My friend, Andrew is building a new house. He has gone through about 10 different blueprints now and each time I have to nudge a door to one side, a window to the other as they are in the wrong place. So I thought others are likely having the same issue, so here it is. How do you plan out the layout of a home theatre room so that the windows and doors won’t be in the way?
Speakers & Equipment First
Before you decide on the position of doors and windows, it is important to place the speakers within the room and on the walls. Both Dolby and DTS has speaker placement guides you can use. With Atmos becoming more and more popular, it is likely a good idea to follow Dolby’s guidelines. However, I did talk about surround speaker placement guidelines in addition to Dolby’s recommendations.
In addition to the above, on Dolby’s diagrams the surround back speakers are quite far apart. I actually prefer them closer together – and in fact that is the THX recommendation also. They should be behind the listeners, not being aimed into the listening space form a corner.
How about your equipment rack. Is it going to be in the room or out of the room? Front of back? Are you using a projector or a TV? Where are those going to be mounted? You had better made sure you don’t put doors and openings where any of those will be!
Let me make this super-simple, as that is what this site is about. These are the best positions for your doors and windows in a home cinema:
- Between the front speakers and your listening positions – leaving about 1 meter clearance of each! We don’t normally mount speakers or equipment there.
- On the back wall in the corners. This is because we generally don’t place speakers in the corners at ear height. The side walls might be different however especially if you are putting your sofa right against the back wall – which you shouldn’t really do in a dedicated home cinema if you can avoid it! It’s generally the worst place for sound quality – more on that in a different article.
It is best to put windows that are cut in either width or length. Therefore, place either slit horizontal or vertical windows. This way it’s easier to control both light and heat and should you want to cram more speakers into the room – because you’re upgrading to 32 channels next – you won’t have as much trouble by a window blocking a speaker position.
Lastly, I am a sucker for grand home theatre entrances: double doors that slide into the wall and disappear. How elegant, right? Well, there are two issues you must consider:
- You really should only put a grand entrance between the seating positions and the front of the room so you don’t block speaker positions.
- Pocket doors / cavity sliders mean you cannot mount heavy or in-wall speakers around the door cavity so you just extended the no-mount zone to be twice as large as the opening. This can become a nightmare down the line.
So it is best to go for simple doors that either hang on the outside or open out of the room. This way you minimise any issues with space.
Have you run into any other window and door-related issues in your home cinemas? Help others not make the same mistakes and share in the comments section!
There are lots of other issues to consider of course, and I will aim to do a series on home cinema design considerations over the next few months.
Should you need independent advice for your own home cinema, read more about what that means and how you can book time with Roland to discuss your needs. It is worth getting professional independent advice before you embark on such an expensive adventure.