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A Complete Guide to Building Your Home Theatre

Science and Technology

Building your first home theatre does not mean it is going to be terribly complicated or expensive. If you are still watching on a small screen and listening on crappy speakers, it is high time to upgrade. Here is how you can set up your first home theatre. To any home theatre setup, there are a few basic components. So, when we say “home theatre,” we don’t mean putting a full movie theatre in your home. Instead what it means is what to add to your home entertainment system such as an awesome TV, multiple devices, great speakers, and working together in complete harmony.

What You Need for Any Home Theatre

Let’s assume you have a few things already in your home such as a Blu-ray player, a gaming console, or a cable box. All this stuff is going to be useful to your home theatre. This theatre will be a little basic because it can get complicated when you have both the budget and the space. However, it is a good start in case you don’t have much gear. Moreover, we will help you with how you can buy the best components without drying your pockets. But for now below is the list of things you need.

1: HDTV

Most probably, you have one of these already. But if it is the TV where the problem lies, it is time to fix it. New models are dominating the market and older ones are available at discounted prices. So, if you want to upgrade your TV, it is the right time to shop and snag a bargain. Keep this in mind new TV does not necessarily mean a bigger display. Rather the latest models are extremely light and thin which makes them easy to move around if you want to. Furthermore, they also come with smart and advanced features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, built-in internet streaming reminders for your big events or favorite programs, and many more. Moreover, if you want to use your projector outdoors, you must know how many lumens for outdoor projector are ideal before you buy an HDTV.

2: Receiver

Your receiver is the hub that handles all of the audio and video for your system. The streaming set-top boxes, your consoles, and other inputs are plugged into the receiver. It is the receiver that sends audio to your speakers, and video to your television. That makes your system more organized and one device to connect all other components and manage them.

3:HDTV

One of the biggest advantages of setting up your home theatre is that it is you who have complete control over the audio. However, you should not underestimate the role of the receiver in this. But buying a perfect pair of speakers will make it right for you to have better sound. Good speakers come in all sizes and price tags. That is why you don’t need to worry just because you have the right budget or small space and you will not be able to enjoy great sound.

4: Sound bar (Optional)

If you want to save space in your home or are looking for an affordable way of adding great sound to your home theatre, a sound bar is a perfect option in this regard. Besides that, most modern sound bars are amplified and powered, so you don’t need a receiver. After connecting all of your devices to your television, you output the sound from the TV to the sound bar. By just paying a fraction of the size and cost of your surround system, you can get a perfect listening experience depending on the sound bar you purchase.

5: Power, Labels, and Cables

If you are thinking you have plugged in everything and you don’t need more cables, you are wrong. Now is the time you pick some longer, new, spare cables for all of your devices. Whether it is component video, HDMI, Ethernet cable, composite video, or plain old speaker cable, you need cables for all of them. Moreover, this is a good opportunity you get a good label maker and label everything. Take this opportunity to purchase a few new power strips to keep everything manages and organized.

Now when you have all the components you need, let’s look at each one separately in detail with some tips to buy them without spending too much money.

Choose the Right Receiver in Your Budget

Getting a perfect receiver can prove a difficult task. Their features and prices are all over the map. Stats and features such as HDMI inputs, raw power, and add-on features such as Pandora streaming or Airplay support can easily seduce you when you go shopping. Keep this threshold; look for only those features you need. For instance, if you don’t have Macs or Ios devices, you should not pay more for Airplay support which can cost you more. After all, you can add these specs at cheaper rates.

What is more, if you are not planning to hook your home theatre up to a set of 9.1 or 7.1 surround sound speakers in the near future due to the lack of space, it is recommended you don’t pay for them in your receiver. Moreover, if you don’t plan to upgrade or make use of these features in the next 6 to 9 months, don’t bother about these features. Keep this in mind, prices of electronics products always go down and brands come with new models every year. Buy the products of reputable brands with well-regarded hardware. Do extensive research about specific models before you go for buying them to ensure you don’t purchase any model that has some known issues to avoid future annoyance.

Similarly, if you have older gaming peripherals or consoles, first ensure your receiver supports them before you select a model. You may assume any receiver will be good to go with an old PlayStation 2, but that is not the case depending on the cables you use.

Buy the Right HDTV for Your Space

It is not difficult to buy the right HDTV. But it can be easier to purchase more than you require because you assume you should buy a 60-inch screen or have 1080p video. The most important considerations that will determine what type of TV you should buy are the place where you plan to put your TV or what types of video you want to watch. The more the distance between you and the screen, the more difficult for you to tell the difference between 1089p and 720p. If you are watching too close to your screen, even a 60-inch display will look too large for your eyes to absorb. And if you are sitting at a considerable distance, you may not get the benefits of real 1080p video.

Before you buy an HDTV, make sure of important specs such as resolution, size, refresh rate, and picture type such as LED/LCD/plasma without forgetting additional factors such as contrast ratio, drive frequency, etc. Moreover, what you should also take into consideration is whether you should buy a 3D TV, “Smart TV, or gesture or voice control. Don’t just buy them because they are available in the market. If you already have a cheap set-top box that you use for streaming video or gaming consoles, purchasing a Smart TV is just wasting money and does not make any sense. On the other hand, having a device with gesture and voice control is cool, but it may be useless when you have a universal remote to connect other devices to your TV. No 3D movies? You don’t need to spend extra on 3D. These added features cost more money. This money you can spend on getting the biggest and best TV for your viewing distance and space. Keep these things in mind before you buy an HDTV for your home theatre.

Buying the Right Speakers

Probably, you already do have some speakers in mind. But before you even think about models and brands, consider the space you want to sound them out. If you are living in a small apartment or your home has little space, think about the place where you want to set them out before you finalize your choice. Answers to some other questions are also important to know. Do you need stand speakers or do you want to mount them on the wall? Will you need cables and wires to run your speakers where you want to place them? Does furniture or other décor lie between you and your speakers? Clearly have answers to these questions in mind to get perfect speakers.

Let’s begin with speaker placement. 

Don’t ignore it. The right placement can dramatically better your sound quality. Ideally speaking, you should have your right and left front speakers at the same distance and angle from where you sit. In a similar manner, you should position your rear surround speakers. By keeping in mind these tips, you can place your 7.1, 5.1, or 2.1 speakers to ensure the best possible sound. Remember, if you are living in an apartment or a small place that has a neighbor on all sides, you should not purchase a huge set of speakers that spreads sounds out of a place three times the size of your apartment.

One best thing about having a more theatre is that modular are your components. So, if you have more budget or space later, you can upgrade this setup or a few components as well as sell old ones. You can go now for buying speakers for your home theatre with these tips in mind. You may encounter terms such as frequency response, sensitivity, and impedance which are useful for understanding. But you should not give them too much mind. Although they are significant, they are often fudged. As an example, buying a 2.1 set of speakers is good to start with if your space is not terribly large. And the sound they produce is much better than their price tag.

Choose the Right Soundbar

A small set of speakers in one, long housing is called a sound bar. Most of them are amplified and self-powered. So neither you need nor can you use a receiver with them. If your budget is short for speakers and receivers or doesn’t have a huge space, a sound bar is a perfect choice for you. Moreover, this device usually comes with one or more audio outputs. Therefore, you cannot connect a lot of devices to it directly. Rather, you will connect all these video and audio devices to your TV. After this, you connect the audio output on your television, usually Coax or Optical, to the sound bar.

Besides that, this device also has three drivers (center/right/left) in it along with a wireless subwoofer which depends on the model you are buying. Their popularity is increasing day by day because they produce amazing sounds even at a couple of hundred dollars. The sound they produce can easily be enough for pretty well-sized spaces. Isn’t it attractive? However, everything is not fine with sound bars. Since they come with few audio outputs, your choice is only limited to the audio your get from the sound bar. Due to this, you are unable to add external speakers and cannot get features and control over your video and audio that a receiver offers. You choose a lot of power for budget and convenience. It does not mean they are a bad choice. Just make sure what is more important for you before you make a decision. Be sure what you want to give up first and try to avoid some common drawbacks that accompany sound bars.

Put These Things Together

After you have bought everything, spare a few hours. It will not take that long to set up your home theatre. However, it is always better to have a little extra time to avoid hassle because you definitely don’t want to run out of time before the season finale of your favorite show or the big game. After that, make sure you have all the components, tools, and cables you need and their instructions. Now, let’s begin:

  1. After unboxing everything, ensure you have all of your tools, documentation, and cables handy.
  2. Make sure everything is disconnected and place your receiver where you want it to be put. Turn it on to ensure it works properly.
  3. Remember what we said about speaker placement? Before you set them up, it is a good decision to measure the place first. After this, tape a sheet of paper to the wall where you want to mount them, or to the floor where you want to stand these speakers.
  4. Spread the required speaker wires where your speakers will reside. If you want to run them through walls or under the furniture, it is a good time to run these cables. Do this before you place the set of speakers in their permanent place.
  5. To the audio outputs on your receivers, connect your external speakers. This will also require a speaker cable that does not accompany your set. Tune the receiver to the radio to substantiate your speakers are getting sound from the receiver.
  6. After this, connect all of your video devices to the video inputs on your receiver. For the majority of devices, HDMI must be your preferred connection method because everything from game consoles to cable boxes supports it these days. On the other hand, if you have older devices that use composite or components, validate that you have the right wires and connect them as well.
  7. Now connect the HDMI video output of your receiver to your TV. If your processor does signal conversion and video processing, even those old composite and component devices will pass video to your television via HDMI. In case it does not work, what you need is to plug your receiver’s composite and component video outputs into your television as well.
  8. If you have directly connected devices to your TV that are not supported by the receiver, like an over-the-air antenna or cable box, you should connect the audio outputs (usually optical) of your television to your receiver.

Think about it this way: after plugging all of your devices into your receiver inputs, plug your speakers and television into your receiver’s outputs. Your video source goes into your receiver and out to your speakers and television. Although every setup is somehow different from the others, these steps will offer you some guidelines to build your home theatre. Test all your devices along the way to make sure everything is working fine. More than that, you may also try to connect everything in place without re-trying cables and wires. Avoid doing this. Better it is to begin from scratch.

After this you can run new cables where you want them to run, smooth out any kinds and leave yourself slack where you require it, use twist labels or ties to keep them neatly wrapped and organized, and replace any older audio or video cables with newer, longer ones. While buying cables, make sure you have bought plenty of slack on them so that you can easily move your consoles, receiver, or other devices around when you want them to get to the back.

What Mistakes to Avoid for Home Theatre Setup

When you have all of your cables and components and you are good to go to put them together, below are some of the tips to do this right the first time, get the best sound and picture out of your set, and avoid repeating mistakes that someone has committed. These tips are as follows:

1: Use this Opportunity to Organize Your Setup

Grab a label maker and some twist-ties, and label every wire you may use on both ends. If you do this, you don’t need to get someone to hold a cable at one end when you tug on the other or trace the cable again. It will save a lot of your time. Moreover, if you want to replace a cable with a longer one, you will know exactly which one to replace. Everything becomes easy to read if you get the help of a label maker. In his absence, bread tags can work well.

2: Upgrade Your Power

Use this opportunity to take out the older models and replace them with worse, bigger power strips so that you can have enough outlets for future gadgets. In addition to this, organize your devices to save power. For example, you can put all your important devices such as NAS, consoles, cable modem, etc on one strip that you will never turn off and other devices such as TV, consoles, and receiver on another strip. Doing this will save you cash on power.

3: Plenty of New Cables

If you think that you need a cable, purchase it in advance at cheaper rates. Getting stuck and going to a local electronics store to buy a cable by paying extra money is not only unnecessary but also annoying. It is like paying extra pennies for just convenience. Before you begin to build your home theatre, make sure you have all the components and tools that are required for this. Moreover, if you have had trouble with any of your wires before, it is the perfect time to fix the problem. For example, an Ethernet cable with a loose clasp. Now is the time to re-crimp or replace it.

4: Consult the Manual

Needless to say, you may easily get caught up in the moment and fully ignore something basic and primary about your set. You may forget the receiver you have bought does not come with built-in video processing. What this means is that the component devices you connect will not output video via HDMI and need components out from your receiver. Reading the manual and remembering it can save your trip to buy the overpriced video cables. Therefore, wise it is to thoroughly go through the manual before you start installing your gear.

5: Update Everything You Plug In

Odds are your devices such as a receiver or other items that you have not updated lately like your Blu-ray player may have one firmware at the least waiting for it as soon as you plug them. That is why you need to update everything that can be updated.

6: Calibrate Your Speakers and Television

Once you have hooked everything up and they are working, calibrate your receiver, speakers, and your television for the best possible audio and video quality. If you don’t know how to calibrate these devices, better it is to know about calibrating your speakers for placement and volume and your TV. A few more moments with these components will ensure a huge improvement in audio and video quality.