Imagine you’re settling in for movie night at home. As you hit play, you’re not just watching a film, you’re immersed in it. That’s the magic of home theatre acoustics. But what’s the science behind it? How do you achieve that perfect sound? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll unravel the mystery of acoustics, helping you understand how to optimize your home theatre experience. So, let’s dive in and get the show on the road.

The Basics of Home Theatres

Understanding the basics of home theatres isn’t just about the flashy screens or plush seating, it’s about the science behind the acoustics. You’ve got to grasp the concept of surround sound and be aware of the potential costs involved. Let’s delve into the technical aspects of designing your ideal home theatre, focusing on sound dynamics and financial considerations.

What is Surround Sound

You’ve probably heard the term ‘surround sound’ but do you know what it actually means? It’s a sound system that uses multiple speakers to create a more immersive audio experience. Surround sound works by manipulating sound waves from various directions, usually through speaker placement.

  • You feel like you’re in the center of the action, not just watching it.
  • Your favorite music takes on a new life, wrapping you in melodies and beats.
  • Video games become even more engaging, with the sounds of virtual environments filling your room.

Understanding the principles of surround sound can help you set up your sound system and optimize your surround speakers for the best possible experience. It’s all about mastering the science of sound to create emotionally compelling experiences.

How Much Does a Home Theatre Room Really Cost

In your quest for the ultimate audio experience, you might be wondering about the true cost of setting up a home theatre room. It’s not just about purchasing a high-end audio system; room acoustics play a crucial role in delivering that immersive sound. The cost can vary significantly depending on the home theater design and room layout. At Wavetrain Cinemas, our clients are not just after a solution, but an experience. The room design and that of the surrounding spaces, all affect your enjoyment of the cinema. You’ll need to consider the investment in acoustic treatments like diffusers and bass traps to optimize your room acoustics. The type of seating, flooring, air conditioning and even the wall finishes can affect your home theater acoustics. Including professional consultation, a comprehensive setup can range from tens of thousands of dollars to a few hundred thousand for complete room designs or higher for state of the art systems that exceed industry standards. Anything is possible at Wavetrain Cinemas. Remember, you’re not just creating a home theater room; you’re crafting an audio masterpiece. All of this is not possible without careful audio engineering of the room, system and acoustics.

Planning Your Home Theatre

Now that you’re versed in the basics of home theatre acoustics, it’s time to dive into the intricate process of planning your own home theatre. You’ll need to consider aspects such as the room’s size and shape, which can greatly impact your theatre’s sound quality. Once you’ve pinned down the perfect room, you’ll then navigate the complex world of home theatre equipment, selecting the ideal components to achieve your desired cinematic experience.

The Room

Let’s not forget, the room’s shape and size can greatly affect your home theater’s acoustic quality. Those room dimensions you’ve been ignoring? They’re crucial. You see, resonance within the room can disrupt your audio experience.

To achieve that cinematic sound, consider these factors:

  • Acoustic treatment: Proper insulation can absorb unwanted sound waves.
  • Room modes: These are the frequency at which the room resonates, based on the room dimensions and more importantly the proportions. It’s a technical term but considering the psychoacoustics of the space will drastically improve your sound.
  • Positioning: Strategically placing your speakers and seats will help to provide an even response across the room. EQ will not correct for poor design. It will improve it, but not correct it.

Don’t just think of acoustic treatment as a decor add-on. It’s a science that can turn your living room into an immersive movie experience. So, get those measurements, study those room modes, and let’s create an acoustic paradise.

The Ideal Room Shape

Square or rectangular rooms are typically your best bet for achieving optimal acoustics, but there’s more to consider than just the basics. When designing a home theater, the science behind the acoustics involves intricate calculations, that should carried out by trained professionals. The dimensions of your room play a crucial role in the sound quality.

An ideal room shape for home theater acoustics is a rectangle, avoiding perfect squares due to the potential for standing waves. The ratio of width, length, and height should ideally not be dimensions that are easily divisible by the same numbers. That is the simplest explanation, but it is more complex than that. While there are many ratios that work well, the reality is that all rooms are different and once we understand the limitations of the site, we can design an entire system to deliver the best outcomes.

Home Theatre Buying Guide

You’ll find that picking the right components is just as essential as the room’s shape when you’re shopping for your entertainment setup. This home theater buying guide will direct you towards mastering your system.

  • A quality projector is vital. Look for high resolution and brightness, that will provide a min of 100 Nits screen brightness. For higher end systems we aim for 200-300 Nits brightness, where you’ll feel like you’re at a private cinema. The screen and also video processor are critical elements of the video system, as is video calibration.
  • Your audio system is the heart of the setup. Choose a surround sound system that places you in the center of the action. Hearing every detail will stir your senses.
  • Finally, the home theater automation system. Opt for one with the right connections for all devices. It’s about ease of use and efficiency, making your experience seamless.

Home Theatre Buying Guide

Room Acoustics and Sound

As you delve deeper into the world of room acoustics and sound, you’ll discover it’s all about controlling reflections and resonances. You’ll need to master the art of taming both lower and higher frequency reflections to achieve optimal sound. However, it’s critical not to go overboard, as a balance between absorption, diffusion, and reflection is key to perfect room acoustics. Acoustics does not scale. Larger rooms require less absorption not more. There is much misinformation available on acoustics. We would go as far as to say that most information on acoustics is not correct. Unfortunately, that is because acoustics takes many years to study and most advice is coming from salespeople, not engineers. It’s very easy to attend a three day course and say you have a certification. At Wavetrain Cinemas, we can say that we are still learning after 20 years of being at the forefront of acoustic engineering in Australia. It’s the striving for perfection that has made us the most awarded company in Australia.

Why Room Acoustics Matter

Without a doubt, you’re going to notice a significant difference in sound quality when you pay attention to the acoustics of your room. Understanding room acoustics isn’t just about improving your home theater acoustics; it’s about mastering the art of sound reproduction.

Let’s focus on three specific aspects:

  • Surround System Positioning: Where you place your surround system can dramatically affect sound quality. Position strategically for optimal sound delivery.
  • Room Layout: Your room’s layout, including furniture and materials, can affect sound waves’ behavior, impacting sound reproduction.
  • Acoustic Treatments: Strategically placed, these can reduce unwanted echoes and reverberations, enhancing overall sound quality.

In essence, room acoustics are pivotal in creating an immersive, high-quality home theater experience. You wouldn’t ignore it, would you?

Acoustics is All About Controlling Reflections

In your quest for superior sound quality, it’s crucial to understand that good acoustics is all about controlling reflections. When it comes to home theater acoustics, you’re dealing with the behavior of sound waves coming off your speakers. These waves bounce off walls, ceilings, and floors, creating reflections. These reflections can muddle your sound, leading to a loss of clarity and precision or they can enhance your perception of sound (psychoacoustics). By controlling reflections, you’ll enhance the direct sound reaching your ears, resulting in a cleaner, more accurate audio experience. This is especially critical for the centre channel and hearing vocals clearly. Use acoustic panels to absorb or diffuse unwanted reflections. Strategically position your speakers and seating to maximise direct sound over strong reflections. Remember, mastering acoustics isn’t just about equipment—it’s about understanding and manipulating your environment for optimal audio performance.

Taming the Lower Frequency Reflections

Taming the lower frequency reflections is your next challenge, and it’s not as easy as dealing with higher frequencies. Low frequencies, or bass notes, are notorious for being stubborn, as they contain significantly more energy. They can linger and bounce around your home theatre over time, muddying the acoustic signature.

Bass traps are your secret weapon in this battle. These are:

  • Special acoustic absorbers designed to dampen low frequencies – note that these are not generally absorptive materials. Many bass traps are just wedges of absorptive material and are poor options for dealing with bass issues.
  • Strategically placed in room corners where bass tends to accumulate or built into the room structure like ceilings or seating platforms.
  • Instrumental in creating clean, clear soundscapes

Taming Higher Frequency Reflections

You’ve got a different set of challenges when it comes to controlling higher frequency reflections, but it’s definitely within your reach. High frequency reflections are the acoustic mirror image reflections produced by your surround sound system. These reflections bounce off various surfaces, altering the sound pressure in your room as the sounds reach your ear at various times and volume, potentially distorting the audio. To prevent this, you need to strategically place acoustical treatments that can absorb or diffuse these reflections. Diffusers scatter the sound waves in various directions depending on where it is in the room, reducing the level of the reflected sound to your ears. Meanwhile, absorbers soak up these reflections, minimizing their impact. Absorption is great for first reflections of the centre channel. Remember, the goal is to balance absorption and diffusion to create an optimal acoustic environment for your high frequency sounds. You do not want to kill the sound in the room. Remember that we spatially define sound based on reverb times. We need sound bouncing around the room as it forms par of the audio cues required to define a soundfield as being seamless.

Don’t Go Overboard

While designing a home theater, it’s crucial not to overdo it. You’re seeking a balance that will enhance your theater experience without overwhelming it. Overdoing the acoustics can lead to a synthetic or dead sound rather than the desired natural, immersive surround effect. You should not be able to pin point speaker locations in the system. This would be a clear sign that the room is overtreated. Please arrange a demonstration at Wavetrain Cinemas and we can quickly demonstrate what we are discussing here. We live in the world with our ears and the results of good & bad acoustics are obvious to everyone, you have likely just never really through about it. A demonstration is worth a thousand words.

Consider the following points:

  • Too much absorption can make a room sound unnaturally dead, stealing the life from sound effects and music.
  • Overly diffused sounds can blur the clarity and precision of dialogues and soundtracks.
  • Excessive bass can overpower the subtler nuances of the score.

Cabinet Trickery for the Important Centre Channel Speaker

In the realm of speaker placement, it’s important for you to consider cabinet trickery for the crucial centre channel speaker. Positioning is key to optimizing your home theater acoustics. The center channel speaker, responsible for delivering over half of a soundtrack’s audio, should ideally be aligned with the sound coming from the front.

Avoid placing the speaker inside a cabinet or shelf as it can compromise the quality of the sound. If you must, make sure to mitigate any potential sound distortion through cabinet trickery. Use absorptive material on the cabinet’s interior to reduce resonance. Also, ensure your speaker system isn’t too close to the walls, as this can cause unwanted reflections, affecting the audio clarity. For the best outcome, baffle mount speakers and place them behind an acoustically transparent screen.

Home Theatre Equipment Guide

Now that you’ve got a grasp on room acoustics, it’s time to delve into the specifics of home theatre equipment. You’ll need to master the art of selecting the right receiver, finding the optimal subwoofer placement, choosing the best front projector, and determining the ideal screen size for your space. There are industry standards, which is great as it means that all of these things can be calculated, rather than being subjective. When you let the maths talk, your choices quickly become obvious. Let’s break down these components to ensure you’re getting the most out of your home theatre experience.

How to Choose the Best Home Theatre Receiver

You’re probably wondering how to choose the best home theatre receiver that’ll enhance your acoustic experience. Look no further, this guide to home theater equipment is all you need.

  • First, consider the power output. The higher it is, the better your home theater experience will be, however you need to double to power each time to have a noticeable gain of 3dB. So if 100W is not enough, then going to 120W will provide zero gain. You need 200W. The relationship of speaker sensitivity and power, will dictate the sound pressure level at the seat. As a generalisation, an AV receiver and standard speaker (dome tweeter) will be able to hit reference level at approx. 2-3m only and it is much cheaper to use speakers with a higher sensitivity than to buy high powered amplifiers. You may need to use Pre/Power setup or digital active speakers like we use at Wavetrain Cinemas.
  • Second, check the receiver’s connectivity. It should have ample inputs for all your devices, plus the processing power to drive your cinema system.
  • Lastly, consider the audio format it supports and room correction software. Dolby Atmos or DTS:X offer the best home theater sound and all systems should be tuned once they are properly setup.

Home Theatre Subwoofer Placement Options

Subwoofer placement can make or break your home theatre’s sound quality, so let’s explore some optimal home theatre subwoofer placement options. The goal is to harmonize with your theater acoustics, resulting in immersive sound.

Consider these options:

Placement Description
Front of Room

This is a common subwoofer placement. It creates a direct sound that is time aligned with the front LCR speakers, enhancing your home theater’s acoustics.

Corner of Room

Subwoofers in corners can generate more bass but may lack precision, as it will drive room standing waves. Only do this if using multiple subwoofers are underpowered.

Multiple Subwoofers

Distributed evenly, multiple subwoofers can balance sound and minimize localization. Locations should be symmetrical in the room.

How to Choose the Best Front Projector

Choosing the best front projector isn’t just about brand and price; it’s about understanding what fits your specific needs and viewing preferences. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about finding a theater projector that can seamlessly integrate with your home theater av, ensuring the best quality for your unique setup.

Here’s what you should consider:

  • The brightness and contrast: contrast is the number one criteria for the image quality. Too much brightness can wash out the image, while insufficient contrast can make the image seem flat. No enough light output and the image will look dull and poorly highlight the benefits of HDR (High Dynamic Range) content. We are chasing 100-300 Nits of projected brightness. Going beyond 300 Nits is personal and expensive.
  • Colour reproduction. Is it capable of REC709 (the old TV standard) or the higher grade DCI cinema standard of P3 or the full REC2020, which is the current standard for all content.
  • The projection screen: A high-quality screen can enhance the projector’s performance, by increasing gain (brightness) or providing deeper blacks. Essentially we want a screen that is even in it’s light distribution and does not alter the projected image.

How to Choose the Best Home Theatre Screen Size

After selecting an ideal front projector for your dedicated home cinema, the next critical step is choosing the perfect screen size. It’s a vital aspect that’ll greatly impact your theater sound and viewing experience, replicating the immersive ambience of movie theaters. When making this crucial decision, consider your room’s dimensions, seating arrangement, and projector’s capabilities.

Here’s a handy table for reference:

Room Size (metres)

Ideal Screen Size Width (in inches)

5 x 3


6 x 4


7 x 5


8 x 5


10 x 7


Home Theatre Screen Size

DIY Home Theatre Projects

Now that you’re familiar with the science of home theatre acoustics, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive into some DIY home theatre projects. You’ll be hands-on with everything from creating a bespoke AV receiver rack to painting in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. You’ll also learn how to meticulously mount a home theatre projector and its screen for optimal viewing experience.

DIY Home Theatre AV Receiver Rack Best Practices

You’ll need to consider a few key factors when setting up your DIY home theatre AV receiver rack for optimal acoustics. To start, the position of your AV receiver in relation to your Dolby Atmos speakers plays a crucial role.

  • Strategically place your AV receiver and amplifier to ensure speaker cables are kept as short as possible.
  • Consider room acoustics and how sounds bounce off walls and objects. Having a rack in the room may cause issues, so should it be hidden?
  • Invest in high-quality cables for pristine signal transmission and label the cables for easy servicing later on.
  • Heat is a big issue in an installation. Be careful to allow the equipment to breathe with air coming in the bottom and out the top. You may need to add mechanical ventilation if the amount of heat is too much. Monitor your equipment to ensure sources and other components are becoming hot, which will affect both performance and create faults over time.

This isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s about maximizing your audio experience. With careful attention to these details, you’ll be one step closer to achieving home theatre acoustics mastery. As a final piece of audio advice, remember that experimentation is key. Tailor your setup to your personal preferences and space to truly make it your own.

DIY: How To Paint In-Wall & In-Ceiling Speakers For Your Home Theatre

In your quest for the perfect home theatre setup, don’t overlook the impact of custom-painted in-wall and in-ceiling speakers; they can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal of your space. These speakers, when painted to match or contrast your decor, can blend seamlessly into the room or become a focal point.

When planning to paint your speakers, you need to consider the type of paint and the application method. Here’s a quick guide:

Type of Paint

Application Method

Acrylic Paint

Brush, Spray – water based, acrylic paints are easy to work with

Enamel Paint

Brush, Spray – provide a harder finish, but are oil based.

How to Mount A Home Theatre Projector

Once you’ve perfected the look of your speakers, it’s time to focus on mounting your projector for that ultimate home theatre experience. Understand the science behind home theatre acoustics to elevate your theater experience. Mounting a projector isn’t rocket science, but it requires precision.

Here’s how to mount a home theatre projector:

  • Choose a spot central to your viewing area, ensuring optimal image quality, which is primarily related to the projectors geometry relative to the screen.
  • Maintain the correct throw distance, respecting the manufacturer’s guidance. The closer the projector, the brighter the image. The further away, the higher the native contrast, but a 20-30% drop in brightness.
  • Secure the projector mount firmly, avoiding vibrations that can disrupt your viewing pleasure. It’s advisable to be using anti-vibration mounts.

How to Mount A Home Theatre Projector Screen

Now that your projector’s up and running, let’s turn our attention to mounting your home theatre projector screen, which is just as crucial for your ultimate viewing experience. It’s a fairly simple process but requires precision.

But first, let’s delve into the science behind it. The position of your screen directly impacts the acoustics in your home theatre. Here’s a table that breaks down the key steps:





Determine screen size

To match the projector’s resolution


Choose wall

For optimal viewing angle


Mark points

To align the mount properly


Drill holes

To secure the mount


Hang screen

Ensuring it’s level, plumb and perpendicular to the projector.

Understanding Surround Sound

You’ve mastered the basics of home theater acoustics, now it’s time to delve into the intricacies of surround sound. This involves understanding how it operates, what components you’ll need to create it, and where to source high-quality system. By grasping these concepts, you’ll be well on your way to replicating an immersive theater experience right in your home.

How Does Surround Sound Work

Let’s dive into how surround sound works in your home theatre system, giving you that immersive movie experience right in your living room. The key to understanding home theatre acoustics lies in three main elements:

  • The strategic placement of left and right speakers to create a sound field
  • Accurate synchronization of audio with the visuals to enhance the realism
  • The use of Dolby Atmos sound technology for three-dimensional audio effect

The surround sound system employs multiple speakers that project sound from different directions, including sound coming from the front. Each speaker outputs specific sounds at precise moments, creating a multidimensional auditory environment. With Dolby Atmos, sounds are not just around you, they’re above too. Mastering these elements will elevate your home theatre experience to new heights.

What Do You Need to Create Surround Sound

To create surround sound in your own space, you’ll need a few essential components: multiple speakers, a receiver or amplifier, and a proper layout plan. It’s key to understand that the number of speakers corresponds to the channels in your home system. A 5.1 system, for instance, includes five speakers and one subwoofer. Placement of these components significantly impacts your home theatre acoustics. Front speakers should align with your TV, the center speaker directly underneath, and the rear speakers should be placed behind your main seating area. The subwoofer, responsible for low-frequency sounds, can be placed anywhere in the room. An amplifier or receiver is necessary to process and distribute the sound signals to the speakers. With these elements, you can create surround sound that truly envelops you. For Dolby Atmos, it is common for Wavetrain Cinemas to be using 16-24 channels of audio processing. The most common systems are 7.1.4 (7 bed channels in the horizontal plane, 1 LFE bass channel & 4 Atmos height channels).

Where to Find High-Quality Surround Sound

Once you’ve got your setup planned out, it’s time to find high-quality surround sound equipment to bring your vision to life. Your cinema system should be outfitted with top-tier technology to create an immersive sound experience.

When looking for quality equipment, consider these points:

  • Look for brands known for their excellence in home theatre acoustics, which will often be brands you do know. Brands such as Elementi Audio, Meridian, JBL Synthesis, B&W, etc are renowned for their superior sound quality.
  • Check out professional audio stores or reputable online marketplaces. These platforms often offer a wide selection of high-end equipment. Once you have done that give Wavetrain Cinemas as call and make an appointment to come and see us.
  • Consider consulting experts in the field. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on your specific needs.

How It Works: Surround Sound Systems are Bringing the Theatre Home

Now, let’s delve into how surround sound systems are bringing the theatre home. Imagine the theater surround sound you love, but in your living room. This is achieved by strategically placing speakers to create home theatre acoustics that encapsulate you in a three-dimensional sound environment. The central speaker handles dialogue, while the front left and right speakers manage most of the soundtrack. The subwoofer delivers low-frequency effects, and the rear speakers craft a truly immersive experience. When these components work in harmony, they create a sound that moves around you, mimicking the way sound behaves in real life. Understanding how it works will enhance your appreciation of these systems, allowing you to fine-tune your setup for an unparalleled home theater experience.

The Basics: Binaural Hearing

You’re probably wondering how binaural hearing plays a crucial role in creating a realistic surround sound experience. It’s all about utilising two speakers to mimic the stereo sound your ears naturally create. This is achieved through diverse frequency response and acoustical changes, producing a lifelike loudspeaker output.

  • Imagine hearing a whispering breeze, each leaf’s rustle distinctly identifiable.
  • Think of a thunderstorm, the raindrops hitting different surfaces, creating a variety of sounds.
  • Envision a concert, with each instrument’s resonance clear and separate.

These scenarios are possible because your brain interprets the minute time and intensity differences between your two ears. Thus, binaural hearing is the cornerstone of realistic surround sound reproduction. It’s not only about hearing, but it’s about experiencing sound in a three-dimensional space.

Advanced Home Theatre Optimisations

Now that you’ve grasped the science behind home theatre acoustics, let’s delve into advanced home theatre optimisations. You’ll learn how to fine-tune your room’s EQ in your home theatre receiver setup, identify the best audio upgrades, and pinpoint sources of distortion. It’s time to take your audio experience to the next level.

How To Optimise Room EQ In Your Home Theatre Receiver Setup

To get the best sound quality, it’s crucial that you properly optimise the room EQ in your home theatre receiver setup. Start by conducting a room correction process. This involves assessing how sound interacts with your room’s specific dimensions and materials. Basically, pre-tuning your system before using EQ. The less EQ required, the better the outcome will be.

Your system should also have a comprehensive calibration feature. This ensures that sound is accurately distributed across all speakers, creating a harmonious soundstage.

Pay attention to low-frequency sounds. They’re notorious for creating distortion if not managed correctly. Use a subwoofer or bass management system to mitigate this.


  • Room correction improves overall sound in the room
  • Calibration ensures each speaker performs optimally
  • Low-frequency management prevents sound distortion

Master these elements and you’ll have a home theatre system that delivers exceptional sound every time.

Best Home Theatre Audio Upgrades & Optimisations

Beyond the basic setup, there are several audio upgrades and optimisations you can invest in to enhance your home theatre experience. The science behind home theatre acoustics indicates that 3D audio formats like Dolby Atmos can dramatically improve spatial sound, enveloping you in a more realistic audio environment. Upgrading to a correction system, such as Audyssey MultEQ, Dirac, ARC or Trinnov, can further refine your sound by automatically adjusting audio parameters to suit your room’s unique acoustics. Similarly, enhancing your system’s dynamic range can provide a more authentic, cinema-like sound experience. It’s important to remember that the best home theatre audio upgrades & optimisations aren’t just about hardware but also fine-tuning settings for your specific space.

Distortion Sources

In your quest for optimal audio quality, it’s crucial that you’re aware of common distortion sources that can negatively impact your sound experience. Let’s delve into the intricate mechanics of home theatre acoustics.

Firstly, the sound coming from your speakers can bounce around the room, creating echoes and muddying the audio clarity. Secondly, lower frequencies are particularly prone to this, as they can resonate with objects in the room, causing a phenomenon known as ‘room modes’. Lastly, the materials and layout of your space can absorb or reflect sound, adding another layer of distortion.

  • Room geometry and materials can make or break your sound quality
  • Low-frequency distortion can ruin your cinematic immersion
  • Sound reflection and absorption can create an echo chamber effect
  • Digital Jitter is a huge issue in this digital age. Low jitter systems will always deliver the best audio as jitter when converted into sound is an audible distortion or smearing of the sound. This is because jitter directly relates to the timing of relative frequencies.

The Future of Home Theatres

As you delve into the future of home theatres, it’s paramount to consider emerging technologies and trends. You’ll encounter cutting-edge devices like ultra-short throw projectors and behemoth TVs that are poised to revolutionize home entertainment. It’s a thrilling era that’s transforming how you’ll experience films and shows in the comfort of your residence.

Ultra Short Throw Projector or Big TV

You’re probably wondering whether an Ultra Short Throw Projector or a big TV would better suit your home theatre acoustics. Here’s a piece of the puzzle: it’s all about the bounce.

  • Stray light from your projector can bounce around the room, potentially interfering with your image. You should be using special ALC (Ambient Light Correction) screens, but these do come with a trade off.
  • Your listening position also plays a significant role; a TV can provide a more focused audio output compared to a projector, as the speaker is often closer to ear height and the centre of the image.
  • All solid screens are reflective and do not offer the best outcome for room acoustics.