How to install and position the speakers of a home theater system
Home Cinema systems bring the cinema to your living room and are a great way for the whole family to have a good time. Many are now opting to have one at home and they have become an increasingly popular piece of audio equipment among movie buffs and Sunday movie and blanket lovers.
However, installing a home theater system can be extremely frustrating to some people, especially if they are not handymen and are not used to dealing with cables and sound equipment. For this reason, we have prepared this small manual. The most important thing about setting up a home theater? Knowing where to connect the equipment and how to place the speakers.
How to install a 5.1 home theater to the TV?
There are a variety of home theater systems, some more complex than others. The most popular is the Home Cinema 5.1. The basic equipment you need to work with a Home Cinema 5.1 is :
- A TV (high definition if possible).
- A Blu-ray or DVD player (better if Blu-ray)
- Five loudspeakers and a subwoofer.
- An AV receiver.
If you already have an HDTV and Blu-ray player, purchasing the other equipment can be affordable. Today we can find high quality 5.1 loudspeakers and AV receivers at very affordable prices. A good home theater system is an investment you can enjoy for many years to come.
How to install a home theater? Steps to install a home theater system
- Correctly position the AV receiver.
- Correctly position the loudspeakers.
- Connect devices to the AV receiver (TV, Blu-ray player, consoles, etc).
- Turn on the AV receiver.
- Calibrate the loudspeakers.
- And enjoy!
Home theater system How to place the AV receiver?
The first thing you need to do is decide where you are going to place the AV receiver.
But what is an AV receiver? It's the heart and soul of a home theater system. It's like a switchboard that is responsible for receiving, processing and amplifying audio and video signals. It also decodes digital audio signals (in formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, etc.) and splits the audio between the different channels so that each speaker can reproduce the surround sound of movies correctly.
Please note that AV receivers generate a lot of heat and can affect the performance of your home theater system. We recommend that find a space where air can circulate a minimum around the AV receiver to keep it at a suitable temperature. Ideally, it should be placed on a spacious, open shelf or ledge. If you do not have the necessary furniture, you can place it on the floor, in a place where it's out of the way and a couple of centimeters away from the walls.
How to place the speakers of a Home Cinema system?
One of the most important aspects when installing a home theater system is to place the speakers properly. You can have the best equipment, but if you don't position the speakers properly, it will be difficult to get a good surround sound experience. Sometimes it can be difficult to place them in the perfect position, especially if we do not have a room designed for movie playback, or because of the layout of the room. However, if you follow the following guidelines, you should have no trouble getting proper surround sound.
5.1 speaker layout for home theater How to place 5.1 speakers?
A 5.1 home theater has three front speakers (one center and two side speakers), two surround back speakers and a subwoofer. The front speakers and the subwoofer are the most commonly used. These are the ones that sound when we listen to stereo music, for example. In contrast, the surround speakers are only used when playing a 5.1 surround sound mix or multi-channel recordings.
The center speaker is responsible for reproducing the main vocals and, together with the side speakers, reproduces most of the sound space of a movie, such as the soundtrack and ambient sound. When positioning the system, the main thing to try to do is to place the center speaker as close as possible to the TV, facing the listener.
Some people place it on the floor, but this negatively affects the sound quality of the system. The center speaker handles the main vocals, so when placed directly in front of the listener, the vocals seem to emerge from the TV.
As for the side speakers, they are usually located on the sides of the TV, at angles of 22° to 45° with respect to the TV. Ideally the three front speakers should be at the same height. Although this may be difficult in some homes, it's something one should try.
Surround speakers are very important to achieve the surround sound effect that a 5.1 sound mix can provide. They are in charge of reproducing some sound effects, as well as secondary voices.
Surround speakers should ideally be located between 90° and 110° with respect to an imaginary sphere in which the viewer is at the center. This means above and behind our heads. It may be difficult to place them at the ideal angles if it's a small room, but we should try to place them about 50 to 70 cm above our heads and pointing directly at our ears.
The subwoofer is a very important element in a home theater system. It's responsible for delivering the low frequency effects as well as the bass that the rest of the speakers cannot reproduce.
A subwoofer works with frequencies below 120 Hz. These can generate standing waves that often cause annoying sound effects. To avoid any such problems, the best thing to do is to avoid placing it in any corner. We can place it near the TV, separated from the walls. It can also be placed on one of the side walls, behind the viewer and pointing to the opposite wall.
7.1 Home Cinema Systems
There are more extensive home theater systems than 5.1, such as 7.1, 9.1, or 11.1. Basically what they do is add additional speakers that provide greater realism to the surround sound experience. Among these, the 7.1 are the most commonly used.
How to install 7.1 home theater? A 7.1 home theater system uses two more surround speakers than 5.1, which should be placed behind and above the listener at angles between 135° to 150°.
Connections to the AV receiver
Once we have placed the AV receiver and speakers in their respective locations, we must prepare for the connection process. Installing home theater cables? It doesn't really matter in which order you connect the different devices, but you can follow our guide with confidence.
Antennas and Ethernet
The first thing we can connect are the antennas that come with the AV receiver. They are required to play AM or FM radio, as well as to use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies. If your receiver doesn't have built-in Wi-Fi, you can connect an Ethernet cable to it. Internet connectivity is very useful, as it allows you to play favorite series and movies from services such as Netflix.
Connecting the speakers is very simple. The AV receivers are marked with the inputs where each speaker should go: center, left side, right surround, etc. Remember also that the polarities of the wires must be connected correctly. These are marked on any AV receiver: red (positive) and black (negative).
The number of speakers you can connect depends on the capacity of the AV receiver. For example, if you want to connect a 7.1 or 9.1 home theater system, you need an AV receiver with at least this number of channels.
The subwoofer is connected to a different section of the receiver than the speakers, called Pre Out. This is because the subwoofer has its own amplifier. In this section you will find some denomination (subwoofer, LFE or Pre Amp subwoofer) that will allow you to connect it easily by means of an RCA cable.
Once the speakers and subwoofer are connected, you can proceed to connect the TV to the AV receiver. If you have an HD or 4K Ultra HD TV, you need to connect it to an HDMI Out output. If your TV doesn't have HDMI ports, you can connect it to the Video Out or Component Video Out sections.
Blu-ray player, DVD or game consoles
The next step is to connect your Blu-ray players, DVD players, game consoles, or whatever playback equipment you have. Equipment with HDMI ports must be connected to the HDMI In inputs of the receiver. The best AV receivers come with multiple HDMI In inputs so you won't have any problems installing all your equipment.
Other inputs are also provided in the Video In and Component Video In sections. These are necessary for connecting older equipment. For example, if you have a DVD player without HDMI output, you can connect it to the Component Video In section of the receiver via a component cable (the ones that come with three colors). Audio, on the other hand, can be connected to an optical or coaxial digital input.
Turning on the AV receiver
Once you have connected all your equipment, you can connect the AV receiver to a power source. After doing so, you can turn on the equipment. If the receiver comes with a remote control, insert the necessary batteries and test it: turn the receiver off and on.
Most AV receivers have software that facilitates installation from a TV. Turn on the TV, select the input to which the receiver is connected and navigate through the installation process shown on the screen. This process is simple and short, you only have to select the language, Ethernet or Wi-Fi network, etc…
For home cinema installation, the speakers need to be adjusted for optimal sound. This is known as calibration.
We have two options to connect the speakers and install home cinema. The best option is to use the automatic calibration programs that come with the best AV receivers. These may have different names according to the company: Audyssey (Denon, Marantz), AccuEQ (Onkyo), DCAC (Sony), among others.
These programs use a microphone that is connected in front of the AV receiver. When the microphone is activated, the receiver automatically sends tones from each channel. These are picked up by the microphone and then sent to the receiver.
At the end of this process, the AV receiver can determine how many speakers there are, how powerful they are, and the distance of each speaker from the listening position. Using this information, the receiver can calculate the optimum levels for each loudspeaker and the subwoofer, taking into account the relationship between them.
If the receiver doesn't have a microphone for calibration, you can use the built-in tone generator and a sound meter (Sound Meter). The sound level meter provides decibel measurements that you can record as a reference for optimal balance. If you are unable to get a physical one, you can download the free Android app Sound Meter on Google Play Store.
The process is simple: you turn on the receiver's tone generator and set the volume of the central system to 80 dB. You then try to match the rest of the speakers to this volume, starting with the front speakers and moving to the surround speakers.
Enjoy your home theater system
Once you have connected all the equipment and finished the calibration process, you just need to turn on your equipment to start enjoying the surround sound provided by your home theater system.
If you want more information about the best Home Cinema, sound bars or AV receivers, we recommend you visit our culturasonora page. There you will find in-depth comparisons and reviews of the best home theaters on the market, as well as guides on how to protect your hearing health, how to connect Bluetooth headphones to a TV, program a universal remote control, and more.