It’s probably fair to say that we’ve all spent a lot more time at home than usual over the past year, and one of the things that many of us will have missed is the cinema. With all the technological leaps over the past decade, it’s now possible to enjoy cinema-quality sound and images in your own home – but how do you create the right set up for you? Don’t feel like you have to blow your savings; just one or two of our recommendations can make a huge difference to your audio and visual set up.
A projector will help you get that real big screen experience, going beyond the size of your TV to create a picture as big as 150 inches in diameter.
The best projector for you will largely depend on what you prefer to watch – if it’s mainly for sport, you’ll need to look for one that offers at least 2,000 ANSI lumens brightness to get around the lunchtime kick offs. Projectors used for business presentations have lots of inputs – far more than you’ll need if you’re hoping to enjoy cinema quality production in the home, so it’s fine to avoid anything that has a heap of audio and composite video outputs.
Finally, keep an eye on the zoom and lens shift specs; the most swear-inducing part of owning a projector is making sure you get a dead straight image, but you can easily get around this if you choose a product that has vertical and horizontal lens shift, and around a 1.5x optical zoom.
Full HD models start at around £600
Speakers, their placement and volume levels are key elements when looking at your audio set up. For an immersive sound the likes of which you get in cinemas, you’ll need to look at a surround sound set up of five/seven/nine satellite speakers and a sub woofer.
Start by positioning the centre speaker as close to the TV or projector as you can, as this is where all dialogue will come from, then place the left and right speakers either side of the TV or in corners of the room. The rear speakers go behind where you’ll sit, and the subwoofer can go anywhere in room, cable dependent. You’ll then need to use either a set-up app or a microphone to tune up the speakers to determine that ever-important “sweet spot”, which will help you create the impressive real-life audio that these sorts of speakers are capable of.
3. Choosing a TV
LED? Ultra 4K HD? Direct or EDGE LED? OLED?! It’s hard to know where to start with TV shopping now. A few years ago you could have added plasma into the mix too, but now that LED technology has proved to be the winner in the TV battle, it’s made finding a big screen TV with a great picture at a competitive price less of a challenge. For a blur-free image look for a 200Hz panel. SMART TVs have now made access to those all-important apps (Netflix, Amazon, Disney etc) much easier, so if they’re something you use regularly, it’s worth making sure you can access them all from one menu.
4. Choosing add-ons
Whether you’re watching through Virgin, SkyTV, Freeview, a DVD player or SMART TV app, the picture of a home cinema system is just as important as the sound, so only a true surround sound set up will achieve that big cinema experience. To make the most out of your set up, consider adding in an AV receiver which delivers the audio through to the speakers seamlessly.
To achieve that perfect projector visual for your Friday night movie, look no further than the staple of all home cinema buffs: the Blu-ray player.
If you’re looking to automate your set up, consider a universal remote from brands such as Logitech, OneForAll and Nevo. These remotes can be pre-programmed to control all your equipment, so with one touch of the “movie” button, your projector will lower, the lights will dim (providing you have IR lighting), and the speakers and Blu-ray player will fire up.
5. Connecting the cables
The key cable in your set up will be the HDMI, which will deliver a digital signal between the audio and visual equipment. If you’re going down the 4K road, make sure any HDMI cables you buy are HDMI2.0 (if not the newer HDMI2.1) compatible. And don’t be tempted by the gold-plated cables, as they make no difference in delivery. The only reason to pay a little more would be if you need an extra-long cable.
If you would like to get the best set up for you, without the stress of installation, or some advice on what products could combine to give the great cinema feel to your home, please get in touch.
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