There’s nothing quite like watching a film in the theatres. From the deep, booming loudspeakers to the fresh smell of popcorn and dimly lit rooms, watching movies at the theatre just feels so… right. So, why not try to recreate those fantastic theatre atmospheres at home?
The home theatre market is booming. People are investing billions a year in high-fi sound equipment, OLED televisions, and projectors. But what about the simple stuff? Sure! You need those subwoofers and that cutting-edge Sony display. But there’s more to home theatres than just the equipment.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the theatre experience, you need to go beyond the expensive equipment. From Smart TV VPNs to theatre lighting, Here are 6 ways you can enhance your home theatre without breaking the bank.
Tips to Enhance Your Home Theater Experience
Think About Lighting
One of the most significant barriers standing between you and that picture-perfect theatre experience is the lighting. Plenty of people invest in expensive audio and visual equipment without thinking about their overall lighting aesthetic. And that’s a big mistake. You don’t want hanging lamps or fixtures on the ceiling pouring uneven lighting across your big screen.
Here’s what you need to remember — home theatre lighting should be ambient. That means you need to be able to control your lighting in some manner. You don’t have to go out and spend tons of cash on smart lights or remote controlled lights (though that certainly helps). You can simply use lampshades or other light covers to reduce glare and improve theatre ambiance.
Here are the 4 types of lighting you should consider:
- Overhead lighting: The quickest and easiest way to completely light a room is via overhead lighting. From recessed light fixtures to hanging light fixtures, you have plenty of options. Again, it’s crucial that you think about controllability. You want to be able to see your theatre room when you’re not watching a movie, but have low light capabilities when you are.
- LED strips: These little strips are extremely cheap and easy to setup. The big benefit of these is that they don’t emit very much light. This makes them perfect for lighting up those hard-to-illuminate areas.
- Wall scones: When you go to a theatre, you’ll almost always see wall scones. They illuminate a small area and give off a great vibe. Of course, there are plenty of options on the market when it comes to color, brightness, and appearance.
- Lamps: When it comes to budget options, the lamp is king. You can use lampshades and some smart positioning to give yourself theatre lighting without a theatre budget.
Calibrate Your Settings
Imagine buying a new Porsche and never changing the tires or never getting an oil change. That’s what buying a TV and audio equipment without calibrating it is like. Simple changes to your TV settings can make a massive difference to your overall viewing experience.
Of course, calibrating TV settings isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Your environment, media type, and personal preferences will all come into play when you’re deciding which settings to choose. The actual calibration process can be a… handfull. You can hire a place like BestBuy to do it for you, but it will run you around $250.
Instead, you can spend time poking around Reddit.com/r/hometheatre, PCMag, and other online forums to learn more about calibration. It’s more complicated than you may think. From utilizing the appropriate color filters for color correction to understanding some of the more complex testing patterns and visual representations, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to TV calibration.
Unlock Global Streaming
Your lighting and calibration can certainly help you feel more immersed in the theatre experience. But what are you going to watch? In today’s digital landscape, that question can be tough to answer. Popular streaming services like Netflix and YouTube dominate a large chunk of our viewing time. After all, Netflix has thousands of movies to watch, surely that will be enough, right?
Maybe. But, eventually, you’ll likely run into the issue of finding fresh, original content. What if we told you that Netflix has even more movies than you think? The secret lies in your region. Due to the nature of copyright laws, streaming services offer completely different content depending upon where you’re located. So, people in Britain have different television shows, and movies on Netflix than Americans do. And, India has Netflix content that’s not available in America or Britain. Every country has its own Netflix library.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could watch content from any country at any time? You can with a virtual private network (or VPN). Netflix recognizes your country via your IP address. So, if you have an American IP address, Netflix will display content available for the American audience.
VPNs work by encrypting your connection and tunneling it to a private server. If you connect to a private server located in a different country, your IP address will appear as if it’s coming from that country. Popular VPNs have servers located in countries across the world— giving you the power to pick-and-choose which Netflix library you want to view.
Looking to view some Dr. Who on that Apple TV? Get a VPN for Apple TV. Want to absorb french romances on your Sony? Connect to a VPN! Don’t limit yourself to content that’s available in your country. Unlock the vaults with a VPN.
Decorate a Little
All you absolutely need for a theatre room are speakers, a television, and chair or couch, and proper lighting. But why not live it up a little? You have a million options when it comes to decorations. Are you a big fan of the Marvel universe? Get some posters, a few props, or some wallpaper that’s Marvel-inspired. Believe it or not, decorating areas can boost happiness levels, reduce stress, and invoke powerful emotions.
The decoration process should be a personal one. What kind of look do you like? What types of decorative elements inspire you or create a sense of happiness, nostalgia, etc.? Are you looking for the oh-so-classic popcorn machine and red carpet look? Or do you want something a little more kitsch — like Batman-covered walls and a prop batmobile?
There are some common elements that everyone will have to deal with as well. Where should you put the wiring, so it’s hidden? How will you arrange the seating? And where will you put the lighting? But, at the end of the day, how you decorate is up to you and your unique tastes.
Improper lighting glare is the bane of theatre rooms. But it’s not always easy to fix. You need some level of lighting in your theatre room. And, depending upon your setup, that lighting may have an impact on your viewability. Sure! You may not see any glare. But modern TVs (especially high-end theatre room TVs) have light sensor tech that will automatically adjust your calibrations to eliminate screen glare.
Here’s the problem — you just worked tirelessly to calibrate your screen optimally. Now, because of your lighting, those calibrations are thrown out-of-whack by automated light sensors. Don’t worry! You have some options. You can always invest in an anti-glare screen protector — but they can be expensive and bulky. Instead, you can focus on eliminating glare spots.
Here are some tips.
- Move your lights around until the glare stops
- Invest in remote control lights
- Put your theatre in an area with no windows
- Use lamp shades
Consider Sound Proofing
One of the things that separate theatre rooms for the casual viewing experience is the sound. Hi-fi sound systems with booming subwoofers, stacked speakers, and surround sound capabilities can transform that movie from pretty good to absolutely mind-blowing.
But if you have kids, a family, live in an apartment, or have easily-disturbed neighbors, those amazing sound capabilities can quickly go to waste. You can’t turn your speakers up too loud, or you’ll disturb everyone. Why pay for those high-quality speakers if you can’t use them? Invest in soundproofing.
By simply installing some soundproof foam or paneling, you can blast that audio equipment at max volume. But, there are some things you need to think about. For starters, soundproofings isn’t cheap. You can certainly go the budget route of using foam. But even the cheapest soundproofing option isn’t cheap. To soundproof, you’ll also probably need a dedicated theatre room. After all, soundproofing the kitchen or living room isn’t feasible. And it could certainly present issues down-the-road.
Finally, consider the consequences. Soundproofing is an amazing way to enjoy your films, but it also works. You won’t hear any sound coming from that room. If you have kids that will be watching movies in the theatres, you probably want to be able to hear them, right?
Setting up your own in-home theatre is an amazing way to relive the theatre experience without paying for overpriced tickets, popcorn, and candy daily. After you’ve picked out your TV, audio equipment, and furniture, your theatre room may still feel… incomplete. With some lighting equipment, the right soundproofing, and some decorations, you can turn that ok theatre room into the theatre room of your dreams. Just don’t forget to think about the content. A VPN can help you unlock different Netflix libraries. After all, what’s the point of a theatre room if you have nothing to watch? You should also think about your TVs calibration settings and glare. One can optimize your viewing experience, and the other can seriously hinder it. And the last thing you want is to pour money into a theatre room only to have your TV display movies with subpar calibration due to a little lamp glare.