Putting speakers behind a projector may seem like a bad idea. That’s until you realize that it’s exactly what commercial movie theaters do.
They use acoustically transparent screens designed to take full advantage of this speaker placement.
Top 3 - Acoustically Transparent Screens
If you’re ready to clean up your home theater room and give it a real movie theater look, here are the things you should really know about.
4 Best Acoustically Transparent Projector Screens
Table of Contents
- 4 Best Acoustically Transparent Projector Screens
- Understanding Acoustically Transparent Screens
- Advantages of Using an Acoustically Transparent Screen
- Screen Quality Matters
- Types of Screens
- Dark Room vs. Regular Room Screens
- Distance from the Wall
- Another Reason I Like Acoustically Transparent Screens
This 4K Ultra HD projector screen is made of woven acoustic material and comes in a variety of sizes. I recommend the 16:9 120” screen for larger rooms.
The screen does a great job of hiding the three front speakers while minimizing sound loss. It also offers a wide viewing angle, making it a great choice for home theaters with wide sitting areas.
You’ll notice that the aluminum frame is tough and also covered. The material used is black velvet, which has good light-absorbing properties. The result will be a crisper viewing image. I’ll also point out that this transparent screen would be great for 3D too.
All mounting brackets are included and the tensioning rod should allow for a swift installation.
This is a nice alternative for your 4K/8K needs. Sound waves can pass through the transparent screen unimpeded. The screen does so without sacrificing picture quality and it’ll hide all the speaker edges. There’s a difference between sonic transparency and light transparency, and this screen is a great example.
The design uses sliding wall brackets, anchors, and screws that make for much more stable mounting. The double support bars give even more stability, albeit everything combined makes the installation process a bit longer.
I also like the use of black velvet on the frame for light absorption. Note that the frame is 2.7” wide, a bit smaller than what other screens have to offer. The screen material doesn’t seem all that tear-resistant either.
That said, it’s a definite step-up compared to using the wall as a screen. But, whether you can live with the close mounting distance from the wall will depend on your speakers.
The Spectrum by Elite Screens is among the top acoustically transparent screens on the market. It comes in 110” and 125” sizes, both with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The size is impressive and the viewing angle even better.
Unlike most screens in this niche, the Elite Screens Spectrum offers a 180-degree viewing angle. This opens up many more sitting arrangements. But, it does come at a higher price tag.
That said, I also like the fact that the screen has an attenuation rating of only -2.36dB. This means that you won’t lose much in terms of volume or sound clarity.
Another nice touch is the three-way wall switch. In terms of durability, the synthetic weave of the Spectrum screen seems really high-end. However, it may not be the best fit if you’re trying to build a home theater room on a budget.
This is a 1.0 gain acoustically transparent screen. It comes in six sizes and offers a cheaper alternative for anyone looking for the largest screens.
The frame is covered in black velvet and is quite thin at about 2.3”. The quality of the aluminum is good and the thinner frame gives the whole ensemble a sleek look. I also like that the PVC fabric is durable and easy to wash.
This screen is easy to maintain and the acoustic white color is standard and will work well over gray and dark walls.
Fabric tensioners are also included in the package. This is always a plus as they allow you to maintain the desired screen tightness during installation.
Understanding Acoustically Transparent Screens
An acoustically transparent screen is designed to allow sound to pass through it.
However, it is not designed to allow light through, and this is possible because sound and light don’t travel in the same fashion. The fabric is woven in such a way that sound waves can go through without any noticeable attenuation or distortion.
Advantages of Using an Acoustically Transparent Screen
The biggest advantage of using such a screen for your projector is the fact that it will allow you to hide your speakers behind the screen. Why bother?
Because you can and there’s nowhere else to put your speakers (especially the center speaker) if you’re going to get a very large projection screen for your home theater.
With a regular projector screen, the sound will become muddy. So, your choices usually are placing the speakers above, under, and to the sides of the screen.
Another cool thing about using this type of screen is that you can get a much cleaner look in your home theater room. This also helps to save space, which may matter even more to some people.
Screen Quality Matters
The actual fabric is very important, as is the color. For me personally, I prefer a simple white fabric instead of ultra-white. The latter is quite popular these days but I find it to be too reflective at times and it can affect the picture quality.
To get 4K quality on your screen, you’ll need to make sure that the screen or fabric has a fine grit. This holds true whether you want a standard pull-down screen or an acoustically transparent screen.
Types of Screens
There are two main types of projector screens – woven and perforated. Each has its own advantages, but I would like to focus on the impact of each on the sound.
A woven projector allows for better sound pass-through. The acoustic transparency is the main selling point.
On the other hand, a perforated screen doesn’t always allow sound to pass through with the ultimate transparency. The difference in construction is that the fabric is not woven but punctured with thousands of tiny holes, which would allow sound to through but not light.
As a result, perforated screens can also introduce something known as the Moiré effect. This happens when the image doesn’t match the line pattern due to the pattern of the holes.
However, as you might expect, perforated screens are often cheaper. And, unlike woven screens, they are less susceptible to double imaging.
Since both have their drawbacks, it often comes down to budget and preference when purchasing an acoustically transparent screen. High-end models in both designs can be just as amazing in terms of performance.
Dark Room vs. Regular Room Screens
By dark room, I mean after you have turned off all the lights in the room, or as many lights as you wish when you’re watching a movie. Depending on the lighting in the room, you will need a specific type of screen coating.
If you have lots of ambient light, this can cause color washing. While a high-gain screen might be able to help, or a brighter projector for that matter, it’s also a good idea to look for screens with ambient light-rejecting coatings.
However, not all acoustically transparent screens offer this, as a high-end fabric treatment of this sort can really bump up the price.
Distance from the Wall
Always look at what kind of wall separation you’re going to get from your screen. Most speaker-hiding projector screens aren’t designed to offer more than one or two inches of separation.
That’s because the majority of people use these screens to hide their in-wall speakers. However, if you have regular speakers, then you might need a bit more separation.
In some cases, you may find a frame that fits, but you may also need to look at some custom mounting frames. Again, this could cost extra.
Another Reason I Like Acoustically Transparent Screens
If you take everything I’ve said so far into account, another thing should become clear. Using an acoustically transparent screen will allow you to use more of your wall for pure viewing purposes.
As mentioned earlier, the only way you can use a massive projector screen in your home theater is if you put the speakers behind the screen. This enhances the experience with better speaker placement and a more immersive video.
Choose the A/V Quality You Deserve
If you didn’t know that a projector screen can influence your audio experience, there you have it. Picking the right projector screen can make a huge difference, which extends from how the picture is displayed through to how you set up your home theater.