Latest Trends for a Media Room
Designing a room to meet the above spec is not as easy as one would think. We’re firm believers of “if you’re going to do something, do it right”. There is a science behind the design of any technological space, so if you are going to build one – it’s highly advised to seek a professional such as Simpletech to make ensure you get it right the first time around. It will cost you a lot less now than it will later with the headaches and cost of chasing into walls and pulling out ceilings.
We were asked to assist in the writing of an article for South African Home Owner magazine on the current trends in a media room. Below is some of the content we gave them with a little extra meat.
Below we’ll detail various services that would be considered for a media room these days, and then we’ll demonstrate how we derive simplicity from what are ultimately very advanced and complex computer systems.
The core services of an entertainment room ultimately comprise of an audio system, a visual system and any number of sources.
Designing this audio-visual system is an advanced art and is a process that involves many hours of consultation with the end-user to ensure their exact requirements are met in every aspect. This includes but isn’t limited to sound requirements, ideal screen size for room layout, source preference, seating design & joinery design.
To achieve a multi-purpose sound system, any media room should at the very least have full range 5.1 or higher surround sound system. However, it’s important to consider the core applications of the room and focus your sound budget towards achieving these first.
In terms of sound, we would consult with you to determine what your applications for the media room are. In a nutshell, what would you do more often: listen to music or watch movies? Then we begin the design and quote process.
Quick tip: Music is designed in stereo sound, this means 2 channels: front left and front right. Movie audio is designed in surround sound, which could be anything from 5 to 22 channels: front left, front right, front centre, back left, back right, etc, etc etc.
The key thing to know here is that if you listen to music more, it makes sense to allocate more budget to the front left and front right speakers, as these are the traditional stereo sound producing speakers. If you watch movies more, the vocal reproduction comes from the centre speaker – and thus, this is where you’d allocate more budget to.
For your viewing experience, there are three routes you can go: projection, TV or a hybrid (both). Again, this comes down to us drilling down into what your applications for the room are, and thereby determining the correct solution.
The real benefit that you’re really getting with a projection solution is a very large image that is still high in quality that doesn’t break the bank. You’re getting a screen that can provide larger-than-life size images for a lot less than what a TV equal in size would cost. In terms of value in relation to the size of the screen, projection will always win the fight.
However, projection does have its downsides: to get the true experience, you would need absolute light control. Projection is fantastic in rooms that have minimal daylight coming in and ideally have blackout blinds. The other issue is that the lamp has a limited lifespan, so you’ll to
TVs will often make more sense in a high-traffic areas that are being used during the day and more frequently.
The hybrid solution works well for these areas and what we do is install both a TV for daytime use and a projector with a motorised screen for night time and special occasions. Best of both worlds.
Quick tip: Whichever route you go, be it projection or TV, just make sure it’s 4k or “Ultra HD” technology. The norm these days has been “Full HD” on their TVs at home. Ultra HD is 4x the resolution of Full HD – so you can only imagine how much better the picture quality is.
Media Players & Storage
In terms of media devices; a cool, unique and relatively inexpensive option would be a Roku3 media player, which allows you to stream 1,000+ channels of movies, TV shows, sports, and more to any HDTV.
This rivals other streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu which are becoming common practice in most of our solutions today. Although these services aren’t officially available in South Africa yet, there are some tips and tricks we know to make it work.
If you have plenty of digital media and you’d be interested in investing a bit more, an XBMC movie server or the ultimate Kaleidoscope media server should be seriously considered. These will automatically index all movies stored on your network attached storage device (NAS drive), download and install cover art as well as all other information about the media (Plots, cast lists, etc). Media that is stored on the NAS drive can be made accessible anywhere in the home – gone are the days of having 1000s of DVDs take up space, just get a NAS drive!
However, for the best viewing experience, and to get the most out of your equipment, we still recommend a high quality 3D BluRay player that can unpack the 50GB of media technology stored on a BluRay which you would not get using a media player source. This is also great for those last minute decisions when you’re at the shops and feel like hiring a DVD to watch for the night.
Quick tip: We can also take your entire CD, DVD and BluRay collection and digitise it onto a hard drive for you. Keep the memories, remove the clutter.
In addition to the audio-visual aspect of an entertainment room; lighting control, motorised blind and curtain control, air-conditioning and heating control as well as vibrating actuators under your seat (to add a real 3D effect to your movie watching experience) also play a huge role in creating the ideal media room experience.
The devil is in the detail.
After mentioning all the above, one may think the systems are very complicated. For this reason, one of the main focuses in technology today is unifying the control of all these platforms into a simple, easy to use interface. This is known as home automation or smart home control and using a brand such as Control4, one can integrate audio-visual, lighting, energy and comfort solutions into a single platform to allow these solutions to talk to one another.
Instead of having an individual remote control for the TV, DSTV, amplifier, BluRay, Apple TV and air-conditioner, we give you one. A smart, simple and easy-to-use remote control that does everything.
Let’s set the scene, you’re leaving the office on a cold Friday afternoon and all you feel like doing is going back to your comfortable home to watch a movie. From your smart phone, click a single button and turn on your underfloor heating and the air-cons set to your desired temperature. Have the lights be set to your welcome home scene. Have background music playing throughout the house and close the curtains and dim the lights in the cinema. Have the projector and sound on and ready for you to choose a movie.
Extreme (but possible) example: After the movie, set the kettle to boil, your bath to start running and the bedroom gas fireplace to on.