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02/01/05

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How to make your own Home Theater!


This page is for all new comers that dare to venture into the world of Home Theater. This guide is to help you choose your site and equipment, and finally help in assembling. It's not technical by any means, its meant to help all beginners with their struggle to purchase a Home Theater System. By clicking here you can go to Dolby Digital's Home page and see their recommendations for your Home Theater Setup. There is also tips for assembling your system.
 

Step One - Your Room
 

To start your Home Theater you will need a few basic items. First is a place to set it up. Try to find a room where you can set up your system and view it without disturbing others, or others disturbing you. Possibly a room with small or no windows that will let in too much light and redirect sound. If your room doesn't meet all those so called Home Theater requirements, don't be discouraged. You'll still be able to get very acceptable results by choosing the right equipment even if your rooms not perfect. You should also take into consideration sound levels. Sometimes movies tend to get a little loud, especially action or adventure ones so try to consider that in the equation before you finalize your plans.
 

Step Two - Your Video Equipment


The electronics are the tricky parts to a complete Home Theater system. You have to be careful when choosing your equipment because of the vast changing technology. For starters you'll need a TV with a video input, preferably with a 25" screen or better. (But any size will work) A VHS Hi-Fi also is great for watching movies and offers Dolby Surround capabilities. If your looking for more advanced technology, as long as your TV supports the lines of resolution, you can look into the Digital Video Disc Players or DVD for short, a Laser Disc Player or a Super VHS Hi-Fi deck. These players offer 400+ lines of resolution and will increase your viewing pleasure. If your TV was purchased within the last 5 years, my advice is look to DVD. This format has great sound, super great pictures, and is the same size as a normal CD. You can even play CD's in the DVD players so you won't have to buy a separate CD player.
 

Step Three - Your Audio Equipment

Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Digital (AC-3), DTS, THX. These are all formats available to you now. Most manufacturers have a complete line of receivers that decode all of the above formats. My advice is find all the available receivers in your price range, and pick out the one that gives you the most features for your money. Right now Dolby Digital is leading the pack and there are many receivers that have the decoders built in. DTS is the new kid on the block. Their system is not interchangeable with the Dolby Digital equipment so if that's what you want, you'll need to make sure that the DVD player you purchase is also DTS ready. Most entry level Dolby Digital receivers start at around $500.00 and extend to $1600.00 for the better quality ones. You can also use the approach I used and buy separates. Separates are individual units doing one job. For example: Where a receiver has a preamp, tuner, amp, decoder, etc... all in one chassis with one power supply feeding all sections, separates have individual components such as a preamp as one unit with its own power supply. The separates are also a little easier to upgrade. If you wanted to add more power to your system, you could just buy a bigger power amp and replace it into your system. True Audiophiles say the separate route is the way to go and I agree, but this way is usually more expensive. I suggest you go to your local stereo store and audition each type. Then choose the method you wish to apply.

Step Four - Your Speaker Cables & Interconnects


Speaker Cables and Interconnects vary greatly by manufacturer. For your Speaker Cable runs 10 feet and under,  your main and center channels, try to use at least 16 gauge wire. For over 10 feet or your rear surrounds, you should use at least 14 gauge. Also be aware that if you plan to place your speaker wires inside the walls, you must use certified In-Wall cable. (Check with your local building codes) You'll need a SVHS cable if your TV has SVHS inputs to carry the video to the TV monitor. The interconnects are also a vital part of your equipment. You will also need a digital cable to connect your DVD or Laser player to your system. This will be a coaxial cable if your DVD player uses Coaxial outputs or a Toslink terminated Fiber Optic cable if your equipment has a Toslink output. If it's in your budget, try to upgrade your interconnects to Monster or equivalent.
 

Step Five - Speakers


If your starting from scratch, there are many complete speaker systems available. Almost every manufacturer sells a complete matched system at reasonable prices. In these packages you'll basically find a Front Left - Center - Right - Rear Left and Right Surround, and active (has its own power) or passive Subwoofer. Again a good place to start is at your local stereo store. You'll then get a feeling on how the system should be balanced. If your working with some existing speakers, You'll need to try and add speakers that are close to the same sonically, or that are almost alike. Once you've made your choices, move on to Step Six.

Step Six - Final Assembly

Once you've picked out your room, picked out your equipment and speakers, your now ready to assemble the system. Start by picking the spot where the equipment will be placed. If the room is rectangular, try to keep it on the shorter walls to utilize space. Set your main speakers about 6 to 9 feet apart, near the corners of the room. The center channel speaker can be placed on top of, or below the TV if its magnetically shielded. Most are) The rear surrounds should be at each side facing the listening position, around ear level is best. (if possible) The bass frequencies are non-directional which means the sub can be placed anywhere in the room. You should experiment before positioning the sub. With music playing, move it around until it disappears into the system or till you can't identify where the bass is coming from. Once these tasks are completed and all of the equipment is patched together, set the receiver to the test position, and you should hear pink noise being generated by your receiver through each channel individually. Now set the levels as close as possible with a decibel meter. Radio Shack has a nice one for around $40.00) If you don't have a meter, try to make the levels of each channel equal to the others. Once this step is complete, your ready for the final test.
 

Step Seven - The Fun Part!


Once your system is set up properly you should be able to hear sounds swirl around you if your watching Twister. If you need to re adjust your levels, go back and re calibrate until you've got it perfect. Once completed, you'll have a full fledged Home Theater System of your own.
 

Comments:
It is my opinion that anyone that wants a Home Theater or Stereo Listening Room, for that matter can have one. I know that when you visit some stereo shops or read some articles on how some magazine editors test their equipment, you need a sound room or some type of equivalent. Well! Anyone will tell you that Yeah, it will sound great in a sound room or that a particular piece excelled with certain speakers while being tested inside a sound room, but lets wake up to reality. If you don't have the perfect room for listening to audio CD's or viewing Laser or DVD's you still can buy what you want. I've seen too many people get talked out of buying A/V gear because some one told them you have to have this or that. This page is dedicated to those people who buy what they want and are happy listening to their gear where ever they are. Its just my opinion.

 

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