is sitting at a 45 degree angle from the couch. :b I guess i'm just suprised at what some people will put up with. It's not like they couldn't set the room up accurately but they actually chose to have the couch and tv completely un-centered.


So, if you've never looked at the other HTF's member's pictures area you should type in HOmetheaterforum.com and choose "flash" and then choose "Home theaters". It's interesting just getting a small look at other people's lives and their home theaters.



Dan.B

#2 of 29 OFFLINE   RonnieT

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Posted June 16 2003 - 04:15 AM

Daniel, for the most part I agree.

1) I have a 43" RPTV and I will have my seating at 10' from the screen. I believe that this is prime viewing. Posted Image If I were to go bigger, I'd have to move the couch back.

2) I definately agree with you here. I would rather have a better tv and have awesome sound. Don't get me wrong. Sound is definately a plus and you really don't want to listen on 2 channel stereo.

3) Sometimes your situation can't acquire a perfect room layout. Mine for instance, I will have a couch facing the tv as well as one at a 90 degree angle. It was either this or get rid of the couch. And we didnt want that because then we couldnt have friends over to watch a movie. We just tell them that they get to sit in the other couch. Posted Image
...So I reached in the Miller cooler and grabbed a cool Bud.

#3 of 29 OFFLINE   Dave Poehlman

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Posted June 16 2003 - 04:43 AM

Well, I don't fit into #1... I'm sitting about 7' away from my 50" screen.

As for #2.. My TV cost more than my current audio setup.. but, it's still a work in progress.

And #3, well, I'm guilty of having one surround speaker about 1 foot farther away than the other. Also, we have a chair that is at a 45° angle from the TV...and another chair that is 90°. It's just the way the room had to be laid out. We rarely have more than 2-3 people in there anyway.

But, in defense of the other HTF members, there are a lot of outside factors that dictate your setup and layout. I'm sure everyone would like a 100" FPTV with theater seats and a 7.1 system but, that's not always practical or attainable. I remember my first prologic setup, I was in a small apartment with my 27" TV and the rear surrounds were placed on the back of the couch... right next to your head! It was more distracting than entertaining.

#4 of 29 OFFLINE   Dan Keliikoa

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Posted June 16 2003 - 04:47 AM

My feeling is that the people Daniel's bothered by are people who are using 'non-dedicated' rooms for theaters, like trying to maintain the utility of family rooms, bedrooms, or other living spaces. Therefore, compromise is often necessary, and you do the best you can. I think we've all been there at some point in this hobby!

On the speaker placement thing...the distance settings on most good pres and receivers make up for that fairly well in a lot of cases. Again, sometimes the room dictates where things go rather than the ideal of where things SHOULD go.

Ease up, Daniel. It's not that your points are not valid; it's just that many people simply cannot yet accommodate larger tvs, ideal viewing distances, or ideal speaker placement (especially in this wild and crazy world of 7.1!).

Cheers,
Dan
"He is not Herbert. We reach!"

#5 of 29 OFFLINE   Daniel Becker

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Posted June 16 2003 - 04:48 AM

I totally understand Dave. If you re-read my original post you'll notice I mention that i'm not talking about how much money people have to spend. I know everyone can't afford something amazing (me included!) but i'm talking about people who have thousands invested in their theater and yet they have it laid out very poorly.


I never made any criticisms of anyone for not buying nice enough stuff. I was simply criticizing the layout and or setup of the components they already own. I'm basically saying "do the best you can with the equipment you can afford".


In regards to people who don't have "dedicated rooms". I'm not talking about that either. If you look at the home theater's i'm talking about you'll see exactly what I mean. I myself don't have a dedicated room and it's not that big but I was still able to get everything pretty well centered and laid out even. I can understand if someone only has so much space but i'm telling you to look at some of these theaters and you'll see people with lots of space and room for improvement. They have the space, they have the equipment, but they just laid it out very poorly. I was just suprised to see a lot of people spending thousands on home theater equipment only to lay it out so poorly.


Dan.B

#6 of 29 OFFLINE   Erik Farstad

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Posted June 16 2003 - 05:00 AM

I think people are doing their best with what they have and what their significant other will allow!Posted Image On of the reaons, though not the major one, as to why my Martin Logans are not in the family room upstairs is I know my wife did not like them there. When they were up there she would not allow me to "position them perfectly" for imagining, etc...so we compromised. I don't think I'm the only one, so let's just be thankful for what we do have and just enjoy the show! Posted Image

E

#7 of 29 OFFLINE   Mark McGill

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Posted June 16 2003 - 05:12 AM

So Mr. Becker, just what type of equipment do you have?

#8 of 29 OFFLINE   Daniel Becker

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Posted June 16 2003 - 05:59 AM

I think i've got a very modest setup but I do the best I can with it.


I've got my new TV which is the one piece i've spent decent money on. It's a new Sony 36" HS510 HDTV on the 36HS1 stand. I've got it hooked up to a new Sony NS725P progressive scan player with Monster V3 component cables.

Here is what it looks like: I only paid $1499!

http://www.sonystyle......Uc.k&Dept=tv


Here is the DVD player: I only paid $138!

http://www.sonystyle......c.n&Dept=hav


I've got everything connected via optical cable through a Sony 5.1 surround system I bought a couple years ago for $400. It's got Dolby Digital and DTS and sounds pretty darn good. I've got the center channel on top of the tv and the 4 sattelites are on stands and each of them are placed around the viewing area.

I probably paid about $2000 for everything in my system and it's not the best home theater by a long shot. However, i've done everything I can do make it sound and look as good as possible without spending a ton. The little things can make a difference. Speaker positioning and measuring to make sure everything is equal in height and distance is a big key.


I was afraid others were going to jump on my back when I started this thread but I really think everyone is taking my comments the wrong way. I am only criticizing people's setup choices and not their equipment or cost of their hardware. Please understand that fact.


Dan.B

#9 of 29 OFFLINE   Jon Gum

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Posted June 16 2003 - 06:26 AM

Well, I have to respectfully disagree with about 90% of what you are saying Dan. I think I know where you are going with it, but there are three elemental /environmental-related factors you are completely ignoring:

1) Room functionality - before my theater was done, the family room upstairs was where we did all of our movie watching. The TV absolutely had to go again wall #1 and the couch absolutely had to go on wall #2. Without having the TV in the middle of the room, there were no other options for us.

2) WAF - clearly an issue for those lucky enough to have this (small joke/saying while I am here: "Being married is like going to a convenience store to shop......there's not much selection, but it's open 24/7!!").
OK, now that I have that out of my system. When we built our HT, I SOOOO MUCH wanted to make a riser for two levels of seating in direct view of our projection TV. No matter how much I talked, how much I promised, how much I begged, I got shut down in every direction (she wanted a more "family friendly" HT...GAG). Now, this is my personal example, but I think it applies to everyone who has tried to move a speaker 1' into a room, put the TV off-center of a wall, move the equipment rack so the lights don't flash at you when watching a movie, etc., etc.

3) Transition - you just don't decide to create an HT room and then "BOOM" you have one. These things are projects that are marathons not sprints. I would imagine that MOST of the people whose HT you are critiqueing (sp?), realize their couch is off center or their TV is too small or their center speaker needs to be higher. It is an eternal work in progress - YOU ARE NEVER DONE. People throw out pictures of their creations to-date as a way to say "look what I have so far..."

You state that you are not critisizing people without dedicated rooms or people without money, but all of this is related here. In your example you talk about someone with a 27" TV sitting too far back. I have never seen a DEDICATED theater on this site with a 27" TV. If so, if you ask the owner I am sure the "next" purchase on their list is a bigger TV (see "Transition" up above). I am sure that given a choice, everyone would have as big of TV as humanly possible to fit in their HT's, but this takes money and somehow you are not picking on people without money.

The 10% I do agree with about relates to the general "messy" appearance of some HT rooms. The gift of organization was not bestown upon all of God's creations and that is definitely evident in some of those HT pictures.

Just my opinion.....
Jon

#10 of 29 OFFLINE   Daniel Becker

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Posted June 16 2003 - 06:41 AM

Well, I guess I should just let this thread die. I really feel like it's gone in the wrong direction. :b I never said anyone didn't have a big enough tv. I just mentioned that they decided to put their couch 10 feet away from it. I've never once criticized anyone's equipment, ONLY THE WAY THEY CHOSE TO SET IT UP. In many of the pictures i'm talking about the room clearly could have been set up with less space between the tv and the couch. It's not that the room dictated that but they chose to place their couch 10 feet away from a 27" tv. In the previous sentence I never criticized the tv size but rather the distance they chose to place the couch from the tv. That is all.

I've also made comments about people who had seemingly spent $3000 on their sound system and $400 on their tv. I just found that to be an odd choice in funding of their home theater. Why not spend $2000 on sound and $1400 on a tv? I'm simply giving commentary and being curious as to people's choices? Thats it.


I understand that wives often play a big role in how a room is laid out. I'm getting married in 5 days myself! Posted Image However, not every single guy in the home theater section of this site has a wife telling him how to set up his room. I started this thread only to comment on those who just seemed to make odd choices in the way they set up their "home theater". I'm also only talking about the "Direct view" portion of the "home theater" section of this site. There are a lot of rooms displayed that seem to have tons of space but are just laid out very poorly. Frankly, i'm a little jealous of all that space they have. Posted Image I'm stuck with a small space for my setup.


dan.B

#11 of 29 OFFLINE   LeeH

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Posted June 16 2003 - 06:46 AM

I've noticed this allot too Dan.

Before I was a member in this forum I was looking at the different theater setups to see if there was anything I was doing wrong. Instead I saw things others were doing wrong. It is true that the people without dedicated home theater rooms have the most trouble, but some problems are simply unavoidable. The surround channels are what really got me. They are supposed to be on either side of you about 2-3 feet above your ears. The fronts are supposed to be ear height and the center is supposed to be the same height as the left and right. Some times this is impossible, especially the center being the same height as the l/r because of the TV. Some of the problems I saw though were avoidable and was disappointed that someone would spent all that money and time on a system and not using it to the full potential. It's not criticism it's just what I noticed.
Updated HT Updated 10/30/03

#12 of 29 OFFLINE   James Bergeron

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Posted June 16 2003 - 07:47 AM

HAHA, I guess you haven't seen my theatre? I agree though mostly, I think a lot of people have outside factors that affect perfect placement.

As far as TV size/quality that is true, but for a lot of people it is easier to get a good hi-fi system since they can build it piece by piece, the video version is pretty much a 1 shot deal!
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#13 of 29 OFFLINE   Daniel Becker

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Posted June 16 2003 - 08:01 AM

Yeah, i've seen your theater James. Well done! I like it a lot. Posted Image


Dan.B

#14 of 29 OFFLINE   Jeff La Clair

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Posted June 16 2003 - 08:19 AM

I have to agree with you Daniel. I too have browsed a lot of home theater web sites not just here on HTF, but others a well and I have noticed odd placements of funiture, speakers, Speaker wire coming out in the front, etc.

What took my a while to see or I guess understand... which I haven't as of yet, is that anyone who has hooked up 5 or more speakers to a TV set call it there "HT". Posted Image
Again, i'm not trying to get anyone upset at this fact, but what are the guidlines if any, of what a Home Theater is?
Is a Home Theater a dedicated room for your viewing and listening pleasure? Is a HT simply a 13" TV and 6,000 worth of speakers and a VCR? Or is a HT a room or open space just to sit back and relax and watch a movie? I think there are many levels of what a HT is to many people.

that's my 5 Cents worth!
Jeff

#15 of 29 OFFLINE   Daniel Becker

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Posted June 16 2003 - 08:32 AM

Wow! Jeff wins the prize! Someone finally understood exactly what I was thinking! :b Your exactly right when you say "there are many different levels of what a home theater is".


I totally agree and I was just commenting on it when I started this thread. I found it interesting and fun to check out other people's "home theater's". It's a fun hobby and everyone enjoys it in their own way.Posted Image



Dan.B

#16 of 29 OFFLINE   Erik Farstad

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Posted June 16 2003 - 09:19 AM

Dan, I got your e-mail and I'll be getting back to you when I get home tonight! Posted Image

E

#17 of 29 OFFLINE   JawhnM

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Posted June 18 2003 - 02:17 PM

I like compliments, but don't mind constructive criticism either. I have a decent sound system and a modest 50" RPTV and CRT front projection system . Everything I currently have I have gotten 1 piece at a time (I've upgraded pretty much EVERY piece of AV equipment at least once in the last 5 years). My theater is a far cry from many theaters I've seen here and at other places on the net, but is also far better than others I've seen.

My theater is always in TRANSITION as most others are. So at any given time one part of my equipment or setup will be better than another part.

Because of space constraints, WAF, permanent items in the room (fireplace, doors, windows, etc.) there are ALMOST ALWAYS compromises. In my own theater my front speakers are in the front wall and not out in the room where they should be (doors directly to the left and right of the wall). Rear seats (I have 3 rows) are against the rear wall where surround sound is compromised (I regularly have large number of people and need the seats). Rear surround speakers are on the rear wall instead of Dolby's suggested side wall above and beside primary listening position (this gives better sound to all listening positions). There are MANY others! I have throughly studied and I am aware of PROPER and RECOMMENDED setups (but these are best case scenarios). To get optimal sound and video certain guidelines SHOULD be followed but in most cases compromises WILL have to be made.

I too have seen many setups where I asked myself "What were they thinking?" (white walls and ceiling in the theater comes to mind). But maybe that's the best they could work out with their wife, or maybe there planning to paint it latter, or maybe it's just not an IMPORTANT issue or a low priority TO THEM.

As far as the sound verses picture debate goes, BOTH are important. Both help bring you into the film and give you that CINEMA experience. Try watching Vertical Limit on a 19" TV with great Surround or a 100" FP screen with TV sound (BOTH will be severely lacking but better than a small TV with TV sound ). But given the CHOICE I would rather watch Casablanca on a big screen with poor sound and Terminator 2 on a small screen with great sound. We do the best we can with what we have. But then again that's why everyone here is always upgrading.

Jawhn
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#18 of 29 OFFLINE   BrianKR

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Posted June 19 2003 - 12:31 AM

Excellent point Jawhn!Posted Image
To have a "true" theater experience you cant have one without the other

#19 of 29 OFFLINE   Geoff S

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Posted June 19 2003 - 02:10 AM

I agree with what you're saying Dan for the most part, because I see the intent in what you're saying, but there is also indirect meaning that people have taken from it as you've seen, and they're right too.

For some of us, Home Theater is either a piece by piece building process, or start with whatever you can get to fill the space, and upgrade to better equipment later (which makes you appreciate that equipment more), OR those who can take $15,000 to the store and walk out with a system the rest of us dream of.

I started piece by piece, buying the best I could get in each department. Alas, I'm in a 12x14 bedroom. I got rid of my bed, and got a sectional with built in sleeper, just for the purpose of making a more roomy and comfortable HT. We sit about 10 feet back from my 32" screen which seems ok though closer would be better especially when watching a letterboxed 2.35:1 picture. I'm still dreaming of a 42" or 50" plasma Posted Image

When running a non-dedicated room which is also a family or living room, so many compromises have to be made. Indirectly these come up as "Why didn't you do a better job of your HT, or why didn't you do this, or that..." etc. Hey, I have to mount my surrounds on the rear wall cause there are no side walls, and other people have this issue too. Tons more issues come up, but for the time being they can't be helped.

However, I do hate seeing dedicated rooms with hardwood floors, hardly any furniture, wires all over the place, the seating miles away from the screen, bad speaker positioning, and other poor planning in a situation where there is no reason for it (nothing financial, no wife factor, just... it came out like that cause the owner wasn't aware).

What I do agree with Dan on what he meant by his post... If you can do better, go ahead and do it, but if not, such as TV/sofa positioning, and sitting distances from the screen, than its understandable.

The idea is to be constantly on alert, looking for improvements, and learning what they are and how to carry them out. I myself am finally getting down to calibrating my speaker levels, and buying an actual home theater surge supressor with RFI/EMI filtering, instead of using a generic one that cost $9.95.

Also, one side note, I feel IMO that audio comes before video. For me its because 1). audio is easier to tweak with so many different components and 2). When I watch a movie i remember the movie, not the frame around the TV, or its size, however I do rememeber stuff flying around my head, and exploding bass effects. That's just me.

#20 of 29 OFFLINE   Daniel Becker

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Posted June 19 2003 - 02:45 AM

It seems that my thread here is missing about 15 replies. Yesterday when I left work this thread was at 35+ replies and today when I checked it out it was at 17. Posted Image I don't know what thats all about.



Geoff,


I agree with what your saying completely. As for your home theater I would certainly be inclined to tell you to try and move your couch as close as you can to your tv. I just got a 36" and i'm sitting about 7 feet away. I think it's just right and I still get a nice size image at that distance. In your case I would recommend 6 to 7 feet IF POSSIBLE. Posted Image If not that is very understandable since you've got the "sleeper couch". As for your speakers, you could buy stands and position them around the couch. Thats what I did. That way you always have the ability to put them where you want. Just a thought.



Dan.B