How to Install a Home Theater: Surround Sound Setup Guide


Willing to enhance the overall movie experience at your home? Home theaters are ideal for you. Read this article to learn more.

Imagine watching a movie at your home while experiencing the same vibe of a cinema theater. Sounds exciting? It is and is very much possible in almost any home. Installing a surround sound system can give you a largely similar experience, regardless of what the output appliance is in your room.

You might own a full-fledged home theater or simply a television, but you can always elevate the experience significantly if you have an elaborate sound system that emanates surround sound.

Most televisions can not properly emit the blunt bass of an explosion or the faint footsteps of a person walking in a movie scene. Having an external surround sound system can be a massive boost to the overall experience, something that might and should entice you to get one for yourself.

However, this is where the confusion arises. Most people have a limited idea of how to properly set up a surround sound system in the first place. Hence, the purpose of this article is to explain what such systems are and how to set them up for use.

What Is Surround Sound?

As the name suggests, surround sound gives the audience the sensation that the sound is coming from all angles of the room—much like feeling the effects of headphones or earphones but without actually using them. The phenomenon behind this is quite simple.

Multiple audio channels are used along with an assortment of speakers to produce high-quality audio. This ensures that the sound feels significantly more realistic than regular 2.1 setups that we tend to see in most places.

The science behind this is quite straightforward: the more speakers you install, the more realistic the sound feels. The most common surround sound setups include 5.1, 7.1, and 9.1, but what do these numbers mean? Well, the first digit represents the number of speakers integrated within the system while the second one tells the number of channels that operate at a low frequency.

At times, even three-digits can be seen on certain setups, like the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar which comes in as a 5.1.4 variant. The third digit denotes the number of aerial speakers within the system. It all depends on the users and their preferences.

How to Install and Set Up a Surround Sound System

The most important component of a surround sound system is the AV or audio/video receiver. This gadget lets you connect and control several speakers simultaneously. The audio is then processed, separated, and amplified for the speakers to emanate and cause resonation all around the room.

The AV receiver also allows you to shift between video and audio sources, making it effortless to transition between an Xbox, television, or even a CD player. HiFi speakers are also exceptional in a surround sound system as they are ideally built to perform in such setups. HiFi speakers are the most recommended whenever you are in the market for home theaters.

The installation process can be daunting if you do not know the right methods. The best way to approach this is to stay on top of all the wirings coming out of the speakers and the AV receiver. All you need to do is connect these wires following the guidelines included in the package.

Most AV receivers—if not all—have all their rear sockets labeled according to the connections that would go in them. You would simply need to match the labels and connect accordingly. Make sure you execute this step carefully. Mismatching these connections can be detrimental to the entire setup; especially the AV receiver.

As for the placement of the speakers, you can either keep them in open spaces within the room or hide them behind walls (if possible). Many people who find visible setups unsightly often prefer the latter option, despite the obvious extra cost.

Example Interior Surround Sound Setups

Now that you are aware of how the connections are made, it is time to understand how to maximize the efficiency of the speakers’ outputs by carefully placing them in ideal locations within the room. Let us take a look at how the most popular 5.1 and 7.1 channel setups are laid out.

5.1 Channel Speaker Layout

Most home theaters that you see implement 5.1 channels. This means there are five speakers involved in the setup. These are the center, right, left, right surround, and left surround speakers. A subwoofer is also generally included.

Place the center channel directly in front of you. It can either be installed above or below the television. The subwoofer must be close by, preferably to the left or right of the television. The main complexity arises when placing the left, right, and surround speakers.

The best way to approach this is to place the left and right main speakers equidistant from the one in the center. Do not place them too far away as that would introduce a hollow point in the overall groove once the music begins.

The surround speakers need to be placed a little behind or adjacent to the point from which you will be listening. Keep them on each side and try maintaining a perpendicular angle with the speaker at the very front. This will ensure that sound is being emanated literally from all sides.

7.1 Channel Speaker Layout

As for the 7.1 channel setup, the idea is similar to the one mentioned in the previous section. The center, right, left, right surround, and left surround speakers are all placed like they are done in a 5.1 channel setup. The only additional appliances in a 7.1 variant are the rear surround speakers.

To explain their positioning in simple terms, mimic the placement of the right and left surround speakers and simply place the rear speakers at a similar angle but behind you. The height at which these are placed does not matter much as the sounds will fill the entire room regardless.

Final Thoughts

Yes, you might love attending Broadway shows live because of the theatrical essence that you get whenever you enter those grand halls. Home theaters with proper surround sound systems can mimic the same effect.

Imagine watching a Broadway show in your bedroom while still feeling every bit of what you would have felt if you had attended the show live. Get a home theater, set it up by following our guidelines, and enjoy the feeling!


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