Home Theater System Installation

The home theater can be a terrific addition to your home. Installing a home theater is not easy.

Furthermore, the quality of the installation can make or break a theater system.

The assembly process can be very daunting, especially for a first-timer.

Whether you decide to install your own home theater system or hire a specialty contractor or electrician to help, you need to understand the basic principles of sound, projection TV, wiring and equipment options before diving into your home theater project.

Follow these basic tips to insure that your own home theater installation goes as smoothly as possible.

Selecting and Installing a Home Theater System

The first step in the home theater installation process is to decide if you are going to do it yourself or hire a professional. If you are relatively good at following directions, plan a simple theater design, and have the time and patience to undertake such a complex job, you might consider tackling the project yourself.

The advantage, of course, is in the cost; contractors can be expensive.

However, it may be worth the cost to hire a professional. Why spend money on a system only to have it installed incorrectly? A contractor will maximize the potential of your system and save you time and aggravation in the process. This is particularly important if you’ve selected an elaborate system.

You have a lot of options component-wise. At minimum, you need a system with a 27” TV, speakers, a stereo receiver with surround sound capabilities, and a movie playing device. It’s possible to put together a system like this for under $4000. But options like a larger TV, Dolby receivers, or a laserdisc player may be worth the extra money. You can also start small and upgrade or add elements as the finances become available.

Equipment Configuration

Before you buy, it’s a good idea to plan things out. Draw your room on a piece of graph paper and draw in (or use paper cutouts to represent) your furniture. Figure out what will fit in your room. You may need to use wall mounts to optimize the space; it’s better to know that going in than to find out when you’re knee-high in electronics. If you plan to add to your system later, make sure to plan ahead accordingly.

Consider where you’re going to place the larger equipment. Entertainment centers look great but limit your access to the back of the equipment. Without an entertainment center, you may have to live with exposed equipment. Figure out what option is best for you.

Light is one of the most important considerations when deciding where to place your home theater projector and other equipment. Bright rooms aren’t the best choices for projectors, although it can be done if you have good blinds and/or curtains. For this reason, basements are often the best choice for a home theater system.

If you’re on the ground floor, make sure that your screen is in a shady spot and cover the windows. Place any lamps or electric lights behind the screen if possible. If not, try putting them beside the screen.

Wiring and Cabling

Having a wiring and cabling plan is very important. It’s not very practical to run wires under the carpet, but you definitely don’t want them to be running across rooms where people can trip on them, either.

You could select a wireless system, but some people find that the quality on these systems is lower. The best option is to make sure that you have sufficient wire to run it around the baseboards. Always buy more wire than you think is necessary for your project. And consider buying wire holders to reduce tangling.

Check your circuit breakers to make sure that they will be able to support the power load. Your home theater will suck more power than a typical TV.

One option is to have an electrician run a dedicated line to your theater. This option reduces the possibility of circuit overloads and only costs a few hundred dollars. Also make sure that your plan allows access to wall sockets. Still, you’ll need more plugs than you probably have access to, so make sure you have an extra power strip or two hanging around.

Speaker Installation

The audio quality is the major distinguishing feature between a big screen TV and a home theater. Therefore, it’s important that your home theater speakers are installed correctly, and it’s a good idea to get the best speakers you can afford. Ideally, you should purchase a set of six home theater speakers. You will place three across the front of the room, one surround on each side, and a bass or subwoofer in the back.

Your home theater speakers can be placed on the furniture, sit on specially designed speaker stands, or mount on the walls. Wall mounts are the best choice if space is at a premium, but make sure that your mounts are able to withstand the weight of the speakers you’ve selected.

Projector Installation

You’ll need to decide between a front-screen or rear-screen home theater projector. The front-screen has the advantage of easier assembly and takes up less floor space. However, the front screen projector requires a completely dark room, or the picture will be difficult to see. The rear screen takes up additional space but hides all of the equipment behind the screen.

In terms of picture quality, you’ll need to select between video (with the lowest resolution), computer (mid-grade resolution), or graphics (with the highest resolution). Of course, these options come with corresponding price tags. The higher the resolution, the more it will cost.

Overall, home theaters are complex projects, but they are well worth the effort. Again, the key is planning.

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