Can a room with white walls ever be satisfactory? - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 8 Old 12-07-10, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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Can a room with white walls ever be satisfactory?

I know a lot of people use projectors in white rooms. I have for a while but the more I learn the more disappointed I am. Dealing with ambient light is very easy. Wait til dark and keep the lights off ... simple. However reflections are another story. I've looked at pictures of rooms that are painted flat black and if your screen is close enough to the wall or ceiling you still get light bouncing from it unless you put up black velvet. Most of that stuff is a fire hazard and I wouldn't want to have it all over my walls. I've projected on a white wall where the edge of the picture was directly against the wall and ceiling just to see how it looked. All black or even dark gray is completely gone and the picture is very washed out.

I've heard that in a ideal room the glow from a remote or equipment can even be enough to wash out the picture. In my living room I don't notice things like this effecting the picture which is concerning in itself.

The picture is watchable in my living room if the screen is away from ceilings and side walls but still lacking. I'm at a point where I'm frustrated. Now that we have a 60" flat screen the picture is much better than a projector could ever be in my non dedicated room while still a satisfactory size ... sort of. I still crave the big screen however when I'm projecting my craving turns again for the smaller high quality display.

I must be going mad. I find I'm not satisfied no matter what I do. I know there are some fancy screens you can buy but those bring in issues of their own like hot spots.
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post #2 of 8 Old 12-07-10, 07:38 PM
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post #3 of 8 Old 12-07-10, 10:08 PM
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Re: Can a room with white walls ever be satisfactory?

No, a white room will never be satisfactory.

While black is obviously preferred, any dark color will do. My HT has dark green walls (the screen wall is flat black) and the screen has a nice black border as well. The picture looks great and there's no reflections.

I see no difference in PQ with the lights from my equipment (I used to have them hidden, but now don't) or the remote. Sometimes I even have the side sconces on low and it's still almost as good.

And it blows away the 65" display in my living room (with tan walls, although the display is in a dark colored nook).
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post #4 of 8 Old 12-08-10, 03:46 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Can a room with white walls ever be satisfactory?

thanks to both of you. That is the answer I have been looking for. My living room has a weird layout and makes ht tough. Painting the room a different color would be kind of weird with the way it leads into the kitchen and hallway. So I've made up my mind not to do any projector viewing in the living room.

I have a room under construction in the basement. I'm leaving my options open so I can go projector down there if I want. I could paint the whole thing black if I decide to do so. I haven't decided if I want to dedicate a whole room to the projector though.
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-08-10, 09:35 AM
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Lightbulb Re: Can a room with white walls ever be satisfactory?

You can't cheat the laws of physics. All the so-called "black" screens I've sampled compromise image quality in some way in order to combat the interference from compromised viewing environment conditions. An image that is "watchable" is not necessarily a correct representation of the intended viewing experience. The same goes for sound performance. A screen that delivers a better than crummy image may still fall short of desirable or inspirational. If you cannot provide a space with appropriate viewing environment conditions for front projection, you're stuck with juggling compromises and conflicting priorities.

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Last edited by Alan Brown; 12-08-10 at 09:43 AM.
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-10-10, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Can a room with white walls ever be satisfactory?


Last edited by jedispork; 12-10-10 at 11:14 PM.
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-07-11, 08:10 PM
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Re: Can a room with white walls ever be satisfactory?

IMO - non-reflective wall treatment much more important than color - sure, darker is better but we've never had a need for black - yuck!

In our experience, probably the most significant component besides non-reflective wall/ceiling treatment is screen color. We started with a white screen and quickly switched to gray. White screen is the worst culprit for reflecting light back into the eyes of viewers and around the room - gray minimizes reflected light and makes scaling bars nearly invisible.

Don't forget that a home 1080p home projector stretching an image across a 150 inch diagonal probably won't look as sharp as same image stretched across a dinky little 60in TV (don't be offended - we have a NICE 60in 1080p TV). The difference is that images of movies on a 60in TV is just watching television which watching same movie with a 100in or 120 in or larger screen is "WOW, at the movies" - like comparing a gray mouse to a gray elephant - both are gray but one is lame and the other kicks your visual teeth in.

Paint the walls a nice, NON-REFLECTIVE, light brown color
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post #8 of 8 Old 02-02-11, 05:37 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Can a room with white walls ever be satisfactory?

My screening room in the basement breaks some rules but is very good nonetheless.

(1) My couch is 10 feet from a screen that's 9 feet wide - too close, according to the experts, but it's nice to feel immersed in the scene. Someone here or at the other home theater site I go to called it my mini-IMAX.

(2) While I originally had thought of having the walls and ceiling black with a yellow grid "holodeck" pattern, I was persuaded that would make the room depressingly dark. I went with the existing flat white latex paint on all walls and the ceiling, but put tan industrial carpeting on the floor, with a black stair-runner carpet on the floor in front of the screen to hide some of the wiring. The image starts right above the floor moulding, so the carpeting helps surpress light reflection.

The room is windowless and I use this site's original Cream&Sugar screen paint recipe, which is a very light grey. The amount of light spill and reflection is not objectionable because the side walls are five feet or more away from the screen, with the front main speakers flanking the screen and blocking light spill, and furniture half-way up the side walls and the sides of the screenwall - and the side surrounds are hung in front of the side walls flanking the viewing position. There are pictures on the walls that are non-reflective, and a tall bookcase on one side wall. The equipment cabinet is on the rear wall under the projector, and is a tall old dark wood cabinet that used to have a glass door which I took off long ago.

The ceiling is a few feet above the screen, with the center channel speaker mounted on a four-foot wide and two foot deep wireframe shelf over the screen (it's that wide so I could mount it on three studs - the speaker is full-range, weighing almost 40 pounds), which helps block light getting to the ceiling to reflect out.

In other words: Objects and distance can mitigate the effects of white walls!

It also helps that the projector - a Panasonic PT-AE2000U - is bright enough at a 13 foot throw to produce a high contrast image on the C&S. Plus, Panasonic's trick of spreading the light from each pixel halfway towards each adjacent pixel makes the grid nearly invisible even when the image is 9 feet wide: the grid can be seen as a slight dimming when standing at the screen, making focusing with the remote easy, but from a few feet away the grid can't be seen - just a sharp image.

I use the projector's Color1 setting, which is the daylight color balance setting, which I calibrated with the Digital Video Essentials Blu-ray disk. It took very little tweaking - just a little tap on the amount of red. I use the Economy and high altitude (fast fan) settings for good bulb life, which do not noticeably affect either the brightness or the fan noise - and I'm sitting only a few feet in front of the projector.

So yes, a room with white walls can be quite satisfactory, if you fill it with enough furniture to minimize light spill.

Last edited by Philnick; 02-02-11 at 10:53 PM.
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