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Home Theater, Meet Basement
Basements are perfect for home cinema because they fulfill many of the needed expectations - for example they're usually dark and without windows which is great for watching films without ambient light bothering the people watching. Other reasons why a basement makes a perfect home theater include the fact that nobody is going to be going across the screen to go to the kitchen or having to share the space with those sitting down to eat (we’re not talking about popcorn, btw).
So here’s my quick overview of how you can have a perfect home cinema in your basement. What makes me an expert on this? How about growing up in St. Louis where everybody would hang out in my humongous basement to watch TV where no parents or siblings would bother. Flash forward to now, and it’s just an extension of that, coupled with audio and video tech that I only could dream of back then.
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The Best Screen is a Big Screen
Basement walls tend not to have works of art on them - so putting up a projection screen loses much of the argument the significant other might have about doing it in the Great Room. And we’re talking about big here too - there should be room so that 84 inches is just the baby paddling in the wading pool. 100 inches or more should be doable, and if you owe money over that last sports bet, your friend will probably be willing to take it out in trade when he finds out you got ESPN in HD working on a big screen.
There’s also the option to paint the wall with specially designed paint to project on. This is much less costly than buying a screen and the results can be surprisingly good. Don’t believe me - check out the resources to see what can be done.
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There’s a lot of different types of projectors, and deciding which provides the best picture is pretty much a personal thing. But there are a few considerations that a basement affects which should be taken into account when selecting a projector. For example, since ambient light isn’t an issue, a brighter bulb than what is considered average might not be necessary (it adds more to the cost of the projector for sure).
Also since there’s more room in a basement, you might not need a short throw lens compared to trying to watch in a den or living room. Or have to be concerned with motorized focus or zoom since the projector can just stay there undisturbed when not in use. That’s something that rarely happens if the projector is on a table in a living room of an apartment where it can’t be mounted to the ceiling where pets and small children abound.
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Surround sound is obvious and easy to set up because there’s no worries about people tripping over wires strewn across the floor with the lights out. That means high-tech and problematic and costly choices involving wireless surround can take a hike. You can probably splurge and go beyond 5.1 to 7 or 9 - providing the amplifier can handle it.
And as for speaker stands for the surrounds, there’s probably wall space (repeat: no artwork on the walls) for a quick mount and who cares if the wires going to them snake up the wall?
Plus in the bowels of the basement, the deep bass from that underworked subwoofer can now be realized.
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The Look of Home Theater is in the Basement
Getting all of the needed A/V together is easy enough in a basement too - who cares if the stand the Blu-ray player is on is chipped or frayed? It’s not like company coming over for dinner is going to see it? Splurge on the amplifier or the speakers instead.
The point is that you can put all the attention into creating a potent home theater without having to worry about how the basement looks when the film isn’t running because nobody finds the fake wood paneling charming. Home cinema is all about watching, so if you don’t have a basement - get a shovel and start digging one today.