How Do I Build a Custom Home Theater System and Media Room?

Home theater
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I often get questions from readers on how they should go about installing their own custom built-in home theater system and media room. Although the information provided on this site is informative in explaining home theater basics, what is available to use in your home theater, how to shop for your home theater components, and how to connect and use your home theater components; if you are actually building a complete home theater room from the ground up, here are some factors to consider.

Get Professional Advice on a Major Installation

Whether you are a great do-it-yourselfer or a complete novice with a large amount of cash to work with, the best way to get the most out of your custom built home theater/media room, is to either pay a licensed contractor that also does home theater construction or a licensed home theater installer that does construction.

The best way to evaluate the full potential of your room, is to have someone knowledgeable in the field, such as a professional home theater installer, actually come in, assess the environment in person, and take note of any good points and bad points, as well as suggesting options on where to place your components for maximum benefit and ease of use.

Working with a home theater installer is not the same as going to a retailer to purchase a bunch of components, going home, and hooking it all up. The role of the home theater installer is to provide a complete experience for the consumer.

The details of each individual component is not the primary focus. The primary focus is the final experience.

In other words, the goal of the home theater installer is to provide a complete package that provides access to all desired audio and video content. The consumer provides the room and the budget, while the installer puts together a complete package of components to provide the best entertainment experience possible.

The installer presents the complete package to the consumer for consideration. The consumer doesn't have to decide each brand/model of component to be used.

You will get a much more accurate budget picture of the whole project as the installer/contractor will not overlook small details that you may have overlooked, that could end up being significant.

How to Prepare For Constructing a Custom-Built Home Theater Media Room

Some of the factors that you and a professional installer need to consider when planning a home theater media room include:

  • What will be the primary purpose of the room? - To Watch movies and TV, listen to music, play video games, use as an office as well as entertainment?
  • The size of the room.
  • The shape of the room.
  • Where you or your audience will sit in relation to the TV or projection screen.
  • Acoustical properties of the room.
  • Ambient light issues that may affect the type of TV or video projector to be used.
  • Whether a projection system or large screen television will work best.
  • Whether In-wall or standalone speakers would be most effective for the listening experience.
  • Where your components will be located - out in the open, or in a closet or booth.
  • Room Ventilation for both the viewers and home theater and other media components.

    These, and other, factors can be determined best by an on-site inspection of the actual room or by looking a architectural plans for a home to be constructed with home theater in mind.

    Best Resources For Custom Installation Help

    • Contact retailers, such as Best Buy/Magnolia, etc..., and find out who they subcontract with in your local area for their home theater installations. In addition, there are independent dealers and home re-modelers in many cities that specialize in custom home theater construction and installation.
    • Contact CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association for information on a licensed installer/contractor near you. CEDIA is a worldwide association of home theater and custom electronics specialists. In fact, if you are so inclined, you may be able to take a CEDIA sponsored course or workshop and become an expert home theater installer yourself.

      Another good source for finding a Home Theater Installer is through the Home Technology Specialists of America. This site has an extensive database of home theater installers and related audio/video and security system installers throughout the U.S.

      Back to the Home Theater Basics FAQ Intro Page