Poll: Do You Have a Dedicated Home Theater Room?

I think it’s probably fair to assume that most people reading a web site like High-Def Digest have some interest in home theater, at least as a concept. But do you actually watch movies in a dedicated home theater room, or is your high-def display set up in a multi-purpose family room?

Recently, I was browsing through a discussion forum on another site not terribly dissimilar to ours, and was surprised to find a very active thread in which people complained that they wished they hadn’t wasted a lot of money building home theater rooms in their homes, because it turns out that they don’t like watching movies in the dark and never use the rooms. They prefer instead to watch TV and movies in well-lit family rooms, often with windows open and other activity buzzing around them while they multi-task on their tablets and smartphones.

The idea of that feels completely alien to me. I don’t understand it at all. As readers of this blog know, I spent a lot of time and money last year building a proper home theater in my basement. It’s my sanctuary from the distractions of the world. When I watch a movie, I want to focus on that movie. Even though, with newborn twins in the home now, I don’t get to use the theater room as often as I’d like at the moment, I don’t regret any of the work I put into it, and fully intend to spend a lot more time there in the future.

Does that make me a dinosaur in our multi-media age? How do you watch movies?

Do You Have a Dedicated Home Theater Room?

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38 comments

  1. To be more specific though, my home theater is in my living room. It has room darkening curtains, but isn’t completely sealed off from light (and certainly not from sound). The only other uses that room sees are reading, eating and listening to records. I’m single, with no children or pets, so it’s not a “family room”. Depending on my mood and what I’m watching, I may be on my phone or laptop while watching a movie or TV show, but I do my best to limit distractions.

  2. Mike

    I built a home theater at my mother’s house in high school. It’s still there (and pretty sweet). Our condo in Seattle is small, so the projector pulls down from the ceiling in the livingroom when we watch movies. I still try to make it as theater-like as possible though. It’s been getting a ton if use lately.

  3. Chris B

    I currently have my movie-watching area set up in our upstairs “bonus room” as opposed to the more formal seating area downstairs. I am able to control the light in the room pretty well with dark curtains on the windows and I’ve also found that placing a soft light directly behind my tv is easier on the eyes and helps put out a warm, cinematic glow which really adds to the ambience. When my wife and I built a new home back in 2012 I had plans of finishing the basement after we moved in, complete with a pretty swank HT room. Well life has a way of thwarting one’s plans and before long we had a baby on the way and as such I haven’t had the funds to turn my dream into a reality. It’ll probably be a few more years until I have the money in the bank to get things set up the way I really want them.

    In the meantime though, I’ve been toying with the idea of setting something up on the cheap, maybe using dark fabric to cover the insulation and ceiling joists, laying down a large area rug to act as temporary flooring and purchasing second-hand A/V components over the next 6 months or so. Just to create something to suffice for the next few years…anybody here attempted the same kind of thing? Did you get good results?

    As for you being a dinosaur Josh, I completely agree about secondary distractions when trying to watch a film. Nowadays it seems like people are unable to put down their phone/tablet/etc. and just focus on one thing, it drives me nuts. I miss the good old days when people could just watch a movie without having to IMDB it every 5 minutes to find out every other
    movie all the actors have ever been in, or people who can’t go 2 whole hours without checking their Facebook profile.

    Sorry to get off on a rant there….In short, I don’t have a HT at the moment..but big plans for the future.

  4. William Henley

    I agree with Daniel. I am in an apartment. I have installed blackout curtains, and can shut out light. I am running 7.2 channel surround, and have a 65 inch television. Shelving is installed on the walls, While the living room can be used for other purposes, the primary purpose is to watch movies. I’m single as well, and if I have friends come over we usually watch movies and grab something to eat

  5. My family room is my home theater, I would love to have a dedicated room for movie watching, but my house isn’t set up for it nor do I have the finances to build an addition to my home. I live in Florida and this isn’t a basement kind of place, but if it was, I would totally home theater it. I have curtains that darken up the room and the way it is set up, one can comfortably watch movies without having to use the curtains. My wife and daughter like to use the tv plenty and sometimes I get shunned out of “my area” but I am very content with the way I have it set up.

    • When the girls take over my area, I go to my bedroom which has a pretty decent set up. I have a 55 inch LG 3D with some Klipsch satellite speakers and a cheap Yamaha receiver that came free with them plus an 8 inch Yamaha subwoofer that gets the job done.

      • Chris B

        It seems that in some states in the US, (California, Florida) homes with basements tend to be pretty rare…what’s the reasoning behind this? I would think as a homeowner in an exceptionally warm climate a nice, cool basement would be ideal to retreat to in summertime..

        • William Henley

          In Texas, the ground is really hard. It is hard and expensive to build down. Most people tend to like to have large, single story homes here. You are seeing more and more two story homes in the suburbs. If a person does have a basement, it is usually because it is used for a fallout shelter or storm shelter.

  6. The main reason I do not go to the movie theaters anymore is because of all the distractions. The environment I cannot control and all the a-holes playing on their phones, talking, etc etc. I do not understand the concept of shelling out $10+ to see a movie, then spend the whole 2 hours texting. In a darkened theater, that phone facing back, huge distraction. You can’t NOT see it. And it seems that no matter where I choose to sit, that even when it looks like the coast is clear and you’re going to enjoy the movie, some family arrives, even 10 minutes into the movie, sits behind me, and they have to chat and the kids have to kick my chair. Even at a MIDNIGHT movie – wtf ?!?!?

    Although the home theater is the living room, nothing else is done in his room. Regular tv viewing takes place in other rooms of the house. So when it is movie time, the room goes dark and the screen lights up. Anyone watching tv stays in their rooms. No distractions. I put the volume where I want it and enjoy the show.

  7. Mike H

    To each his own. Everyone watches movies in their own way. For a lot of people, I used to be one of them, you work with what you have got. After many years of makeshift home theaters I finally was able to build out a small spare bedroom into a dedicated theater and I love it and use it all the time. Friends come over for movie nights and it really makes movie viewing a special experience. You are not a dinosaur Josh, but I do think dedicated theaters in the home are a luxury. Giving up a room just for movie watching is a big deal especially if you don’t have the space or need the room for a growing family. Every guy needs their space whether it’s the basement (if you have one), garage, or a dedicated mancave. Thankfully home theater equipment gets better and better and cheaper and cheaper so everyone can enjoy movies in their own way at home.

  8. Like most others here, I have a living room/family room that doubles as my primary home theater room. No kids here (just two very quiet cats), so once the wife goes to bed, I usually have the peace and quiet I need to watch a movie (often for review purposes right here on HDD).

    My biggest personal gripe is I wish I had a bigger set, but am holding out until the price of 4K TVs drop a bit. I was between jobs last year when my 55″ Samsung decided to bite the bullet, so I had to budget a HDTV instead of getting something top-of-the line. I wound up with a 47″ VIZIO HDTV with 3D, which I like quite a bit (I like it enough, I have another one serving as my bedroom TV), but would really like something in the 60″ department for the room.

    My second gripe is because of the layout of our living room and the fact that drilling holes in the wall isn’t really an option (since neighbors own the other side of those walls), I’ve had to stick to a wireless speaker system, and have been unable to find any really good ones on the market. I’m currently using a 5.1 Samsung system, but I’m not crazy about it – the least of the problems of which are the fact that all the wires are proprietary, so I can’t hook another company’s speakers up to my current receiver. I’ll probably update those if and when I’m in need of a new TV again.

    The good news is that I just upgraded my Blu-ray player to an Oppo (the 103D model to be exact), which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Yes, they cost a pretty penny (at least as far as Blu-ray players go), but it was totally worth the investment (not the least of which is finally owning a region-free player…I’ve already imported titles like Fire Walk With Me, Quiz Show, and some Arrow Films releases).

  9. T.J. Kats

    Mine is in a basement in a quasi dedicated space. The front have of the basement is where theater half of the space is and then behind that is a bar, poker table, dart board etc. When watching movies and some TV we do that with the lights off the entire basement space as a theater. When people are over for something like football, UFC, general hanging out in the back half of the room we have lighting so that people can see and interact but not totally wash out the screen. In situations like these I may also switch over to the living room mode for extra light since that is not critical viewing.

  10. Jesse

    I live alone in a small 2-bedroom condo, and have dedicated one of those small bedrooms to my fairly modest home theater. On the plus side, it’s dark and the size of the room is nicely proportional to the size/power of my equipment. On the minus side, there is no soundproofing and the room is located directly above a carport that houses 4 cars–including a monster SUV so loud visitors typically mistake it for a dump truck or tow truck.
    I’d kill for a soundproofed home theater.

  11. eric

    When I bought my house in Texas a couple of years of go, a dedicated theatre room was a must have. I spent a lot of time getting the picture and audio just right. I continue to tweak and upgrade equipment when it makes sense. I currently have a 120″ screen and a great Epson projector. No windows in this room folks… it has to be dark. I also setup 7.2 in my space, and wired it for 9.2 when and if that ever makes sense.

    I mainly watch movies and Game of Thrones in this room. I also use the space for my Xbox One and Xbox 360. This space is great as an escape from the distractions of the rest of the house, but it also a great place to throw in a Pixar or Disney flick and banish all the kids to.

    Minecraft is awesome on 120″, but a little excessive.

    I don’t go to the big theatres anymore, instead I wait for almost all movies to come out on Blu-Ray or streaming so I can watch them in the theatre room at home. People annoy me, my theatre room loves me 🙂

  12. I find it interesting that many people in this thread – all of whom I assume are movie enthusiasts like myself – rarely go to the theater anymore. I’m in the same boat, BTW, and primarily for the same reasons listed here. I’m guessing many others that are as hardcore about movies feel the same way as we do – I wonder if the cinema industry knows they’ve alienated their most passionate and (previously) loyal customers?

    I used to see about 50 films a year in the theater, and now I probably see less than six. It’s April and I’ve gone to the theater exactly ONCE in 2014 – for The Lego Movie. I probably won’t go again until Godzilla comes out.

    Anyway, I’m off topic – I just found some of the comments interesting, since they gel with my own feelings.

    • Chris B

      Yeah, the theatre-going experience has definitely lost a lot of it’s appeal with me. I resent the fact that not only are all the refreshments at the concession are insanely over-priced, but now you actually get charged for BUTTER! WTF? Not to mention we’re made to sit through several car commercials before the movie, it’s always freezing in the theatres, the bathroom is a long walk away, people are super annoying with their phones etc. All the more reason for me to get my basement set up so I can stop going to the cinema altogether…

    • I’m kind of in that boat too. Although I still love the movies and seeing one in an enhanced giant screen is still amazing, I find myself watching it in the theatre and saying to myself,” I can’t wait to see it in my living room!” My attendance at the theatre has also taken a significant decline.

    • Mike H

      Sounds like a lot of us are all on the same page here. As home theater is a more tailored and controlled movie viewing experience for the viewer I also find myself rarely going to the theater to see a movie. Most of the time I find a lot of movies are cranked way too high or poorly balanced and all I can do is grumble and suffer. The ads and obnoxious people are a given and the prices are just nuts. I find it is easier to just cold buy a blu-ray for less than the cost of 2 movie tickets or 1 ticket and some snacks, heck you prob will get an extended director’s cut anyway and if you don’t like the film then sell it on ebay used for 75% of what you paid…then you are just out a couple of bucks. Just my 2 bits…….I do love a fantastic theater experience however…..it is just becoming a rare thing.

    • I go a couple of times a month. The theater I usually go to has Dolby Atmos. Many theaters in the area have adult-only showings. Many will serve you drinks and food (if you don’t mind waiters coming into the theater – they are trained though to be quiet and as unobtrusive as posssible). Most theaters will have at least one person in the theater at all time, and their job is to escort out people who talk or use phones. While this annoyed many of the texters at first, people seem now know the rules, and you just don’t have that here anymore. As such, going to the theater is still very much a joy here.

      The biggest reason, though, that I get out and see movies is sometimes, you just got to get out of the house. I mean for something other than work and church. $3-$10 every couple of weeks (depending on theater and time of day) to see a movie on a huge screen, and especially if that screen and movie also has Dolby Atmos, is a great get-away.

      I think the only quasi-bad experience I had lately was when we went to go see Divergant. Somehow, we missed the memo that this was a teen book series, and it was me and my buddy and about 800 girls. The girl behind me was squeeling when the guy took his shirt off, got all quesie when they pulled out the needles, etc. Luckily, no one was giving us a running commentary. It wasn’t horrible, but just made us think a bit more about the movies we go see (although, the last Star Trek movie was mostly girls in there too, which was really weird)

    • I go as often as I can. I love the big screen atmosphere. I usually go to Alamo Drafthouse or the Angelika theaters here in the Dallas area. They typically have zero small children and discourage phone use in the theater. Alamo has been doing the Alamo 100 marathon which has been a blast. I’ve seen Raging Bull there as well as Metropolis and those will be experiences I won’t forget.

  13. EM

    I am another one of those who do not have a dedicated home-theater room due to budget and space considerations. Until I read this poll, I considered a dedicated home theater an ideal, and my living room does exhibit some signs of leaning in that direction (e.g., black curtains). But now that I think about it, I do appreciate the versatility. While I often watch video without distractions, I also like the fact that, for example, if a Star Trek episode or movie gets me curious about something, my library (the kind with books in it) and my computer are right in the same room for me to do some research as I continue to watch. When I have friends over, it’s convenient that the movie-watching room is also the music-listening room and the dinner-eating room and the Christmas-presents-opening room and, in short, the living room. I think that if I had the resources for a fancy home theater, I would definitely make improvements, but I also might work on a modularity that continues to bring these different pursuits together with minimal sacrifice.

  14. Matt G.

    When we were house shopping last spring, one of the criteria was either a bonus room or a total of 4 bedrooms. We ended up with a 4 bedroom house, and I took one of the rooms for the “movie room.” It has this slight 1 foot deep alcove where the TV is. I got 2 free recliners and covered them with black slipovers. I painted the room dark grey with a black ceiling and light grey trim. All of my Star Wars memorabilia is display, I have movie posters framed and hung, and I made a pretty neat feature by hanging my game controllers on the wall. Overall, I am extremely happy with it. It will never be a “true” home theater, but it is what I always wanted. It’s comfortable enough for my wife too, and she’s happy with it as well.

  15. Dan

    I have dedicated ht in the basement with 7.1 sound, projector, darkened walls, etc.

    We have a few things in common Josh… I have a jvc x3 (you got the rs40), a Denon 3808, and two big shelves full of laserdiscs I haven’t watched in years but just can’t seen to get rid of due to sentimental reasons. My prized LD is a limited collector’s edition of The Day The Earth Stood Still, signed by Robert Wise.

  16. Peter

    I live in an apartment in NYC. My 60″ Pioneer Kuro is in my living room with 2 tower speakers, a horizontal center channel and 2 smaller surrounds. All fed from my Oppo blu-ray player, Onkyo processor and Parasound 5 channel amplifier. Serves me well and I’ve enjoyed many movies there over the years. BUT, if I had a house, I would definitely build a dedicated home theater with a projector based system. I can understand doing things in a lit living room with the ballgame on TV or some TV shows, but I am with Josh not understanding people who don’t like watching movies on blu-ray (or even streamed) in a dark home theater, especially after they have built one!

  17. I don’t have a Home Theatre. My Bedroom doubles up as my Movie/TV viewing environment but take the bed out of the equation and its a reasonable set up and includes 7.1 Surround from an Onkyo receiver, a 50″ Panasonic GT30 TV and a 78″ Movie screen and BenQ W1400 projector.

    I watch TV with lights on but like to Watch movies on my screen in the dark. I would love a dedicated Home Theatre if I had the resources and would be in there every night watching something or other. I make the best of what I have at my disposal.

    Do I think you are a dinosaur Josh? Not at all since you have what I would like, space and budget permitting.

  18. I don’t have a built-to-purpose home theater but I rent a fairly large home with 2 roommates and the smaller part of the L-shaped sub-basement is set aside for that sole purpose. It is set up with a 50″ LCD, 5.1 receiver, speakers and sub, blu-ray, cable box (basic), and networked media player. Seating is arranged just over 6′ from the screen with dim lighting washing only the rear wall to prevent reflections. I’ve optimized the sound to my favorite viewing position using the receiver’s mic and set-up function – and since my roomies aren’t at all technically inclined, it is MY secluded getaway!

  19. Just bought a house recently with a finished basement. I want to stress that I am by no means handy in any way, shape, or form, and yet I built a home theater that I think stacks up with even the best commercial theater experiences. I painted the walls dark crimson, the ceiling and trim black, put up some black silk curtains, covered and soundproofed the window, installed an Epson 5020UB projector and hung a 106″ screen in a room no larger than a bedroom. I have a 6.1 speaker setup from NHT. I did everything myself and it cost me a little over $6,000, maybe $7,000 at the most, not counting my leather recliners.

    I don’t use it everyday. The wife and I prefer to watch television upstairs on the flat screen, but for movie night on the weekends or the occasional gaming binge, it’s the best money I’ve ever spent.

    As one poster already mentioned, new commercial theaters are springing up that offer a more luxurious and fully loaded experience: food and alcohol service, higher quality projection, more immersive sound (Dolby Atmos, etc.), over-21 only shows, and leather recliners.

    The problem is still the people. Years ago, I went to a Sunday evening screening of Skyfall on opening weekend, and the guy sitting next to me fell asleep and started to snore before the film even started. After tolerating it for about a half hour, I eventually shook him awake and ended up in a short, but heated, verbal altercation with him. He left the theater, but his girlfriend stayed and spent the entirety of the film texting on her phone. Keep in mind that this is one of the higher end theaters I just described above, and not only that, but it was a 21-and-over show in a theater that only fits about twenty-five people, and the cost for a ticket is something like $18 a person.

    Since then I’ve been back to the theater maybe three times?

    The only thing I dislike about the home theater experience is having to wait to see a movie, but even that isn’t such a big deal. I’ve noticed that most films hit Blu-ray almost exactly three months after they hit theaters.

  20. Brett Webber

    How about an additional category in this poll: “No home theatre, but dreaming of having one someday. *big sigh*”

    That shot of Josh’s setup makes me drool a bit (I’ll take the Dune stuff along the wall too, thank you).

    As to your question, no you are most definitely not a dinosaur. The concept of multitasking during a movie is illogical. (I could use other more colorful adjectives but enough said.) Speaking for myself, watching movies (on my comparatively tiny monitor in cramped family room) is such a luxury these days that even eating during a movie is an unwanted distraction. Basically my only window is Saturday night after 10:00 PM–when wife and kid are in bed–so I wanna enjoy it to the fullest. (Also chewing and headphones don’t go together.)

    I don’t go to theatres anymore either but not by choice–time and location rule it out. The irony is that moviegoing here in Japan is an absolute DREAM: nobody talks. Period! I mean it’s not unusual to have the lights go down and to not hear a SINGLE voice till they come back up. Same with phones. Impossible, you say? I would too if I hadn’t experienced it myself time and again. I have to pinch myself every time. Japan really is a moviegoer’s Eden. Well except for the $20 ticket prices–DOH!!!

  21. August J. Lehe

    My den is my home theatre room. It is decorated with posters and stills featuring 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Kirk Douglas as Doc Holiday from GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL, Jean Simmons from THE BIG COUNTRY, WAR OF THE WORLDS, FORBIDDEN PLANET, Rhonda Fleming, Susan Hayward, etc…..I only have a GT50 Panasonic Plasma, 5.2 Surround Speakers, an OPPO Blu Ray Player on top of my seven unit stack with five remotes on top and LED Swipe lights. One swipe with my knuckles and the remotes are illuminated, another and my 350 Blu Rays grouped by HITCHCOCK, WELLES, DISNEY, NON-DISNEY ANIMATION, SCI-FI AND FANTASY, WESTERN, SILENTS, MUSICALS, ADVENTURE, EPICS, DOCUMENTARY, ETC…LIGHTING IS very subdued. Ceiling is barn-style, walls are heavy tongue ‘n groove pine…Someday I hope to have an OLED 55-65 inch curved screen…

  22. Lone_gunmen

    Currently running a HD TV and 5.1 surround set up with a Blu-ray player, PS3, Wii U, HTPC and a Plex Server set up in the living room, does the job, but I want a BIGGER screen. Fiance and I are moving back to the country (I hate living in the city) and the first thing we’re going to do is invest in a new surround sound set up and 3D projector. We plan on converting a spare room into the home theater (most Australian homes don’t have basements).

  23. I have my home theatre in my bedroom which is about 16 x 11 feet , on one side of the blank wall I have fixed a glass beaded screen 120 inches & on the other end rests the Panasonic 7000 3d projector on a S. steel stand. I had an Oppo 103 Bluray player but switched over to Oppo 93. My speaker set up is 9.2. I watch movies every day for 3 hrs & have never been to the theatres for the last 8 years. I keep upgrading my equipment as n when essential.

  24. Mike

    Right now my home theater is part of my main living room, but in the future hopefully I won’t be breaking the bank when I finally build my HTR

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