Seating Distance for a flat panel display

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by LilBro, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. LilBro

    LilBro Auditioning

    Jan 17, 2007
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    I've check the internet, other forums, friends, and stores and I keep getting different recommendations.

    We have a bilevel (raised ranch) house. Our family room is approximately 12' X 15' in the lower level. The front 15' wall has one 34" window. The junction of the 12' side wall and rear wall has a brick wall & fireplace at a 45ยบ angle to the room. Two of the walls are drywall, the other two are drywall over concrete block for about 4', then drywall for the remaining 4' and are set back by the width of the block. The floor is carpeted. The other side wall abuts the stairs and is about 8' wide. Right, so now you know the basic layout. Now the details.

    We currently have an 11 year old Toshiba 32" CRT. It's connected to a Kenwood HTB-505 5.1 stereo. The Kenwood has RCA and s-video out. It also has RCA and TOSlink for sound. Our seating area is currently about 12' away from the CRT screen. By mounting a flat panel on the wall, it would be about 14' - 15' away. A projector system would really not be very feasible because of the floor joists. They run perpendicular to the front wall, so any cabling would need to run through the laundry room, into the garage and back into the house through the exisitng cable grommets.

    So, with the described distances, I've seen recommendations from 42" to 110" for a display size. So, what size display would be "best"? I'm currently leaning towards one recommendation of a 56" Samsung plasma. I couldn't care less about 3D, a passing fad in my opinion. I mean, if even the Japanese are ignoring it, it must be a waste of money.

    Suggestions? Comments? Realistic recommendations?
  2. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Producer

    Feb 11, 2004
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    Oconomowoc, WI.
    Real Name:
    If I were you, I'd get a projector. I don't see what the floor joists have to do with it. Even if you have to have an electrician run the wires, it's worth it. With a 12' seating distance, the rule of thumb with HD is: Screen width X 1.5 = seating distance. EX: Screen 8' wide X 1.5 = 12' seating distance. A screen 8' wide is 110" diagonal(54" X 96"). If you want to stick with a TV, I wouldn't even consider anything under 65" diagonal. And even with that, I'd move the seating closer.
  3. smithb

    smithb Screenwriter

    Sep 27, 2008
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    The general recommendation I've seen for seating distances is 1.5 x screen diagonal for HD and closer to 2.0 x screen diagonal for SD. But it does somewhat depends on the quality of video you will be viewing. Not all SD or HD are equivalent. I sit 15' back from a 92" projected screen (2.0x). Some would say that is too far back (especially someone that primarily watches HD), but I tend to also watch SD content of varying quality so it works well for me.

    Since you are talking about sitting back about the same as I do, you could go projection system to get a larger size. But since you don't really want to go that route, I'd say you can go for as big a plasma as you can get with no issues. Upgrading from a 32" CRT you will get a noticable increase in size with what ever you get.
  4. winniw

    winniw Second Unit

    Dec 19, 2010
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    Check out this screen size/viewing distance calculator and play around with the numbers.

    If you put in just the first two quantities, let's say 14.5' viewing distance and 16:9 format, and press calculate, you will see that the recommended screen sizes are 107" for SMPTE standards and 130" for THX standards.

    Now go back to #3 and enter 56" for the diagonal and recalculate. The average recommended viewing distance is 8'.

    No doubt you would enjoy the larger 56" screen but it will not give you the immersive experience that is the essence of Home Theater at 14.5' viewing distance.

    If you would like to pursue the idea of a projector, you may not need to run any wires through any walls. It depends. It just so happens that an LCD projector, like the Epson 8350 has tremendous placement flexibility. You could set it on a coffee table in front of your sofa. It can throw a 100" image as close as 9'8" from the screen or as far away as 21'. Actually it can throw a 300" image if needed but the optimum is around 100" to 120". It also has the ability to be placed off to the side of the seating.

    Here is a picture of my Epson 8350 sitting on top of my AV equipment rack, to the left of the loveseat, yet it throws an undistorted image out in front of the seating area. You can see more pics on Photobucket:


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