Home Theater Setup

Home Theater Setup

10/07/2021 Off By killiadmin

There are special considerations for wiring your home theatre or main entertainment room. Before starting, you need to determine:

  • the location of the television
  • is the TV wall-mounted, part of an entertainment centre, over the fireplace…
  • the number of speakers
  • the locations / positions of those speakers
  • are the speakers in-wall, wall mount, bookshelf, or floor standing
  • the location of the stereo components and other electronics

Television

There usually aren’t many choices on where to place the television, especially if it is a flat panel that you are hanging on the wall. If possible, you will want to place it where the sun will not shine directly on it. The centre of the TV should be at eye level when you are sitting down. If hanging the TV above the fireplace or some other high location, then get an angled wall mount so that you can tilt the TV downward. Also, placing the TV in the corner of the room makes it very difficult to place speakers for surround sound.

If this is a wall mount installation, then be sure to have a power outlet and audio / video cables behind where the TV will be mounted. For audio / video cables for a new HDTV, I would suggest at least:

  • 2 or 3 HDMI cables for a cable / satellite HDTV signal, a Blu-Ray player, and possibly a game system like an Xbox 360 or a PS3. Some TVs also take a computer VGA or DVI input, although DVI can be converted into HDMI so a separate cable may not be required.
  • 2 S-Video or component cables for legacy devices like a DVD player, VCR, or an older game system.
  • Composite and / or digital optical audio cables to go with the S-Video input.

 

 

Although it is possible to make HDMI cables from Cat5 or other wire, you will get the best quality if you run a wire directly from the stereo component right to the TV without any breaks in the wire for a wall plate. It won’t look as good to have a hole in the wall with a wire coming out of it, but this hole should be hidden by the TV and there will be a lot less signal loss.

If this is a TV in an entertainment centre or on top of a TV stand with all of the stereo components with it, then you don’t need to run any of the wires from the components to the TV. You will have to run speaker wires and other wires in-wall. This is covered in the Stereo Components section below.

Speakers

Once you have chosen the location for your TV, you will need to place the speakers. Placement is determined first by the number of speakers. Receivers, amplifiers, and surround sound processors usually indicate the number of speakers as 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1. The .1 refers to the single subwoofer channel. Some systems may have 2 subwoofer channels or two centre channels, but these are the basic configurations.

Channels Description
5.1 One centre, Two fronts, Two side / rear
6.1 One centre, Two fronts, Two side, One rear
7.1 One centre, Two fronts, Two side, Two rear

 

These speaker placements are rough guidelines. Refer to your speaker documentation for placement instructions.

Speaker Placement

 

For home theatre, all speakers should be at ear height when seated. This will not be possible for the centre channel, since that is where the TV is placed. Some systems resolve this by using 2 centre channels placed on either side of the TV or above and below the TV. This isn’t really necessary. You can just place a single centre channel above or below the TV.

Windows, hallways and open rooms may interfere with perfect speaker placement. If perfect placement is not possible, it is best that pairs of speakers be placed consistently. If one side speaker needs to be close to the corner, then place both of them near the corner.

Types / Categories of Home Theater Speakers

Some additional speaker terms as they apply to home theatre.

Bipole / Dipole

A Speaker that uses two sets of drivers to generate sound both forward and backward, or side to side, to create a full diffuse sound field. With bipole speakers, the two sounds are “in phase.” With dipole speakers, the two sounds are “out of phase.” In a home theatre setup, bipole speakers are better behind the listener at the back of the room, and dipoles are better when placed at the side of the listener on the side of the room. Some speakers have switches that allow them to operate in both bipole and dipole modes.

LCR

Stands for Left-Right-Center, these speakers can be used as main, surround, or centre speakers. Some believe that all 5+ speakers in a home theatre system should not only be matched but should be identical. LCR speakers are designed for this purpose.

Full Range

These speakers cover the full (or almost full) range of audible frequencies (20 – 20,000 Hz). Full-range speakers are usually comprised of 3 or more drivers and are often floor standing.

Bookshelf

As the name indicates, these speakers are small enough to fit on a bookshelf, although they usually sit on speaker stands. They are typically not full range and usually contain 2 drivers: a tweeter and a midrange driver.

Soundbar

A short wide speaker intended to be mounted right above or below a flat-screen television. Many flat-panel TVs have thin speakers that aren’t capable of loud volumes. Sometimes adding just a soundbar will overcome this problem.

On-wall

Many speakers are designed to be placed at least a foot away from the wall. Speakers that are close to the wall can have too much bass and will have reflection problems with sounds bouncing off the wall. If you are looking to mount speakers on the wall or very close to the wall, make sure they are specifically designed for it.

In-wall

These are speakers that are placed inside the wall between the studs. Instead of using a speaker cabinet, the area inside the wall is the speaker box. These speakers work for varied “chamber” sizes since ceiling height and the distance between studs can vary.

In-wall Box

In-wall speakers that still have a speaker box. The speaker box must fit in a wall between studs, which means 3.5″ deep and 14.5″ wide. If these speakers are used on an exterior wall, then you lose the insulation in that wall.

In-ceiling

Similar to in-wall speakers, these are mounted in the ceiling. These speakers usually aim directly down and do not make good home theatre speakers, but there are in-ceiling speakers where the drivers are angled toward the listener.

Shielded

Speakers that are magnetically shielded so that they will not interfere with your CRT TV. A non-shielded speaker placed next to a CRT TV can permanently damage it.

Center

A speaker specifically designed as the centre channel in the Home Theater system. These should be placed directly above or below the TV – with 2 centres they can be placed on the sides of the TV. A centre channel speaker plays the action visible on the TV which is usually voices.

Front

Speakers designed specifically as the front speakers in a Home Theater system.

Rear

Speakers designed specifically as the rear speakers in a Home Theater system. Sometimes these speakers aren’t directed toward the listener and instead fill the rear of the room with sound.

Subwoofer

A special speaker designed to produce low bass frequencies, typically below 150 Hz or lower. A subwoofer can sometimes make up for the fact that bookshelf speakers cannot produce lower bass frequencies. Subwoofers usually have their own built-in amplifier and crossover.

 

Here are some samples of in-wall / small speaker speakers

Sample In-Wall Speakers

 

Stereo / TV Cabinets

Your TV placement will dictate your options for a stereo cabinet to hold your components. If your TV is sitting on a stand, then you are already set. Your stereo and TV components (satellite / cable receiver, DVD / Blu-Ray player…) will most likely be placed in that stand. With a wall-mounted flat panel, you have a couple of options. You will still need some cabinet to hold your components, but you have a lot of flexibility in the placement for that cabinet: next to the TV, in the corner of the room, in the room behind the TV, in the room below the TV… If the components are in a different room you will need an IR repeater so that the remote will still work.