I have said in various interviews, articles and media appearances that viewing a home theater projection screen is a “sensual” experience just like fine wine and every time, the interviewer has asked for me to elaborate on that. It occurred to me that this basic bit of advice has been withheld from AV customers and the time for this same elaboration to them is long overdue.
Think about your senses. Your body actually produces dopamine when your senses are pleased. It happens while listening to good music in its clearest and least attenuated form. This is why there are enthusiasts willing to pay over $1000 for top-tier headphones. The same can be said for how aromatherapy pleases the olfactory and the existence of a multi-billion dollar market proves that. More commonly, I use a wineglass analogy. You don’t drink wine like water; you savor it. And you don’t hold your wineglass by the bowl or rim. You hold the base or stem so that there are no unsightly fingerprints on the glass and your fingertips don’t warm the vintage beyond its optimal tasting temperature.
Now picture your projection screen using the same terms. It’s not entirely about seeing the film. It’s not even entirely about seeing the film with superb dynamic range, optimal color saturation and D65 color temperature. The physical comfort of your body while watching a film should be equally as important as the picture quality itself. Below is a brief video that illustrates how to accomplish a proper screen mount to achieve this. Here are the 3 bullet points look for while watching the video.
- Make sure your head is comfortably level. You do this by knowing what your eye level is. The average person’s eyes are between 42-50 inches from the floor when seated. A safe “sweet spot” to work with is to assume about a 48” average for everyone.
- Your eye level should align with the boundary line between the top 2/3 and bottom 1/3 of the screen. With your eyes aligned 1/3 of the way up on the screen, the least amount of eye, head or neck movement is required for the viewer to take in everything happening on the screen. So if your eye level is 48”, this should also align with the bottom 1/3 measurement of the screen’s height.
- Comfort and Perception greatly enhances your viewing experience. A properly mounted screen prevents you from encountering perceived visual distortion. The image appears naturally as your eyes would see it in real time. It also prevents unnecessary neck and eye fatigue from disrupting your ability to sit through the feature presentation.
The performance of your AV gear may be essential to your quest for the ultimate residential audio-visual experience but never forget the ergonomic value. You wouldn’t enjoy your wine while sitting on an asphalt road so don’t punish your body with an improperly mounted screen. Do it right and enjoy it all.