A home theater system is a collection of most, if not all, your audio and visual entertainment devices. Your TV, Blue-Ray or 3D player, game consoles, streaming devices, etc. all come together for a more robust experience.
Gone are the days when your radio and TV work separately. If your TV speakers aren’t loud enough, you’ll struggle to hear what’s going on. And you definitely won’t be getting any surround sound effects.
With a home theater system, you can hook up all your audio and visual devices and have the sound come from much advanced and louder speakers.
In this post, you’ll find out how to install a home theater system, all the components you’ll need, and how to hook them all up.
By the time you’re done, you’ll be able to set up your own entertainment system. Now, you can experience movies like you’re in the scene.
What Do I Need for a Home Theater System?
An average home theater includes a set of speakers, a receiver, and a video input. There are home theaters that are bundled such that the receiver doubles as a video input like a DVD player. There are other bundles that the receiver is not a video input.
We suggest you go for a bundled version to make everything easier. However, if you’re some sort of audiophile and you have some knowledge about this, by all means, you can get the components individually.
How to Set Up the Home Theater System
To make the process easier, we’ll present the home theater installation in parts starting with the preparation. Then we’ll talk about how to position the speakers, include a receiver unit, and connecting them all together.
Without further ado, let’s get right into things.
Prepare for your home theater
Decide which home theater package you want
If you decide to go for a bundled package, you might be spoiled for choice. There are lots of brands that make top-quality home theaters. To make your selection easier, you can check out some of the options we suggested in another post.
If you want the best sound output from a bundled option, go for a combination of speakers and a receiver. You might even get the speakers and receiver separately.
Consider the necessary constraints
Before buying anything, here are things you need to consider. The last thing you want is investing in a home theater system and find out it is too much for where you want to set it up.
The size of your living room, for instance, has a lot to do with the type of home theater setup you go for. If you’re just buying a TV too, don’t go for a 70-inch just because it’s on sale for a small living room.
The positioning of your speakers too (more on that later) will need ample space as furniture obstructing the sound path will dampen the full sound effect.
You also want to consider your neighbors. How far away are they? What about the acoustics of your home? You don’t want them calling the cops on you just because you’re trying to have a cinematic experience playing Call of Duty.
Finally, the price. Depending on your budget, this will help you narrow things down. How much does it cost to install a home theater system? It varies based on different variables but they often fall somewhere between $500 to as much as $10k. You want to choose the best option that’ll suit your needs and is within your means.
Choose a video input system
A video input system is your source of video content. There are many different options. So, it comes down to your preference.
A DVD or Blue-Ray player is an option if you’re still a fan of buying CDs. A Smart TV adapter such as Amazon’s Fire Stick, Chromecast, or Apple TV are other options.
If you want, you could also go for streaming boxes such as Roku and others that use Android. Your smart TV can also double as a video input if it has apps such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. pre-installed.
Game consoles are also an option. Video gaming climbs to a higher pedestal with surround sound. Moreover, with a console like PS4 and Xbox One, you might not even need a streaming device or a TV adapter. They have some streaming apps installed.
Get a power strip
With all the electrical stuff we mentioned, there has to be a power source. A plug-in power strip is essential to have everything plugged in one place.
Depending on where the power outlet is in your room, you might need an extension cord. It’s best to keep your electronics plugged together. It makes the wires neatly arranged and easier to manage.
Once you’ve got this part covered, you can move on to the next stage.
Set up the speakers
Hopefully, it was easy to decide on which home theater speaker set is best for your needs. If you haven’t chosen yet, you can check out some recommended options.
Usually, most people will want a home theater system to enjoy great sounds from both movies and music. Most speaker packages can handle that.
While checking around, you’ll come across 5.1, 7.1, 5.1.2, 7.1.2, etc. These are the number of speakers in the unit.
The “5.1” means that there are 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer while “7.1” means, you got it, 7 speakers. In the 5.1 configuration, there’s one central speaker, 2 front speakers, and 2 rear speakers.
As for the “7.1”, there 2 additional side speakers. As you can guess, this makes the sound richer.
When you see a configuration such as 7.1.2, that’s a Dolby Atmos home theater speaker. This set creates a true positional sound effect. The 2 extra speakers project sounds to the ceiling. That way, you will hear a hovering chopper in the movies from above. Cool, right?
There’s also the soundbar. This one usually comes as a single bar speaker and a subwoofer. It also delivers surround sound but it is only ideal for a smaller area of about 200 square feet.
It’s a good idea to know the dimension of the room. That way, you can choose a system that’s ideal for you. If your space is up to 700 square feet, a 5.1 or 7.1 is what you should go for.
Should you decide to build your own speaker system from scratch, you can follow this procedure as well.
The front 2 speakers should be placed on either side, closer to the wall, of the TV. They could be floor-standing or you’d be able to hook them on the wall.
Whichever type they are, make sure they’re above ear level and angled to face the main sitting area.
This is the speaker responsible for producing crisp voice dialogue. Its position should be above or below the TV facing the viewer.
This allows it to broadcast its sound to the whole room. If you’re using a soundbar, this general location is where you will place it.
If your set up is using a 7.1 configuration, you’d have these extra speakers. These ones usually go on the wall as they need to be about 2 feet above the viewer on either side.
These ones too go on the wall if they’re that small. Some rear speakers are floor-standing just like their partners in the front.
They should be behind the viewer and angled such that they face the seat. If you’re using a 5.1 system, you should prioritize for side speakers instead of the rear.
This is the speaker responsible for the heart-stopping bass. It is best positioned under the TV stand in the middle. In a lot of cases, this positioning might not be available.
In such cases, placing the woofer on the side is the next best option.
After positioning your speakers, nothing should be blocking your line of sight to them. If there is, then you’re blocking off the sound. Try rearranging your furniture to get a direct line of sight.
With everything in place, lay out the wires from the speakers in a straight line all the way to where the AV receiver will be. That should be close to the TV. Ideally, the wires should get there, if not, you might have to buy more cables.
Choosing a receiver and installing it
A receiver is like a central hub that connects all the devices in your home theater system to the TV. That way, you won’t have to switch connections when you need to use another device.
However, if all you want to use is, say, a game console and a Fire Stick with a USB port, you don’t really need a receiver.
Before deciding on a receiver, take inventory of what you’ll be connecting to it. That way, you can choose one that can accommodate all your devices. A good rule to follow is to account for one port for every device you have.
For instance, if you’ll connect a game, streaming box, Blue-Ray player, and your TV, you should go for a receiver with at least 4 HDMI ports.
Be sure that your receiver of choice handles both audio and video as there are some that are just meant for audio.
Once you get the audio receiver, hopefully, there’s still space for it on your entertainment stand. Wherever you choose to put it, make sure they’re well-spaced to avoid overheating.
Hooking them all together
Before you start connecting any of the components together, make sure none is plugged in to avoid an electric shock.
Connect the receiver to the TV
Using an HDMI cable, connect one end to the “HDMI Out” port behind the receiver and the other end goes into an input slot on the TV.
Connect the video input component to the receiver
Using another HDMI cable, plug one end into the player and the other into one of the “HDMI in” on the receiver.
Follow the same process for every other input component you want to include in your home theater system.
Test and troubleshoot
Test that your video connections are working properly. Turn on the connected components. On the TV, go to every connected input to see they’re working properly. If so, then it’s time to move to the speakers.
If not, try these steps for troubleshooting:
- Check to ensure all ports are properly fixed.
- Connect a device that isn’t displaying properly directly to the TV to be sure it works.
- Check to be sure that you connected the right things to the right place.
Connect the speakers to the receiver
There are quite a number of wires to connect here but don’t worry, they’re color-coded. A pair of attached wired, red and black, should run from the back of the speakers to the back of the receiver.
Insert the red wire into the red hole behind the speaker and do the same for the black. Once you’ve done that for all the speakers, its time to move to the receiver. Though there are many ports behind the receiver, they are well labeled so you’d know which wires go where.
Now, plug in each wire from the front speakers to match the labeling on the receiver. Test the connection and if sound outputs from the speakers properly, you can proceed to connect the remaining speakers.
Hide the wires
Once all the speaker connection is done, endeavor to hide the wires. This is not just for your installation to look professional, leaving the wires loose can cause a tripping hazard.
You can staple the wired to the baseboard and cover it with the rug.
You can now enjoy your entire entertainment system crisp and clear with surround sound effects.
Installing your home theater system does not have to cost you a professional hire. With the detailed explanation we have provided in this post, you can do it all by yourself from the very scratch. From knowing which system is right for you to connecting it all together and handling any hiccup. You can also click on the images to get the components online at great prices.
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