The function of a home theater projection screen is quite simple - it displays the image from a projector. The projector can be mounted behind the screen - rear projection - or in front of it - front projection. Rear projection is rare, but can be useful in situations with high ambient light.
Most screens are fixed, that is they have a frame - normally a velvet wrapped aluminum extrusion - supporting a tensioned piece of screen material. Another common screen type is the motorized retractable, where the material extends and retracts from a wall or ceiling mounted screen casing.
Screen materials come in many varieties, from plain white vinyl through woven acoustically transparent fabrics to ambient light rejecting (ALR) materials using optical coatings. White materials are typically used in dedicated rooms with full control over light from windows, whereas ALR materials are often utilized in living spaces functioning as media rooms. Our favored materials are acoustically transparent (AT) and allow the center speaker to be placed behind the screen as it is in a commercial theater.
Acoustically transparent screen materials that have minimal impact on audio (frequency response) and video (color shift) and have no minimum seating distance requirement.
Ambient light rejecting (ALR) materials that support ultra short throw (UST) projection, motorized retractable configurations and are available in acoustically transparent versions.
Light absorbing velvet borders to absorb image overscan on both fixed and retractable screens. To our knowledge Seymour are the only manufacturer making a retractable screen with a velvet border.
Reasonably priced image masking options. Historically, masking systems have been cost prohibitive for many, but manufacturer innovations such as Seymour's manual masking panels are bringing prices down.
For home theaters on a tight budget, Seymour AV's Precision frame is our go-to front projection screen.
The Precision frame features high performance Baritone velvet and is available with our preferred XD screen material. The XD is a woven vinyl material which couples acoustical transparency to relatively high gain and color neutrality. It's only downside is an 10' minimum seating distance.
A frequently used screen is the F130 - their 130" wide / 2.35:1 aspect ratio model. With the XD material this goes for an economical $1200. Magnetic image masking panels, a unique product only available from Seymour that can be manually added or removed from the frame, are an additional $350.
Most motorized masking screens available on the market start at $10k or more. With their Proscenium screen Seymour AV have figured out how to do them for less than half this price.
TRIM is the Seymour Screen Excellence variant, featuring higher performance screen materials such as Enlightor Neo. This material offers improves improved acoustical transparency relative to the Seymour AV's equivalent UF material, and the super fine weave means no minimum seating distance.
A typical configuration might be the TRIM-L130 - a 130" wide, 2.4:1 aspect ratio constant-image height (CIH) screen - for $8500.
Most of our projection screen needs are met through sister companies Seymour AV and Seymour Screen Excellence. Seymour AV focus on simpler, lower cost screens whilst Seymour Screen Excellence (SSE) offer higher performance screen materials and many more masking options. We use Stewart for more niche requirements, such a recent media room project where they custom manufactured a motorized ambient light rejecting screen with an acoustically transparent top mask for us. All of our brands manufacturer products to order in the USA.
Nyal Mellor, Founder, Acoustic Frontiers