How to Set Up a Home Cinema System

January 17, 2018
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How to Set Up a Home Cinema System

Nothing compares to being immersed in a blockbuster hit at the cinema. You get to leave reality behind for a few hours and discover a whole new world. But, with your own home cinema system, you can revel in the action from the comfort of your living room!

Wondering how to get set up? Grab some popcorn and learn how in our straightforward guide.

Popcorn and TV

What You’ll Need: Home Cinema Equipment

Sound makes up 50% of the cinema experience, so it’s worth investing in a high-quality and carefully positioned speaker system. For the best results, you’ll need the following:

  • A TV to display the content you watch. If you use wireless speakers, the TV must be wireless compatible (Wi-Fi or Bluetooth). For image quality inspired by the big screen, you’ll want at least an HD (high-definition) TV.
  • An AV receiver to connect each setup element.
  • Five or more loudspeakers (including front, centre and rear) to create the surround sound experience.
  • A subwoofer to add bass and create a richer audio quality.

Your system may also include a media player (Blu-ray, DVD, etc.) which you can use to watch films and TV shows on disc.

LED TVIf your speakers aren’t wireless, you’ll also need the following:

  • Speaker wires to connect the speakers to the AV receiver.
  • Connection cables (HDMI recommended) to connect the TV and media player to the AV receiver.

Some brands offer complete home cinema packages, which include all the essentials. These are ideal if you aren’t technically-minded or prefer to purchase a complete set.

However, by choosing your own speakers, you’ll get more control over quality. You can also build the perfect setup to suit your sound preferences and upgrade your speakers as technology advances.

1. Choose the Right Sound System

If you don’t buy a home cinema package, you’ll need to choose the speakers yourself. You can use any type of speaker, as long as it connects with speaker wires. But, consider buying the same brand or model to get a better audio match.

There are two main types of surround sound setups. The numbers refer to the speakers and subwoofers included – so a 5.1 channel setup has five loudspeakers and one subwoofer:

  • 5.1 channel: One centre speaker, two front speakers, two rear speakers and one subwoofer. A great option if space is limited.
  • 7.1 channel: One centre speaker, two front speakers, two surround speakers, two rear speakers and one subwoofer. This adds more depth, but the speakers will take up more room. Although 5.1 and 7.1 setups are ideal for the average home, larger ones with more speakers are also available.

You also need to think about what type of speaker you would prefer:

  • Floor Standing: A large model which offers top audio quality, ideal for larger rooms.
  • Bookshelf: A much smaller sized speaker, which still packs a punch.


2. Position Your Speakers

To get a captivating sound experience, you’ll need to place your speakers as follows. These steps are suitable for both a 5.1 and a 7.1 channel setup:

  • Front speakers: Place one speaker to the left and one to the right of your TV, both facing slightly inwards. They should be around one metre from the TV.
  • Centre speaker: Place as near to the TV as possible, ideally directly below.
  • Subwoofer: Position anywhere in the room – we recommend to the left or right of the centre speaker.
  • Rear speakers: Place in opposite corners behind the seating position. With a 7.1 channel setup, place the extra two speakers each side of the main sofa.

Speaker setup

After positioning the speakers, you’ll need to place the AV receiver. It might be best to put this on the TV stand to prevent tripping on wires.

Most room layouts prevent you from positioning your speakers perfectly, but this won’t stop you from getting great results. Follow the recommendations as closely as you can, and keep your main sofa as central as possible, near to the rear speakers.

3. Connect the System

Wired Systems

If all your equipment supports HDMI connectivity, then setup should be fairly simple:

  • Plug an HDMI cable from your media player into your AV receiver.
  • Connect the AV receiver to your TV with another HDMI cable.
  • Test the connection between the TV, media player and AV receiver.
  • Link the front two speakers to the AV receiver using the speaker wire.
  • Test the speaker’s connection to the TV.
  • Connect the rest of the speakers, taking care to plug the speaker wires into the corresponding input on the AV receiver.
  • Hide the speaker wires underneath a rug or underneath cable sleeves.

AV Receiver

If you can’t use HDMI to connect all of your equipment, you can use the following cables:

  • Optical Audio: Use the Optical Audio output port.
  • RCA: Connect with the three RCA jacks.

Wireless Systems

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled systems are also widely available. They tend to cost more than wired options, but offer a tidier appearance. Wireless systems are often easier to set up too.

Bear in mind that wireless systems aren’t 100% wireless, as the speakers usually still need to be plugged into a power source. But, a wireless system requires much less cabling than the wired option.

Refer to your user manual to set up your system, as the process varies from brand to brand. To boost the strength of your wireless connection, try these simple tips:

  • Place your internet router near the centre of the house, on the top floor.
  • Move your landline phone to a different room.
  • Disable other devices’ Wi-Fi connection when using the speakers.

4. Pick the Best Sound Settings

Every room is different, so you might have to spend some time perfecting the settings.

Watching TV Most AV receivers use the default sound settings automatically, but you might have to adjust your TV’s settings. Make sure the player is set to output surround sound for the system to work.

You can change your TV’s settings to find a sound that best suits your room. Try to balance the bass, treble and loudness settings to get the most out of your sound system.

Most TVs also offer pre-made sound settings, such as ‘Clear Voice’ to enhance speech. Experiment to find a sound that best suits your preferences.

5. Troubleshoot Any Issues

If you’ve set everything up and it’s still not sounding quite right, take a look at our troubleshooting tips:

  • Make sure the speakers aren’t flush against the wall.
  • Check each speaker is plugged into the correct input on the AV receiver.
  • Optimise the room to get the most out of your system. Place rugs over hardwood floors near speakers and ensure a clear line of sight from the front speakers to the viewing position.
  • Adjust and experiment with the speakers’ position to best suit your room’s space and acoustics. If the speakers aren’t visible, the sound is being blocked.

Young family watching TV

Follow this simple guide, and you’ll have the ultimate cinema setup in no time. Why not consider a Smart TV too, so you can enjoy online content easily with stunning audio quality?