As many of you know I’m in the middle of building out a new home theater. While I have already roughed in the placement of all of my necessary equipment -which isn’t much this go ’round -last night marked the first opportunity that I’ve had these past few weeks to really evaluate my planning and implementation thus far. After only a few seconds of testing, yes I said seconds, two of my design/setup decisions had already begun paying huge dividends. More surprising still was the realization that both decisions cost me next to nothing and seem like no brainers, and yet few enthusiasts employ similar tactics when it comes to laying out their own rooms. So while I’m sure the two tips I’m about to share with you will come across as nothing new, they do bare repeating for they are among the most effective tweaks I know of and use repeatedly in my own setups.

Sit On Your Subwoofer

I don’t mean this literally though I suppose you could. No, when trying to decide where to place your subwoofer in your room start by setting it (your subwoofer) at your primary listening position. Play a bass-heavy track, then walk about your room with a roll of masking tape. Where ever the bass seems to be the strongest (trust me it will be evident) make a small X with your tape. Walk the entire perimeter of your room slowly placing tape upon the floor where the bass appears “strongest”. Then, walk from side to side, front to back. When finished you should have about a half dozen spots (or more) from which to choose. Place your sub in any (yes, any) of these locations, and then sit at your primary listening position and you should notice an immediate improvement in your sub’s response. All you have left to do is level match your sub to your left and right main speakers, set its crossover point and maybe (maybe) switch phase (not likely) and BOOM, done. No PEQ adjustments or fancy-smansy measurements required, just good ol’ fashioned placement. Best of all, you don’t have to spend ANY money, save maybe acquiring a longer interconnect or power cord if your newfound placement is a little off the beaten path.

Two Tone Color Scheme

This next tip has to do with improving the perceived quality of your video, regardless if you choose to employ a front projection setup or a flat panel display. This tip or trick isn’t going to be free, but it’s far from expensive. It involves a can of interior paint and about an hour or two of your time.

It’s no secret that painting your room black or a dark shade thereof is going to make your viewing experience better. The same is true with controlling your room’s ambient light. However, I feel a lot of folks misinterpret just how far you really need to go in order to see/experience an improvement. My last reference theater was a black hole of light -literally. This made watching films in my theater otherworldly (if I do say so myself), however, it also meant the space was less than hospitable for anything but watching movies. This time around I decided against an all-black room, however I was still able to employ a two-tone color scheme in my room.

Because my room has a natural separation near its center in the form of two bay windows, I was able to paint the front half of my room a darker color than the back half. The room I inherited was painted a light grey with a hint of blue. By matching that color at my local Lowes store and then finding a complimentary shade -albeit darker -I was able to make the area around my screen darker without going overboard. I was also careful to choose a flat paint versus semi-gloss or gloss to cut down on reflections. The tweak cost me $33 total and the effect is nothing if not dramatic. Moreover, even when not in use -aka watching movies -the room now has a heightened sense of “drama”. While I was okay with going grey, know that even if your room is predominantly Earth tone in nature, painting the wall behind your display a darker shade of anything is going to improve perceived contrast, brightness etc. Carry the darker shade over to your side walls or a portion thereof and things will only improve further.

As an added bonus, this tweak is a great way to include your better half -be it man or woman -in your process and hopefully get them to share in the joy that is home theater. If even a little bit.

So there you have it, two, very easy, yet effective tweaks that you can employ in your home theater setup. As always I thank you so very, very much for reading. Until next time, take care and stay tuned…

Andrew