Designing a Home Theatre

A home theatre brings everyone together for movies, games and music, but designing one goes beyond setting up a TV and speakers. This article will help you create a multimedia experience the whole family will love.

Prioritizing your needs

Think of the kinds of entertainment you and your family enjoy together. If it’s watching movies and sports you’ll want a great HDTV and lots of high-definition content sources. If you’ve got a house full of gamers then you’ll need to buy a console (or two). If music and dancing top the list, then a home theatre receiver and speakers are top priorities. Many families’ tastes include a little bit of everything, but starting with a favourite family activity is also a good way to start building your home theatre on a budget. 

Choosing a room

Consider the features of your home theatre space. Dancing requires a lot of floor space. Virtual gaming needs space enough for two players to jump around, and may also require some additional wireless connectivity. And for movie nights you’ll want to ensure everyone has a comfortable seat and a good vantage point. Room ventilation is another important consideration, especially for larger groups when the room can get quite humid or hot. Also make sure to take note of the room’s lighting, including natural light through windows, doors, or other openings. The amount of light entering the room can affect how clearly you can see the picture on your TV. Windows may need blackout curtains to prevent reflections and reduce audio distortion. Count the number of electrical outlets too: fewer outlets mean you’ll likely need some additional power bars and extension cords.

Measuring the room

The dimensions of a room can affect the dynamics of your home theatre system. Measure the length, width and height of the space in which you will set up your home theatre system. These dimensions are important for ensuring your speakers are placed correctly and that your seating is at the best viewing distance and angle from the screen. A rectangular room is best, with the display screen and main speakers placed along a short wall.


Open vs. hidden design

Think about the look of your home theatre space. Do you want your components and the speakers hidden, or will they be visible? Are the components wired or wireless? What furniture and accessories will be in this space? That includes seating, side tables, coffee table, component stands, and lighting fixtures.


Home theatre components

On the technical side, the key to designing a home theatre is pairing a great high-def picture with engaging surround sound. Here’s the components you'll need, some of which you may already own:
A fantastic picture is the focal point of any home theatre. Almost all of today's TVs are high-def with stunning, high-res 720p or 1080p pictures. Some even offer 3D viewing, though you’ll need a compatible 3D Blu-ray player and funky 3D glasses to watch.
Blu-ray player
A Blu-ray player provides the sharpest picture possible, and high-definition Blu-ray discs offer full 1080p video. They are also encoded with vibrant surround sound formats like TrueHD, Dolby and DTS-HD Master Audio. Other high-def sources include HDTV programming and video game consoles.
Home theatre receiver
Your receiver is the control center for audio, amplifying the signals and sending them to your speakers. But you can also use your receiver to manage video as well. It's a great option if you want to connect several devices like a Blu-ray player, a video game console or even a cable box. Instead of having to switch inputs on your TV when changing from movies to game play, you just have to press a button on your receiver's remote.
A 5.1 surround sound configuration works well in most rooms. This positions five speakers around the room (front left, front centre, front right plus two at the back). The front centre speaker is your subwoofer: it handles most of the bass, freeing up your left and right front speakers for mid and high range sounds. If you love music then choose high quality audio output for great sound in the higher ranges (trebles) as well as the lower (bass).
You'll need speaker cables, audio cables, and video cables. Beware of the freebie cables that come in the box when you buy a new component. They often deliver a lower quality sound or picture, which is especially noticeable on today's high-end TVs.

Connecting your components

Follow the manufacturer’s directions to connect your components to the satellite or cable network, and to each other. The setup guides that come with your electronics will show you various configuration options. Choose the one that best fits your home theatre space and the pieces of your system. For a cleaner and simpler look, you can eliminate cables by choosing components that feature Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity. 

Positioning your speakers

Put your center speaker in front so that dialogue comes directly from the TV. Place the subwoofer in a front corner to help distribute its deep sounds evenly. As with other speakers, you may have to adjust its placement to get the best quality sound. Place the two rear speakers to the right and left slightly behind the viewing spots for a surround sound effect. Speakers should be at least 20” from the walls. 

Positioning your display screen

The best height for your screen is eye level. However, if you choose to elevate the screen, tilt it so that anyone viewing it is looking at it squarely. Viewing distance depends on the size of your screen. The ideal 30-degree viewing angle is created when the distance from seat to screen is 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal width of your display. Here are a few examples:
  • 42-inch screen: sit between 5.5 and 10.5 feet away
  • 50-inch screen: sit between 8.5 and 12.5 feet away
  • 60-inch screen: sit between 7.5 and 12.5 feet away

Arranging your seating

Consider how many people the room will need to accommodate before settling on a seating arrangement. Position your seating in a way that takes advantage of the sound and viewing capabilities of your home theatre. High back chairs can block sound from the rear, while a recliner lowers your eye level and changes the angle at which you view the display screen. You may need to experiment a little to figure out the best type and placement of seating.

Configuring the lighting

Position your lights so there is no glare or reflection on the screen. Side wall lighting, overhead tracks, standing lamps and table lamps can contribute to the mood in your home theatre. 
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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