Nights In at the Movies

Adele Shotton-Pugh | Posted

A night at the movies that doesn’t involve leaving your favourite armchair, what could be better? Just a few short years ago this would have been nothing more than a lazy man’s pipe dream, but the huge advances made in home cinema technology over recent years means that this can now be a reality. A successful home cinema set up relies on a number of technologies all being used to their optimum level and therefore can be a little tricky to get to grips with. Included below are some helpful descriptions of the different types of technologies on offer and how best to use them.


Firstly, you want to think about what type of screen you want to view your movies on. A television set that doesn’t have a huge box behind it fits far more easily in any interior, especially now that hiding the television away in a cabinet is not the done thing. The new flat-panel televisions are so thin that they really can be hung like wall art.


The screen we look at doesn’t protrude nearly as far into the room as conventional cathode-ray tube (CRT) TVs and are much more practical at a larger size. CRT TVs with a screen diagonal of some 90 cm made it into the shops, but their weight and overall size made them very impractical. Large-screen CRT TVs are possible from a technical point of view, but impossible from a practical point of view. The new flat-panel TVs come in a whole range of screen sizes. Flat-panel TVs use Plasma or LCD technology.


Both of these technologies have advantages and disadvantages. Plasma technology is better in larger screens, because in larger screens it is relatively easy to accommodate the tiny fluorescent tubes which make up a Plasma screen. LCD is closely related to chip technology; therefore smaller screens with millions of pixels are a piece of cake. In the case of Plasma screens the pixels themselves emit light which enables them to be viewed from any angle without loss of picture quality. However in the case of LCD screens the pixels allow light to pass through. This limits the viewing angle to a far greater extent.


Setting your television to the correct height is vital. The ideal height is far lower than you might think. Many TVs are hung at the same height as a painting. But this is too high and will not make for comfortable viewing. Depending on the height of your viewing chair, eve-level will usually be approximately 95 cm from the floor.


The next thing to consider is the sound. Cinema sound plays just as vital a part in creating the atmosphere of the film, and must adequately support the special effects. Ideally, all of the speakers should be approximately the same distance from the listener. Obviously not all rooms are the same shape, so this is not always practical or possible, handily, Dolby Digital and DTS decoders allow you to specify the distance between the different speakers and your listening position, sometimes in terms of a delay time specified in ms (milliseconds), but more often simply in metres.


If you need to specify the delay time, the manual will usually include a table that translates metres into milliseconds. So as long as your speakers are in the right position, you can enjoy cinema sound tailored to suit your living room. Wall-mounted speakers usually create the best sound, particularly when it comes to the rear speakers.


If your speakers are bipolar speakers, which project sound both forwards and backwards, mounting them on the wall is the correct way to do it. Ordinary speakers should be angled towards the listening position.

Finish your cinema with some black out roller blinds to eliminate glare.

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