What is a Home Theater System? How Do I Set Up My Home Theater?
What is a Home Theater System? How Do I set up my Home theater?
Have you recently got the itch to set up a thrilling Home Theater System? Excellent! We’re excited for you! If you’ve been questioning how to go about setting up your Home Theater and what components you might need, we’re here to help clear things up, guide you through the process, and provide tips and tricks for easy installation.
A home theater system consists of four basic parts: audio, video, processing components, and accessories. These parts and prices can vary, but all home theater systems are comprised of these parts. Let’s break it down.
The common stereo system consists of a pair of speakers placed at the front left and right of the room, and either a stereo amplifier, or audio/video receiver. While stereo amplifiers are not as popular as they once were (back when the tuner was invented), a strong stereo receiver or 2-channel amp can beef up your front sound stage quite a bit!
A more complex home theater set up must use a multi-channel audio/video receiver (AVR). These days most AVR’s can handle either 5.1, or 7.1 speaker setup. In general, a 5.1 surround set up is considered the standard for which we enjoy movies in our homes. The first number in the sequence (5 or 7), indicates how many ear-level speakers there are, while the second number (.1 or .2) determines how many subwoofers are being used.
The recent addition of Dolby Atmos takes your home theater experience to the next level. This is accomplished by using an even more robust AVR, which enables you to hook up additional speakers to create a definitive sound stage that home theater has to offer. For more information about Dolby Atmos, see our blogs here:
- 5.1 vs 7.1, Dolby Atmos & More!
- How to set up your home theater with Dolby Atmos surround sound
- Rock Your Home Theater with Dolby Atmos
An even more complex home theater setup will utilize a pre-amplifier for audio processing. From there the pre-amp sends the audio signal to a power amplifier, which in turn sends the audio signal to the speakers. In the case of Dolby Atmos, DTS-X, and Auro-3D, the pre-amp would decode the signal from the source content and dictates which speaker is to receive the sound.
Now for our favorite part, the speakers! There are many things to consider when selecting speakers for your home theater including type, size, finish, and much you’ll spend on them. A great place to start is the left and right main speakers. A popular choice for main speakers is a pair of bookshelf speakers as they are a compact unit that boasts a lot of sound. They are easy to place in any room configuration as they can be wall mounted or set on a flat surface. Now, if you’re the type of person that likes a little more “beef” in their system, tower speakers might be worth checking out! Tower speakers are floor standing units that house an array of drivers that produce a bigger, more full sound. Tower speakers will take up almost the same floor space as a bookshelf on a stand, but the “wall of sound” effect is hard to match.
Speaking of wall of sound, how about that bass? With a subwoofer, you’ll experience movies and gaming in a whole new level by expanding the low frequencies rumbling you to your core! Subwoofers in home theater systems are generally active units, meaning they have their own amplifier built into the cabinet. These will also require an outlet relatively near where the sub is to be placed, so keep that in mind as you make your floor plan. For more information on subwoofers, check out our blogs here:
- Secrets to Selecting a Subwoofer
- The Aperion Guide to Choosing a Subwoofer
- Dual Subwoofers for your Home Theater
- How to Choose a Subwoofer
- How to Get the Most Out of Your Subwoofer
So now that we’ve covered the mains and the sub, lets check out where our crystal-clear dialogue is going to come from! The center channel speaker is the workhorse of your sound system and is where most of the dialogue comes from in movies and tv shows will come from. Aiming your center channel directly at the listening point is crucial for effective and clear dialogue. For more tips on center channels, see our center channel tips here.
To tie it all together, we have our mains, our sub, and our center, now to bring your home theater system to life we’ll add in the surround sound speakers. Surround sound speakers come in many types and sizes, a few of which we have already covered. Bookshelf and tower speakers are recommended for use as main speakers, but also work great as surround sound speakers. Another type to consider are dipole and bipole speakers. These speaker types are a little different as they contain two drivers mounted opposite of each other and wired in or out of phase. Your room layout and placement of the surround units will determine what is best however, if you are unsure or if you’re the type that likes options, Aperion Audio has just the answer for you. The Aperion Audio Verus Dipole/ Bipole speaker pair features an easily accessible switch giving the user the best of both worlds!
So, we’ve covered each section of your stereo, but maybe the idea of large speaker cabinets, wall mounts, and losing all that beautiful open floor space isn’t your thing. In-wall, in-ceiling and architectural speakers are a great option when space is limited. They also make for great solutions for sound other parts of the home like kitchens and garages. See our blog here for pros and cons of architectural speakers vs in box speakers.
So, we’ve covered where how the audio portion is going to work, so what are we watching? The design and features of your home theater room could make or break your video experience. Flat screen TV’s are the most common in homes these days, however a video projector can bring the cinematic feel that a TV just can’t do. When using a projector, you must be able to eliminate all outside light from the room. Natural daylight will washout a projected image and dramatically decrease the video quality. A TV can be more forgiving when it comes to lighting and windows, but nobody likes a glare in their TV picture. If your space has large picture windows or French doors, you’ll want to find some nice curtains to reduce natural daylight from entering your home theater room.
There are many different processing components available to play and control media. These devices playback media from physical discs or stream digital media from your home internet connection. Weather you have simple needs, or you are one to connect every device you have, Your AVR will serve as command central and let you toggle between several processing components. This allows you to have everything connected and you can switch from movies to music to video games with the simple touch of a button on your AVRs remote control.
- Blu-ray disc players
- Apple TV
- Google Chromecast
- High definition cable boxes from providers such as DirecTV and Dish network
- Home Theater Computers or hard drives
- Amazon fire stick
- 4K players
- Xbox, PlayStation, and other video game consoles.
- SACD Players
Selecting the correct wiring for your system is very important. The layout of the listening space and the distance between the speakers and amplifier can determine the type of wire that is needed. Connecting components to your system will require specific cables depending on the components that you have selected. Selecting the highest quality connection type such as digital HDMI cable for a Blu-ray players and video streaming devices will yield the best results. Other accessories include power conditioning and surge protection to protect your investment from harmful electrical problems, cabinets for component storage and use, as well as stands and/or wall mounts depending on the room set up and design.
Dreaming up the perfect home theater system is easy but knowing where to start and how to get there is tricky. Aperion Audio takes the confusion out with this easy step by step roadmap for designing and building the ultimate home theater experience.
The overall process and details of building a home theater system is discussed thoroughly in all of our blogs, which can be found here: Aperion Audio Blogs
You can also contact Aperion Audio at 503-598-8815, via email or chat, or follow our Facebook page and leave your questions there, you can be assured that Aperion Audio will be there to help.