How to Set Up Your Home Theater

Setting up your dream home theater has never been easier. All it takes is a little preparation and you'll feel like you're at your local movie theater in no time. A home theater is made up of 2 main components: audio and visual. In this piece we’ll be covering everything sound related: from setting up your new receiver,  to running the cable necessary to transport electrical signals into breathtaking decibels. 

Installing the right home theater setup may seem like a daunting task. With so many options, deciding on the right audio and visual components can be difficult, but planning properly will help narrow down the countless options for the perfect fit.  From speaker selection to running wires, we’ve got you covered. We'll turn you into a certified audiophile in no time. 

 

Personalizing Your Own Set Up

Picture your new theater - mapping it out to the dimensions of your room you plan to use.  Once you have a clear image of the room itself, the next step is creating a budget and prioritizing the components you need (just leave room for the popcorn machine).

It is important to consider your room’s size, design, and style preferences when choosing a suitable speaker system, since it should have the accurate ratio. If you prioritize your components and budget it’ll be easier to pick the proper receiver. 

Speakers

Speakers are a large motivator in developing a home theater and should be a large part of your vision in regards to seating position. A Speaker system can range between 2.0 and 7.1 channels. A 2.1 channel speaker is a good starter set for anyone looking to improve their audio quality. It consists of a subwoofer (hence the .1 denotation) plus a left and right speaker. A subwoofer can be placed almost anywhere in the room. The deep bass a subwoofer provides envelops the room.

Someone with a large space and is looking for a complete surround sound experience will want to opt for a 5.1 or 7.1 channel system. You can check out specific directions for positioning left and right speakers and a center channel here. (insert hyperlink) 

A 5.1 channel system includes a left and right speaker, center channel, side speakers, and a subwoofer. The center speakers should be placed next to you, slightly above the main listening position and angled downward. A 7.1 speaker includes all of the above plus rear speakers for surround sound. Keep in mind when placing your rear speakers you want them to be a few feet away from the couch.

Naturally, with a 5.1 or 7.1 channel system your speakers will be placed far away from the receiver. For shorter distances you can use a 16 gauge wire, but the longer the wire you need move you’ll need a 12 – 14 gauge wire to preserve sound quality. The thicker the gauge diameter the wire provides less resistance and can carry more power to the receiver. Always remember to measure how much wire you need! If you don’t intend to move your sound system and are looking to invest in the space, you can always hide the wires in the wall, but be prepared for a lot planning.

There are few last tips for setting up your speakers. Your left and right speaker should be angled toward the main listening position instead of straight out towards the room. Also, speakers should not be placed directly against the wall (ex. bookshelf speakers). Leave some space (how much?(  to allow the speaker to transfer sound properly. Finally, if you have a sound system with numerous  channels, be sure to  label your wires. You’ll save yourself a big headache if you move or need to rearrange the room. 

The Receiver

Once you have the amount of speakers planned out, you need to connect them. You can connect them to the speaker using either bare wires or banana plugs. A banana plug is positioned at end of an auxiliary cord, while bare wires are cables with stripped ends. (A banana plug certainly is easier, but the direct wire contact will provide better sound transfer.) From there, you can use spring clips to attach the wire directly to the receiver.

The easiest way to connect your receiver to the TV is via an HDMI cable. If your home theater has a newer TV (either 4k or 8k, get a 2.1 HDMI for smooth transmission of information).  However you’re not going to use the HDMI port in your receiver just for the TV. Count up your gaming consoles, DVD players, Ultra Blue ray/Standard Blue Ray player, streaming devices and so on.

Consider these spatial tips to optimize your set up. Place the receiver underneath your TV as to not obstruct your center channel and position the receiver away from speakers to improve the clarity of sound. Lastly, keep your receiver away from game consoles to prevent over heating. 

Finally, make sure your receiver and the rest of your accompanying devices have a good power source. Surge protectors are a must, and you want plenty of outlets. Do not ‘daisy chain’ your power strips and extension cords, meaning do not plug one power strip into another, either directly or via an extension cord. This is a fire hazard since an outlet only has so much output.