You’ve just bought a brand new TV—the one you’ve always wanted. You love its features: the sharpness of the pictures, its ultra slim shape, and even how easy it is to use. You think it’s going to have the best home theater speakers and stop you needing a home theater sound system. But it turns out there’s one thing your TV doesn’t have is good sound quality.
We have some bad news. Most TVs have poor sound quality. But there’s light on the horizon! You don’t have to settle for bad sound.
Did you know you can create home theater sound at home at a low cost?
“Is that even possible?” you ask. Yes, it is. You don’t even need the best home theater speakers to create home theater surround sound. Today, we’re giving you step-by-step instructions on how to create an effective home theater system experience in your home.
The Basic Working Principles of a Home Theater Audio System
A home theater, also called a home cinema, is a home entertainment audio visual system that tries to recreate a movie theater experience and atmosphere using regular audio and video equipment.
A movie theater usually offers one thing an ordinary TV does not: amazing picture and sound. It gives you an awesome experience you just don’t get at home. This is why people pay to see movies at the movie theater, despite the fact that renting a movie is much cheaper. It’s also why they pay for the best home theater speakers, even though they aren’t always necessary.
A home theater sound system is able to produce great sound because speakers positioned at different locations in the room send multiple audio channels. This is all programmed into the source component: Blu-ray Disc, DVD player, media streamer, satellite/cable box, or smart TV. When the source is played, soundtracks are decoded.
Sound systems have come a long way since the days of monophonic sound. A home theater system adds a new field of depth and realism. This is because the sound recording has more audio channels and there are more speakers for output.
Let’s talk about how a home theater sound system works.
The focal point of every home theater is an audio/video (A/V) receiver, which is commonly called a home theater receiver. The receiver works by decoding the encoding scheme in the source component. For instance, in a DVD movie, the audio is usually encoded by cramming multiple audio channels into a compact format for storage.
When you play the movie, the audio/video receiver will decode the encoding scheme (like Dolby Digital EX, Dolby TrueHD, or DTS). Every audio/video receiver has built-in decoding capabilities and most receivers on the market can decode Digital Theater Sound (DTS) and Dolby Digital sound. Some high-end receivers can decode THX, DTS-ES, DTS:X and Dolby Atmos surround sound.
The audio/video receivers in circulation allow you to control video options like the video source. However, to control sound—bass, treble, or the volume—you will need the receiver to route the sound from different sources, like a TV or a VHS player. Modern receivers handle the all-important task of surround sound decoding.
There are different surround sound formats.
- 5.1: Dolby Digital and DTS
- 5.1.2: Dolby Atmos
- 6.1: DTS-ES, Dolby Digital EX, and THX Surround
- 7.1: Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD, and DTS-HD Master Audio
- 9.1: Dolby Pro Logic llz
5.1 surround sound, a multi-channel sound technology, generates five channels of sound: center, right, right-surround, left, and left-surround. 3D formats like DTS:X and Dolby Atmos include an overhead sound element for a very immersive sound experience.
8 Simple Steps to Create a Home Theater Audio System
Nothing brings the movie theater experience home like a home theater. However, many people find the idea of creating a home theater system intimidating. The truth is it isn’t as hard as it seems.
You have a few options, but one of the most low cost ways of creating home theatre sound at home is to use a sound bar with your TV. These aren’t pricy, and definitely a lot cheaper than installing an entire home theatre system! We like this one – and it’s available on Amazon!
To produce home theater sound in your ordinary space, follow these step-by-step instructions.
1. Measure the Space
You have a couuple of options here: simply buy a sound bar to sit in front of your TV, or go the extra mile and add the best home theater speakers that can also connect for behind your sofa.
With a sound bar, the measurements are easy. You simply need enough space in front of the TV for it to fit comfortably without falling off your stand. There are different sized sound bars available, so make sure you know which you want before you purchase.
With speakers placed behind your sofa, you first need to measure to ensure that there will be enough space for the speakers behind the seats. For the best speaker placement, you should also measure the distance from the TV to the seating and from the seating to the wall behind it. Finally you should measure the distance from the seating to the corners of the room where the speakers will be. Not quite as simple as a sound bar!
You can put tape where you plan to place the speakers. The sound bar should remain located in front of the TV while the surround sound speakers should go behind the seating.
Also, take time to assess the room’s sound flow. High-backed furniture and unnecessary objects can distort or block sound, so the room must be as low-profile as possible.
2. Choose a Surround Sound Format
As we mentioned earlier, there are different surround sound formats: 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, and 9.1. The first numerical value usually indicates the number of speakers needed while the second indicates the use of a subwoofer. It is important to choose a speaker system that fits the size of your space.
For example, if you live in an apartment, a 5.1 audio system is best, because the high volume produced by a large speaker system will be unnecessary. In addition, you should choose a speaker system based on where you’ll put it, not where you plan to eventually put it. If you ever move it, you can always get a 2.1 speaker system and add it on later.
3. Get All the Equipment You Need
When creating a basic home theater sound system, you need the following equipment.
- A TV
- A Sound Bar
- A subwoofer
- Connection cables
Be sure to buy a receiver that has adequate inputs and outputs for all the hardware. Gaming consoles and DVD players are usually attached to the receiver and not the TV. If you have a digital TV or a smart TV, don’t buy a receiver with only analogue input.
Depending on your needs, you can decide to get more than one subwoofer, a couple of extra speakers, or an additional power strip. You may also need to add mounting brackets or stands for the speakers. The great thing about a multi-speaker sound system is that you can customize it by adding or subtracting speakers as your needs change.
While there are many reputable companies selling home theater equipment, their products have a high price point. If you want high-quality sound bars that don’t cost a lot of money, the TaoTronics TT-SK019 and TT-SK020 are affordable and offer great value for money.
You can easily connect them to your TV, gaming console, or DVD player for high-quality audio. They are Bluetooth-enabled and have coaxial inputs for phone cables and left/right AUX inputs. They produce all-encompassing sound that bounces off the walls in a room. What’s more, their built-in woofers make bass frequencies sound more powerful.
4. Put Everything in Order before Plugging In
Before you connect the cables, put your sound bar in front of the TV or underneath it. Afterwards, choose the best location for your speakers. If you have a 5.1 sound system, you can place 2 speakers on either side of the TV, 1 speaker directly in front of it, and the 2 remaining speakers on either side of the couch.
You’ll add the subwoofer at a later stage. If you have a 6.1, 7.1, or a 9.1 system, position the additional speakers behind the sitting area in an arc to enhance the surround sound experience.
The two speakers placed on each side of the TV must be on the ground or on stands. Surround sound speakers should be placed on either side of the seating: the immediate left and right. They should be raised to approximately standing ear level.
If this sounds like a lot of effort and money, here’s our tip: just stick with the sound bar in the beginning and see how it goes. You can always add the best home theater speakers and so on at a later date.
5. Make Sure Everything is On
Once you have placed everything where it’s supposed to be, connect your sound bar to your TV and any other hardware you’d like to use: a gaming console, a Blu-ray player, or VHS player. Use the A/V input (the HDMI cable, coaxial cable, or optical cable) to connect the TV to the receiver. The inputs will differ based on the hardware.
If you’ve decided you want extra speakers, make sure you have all the speaker cables you need and that they’re connected correctly.
6. Switch On Your Home Theater
The only way to make sure your home theater is working is by turning it on. Play a DVD or music you’re familiar with to check whether you need to change the placement of the speakers. Move around the room as you listen carefully. Is the audio quality inconsistent? Are there parts of the room that have poor sound? If the answer is yes, adjust the speakers. One of the indicators of poor speaker placement is sound distortion.
7. Connect the Subwoofer
The sound quality of the subwoofer will depend on the size and shape of the room. There isn’t a perfect way to position it, just experiment till the sound is balanced. Do not place the subwoofer in a corner or against the wall as this can distort the bass. If the room has limited space, you can place the subwoofer on one side of the TV. It should face the viewing area but shouldn’t be angled toward the viewer’s head like the other speakers.
8. Double Check the Setup
To make sure the sound is balanced throughout, move around the room again. If you hear some distortion, try different bass settings to get rid of it. It is important to make sure that the sound is consistent throughout the viewing area, because the purpose of a home theater is to dispense sound equally to every person in the room.
Get the Sound You Deserve with a Home Theater Sound System
In days gone by, home theaters were an extravagance for the rich and famous. You needed the best home theater speakers with the latest technology – which came at an extraordinary price. This is no longer the case. Thanks to affordable technology like sound bar’s, you can enjoy a real movie theater experience without leaving the comfort of your home. Follow the steps we have outlined in this post to create your own home theater system without spending tons of money.
And remember – if it all sounds too complex, you can always just opt for a sound bar to begin and add extra home theatre equipment at a later date.
Want to read more?
- Are Soundbars Good for Gaming? - July 24, 2020
- A Low Cost Way to Get Home Theater Sound - September 24, 2019
- A Sound Bar Re-Creates the Magic of Home Theater Systems - July 5, 2019