Light Matters: Tips for Maximizing Your Home Theater
Making your media room picture perfect
This media room features two challenges: a wide seating arrangement and high ambient light.
September 27, 2012 by Grant Clauser

Light Control

A room’s got to have light, right? Determining how much light and where to put it to cause the least harm is a common problem in media rooms. 

The most important thing is to keep light off the screen, then determine how much light you really need in order to use the room the way you want to. In a dedicated theater, eliminating all ambient light is pretty easy—just turn the lights off and enjoy the movie—but in a multipurpose media room, which may contain a wet bar, a pool table, and other non-screen activities, other lights are going to come into play.

Haas suggest that lights be kept as far away from the screen as possible, and not directed at the screen. For instance, lights that focus their output down on the user, rather than radiate out into the room, will allow for socializing without washing out the picture.

Blanchard says this is an area where lighting control solutions are very useful. He recommends creating separate lighting zones, so the area crucial to the screen can be dark, but other areas (such as a bar area) can have light. Wireless dimming products, like Lutron’s Maestro systems, make it easy to turn down the lights while you’re already seated in your viewing chair.

Recessed spot lighting can be useful for lighting up specific areas of a room (such as over a game table or bar) without casting much light out into the rest of the room or toward the screen.

With all this talk about getting the light away from the screen, it almost seems counter-intuitive to attach lights to a screen. But that’s exactly what SI can do with their Black Diamond Zero Edge. The Ambiance LED option puts LED lights around the perimeter of the back of the screen with 256 color options. Vackar says that the lighting improves perceived contrast and does not impact the screen image at all, and looks really cool.

Ultimately the goal isn’t to create a space that fits some industry specs for home theater. The goal is to create a space you and your family will enjoy, in which both the décor and the electronics work together. Sometimes that means a compromise or two, but the results are worth it. 


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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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