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Need your advice - Viewing Distance (your personal preference)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I need your advice please

I am in the midst of selecting equipment for my home theater

The last single outstanding issue is screen size. My concern is if go too big and I will not enjoy watching it; if I go too small and I will be upset at myself I didn't go bigger (that's what she said)

I know it's a personal preference just like when people sit in a theater (up front, in the middle, or in the back). I have viewed screens at local AV retailers, consulted the THX recommended viewing distances, etc.

However I would like to get folks perspective and personal views. Also, have any of you wished that had gone bigger or have any of you at first thought the screen was too big, but then got used to it?

The back row (where most of the viewing will occur) will view the screen from 16'7 (16 feet 7 inches); the front row will be 12'6 from the screen. The room is 12'10 wide and 18'9 deep.

  • The screen is going to be the Seymour 4k
  • The projector is a Sony VPL-VW95ES
  • The speaker setup is a 7.1 using Definitive Technology UIW RLS II front speakers (L+R+C); Definitive Technology UIW RSS II will be the 4 surround speakers and a Definitive technology IW Sub Reference for the subwoofer.
  • The preamp is a Marantz AV 8801
  • The amp is a Outlaw Audio 7900 (7 channel 300 watts)
  • The seats are Palliser Rhumba: They will be set up in a love seat, single, love seat in the back row - (151.29 inches wide) and a love seat, love seat in the front row.
  • The sources will be (1) Oppo BDP-105; (2) DUNE HD H1 player (3) DTV

Thanks for your input and please let me know if you have any questions
post #2 of 9
By far the best way to determine your ideal screen size is to set up the projector temporarily (I used a couple boxes on my theater chairs), and shoot an image on the wall or on a temporary screen (I used $30 worth of white muslin from Joanne's, thumbtacked to my false wall framing). Watch some movies at various sizes, see what you prefer, then order/build your screen. I did this, ended up with 136" wide from 12' seating in the front row, and no regrets.
post #3 of 9
We need a bit more info here to help you with this decision...

16:9 or 2.35:1?

How tall is your riser and how high is the ceiling? You need to be sure you'll be able to see the bottom of the screen from the second row. And avoid putting the screen too close to the ceiling or you can get some nasty reflections off the screen. (Painting the ceiling a flat and dark color can help with this.) I would suggest a minimum of a foot from the ceiling.

FWIW, I have similar room width and seating distances. I have a 120" wide 2.37:1 screen and love it. There are times when I dream of a 130" wide, but I think it would be too much for me from the front row.

And Brad is absolutely right - no rush to buy the screen if you're unsure. Get the projector set up and try some different sizes.
post #4 of 9
As Brad said, test it. I used a roll of photographer's backdrop paper for a temporary screen - which matched the look of a 1.0-1.3 gain screen very well - to check my presumed screen size before ordering the screen itself. The backdrop paper may be easier to position and flatten than fabric, but either will do more than good enough to judge the sizes.

I was ordering a built-to-order masking system, but even that lead time was only a few weeks, so it's not like the testing has a serious impact on your project timeline. I did the testing as soon as the projector arrived, but before getting it mounted. Setting it on a temporary stand to get both screen size and throw distance verification gave me quite a bit of piece of mind... Decided on the screen size, ordered it, then worked on mounting the projector - aiming for the paper screen still tacked on the wall...

post #5 of 9
I like the screen big and to feel immersed, so in my own theaters I tend to go large and close. Not so close I feel ill, but just on that edge. smile.gif

I do the 'movie theater' test. I go to my favorite theater and get there early to pick my ideal seat. I then take some time doing a bit of math. In most theaters, the ceiling tiles are the 2' x 4' size. I count the width of the screen, and then count the distance I have chosen from the screen. Then when the movie starts I note what ratio it is in, and how I feel at that distance. Then I take that data and recreate that ratio/distance at home, as folks have already mentioned. From there, tweak and adjust until you are at the size that is right for you.
post #6 of 9
I have a 110" 16:9 screen which was the biggest I could fit, given my room (13x19x7). My front row is 10 feet from the screen and the back row is at 14 feet.

I am fine in the front or back row depending on how I feel. So far with everyone that has come over to watch a movie it is almost a 50/50 split on who likes the front or back row. A few have requested bean bag chairs because they want to sit closer.

As others have said, setup the projector and watch things. If you're going with a 16:9 screen be sure to run through some 2:35 material.

I have no regrets on my screen size. To me it's the perfect size for the room. Any larger would have been too much.

My screen sits about 6 inches down from the ceiling and light reflections are not a problem since I painted the ceiling a dark, flat brown.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

thanks for the feedback

To answer a few questions:

1) the riser will be either 12-14 inches high
2) the ceilings are 10 feet

The screen is accoustically transparent

Thanks again - great idea on the testing
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Oh, sorry i missed one other question to answer

the screen will be both 16:9 and 2.35.1 - Seymour has black panels you can attach magnetically to the screen to convert the 16:9 to 2.35.1 and visa versa
post #9 of 9
I'm ~14' from a 150" 16:9 AT screen, I would have gone bigger if I could as I love the immersive feeling of very big screens but I would have had to move my projector and I had a curtain wall built specifically to hang it.
+1 on Brad's advice about temporary screens, I've had two over the months I've waited to order my screen and you never really know what it's going to look like until you have the projector set up and running (even if the temporay screen materials are no where near as good as the final screen).
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