A games or rumpus room can double very nicely as your home theatre
Many of our homes have a large, sometimes ungainly, room that we use for games, for the kids’ sleepovers, and so on. That can also make a great space for your high definition video and sound system.
With few space constraints, you can aim fairly high, while still keeping the budget under control. For video, start with a 50-ish inch (127 cm) full high definition (1920 x 1080 pixels) panel TV. Plasma models come in 127cm and 140cm (55 inch), while LCD TVs are available at 117 cm (46 inch), and 132 cm (52 inch). With screens of this size, you can aim for cinema quality sound levels without throwing the sound out of balance with the video.
What disc spinner should you use? Unless you already have a collection of DVD-Audio discs or Super Audio CDs, we recommend a Blu-ray player (Blu-ray players generally don’t support these formats). The player will also deliver on regular DVDs and CDs, but keep you up to date with the discs now offering the best video and sound quality ever.
In a room such as this, you may want to use a Sony Playstation 3 as your Blu-ray player. In addition to providing excellent CD, DVD and Blu-ray performance, the PS3 can integrate with your home network to provide access to music and photos on your computer, and of course it plays games. Even those of us here who aren’t really games enthusiasts find ourselves converting once we see the immensely detailed video on the screen, and are embedded in the intricate and convincing surround sound of the game.
Consider, also, a high definition personal video recorder or a DVD recorder with a hard disk drive for time shifting broadcast TV.
For the final stage of delivering the sound, don’t skimp on the home theatre receiver. Look for one with support for an iPod dock (so your kids’ friends can share their music) and a second zone. It’s nice to be able to pipe stereo music to your lounge room at only the cost of an extra pair of speakers and some speaker cable. Look for a unit with a good learning remote control, as well, to keep things simple.
Finally, there are the speakers and the subwoofer. In a larger space such as this, most satellites will be somewhat limiting. We suggest solid bookshelf-sized or floorstanding speakers, perhaps with a wireless surround system if wiring is likely to be a problem.
For the subwoofer, choose a model that delivers high volumes and integrates well with the rest of the loudspeakers. Volume is more important than delivering a really extended deep bass (that is, bass below 20 hertz).
Big-screen full HD flat panel TV
5.1 surround system with quality bookshelf or floorstanding speakers, plus subwoofer
Home theatre receiver with loads of HDMI connections for other equipment
Twin tuner HD PVR for recording
Blu-ray player for high definition sound and pictures