Installing a serious home theater system can seem like a daunting task, but it’s relatively easy. Most importantly, it enhances your gaming and movie-viewing experiences. Here are the components that you need to install a dream state-of-the-art entertainment system.
Your TV is the crown jewel of your home theater. Plasma televisions offer incredibly vivid colors and rich blacks, especially 42-inch or larger models. Recent technology advancements are even allowing for new developments in flat panel LED TVs that can lower the electrical output of your television to less than that of a standard 60W light bulb. You’ll want to consider mounting the TV on the wall or placing it on a piece of furniture that will also hold the remaining components. To figure out the size of TV you should buy, follow a basic equation. Measure the distance from the screen to your primary seating location. Multiply that number by .84. This number is the optimal horizontal viewing range.
The receiver serves as the nerve center of your home theater — where all the wires for inputs, speakers and the TV live. An average system will use a single A/V receiver that will serve the dual purpose of being a preamp/processor and a multi-channel power amp. A high-end system will separate the two — one component for the preamp/process and one component for the multi-channel power amp. Keep in mind the latter will produce the best sound.
Inputs are devices that play a type of media, including Blu-rays, MP3s and DVDs. Inputs also include gaming systems and platforms for how you stream TV programs. Streaming devices include Apple TV and cable and satellite TV. According to GetDirectTV.org, DIRECTV has the largest offering of HD channels and HD sports broadcasts amongst cable and satellite providers. With DIRECTV cable, Netflix streaming through Apple TV and Nintendo Wii, your entertainment system will be top-notch.
Premier speakers are paramount to the home theater system. If positioned correctly, even a set of average speakers will maximize your gaming or film-watching experience.
- Center Channel: The center channel is the most important speaker in the room. It should be directly above or below the television screen if you have a flat panel TV. If you have a projection screen, the center channel should go behind the screen.
- Subwoofer: This is the speaker that emits the lowest frequency of sound. A high-quality subwoofer compresses air to keep bass notes sharp while playing music and to create that rumble you can actually feel while engrossed in an action movie.
- Forward Left and Right: These are the speakers directly to the left and right of your television. Gizmodo recommends setting them 5/8 of the way up the TV screen.
- Surround Sound Speakers: These speakers should be placed to the side, above and slightly behind the audience. They should not point directly at the audiences’ ears, but envelope the audience in sound. High dispersion speakers will produce a fuller and more expansive soundscape.
The vocabulary lesson is over, but you’re not done yet. Once you’ve positioned your speakers, test for sound uniformity throughout the room. In other words, check that everyone hears the same thing. Download either an iOS or Android app that will send a pink noise signal through your system. As you walk around the room, you will be able to discern differences in sound. Then you can configure your seats and surround sound speakers accordingly, thereby maximizing sound quality.