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Video:Home Theater Set Up Tips

with Jonathon E. Stewart

With the right equipment in the right place, all you need is the popcorn to complete the full movie-going experience at home. See how to set up a home theater to maximize your viewing experience.See Transcript

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Transcript:Home Theater Set Up Tips

From high definition technology to richly designed surround sound audio, one of the greatest joys of having a properly set-up home theater is being able to bring the full movie theater experience into the comfort of your own living room.

With a good-quality display and either a 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 surround sound speaker set, you'll be able to see clearly see the full, high-resolution picture and hear music, dialogue, and sound effects as they were meant to be heard by the engineers who created them.

Home Theater Screen Size

The recommended screen size to seating distance ratios vary somewhat depending on who you ask, but as a good rule of thumb, your screen size should be about a third of the distance from screen to your ideal seating position. Close enough to envelope you in the experience, not so close that you can see the actual pixles on your screen.

Measuring the TV

The size of your TV is always measured from corner to corner of the screen, excluding any border or edge of the screen casing. When you're calculating the distance from screen to your ideal seating position, start from the center of the screen and measure right to the bridge of your nose. The ideal height of your screen is eye level, a little lower than you might think.

Television Set Up

The best way to view your screen, especially if it's an LCD, is straight on. If some of your seating is off to the side, just make sure that you're not competing with any glare. Don't forget to dim your lights or close your shades for optimal viewing.

Surround Sound Set Up

Your surround sound speakers consist of three parts: one, the front speakers, which should provide a smooth, unbroken sound across the front of the room, two, the rear speakers which provide the ambient sound and effects, and three, the low frequency effects or LFE speaker.

More commonly known as your subwoofer, this speaker is the "point-one" of your 5, 6, or, 7.1 system. The main numbers refer to the number of other speakers, which always breaks down to three in front, and either two, three, or four speakers behind and beside you.

Position your front center speaker either directly above or below your screen, and your front left and right speakers an equal distance on either side of your screen, no greater than two feet above ear level. Make sure the front speakers are all angled toward your ideal seating position. Your rear speakers should be behind you, about 2 feet above ear level, and spaced equidistantly. For 5.1, they should be behind you to your left and right, for 6.1 add a speaker behind you and move the two corners forward a few feet, and for 7.1 move all four to the side, two beside you and two behind. Your subwoofer should go on the floor, and you may want to experiment just a little to find the ideal placement for your home theater.

Maximize Home Theater Sound

Your speakers should all be at least an inch or so away from your walls for optimal sound, and so you don't vibrate your grandfather's portrait off the wall during the chopper sequence of Apocalypse Now.

Make sure your speaker cables are connected with the proper polarity, that the red wires match up to the red terminals and the black wires to the black terminals. Sometimes non-color coded cables will have writing on one wire, and none on the other.

You can also purchase a sound monitor, which will allow you to properly calibrate the levels of each channel or speaker. But even if you're not a complete audiophile, once you have everything correctly connected and positioned, you will definitely hear the difference, from this, to this.

I'm Jonathon Stewart, with About.com.
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