With planning, any room can be an effective multimedia space

When it comes to converting an existing room into a dedicated home theater or multimedia space with movies and music at its core, there is much to consider. The positioning of windows, furniture and doors often dictates where equipment such as TVs and speakers are located.

“There’s nothing ideal about the rooms in many homes, so you have to be flexible,” says Shawn Hensel, owner of AVEA (Audio, Video, Electrical, Automation) in Palos Heights, Ill., and a certified member of the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association.

If planning to integrate surround sound and a big-screen TV into an existing family room, one must work around the décor or be willing to move things around. If, on the other hand, clients have decided to transform a room into a dedicated home theater with a few rows of seating, top-notch surround sound and a video projection system there will be more options.

Once the project has been defined, the next step is to figure out the best locations for the TV (or video screen), seating, A/V components and speakers, and determine what type of acoustical treatments can be used to help improve the sound. Such treatments could be as simple as putting a rug on a hardwood floor to make the room less reverberant. From there, it becomes a matter of budget and performance expectations. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.


Follow the rule of Rectangles

If given a choice between a square room and a rectangular room, go with the rectangle space. Practically speaking, it will allow for better seating and furniture placement options. Technically speaking, rectangular spaces lend themselves to better sound than square rooms, whose parallel walls make them more prone to unnatural sounding peaks (and dips) at certain frequencies that can make bass boomy or create annoying resonances and other sonic problems.

Don’t fret if the only option is a square room. Hensel says a home theater specialist will use electronic calibration, room treatments and other tools to create the best possible sound. (Continued online.)