Home Theatre System
Home cinema, also called home theater or home theatre, refers to home entertainment audio-visual systems that seek to reproduce a movie theater experience and mood using consumer electronics-grade video and audio equipment that is set up in a room or backyard of a private home. In the 1980s, home cinemas typically consisted of a movie pre-recorded on a LaserDisc or VHS tape; a LaserDisc or VHS player; and a heavy, bulky large-screen cathode ray tube TV set. In the 2000s, technological innovations in sound systems, video player equipment and TV screens and video projectors have changed the equipment used in home theatre set-ups and enabled home users to experience a higher-resolution screen image, improved sound quality and components that offer users more options (e.g., many of the more expensive Blu-ray players in 2016 can also “stream” movies and TV shows over the Internet using subscription services such as Netflix). The development of Internet-based subscription services means that 2016-era home theatre users do not have to commute to a video rental store as was common in the 1980s and 1990s (nevertheless, some movie enthusiasts buy DVD or Blu-ray discs of their favourite content).
Home Theatre System
In the 2010s, many home cinema enthusiasts aim to replicate, to the degree that is possible, the “movie theatre experience”. To do so, many home cinema buffs purchase higher quality components than used for everyday television viewing on a relatively small TV with only built-in speakers. A typical home theater includes the following components:
Home Theatre System
In the 2000s, the term “home cinema” encompasses a range of systems meant for movie playback at home. The most basic and economical system could be a DVD player, a standard definition (SD) large-screen television with at least a 27-inch (69 cm) diagonal screen size, and an inexpensive “home theater in a box” surround sound amplifier/speaker system with a subwoofer. A more expensive home cinema set-up might include a Blu-ray disc player, home theater PC (HTPC) computer or digital media receiver streaming devices with a 10-foot user interface, a high-definition video projector and projection screen with over 100-inch (8.3 ft; 2.5 m) diagonal screen size (or a large flatscreen HDTV), and a several-hundred-watt home theater receiver with five to eleven surround-sound speakers plus one or two powerful subwoofer(s). 3D-TV-enabled home theaters make use of 3D TV sets/projectors and Blu-ray 3D players in which the viewers wear 3D-glasses, enabling them to see 3D content.
Home Theatre System
As of 2016, a home cinema system typically uses a large projected image from a video projector or a large flat-screen high-resolution HDTV system, a movie or other video content on a DVD or high-resolution Blu-ray disc, which is played on a DVD player or Blu-ray player, with the audio augmented with a multi-channel power amplifier and anywhere from two speakers and a stereo power amp (for stereo sound) to a 5.1 channel amplifier and five or more surround sound speaker cabinets (with a surround sound system). Whether home cinema enthusiasts have a stereo set-up or a 5.1 channel surround system, they typically use at least one low-frequency subwoofer speaker cabinet to amplify low-frequency effects from movie soundtracks and reproduce the deep pitches from the musical soundtrack.
Home Theatre System
In the 1950s, home movies became popular in the United States and elsewhere as Kodak 8 mm film (Pathé 9.5 mm in France) and camera and projector equipment became affordable. Projected with a small, portable movie projector onto a portable screen, often without sound, this system became the first practical home theater. They were generally used to show home movies of family travels and celebrations, but they also doubled as a means of showing some commercial films, or even private stag films. Dedicated home cinemas were called screening rooms at the time and were outfitted with 16 mm or even 35 mm projectors for showing commercial films. These were found almost exclusively in the homes of the very wealthy, especially those in the movie industry.
Home Theatre System
In the 1950s, playing home movies became popular in the United States with middle class and upper-class families as Kodak 8 mm film projector equipment became more affordable. The development of multi-channel audio systems and later LaserDisc in the 1980s created a new paradigm for home video, as it enabled movie enthusiasts to add better sound and images to their setup. In the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, a typical home cinema in the United States would have a LaserDisc or VHS player playing a movie, with the signal fed to a large rear-projection television set. Some people used expensive front projectors in a darkened viewing room. During the 1990s, watching movies on VHS at home became a popular leisure activity. Beginning in the late 1990s, and continuing throughout much of the 2000s, home-theater technology progressed with the development of the DVD-Video format (higher resolution than VHS), Dolby Digital 5.1-channel audio (“surround sound”) speaker systems, and high-definition television (HDTV), which initially included bulky, heavy Cathode Ray Tube HDTVs and flat screen TVs. In the 2010s, affordable large HDTV flatscreen TVs, high resolution video projectors (e.g., DLP), 3D television technology and the high resolution Blu-ray Disc (1080p) have ushered in a new era of home theater.
As of 2016, the days of the $100,000 and over home theater system is being usurped by the rapid advances in digital audio and video technologies, which has spurred a rapid drop in prices, making a home cinema set-up more affordable than ever before. This in turn has brought the true digital home theater experience to the doorsteps of the do-it-yourselfers, often for much less than the price of a low-budget economy car. As of 2016, consumer grade A/V equipment can meet some of the standards of a small modern commercial theater (e.g., THX sound).
The development of multi-channel audio systems and LaserDisc in the 1980s added new dimensions for home cinema. The first-known home cinema system was designed, built and installed by Steve J. LaFontaine as a sales tool at Kirshmans furniture store in Metairie, Louisiana in 1974. He built a special sound room which incorporated the earliest quadraphonic audio systems, and he modified Sony Trinitron televisions for projecting the image. Many systems were sold in the New Orleans area in the ensuing years before the first public demonstration of this integration occurred in 1982 at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, Illinois. Peter Tribeman of NAD (U.S.) organized and presented a demonstration made possible by the collaborative effort of NAD, Proton, ADS, Lucasfilm and Dolby Labs, who contributed their technologies to demonstrate what a home cinema would “look and sound” like.
However, to buy individual components, a consumer must have knowledge of sound system and video system design and electronics and she or he must do research on the specifications of each component. For instance, some speakers perform better in smaller rooms while others perform better in larger rooms and seating location must be considered. One of the challenges with buying all the components separately is that the purchaser must understand speaker impedance, power handling, and HDMI compatibility and cabling. Given these challenges, HTIB systems are a simpler and more cost-effective solution for many families and consumers, they are also better suited to smaller living spaces in semi-detached homes or apartments/condos where noise could be an issue. As well, buying an HTIB package is often less expensive than buying separate components.
Some home cinema enthusiasts build a dedicated room in their home for the theater. These more advanced installations often include sophisticated acoustic design elements, including “room-in-a-room” construction that isolates sound and provides an improved listening environment and a large screen, often using a high definition projector. These installations are often designated as “screening rooms” to differentiate them from simpler, less-expensive installations. In some movie enthusiast’s home cinemas, this idea can go as far as completely recreating an actual small-scale cinema, with a projector enclosed in its own projection booth, specialized furniture, curtains in front of the projection screen, movie posters, or a popcorn or vending machine with snack food and candy. More commonly, real dedicated home theaters pursue this to a lesser degree.
Home theater seating consists of chairs or sofas specifically engineered and designed for viewing movies in a home theater. Some home theater seats have a cup holder built into the chairs’ armrests and a shared armrest between each seat. Some seating has movie-theater-style chairs like those seen in a movie cinema, which feature a flip-up seat cushion. Other seating systems have plush leather reclining lounger types, with flip-out footrests. Available features include storage compartments, snack trays, tactile transducers for low-frequency effects that can be felt through a chair (without creating high volume levels which could disturb other family members), and electric motors to adjust the chair. Home theater seating tends to be more comfortable than seats in a public cinema.
Noise Criteria (NC) are noise-level guidelines applicable to cinema and home cinema. For this application, it is a measure of a room’s ambient noise level at various frequencies. For example, in order for a theater to be THX certified, it must have an ambient sound level of NC-30 or less. This helps to retain the dynamic range of the system. Some NC levels are: