What’s the difference between a Home Theatre and a Media Room?

On the face of it, it may seem that a Home Theatre and a Media Room are much the same thing.  You may hear the terms ‘home theatre’ (or ‘home cinema’) and ‘media room’ used interchangeably, however when speaking to your AV integrator, architect, or designer it’s important to be able to distinguish between them in order to be able to communicate your vision for the space.

What is a home theatre?

A home theatre is a controlled environment designed purely for the enjoyment of a cinematic experience where the utmost attention has been paid to audio and visual systems and creating a distraction free environment.

Important factors usually include:

  • The ability to control (or eliminate) ambient light – often these spaces are designed without window or have total blackout shades – to create a better onscreen picture.
  • Larger screens or projectors as they perform well in light-controlled environments
  • An acoustically treated room, specifically constructed for sound control – both keeping sound in and keeping outside sounds out.
  • Premium quality on-wall speakers and on-floor subwoofers for exceptional surround sound producing an immersive cinema experience.
  • Theatre-like seating for optimised for viewing, sometimes built on risers so that the whole audience has unobstructed views from any seat.

So, what is a Media Room?

A media room is usually a multipurpose space with a more relaxed seating arrangement that encourages entertaining, watching a rugby game or enjoying a movie with family, rather than being optimised for the ultimate cinematic experience.  Media rooms can be installed in virtually any space- lounge, living room, rumpus room or in an open floor area of some sort.

Distinguishing features:

  • Ambient light is less of a concern.
  • Flat screen TV’s usually specified over projectors.
  • Acoustic treatments and sound isolation not usually necessary.
  • Smaller surround sound systems, providing a lesser degree of cinematic immersion, often utilising architectural (in-wall or in-ceiling) speakers for aesthetic reasons.
  • Relaxed seating arrangement for multipurpose room use.

Talk to one of our friendly consultants today about how we can create the perfect space – home theatre or media room – to fit you and your family’s lifestyle.  Phone 0508 288 662 or email advice@aa.net.nz

Simplify Life.

A Home Theatre is a dedicated space where you go to watch TV, Movies or for Gaming, a Media Room is a general purpose social space that has an entertainment system within it.

So, how do you decide which one is right for you….

The primary design driver behind a Home Theatre (also known as a Home Cinema) is the entertainment system, the room is designed around the entertainment experience first and the social aspect second.  The room will have very good light control, all seats will be facing the screen, the screen will dominate the space just like it does in a commercial theatre. The walls will have acoustic treatment and there may be raked (stepped) seating so everyone gets the best view.

A Media Room is all about the people, the couch and coffee table will be the focus, there will be plenty of natural light and a well designed media system will be present and still provide an impressive entertainment experience but when turned off it will not dominate the space.

Which one is right for me?

Do you have different people in the home watching different content at the same time?

Do you need somewhere to keep the little ones busy for a while?

Do you need somewhere to retreat to and immerse yourself for rest and relaxation?

If you answered yes to any of these and have room then a dedicated home theatre is the right way to go.

If not, a media room will be a better choice for you, integrating the main TV and entertaining area into a focal point for your family and friends.

If you’d like a media room or home cinema, or would like more information, click here to have one of our friendly experts get in touch


Love watching movies? Most of us do. Imagine coming back home to your own luxury home theatre room with sophisticated design and high-end technology. A room with automated lights, blinds, temperature control settings and great sound.

If you fancy your very own plush home theatre retreat, take a look at our ideas that are sure to get you excited.

Cool Home Theatre Designs

  1. Roman Theme

If you love ancient architecture, you’re going to love this particular design. It’s a careful blend of old and new. One idea that surely stands out from the rest is a home theatre room designed within a roman dome-shaped structure. Think gold columns and a nice tall dome for a ceiling. Look for dark upholstery in blue, black or purple to bring out the colour gold. A stained glass skylight in the dome will complete the entire design.

  1. Royal Home Theatre

Feeling more like a king than a roman emperor? You could design your home theatre to look like a room you’d see in a palace. Go with the colours gold and deep red on the walls and look for matching upholstery. Find ornate wall lamps and a big chandelier to add that final touch of magnificence. No home theatre is complete without a good home automation system. You could program the lights to turn on/off as the movie begins/ends. You also need a good home theatre system in place for crisp acoustics.

  1. Living Room/Home Theatre

Want a home theatre but don’t have room for one? You could convert your living room into a home theatre by installing hidden cinema chairs. They remain discreetly hidden beneath the floor when not in use and come up on a raised platform at the push of a button.

Custom engineering designs make this possible. You could use your existing couch for the front row of seats and install the chair system right behind it. With the latest D-box technology, you could also get a completely immersive experience. D-box technology is motion technology. It’s the ultimate home theatre experience.

  1. Zen Theme

Need some time away from the world? Step into your own Zen themed home theatre complete with leather upholstered reclining lounges in red and black. You could also install a fabulous colour changing LED ceiling to make the room look phenomenal.

Together with the interior design, you need to find the right AV equipment that will give you incredible picture clarity and stunning audio performance.

Home Cinema Installation

If you’re looking for the latest designs in home entertainment systems, get in touch with Automation Associates. We can handle all your AV installation needs no matter how complex they are. We have highly experienced technicians with certifications from Dolby Labs and THX (Lucasfilm).

We can calibrate your home to give you a perfect home theatre experience. We also specialise in smart home automation systems.

We can also help with burglar alarms or install automated lighting systems, give us a call on 09 377 3778. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Sky, Netflix, Lightbox, iTunes? – What streaming video system should I choose?

I don’t watch a lot of TV, I am lucky to make it home for the late news, so it’s usually a movie at night if anything, but when I want to watch a movie, I want a good choice, it needs to be easy to select, and the quality needs to be in keeping with the system I am watching it on. So which streaming video system is right for me?

I have had Sky for a long time, so that’s my go-to, I use the planner every month to skip forward through the coming movies and record stuff that I like the look of, this gives me a list of movies to choose from at a time that suits me.

The friends hard drive full of badly ripped movies from the end of the last decade (Pirate bay torrent type content) has had a place in our movie past, but I just don’t need the hassle now, ease of use has taken precedence over the allure of free content.

I have had both Kaleidescape and Mozaex Media servers at home and both were great for storing my own movies, but the day of the spinning disk is rapidly coming to an end – even Henry from Transvideo Rentals in Herne Bay has retired and moved on.  If I had a few shelf metres of DVD’s and Blu rays they would be my first choice, but that’s not the case for me.

So for me it’s down to Netflix, Lightbox or iTunes to give me access to streaming video content.  I have been using iTunes for the odd movie, but it seems expensive and the user interface (Cover Art) selection system was not brilliant, the player itself was a little clunky to use.

So Netflix or Lightbox?  I am using an Xbox to run the software and Netflix was available on their store, so I downloaded it, signed up for the free trial and three months later I am hooked.  The content was initially disappointing and I certainly let them know in a “hows it going survey”.  Funnily enough, the content came right about a week later and there are more movies and TV shows in there than you can shake a stick at now, so no need to start lying about the fact that my credit card and PC and myself are from NZ.

If you are looking at your movie options, give the home automation technology team a bell here and they will come and take a look with you and get you sorted.

Happy Viewing