For some people, making their home theaters into carbon copies of the local multiplex becomes their mission in life. Some even spend tens of millions of dollars in order to achieve the ultimate home theater experience. It is true that these homages to the classical movie experience are jaw-dropping and pristine, but most of us can survive with less. There are many things to consider when constructing a home theater system.

Space and Lighting
The room should not be overly bright. For example, taking into consideration which direction your windows face can save you time and headaches when daylight savings rolls around and the sun rises or set earlier – creating a glare you hadn’t expected during setup and calibration.

What kind of space are you working with? Your best bet is to measure your viewing area and determine which priorities win out. Is it accommodating a larger group of people or a larger television? You might be better served with removable seating than with investing into multiple individual captains chairs for your guests. Couches are a wise investment for flexibility in numbers and always comfortable.

Looking up Causes Pain
Ergonomically, a person’s level gaze should hit the top 25 percent of any viewing screen. What that means is while many people raise their monitor to an angle that forces them to look up, this can create serious discomfort, and over prolonged exposure, even nerve damage.

Avoid Distractions
People walking in front of the screen is a pet peeve for most people. If space allows or creativity can prevail, arrange furniture in a way that doesn’t filter foot traffic in front of the screen. Look through design and lay out references to get an idea on how to best format your space.

Do Not Muffle Sound Systems
Speakers installed inside cabinets or other furniture may be out of the way, but they have a covered, stuffy sound. This is especially true of subwoofers. Even open-backed cabinets distort sound quality. While that may seem like a fair tradeoff for aesthetics, sound coming from a different angle than the ear and brain expect might cause disorientation.

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To Surround, or Not To Surround?
Full surround sound works best when all the speakers are equidistant from the viewers. Before buying rear speakers, make sure you have the space to allot behind your seating area. If there is no room for equal distance, surround sound is likely to be nothing more than an amplified version of what your television can put out. True surround sound actually surrounds you. Don’t pay for “surround sound” when you’d really just be getting a large volume button.

How Much to Spend?
Research what you want and then research what you can afford. Don’t buy what your buddy got on sale just because it was the cheaper option and don’t hand over thousands of dollars because you can see the new 65” LCD your neighbor got staring at you from their window. Your space might be better suited for a 50” plasma screen and while a wall mount is attractive, your walls may not be able to support it. Cost isn’t just a one time, up front thought; you’re making decisions now that can affect your wallet for years to come. Warranties and upgrades aside, you’ll need to focus on what will work for you in the long haul.

If you’re in an apartment, don’t buy the biggest, most top of the line TV because you can afford to – purchase what works for the environment. If it’s a television for the bedroom, you may want to look for the sleep option that will turn off if inactive after a certain period of time. When it comes to paying for options, make sure they’re ones you will actually use. If it’s about quality, ask a professional, not just a salesman. Call your local repair service for some of the most honest feedback.

[box border=”full”]Morgan Mayer (@MorganMayer88) is a tech consultant living in Stamford, CT cheering on her beloved Red Sox and Patriots. She is an HD enthusiast and loves gaming on her Playstation and Xbox.[/box]

image credit: Polos Electronics