How To Find The Best Seat In A Movie Theater, According To Audio Technicians

movie theaters

Going to the movies is an important ritual for many people. It isn't simply about the movie, but the experience of the theater. This means, among other things, getting the best seat in the house, but which seat is that exactly? According to the audio technicians who calibrate the sound systems in theaters, the best place to sit is in the middle of the theater, about two-thirds of the distance back from the screen.

The reason that particular spot works, according to Steve Martz, the director of global technology at THX, is because that's where the primary microphone is placed when the audio is calibrated in a theater. Martz tells Vulture that microphone readings are taken at multiple locations in a theater and averaged across the audio spectrum, in order to give every seat the best possible experience, but that primary mic sits in that spot, meaning that the system is calibrated very well for that particular spot.

If you can't get that perfect spot, the recommendation is to grab a center seat and then move forward toward the screen, rather than back toward the projector. This will let the screen fill your peripheral vision better by increasing your horizontal viewing angle.

Of course, this is less of an issue today than it once was. THX designs their speakers and their layout design to give an even coverage of sound to every seat and these systems are regularly tuned to keep them in proper working order. Having said that, if your main theater is an older one that maybe doesn't have cutting edge audio technology installed, this little trick will help you out a bit more.

While surround sound audio has been something home systems have been capable of for years, it actually exists in very few homes. Sales of even inexpensive "home theater in a box" systems have dropped significantly in recent years and have been replaced with soundbars, the vast majority of which only provide stereo sound that is slightly better than the offensively terrible speakers built into a flat panel television.

New audio technology that's available in both movie theater and at home include systems like Dolby Atmos, which can actually localize a sound three-dimensionally by using speakers not just in the walls but also in the ceiling, allowing the system to place a sound above you as well as to your left or right.

This makes quality audio one of the key factors that set the movie theater experience apart from what you can reproduce elsewhere. If you've ever sat in a theater that has bad audio, you know that it can completely destroy the experience and actually make a film unwatchable, regardless of how good it might look.

What is your go-to seating location at the movie theater? Will you be adjusting it in order to give this location a try? Let us know in the comments below.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.