We know how awesome a home theater can be. We also know how intimidating it can be to come up with a home theater design and eventually try to set one up. When it comes to home theater installation, it takes a lot more than installing a TV mount to the walland calling it a day. Here is everything you need to know to get your home theater up and running at top picture and sound quality.
The Key Component: The TV
The TV is understandably the most important part of any custom home theater setup. In fact, without one, you won’t have the right home theater experience at all. As such, there are a lot of things to think about when choosing one.
Size matters. For real. Personally, we believe in the idea that bigger is better, but everyone has their own take on how large a TV should be and the ideal viewing distance. Honestly, it depends on the size of the living room and the furniture layout, but we are proponents of getting the biggest possible ultra HD television that is comfortable for your space. Generally, for a home theater, a 55-inch TV is as small as you should go to get a true home theater experience.
Resolution is important, too. It determines the quality of the viewing experience because it has a huge impact on picture quality. There are multiple options here, including OLED, which is the best of the best, or LED, which is not quite as good but much more affordable. Some people use a projector for the full home cinema experience, but consider what kind of picture quality you can get with an ultra HD TV instead.
The Sound System
Next to the picture, the sound is probably the most important thing to consider when installing a home theater. A good speaker system can be a bit difficult to understand if you don’t know the basics, which is why we’re here.
The first thing to think about is the receiver, which is a key part of the whole system. The receiver connects all your media inputs and multi-channel systems so you can optimize the experience with a surround sound system. If you have multiple speakers, a receiver is absolutely necessary. In fact, before you start shopping, you have to figure out how many speakers you’re planning to have so you choose the right receiver. Generally, the minimum is five speakers and a subwoofer, but it will depend on how big the room is and how impressive a home theater you’re trying to set up.
You also have to pay attention to the input quantity, which tells you not only how many inputs you can have but also what kind. Depending on the receiver, you can hook up your smart device via Bluetooth, multiple HDMI ports, and more.
Now, back to speakers. Again, there are multiple types to choose from, like simple plug-n-play speakers to high-end options. If you want to do the whole DIY install, figure out how many speakers you need. Remember, five is the typical minimum, and they usually consist of a central speaker, two front, and two rear speakers. Standing speakers are ideal for front speakers, while small bookshelf speakers can be placed in the rear to help round out the sound. The central speaker should be a subwoofer.
What’s a subwoofer for? We’re glad you asked. Subwoofers are one of the most important parts of any sound system because they produce the bass notes, which you need to produce deep, layered sounds. Without one, you get a tinny, shallow sound that isn’t quite right. When choosing a subwoofer, think about how large the room is. If you have a small apartment with a big subwoofer, your neighbors are going to complain.
Once you have the skeleton of the system built, it’s time to move on to the fun part. What components are you going to add?
This part is flexible, but it does require some planning. Before you decide on the components you want, you have to know the input options on the receiver. This can be adjusted, but it’s an extra step and it’s just easier to know what you’re working with beforehand.
If you stream a lot of content or you have a smart TV, your needs are different from someone who primarily uses a DVD player. In some cases, a lot of the content is self-contained in the unit itself, like with a smart TV, but you can also add a Roku, Chromecast, or Firestick.
Gamers have completely different needs. If you primarily use your gaming console to not only play games, but to play DVDs and stream movies, it might be enough to do everything you need.
Other things you might want to add are a CD player, turntable, or DVD player.
Do You Need Anything Else?
Other than the things we’ve covered, there aren’t all that many other things you need to worry about. You might need some extra cables and brackets to mount the TV and make sure you have everything you need to get everything connected.
Don’t be in a hurry to set everything up. Take your time, plan your layout, and think about what you need. The worst thing you can do is get too excited, rush through the planning process, and end up missing something important.
Off to a Good Start
The best thing about a home theater system is that you get to set it up exactly how you want. Start with the TV, then build to the sound system. Once you have the TV and sound system picked out, it’s a good idea to get it all set up and then worry about what components you want to add. This way, you can look at what inputs you have open on the receiver and get any extra equipment you need while you’re working out the components. If you’ve never played video games in a home theater, you’re in for a treat. There’s nothing better than hearing your favorite game surrounding you with sound while you play on a gorgeous big screen. Movies and TV are great, too, of course. The immersive experience is worth the time and effort.
A passion for writing and ongoing research projects gives Catherine an incredibly broad knowledge of all things. She has authored an incredible number of articles and can be found in the wilderness when not attached to technology or listening to podcasts.