10 Mistakes Hooking Up Home Theater

When you had finished installing your new home cinema system, you noticed that something didn’t sound quite right. Is there anything you could have done better? There are a wide variety of faults that might occur, from minor problems to ones that could lead to the early failure of a device.

When putting up an audio or audio/video system, it’s critical that all of the components, including the space itself, function in harmony with one another in order to maximize efficiency. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and just purchasing high-quality equipment isn’t enough. In spite of the fact that certain audio/TV rooms have inherent compromises, some faults are terrible.

As a result of this, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 Mistakes Hooking Up Home Theater scenario.

Buying the wrong speaker cables

That 50-foot run from your surround sound speakers’ AV receivers isn’t going to be possible with just some leftover 24-gauge cable, so you’ll need a more costly cable for that purpose.

This is why, in a nutshell: There is resistance in every cable. Because we’re discussing electrical resistance, it seems a bit backwards. The more resistance a cable has, the thinner it is. This is by far the most important, however there are others. The frequency response that may be achieved at the end of a cable run decreases as the resistance of the cable increases. When driving two speakers, the amount of load the amplifier needs to handle varies with frequency. You may affect the sound, especially at higher frequencies, if you use too-thin wires to provide resistance.

Connecting a home theater system is easy with 16 gauge wire, but if your runs are going to be longer than 40-50 feet, you’ll get better sound quality with 12 gauge cable since it has less resistance and won’t act as a sound equalizer. A multi-zone audio system should be rethought if the wires need to be run further than 50-60 feet.

As they didn’t include them when they purchased their speakers, many end up buying the most costly cables at the last minute. In the sense that your system would not function without them, interconnect cables are critical components. Battery-powered HDMI cables or gold-plated RCA cords won’t improve the sound quality of your system.

For a three-foot cable run between a DISH satellite receiver and an AV player, you’re unlikely to have any problems if the cable is adequately manufactured. No issues or loss of frequency response will occur because of the little distance. Digital HDMI wires are the same. Over ten feet is where the difficulty lies. Avoid overpaying by planning ahead and keeping things simple.

Buying the Wrong Size Television

The average screen size bought by customers is currently 55-inches, which means that a lot of bigger screen sets are making their way into many homes. It is not always preferable to have a huge television in a room with a limited amount of space to see it from.

A viewing distance of 1-1/2 to 2 times the width of the screen is ideal for HDTVs with 720p and 1080p resolution.

For a 55-inch television, this implies you should be 6 to 8 feet away from the screen. There is a larger probability that you will see the line or pixel structure of the picture, as well as any processing abnormalities, if you sit too near to a TV screen (but you won’t hurt your eyes).

With today’s 4K Ultra HD TV trend, you can now have a better viewing experience at tighter sitting distances than previously advised. A 55-inch 4K Ultra HD TV, for example, allows you to sit as close as 5 feet from it.

4K Ultra HD TVs may have a closer viewing distance since the screen’s pixels are smaller in comparison to the screen’s size, making the structure of the screen less obvious (perhaps as close as just a little over one times the screen width).

Buying a TV that’s too tiny is another common blunder. If the TV is too tiny or you sit too far away, the experience of watching TV becomes more like seeing through a little window. For a satisfying 3D viewing experience, a screen has to encompass as much of your front field of vision as possible, without being so huge that you notice the screen’s pixel structure or unattractive artifacts. This is particularly true if you are contemplating a 3D TV.

Take a look in the room where the TV will be put before deciding on a screen size. Take note of the available space in terms of width and height, as well as the sitting distances from the TV screen.

Once you’ve recorded your dimensions, you’ll need to bring your tape measure to the shop as well. When shopping for a new television, make careful to see it from a variety of angles and distances (based on your own dimensions) to decide the best and worst places to place it in your home.

Your TV size selection should be based on the mix of your personal preferences and the amount of space that you have available.

It is one of the most common reasons for returning a television because it is either too large or too tiny for the room it is intended for.

To get the greatest TV for your needs, you must first decide on the size of the screen you want to use.

Buying Wrong HDMI Cables

The “any old HDMI cable will do” mindset has been banished courtesy to the geniuses at HDMI Licensing. It was possible to use any HDMI cable up to 20 feet in length when it only supported 1080p video and audio.

Integrated Ethernet and 4K capability are now available. The HDMI cables you purchase today should be able to withstand the “next big thing” in the future, if you’re planning ahead. Cables installed in the wall or crawl space, where they can’t be improved or removed, are a particular problem. In the long run, you’ll thank yourself for paying attention to HDMI cable labeling. Always purchase “High Speed” HDMI cables as a starting point, as they are more likely to have the most up-to-date design and so support the majority of the most recent features.

If you don’t know what’s available in HDMI, here are the basic features:

HDMI Ethernet Channel

High-speed bidirectional communication is made possible by the addition of a data channel to the original HDMI connection. Internet-enabled HDMI devices may share an Internet connection over the HDMI link, without the need for a separate Ethernet cable, as long as the connected devices have this functionality. It also serves as a connecting platform for HDMI-enabled components, allowing them to transfer data back and forth between them.

Audio Return Channel

This is a genuine audio channel that allows a TV to transmit audio upstream to the A/V receiver through the HDMI connection from either a built-in tuner or DVD player A second cable is no longer required (or AV receiver input connection).

3D

Cabling must be capable of handling 3D formats and resolutions up to dual 1080p for HDMI-enabled devices.

4K Resolution Support

Compared to a conventional 1080p transmission, these new ultra-high HD resolutions provide a fourfold increase in detail. HDMI resolutions up to and including 4K are supported by these cables.

There is a catch with HDMI cables: certification does not indicate that all possible cable lengths have been examined. However, we’ve seen too many cases when longer cables exist on the market, and they simply don’t do the job.

It’s Best to Use Active HDMI Cables for Longevity and Future-Proofing

Modern active HDMI cables include a chip that is powered by the HDMI connector’s 5V power supply. Long-distance degradation of digital signals may be compensated for using these “smart” connections. Remember that HDMI can deliver billions of bits of data each second. That’s a LOT of information that may easily be messed up. When it gets out of whack, you don’t receive a picture anymore.

In most cases, active HDMI cables eliminate this issue and allow you to use the format at previously unimaginable distances. Active cables’ costs are also falling as the chipsets within them become more affordable to produce. In order to get 1080p video over a regular high-speed connection, you’ll need to run the line no longer than 25 feet. To extend a line longer than 15 feet and with 4K in mind, an active HDMI cable should be considered.

Ignoring room acoustics

It’s hard to believe that you can hear a $2,000 difference in speaker wire and interconnects when half of what hits your ears is reflected due of your room acoustics. Hard surfaces such as hardwood floors should be avoided. If you’re utilizing hardwood floors, you’ll want to use absorption to reduce reflections.

First-reflection-killing acoustic panels are optional, and their placement is dependent on the room’s liveliness and the off-axis qualities of the speakers themselves. Direct sound is preferable than reflected, muddled, and incoherent sound because it is easier on the hearing. After clapping my hands hard once in the sound room, I’ll be ready to go.

This will help me get a sense of how loud the room is.  Clap your hands and listen for lengthy decay, slap echo, or flutter echo. Fast, repeating flutter echo is created by hard opposing parallel surfaces, while the sound of slap echo occurs when a hard object is struck by another object. It’s important to get rid of flutter and slap, but at least get rid of the decay.

First Reflections

If your loudspeakers perform properly off-axis, absorption of the initial lateral reflection is not necessary. Most individuals, according to Dr. Floyd Toole’s studies, like the extra openness that comes with not receiving the early reflections. It is possible to get a better center phantom picture for two-channel listening by using early reflections to fill in the large frequency response hole. Mixers recognized that a powerful straight sound field made their work simpler, hence the notion for eliminating early lateral reflections was born. Mastering engineers like to listen in more reflecting locations, according to a new JAES article, which backs up the previous statement about their listening preferences. That’s great, since that’s where customers are most likely to pay attention.

A minimum of three inches of fiberglass or solid (not sculpted) foam is required to “eliminate initial reflections,” as the term suggests. The lower the treble, the worse the quality of the sound.

The “THX Clap” Test

It’s better to have one person stand next to the speaker and clap their hands while you sit in front of the speaker and listen for fluttering or slap echo. People sitting in the crowd are the only ones who can hear the flutter echoes from the loudspeakers. It doesn’t matter whether you can hear yourself talking in other parts of the room.

How reverberant is the room? The litmus test is the ability to understand what is being said. Move about the room and have a chat with the person speaking from the dialog’s center channel position. You’re done if it works. In the event that this is not the case, consider adding some absorption or scattering.

The Room Has Windows and/Or Other Light Issues

A dimly lit room is adequate for most TVs, but video projectors in particular benefit from a darker setting. In no way, shape, or form should you mount your television on a wall directly across from a window. To prevent light from leaking into the room while the curtains are closed, make sure they are completely opaque.

Also keep in mind the TV’s screen surface. TVs with matte or anti-reflective surfaces reduce glare from windows, lights, and other light sources, while those with a glass-like covering on the screen panel shield the LCD, Plasma, or OLED display from accidental damage. Glass with an additional layer or coating may reflect light, which can be distracting in a setting with other light sources.

Curved-screen TVs, when placed in a room with windows or other uncontrolled sources of light, may cause unwanted light reflections as well as alter the form of those reflections, both of which are aggravating.

In a highly lit retail area, stand in front of and off to the side of the screen to notice how the TV responds to the light.

It’s also a good idea to check out the TVs in the store’s darkened display room to see how they seem. It’s important to remember that merchants often use “Vivid” or “Torch Mode” on their TVs, which enhances the color and contrast of the image, but this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of light reflection issues.

Objects in front of speakers or poorly placed speakers

Moving that ficus tree will allow the speaker to be heard. In any case, it doesn’t care about your Night Ranger and Whitesnake songs. Another typical blunder is to place a low table immediately in front of the chairs, blocking the view of the speakers from the listening position. However, it’s a terrible location for music or conversation. It’s difficult to concentrate and hear clearly because of the combination of direct sound from your speakers and reflected (delayed somewhat) sound off of the table.

There’s nothing worse than having a center speaker beneath a screen with the second row of seats elevated, as discussed in a recent post regarding optimum front LCR speaker placement. The speaker’s height should be adjusted to the audience’s position. The tweeters in your front channel should be placed at or near sitting ear level.

To eliminate diffraction, speakers on shelves must be moved out to the front edge of the shelf. Foam or other acoustical dampening material must be used around speakers in shelving units to prevent a hollow, resonant sound.

You’re going to get the bug for surround sound as soon as you start using it. You also want to be able to easily update your system when the time comes. This requires some forethought on your part. Often, this is only a matter of purchasing equipment that can be upgraded. If you don’t use a Bose system or anything else with proprietary connections via the subwoofer, you should be able to upgrade most AV receivers and speakers with a regular AV receiver with speaker level outputs and connectors.

In many cases, ensuring that your surround sound speakers are correctly installed is another important step in upgrading your system. Regardless of whether you’re using in-ceiling or on-wall or stand-mounted surround speakers, I don’t care what you do. You can ultimately update them with just a small amount of work if you connect them correctly and carefully. Instead of putting the wire through an opening in the wall and attaching it to a speaker, it could be better to use normal speaker binding posts instead. If you’re building a house, you may want to install Surround Back speakers even if you don’t intend to utilize them right immediately. Making preparations in advance may save you a great lot of time and effort in the days and weeks to come.

Buying The Wrong Speakers

A substantial sum is spent on audio/video components, but not enough consideration is given to the quality of the loudspeakers and subwoofer. This does not imply that you must spend hundreds of dollars on a small system, but it does suggest that you consider speakers that are capable of doing the job.

Speakers are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, ranging from large floor-standing models to small bookshelf models, as well as both box and spherical designs — and, of course, a subwoofer is required for home cinema use.

Tiny cube speakers may be fashionable, but they will not be able to fill a big room with high-quality music because they simply cannot move enough air. Large floor-standing speakers, on the other hand, may not be the greatest choice for a small area since they just take up too much space for your personal preference or physical comfort.

In the case of a medium- or large-sized room, a set of floor-standing speakers may be the ideal choice since they often provide a complete spectrum of sound and have huge drivers that can move enough air to fill the space. As an alternative, if you have a limited amount of available space, a pair of bookshelf speakers in conjunction with a subwoofer may be the ideal solution to your needs.

If you are using floor-standing speakers or bookshelf speakers for your home theater, or if you are using a combination of both, you will also need a center channel speaker that can be placed above or below a television or video projection screen, and you will also need a subwoofer for those low-frequency effects.

While making any speaker purchasing selections, you should sample to a few at a dealer (or take advantage of a longer test time from online-only vendors) before making your final pick. Make your own comparisons, and bring your own CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray Discs so that you can hear how they sound when played via different speakers.

Although sound quality should be your first consideration, you should also consider the size of the speakers, how they will seem in your home, and how much money you have to spend.

Unbalanced Speaker Levels

You’ve set up the speakers, connected them, and turned them on, but nothing sounds right; the subwoofer fills the room, and the dialogue is drowned out by the music. The sound in the surrounds isn’t loud enough.

Get rid of any obstructions between your speakers and your listening location. Also, avoid placing your speakers behind an entertainment center’s door.

With a soundmeter and CD, DVD, or Blu-ray discs that have test tones available, or a test tone generator built-in to most home theater receivers, you can balance them.

Setup programs on most home theater receivers make it easy to match your speakers’ capabilities to the features of your environment. Anthem Room Correction, Audyssey, Onkyo/Integra AccuEQ, Sony Digital Cinema Auto Calibration, Pioneer MCACC, and Yamaha Digital Cinema Auto Calibration are just a few of the many names for these tools (YPAO).

These systems employ a built-in test tone generator in the receiver and a given microphone to identify the size and distance of the speakers from the primary listening location, and then use that information to help modify the sound output level of each speaker, including the subwoofer.

Despite the fact that none of these solutions are perfect, they assist to reduce the guesswork of balancing the sound that comes out of your speakers with the surrounding setting. The majority of the time, you have the option to further customize your listening experience by making manual adjustments.

Not reading the user manuals and buying things based on brand or price instead of what you really want

No, I don’t believe you can figure it out. Always read the owner’s instructions for your components, no matter how simple they seem, even before you take them out of their packaging. Before you begin connecting and configuring anything, be sure you understand how everything works.

The on-screen menu system of many TVs now includes a user handbook (sometimes referred to as an E-manual) that can be accessed through the TV’s on-screen menu. It’s also common for manufacturers to give access to their official product or support website to browse or download a complete printed or on-screen user manual.

In spite of the fact that it’s helpful to start with a well-known brand, it doesn’t mean the “best” brand for a certain item is perfect for you. Consider a wide range of brands, models, and prices while you’re purchasing.

In addition, be clear of deals that seem too good to be true. For the most part, high-priced items aren’t going to live up to expectations in terms of performance or flexibility, regardless of whether or not they’re advertised as “doorbusters.” Ads should be carefully read.

Not Getting Professional Help When You Need It

There is still a problem even after you have connected everything, adjusted the sound settings, and utilized high-quality connections. In addition to the poor sound, the television also seems to be in poor condition.

Before you get into a panic, check to see whether you’ve forgotten anything or if there’s anything you can fix by yourself.

If you can’t figure out what’s wrong, you may want to consider hiring a professional installation. Investing in a house call, even if it costs $100 or more, may save a home theater catastrophe and convert it into home theatre gold.

A home theater installer should always be consulted if you are contemplating a bespoke installation. Depending on your needs and budget, a home theater installation may give a comprehensive component package that includes everything you need to enjoy your favorite movies and music.

Final Thoughts

If you follow these tips, you should be able to start making your own home theater. You’re already on the right track if you don’t make any of these 10 mistakes. These tips are for people who want to build their own home theaters, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you assume you need it. The extra money you spend on good advice is worth it for a fully functional home theater and peace of mind.

With these suggestions, you can design a home theater you’ll love for years to come, even if you live in an apartment.

FAQs

What is the best way to hook up surround sound?

In order to get the best sound, you should put the front left and right speakers at a 22-30-degree angle. The subwoofer should be on the floor on either side of your screen. There are two front stereo channels, and you want them to be about two to three feet from the wall.

What is needed for surround sound?

It’s important to have two to three speakers in front of you and two to three speakers on your sides or behind you if you want to have a good surround-sound system. The audio signal is broken up into many different channels so that different sound information comes out of each speaker. The most important sounds come from the speakers in the front of the room.

Do you need a receiver and amplifier?

A lot of the time, no. When you buy an A/V receiver, it comes with a built-in speaker. If you have an A/V receiver, you can get an audio signal, process it, send it to the speakers, and let the video go through to a TV or projector.