By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
The quality of a home theater doesn’t depend as much on cost as one might think.
Proper speaker placement is more important than buying the most expensive audio system, explained Don Hindenach, owner of House of Hindenach A/V Systems in Findlay.
The goal is “to set up or re-create the sound stage that the movie people were attempting to make when they put it together,” Hindenach said.
He described a sound crew’s work as “a 3-D game that they’re playing with your ears.”
If speakers aren’t properly placed, that 3-D game won’t be re-created correctly.
Speakers need to be in a “free space” — not next to something, or blocked by other objects, Hindenach said.
A 5.1 surround sound setup is a popular choice among Hindenach’s customers. That consists of front left, right and center speakers; left and right rear speakers; and a subwoofer.
A 7.1 setup includes two more speakers on the sides.
“Knowing that you have to wrap your space, basically, in sound is your first concept,” he said.
The main speakers should be at the same height, Hindenach said. Ideally, so should the rear ones, but “if there’s anything that could be pushed into weird places, it is the rear speakers.”
Placing speakers properly and running wires cleanly is all easier if the home theater is part of building a new house, he said.
But that doesn’t mean one can’t be installed in an existing room. He’s done that in his own living room, a space an optimistic real estate agent might describe as “cozy,” he said.
As for televisions, they just keep improving as screens gain more pixels, Hindenach said, and the latest high-definition TVs make the first ones look low-quality.
“That’s where you decide where your pocketbook wants to take you,” he said.
Some screens look bad from the wrong angle, he added, though that problem has mostly been eliminated in new TVs.
Alternatively, a theater could be created with a projector and screen.
In that case, “you pretty much have to not have sunlight” washing out the screen, Hindenach said.
Steven Spielberg’s home theater is probably windowless, black and sound-treated, he said.
“He should have the best theater ever, and probably does,” Hindenach said.
But the rest of us don’t need Spielberg money to enjoy a home theater.
“I’ve done it with amazingly cheap crap for people,” Hindenach said, again emphasizing correct speaker placement.
A “home theater in a box” — everything but the TV, essentially — can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. Or, a system can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
“I’ve done pretty cool stuff for $5K,” Hindenach said, such as a sports fan’s setup with three TVs and one set of speakers, all controlled via iPad.
Hindenach admitted he got some deals on that equipment that he might not be able to replicate but, in general, “with the proper tweaking, you can get a lot for your dollars” if you have a good relationship with a creative installer who doesn’t rely on just one brand of equipment.
Or, “if you want to do it yourself, you just start learning,” he said.
He cautioned film buffs and sports fans who are setting up their own home theaters to watch out for misinformation online.
The information should be “straightforward and relatively simple,” not complicated, Hindenach said.
“Home theater has become the Chevy Novas and Ford Mustangs and 1940s Ford trucks,” he said, in that it’s a hobby people can put time into learning and enjoying at home.