When it comes to home entertainment, there's the A/V gear and then there's everything else: stands, mounts, racks, cabinets, seating-you name it. Beyond the (hopefully awesome) picture and sound you get from your system, it's the "everything else" that distinguishes a truly fine entertainment set up from one that's just okay.
So take look around and ask yourself: what can I do to take my entertainment experience to the next level? And if you happen to be planning for a media room, all the better - it's the perfect time to lay out all options. To help get the creative juices flowing, we've compiled a handful of fun and functional accessory ideas to consider.
Put Your Speakers on a Pedestal - All too often speakers end up perched (sometimes precariously) on the ends of a cabinet or on a shelf or some other piece of furniture. Consider placing those speakers on stands. Apart from being aesthetically pleasing-if you choose a stylish stand-you will be able to position the speakers for optimum sound quality. Stands are typically made of metal and come in a variety of styles, some straightforward and others quite modern. Some models even include a wire-management scheme so cables don't just dangle from the back of the speaker.
Aim to Please - Speaking of stands, another way to go is to mount some or all of your speakers on pivoting wall brackets. The most flexible models have a ball-and-socket setup that lets you aim the speakers just about every way possible.
Rack it Up - Whether your A/V gear is out in the open or holed up in a closet, there's nothing worse than a flimsy rack that wobbles every time you touch a component. You've made a sizable investment in electronics, so give your equipment a sturdy home. If it's out in the open, a stylish A/V rack made of tubular steel will make a nice visual statement. If the gear is hidden, an industrial style rack will do. Either way, choose a rack that is not only sturdy but has flexible shelving with cable management and allows for proper ventilation.
A/V furniture is the other way to go. Entertainment cabinets are available in any imaginable style and finish from many manufacturers, including traditional furniture makers. Just make sure the cabinet you choose is functional. Many so-called entertainment centers look great but are not well thought-out when it comes to A/V gear.
The Art of Disguise - Wouldn't it be cool if you could make your TV disappear? That's the idea behind the TV-concealment systems. When the TV is off, it hides behind framed art you choose (or provide). When it's time for a movie or Modern Family, hit a button on your remote and the artwork lifts. If you want to get really fancy, you can have the system wired so it retracts when the TV is turned on. Another TV-disguise option is the vanishing mirror. That's right, a TV that morphs into a mirror when it's turned off. One minute you're staring at a grotesque zombie, the next you're looking at yours truly.
High-Tech TV Concealment - While we're on the subject of clever TV concealment, another option is to have your set mounted on a remote-controlled mechanism that enables it to rise majestically from a cabinet (or the floor), pop out of the wall or drop down from the ceiling. Many such systems include a swiveling mechanism.
Ultimate Couch Potato Accessory - Ever wish you could tweak the angle of your TV without leaving the couch? The ultimate couch-potato accessory is a motorized TV bracket that lets you tilt and swivel the screen via remote control. Mechanisms that accommodate any size TV are available from several manufacturers but vary in terms of how far they tilt and/or swivel or extend out and how close they hug the wall when retracted. Of course, a savvy installer can set it up so the TV mounts flush with the wall when it's retracted. Like having TV flexibility but prefer a simpler solution? Go for a manual mount. You'll get a little exercise-and save some money.
Special Seating - If you have a media room and spend a lot of time watching movies, consider seating designed for home theater. You'll be able to choose from a variety of leathers and fabrics as well as a host of awesome amenities, including cup holders, swivel trays, articulating headrests, motorized leg lifts and even built-in actuators that bring tactile sensation to your entertainment experience.
To learn more about accessories that can take your home entertainment experience to new heights, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professional companies in your area.