Planning your room around your hardware is the best tip for a great-quality build.
“Hey, I wired my basement/home theater room myself, what projector and screen should I buy?”
We get asked this question fairly often, and its a tough one to answer because we usually have to give bad news: You should have picked the equipment first and built the room around it.
Why? Here are some of the design flaws, or oversights, most DIY’ers make.
- Not mapping the room distance correctly – for projectors
Most home theater projectors have a minimum and maximum ‘throw’ distance, meaning there is a optimal place to mount it. If the ceiling is not properly reinforced with wood to allow for movement, then you’re left praying the ceiling joists will line up with the projector mount.
Many manufacturers have calculation programs online. Epson is a good example
- Not mapping the room distance correctly – for screens
Much like the example above, the projector and screen have to line up for distance and a properly sized image. This could mean the image bleeds into the frame of your screen or the wall, the image does not make a perfect rectangle, or the finished image will just look ‘off”.
Remember, if you have to angle the projector downwards more than a few degrees, you need a mount with an extension arm….except you only learned that by installing the wrong mount already, leading to lost time and probably lost money.
- Placing the speakers incorrectly
This one seems simple after a little research, but a lot of people can’t execute this one right.
Proper surround setups for 5.1 and 7.1 (and so on) have specific placements for the speakers, and not following the guidelines leaves your audio sounding strange or muddy.
Think people won’t notice? The ears never lie. Take care when you run your wires.
- Forgetting the center channel, or that speaker wires are run in pairs
This one is pretty common. All you can do is shrug and say ‘oops’. Lost time, more labour or repairs, and lost money. Plus, you now have to purchase that center channel speaker you forgot.
- Running only one HDMI cable
If it fails, what then? Spend the extra and run two. You won’t regret it.
- Forgetting the electrical
Projectors need power, and so do your other electronics. This also applies to DIY folks who want to try to retrofit install in a finished basement. No ceiling plug = no projector. And if you only have a single plug at the electronics side, you need a good quality surge protector or power bar, usually one made for home theater.
- Using steel studs
Leave those for office buildings and stores. If you want things to go smoothly, use wood. Steel studs need lots of reinforcement to handle most HT work.