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Enjoy movie theater experience without leaving your house

Everyone wants a reason to shop for a new television for their home theater. Here are two reasons: Super Bowl LIII is Feb. 3 and the 91st Academy Awards are scheduled for Feb. 24. Now go find that 86-inch television, sophisticated sound box and leather recliner so you don’t miss that winning touchdown, those entertaining Super Bowl commercials or the Hollywood actress whose designer gown is more interesting than her movie role.

According to Kimberly Wicklund, who owns Premiere Audio/Video Integration, a home theater can be described in several different ways.

“A home theater is sometimes referred to as a media room,” she said. “It is basically a room in your home where you combine your audio and video systems to reproduce a movie theater experience or a live music experience or a sporting event.

“It can be the family room, a much larger dedicated theater room or maybe a small, soundproof room that someone wants just for movies. It boils down to the experience you’re looking for and if it’s something just for you or the entire family. But whatever it is, it should be a fun and enjoyable environment.”

While most people think of a home theater as a place to watch movies, Wicklund said that is not always the case.

“I have clients who prefer to listen to concert videos and spend more on audio equipment because they’re not concerned about the screen,” she said. “And then there are those who are just the opposite. For some, the room becomes a place to gather for sporting events or video games, and a pool table or bar is placed in the back. It now becomes a room for social gatherings.”

Any home theater is going to cost money, and Wicklund said the best way to start is by creating a budget.

“Even if that budget is small, it’s a good place to start with just one or two pieces,” she said. “Grow the room gradually. This is something we do with young people or couples who are moving into their first home. Have the patience. It will pay dividends.”

Selecting a television is usually the No. 1 item on the budget. The selection process is personal, and there is no consensus on which type of television is the best.

OLED (organic light-emitting diode) televisions are incredibly thin and the picture is extremely vivid with bright colors and contrast ratios. At the same time, some consider OLED too harsh and prefer 4K (ultra high definition) or QLED (quantum dot LED) televisions that offer a more true-to-life color palette.

The size of the television is dictated by room size along with the amount of light in the room. It’s best to measure wall space by using string or tape to envision the area where the TV will be placed. Keep in mind that the bezels (borders) around the screen are a lot smaller than in previous years, so there is more screen. Bigger has become better.

A recent development in home theaters is the augmentation of smart home speakers imbued with artificial intelligence. Wicklund has been building home theaters for more than 20 years and said clients are now integrating everything with all the advanced digital systems on the market, such as Alexa from Amazon, the voice-based smart home assistant.

“Clients set up Alexa and soon discover there are so many apps,” she said. “There’s an app for front door security, for ceiling fans, for lights, turning the fireplace off and on, and soon there are just too many to control.

“We’re able to consolidate all those functions and controls into one system, including incorporating the audio and video of the home theater. And this being the digital world, you know that as soon as we consolidate everything, something new comes along and it all changes.”

Wicklund said the company’s 6,000-square-foot showroom at 6008 S. Fort Apache Road has a variety of automation systems, full home theaters and audio rooms.

“Most people really don’t know what they want and enjoy walking around the showroom to see what is available,” she said. “We ask questions and make them think about what they really want. Also, we want to know how they live and what they want to incorporate into their lives.”

Wicklund has noticed that home theaters have now become a major room in the house and are no longer relegated to the back of the home.

“I have worked on media rooms that start at $65,000 with audio distribution into every room,” she said. “It’s easy to see that budget move into the high six figures when you start adding lighting and control systems and video distribution. And these rooms have become an integral part of the home as they are being built next to the kitchen or living area.”

When it comes to proper furniture for the room, recliners and motion sectionals are the most popular because they are the most comfortable. Many come with power controls and adjustable headrests that allow the headrest to tilt toward the television even when reclining. They also come with storage, cup holders and USB ports.

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