Designing a Home Entertainment System
By Ryan Wright, Custom Design Specialist
At Bay Bloor Radio, we design home entertainment systems that are custom tailored for our clients’ unique spaces, specific needs, and personal levels of ambition. Whether it’s a theatre for a dedicated space like a basement rec room or a common area like a main floor living room, the prime directive will always be to understand the situation and then tailor a set-up that’s ideal for that environment.
Unfortunately, consumer electronics can be quite confusing. Most people buy this equipment so infrequently that they don’t really know what’s possible or what questions to ask. Because people often feel out of their element when looking for a new system, they should work with someone who is both experienced at system design and good at articulating the technical jargon.
If you’re thinking about creating a home theatre, you should start by asking yourself a few questions:
Will this be a part of a renovation, or is the room finished?
How much space is available to you?
Who will be using the system?
What level of quality do you have in mind?
Whatever your ambition, essential inclusions will comprise either a TV or a projector and screen, and some audio augmentation. In many cases, the equipment can be concealed and controlled by a single remote running on a radio frequency, so you won’t have to point the remote at the equipment in order to make it work.
Renovation vs. Finished Space
In a renovation or new build scenario where the walls and ceilings are open, it is much easier to pre-wire the system. During construction, we would place all the appropriate cables according to the system design. Then, once the reno is completed, we would return, install the system and program the remote.
In a retrofit environment, where the walls are closed, we need to see the room, identify the challenges, and figure out how we might wire it. In some cases, where it’s difficult to install the rear speakers, we would find a creative way to get the wires there or we might need to forego surround. Every situation is unique.
TV vs. Projector
Regarding the picture, factors that must be taken into account are the size of your room, seating distance, and what kind of viewing you’re going to be doing. For example, in a basement rec room, a projector and screen can be ideal for sports and movies, while a 50” LED TV could be more appropriate for a main floor living room.
Projectors offer size ranges unavailable in today’s mass produced TVs, which typically max at 90”. A common size for a projector screen is 100” to 120”, which maintains a high clarity of image while providing an exhilaration factor that can’t be matched by any TV. In cases where the room size is limited, or where it’s a retrofit and the joists make wiring for a projector prohibitive, TV is the right approach.
A new term on the market is UHD (Ultra High Definition), also referred to as 4K. Simply put, UHD holds 4 times the pixels of 1080p, the current HDTV standard. Though limited content is available at UHD levels, motion does tend to improve because there’s less distance between the pixels. Of course, when you do have UHD content, it’s a stunning picture. In the short run, we expect most UHD content will be attained through streaming services, like Netflix, which already has some UHD content available to its subscribers.
Once you’ve got the picture, you’re going to need sound. No true home entertainment experience is complete without good sound, which truly brings your system to life. A good sound system could be anything from a single soundbar solution, a two-speaker stereo set up, or a full surround sound system. Sound augmentation is especially important with today’s TVs which are so thin (in the 1” range) that there is no practical place to put speakers. Manufacturers often install them in the rear, making the sound somewhat tinny and muffled.
Ease of Use
To ensure your system is easy to use, we recommend incorporating a universal remote. With an expertly programmed universal remote, any activity can be controlled by pushing a single button. After installing the system, BBR technicians will program the remote and provide a tutorial to teach the whole family how to properly use the device.