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Does Throw Distance Matter

1180 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Sodbuster
I am in the early stages of planning a front projection theater and have a few questions:

1. If I have the option to adjust the depth of the room, do I need to worry about the projector's throw distance? Why spend more on a projector or a long throw lens, If I can put the projector wherever? Is fan noise more distracting in front of the viewer? Is projector light spill a major issue?

2. How large is your average 2 row theater room? I figure with two rows of reclining seats + a few feet behind the second row for speakers and clearance from the wall, I'm looking at 26 feet long. Does this sound right?
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1. Some projectors leak light from the rear venting. I have read where this could be a distraction.

2. First row seating is going to vary based on your projector choice and screen width. A distance of 2 x screen width is safe, but in some cases you can sit closer without SDE. 26 feet should be more than enough room, it's far more than I have.
If you get one - anamorphic lenses (at least Panamorphs) work better with longer throw ratios
Originally posted by vvv
Why spend more on a projector or a long throw lens, If I can put the projector wherever?
I waited to respond to this particular point thinking that someone more experienced and knowledgeable than I might post about this particular point - since no one did I'll take a stab at it.

Generally. all other things being equal - the further the PJ is from the screen the better -

The less acute the angle that the PJ is using to the screen, the more even the reflections/absorption from the screen - ie; more even distribution of the image perceived by the viewer. in addition, the less need for keystone correction -

A search on this should bring up the posts where I read this _big grin_

Light/Noise are important and should be taken into consideration with your purchase.

26 feet sounds about right to me, dependent on ceiling height and width


Ken L
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I think it is more easthetic then anything else, for instance, Jeff (thebland) created a seperate projection room. But like others said, depending on the design, there is light, noise, bumping one's head.... that can be factors
I have done some projector research and found very few projectors in my price range that have throw distances beyond 17 feet. For a 102 inch screen 12 - 17 seems to be the range. That said, the projector will most likely end up between the first and second row.

Have any of you taken this approach?
Regarding throw distance, does the calculator on projector central give the numbers that are optimal or the median point? For instance, if the Z3 gives a throw distance of 12 feet for an 85-inch diag screen, should i aim for 12 feet for a throw distance or take it as far back as possible (under the theory that further away is better)?

My HT was setup in a space that was to have been another bedroom with adjacent bath (it had been framed only when we bought the house, no sheetrock). By removing the intervening wall, I was left with a space that was 28 feet long and 14 feet wide at the front, narrowing to 10 feet wide in the rear half (where the bathroom was to have been). The PJ that fit my budget at the time was a Sony LCD with a very noisy fan and a long-throw lens.

Because I had a utility space behind the rear wall, I was able to place the PJ there and banish both noise and heat from the seating area. With the zoom in as tight as possible, I still had a 120-inch horizontal 16:9 screen...a tad big, but we have learned to enjoy it.

Now when I think about an upgrade for the PJ, it's hard to find one with a throw that long. Most seem to be designed for shorter rooms. My eye has fallen on the Panny AE700, and the specs look as if it could be mounted in the same location as the Sony and produce a picture slightly smaller at the same distance.

Even though the newest generation has quieter cooling fans, I would still be pleased to have any noise removed from the room. Getting the heat outside the room is also a blessing.

Guess I was prompted to post because the AE700 has the possibility of getting the PJ to the back of your room.
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How many rows of seating?

Do you use a riser?

Where in the room is the seating placed?

How far are the viewers from the screen?

Post pictures if you can.
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I have two rows of seating. The front row has the heads of the viewers at 15 feet from the screen, the second row 21 feet back. Yes, I have a riser, which is very helpful.

I just measured the exact width of the rear of the room where the seating is at 10-1/2 feet. This is not wide enough for cinema lounger type seats, so our front row is just two comfortable sling-type scandinavian chairs...there is room for a third. The second row is a hide-a-bed which can seat three people, or more commonly, one person sprawled out.

I bought some stadium temporary seats which have good back support for the overflow crowd, and those with younger vision often use them on the floor in front of the first row. If I use one, I put it on the edge of the riser.

There is room behind the hide-a-bed for four folding chairs.

We have had as many as twelve people in the theater when my wife's club has been here for a showing...not the most comfortable, I'm sure, but they don't complain.

I am retired and my wife and I live alone. We often have another couple here to watch movies, so our most common and comfortable seating is for four people. I am constantly on the lookout for better seating accomodations, but have been restrained thus far by my age and budget.

This room is also used as the primary listening area for recorded music. The purists on the forum tell me that a single room cannot be optimized for both purposes, but I am the happiest I have ever been after 50 years of various living room venues for listening.

A dedicated room is pure luxury. We still have room to house our four children briefly on those occasions when they are all here at the same time, but if we were younger with our children at home, I don't think we would have the option of a dedicated room.

Sorry I can't show you any photos...my older daughter has borrowed my digital camera!
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Thanks for the feedback Bill. Sounds like the first row is a bit close but the second row of seating seems about right. Are you running a 7.1 setup? If so where do you place the side surrounds?
Yes, the first row is closer than ordained by the experts, but with the projector so far back, the picture is just too large even when zoomed as tightly as possible. Another reason to consider the AE700, since it is said to have very little screen door pattern (and it will result in a smaller picture). And when I say "too large", I mean it exceeds the various suggested formulae, not that it makes for unpleasant viewing.

I use an old Lexicon processor, so I do have a 7.1 surround system. My sides are on shelves as high as they will go in my low-ceilinged room, and centered between the rows of seating. The rears are in the rear corners, mounted on swivels that put them out a bit into the room. I usually aim them across the back of the room towards one another.

Except for my center speaker and the subs, I already owned the LR and surround speakers from my previous home, where I had a Yamaha surround system set up in my living room (no video) using B&W speakers. These speakers are now 20 years old, and I have no urge to replace them, as they are much to my liking. I added a pair of Vandersteen subs two years ago, which have greatly enhanced my enjoyment of both movies and music...they do not stand out, but are there to add their voices when called for.

Although I enjoy fantasizing about various upgrades as part of the hobby, in truth I am very happy with what I have now. I remind myself that I'm on the downhill slope of life's curve, and spending more money on subtle changes isn't a good plan. I don't plan to quit buying DVDs and CDs anytime soon though!
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Some projectors have naturally long throw lens. I have an infocus 5700 which sits about 19 feet back from a 110" diagonal screen. Seating is about 14 feet back and I don't notice any screen door. With the zoom feature the projector could be moved back at least another 2 feet (if our room was big enough). Our family room is about 21' by 14' and the projector is ceiling mounted about 1 foot off the back wall.

Other projectors I have seen have a considerably smaller throw lens (I would have had to mount them 12 to 14 feet off the screen but I preferred having something well behind me because of possible fan noise and light distraction).

So the longer throw lens projectors are out there.


PS - I also have a 7.1 audio system and it is enjoyable.
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Applying the tape measure to my HT shows the current PJ sits 26-ft 10-in from the screen and fills a 120-in (H) 16:9 screen. Looking at the PJ calculator on the ProjectorPeople site shows that a Panasonic AE700 at the same distance would project a 116-in wide image at the tightest zoom.

This is welcome news, since I have radiant heating panels on the ceiling of my HT over the seating area and attempting to mount a PJ there would be troublesome. By putting a replacement PJ in the same location as the current one, I banish fan noise and unwelcome heat from my HT and place it in a utility space behind the rear wall.

No doubt there are other PJs which would work at this distance, but the AE700 caught my eye becasue of its popularity on the forum.
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