One of the most important leaps in home theater and media room technology over the past six years has been in sound. You might be thinking, what about screens and projectors? Of course, the quality of visuals has gone up markedly, with 4K resolution, HDR, OLED flat panels, and other technologies becoming more common and lower in cost.
But the sound is an equally important part of the viewing experience. In 2015, Dolby introduced Atmos, an immersive surround format that took movies and shows to the next level with enveloping, three-dimensional sound. Since then, Dolby Atmos – and similar competing formats like DTS:X – have been integrated into all types of surround sound systems. And even better, it's becoming available on a huge array of streaming content and music too. But to make the most of it, if you are working with clients on a media room or home theater design for their Henrico, VA home, three things can help ensure that they're set up for the best experience. Keep reading for three important elements to consider for integrating surround sound systems in your projects.
If you’ve worked on media rooms and home cinemas, you likely have planned for surround speakers with cabling installation before the drywall is installed. But did you know that today's immersive formats can use far more speakers than before? Some high-end Dolby Atmos systems can go to 9.2.6 setups, which call for nine speakers composed of fronts, side, rear surrounds, dual subwoofers, and three sets of height speakers in the ceiling. The surround speakers should be at ear height at seating positions all around, while ceiling speakers should be mounted no higher than in ten-foot ceilings for the best effects. This means more cabling and planning for optimal speaker locations for the best sound.
Media rooms and theaters tend to have a lot of equipment. Surround sound processors and receivers, multiple amplifiers, source equipment like Apple TVs and Blu-ray players, movie servers, power conditioners, and more take up space. You should plan for a centralized location in the room or adjacent to it to house all the equipment that the client might consider having in their system. Besides the equipment, proper planning is necessary for control of the surround audio system and the network connectivity needed, which ideally will be with a wired connection, although control systems may rely on Wi-Fi too.
Depending on the room's layout and its location in the home, acoustic treatment may be necessary for various purposes. Home theaters are loud, and if there are bedrooms nearby, sound could bleed out of the room. You might want to plan for soundproofing so the sound won't disturb other spaces, such as when parents want to enjoy a movie night while their kids are in bed. Also, soundproofing could work the other way to ensure other home noises don't intrude into the media experience.
From an audio quality perspective, acoustic treatment may be needed to optimize the sound experience. Many spaces need treatment to fix bass response issues or tame shrillness in high frequencies caused by hard surfaces and room layouts. While surface treatment is readily available, for aesthetic purposes acoustic panels can be installed in walls or under room finishes.
The best way to prepare your projects for great surround sound in media spaces is to work with a professional like Sound + Image early in the design phase. Give us a call at (804) 741-5816 or fill out our online form to get started today. We would love to work with you!
7425 Brook Road
Richmond, VA 23227
*Showroom available by appointment only