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WalVisions Home Theater Tutorial

Home Theater Home  -  Display Technologies  -  Best Image Size  -  Buying and Installation

Common Problems  -  Wall Visions  -  Calibration and Upkeep  -  Light Levels and Contrast


Home Theater - Home Page
A Tutorial with Questions, Answers and More!

This section of WalVisions discusses many of the most important aspects of home theater installations.  There is a big difference between simply watching TV and being immersed in an involving home theater system.  When you watch conventional TV you will probably be entertained and you will find out "what happens", but you will likely find it difficult to get any kind of a realistic "being there" feeling.  This is the goal of a home theater, to come as close as possible to duplicating the actual sights and sounds of the original event.  Note that the idea isn't to watch more TV, but to significantly enhance the pleasure of what we do watch.  Here WalVisions hopes to go over many of the home theater fundamentals, with the emphasis being on the video display.

The term “home theater” has evolved over the years.  It was initially used to described expensive home systems that attempted to replicate a movie theater setting, but without the crowds and sticky floors.  The theater was a dedicated viewing room, with a front projection CRT-based large screen video display, a high end audio system, theater type seating and a theater type environment.  This type of home theater system can provide exceptional performance, and today these dedicated home systems generally outperform many contemporary movie theaters.  These theaters generally cost well over $100,000, and thus they are appropriate for larger homes and larger wallets.

The current home theater definition has been expanded downwards to sometimes describe what amounts to higher performance home television systems.  While the audio/video superstores may continue to redefine a “home theater” to promote sales, we feel that there must be a minimum standard to be met to qualify as a home theater.  Such a system should be able to present a DVD quality movie in a Widescreen format with at least a moderate fidelity stereo sound system.  The width of the display should be at least 1/3 the viewing distance, so if the viewing distance is 9 feet, the image size should be at least 3 feet wide (42” diagonal for a 16:9 display).  This should provide a level of involvement in the movie that elevates the experience noticeably beyond that of “watching TV”.  In our opinion, this is the entry point for home theater.

Thus a home theater now describes a relatively wide range installations, ranging in cost from less than $1000 to more than $1,000,000.  In all cases the home theater enables enhanced entertainment.  The different levels of theater complexity relate directly to the ultimate system performance and atmosphere.  It's up to the individual to determine and implement the level that matches his expectations and budget.  We hope that
WalVisions can help you achieve the enhanced entertainment value of a high performance home theater system.

How big should the image be?  How bright is bright enough?  What is the contrast ratio, and is it important?  Does my room need to be dark?  Do I need expensive cables?  If it's digital, does that mean that it's good?  The salesman seems to know so much - should I trust him?  There are so many displays, and sometimes they all seem to be about the same, and they cost a lot of money, and I'm getting confused - what's really important?  What is "calibration" of a video display, and is it important?

Each prospective home theater owner will in some way be confronted by almost all of these questions, and the answers will generally be unique.  So much will depend upon one's goals and expectations, not to mention budget!  In this section of
WalVisions we hope to guide you to answering these questions and more - and we hope to provoke some thought processes that will lead to a well envisioned, entertaining home theater system.

Our goal is to be helpful and informative, and we encourage you contact us
here if you have ideas on how to help us better promote home theater education.


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