There are hundreds of different projector models on the market, which can make it confusing to decide which one is suitable for setting up a home cinema.
Choosing a projector
Four primary factors should be considered when selecting a projector suitable to your needs.
1 – Brightness
As a rule of thumb, the higher the ANSI lumens level, the brighter the projector. You should get a brighter projector if you are unable to block out all the light in the room, although projectors work optimally in completely dark surroundings. If your primary usage situation will be for videos and TV, having a projector too bright can reduce the image contrast given the room is dark enough.
Most home cinema projectors are less than 1000 lumens when used in dark rooms to ensure the best contrast level and quality is obtained. However, 1000-2000 lumen projectors should be considered for watching daytime television or if you want to maintain some light in the room during projector use.
2 – Resolution
A higher number of pixels translates into sharper and better quality images. If the projector is of a lower or higher resolution than the source, e.g. a laptop, the quality of the projection is adversely affected. Thus the resolution of the two devices should match, and means a widescreen projector should be purchased for a widescreen laptop.
3 – Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio is a measure of the width of the image to its height. 4:3 projectors are often suited to business use for projecting the standard computer monitor shape, whereas the 16:9 projectors work best with a widescreen TV shape for home cinemas and DVD projection. It is also recommended to use 16:10 projector for widescreen computers or laptops.
4 – Weight
More powerful projectors are heavier, as are advanced versions. If you require a more portable projector, with the option of moving it around, one weighing between 2-5kg is ideal. However, if you are installing the projector as a more permanent fixture in your home cinema, you can afford to ignore the weight and focus on more important factors such as cost and quality.
Setting up your home cinema
1 – Seating
Choosing comfortable furniture for your home cinema is crucial given how much time you will spend on the seats in any one sitting. The chairs should be kept away from the speakers so they don’t block out the surround sound system. Chairs should be ergonomically designed so they don’t hurt your spine as this can detract from the experience. Moreover, if you place your seats next to the walls, you can end up interrupting the path travelled by sound in the room.
2 – The room
The layout of the room has a big impact on the quality of the video and sound projection. The room should be located in a quiet part of the house, where lighting can be controlled and reflections are not in the way. Lights with dimmers can enhance the experience if you don’t wish to be swallowed up by complete darkness. Any visual distractions should be avoided as they can interfere with the attention you give to the screening. A completely empty room, however, will only make the sound echo, so maintain a balance of furniture and items within the room.
3 – The sound
You should aim for uniform delivery with your sound system, utilising coverage patterns known as off-axis performance, meaning the sound will be deployed to all individuals in the room. Knowing your centre channel is crucial to this, and can be above, below, within or behind the screen. The surround sound speakers should be placed to the side, above and potentially behind the audience provided there are not many barriers in the way, with a left and right spread of 45-60 degrees. You should also try and get your hands on high dispersion speakers, which distribute the sound just as it comes out and lead to better quality channelling.
Setting up a home cinema can be tricky but calibrating the devices together and following the simple tips provided above can ease up and improve the experience. If you are willing to put in the time and effort to mix and match different setups to assess which works best for your needs, you will be pleasantly surprised with the resulting cinema adventure at your service under your own roof.
About The Author
Hi, my name is Peter. I work for Kings Audio and I love anything audio visual. I particularly enjoy tinkering with technology and writing about home cinema and audio systems. At Kings Audio we sell a range of projectors and related home audio equipment, check out our range here.