Buying the right equipment for a home theater isn’t enough to guarantee the best viewing experience. You must pay as much attention to your speakers, cables and accessories as you do to the screen and receivers.
In part one of this series we discussed the electronics required to set up a killer home theater system. Now here’s what you’ll need to complete the system: essential information on speakers, cables and accessories, compiled by our expert DTV Installations staff.
Many of our clients are completely focused on the picture in their home theater, and underestimate the effect that a high-quality surround sound system will have on their overall experience.
You’re going to need at least six speakers in your system:
- The center speaker, which goes right above or below the screen (above is the better choice). If you have a projector system with a screen that allows sound to pass through, put the center speaker behind the screen.
- Right and left front speakers. These should ideally be floor standing or bookshelf models, placed halfway between the screen and the side walls – they won’t perform optimally if they’re positioned in the corners of the room. They should be placed so the tweeters are at ear level.
- Two surround speakers which go behind or beside the seating area. Bookshelf speakers are fine, specialized ceiling or wall-mounted ones are better. If they’re on the floor, point them straight up; if they’re on the ceiling, either point them toward the viewing area or straight down. Never point them at each other because that can cancel out some of the audio.
- A powered subwoofer, placed on the floor. The exact location is best determined by trial and error.
Some receivers supply signals for additional channels such as extra front channels or specialized surround systems like Dolby Atmos. In that case, you’ll want additional speakers to enhance your audio experience. As for size, you’ll want to match with the size of your screen, big speakers for 60+ inches, smaller ones for 56 inches or less.
If this sounds like too much work you can buy matched sets of surround sound speakers – or a professional installers can advise you on the best fit for your theater and put in the system for you.
Very few people think about the cables hooking everything up in their home theater. That’s a huge mistake. You can have the most expensive, professional-quality equipment available, but if the cables carrying video to the monitor and audio to the speakers don’t faithfully transmit the signals, your picture and sound will suffer.
Don’t use old cables you have from a previous installation or those just sitting around your house, and don’t use the free, often poor-quality cables which come with your components. Spend a few extra bucks to buy a new power strip with surge protection, new high-quality HDMI cables for video and audio, and new speaker cables. Then, take the time to bundle them with zip ties or Velcro so you don’t end up with a tangled mess of cable. Remember, never bundle power, source or speaker cables together with each other, since that can create major interference problems.
We’ve already mentioned a crucial accessory for your home theater: power protection. The easiest way to get decent protection is with a high-end power strip, but the amount of money you have invested in a home theater may make in-wall or component power filtration and surge protection a good choice. We can advise you if necessary.
You’re also going to want a sophisticated, programmable universal remote control. Simpler multibrand universal remotes will let you turn everything on and off, but won’t allow control over more detailed functions like activating secondary languages or director’s commentary on your Blu-ray player. The programmable ones will also let you set macro functions for all of your devices and other home equipment – for example, when you activate the “movie” macro it might close your curtains, turn down the lights, turn on the monitor and then start your Blu-ray movie.
DTV Installations has installed hundreds of home theaters throughout the tri-state region around New York, and we also specialize in motorized blinds and wireless lighting systems. Call our owner John Lysy, to learn how we can create a spectacular theater customized for you.