Which projection screen should you choose?

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Have you just bought a projector and don’t know which type of projection screen to choose? Is it necessary to choose a specific screen material depending on the type of projector? What is screen gain? Do you need a specific screen with an ultra-short throw projector or a 4K projector? What is an acoustically transparent screen? Here are some answers to help you choose the right screen for your projector.

What are the different types of projection screen materials?

Different types of materials are used for the various projection screens on the market, whether it is a fixed projection screen, a manual projection screen, an electric projection screen, a built-in projection screen or a portable projection screen.

Lumene Coliseum UHD 4K/8K Platinum
The extremely smooth premium screen of the Lumene Coliseum UHD 4K/8K Platinum ensures detailed and accurate 4K and 8K images.

Some screens have a matt white surface and others adopt a pearl gray color. Their texture can be more or less fine and exhibit a higher or lower gain. Some technical screens are designed to optimize 3D projection conditions. Others have a surface designed to reduce reflections on the screen and optimize contrast in a bright room. This is called a projection screen with ALR (Ambient Light Rejecting) technology. There are also materials that allow sound to pass through in order to place the speakers behind the screen: these are acoustically transparent screens. Each has its own specific area of application.

Lumene Acoustic AC-M2 acoustically transparent screen
Lumene Acoustic AC-M2 acoustically transparent fabric allows the sound to pass through so that you can place your speakers behind the screen, just like in real movie theaters. It can be custom ordered to the desired measurements and can be equipped with metal eyelets to make it easier to attach and stretch.

What is screen gain?

The gain of a screen indicates its ability to absorb (negative gain, less than 1) or reflect light (positive gain, greater than 1). The higher the gain of a projection screen (value greater than 1), the more the farbic is able to reflect a large quantity of the light projected by the projector. A gain equal to 1 is considered neutral.

A high-gain projection screen is recommended with low-light projectors, but also for projecting during the day in a bright environment. It is also recommended for installations in which the distance between the projector and the screen is significant, to project a very large image, for example. The further away the projector is from the screen, the more the image is enlarged and the more the brightness decreases. A projection screen with a high gain compensates for this.

Conversely, with a very bright video projector (2500 lumens or more), you can use a projection screen whose gain is neutral (gain value = 1) or even less than 1. Screens with a gain greater than 1 risk causing a halo in the center of the image, if the projector is too bright or if it is installed at a short distance from the projection screen.

What is the directivity of a projection screen?

Measured in degrees, the directivity of a projection screen indicates the area in which the viewers should be positioned in relation to the screen for optimal image perception. Outside this area, the image loses luminosity, the colors fade.

Do you need a special projection screen for 3D and light rooms?

If you are fond of 3D projection, a projection screen with a gray high-gain fabric is recommended to optimize the brightness and contrast of the image. Its high reflective potential makes it possible to compensate for the drop in brightness of the image due to the filters in 3D glasses.

Lumene Movie Palace Premium 3D
The Lumene Movie Palace Premium 3D projection screen offers high gain (2.0) to take full advantage of 3D projection. It also allows you to project a clear image in a bright room during the day.

Such a projection screen is also ideal for projection in a living room with light walls and for projection during the day if isn’t possible for the room to be completely dark. A high-gain screen therefore makes it possible to improve the legibility of the image by increasing its brightness.

What is a technical ALR screen?

Projection screens that use a technical ALR material are intended for use with ultra-short throw projectors. This is the case, for example, of the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright fixed projection screen, which is equipped with a layer shaped like a microscopic saw-tooth. This layer reflects in the axis of the screen, towards the spectators, the light beam of the projector coming from the bottom. The ambient light that comes from the top and the sides is reflected outside this axis.

Detail of the Lumene Movie Palace Extra Bright screen's ALR fabric
This close-up view of the ALR fabric of the Lumene Movie Palace Extra Bright screen shows how the fabric reflects the image back to the viewers while reflecting the light off axis.

ALR technical fabrics are perfect for eliminating reflections on the screen in bright rooms and allow you to project in broad daylight with a good level of contrast as a result. This is ideal when you want to replace the TV in the living room with an Ultra-Short Throw projector to project a very large image.

Optoma HD35UST projector with Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright 240C screen
With an ALR technical fabric projection screen, you can enjoy video projection in the middle of the day (here the Optoma HD35UST projector with the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Extra Bright 240C screen ).

What is an acoustically transparent screen?

An acoustically transparent screen features a micro-perforated fabric that allows sound to pass through. This type of fabric is used in the vast majority of movie theaters. This allows the front speakers to be placed behind the screen so that the sound seems to be coming directly from the picture.

Lumene AC-M2 transparent fabric
An acoustically transparent fabric allows the speakers to be placed behind the projection screen: the sound flows directly from the image!

Projection screens that use acoustically transparent fabric are suitable for home theater systems in living rooms and private home theaters. They can be used with any type of speakers for the front channels, whether they are floorstanding speakers or compact speakers combined with a center speaker, or even in-wall speakers.

Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Acoustic
The Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K Acoustic projection screen features an acoustically transparent canvas (near-zero diffraction, flat frequency response, no equalization required).

Placing the speakers behind the screen has many advantages:

  • Better dialog localization.
  • The possibility of installing a larger screen in a small room.
  • Ideal placement of the center speaker in the center of the screen.

Do you need to use a specific screen with a 4K or 8K projector?

There are projection screens with canvases optimized for Ultra High Definition video projection, whether you’re using a 4K UHD projector or a brand-new JVC 8K 48 Gbit/s HDMI laser projector .

These 4K/8K projection screen fabrics are extremely smooth, with no roughness in their texture that could affect the finesse of the displayed image. This is the case, for example, with Lumene Platinum projection screens such as the Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K/8K Platinum Ultra Slim, equipped with a smooth, “textureless” PVC fabric.

Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K/8K Platinum Ultra Slim
The Lumene Movie Palace UHD 4K/8K Platinum Ultra Slim projection screen has a smooth fabric optimized for Ultra High Definition.

In short: should you buy a projection screen with a specific fabric according to your projector?

The answer is yes!

It is recommended to choose your projection screen according to the type of projector you are using, its brightness and its image definition, but also according to the projection conditions.

Here are our recommendations for choosing the most suitable screen depending on the type of projector and the projection conditions.

Projector\RoomLiving room (day)Living room (dark)Private home theater
Ultra-Short ThrowALR (Ambient Light Rejection) technical screenALR (Ambient Light Rejection) technical screenALR technical screen or white screen (gain 0.8 to 1), tensioned fabric
3D projection3D technical screen with high gainWhite screen (gain 1 to 1.3) or 3D technical screen with high gainWhite screen (gain 1 to 1.3) or 3D technical screen with high gain
Standard HDWhite screen (gain 1 to 1.3) or technical screen with high gainWhite screen (gain 0.8 to 1)White screen (gain 0.8 to 1) or acoustically transparent screen
Standard 4K/8KWhite screen with smooth “textureless” fabric or technical screen with high gainWhite screen with smooth “textureless” fabricWhite screen with smooth “textureless” fabric or acoustically transparent screen
How to choose a projection screen

Discouver the guide: How to choose your projection screen


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Après plusieurs années passées dans la vente de produits high-tech d'occasion avant de rejoindre l'équipe de Son-Vidéo.com en 2007, je ne compte plus les amplis, enceintes, casques, TV, vidéoprojecteurs et autres baladeurs qui sont passés entre mes mains... Je suis toujours curieux de découvrir de nouveaux produits et de partager cette passion pour la hi-fi et le home-cinéma.

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