Home Theater Setup

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Home Theater Setup

If you decide to run the Auto Setup function, make sure you go into the bass management menus after the calibration is completed to check the crossover settings for your speakers and subwoofer. Most Setup systems either don’t set a crossover setting, or they do it non ideally for your speaker system. This is why we recommend manual setup of your bass management. Navigate to that option on your receiver. You will have a global crossover setting, or you will see a list of each speaker with a frequency next to it. You’ll also be able to set each speaker to “Large” (i.e. “don’t use the crossover”) or “Small” (i.e. “use the crossover”). A crossover frequency will set how low of frequency signals are sent to your speakers. Every speaker is different, so there is no absolute answer, but 80Hz is a good guess in most situations. You can also look up the speaker’s user manual and the manufacturer will typically (unless they are Bose) tell you how low the speaker will play. For example, a small satellite speaker with a 3-inch “full-range” driver might only play down to 120Hz. In general, and I am making a big generalization, set all of your speakers to “Small” unless they have a powered subwoofer in them. If you have floorstanding or bookshelf speakers, start by setting your crossover frequency to 80Hz. If you have smaller, satellite style speakers, set the crossover between 100Hz-120Hz. Many auto setup systems will incorrectly identify a surround speaker as large simply because its placed close to a wall where it gets a little bass boost. It is a better option to set the speaker to “small” because it will take the strain off the smaller speaker by not allowing it to produce the deep bass frequencies while redirecting the bass to the speaker that is designed to do this – the subwoofer. Most of the time having multiple crossover settings per channel group simply isn’t needed so if your receiver offers this option, just set all your speakers to “small’ and their corresponding crossover settings to 80Hz. If you do set the subwoofers crossover frequency higher than 80Hz, we again recommend placing the subwoofer towards the front of the room to make it less localizable. In order to keep this article from being too terribly long, I will stop there. Below is a link to a more thorough article about crossover frequencies. If you really want to get into home theater, I crossover frequencies is something you will want to learn more about.

Home Theater Setup

For your living room system, unlike in a dedicated theater room, you have to deal with more than just theater performance and theater aesthetics when selecting your speakers. It’s your living room, after all, and there’s a good chance that you or other people in the house have a say in how it looks. If you want your living room to still look like a living room but sound like a home theater when you press play, the Paradigm Cinema 100 CT 5.1 system is the speaker package to buy. Pair it with one of our receiver picks (depending on your budget) and you’re set with a true-surround-sound setup that sounds great and isn’t too intrusive.

Home Theater Setup

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A good home theater screen should reflect the right amount of the projector’s light back at you, but not create hot spots, shimmer, or blind you. It should also accurately reproduce the colors coming out of the projector, and can act as an enhancing element for the movie’s black levels and contrast. That’s not always an easy task, as our home theater screen tester Chris Heinonen discovered when he tested 10 screens and screen paint systems in his home theater. He also found that price isn’t necessarily a predictor of performance and concluded that the bargain-priced 100-inch Silver Ticket screen (in a 16:9 aspect ratio—the shape of an HDTV) was nearly as good as the very expensive Stewart Filmscreen StudioTek 130—a go-to screen for a lot of professional home theater designers.

Home Theater Setup

Sometimes you want to enjoy your home theater while other people are asleep (or maybe even just doing something that requires quiet). Unless your theater room is soundproofed (which is really difficult and expensive), wireless headphones are the way to go. If home theater after bedtime is part of your habit, get the Power Acoustik Fahrenheit HP-902 RFT wireless headphones. After researching 32 models and putting 14 through extensive testing, we concluded that the HP-902 RFT were the best home theater headphones for most people because of their combination of sound quality, value, and user-friendly features.

Home Theater Setup

To aid in your speaker setup, take advantage of either the built-in Test Tone Generator and/or automatic speaker setup, or room correction system, that is provided in many Home Theater Receivers to set your sound levels – all Speakers should be able to output at the same volume level. An inexpensive sound meter can also help with this task. Even if your receiver has an automatic speaker setup or room correction system, having a sound meter on hand to allow further manual tweaking of your speaker levels is a good idea.

Home Theater Setup

The AV receiver is the hardest-working component in a home theater. A receiver is both the amplifier and processor for your theater. All the audio and video inputs (and even networking connections) are routed through the receiver and then processed and either passed up to the projector or down to the speakers. You’ll want enough inputs for all your sources (which could include a Blu-ray player, game console, media streamer and a host of other audio or video components), power to drive all your speakers, a setup system that tests the output of your speakers for room calibration, and the most up-to-date processing for your audio and video signals.

Home Theater Setup

If you don’t have a basement or spare room to dedicate to your personal cinema, a home theater system and your family can comfortably coexist in your living room. Among the big challenges in a living room is space, shape, and light. Living rooms aren’t always nice rectangles suitable for theater orientation. Often they open up to dining rooms, foyers and kitchens. They may be L-shaped or have stairs, doors, and windows in all the wrong places. Seating may include a sofa and a variety of mismatched chairs scattered all around the room. They’re also not caves, which means that light from windows, lamps or the next room is likely to be leaking or pouring in. All of the above doesn’t mean your family and friends can’t enjoy a good movie; you just need to have different expectations than you would in a room purpose-built for a theater.

Home Theater Setup

Step 3: Follow the onscreen guide Most receivers don’t include printed manuals in the box anymore. Instead, most of them offer a helpful onscreen setup guide. For example, Denon and Marantz receivers have an On-Screen Setup Assistant built right in. You just connect the receiver to your TV and follow the instructions that appear on the screen. Yamaha offers a convenient AV Setup Guide app for tablets on the same Wi-Fi network as your receiver. These kinds of guides walk you through the entire process from start to finish.

In a basic setup that includes a television, AV receiver, a Blu-ray Disc or DVD player and a VCR (or DVD recorder), below is an example of one approach. However, keep in mind the example below is only one of several possibilities. Specific setup variations are dictated by the capabilities and connections available on the specific components being used. The setup should take approximately 1.5 hours. Here's how:

Most of the time the automatic setup systems get speaker identification and channel level spot on. If you ran auto setup in the last step, the setup mic should have already figured out if you have a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system and set the speaker type and levels as well as crossover if that is part of the included configuration process. If you want to manually double check everything, however, you can do so with an SPL meter. An SPL meter is used to measure how loud a sound is and can be purchased from radio shack for about $50. You simply point the SPL meter up at the ceiling, ear height, at the primary listening position and set it to “C-weighted” and “slow response”.

Most receivers don’t include printed manuals in the box anymore. Instead, most of them offer a helpful onscreen setup guide. For example, Denon and Marantz receivers have an On-Screen Setup Assistant built right in. You just connect the receiver to your TV and follow the instructions that appear on the screen. Yamaha offers a convenient AV Setup Guide app for tablets on the same Wi-Fi network as your receiver. These kinds of guides walk you through the entire process from start to finish.

The remotes that come with your devices do a good to fair job of operating the device it was designed to operate, but if you’ve ever done the remote shuffle just to watch a movie, you can understand the appeal of having one remote to control everything in your home theater. There’s really very little competition in the do-it-yourself universal remote market anymore. When we set out to test the best DIY universal remotes, we were mostly testing different Logitech Harmony products against each other, ranging from the basic Harmony 350 to the full-fledged smart home platform of the Harmony Elite. Our reviewers settled on the midrange Logitech Harmony 650 as the best universal remote for most people. The 650 can control up to eight components in a home theater (which is probably more than you have anyway). It supports more than 6,000 models from a multitude of manufacturers, which means it’s very unlikely that you’ll have something it can’t control. A small LCD screen helps you navigate the remote, making operation easy.

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