November 01, 2012 by Grant Clauser
2. The Hybrid Space
Home theater, media room, game room, family center … it doesn’t matter much what you call it, as long as it includes two main components: a sound system and a display device. After those two criteria, what passes for a media room varies greatly.
David Berman, vice president of sales at Stereo East in Frisco, Texas, prefers the term media room over home theater. Instead of the traditional look of a dedicated home theater, he finds that more people are taking a hybrid approach—meaning the incorporation of more traditional furniture (sofa and chaise lounge seating) instead of specialty theater seating,and applying lighter colors to the walls.
Why this shift? Berman says many people want a home theater experience, but they don’t want to limit the room to just one use. In his market, single-family homes usually only have one room to spare, so making it a multipurpose room ensures the systems installed are used more frequently and by more members of the family.
But a multipurpose media room has requirements that a dedicated theater doesn’t. First, it needs access to a wide variety of content. Streaming media devices are supplying a lot of that. While Blu-ray players or high-end movie servers may offer the best-looking pictures for home theaters, Berman sees a lot of Apple TVs and Roku players going into family rooms.
In a dedicated theater, the projector can usually be boxed in or placed in a separate projection room. For the multiuse media space, especially if it’s a retrofit installation, the projector often cannot be easily hidden, so it needs to be as quiet as possible.Also important is light output. Michael Bridwell of Digital Projection Inc. (DPI) says high-lumen projectors are ideal for rooms that aren’t going to be completely dark. If the theater isn’t in a basement, then you probably need to get a bright projector, which mostly rules out LED-based models. Berman concurs and says he always recommends high-output screens in media rooms to maximize the light coming from the projector.
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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 audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
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