How To Plan a Home Theater System

Welcome to the Audio Advice Guide to a Home Theater System. This article is the cornerstone of our Home Theater Design Series that covers virtually everything about designing a home theater. If you are in the market for a new home theater system or improving part (or all) of the one you already own, you’ve probably figured out that the options can be more confusing than advanced algebra! The good news is that having a great home theater or media room is one of the best things you can do to enhance time spent at home with family and friends. We have brought together and organized all of our home theater articles to help you understand the available options and how they might work or not work in your particular situation.

We have grouped the articles (most of which have a video as well) into sections to help navigate through all of the information we have put together for you.  If you are just starting out, you may want to read through most of the articles or you can jump to the article most relevant to your current needs. In addition to our world-class home theater design tool, we've given you everything you need to begin your home theater journey in Home Theater Central.

We have designed these articles and videos to be a basic educational source for someone interested in a home theater system. Entire books have been published on some of the items we cover in a few paragraphs, so we hope you’ll consider this library as your go-to quick reference.

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Planning Your Home Theater System:
Table of Contents

Home Theater System Technology

Lots of changes have happened to the world of home theater in the last few years. We will go over all of the latest, and give you a bit of history on how we got to where we are now.

This is an interesting article to give you a perspective on how today’s systems have the capability of giving you a far more immersive experience than those of just a few years ago.

Discover The Evolution of Surround Sound Technology >

Planning Your Home Theater Space

The first question that comes to mind for most people is how much will a home theater cost?  Well, that is a pretty similar question to how much does a car cost, but we give you some general ideas in this article. 

Home Theater Cost >

As technology has progressed, we feel now is a great time to start planning your home theater.  We’ll help you understand the advantages of starting now.

It's a Great Time to Plan Your Home Theater >

Laying Out Your Home Theater Room

We love to work with our clients to help design the best space. Our home theater design tool is very helpful in planning most aspects of your room. We suggest you read over the following articles in advance to have a better understanding of the “why” behind our suggestions.

Explore the Best Home Theater Layouts >

Sight Lines In Your Home Theater

A super important aspect of a home theater is making sure all of your guests can see the screen and be comfortable when enjoying a movie. Our sightlines article here will help you think through some important options.

The Importance of Sight Lines >

Home Theater Riser Height

If you are planning on more than one row of seating, sightlines become really important. This article will help you design the perfect riser for your new home theater.

Pick the Best Home Theater Riser Height >

Important Pre-Construction Considerations

Many people have an “oops” moment at the end of their project and realize they forgot to think about some things that can make or break your home theater.

Home Theater Lighting

Getting the lighting right in your home theater is supercritical. You’ll find this article very helpful on all things lighting for your home theater room.

Home Theater Lighting Best Practices >

Home Theater Electrical Considerations

Nothing is worse than having to deal with audio or video hum or breakers flipping because you did not plan for the electrical needs properly in your home theater. Learn how to avoid any possible issues in this article. 

Home Theater Electrical Considerations >

Choosing Your Home Theater Components

How to Select the Best Screen Size

This is probably the most often asked question we get when it comes to home theaters.  The general answer we have is as big as you can make it!

If you are going with a front projector, you’ll need to decide if you want to go with a normal HDTV type screen or a full movie experience widescreen.  Learn about the differences in this article

Widescreen Explained: What’s with the Black Bars? >

After you have decided on the type of screen we’ve put together some tips on how to select the ideal size for your room here:

How to Choose the Best Home Theater Screen Size >

For those of you going the front projector route, we have a great article on picking the right kind of screen material for your space.

How to Choose the Best Front Projection Home Theater Screen >

How Many Speakers Do I Need and Where?

In today’s world of surround sound, there are many options for speaker layouts.  This article will give you the pros and cons of several possible configurations with ideas on the best places to put the speakers as well.

Home Theater Speaker Layout Options >

Once you have picked out your speaker configuration, you’ll have some choices on the types of speakers you might use for each channel.  We go over those options in this article:

Understanding the Different Types of Home Theater Speakers >

For the full home theater experience, you’ll want one or more subwoofers. Learn about your options in this article:

Home Theater Subwoofer Placement Options >

How to Pick the Best Home Theater Receiver

The heart of your system will be a home theater receiver or separate processor and amps.  This category has a lot of options.  Our guide will explain all the tech talk so you can figure out the type that fits best for your long term home theater goals.

Best Home Theater Receiver Options >

Home Theater Source Components

This is one part of home theater that has actually gotten simpler over time.  Most of us enjoy streaming services in our home theaters.  But, if you really want the very best picture and sound, you might want to read our take on the best.

Home Theater Source Component Options >

Important Finishing Touches


Make sure you get all the sound and picture you paid for by properly calibrating your home theater components.  You would  not believe the difference this will make, so we highly recommend you spend the time to calibrate your system.

Do I need to Calibrate my Home Theater Receiver? >

Subwoofer Set Up Tips

Learn how to get better and more even bass response everywhere in your room.

How to Set Up a Subwoofer >

How to Make Your Center Channel Sound Better

We feel the center channel is the most important speaker in a home theater. We have some simple and easy tips on how to make yours sound even better.

How to Optimize Your Center Channel Speaker in a Home Theater System >


Many people don’t think about the acoustic part of their home theater until they sit down the first time and realize there is a lot of echo in their room.  This basic guide will give you a good understanding of what is important for your home theater.

A Guide To Home Theater Acoustics >

Thank you!

We hope you have enjoyed our home theater system buyer’s guide. A great home theater is one of the most fun and used things in a modern home. Hopefully our guide has started you down the path to owning a home theater or media room that will make you smile every time you turn it on.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via email, phone, or chat from our website. We’ve been creating great home theater systems ever since home theater first came about and would love to help you turn a place in your home into one that will become your favorite room in your house!

FREE Interactive 3D Home Theater Design Tool

Enter your room dimensions, audio, and video preferences while it designs your theater in real-time. Receive optimal screen size, seating locations, speaker locations, and receive precise measurements for your room layout. Work with our system designers via chat, email, phone, or in-store for expert advice, product selections, and more.

Home Theater Buying Guide

If you are in the market for a new home theater system or improving part (or all) of the one you already own, you’ve probably figured out that the options can be more confusing than advanced algebra! Explore our guide to understand the available options and how they might work or not work in your particular situation. If you need help customizing a solution for your space, reach out - we're happy to help!

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