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FAQ - Home Theater
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take to install a home theater?
That’s sort of like asking “How long will it take to make dinner?” – it depends on what you’re cooking. Generally speaking, it takes us between one and three days to install a home theater, but it really depends on the size of the home theater and how much work needs to be done. Hanging an HDTV and two wall speakers will take substantially less time than installing a ceiling-mounted projector system with a full surround-sound audio system and hidden components controllable by smartphones and tablets. We’ll give you an approximate time frame along with our detailed home theater proposal.
How big a room do I need for a home theater?
There are no requirements or limitations at all. DTV Installations will work with you to design the perfect home theater for the space you have available.
Do you work with professional designers?
Absolutely. We have architects and designers who we work with on a regular basis to create blueprints for home theaters. The blueprints are initially created in PDF format for easy viewing by our installers and clients, and can be converted into a 3D format if required. We’re also happy to work hand-in-hand with your own architect or designer.
Is there a warranty?
Of course. Your installation is covered by our one-year satisfaction-guaranteed warranty, and your equipment will be covered by the manufacturers’ warranties. We also offer extended warranties directly, if you prefer.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We’re pleased to accept checks, cash, credit cards and PayPal payments.
Do you offer any discounts?
Yes, we’ll be happy to discuss them for large projects, or if we are responsible for supplying all equipment and materials. We are also authorized dealers for many manufacturers, and can offer discounted prices on their equipment. For major purchases, we’ve even been known to provide free installation. Here's some of our deals
Have any equipment manufacturers certified your work?
Yes, and it’s a long list. Not all manufacturers certify installation companies, but we’re certified by just about all who do. We’ve also received special certifications and awards from a number of major companies and organizations. Here goes:
- CEDIA: CEDIA Certified Installers
- CIS: Authorized Sony Consumer Integrated Systems Dealer
- Lutron Electronics: Certified Lighting Programmers
- THX: THX Certified Level 2 Installer
We have authorized service certifications from Lutron, URC, Samsung, Sony, Sonos, Denon, KEF, JVC, BENQ, Seura...
How much does a home theater system cost?
How long does it take to make dinner? Seriously, there are so many variables which go into designing and creating a custom home theater that it’s impossible to list prices, or even list pricing tiers.
Just to give you a couple of examples: the prices of an JVC ceiling-mounted high-definition video projector and a Vutech 147” screen, a Samsung 88-inch 4K video monitor and a Sony 55-inch HDTV can differ by several thousand dollars; and a high-end Dolby Atmos 9.1.2 surround-sound audio system will cost substantially more than budget-level 2.1 home theater system or a sound bar.
And to throw out a few numbers showing you how widely home theater prices can vary, a fully-installed, modest 5.1 home theater with a 55-inch 4K HDTV and a decent 5.1 speaker system and universal remote control can cost $5000 or less. On the other hand, an upscale home theater with a large, state-of-the-art 4K HDTV, high-end speakers and all the bells and whistles could run you $40,000 or even more if major construction is involved.
Our quotes depend on details like the equipment, cables and other products to be used, any architectural changes or construction work which may be required, the wiring currently installed in your home and any upgrades which might be needed, and the overall breadth of the project and the man-hours it will take to complete.
The best way to get an idea of what your home theater might cost – is to ask. DTV Installations is happy to provide free, in-home consultations and estimates; all you have to do is fill out our simple online contact form to get started.
What is home theater – and what do I get from it?
The easy answer is that it’s a home entertainment system which includes video and audio equipment. It’s designed to replicate the feeling of watching a film in a movie theater, but in the comfort of your own home. A better answer is that it’s an integrated entertainment package, several steps above a simple TV and DVD player and providing a much more enjoyable viewing experience.
Most home theaters include – at a minimum – a high-definition television or projection TV system, a surround-sound audio system, and a Blu-ray player. It’s possible to save money by using a few well-positioned speakers (or a sound bar) and a subwoofer to replace the surround-sound system. It’s also possible to go beyond the minimum requirements and add a streaming media player, a media server, a separate audio/video receiver, sound amplifiers, in-wall or in-ceiling speakers and other accessories.
There are an infinite number of possibilities and configurations. The more elements in the system and more care that goes into its design, the more realistic the home theater experience will be.
What is “home theater in a box?”
It’s a relatively inexpensive way to get started with a home theater. “Home theater in a box” is a complete package which usually includes a home theater receiver, surround-sound speakers and a Blu-ray player. The components can easily be connected to an HDTV, with the included cables, to provide a decent-to-good home theater experience.
In most cases, the equipment will be lower-end and smaller than the components you’d purchase individually; you shouldn’t expect to have a system which will envelop a large room in amazing sound. However, the components will be matched to each other, setup should only take minutes, and it will be a vast improvement over “just watching television.” These systems can be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars.
What to consider when planning a custom home theater?
You should view creating a custom home theater in the same way you would view designing a new kitchen: you’re planning an important room of your home which will be used and enjoyed for years to come. When you sit down with a professional home theater design and installation consultant, here are some of the issues you should discuss:
- Who will be using the theater, and how? A room designed primarily for watching movies will require different equipment, features and setup than one which will be mostly used to play video games or listen to CDs. Even your preferred genre of movie or music could affect selection of equipment and speaker placement.
- What are the physical features of the room where the home theater will be placed? The room’s size and shape will determine the sightlines and acoustics which must be considered. Physical considerations could determine whether a television, monitor or video projection system would work best, as well as the optimal size and location of the video screen. And they will help you and your consultant figure out the proper number of speakers to be used, whether they should be freestanding, in-wall or in-ceiling, and where they should be placed.
- Where will the “audience” usually sit? This also plays a major role in planning screen and speaker placement.
- What type of light is available in the home theater? You may need to install new lights or window shading systems to create the ultimate viewing experience, and the room’s ambient light may determine the type of projector or TV which would work best in the environment.
- Where should the theater components be installed? There may be available space for them in adjacent cabinetry or closets, the components may have to be located in another room to remain hidden, or you may prefer a “high-tech” look with the equipment prominently displayed. There also must be proper ventilation for the equipment. The decision on locating components will have a major effect on installation decisions, and could require additional equipment to allow remote control of hidden components.
A knowledgeable home theater installation consultant can walk you through all of these considerations, preferably during an on-site inspection, or, if necessary, by working with the architectural designer drawing up your new home or renovation plans. More details here
What does it take to set up a home theater?
There are three stages involved in the execution of a home theater plan. We discuss each stage in detail on our site, and you can read about them in detail in our complete do-it-yourself guides
How much is my home theater really going to cost?
We’ll answer that question with a number, as soon as you tell us how much it costs to buy a new car.
In other words, it depends on what you’re buying.
You can get a “home theater in a box,” hook it up to an HDTV you already own, and spend a few hundred dollars. If the theater is going into a smaller room, you can buy a decent 46-inch high-def television, home theater receiver and surround sound speakers (plus cables and accessories) for $3000 or a little more. For a large room, you can spend anywhere from $6,000 all the way up $40,000 for a high-end installation with a modern HDTV or projection system and high-quality surround sound; costs could go even higher if construction work is involved.
The best approach is to think about the home theater you’d ideally like, figure out your budget for the project, and then call a DTV Installations expert for a free consultation. You might be surprised how much theater you can get for your money.
Where do I put the speakers and subwoofer in my home theater?
Absolutely. Here are the basics.
Imagine a circle in your room, with its center at your preferred listening spot, and your HDTV or monitor at the top of the circle (which we’ll call the 0° mark). Your left and right front speakers should be placed at 25°-30° on either side of the TV. If you have a 5.1 surround system with five speakers, the front channel speaker should go right above or below the television, and the two surround speakers should be on the left and right of your listening position (at 90°-100° on the circle). If you have a 7.1 surround sound system with seven speakers, the rear surround speakers should be placed behind and slightly above the listening spot (at 140°-150° on the circle). The subwoofer can go on the floor anywhere in the room.
More details on proper speakers positioning https://www.dtv-installations.com/blog/home-audio-systems/theater-qualit...
What are my sound options for home theater?
There are basically three options:
- The easiest solution, particularly for small or crowded spaces or if you don’t want to run lots of cables, is called a sound bar which is placed above or below your monitor or HDTV. It can come close to replicating the effect of surround sound, depending on how much you want to spend, and sometimes comes complete with a wireless subwoofer. Three-in-one cabinets, with built-in speakers, are similar to passive soundbars in the way they function.
- Another easy approach is “surround sound in a box,” a package of matched surround sound speakers, with cables included. You just unpack, run cables, set up and enjoy.
- The best, most common and usually more expensive approach is to use separate speakers along with an audio/video receiver to power the complete surround sound system. This can involve five, seven or more speakers, plus a subwoofer; they can be freestanding or installed in walls or ceilings.
More details in our knowledge base
Surround sound. What is it, and how do I get it?
Essentially, it’s the modern “giant step” beyond standard stereo which just blasts left and right channels at you. Surround sound is designed to recreate what you would really hear in a theater or in real life, including ambient sound bouncing off walls and the ceiling, with speakers placed in additional spots around a room.
You get surround sound by using an audio/video receiver capable of receiving and correctly decoding the signals, multiple speakers (there are systems that use five, seven, and even eleven speakers plus a subwoofer) properly placed, and a source like a Blu-ray player or cable/satellite box which can deliver surround sound. So you understand surround sound terminology, the numbers like 5.1 and 7.1 refer to the number of speakers (the first digit) followed by the number of subwoofers.
What is an A/V Receiver? Is it a crucial element of home theater?
It’s the audio/video receiver we mentioned above, and it’s basically the brains/traffic cop for a surround sound system and your home theater. All video and audio sources connect to it, and are then sent to the proper destinations. It can also serve as an amplifier, a radio receiver, and a command center for easy control of all devices with your remote control.
You can do without a receiver by sending video directly to the HDTV/monitor and using separate amplifiers for audio signals, but that’s a less desirable alternative.
What is 3D sound? How is it different from surround sound?
3D sound is the latest exciting development in home theater audio. Surround sound delivers an immersive audio experience, but in two dimensions; it can’t make the audio “appear” anywhere in the room or realistically move across the room like 3D sound can. 3D audio uses the same general speaker setup as surround sound, but elevates some of the speakers (or puts them on the floor, angled upward). It’s more realistic than anything that’s come before.
What is Dolby Atmos? Is it right for my room?
Atmos is the first and leading 3D sound technology from Dolby, first used in 2012 in movie theaters and released in 2014 for home theaters. It’s a landmark step forward in sound technology and the home entertainment experience. Dolby Atmos can be installed in most rooms with the use of reflecting speakers and will create a definite improvement in sound reproduction. But it’s ideally suited for rooms where speakers can be mounted in ceilings that aren’t vaulted, but are at least ten feet high.
More about Dolby Atmos in our knowledge base
Is it possible to play music from my computer, smart phone or satellite radio on my home theater system?
Yes, as long as you have the right interfaces. The best solution for streaming music from your computer is to send the signals via WiFi to a media player connected to your A/V receiver or TV. If you have a Smart TV, it can receive the WiFi signals directly.
Smartphone or iPod signals can be received directly by many A/V receivers equipped with Apple AirPlay or Bluetooth, or by using an RCA to stereo minijack cable (or an HDMI cable if the receiver is compatible). Satellite radio is easily played on your home theater with a Sirius/XM tuner and a compatible A/V receiver. If you don’t use a receiver, you can use many of these same options to connect to your Xbox 360, PS4 or Blu-ray player.
What HDTV screen size do I need for the best home theater experience?
Assuming you have lots of room to work with, it primarily depends on the distance between your television and your normal seating position, the type of HDTV you have, and whether you prefer a normal TV viewing experience or a “cinematic” (like in a movie theater) experience.
There are mathematical formulas to figure this all out, but we’ll give you a couple of examples. For people who sit the average distance from the screen, which is about nine feet, a 67-inch TV is optimal for normal viewing and a 90-inch screen is the right size for a cinematic experience. If you like to sit right in front of the screen you should choose a TV that’s 55 inches or smaller because you might be close enough to see some video noise or pixelation on the screen.
Many people prefer this advice: the biggest screen that will fit.
OK, that’s good general information. How do I find the specifics for my room?
If you’re good at math: the viewing angle to put the entire TV in your field of vision should be between 30° (normal) and 40° (cinematic); take the distance in inches from your preferred seating position to the TV and multiply it by 0.625 (for a 30° viewing angle) or 0.84 (for a 40° viewing angle) and you’ll come up with the approximate ideal size of the screen, as long as the vertical viewing angle is less than 15°.
The easier way to find the specifics is to call DTV Installations. We’ll be happy to provide a free on-site consultation and do all the work for you.
Can I watch HD movies and TV shows on my home entertainment system?
Once you have a high-definition television, monitor or projection system, you’ll need a Blu-ray player to watch movies that you purchase (old-school DVD players aren’t capable of delivering HD signals) or a high-definition cable or satellite box to watch TV in HD (most providers charge a little extra for high-def boxes).
Streaming video services like Netflix will deliver high definition signals, but they’re slightly lower-quality HD than you’ll get from Blu-ray or cable. Finally, you should make sure you’re connecting your components with HDMI cables, which transfer high-def signals flawlessly.
I bought an HDTV but the picture isn’t really HD – what can I do?
Grin and bear it? Seriously, an HDTV can only show high-def video if it’s being fed high-def video, and some sources like DVD players aren’t capable of delivering high-definition signals.
Standard definition signals will be “upscaled” so they can be shown on an HDTV and still look good, but the video won’t be displayed in the HD quality you might expect. If your source is capable of playing high definition video but you’re not seeing HD, the issue could be either the cables or the cable/satellite box.
Video projector vs a TV?
If you’ll be using your system mostly to watch high-def movies, a projection system is best. But if you’re mainly a classic TV watcher, standard-def television shows projected on a screen won’t look good at all. Have a small room (projectors are wasted on a small screen), or one which has lots of ambient light which would interfere with the picture? You’re better off with an HDTV. If light is the only problem we recommend automated light and shading systems, and we can help with that.
The bottom line: a big room and low light is perfect for a big screen and projector. Otherwise, think high-def television or monitor.
What is HDTV, anyway?
Without getting too technical, it’s the technology that allows the video quality of a television display to approach that of a movie you’d see in a theater, and the audio quality to be similar to that of a CD.
The most difficult part, displaying a higher-quality picture than the standard analog TV most of us grew up with, is accomplished by using a wider display and putting more lines of pixels (the tiny display dots) on the screen. Old-school analog TV uses displays of 640 x 480 pixels or lower, while HDTV uses 720 x 480, 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 pixel displays (aka the screen’s resolution) to produce the striking quality of high-definition signals.
What is 4K TV?
It’s the next advance past the HDTV that’s been around for a while. Instead of the 1920 x 1080 resolution of “full” HD, 4K TV has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 – which is four times the number of pixels that are on a full HD display. It takes the amazing quality of high-def and takes it to the “incredible” level.
What is Ultra HD?
It’s basically 4K TV. Most people use the terms interchangeably, but Ultra TV is the variation of 4K that Sony uses, with a 4096 x 2160 resolution instead of 3840 x 2160. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference as a viewer.
What is 3D TV, and what do I need to watch it?
Many would tell you “it’s a gimmick.” Others would tell you it’s a revolutionary way to watch movies in your home theater. 3D video is displayed in three dimensions instead of two (just like commercial 3D films). It requires a television or monitor built to display it, a source like a Blu-ray player which can play it, and special glasses to watch it.
Can you do 3D home theater?
Yes, 3D is cool to many people. Also the term “3D” is used today to refer to both video and audio. When some people talk about “3D home theater,” they’re referring to the relatively-new immersive Dolby Atmos audio systems which can make sound seem like it’s moving around the room in three dimensions.
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having both 3D video and 3D audio in your home theater; we’d be pleased to discuss all of your options in a free in-person home theater consultation.
How do I get HD and 4K streaming video in my home theater?
Naturally, you’ll need a TV (or monitor or projector system) which supports HD or 4K (a 4K TV will always be able to play HD content as well). Then you’ll need an Internet source like a paid subscription to one of the providers that offer HD and 4K streaming content like Netflix (best for 4K), Amazon and Vudu.
Most homes already have WiFi to receive the signal so all that’s left is an interface, and there are several options. They include set-top boxes like Roku or AppleTV, “sticks” or “dongles” like the Fire TV stick or Chromecast which simply plug into an HDMI jack on your TV, or many Blu-ray players or video game systems.
What is “video upconversion?” I see it on the list of features for Blu-ray & DVD players.
As we’ve mentioned, DVD players don’t have high-def capabilities, and many of the movies in your library may not be in HD either. Upconversion simply takes a standard analog signal and converts it to simulated high definition, so it can be transferred digitally to an HDTV for playback. An upconverted signal won’t be true HD and won’t look quite as perfect as a high-def movie, but it will still look great.
How to get the best quality picture from my home theater?
The best equipment that fits into your budget, of course; but just as important are the connections and cables. An HDTV and most components will have HDMI connectors and those should always be used, if possible, because HDMI was designed for optimal transfer of high-def signals. (If it isn’t a possibility, be sure to use component video connectors instead of composite or S-video connections). You should also use high-quality cables, which means they should be certified for the purpose you’re using them for.
Will my game console, cable box & DVD player, still work with my new home theater?
Yes, almost all of them will, although some may have older-style connectors rather than HDMI, and some may not receive or send high-definition signals.