Home Theatre by the Numbers

Two important components of the viewing experience are screen size and seat comfort. What better place to enjoy such than in the comfort of your own home? No line-ups. No sticker shock from the concession counter. Just comfort.

The HGTV Channel suggests the small house movement gains. However, the bigger is better mantra remains alive and well in some aspects of the home.

A major TV manufacturer has recently released a 292-inch wall TV. To accommodate this your home would require wall space that is 24-feet across. We might not want a TV that big, but do know home TV size is increasing.

In the last five years the average size of our TV screens has increased by 8 inches, currently averaging 48-inches.

Size matters...Bigger is not always better when creating a home theatre space.

The best seat is a comfortable seat.

With such variance in size, we likely wonder just how far back, or close, you should sit from the TV. Too far away and you lose the details that you paid for in your HDTV, but too close and the pixels become visible and distracting.

There is a sweet spot for positioning your home theatre and audio. As most of us aren’t able to move the walls in our home, and are likely unwilling to have a sofa in the middle of the room, the easiest solution is to purchase a TV of the right screen size. A home theatre expert can help you with these measurements but, you can follow my guide which is easier to compute but less precise. You won’t get the excellent viewing experience that might come from professional measurements, but you’ll still achieve a very good outcome. My heuristic, which is just a fancy word for rule-of-thumb, is 10 inches of screen requires seating 1 foot away. Thus, the popular 48 inch TV would require about 5 feet of distance from the screen to the seat.

We all know, the best seat is a comfortable seat. Comfort is a personal preference. Like choosing a mattress, some like it hard and some like it soft. Unlike a mattress, you would likely choose a sofa for more than just sleeping preferences. It's a multi-purpose item.

Two useful considerations are size and scale. Start by asking yourself, "How you like to be positioned when watching TV?" Feet on the floor, tucked underneath you, or upon an ottoman?

Feet-on-coffee-table is not an option at my house. Your choice will indicate how deep the seat cushion needs to be.

When assessing the width of seating, consider how many and what size bodies will be using the space. A three-seater sofa might be wide enough for your family of four, but likely not comfortable if the seat is divided rather than fully across. Like banging your knees on a table leg, falling between cushion cracks is also unpleasant.- it just feels wrong. On cushions, to thine own self be true. If you run your home with the belief everything has its place, then fixed cushions are your friend, whereas loose cushions are the enemy.

Your other enemy is the department or big box store environment where you might be purchasing that new sofa. A big open space with high ceilings and aisles gives a false perception of scale. That cozy sofa can easily overtake your home when it moves from the showroom to the living room. Measure the absolute maximum space you want the sofa to occupy in your home and don’t go over that, even by an inch. Size matters and giving up that extra inch can take the space in your home from unpleasant to pleasant.

Above all else remember, the most important aspect of any home theatre is the is a spot set up to let the story carry you away.
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