How Far Should You Sit From Your TV?

While your purchase of MantelMount can take you far down the path to the land of optimal TV viewing, there are other factors involved in getting you to your final destination.  One of them is the distance you should sit from your TV screen.  There are a number of articles online talking about the optimum distance between you and your TV, so we’ve filtered through a number of them to cull the best advice.

The process can be a bit tricky.  If you sit too far back, you run the risk of losing the sharp detail that you paid for when you bought your HDTV in the first place (if you have a 4K unit, then you spent even more money for more detail).  But if you sit too close, the individual pixels start to become visible and, ultimately, very distracting.  So, ultimately, you have to find that happy medium.

First, we should discount those people on the extreme ends of the spectrum:

  • Those who absolutely insist on sitting five inches away from the screen. This group is made up largely of kids younger than 9, who still have healthy eyes and whose spine can withstand the torture of lying flat on your stomach and craning your neck upwards. 
  • Those who sit extremely far away from the screen, either because that just happens to be the way their furniture is arranged, or they’re so far-sighted they need to be in a different zip code.

For the majority of us who are somewhere in the middle, the first thing to understand is the concept of pixels.  Every digital image is made up of a grid of colored dots or squares called pixels.  A 1080p HDTV has 1080 rows of 1920 pixels each. That’s a grand total of 2,073,600 pixels; it doesn’t matter whether the TV is 30 or 100 inches wide, the number of pixels remains constant.  What does change, however, is the size of the pixels; the bigger the TV screen, the easier is to see them – not ideal, since these pixels should be too small to see.

THX, the company founded by legendary filmmaker George Lucas which develops high-fidelity, audio/visual reproduction standards for movie theaters, screening rooms, and home theaters, offers a simple formula for calculating the closest you can get to an HDTV without seeing the pixels: Divide the advertised TV size by 0.84.  For the math-challenged among you, just figure on one foot of distance for every 10 inches of screen size.  So for a 40-inch screen, optimal viewing distance is about 4 feet; for a 50-inch screen, it’s 5 feet; for 65 inches; it’s 6.5 feet, etc.

Needless to say, there are opposing points of view.  In a great article in TechHive, writer Lincoln Spector noted, “The speaker manufacturer Aperion Audio recommends that you not sit closer than six and a half feet from a 50-inch 1080p set.  Aperion also recommends you sit no farther than 9 feet 9 inches for the best experience.”

4K presents a different issue.  Because the resolution is so much sharper, you can technically sit closer, but that will cause audio issues.  Our advice?  Move a little bit closer, maybe 6 inches to a foot. 

Ultimately, it’s about personal preference; nothing is set in stone.  But hopefully, this article will give you some direction as what the experts think.  The first step is to get yourself a MantelMount pull-down TV mount (not sure what took you so long, but we’ll give you a pass on that).  You have seen its performance firsthand and how it enhances your TV viewing experience by putting the screen right at eye level – where it belongs. 

Then try out these suggestions, and see how they work for you.  But in the end, if you find that the best viewing experience is with your nose pressed up against your TV screen while standing on one foot, who are we to argue?