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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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:
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 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.
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:
For the full home theater experience, you’ll want one or more subwoofers. Learn about your options in this article:
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.
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.
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.
Subwoofer Set Up Tips
Learn how to get better and more even bass response everywhere in your room.
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.
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.
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!
Today’s home theater receivers come with so many features, they can make your head spin. Just take a look at the specs on any brand’s website and you’ll probably see more than 50 features listed in the long list of advantages the brand is pitching you. Sure you want all of the latest and greatest, but in the end, room EQ optimization i...
Whether you’re researching for a future home theater installation or exploring ways to enhance your current home theater, we’ve created a series of videos to walk you through upgrades to make optimizing your setup easier — including everything you need to know, from tweaking your picture to improving the acoustics in your room. In this par...
If you are a home theater enthusiast, you are probably aware of how important a role the center channel speaker plays in a great home theater experience. Here, we will give some basic set up tips and hopefully even a couple of suggestions for experts that will help you get the most out of your center channel speaker....
Check out our free tips on how to improve the picture performance of your home theater’s TV or front projector. We go over some simple steps that will allow you to fine-tune your picture like a pro. Whether you have a new home theater or yours has some age on it, these tips are sure to make you smile when you see the improvements....
Imagine you are really getting into a great action movie, the spaceship lands, and all of a sudden, you hear this terrible buzzing or rattling sound coming from somewhere in your room. The effect of the movie has just been totally ruined. This tip breaks down how to find and eliminate noises your room might be making due to vents, furniture, li...
Follow along in our guide where we help explain how and give you the right tools to perfectly set lip sync in your home theater....
This tip is designed to help you nail down the right contrast and brightness settings on your television or projector. If you have not yet watched our Top 5 Tips for improving your Home Theater video, we would suggest you watch that first as it covers all of the major items you want to adjust in order, including brightness and contrast....
This tip is designed to help you perfectly focus your projector and is part of our Top 5 Tips For Improving Your Home Theater Video series. You can follow these steps using your projector’s pattern or we show you in this video. Make sure your projector has warmed up for at least 20 minutes before running this test....
If you follow these tips, you can substantially improve your home theater or media room. This tip breaks down how to get the perfect sharpness settings on your television or front projector....
As more original Dolby Atmos movies continue to come to streaming platforms, you will not want to choose upgrades for your home theater system until you watch our next video. Since you already own most of the key parts, you won’t even have to change that many components! We will cover essential tips & tricks to get great-sounding uncompre...
Have you ever wondered why you have black bars at the top and bottom of movies? In this video, we explain everything you need to know about widescreen. If you have a home theater or are thinking about building one, this video will demystify aspect ratios and explain how to design and set up your system to get the best experience possible for new...
One of the best ways to house your gear is in a commercial-like equipment rack. These types of racks have been used for decades in data centers, studios, concert halls, and high performance home theaters. We like them because they are very easy to service and make changing things out as you upgrade super simple....
We have some great tips for optimizing one or more subwoofers in a home theater or music system. You’ll learn how the room interacts with subwoofers, the best places to put a subwoofer in your room, and how to fine tune your subwoofer to deliver bass that has both great impact and fine detail....
Custom painting your speaker grilles allows you to virtually hide your speakers in plain sight – they’ll blend in with your walls, ceiling, or cabinet for a seamless visual appeal. If you’re reasonably handy, this do-it-yourself guide will walk you through how to custom paint your in-wall or in-ceiling speakers....
A Home Theater DIY guide on how to install in-wall and in-ceiling speakers for your home theater or media room. This video walks you through a live installation of Bowers & Wilkins in-wall & in-ceiling speakers for a home theater....
A guide on how to choose the ideal in-wall and in-ceiling speakers for your home theater or media room. This article will give you some insight into different types of built-in speakers and the best use case for each one. While some of these are great for music listening, we are going to focus on how to pick the best in-wall & in-ceiling sp...
A guide on the most common home theater mistakes people makes when building out their dream home theater. Learn about components people may not think of, that can have a tremendous impact on how immersive the home theater experience will be....
Today, choosing between a projector and a TV mostly comes down to the environment and how you plan to use the room. Let’s discuss two of the most common environments for TV and movie watching today, family rooms (or media rooms) and dedicated home theater rooms and which technology we recommend for different applications....
One of our top questions we get all the time is “how should I allocate my home theater budget to the many audio and video components that make up a great home theater system?”. There is nothing like achieving the movie theater experience in your own home. You, your friends, and your family will enjoy it for decades and our thousands of happy...
Learn all about the different possible speaker layouts for your home theater. We explain the best speaker configurations and how to integrate them into your room with options for almost any situation. We’ll help you understand the Dolby Labs speaker terminology and what is best for your home theater....
Learn how to choose the best size for your TV or front projection home theater system. We’ve culminated in the advice of the movie industry and our years of experience with real-world home theaters to take the guesswork out of helping you choose the perfect screen size. You’ll just need a tape measure and a calculator....