When setting up a home theater, it’s important to plan ahead. A great home theater needs the right combination of products to create a comfortable and engrossing audio-visual experience.
By planning ahead, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy and save money. We’ll cover most important aspects of setting up your system here.
We recommend your home theater be in a 12 x 12 room or larger. Extra bedrooms work well. If you have an air-conditioned basement, that can also work great. One advantage of a good basement theater is a lack of windows, so you can darken the room at any time. If you have a living room and a family room, you could make one of them into a large home theater. Do you have a large backyard? If so, consider putting up a prefabricated barn and turning that into a home theater.
If you own your place and can afford to add insulation to the walls of your home theater, R30 insulation is recommended for soundproofing. This will help block loud noises from movies from the rest of the house, apartment complex, or neighborhood.
One thing to remember with your seating is that it shouldn’t hamper the sound. So, while some speakers will be low, such as the subwoofer, you don’t want your seats too close to any speakers. Give the sound room to travel.
Lastly, get comfortable chairs you, your family, and your friends can relax in.
Do you want a television with crystal clear quality, or a projector so you can cast your movies against a screen or the wall of your theater, just like at the movies? As of this writing, the highest television resolution is known as 4320p or 8K Ultra HD (UHD), and it’s 7,680 pixels wide by 4320 pixels high. Do some research and decide. You may want to go to your local electronics store to see the difference.
Your TV will go on or against a wall where it won’t catch glare from the sun coming through any windows, and high enough so that everyone can see it from their seats. Of course, lamps and overhead lights can cause glare as well, so arrange them in such a way that they don’t create unnecessary glare. Make sure you can dim them. Sometimes, you may want to watch movies with the lights out, and other times, you may just want to lower them.
If you have a projector, consider getting a home theater screen to project onto. Yes, if you have a clean, white wall, that can work well, but there’s a good reason to use a screen instead, related to sound quality.
The two types of sound systems most worth considering are Surround Sound 7.1, and Surround Sound 9.1.
The 7.1 system uses seven speakers: center, left, right, two side surrounds, and two rear surrounds. The center speaker goes just above or below the screen. If you have a projector and a projector screen, you can place the center speaker right behind the screen on the wall. The center speaker is primarily for dialogue, so this ensures that you’ll be able to hear the actors talking clearly. The left and right speakers go to either side of the screen at average ear height, or just above the height of the chairs. The side surrounds go on the walls just behind the first seating row, and the rear surrounds go on the back wall to either side.
The difference between 7.1 and 9.1 is that the latter has two additional speakers that go up front, and high, close to the ceiling. Sounds like passing airplanes or shouts from above come through these speakers.
Oh yes, both also include a subwoofer for those deep sounds. This can go in various spots, from up front to in a corner, depending on what sounds back. Just keep it on the floor and a bit away from the wall, so that it doesn’t rattle the house or apartment and bug the neighbors.
After you have actually set up your speakers, you can test the sound by walking around the room while a movie is playing. Is it clear, and does it sound about the same no matter where you go? If so, good. That’s the goal. If not, you can adjust speaker placement.
What do you want your theater to look like? It doesn’t have to be dull.
For artwork, consider artistic acoustic panels. These help to cancel out room echos to make for a clearer listening environment. These are functional pieces of art, so you can pick images that speak to you, and that also improve the sound quality in your theater.